Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

26 September 2016 will go down in history as a memorable day for many peace-loving people around the world, especially those in Colombia (Latin America). It was that moment when the longest war in the world came to an end with the signing of a peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC rebels. And Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian and spiritual leader from India, one of the Master architects of that conflict resolution played a creative role in bringing peace to that nation.

On that evening, a few of us wished to partake of that celebration in Bengaluru (India), when Vegetarian Fried Ice Cream took the centre stage of our table. I could n`t hide my sweet tooth any longer and reached out for a piece. Deep fried and crispy attracts any Asian`s attention. In this part of the world, our thirst for the deep fried is very well known. Be it human values, wisdom, celebration or news. It`s a near 100%.

 

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As I lobbed that fried ball into my mouth and broke through the deep fried outer, the cool cool Vanilla ice cream that was hidden inside simply melted into my mind.

At this moment I recollected a unique meeting with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar about ten years ago. We were a motley crowd of twenty people sitting in that simple room in his Art of Living headquarters eagerly awaiting his arrival. Gentle breeze swept through us as we were waiting to catch a glimpse and soak in his radiant energy which a billion people seek every year.

He walked into the room fragrant with silence and settled in the sofa that quickly got enveloped with his white robes. He then gestured to us with his hands indicating “What`s happening” ? A cherubic smile and that famous twinkle in his eyes accompanied that graceful gesture. The silence in the room deepened. Even the rustling leaves in the adjoining garden came to a standstill. “What is he going to say?” slowly took hold of my mind.

He then said “ Sometimes people get so stuck with certain fixed concepts and ideas…. hardens them so much… that they just can`t see another point of view. It sometimes takes months and even years for such people to break-free and recognize the wisdom that liberates”.

My jaws dropped as I did see myself in a similar situation a few weeks earlier in that summer of 2006.

Today, I believe that perhaps the warring parties in Colombia had had their first taste of Fried Ice Cream. They finally dared to break through that crisp hard outer that was keeping them away from the cool, inner peace. This was their moment of truth. They Recognized Wisdom towards Freedom. That there exists a certain wisdom beyond their hard-held stated positions for several years. It is here that the Eastern culture and tradition, values and cherishes the role of a Guru (Spiritual Master) to help people to recognize wisdom.

This week, the President of Colombia and leaders of the FARC rebels thanked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar recalling his support and wisdom as the highest contribution to the peace process in their country. It is a well known fact that several governments and peacemakers across the world tried their best over the last fifty years to bring a closure to the deadly conflict, but to no avail.

 

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During the last two years of conflict resolution initiatives in that country, it is said that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke little to bring the actors in the theatre of war in Colombia to a peace-making path. Instead, it was his inner peace, natural sincerity, gentleness and reverence for all of life that `spoke without speaking`.

This I felt was the perfect Recipe to Conflict, as I relished a second helping of Fried Ice Cream celebrating that night of 26 September 2016.

 

Art of Living Experiences, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Your mind says “Do this”, but `You` want to do something else. You  absolutely positively want a particular thing, but your mind coaxes you to choose another. Society wants it to be “like this”. But you want it to be otherwise. Dad wanted you to become an engineer, but you chose to strum the guitar! You said “Celibacy”; parents said “Better get married”. Government wants to push that law through but Opposition wants it the other way.

A divided mind stares at us every now and then. As an individual, family, society or nation. Call it confusion or conflict. From a Monday morning to the weekend beginning.

This is exactly where you need to know about Spiritual Master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Meditation and Mediation. Several thousand worldwide do his Happiness programs and reach out for his wisdom to bring a closure to their issues of stress and a divided mind.

Simply put, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has helped people mediate and dissolve issues between their very own self and mind (read: confusion, conflicts) through meditation to instil individual peace.

 

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A Master of meditation. And a Master mediator.

If you thought he `s just a peaceful man. I invite you to look further. He`s a man of peace too. There may be a million peaceful people, but it takes a man of peace to commit and share a peaceful intention, time, energy and wisdom to usefully benefit individuals and nations.

Here I wish to spotlight his incredible mediation and measurable efforts towards a definite closure of the world`s longest war in Colombia (northwest South America).

This is the measure of a man of peace.

That beautiful country and the whole world will celebrate this month- end when the warring factions ink an agreement to sink their differences for lasting peace.

An idea that has quickly caught the imagination of people today, is the way Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lends expression to world peace. Unconditionally sharing his inner peace to the outer world of men and matters, pride and prejudice, confusion and conflict, mind and melancholy.

