About Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Kashmir has been in the news for wrong reasons since the last four months. Ever since then it been on the boil for past sometime. Violent protests, arson, looting and other forms of outbursts have rocked the very cradle of Jammu and Kashmir that once people called as `Paradise`.

I have never visited that place, but my parents told me that our ancestors belonged to Kashmir, living and thriving along the banks of the once mighty river Saraswati. We therefore came to be called as `Saraswats’, the people of the river Saraswati.

At that time, Kashmir Shaivism gave India the powerful spiritual wisdom of peaceful co-existence. The invaders from the West, forced us to migrate down south and some to the east of India, while imposing and promoting a totally non-Kashmiri philosophy.

In those days, one of the most inspiring core principles of Kashmir Shaivism that made Kashmir a true Paradise was thus – `That bondage, suffering and misery happens when one clings to a very strong sense of identity on the basis of race, region, religion, caste, creed and language`. That’s how the people of Kashmir survived the millennia, bonded together.

Has this sense of bondage come to haunt the people of Kashmiri once again?

That little bit of `Kashmir – in – me’, prompted me to write this piece on why I love Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s refreshingly new and profound initiative to restore Kashmir – Back to Paradise.

This is exactly the theme of the conference which he is scheduled to address on November 23rd in Jammu.

I have my own deep reasons to underline just some of his rare qualities which I believe, recognise him as a pioneer to `break-the-ice` in Kashmir today where human values, mutual trust, dialogue and understanding stand frozen.

 

Reason 1: A peacemaker who does not want to win!

 

Shocking it may sound. Someone who puts absolutely everything at stake for the larger good of people, takes risks and makes efforts to make others progress and win. A genuine conflict-resolution expert will never let anyone go back as a loser.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has offered to rebuild 27 schools in Kashmir burnt down by miscreants. With this offer, he has committed to the progress of Kashmir`s young and future. This I reckon is one of the true signs of a peacemaker.

 

Reason 2: Himalayan patience!

 

He is known to be a keen listener and brilliant observer. This is a virtue of someone who has a deep understanding of Meditation and also who is a successful Mediator. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his initiatives towards conflict -resolution, brings immense objectivity and impartiality to a situation. He has a Himalayan patience and the people of Kashmiri now want to be heard on their uphill situation as soon as possible.

 

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The attendees of the upcoming Jammu conference are :

The stone- pelters and their leaders who engaged in violence in Kashmir, Gujjar Bakarwals, teachers and professors of colleges, trade unions, ex-militants, Sufi representatives, the representatives of communities like Sikhs, Buddhists, etc., NGO s from the State, support groups of Army, writers and poets, Youth leaders, media persons, leaders from women organisations, leaders of Kashmiri Pandit community, representatives from Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Travel Agent Association of Kashmir, representatives from J&K Hoteliers Club etc.

Reason 3: Season for Change

 

As this season changes, bringing a shift in attitudes and perspectives becomes imperative. His skill, creativity and wisdom for transformation has been record – breaking, if not magical. The need of the hour is to bridge the gap of mistrust, suspicion, doubt and complete breakdown of dialogue. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar`s vision and mission are both critical now for Kashmir. That`s why we look up to men of wisdom. This raises hope for that much-needed shift.

 

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Should I say `A Paradigm Shift for a Paradise`.

Art of Living Wisdom, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Yoga and Meditation.

Duality in life 

 

I have always been a person who enjoys worldly life to the hilt, be it travel, food, beautiful objects that please the eye, hobbies that excite or movies and plays that make me laugh, cry or think. I love life in its many splendour and at the same time acutely aware of a spiritual bent of mind that thirsts for answers about higher purpose of life. If there is one person who has confused me to the core, it is myself! How can I be a thoroughly worldly person and yet effortlessly dissolve in the inner world?! Is something wrong with me? Well, in the fourth decade of my life, my Master decided to shower grace on me by His living presence. The process of unravelling the duality in mind, layer by layer, began and continuing…

 

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Walking on the path that Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has shown and looking up to Him with total faith has put my mind at rest to a great extent. Duality exists! Accepting and dealing with it playfully yet with profound wisdom is the art of living.

 

Spirituality is our nature !

