(Sri Sri visits Pakistan after seven years. Sri Sri reinstates his message of ‘One World Family’ and embraces the people of Pakistan, ‘I feel so nice here; the people are so beautiful and so nice.’
He added, ‘We need to create a new image for the country, that this country is also tolerant, we honor diversity, we acknowledge people from everywhere. This type of message should go out loud and clear.’
Read further on Guruji’s interactions with the people of Pakistan.)
It is wonderful being with you all!
First of all let me congratulate all the teachers and volunteers for making this happen.
I would also like give my best wishes and compliments to all those people who worked hard. The YLTP youth who went and reached out to the people of Sindh who were affected by the floods a couple of years ago. I had the chance to speak to them over the phone while the work was happening, but now I would really like to congratulate them. Over a hundred thousand people were reached out to and trauma relief workshops were given, necessary amenities were given and houses were built.
The Art of Living family from around the globe also came forward to help and there was support from all over the world.
So we really demonstrated here that we are not alone, the whole world is our family. I am very glad and happy to see that being practically executed here.
My wish is more and more people become teachers here and see that every tear turns into a smile.
Today, the rate at which depression is rising cancer is increasing, heart problems are increasing, blood pressure is increasing.
Physical illnesses, social conflict, corruption, terrorism, all these ills are indication that somewhere we are missing the spiritual content. Somewhere we are missing that sense of belongingness. So Art of Living is committed to bringing that sense of belongingness into the society and well-being in the physical body, happiness in the mind and the heart and love for all in the soul.
Usually I say violence-free society, disease-free body, stress-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory and sorrow-free soul. This is the birth right of every individual.
You know our intellect is inhibited. Usually people get so many ideas and they inhibit themselves. So we need to free ourselves from inhibitions. And we need to have an ego which encompasses all. Not just ‘I’ but ‘We, the people of this world.’
So, with this vision of a violence-free society and a disease free body, Art of Living on one hand is very happy with whatever work it has done and at the same time it has a huge responsibility to bring peace and happiness to millions more. I am sure you will all do the job.
See, our life becomes worth living when we are of use to somebody. Help in kind and through substances is one thing, but that is not long lasting. Helping others with knowledge or wisdom so that they can know how to manage their mind and emotions and their inner being is greater.
It is like giving someone fishes when we can instead teach them how to fish.
There is a saying, ‘There is no point in distributing fish to somebody, but instead teach them how to fish!’
This is exactly what Art of Living is doing – teaching people how to manage their own minds, their own emotions, their own concepts, their own limitations and how to come out of these limitations. Accept people as they are and accept the situations and change them for the better.
In all of South Asia, in America and even in Europe, one of the biggest problems we are facing today is corruption.
In India the Art of Living volunteers have done some wonderful work.
They have worked on three levels:
They have organized big satsangs. In satsangs I make the people take an oath not to give bribe or accept bribe. The second thing our volunteers have done is, they take a sticker saying, ‘I don’t take bribe’, and put it on all the officers’ desks. So our youths take this sticker and go and put it on their table. Nobody says, ‘No I can’t have this sticker on my desk.’
And when the sticker is there nobody gives them bribe.
So this is something we can do. Otherwise for a death certificate, for a birth certificate, for everything you have to give bribe. To get an electrical connection you have to pay so much money. So this is creating a revolution.
The third thing we are doing is asking the legislatures to have a very strong bill that would chuck the corruption and punish the guilty.
So here in Pakistan, I know there is a big wave coming up here also against corruption, because it is needed. Similar programs are being done in Russia and the same problem is there in Africa. A Civil society should rise up to the occasion and say ‘NO’ to corruption. And just by laws and legislations alone, this problem will not get solved. It can happen when there is spiritual transformation and people have a sense of belongingness. Corruption begins where belongingness ends. That is something that we all can focus on.
Then inter-faith harmony; allowing the diversities to be there. This education we have to give to people. There are so many sects of Islam, there are Sunnis, there are Shias and similarly there must be some Christians also, and some Hindus, some Sikhs. A bouquet of inter-faith wisdom and dialogue – this is what Art of Living stands for and we should encourage that.
Most important is you should keep smiling. Come what may, keep a smile!
Q: Guruji, how is this visit to Pakistan different from your last visit?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Last visit I was surrounded by security and I was only held up in the hotel. But in this visit, I am more with people, and I met 900 youth yesterday from FCC College and I had great interactions with them. They loved me and I loved them. We had a great program.
