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.
We need to have a vision for 2016. Once you revive the spirit, you have so much energy and enthusiasm, but what do you do with that? Unless you give a direction to it, you will become restless, or aimless. So have an aim, have a short-term and a long-term goal.
We also need to do what is needed in the world today. This should be part of our goals.
1. We need to protect the environment.
2. We need to clean the garbage that is floating in the river of time. This is necessary. By garbage I mean terrorism, stress, and violence in society. Violence is the garbage we dump on the river of time. Let’s resolve not to do it. Let's resolve to educate people that we all belong to one world family. The one resolution that you should all make for 2016 is"I will do as much as I can to clean and unite people's mind and hearts, and to see to it that there is more celebration, harmony, love and unity in people rather than acts of war both domestic and societal violence". This is the garbage we are dumping in the river of time. Let us educate people not to dump this garbage.
The world is beautiful and the people of the world are beautiful. The power of goodness is much greater and higher than the power of evil.
Just like how we resolve to protect the environment by keeping the rivers clean, and the oceans clean, in the same way we need to protect time. We need to keep time pure and celebrative, and for that we need to stop violent events from being dumped into the river of the year 2016. So let us see how we can remove negativity and process conflicts. In that sense, 2015 has given us many new clues with the FARC and the Columbian government coming to an agreement to negotiate peace. These negotiations have moved forward and peace has come to that province. Thanks to all the teachers and volunteers who have worked very hard for this. Next week also, in the New Year, we are having a very big course in Cuba.
We have done lots of programs in Iraq, in Irbil and in other provinces. Just in the last fifteen days, 3300 people have done the program in Iraq, and our long cherished dream of reaching Syria has also materialized. Just a few months ago, we conducted programs in Syria, Egypt; these conflict zones have opened up to The Art of living. While it is still just a small twinkling light in the dark space, but nevertheless a small candle has been lit in this region and this is very good news for all of us. Though a lot has yet to be done.
The unfortunate incident that happened in Paris, in some way, woke up people to unite against terrorism. At the same time, I want to tell them that it is important we don’t get into paranoia and prejudice. Our mind should not be prejudiced against any particular group of people or religion. We should not be paranoid, but we should keep a check on terrorism.
Recently, the Indian Prime Minister’s visited Afghanistan. He is the first one in many years to have done so. I don’t know whether you all know this or not, India built the Parliament House in Kabul and the Indian Prime Minister gifted it to the people of Afghanistan. Also, after twelve years, an Indian Prime Minister has set his foot on Pakistani soil and connected with the Pakistan Prime Minister and the people of Pakistan. I congratulate the Pakistani Prime Minister also, as it is the effort of both of them. Just one person’s effort would not work, both of them expressed the desire to resolve conflict and continue peaceful dialogue. And now peace talks have begun between India and Pakistan.
Since 1971, there has been border dispute between India and Bangladesh, and again the Indian Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh came together and said that we have to coexist and we have to resolve this conflict and put an end to it, and they resolved it so peacefully, putting an end to a conflict which had been going on for forty years.
See, when a person sits alone and meditates, it is called tapasya. But when we sit in a group and meditate, it is called yagna.
This year has done so much good. Fifty years of conflict in Columbia has come to an end, forty years of conflict between India and Bangladesh has come to an end, and there has been a major effort to bridging relations between India and Pakistan. I am sure there are many such things happening in other parts of the world that we are not aware of. Conflicts between people in homes are also being cleared. On the other side, there are other conflicts that have become bigger.
Like I said, the river of time is carrying some beautiful flowers as well as some garbage also. We need to see what role we can play. So in the coming year, The Art of Living will give a message to the world that we are one big human family and for this, The World Culture Festival has been planned. Only 70 days ahead of us, we will be hosting one of the world’s biggest ever spiritual and cultural extravaganzas. You are all coming right? Everyone should come. Just come! India is waiting to receive you all. Massive preparation is going on. You can come to Delhi and Bangalore where your home is waiting to receive you. It is just a small family reunion of The Art of Living and its 35th year. So we will celebrate and send a message to the world, that the world is beautiful and the people of the world are beautiful. The power of goodness is much greater and higher than the power of evil. That has to be exhibited.
There is a story in the ancient Puranas that when there was a fight with the demons, Mother Divine needed more power. So everyone contributed something which was their specialty to her. So the Mother Divine was given all these different instruments that all the devas (positive energies) possessed, indicating the unity of consciousness and all diverse energies which made her invincible so that she could dispel all the demons or the darkness in no time. This is what is called a yagna. A yagna is when everyone contributes a little bit for a greater vision and greater good of the planet. So everyone just being there with everybody will send a message to the world, that the people from every part of the world are united in harmony, in celebration and in diversity, and we will continue to be.
See, when a person sits alone and meditates, it is called tapasya. But when we sit in a group and meditate, it is called yagna. The benefit of meditation is magnified several times in a yagna. So just imagine when 3.5million people are sitting and meditating, what will happen. It will create such huge vibrations of energy in the universe which is bound to bring a lot of good.
When you see that so many events have happened in your life leaving you untouched, you get a taste of eternity or timelessness.
Just a couple of days ago, I met with the Indian Prime Minister and I discussed the problem that is ongoing between Nepal and India. In Nepal, when the constitution was made, not all rights were given to the people of a certain region adjoining India. So people in those areas started agitation, and because of that in the last four months, no supplies could move from India to Nepal. There was a blockade, and as a result, people were suffering. On that note, this morning a gentleman from Germany came here. He supports a school in Kathmandu in Nepal and there are a couple of thousand children studying there. And he said that the school is in such a miserable condition as there is no water, electricity, gas, or heating. 18 hours of no power and everyone is so miserable due to the conflict. He was so concerned and said that we must do something, and I told him that it has been resolved.
I asked the Prime Ministers of both countries to discuss and find a political solution on an emergency basis on a war footing. To get a political solution on war footing is not an easy thing unless both Prime Ministers are agreeing to it. So the misunderstanding got resolved this morning and both Prime Ministers spoke with each other and have agreed to cooperate with each other. There are no medicines and people are dying in the cold in Nepal. The Indian Prime Minister offered to send the medicines by helicopters. He told me this personally.
When there is a difference of opinion between leaders, then things don’t move and that is where we all have to play a role. That is where The Art of Living is very relevant and can play a role of bridging the gap, bringing people together and creating that much needed mediation to resolve conflicts. So this morning I got very good news that both Prime Ministers have discussed mutually and am sure that in the coming days, this conflict will get fully resolved.
Now, this is all about the world. Coming to our individual spiritual growth. This is very important, that is why I gave you the example of sitting on the bank and watching the events pass by. So when you see that so many events have happened leaving you untouched, you get a taste of eternity or timelessness . Do you understand what I am saying? Something freezes inside. It feels as though time has frozen. When time freezes, that is when you get the glimpse of eternity.
You are so lucky you are doing the silence program. Silence means time is frozen, there is no activity, and that is Samadhi (meditation). What a nice way to begin the New Year, through meditation, isn't it!