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.
It is very good that you can write. There is a lot of work that you can do. Contact our website team and our ABC (Art of Living Bureau of Communication). They are looking for writers. There are so many projects happening in The Art of Living around the world and we need good writers to put those things in the right format.
Recently, I went to Cuba and met with the FARC (a rebel group) people from Columbia. They are all Communists, so at first they were very hesitant. They said, "We had never thought we would be so lucky as to meet a living saint. We only saw saints in wood and stone".
On the first day, they were reluctant, but by the second and third day, they changed totally. When I was leaving, they said, "Please don’t abandon us", and I told them, "Look, 50 years of war, 2.6 million people have been killed in this. How long are you going to go on like this?" They said, "No, non-violence is not practical. Please don’t tell us, we can’t do this. It will be hypocrisy to say that we will follow Gandhian principles. We are not going to do it".
I told them, "What do you mean by hypocrisy? You want to have the same fate as Prabhakaran or Saddam Hussein? See what happened to all these people? You will be finished. Wake up now".
I told them, "Today you are also victims, and you play your victim card. Don’t be aggressive, stop bombing".
Finally, they agreed. They said, "We will do social justice through Gandhian principles of non-violence". And the war which had been raging for the last 50 years came to an end. They unilaterally announced ceasefire!
You need some people to tell them, talk to them. They said, "This is what was missing in our movement – spirituality. We had dedicated ourselves for the cause of social justice, we have been fighting, but this was missing - your guidance was missing. Please keep guiding us".
There were 13 of them and 3-4 of us, and we sat with them for three days. Then they started coming with me wherever I went. I went to the Indian Embassy and they also came with me! They did meditation, they had Indian food, perhaps for the first time in the Indian Embassy. They were like devotees, very happy. Their faces started relaxing. So we should keep doing what we can.
And then one journalist asked me, "How come so many big countries - Norway, America, Cuba - all of them were trying to get these people to announce ceasefire and they were not ready. What is it that you said to them?"
I said, "It is not what we say but what we are that makes a difference".
Dear Gurudev, how do I forgive my brother for all the nasty things that he has done to me and my family?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, your brother was never educated in human values. It is not his fault. He was never shown that beautiful space that lies deep within him. Nobody guided his spirit, nobody guided his emotions, nobody taught him how to get rid of greed, anger, jealousy and all the negative feelings. So why do you blame him? He is a sick person! This education is missing.
You think if he were happy, if he had spiritual education, he would do wrong things? He would never have done anything wrong! So who is at fault? Everyone is at fault. The parents, the siblings, the society; everybody is partner to the fault of one person. It is not solely his responsibility. If your brother is bad, the society is also responsible, your school system is responsible, your upbringing is responsible. Don’t blame the poor guy. He is sick, he needs help. Do you see what I am saying? See from my eyes and you will see the whole world from a different light.
Those whom we condemn, they are not worth condemning. They need compassion and they need education.
Dear Gurudev, how do I find peace for the misery I have caused. My husband passed away in April 2015. He lived alone for 15 months and made his last telephone call to me and I screamed at him. I did not listen to what he had to say. He was having affairs throughout our marriage and I caught him 15 months ago. I could not forgive him. Today, I am sorry.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
That’s okay. You should move on. Life is like a river. Sometimes muddy water fills the river, sometimes clear water fills it; sometimes all the leaves of the fall float in the river and sometimes logs float, but the river never stops. A river has something to teach us, and that is — just move on. That’s it.
It’s okay to scream at somebody. It doesn’t matter if you have done it in the past. Never mind, don’t repeat it in the future. And don’t sit and keep regretting it either, "Oh, I did that". Well, you did it, what to do now? It is finished! Move on and on, don’t stop. If the water stops, it stagnates and rots, if it keeps moving, it becomes clear.
Dear Gurudev, how do I help my adult children to forget about our past and be loving again?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
As I said, don’t ask for explanations of the past. Don’t say, "Let us sit and talk it out". Don’t do this. I am not for this at all.
