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.
(The Outreach Program, Jamia Millia Islamia, organized a dialogue with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Sri spoke on World Peace & Global Harmony, which was followed by a guided meditation. Afterwards, the audience of over 400, which included faculty members, students and staff of Jamia Millia Islamia, interacted with Sri Sri in a question & answer session.)
Thank you all for welcoming me here on stage with this beautiful bouquet. With this sweet gesture, you have already said what I wanted to say to all of you. Just like this bouquet, our global society is also a bouquet. There is a red flower, a white flower, a carnation flower, etc. So a bouquet is made up of many different kinds of flowers having different shades and colors. When we forget this and expect that all the flowers should be of the kind, then that is where the problem starts.
For world peace to happen, the individual must be at peace. If I am not peaceful, then I cannot spread peace wherever I go. And when can an individual be at peace? It is possible only when he or she is free of stress.
This is the same scenario in homes everywhere today. Supposing there are five or ten people staying together in a house, each of them lives in a world of their own (thoughts and beliefs). When there is no communication or a common understanding among them all, then that is where quarrels come up. The topic for today’s forum is World Peace. I tell you, for world peace to happen, the individual must be at peace. If I am not peaceful, then I cannot spread peace wherever I go. And when can an individual be at peace? It is possible only when he or she is free of stress. When we ourselves are not joyful and peaceful from within, how can we expect to communicate and spread the same outside us?
What do we need to kindle peace within us? The first thing that we need is a stress-free living. It is natural for stress to happen to us in life. What is stress, and when do we experience it? When we have too much to do in very little time, and when we feel that we do not have the energy to achieve it all, then that is when we feel stressed. Now you could probably reduce your needs and responsibilities to reduce the stress in life. Or, the other way to deal with this is to increase your energy. When I say ‘energy’, I do not only mean physical strength. It also means being mentally and emotionally strong. So we need to think about how we can increase our strength and energy. There are many techniques to increase our energy levels from within, but there are not many people in this country who make use of those techniques, and they unfortunately do not share them with everyone else. In India, we are so divided on the lines of caste and religion. We are also divided by our greed and personal motives, even within our own families. People think, 'I should not teach this technique to anyone'. This is not a good thing. Why should one say so? You should in fact teach it to everyone. If this technique helps improve your health and reduces stress, then you should help others by teaching them the same technique too. Yet we end up keeping these techniques secret rather than letting others also know about it. So I said that this is not how it should be. I said that techniques that help enhance one’s health and well being should be taught to everyone, such as the breathing techniques, some exercises and Yogasanas. Everyone in the world should know and benefit from these techniques, so that the common man is peaceful and happy, and is able to maintain harmonious relationships with the people around him. It is with this thought in mind that we started The Art of Living Foundation.
Until we achieve peace from within, we cannot have peace and harmony outside, and neither can there be world peace, nor any kind of personal progress in our own lives. Now, bringing peace will require everyone’s efforts. Whatever little one can do in this direction, one should do.
In India, we have always believed in the saying, 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', meaning that this entire world is one family. But when can we truly become one family? It is possible only by spreading knowledge; when everyone is at peace and when we can lovingly embrace everyone as our own. There should not be a difference in what we practice and what we preach. One should practice on the outside what one believes from the inside. This approach gives great inner strength. It is such a great strength to have, and using it we can readily march towards success in life.
Now even as I am saying this and you are listening, the mind within you is constantly debating and saying, 'Yes this seems right', or, 'No, that is not correct'. So there is a dialogue happening within you also; is it not so? This is very important and we need to become aware about it. It does not really matter if you agree or disagree with what I am saying. But do you agree to what your mind says? This is a very unique point. This is what is meant by awareness. We also call it prajna, meaning awakened intellect. It means that we observe with awareness as to what is happening within us.
