Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There is an old Sanskrit proverb which says, ‘Praptetu shodase varshe, putram mitra vada chareth’. If your son or daughter becomes 16 years you should no longer be their parents, but you should become their friend. You should befriend them and understand their mindset and their difficulties.
Transformation can only happen through understanding and not by imposing. You cannot impose your ideas on your children, or for that matter on anybody. All that you can do is place your ideas before them.
If they are doing something wrong, you should make them aware of the ill effects of it. If someone is getting into drugs, take them to drug rehabilitation centers and show them how (drug addicts) are suffering there. Ask them, ‘See where they have landed. Do you want to be like them?’ This is what we need to ask them.
Transformation can happen only through education, and education can only happen if you have accepted people and understood their position and predicament and create a space for them to grow.
You have to create the much needed space for someone to grow and you should persuade them and not impose your ideas on them.
Just look back and remember when you were a teenager. When your parents used to force some ideas on you, did you like it? No, right?
From generation to generation there is a certain gap that comes whether you like it or you don’t. It happens. The skill is to bridge the generation gap. This is the first step.
The second step is to bridge the gap between cultures.
In India, the culture changes with every 200 miles. It is the same even in Europe. We need to think about how we can bridge these cultural differences and religious differences. I tell you, it is very simple to do. You just need to have purity in the heart and a sense of belongingness with everybody. Whether the other feels that way or not is none of our business.
The path of spirituality is when you feel no one is a foreigner and everybody is belongs to you in spite of what they are and how they are.
Now you will ask me, how can we take ISIS as a part of us?
I just want to ask you, if people are sick, don’t you think they still belong to you? People get different mental sickness and are hospitalized, but they still belong to you right? Similarly, these people are also terribly sick! Their brain has the cancer of terrorism. They are sick and we should see how we can impact a change in them. I know it appears to be next to impossible, but still they are part of the human race on this planet. But they will change.
There is a story of angulimala (finger garland). There was a guy who had the hobby of collecting thumbs of people and making a garland out of it. He created so much terror. He had collected 999 thumbs by killing so many people. He was looking for one big thumb for his garland.
He accidentally met Lord Buddha. He saw Lord Buddha, a tall, young, robust man meditating. He wanted Lord Buddha’s thumb to be the 1000th one. But the moment he saw Buddha and went to him to take his finger, something happened to him. He just collapsed and his whole life changed and he later became a monk.
Valmiki was a dacoit and then something happened and he became one of the greatest saints. There are plenty of stories like this. There are many possibilities; anything can change. So let us keep our awareness in the present moment and not have any ill feeling towards anybody on the planet. Our hearts should be pure.
The Gayartri Mantra says, 'Let the divine inspire our intellect'.
It is the intellect which give direction to our life. Spirituality is not throwing away your logic. Many people think spirituality means being emotional and not using the intellect. That is wrong. It is a simultaneous development of the rational and that which is beyond the rational mind, to that experiential realm of consciousness.
The mantra says, ‘Dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt’, let the divine inspire my intellect and make it so sharp and rational, and let it reach the highest goal.
Mahatma Gandhi used to sing this prayer every day, ‘Let our intellect be soaked in divinity and let noble thoughts flow into our minds.’ This is the prayer. This is something you also can pray for.