This sunny Sunday morning I took to writing on this amazing facet of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar because I was a witness to his consistent peace-building and reconciliation initiatives while I was on secondment voluntary service in Colombo, Sri Lanka (Asia). That pretty island – nation was also in a civil war for 30 years that concluded in 2009.

I recollect the enormous time, compassion, spiritual energy and wisdom that he brought to engage the civil society and the actors in the Sri Lankan theatre of war towards peace and prosperity.

In my understanding a key hallmark of his peace initiatives (both individual and worldwide) is that it goes beyond boundaries, transcending tried and tested concepts, beyond the tangible. Mainstreaming meditation and bringing it to the common man, he has rightly enlarged the footprints of peace.

From Colombo to Colombia. The spiritual Master, Meditation and Mediation were the only passengers to peace.

 

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Jai Gurudev !

Vidyut Udiaver

About Art of Living, Art of Living Projects.

For most of us who have been privileged enough to have electricity in our homes and money in our pockets, this fact may be hard to stomach-In India about one lakh villages do not have access to electricity and in many more villages, economic difficulties render it unaffordable.

Among the many problems that lack of electricity brings with it, a crippling problem is poor availability of lights or no lights for children to study. Children may even be enrolled in schools, but if they do not have electricity, you know not much can happen with textbooks lying in the dark.

But the world’s largest volunteer-based organisation, The Art of Living has taken it upon itself to make sure, no child is left behind on the path of education because of this darkness.

The organisation is removing this darkness through its flagship Project Nanhi Kiran which was launched in November 2015 at the Art of Living International Center inspired by the founder of The Art of Living, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

As part of the project, Art of Living has provided about 1150 rechargeable solar study lights so far, of which 810 solar lights have been distributed in the remotest corners of Arunachal Pradesh(about 160 of them in Lohit District), 90 in Karnataka, 30 in Manipur, 140 in rural Bangalore near the Art of Living International Ashram.

The Art of Living through the Nanhi Kiran Project has also encouraged local entrepreneurship and youth empowerment. The organization identifies a local entrepreneur, develops a youth leader and looks for youth who want to work for this project along with wanting to be entrepreneurs. They are taught to repair these especially designed lights. He becomes the go-to person for these lights in the area. He makes a small commission on the repair as well as sales and distribution of the lights.   A part of the donation made in buying these lamps, also pays the salaries and commissions for these youth.

The cost of making each light is Rs.450 and this does not include the transportation and cost of paying those who make and repair these lights. So far the project has been funded by Sri Sri Rural Development Program. The project is looking to collaborate with companies and government agencies to bring this light to more lives.

The Art of Living is looking to reach out to ten thousand children through its Nanhi Kiran Project in the most isolated and neglected corners of the country.

The implementation of Nanhi Kiran Project, especially in the far flung areas of a state like Arunachal Pradesh, has not been without its share of challenges. The Art of Living has reached out to over 10 schools in Arunachal Pradesh that lack even the basic connectivity to the other areas of the state, apart from lack of electricity, transport and basic infrastructure.

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From The Horse’s Mouth

The remoteness of the region and the problem of poor accessibility is hard to imagine unless, seen through one’s own eyes. “I was working in some project for Assam, and I received a call from Tezu district, AP, saying  the 60 lamps that we have sent across was waiting to be distributed,” shares Chaitanya Sangawar, Coordinator of Nanhi Kiran Project, “When I arrived there I went to a government school. The kids were from different ethnicities and economic backgrounds. They were very shy children. Some of them could not afford the light, because Rs.100 was a lot. So we collected Rs.50 from them. But, still some of the children could not afford the light. I noticed that many children did not even have slippers. We asked if there were more schools that needed help and they said, ‘Yes, but you have to go more deep to some villages, you have more than 100 students that need your support’. I was shocked, because I thought, if this is remote and this is how the people live their lives, what can be more remote than this, what kind of economic condition do they live in? The lights have to reach the children. We are planning to go to the region, but it is impossible for a regular person to go and work there. We need the help of the Indian Army, helicopters, trucks for the logistics of distribution.”

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How can you help?

Anyone who is interested to buy the solar lights or support the Program can get in touch with Sri Sri Rural Development Program, in Bangalore. In order to make it feasible, the organization would need- a school with at least 100 students, the details of the school, number of the students, contact details and a local  distribution person from Art of Living  or someone that wishes to support this project.

Though it does not even cover the cost of making the lights, the students  need to pay  Rs,100. This amount is for the student, family, to value the light that he or she is buying.