Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
(Sri Sri was the chief guest at a conference titled ‘Stress Reduction Skills: Scientific Update’ organized by Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS in collaboration with Sri Sri GMDA (Global Meditating Doctors Association). The event was attended by doctors from Government and private sectors, nurses, scientists, researchers, psychologists, pharmacists, health administrators, medical students and health professionals across various disciplines from all over the country. Below is the transcript of Sri Sri's address at the conference)
I would like to tell you a small story. Once a patient came to a doctor and he was very impatient. He had pain all over his body. His back was aching, his head was aching, and he couldn’t sleep. He had lots of problems. So the doctor said, 'Let’s do an investigation from head to toe'.
A thorough investigation was done and all his reports were clear. His blood reports were clear, blood pressure was good, he had no cholesterol and his kidneys were functioning okay. The doctor told him he was perfectly fine and healthy but patient insisted that he was not!
He asked the doctor to investigate properly again saying, 'I know I’m not well'. Doctor insisted that he had no disease and told him, 'See, there is a circus in town, where there is a joker who makes people laugh a lot. Go sit there for some time, laugh a lot and you will feel better because you have no disease'.
The patient said, 'Doctor I’m that joker! I make people laugh but I have so much stress myself'.
In India, in olden days we used to say 'swastha' which means, one who is established in oneself, one whose actions matches what he says. Only such a person can be considered to be healthy.
I remember a couple of years ago I was invited to address a group of medical professionals in AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences). A research conducted there found that 60% of doctors themselves were not well. They had high stress levels and many other such problems. Common people think that doctors must be perfectly healthy because they are creating health for the society, but that’s not the case. Why? We have to put our attention on the why. The medical profession is not just about giving medicine to people, it is about one's life style. Unless someone is able to laugh and smile from the core of their being they are not considered to be healthy in the Indian ethos.
In India, in olden days we used to say 'swastha' which means, one who is established in oneself, one whose actions matches what he says. Only such a person can be considered to be healthy. If someone spoke something else but did something else, people would not blame him, he was just considered unwell. In our country we never blamed a culprit, we considered them unwell from either a physical or mental level and treated them with yoga and Ayurvedic remedies.
These provisions were created for this purpose, so that a person can be wholly and completely healthy. A person can be considered wholly and completely healthy when he has commitment and a good character. And when he wants for others what he wants for himself.A very pleasant and committed mind set is a sign of health. Fortunately they are recognizing this fact world over: that happiness is a factor of health. If you are not happy there is something wrong.
In past decades we used to think that science is very rigid, but it is not so. Science is also a growing subject, an ever growing subject. Science is never complete, it can never be complete. If it is completed then it is dead. Science is always in its youth. A sign of youth is that it grows, and science is ever growing. Unfortunately the field of science was plagued by prejudice for a very long time, of course now it’s changing.
A very pleasant and committed mind set is a sign of good health.
In 1980 I was called for the first conference of Ayurvedic doctors of this country. At that time I was only 24-25 years old. In addition to Ayurvedic doctors there were allopathic doctors as well, many of whom were from AIIMS.
At the conference, the Ayurvedic doctors had a discussion on turmeric. They said turmeric is an ayostapni, which means it arrests aging and is an antioxidant. Ayurvedic doctors said that turmeric is very important, while allopathic doctors would not agree. They believed it is a superstition and turmeric has no value. Today there is a research which says that turmeric is the best anti-depressant. It has the quality of 19 important life saving drugs. A latest research shows all of this.
Now, what those Ayurvedic doctors were saying has been proved correct.
Similarly, a whole generation went thinking that butter is very bad for health. Now, a couple of months ago, Time magazine has published an article which says that butter is good for the heart. They have said that one must have at least two teaspoons of in a day to prevent heart disease.
For 50 years people thought butter is very bad and so they switched over to margarine, now they say margarine is bad and butter is good! Anything that melts when you keep it in your hand is good for you, it won’t block your arteries. Margarine doesn’t melt in your hands, butter does. That’s why I am saying that science cannot afford to have prejudice as its ever growing. At the same time spirituality cannot afford to maintain superstitions. It should be open to debate, and not blindly followed just because it is written in the scriptures. It is necessary to see whether it is applicable in today’s day and age. We should think on the reasons behind what was written.
Science cannot afford to have prejudices as its ever growing. At the same time spirituality cannot afford to maintain superstitions. It should be open to debate.
In the scriptures it says that water should be filtered through a cloth before drinking it, so in many Jain homes you will see a cloth tied over the taps. There are many flies and insects that come and sit on that cloth and that creates many other problem. So even the good clear water which comes out of it becomes impure.
It is said that we should eat with our hands, but we have not thought about how we should do it. It is important that we understand why it has been written in the scriptures to eat with hands.
The ancient systems should be open to scrutiny, and scientific examination. We should look at it with a scientific temperament. We should neither discard it with prejudice nor follow it blindly with superstition. Find a middle path where you take both the old and the new and move forward. Just like how the roots of a tree are always old while the branches and leaves are new, life is also like that.