According to me, the true meaning and the goal of education is to increase prajna, i.e., one’s awareness. Education is not simply gathering more and more of information. That is something which even a computer can do. Education is the art of making a human being a humane person. It is the ability to coexist with each other in harmony, and having a mature and non-violent approach to resolve conflicts between each other and arrive at mutual solutions to problems that benefit everyone. Just think, there is so much conflict and strife everywhere in the world today. Look at what is happening in Gaza, in Iraq, in Syria, etc. It is a good thing that the Indian media is not showing too many reports of these incidents. But if you tune into the world media channels, you will find that they are full of these reports and it will upset your mind.
According to me, the true meaning and the goal of education is to increase one’s awareness. Education is not simply gathering more and more of information. That is something which even a computer can do.
Prophet Mohammed once said, 'I can feel cool breeze coming from the East (India)'. I took up the cause that there will always be a cool breeze (of peace and harmony) from the East, rather than the warm winds of war and conflict. He had said this 1400 years ago, but I am committed to maintain this state even today. India should emerge as a model country for the world to emulate. How can we unite followers of different religions together? Actually, there is no conflict between different religions as such. But when misunderstandings arise, or when there is stress within oneself, then this causes conflicts outside with others around us. This is what happens in many homes also. There are bitter quarrels between brothers in the family. So until we achieve peace from within, we cannot have peace and harmony outside us, and neither can there be world peace, nor any kind of personal progress in our own lives. Now, bringing peace will require everyone’s efforts. Whatever little one can do in this direction, one should do.
Now, I am going to give you all a small exercise to practice right here. Will you all participate in it? In fact, I will give you two exercises together. I do not believe in giving lengthy lectures. I believe more in practical experience. So look around the people sitting around you and greet them by saying, 'I belong to you'. Is everyone done? You can also wish the people sitting in front and behind you. Don’t just talk to those by your side. Now, I want to ask you, did you all truly mean what you said when you greeted the other person, or did you just do it superficially? Just think for yourself. You need not tell this to others. You know, this is what happens in life also. Many times when we say, 'Sorry' or, 'Thank you', from a very superficial level. It does not come from the heart. When you leave an aircraft, the air hostess also says, 'Goodbye, have a nice day'. But they are not really bothered whether or not you have a great day. But if you were to hear the same thing from your mother, or your grandparents, then you feel something different in the way they express it. There is a different vibration, a warmth you feel when they tell you that, isn’t it? They do not say it superficially. You can tell they say it with all their heart. There is something that makes their blessings bear fruit.
When you are soaked in love, then you vibrate love and people around you also reciprocate that same love. This is a rule of nature.
We are surrounded by vibrations around us all the time. Just by shouting, 'Peace, peace, peace', all the time does not really make the environment around us peaceful. For such people, there is neither peace in their voice nor in their presence. We convey more by our presence than by our words. A small child at home cannot speak because he does not know the language. But just by looking in your eyes the child conveys all its love and emotion. Just take the example of a dog at home. When you return home from work or from school, it runs all around you and jumps at you with so much excitement. It conveys all that love just by its vibrations. Even if someone confesses their love to you in a 100 words, it still doesn’t have that same feeling and effect. So for our vibrations to be positive, we need three things: 1. Clarity of mind 2. Purity of heart 3. Sincerity of action You should have clarity in your mind and thoughts. Your heart should be pure, and there should be sincerity of action. Whatever you do, you should do it 100% with your heart and mind.
Alright, let’s do one more exercise. Just tell to the person sitting next to you, 'I have no faith in you at all'. Were you all able to do it? Many of you were not able to say that? Even if you tried saying it, both you and the other person started laughing. Alright, now all of you close your eyes and imagine that all the people in the world around you tell you that they have no faith in you. Imagine that they all see you with an eye of suspicion. Just do this for 30 seconds or so. Now open your eyes. How did you all feel? You felt very bad inside, isn’t it? We do not want anyone to see us with suspicion or doubt us, yet we ourselves look at so many people in that very same way. We generate that kind of vibration around us, and people catch that same vibration. When we are caught up in doubts and suspicion, then we create that same feeling in others around us. When you are soaked in love, then you vibrate love and people around you also reciprocate that same love. This is a rule of nature.