And I feel that there is a higher sense of peace now than before.
Q: Guruji, after you came back from FCC College, there was a very positive feedback from the students. They were all so happy and they felt so educated and enlightened. We are grateful to you for that.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I didn’t find any difference between the enthusiasm of the students here and that of India, it was the same. So much enthusiasm and inquisitiveness, they have a willingness and openness to learn. It was amazing to see that.
Q: Guruji, there are a lot of people who have taken the course and somehow they have dropped off in-between. Is there a way in which they can remain associated with the course?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think if there is a center then people will keep coming again. Also if there are some books or some knowledge tapes and some service activities then people will start coming.
Q: Guruji, even though we are from different parts of the world, our basics are the same. We all want peace and happiness. But what I feel is that we are working on the surface level and the core issues are not being addressed.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, first of all we need to identify what are the core issues. It is different in different parts of the world.
Somewhere it is poverty, somewhere it is wrong indoctrination, somewhere it is lack of opportunity for people, somewhere it is the selfishness of a few people who want for their selfish reasons to take hostage of the whole population.
But one thing that is common in all situations is basic ignorance of human values. If there is humanness in the people, then nobody can engage in violence, nobody can engage in corruption, nobody can engage in ruthless killing of civilians.
So basic human values need to be inculcated back into society. I know it is difficult, it is a huge task but it is not impossible. At least I don’t like to believe it is impossible. So we should keep making our efforts to bridge the gap wherever we can and leave the rest to God.
Q: Guruji why are there more women in the Art of Living than men?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think they are equal in number.
Today they look equal in number to me.
The Art of Living believes in women empowerment. They do things much better! That is what they expect men to say.
Q: Our country (Pakistan) is going through very difficult stage. As Art of Living people how do you see us resolving the current issues that we have, especially with our neighbors. We need to strengthen our ties with all our neighboring countries, India, Afghanistan and even Iran.
So how do you see this energy that has been created by Art of Living coming forth and helping?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The decision makers need to be in a calm and collective mode. If decision makers are in tension, they are suffocated or angry then they will project the same thing in their decisions.
So I would say the decision makers should really do some meditation and relax; especially when they have to take a very important and serious decision which will implicate a lot of people. They should think with a calm and serene mind. This is one thing.
So decision makers at every level and advisers.
The people who give advice they just give advice being very logical and the decision makers take a decision based on that advice. So both the advisers and the decision makers will have to take out some time and become very calm inside. Then the decision will be correct and supporting to the values of human life. This is one thing.
Second is, most of the trouble is created by rhetoric. It is just the fear that is getting created, ‘Oh there is a danger, there is danger.’
So some people find importance in creating such dangerous situations. They should stop doing this. They should give more hope to people.
Do not paint the future very bleak, but give a bright hope to the future. That also will reduce the tension to a great extent.
So Art of Living can start educating people and engage in conflict resolution wherever it is possible.
I was saying earlier, I am ready to go and talk to the Taliban, and I want to talk to them, understand them and give them my opinion.
So we can definitely make a difference, and we should try again and again and again. Even if we have to try again a 100 times, we should not leave it.
Q: Guruji, at one time you were associated with the TM movement and then the Art of Living started around the 80s. Why did you feel the need to start the Art of Living?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, TM (Transcendental Meditation) also teaches meditation and they talk about world peace, no doubt!
I was in my teenage when I was giving many lectures there. So, when I was 24 I started Art of Living.
Art of Living is more universal, it is based on the breath and the philosophy is very different from TM’s in some sense.
Of course we have Sahaj Samadi meditation which is very similar to TM.
But the Art of Living is different because we do a lot of social work which TM is not engaged in. We are more engaged in social service activities. And then the music and culture is also different. TM was more towards scientific research.
And this does not contradict any technique or any way of life because Art of Living is like water, whichever bowl you pour it in, it takes that shape.
So it is easily adoptable for any form of meditation.
Q: What is the role of media in promoting the cause of Art of Living?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, media can do a lot.
Media can highlight how much this can help people to get over depression, to get over conflicts at home, to bring people together. It has Health benefits, benefits in students’ life, it can bring emotional comforts and conflicts between individuals and groups can be resolved.
So media can bring to peoples’ attention all these things.