 

Learning the true meaning of dispassion (Vairagya) relieves one of duality. People on the spiritual path are often regarded by others as some special species who shun tasty food, good life and worldly enjoyment, not knowing that spirituality is not averse to enjoying life. In fact, those who are not following any Master or a Path, are also spiritual. We are first spiritual beings and then human beings. Spirituality is our very nature. Spirituality is nothing but being natural and living all the virtues that we are endowed with by the Divine. If we see opposite of this in society or in ourselves at times, it is because of the company, environment and food habits that affect our state of mind. To combat this, we can just attend to these aspects and make our practice more regular and strong. Within a couple of days, we can surprise ourselves with the positive change!

During Navaratri satsang, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar mentioned about the effect of company. There is a lone horse called Raja. He lives in Goshala among cows. Someone brought two mares as gift to relieve the loneliness of Raja. Raja got so flustered at the sight of the mares that he began to run away from them! Raja has forgotten that he is different from cows and believes he is one among the cows. This is the effect of sangha if we lose sight of our unique identity. It is very easy to get pulled in opposite direction, specially as a beginner on the path. The whole thing becomes a snake and ladder game.

 

Strategy ! 

 

As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says so simply and beautifully, the strategy to move up as a Seeker is to set short term goals, then increase the span gradually as we get more and more strength and will power. Not to feel guilty if we slip occasionally. In fact, our resolve should become stronger each time we slip.

When we play in the world with total awareness, not losing sight of the goal of the Being even for an instant, dealing with duality becomes a cake-walk. Krishna philosophy is having one foot firmly rooted in the ground and play all the roles one is required to play as a human being. The other foot is off the ground, totally untouched by the worldly affairs. That is who we are at the core.

 

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Balancing both worlds with equanimity, playfulness and joy will awaken the Krishna consciousness in us. Thus we make our life a celebration enjoying every aspect of life, within and without. Where is duality to deal with?

Without my Master, I would still be groping in the dark, as reading any amount of scriptures would not give me the experience that the living Master provides. A Master, as a friend and guide helps us integrate and live the knowledge of Krishna philosophy. He creates situations to help us grow and glow.

Art of Living Experiences, Art of Living Projects.

India is slowly coming to terms with the government`s move to demonetize its 500 and 1000 rupee notes in a massive effort to curb black money, corruption and terrorism. While this move has been hailed by many as a rightful masterstroke by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the rush for new currency notes and smaller denominations has been creating a near-chaos on the streets.

Long queues at banks and ATM`s across India is a familiar sight. Bankers are stressed while the serpentine queues outside are distressed. When someone thought that it was a nightmare on Indian streets. This weekend the scenario was changing for the better.

Thousands of volunteers of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar`s Art of Living have spread into the streets of India to comfort, care and help people at banks and ATM`s.

 

 

 

“A wave of goodness has gone viral” said Anjesh Thakur as she was busy distributing water and biscuits to a five hundred people long queue outside a bank in rural Bangalore.

Similar moments of volunteerism are happening in various parts of India where selfless and inspired people are helping and cheering-up those waiting for their turn to touch, feel and use the new currency notes.

In Kerala, a massive wave of inspired volunteerism sparked by Art of Living volunteers is galloping at a rapid pace. The towns of Kasargod, Kozhikode, Pathanamthita, Thrissur, Trivandrum are seeing people being helped in many ways – filling out forms, music for the bored and reassurances for the panicking citizens.

The famous Kerala banana chips and tea is also making its rounds to anxious people waiting in the scorching sun. Senior citizens and the physically challenged are being given much attention as volunteers chat with them and take them ahead of the line to special counters set up by the banks.

A bank manager in Nasik, Maharashtra is reported to have profusely thanked Art of Living volunteers saying “Without your support we would have landed in hospital”. Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar are also seeing the goodness go viral.

Banks around the country are working round-the-clock to ensure that people receive smaller denominations and the new currency notes. A tall order indeed for a nation of a billion people with 2,00,000 ATM`s and several thousand bank branches.

 

 

Care for You. Care for Queue.  This seems to be the password of goodness that`s gone viral this weekend. Inspiring all those volunteers sweating it out. For India.