‘Restore peace to build more peaceful societies’ is the message that Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar brings to Colombia. He is a humanitarian leader who will visit the country this week, and has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ravi Shankar, who is scheduled to meet President Juan Manuel Santos, created The Art of Living foundation and has been a consultant in conflicts such as those between Pakistan and India, and Israel and Palestine.
Speaking to TIME, the leader expressed hope for peace in Colombia soon. "Fifty years of war is a long period," he said.
What is the purpose of your visit to Colombia?
Gurudev: Wherever I go, I bring wisdom, guide meditations and answer questions from those who ask.
You have been a mediator in conflicts such as Pakistan and India. What was your role there?
Gurudev: The focus of The Art of Living has been to unite the minds and hearts through wisdom. In these areas of conflict, we have taken programs that allow people to release stress and have a true sense of belonging with each other. The vision of our foundation is to create a global family, and technology has led this planet to become like a small city in which we all communicate. The Art of Living is working towards bringing wisdom to all corners of the world and through this wisdom, rejoin the minds and hearts that are divided by little things, and remind us that we are a global family.
And what is the basis to bring this message of peace?
Gurudev: Outer peace is linked to the inner peace. When there is conflict, there is much fear and trauma, and from trauma, we cannot build peace. What we do is restore peace, which is so necessary to create and build peaceful societies.
What is your view on the peace process with the FARC?
Gurudev: I strongly desire that peace returns to Colombia. Fifty years of war is a very long period. It is a good time to bring peace, and dialogue can bring a win-win situation.
From your knowledge, what is the importance of citizen participation in a peace agreement?
Gurudev: First, you have to build trust and then only dialogue can begin. Only someone who is neutral, who understands the problem of both parties in conflict, takes a broader view and has no personal or selfish ulterior motives can mediate in such cases.
What is the relationship between achieving a peace agreement in a country in conflict like Colombia and happiness of their citizens?
Gurudev: Peace, prosperity and happiness go hand-in-hand. The main goal of any government is to provide happiness to its people. Happiness cannot occur without prosperity, and prosperity cannot come without peace. And governments alone cannot bring peace. There are NGOs and civil societies who can create a peace movement that indirectly affects the economy in a positive way, brings good governance, reduces crime and increases happiness amongst people.
Events on the Agenda
In addition to his meeting with President, Juan Manuel Santos, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will also receive "The Order of the Democracy - Simon Bolivar" from Congress, for his work towards promoting peaceful societies.
Apart from this, Gurudev will also attend two more events. The first is 'Ethics, Happiness and Prosperity for Decision Makers', which is aimed at entrepreneurs. The second event is 'The Art of Happiness' and is open to public. This event will address topics like - how to live without stress, how to deal with the difficulties of life with tranquility, why and how to seek inner peace.
This article first appeared on El Tiempo.