Q: How do we reach out to the Indian media and Pakistani media with all these benefits that the Art of Living can bring?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Indian media always covers this. We always find something in the Indian media throughout as Art of Living is so active. So, some of the activities come in Indian media.
Many militants in the North East region and also in the Maoist groups, when they did the course they dropped their arms and they dropped violence and they came to the main stream. All this news comes in the papers.
I think here also in Pakistan the media is spreading the information to people.
The media can really do some major changes here. It can play a very important role. For example, the media can play an important role in bringing peace talks between the Taliban and the other extremist groups; and second, in removing corruption and empowering people. And third would be to bring the positive news from both sides.
When people heard I am coming here, I had many people come and advise, ‘Oh, don’t go there now, there is so much danger; and don’t go without your own body guard. Nobody is safe there and every day someone is getting killed.’
From media what the people hear is that there is only extremism and there is no tolerance, and there are bomb blasts every day. I said, ‘No there is nothing like that. I have already decided that I want to go.’
Just yesterday night some of the top officials and some people from the government came to visit me and said, ‘Guruji, please don’t go.’
I said, ‘Do not worry about my security, my security is somewhere else. Nobody can do anything to me, I will go.’
So media can play the role, for others to know that the people honor each other here and diversities are also accepted. They can play a role in bringing this news to people and also in promoting tourism.
There are many places here to see, Takṣaśila and other places. If you can promote tourism in this country it can bring so much revenue.
I want to tell you, Greece is a small country but it has 12 million people who visit every year. That is the tourism! India has 4 million people visit every year, and Pakistan I think is less than a few hundred thousand. Tourism is at its lowest over here. So Pakistan can improve their tourism industry. The country’s economy will blossom.
Sri Lanka did that recently. Sri Lanka’s economy has grown so much as a result.
Do you know what did they do? They took over all those sites connected with the epic Ramayana, and revived them as tourist sites. Nobody knew till about 10 years back that such sites existed. Now the tourism is flooding into Sri Lanka, and they have made very nice arrangements with amphibian planes, boats; for everything they have made arrangements.
Thailand is also a small country, but tourism there is great.
Bali is a tiny island but it thrives on tourism.
So news papers can encourage tourism. A lot of Buddhists will come here from China, Japan and Korea. Hindus from India will come to see Gandhar, Takṣaśila and all these. So it can boost the economy in a very constructive way. That is something that you can do.
After this movie Chanakya in India, everybody thinks about Gandhar.
Have you heard about Chanakya? Chanakya was a great minister and a very intelligent man from Takṣaśila. He was the one who was responsible for Chandragupta Maurya’s kingdom.
Chanakya picked up a very poor boy from here (Chandragupta Maurya) and made him an emperor of the whole continent.
He had also written a book called Arthaśāstra, which is on economy and even today it is being taught in management schools in India. It is a very beautiful treaty on economics.
So they all are from this place (Pakistan).
Ayurveda also was born in Pakistan and so was Yoga. The first Yoga teachings were done in Pakistan. So Pakistan should own this ancient cultural heritage and then you can have a huge tourism industry and prosperity will come.
Q: How does it feel to come here to Pakistan?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is completely different now. I have interacted with the youth and I find the same enthusiasm and the same sense of belongingness like the youth in India. All the people here, you are all educated and I do not find any sort of close mindedness at all.
What I am saying is the projection is wrong. The media is like that; they pick and project only those pockets where there is trouble and problems.
So we need to create a new image for the country, that this country is also tolerant, we honor diversity, we acknowledge people from everywhere. This type of message should go out loud and clear.
Then what will happen is Pakistan’s tourism will improve and that will bring a big economic boost as well.
I feel so nice here; the people are so beautiful and so nice. This is the message that needs to go to the world, that there is so much love amongst the people here. And my visit here is going to carry this message to India and it is going to create a big wave.
The media has already taken this message that Guruji has been welcomed there and the people are very happy and Guruji is very happy. This message is going to bring the two countries much closer.
Similarly I was saying that the medicine for the 21st century medicine is Ayurveda and it belongs to Pakistan. It was born here.
Ayurveda, the materia medica of all the herbs (which herb is used for what) was written in Takṣaśila. The university here used to have 10,000 students from all over the world, they used to come and study there. Unfortunately Ayurveda is not used in the place where it was born. India and all over in the world they are reaping the benefits of Ayurveda and I think Pakistan should also focus on it and get it back.
