Excerpts from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s talk while addressing Indian Embassy. In order to discuss about true contentment, we need to be in a cordial and informal atmosphere. Do you all agree with this? It is important that we feel at home. A formal atmosphere is not congenial to discuss something that is so close to your heart. Why not we take a couple of minutes to greet people around us? You know, why do we feel very dry in life? Because we live in a very formal world. Our greetings are so formal, our Sorry is formal. So, we live in a word which is just words without feelings and presence behind it. Suppose you go as a guest to somebody’s house and they are just formally greeting you. Do you feel satisfied? You know, if you go into the huts of people in Indian villages. There is greeting that comes from the innocence of their hearts. It touches your heart. Otherwise, most of the pleasantries we exchange are like the words of an Air hostess saying, “Have a nice day”. They don’t mean it. Today, we have forgotten to be authentic. Why have we built walls between us? Sometimes I wonder people are so formal even with their own children. We have built solid boundaries around us. Isn’t it so? We speak and convey more through our presence than through our words. I often say that a dog is a better communicator than human beings. It cannot speak your language but it conveys the sense of belongingness through its actions and behavior. It breaks all the barriers to express its love. It does not mind jumping on you even if you are wearing new dress. It invades your boundaries and expresses itself. True contentment can come when we are in touch with our core being, our selves. And what helps in that to happen is releasing the stress.
Q: You have been involved in this. How do you propose or manage to reconcile between enemies?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Many times those who appear to be enemies are not actually enemies. I would give you an example of what we did in Iraq. We gave some meditation and Sudarshan Kriya to the troubled youth there. There was such a huge transformation in them. The youth minister sent 50 youth leaders to the ‘Art of Living’ international centre in Bangalore to be trained as ambassadors of peace. It was challenging to begin with, but there was amazing transformation in them in a period of one month. The same boys went back and started to teach thousands of people how to be calm. You know, we are not taught how to manage negative emotions neither at home nor at school. You get angry, upset, greedy or depressed, but we are not taught how to manage our mind. I am not saying that we have solutions to resolve all the conflicts in the worlds tomorrow itself. It is not practical. But what has given us hope is, after experiencing meditation, there is enormous change in the same people who appear to be aggressive or enemies. In 2001, there was a difficult situation in Kashmir. But things have changed now. We can make effort drop by drop. In Jahanabad also our efforts have given good results. All this has given me enthusiasm to go in all conflict zones and do more work. Though, it is a big challenge. When some people think that only they will go to heaven and others to hell, they create hell for others. We need to educate them with a broader mindset. So, every child should know little bit about all the world’s wisdom. We have globalized things like potato chips but we haven’t globalized wisdom, and education on peace and non-violence. When people are stressed, they either become violent and aggressive or suicidal tendencies arise in them. The solution for depression, suicidal tendencies, social and domestic violence is to teach them how to calm their mind. It is very important to teach them how they can get rid of negative emotions, stress, and all those unwanted emotions. How can we heal them? That healing touch is essential.
Q: Can you please talk about Trauma care?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is what happened after Tsunami. All these fishermen were afraid even to go near the sea. They were begging to be taken away to some hill. All their life what they did was fishing. Simple pranayama and a few minutes of meditation brought them out of trauma in matter of three days. The same people asked for boats to go back to sea on the very third day. So, trauma can be released. Same was observed in after 9/11 incident and Katrina. There are many volunteers who are devoted to bring peace in such areas.
Q: What role has a woman to play in bringing transformation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Woman has great role to play. Women can influence many men around them – father, brother, children, spouse. They have more power and more influence. In Indian mythology all the powerful portfolios like defense ministry, finance and education are with women. What else do you want? In India we believe man and woman are equal partners. There is concept of Ardhnarishver – God is neither male nor female. Divine is half male and half female. Everyone is like that. Nobody is full male or full female. There are genes of both mother and father within each one of us. So, we must respect women. Women should take more lead in the society. And I think that women can be better peace maker, and then less conflict, greed and corruption will be there in the world. Corruption can only happen outside the boundary of belongingness. Heart can never be corrupt. It is mind which goes corrupt. Heart always longs for old and mind for new. Isn’t it so? You want more and more in mind but the heart says,” I am happy”. Heart wants to give and mind wants to take. women are more with their heart. She should keep that quality while developing leadership and taking more social responsibility.