When people have misunderstandings, they say, "Let us talk it out". This ‘talking it out’ makes it worse. People should just live in the present moment and keep moving to the future. Don’t stop, and talk to them as if nothing has ever happened before; totally be in the moment. This is the best way to behave and to get over the past. Digging into the past and then complaining or giving an explanation are stupidity.
Also, if someone comes to explain, you should not listen. If someone comes to explain, tell them, "Come on, forget about it. Move forward, I never turn back and see what happened. I am very fast. I have so many things to do".
Who is going to sit and listen to why you said something, or what you did in the past? Your mind is not in your control, and you blabber something, who cares? Why should I be pulled into your mind’s rut?
Sometimes people say, "Gurudev, you are not listening to me".
I say, "I won’t listen. I have no time".
You made a mistake and then you try to explain why you made all those mistakes. You become so innovative! You don't even know that you have committed a mistake. Then you become innovative and try to give some explanation for it! Who is bothered to listen to such things? What is the use of post-mortem? Waste of time! Young girls, you all listen to this very carefully: Never ask for explanation or even listen to an explanation. We should just move on. We don’t have time for such things.
Educate and ignore. There are two ways to ignore. One is just ignoring the past, but better is to educate and ignore. If someone thinks or says something about you, just tell them, "Look, I did not mean to do this thing to you. What you are thinking is wrong".
One word, that’s it. Finished. Move on!
My family and boyfriend don’t understand spirituality and The Art of Living. Should I move on from my boyfriend and family, and create something better and lighter?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, this is a challenge. Have some patience and see how you can make them understand, and also get them to get a taste of it. Use your skills to communicate what you feel, and how spirituality is so good for you and others.
There are many people like this. They brought their boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives who initially were not willing. But then later, they went even one step ahead of them! It is happening. All possibilities are there. You do your 100% to introduce them to wisdom.
You can ask your boyfriend for a birthday gift. No boyfriend or girlfriend will say no. Then you say that you want both of you to do the Happiness Program (Part-I Course) together. And that’s it! Or, on his birthday, gift him the Happiness Program along with yourself. So both of you come and sit and do the Happiness Program (Part-I Course). You will see the difference right there. Use all your skills.
Dear Gurudev, how do I get rid of manipulations? Is it to affirm ourselves?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Listen, if you are manipulating, stop it right away because it is not going to give you any good results. When you manipulate, you will realize, "Oh my God, I didn't get anything in my hand? All I got is mud!" After manipulating, you will see that you didn't get gold in your hand, you got mud! It is not worth it. Okay, if you get gold by manipulating, then I would say, "Yes, manipulate". But that will not happen!
So, if you think that you are manipulating, then take a sankalpa (determination) not to do it anymore. If others are manipulating, have compassion for them.
Manipulation happens because of insecurity or over-ambitiousness, and both are not in a healthy state of mind. If you are over-ambitious, you won’t reach anywhere! It is like riding the horse on the merry-go-round. Where does it reach? Nowhere! Where you got in, from the same place you have to get out. This is over-ambitiousness. Just know that over-ambitiousness is sitting on that horse which runs very fast on the merry-go-round. It’s not going to help you.
If someone else is doing that, know that they are immature. Let them realize that and bless them. But you come out of your illusion. When you think others are manipulating, your anger towards them and your wanting to cut off from them makes things even worse. You get into the negative cloud. Do you see what I am saying?
You think, "Oh, that person is manipulating", and you start being nasty to them, and that is equally as bad as manipulation, not any better; it all smells foul. It doesn’t matter whether it is a rotten banana peel or a rotten tomato, both are rotten. So anger is equally wrong as manipulation; nastiness is equally as bad as someone’s manipulation.
See, usually anger comes because of your self-righteousness - 'I am right'. This ‘I am right’ brings such anger and makes you behave nastily. It is as bad as someone telling lies. Got it? You getting nasty or angry, don’t think it is right, that is equally bad.
So, if between two people, one is angry and the other is nasty, or one is telling lies and the other is nasty or angry, you leave them both and walk away because they are settling scores among themselves, you don’t have to interfere. This is good advice.