The following Q&A with Gurudev appeared in Portofalio.co, an online news portal in Colombia.
What do you expect from your visit to Colombia?.
Gurudev: I want to meet the expectations of the people of Colombia, who have been asking me to visit for over a decade. I think the people of Colombia deserve a more peaceful and happy life.
What do you think can help the peace process in Colombia?
Gurudev: All conflicts arise because communication breaks down. In the Art of Living, we make an effort to overcome the communication gap and create a situation of win-win and goodwill among stakeholders.
Apparently, happiness and peace do not go hand in hand, as countries where people seem to be happy are plagued by violence and war. Your response to these inconsistencies was spirituality. How will spirituality help?
Gurudev: Spirituality helps people reflect on the causes of conflicts. It helps restore confidence in peace-building measures and likewise brings prosperity to the region.
Are you a guru to the rich? Why?
Gurudev: The rich are few. Millions and millions who are not rich call me their guru. It is obvious that if millions are following, some rich people are also included. Some celebrities are also following my teachings (chuckles).
How would you define yourself?
Gurudev: Whatever I do, I do it sincerely, with a clear mind and a pure heart. I feel that the whole world belongs to me and I'm here to do my utmost – I'm here to serve everything within my capabilities. That is all.
What elements of your teachings should the world adopt to achieve the goal of peace and happiness?
Gurudev: We must stop all forms of prejudice and selfishness. We must think of a long-term sustainable plan of development for the planet. We must be environmentally conscious and have compassion for the poor of the world, and for that we need to overcome the barriers of race, religion, and nationality.
Why are you devoting your time to businessmen on this visit?
Gurudev: Businessmen create wealth and can help eliminate disparities and poverty in the world. Poverty is the main cause of distress.
So, if businessmen can have a broader view, they will take care of the environment. They will see to it that there will be no exploitation of nature and people on the planet. So, businessmen need to be spiritual to create a better world and a better future.
How do you make your message reach people who are pragmatic and focused on results (businessmen)?
Gurudev: My message reaches people through my actions and my example. We also create forums where people can come together, discuss, and take action. We created the World Forum for Ethics in Business, where several businessmen come to show people how they can prosper while keeping to the tenets of ethics, and how making quick money using illegal means can ruin your life.
How do you think businesses will earn with his philosophy?
Gurudev: Businessmen have great tension and stress and want to get rid of it. This is how our programs can help them escape from stress.
The second point is that businessmen want to be innovative and creative. And it has been proven beyond any doubt that meditation can help one be more innovative, creative, and focused.
Third, leaders in any organization need the ability of intuition. The success and failure of the entire company depends on their decisions and their intuition. Again, meditation helps each of us gain that crucial insight. In this manner, the philosophy of sustainable development and the creation of prosperity and ownership of responsibility will help businessmen and leaders.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, one of the most influential men of India arrives this Tuesday to Colombia. He will talk with businessmen and receive the Orden de la Democracia Simon Bolivar en el grado de cruz Caballero, the highest civilian award of the country.
Creator of the humanist vision of Corporate Ethics, the Hindu spiritual leader, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is one of those who believe that "business can create wealth and help eliminate disparities and poverty in the world".
Gurudev is the fifth most influential person in India as per Forbes magazine and has received more than 160 awards in the United States, Europe, Russia, China, and India for his humanitarian work. Dressed in white robes and a luxuriant beard, he has received five nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, is involved in peace negotiations, and is a consultant in conflict zones around the world. He is also an informal mediator for peace between India and Pakistan and between Palestine and Israel.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, 59, is set to receive the Orden de la Democracia Simon Bolivar en el grado de cruz Caballero from the Colombian Congress.
Gurudev’s agenda has two public events. One of these is Ethics, Happiness, and Prosperity for Decision Makers, which will be held at Club El Nogal in Bogota, on Thursday, June 25. It is aimed at entrepreneurs and seeks to analyze the role of decision makers in the construction and transformation of society.
Corporate ethics programs and leadership programs were launched in companies like Accenture, Banco Santander, Bayer, Ericsson, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly Clark, and Procter & Gamble.