(Sri Sri Ravi Shankar demonstrating Shakti Drops. An Ayurvedic medicine by Sri Sri Ayurveda)
You know a drop of poison can destroy your body. When a drop of poison can destroy a mass of 70 kilos, a drop of nectar can also work to strengthen it.
So this is (Shakti Drops) a combination of three herbs distilled in water which boosts your immune system so much that your body gains power.
It is really unbelievable. Right?
In the morning if you put 3 to 4 drops in water and drink, you feel very energetic. During exam time if you just rub a little on your skin you will be able to stay awake for another two hours without getting tired.
Similarly, there is one more product called Ojasvita which is like bournvita. It is made up of seven herbs and these seven herbs are so good for our brain and nervous system. If you take a cup of it then you will feel so good and so alive.
How many doctors are here? You should go to our website and see our Ayurveda Hospital. At our hospital, there is a technique to pull out a tooth without a drop of blood, without anesthesia and no pain.
Similarly pulse diagnosis; the doctor will catch hold of your pulse and will give you a complete history of what has happened to your health in just a few seconds. You do not have to go through an x-ray machine.
These are the specialties of Ayurveda, and what I want to tell you is Yoga and Ayurveda were born here in Pakistan.
Unfortunately nobody knows about it here. Many people do not know about all the systems of medicine. Ayurveda can be very useful for people.
Q: Guruji, if we are taking any allopathic medicines, will it have any side effects to take Ayurveda along with it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No! The beauty of the Ayurvedic medicines is that there are no side effects and they do not contradict any other medicine.
Q: How do we know Ayurveda has no side effects?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It has been time tested.
That is the beauty of herbology. If you take any medication through herbs, they do not have side effects. All the herbal medicines in the world, if you go through their webpage, they do not have any side effects, but if you take any of the herbs in excess it may not be good for you.
Like for example Triphala, is very good and it has no side effects but if you take too much of Triphala you will have diarrhea, but you cannot term that as a side effect.
Q: Guruji, do desires lead to pain?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Desires need not lead to pain.
Some desires, when you want to fulfill them but you do not have enough energy and you can’t fulfill them, then they give you pain.
Q: What is success?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Success could be different for different people. To me success is the smile that you have on your face. If nobody can take the smile away from you, I will call you successful. And the confidence that you have to face any challenge is another measure of your success.
Q: What is love?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Look into the eyes of an innocent child and see, that is love! Come back home to your pet dog, see how it wags its tail and jumps all over you, that is love!
And when you have fallen in love with someone and you are remembering them, look at your face in mirror and see! You will find the same love in your own eyes. Love is such that it makes even a stone melt.
Just like how our body is made of amino acids, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins; our consciousness is made of love and beauty.
Q: What is ego?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ego is that which destroys love. You can overcome ego by being natural, just like how you are right now!
Q: How to explain this restlessness in my heart which arises when I feel ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is very good! This longing is very necessary in life. This longing will uplift you.
Who am I? What is all this? Why am I here?
These are beautiful questions, be with them. Do not ask anyone for the answer, just keep asking yourself.
When you ask these questions and rest within your inner self, then you will see that you are light, which is everywhere and in everyone. You will also feel that you have no boundary. We usually think the mind is inside the body. No! The body is inside the mind.
Your mind is there up to one foot around you. Like in a candle, the wick is there and then the flame, right. Similarly, our body is like the wick of a candle and the mind is like the flame all over it. A bio-energy is there all over our body. That is why when you touch something it works, like your touch screens.
20 years ago if you had told people that just by touching an iPad will work, nobody would have believed you.
Nobody would have believed you that just by touching a phone would work or a screen would open. They would say, ‘Come on, do not be foolish.’
Today, there is an advanced technology that only if you touch it will open. If someone else touches it, it will not open. So that means every one of us carries a particular energy, particular vibration. Have you heard about this? There are biometric locks that have your energy in it and only when you put your hand it will open. Someone else puts their hand it will not open.
So technology has come so close to the ancient thought that everybody is energy. We all are bio-energy and we all have a lot of abilities within us.
Q: Why don’t yogis marry?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no rule that they should not marry, but they become like children again and child marriage is prohibited.
Q: What is tension?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I do not know. May be you should ask people who are stuck in traffic who have an urgent plane to catch, they will tell you what is tension.