Art of Living Review, Art of Living Wisdom.

A treasure box of truths so ancient, they’re new…

 Recall the last time you hugged someone dear, and felt love which your arms could not encircle. The last time you smelt a flower, and felt soaked with intoxication that your mind could not contain. The last time you heard a soulful strain, and felt a rhythm your heart couldn’t hold. The last time you saw a thing momentary, and perceived beauty your speech couldn’t express.

 Celebrating Silence 3

Each time, you were celebrating silence.

It is to deepen the relationship of a seeker with his Self, that this book by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar begins with a title that challenges the sense driven experiential norm held by man – Celebrating Silence!

 

The world teaches us to celebrate with sound, with light, with energy. This manifestation of celebration can be felt and be shared tangibly. However such celebration tires us, while we want it to last, and not get over. This is man’s greatest search.

 

Indeed the age old dilemma in front of man has been about how to keep the spirit high, how to keep the celebration going without losing enthusiasm.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Celebrating Silence

 

The sublime spiritual truth dawns on man when he realises, an infinite amount of celebration is available forever, but in silence. Fortunate are the ones who receive knowledge from a Guru which allows them to be able to experience the infinite celebration available inside continually.

 

Celebrating Silence by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a roadmap to that journey from the noise outside, created by the various emotions, such as anger, jealously, sadness, hopelessness etc. to the cool world of solidified silence inside.  Soaked in the wisdom from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, for a true seeker, celebration dawns.

 

The journey in the book starts from the distortions in the mind, moves to one’s own self and finally moves towards God, or simply the Beyond.

Celebrating Silence

The beauty of the knowledge in the words of an Enlightened Master is that they keep growing in depth with time, each reading after a passage of some more months and years reveals nooks and crannies of infinite beauty, never stumbled across before. Celebrating Silence contains many such moments on each page.

 

Sample this gem, “Knowledge is not in an event, knowledge is beyond events. For true knowledge one will have to consider the totality of all events, infinitely. Beyond the event is knowledge”.

 

Events create noise inside us all the time; somebody was nasty with us, something did not turn out the way we wanted. Vibrations of these could create so much noise inside us that it refuses to die, sometimes even for a lifetime. The result shows up as misplaced interpretations, traumatic impressions and painful entanglements. Whereas an event considered within infinite totality, disappears, becomes insignificant to the point of being laughable.

That leads us back to silence.

 

It is this journey – from the proverbial darkness to the figurative light, from untruth to truth, from that which withers, to that which doesn’t – that the ancient scriptures speak of.  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has brought back the seemingly esoteric but profound truths through simple language and endearing stories in this book meant for today, while being timeless in their appeal.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar book

This is knowledge ancient yet forgotten, and it speaks to us directly holding us by our shoulders, our inner realisation the proof of its truth. Celebrating knowledge enlivens the deep silence in us. Sometimes it is moments such as these, which bring us in touch with the core of life, the purpose for which we were born.

 

Celebrating silence without awareness is to mistake the source of joy to be in the world.

Celebrating silence with intention is to merge with our selves.

 

 About the Author

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian and spiritual leader, an ambassador of peace and human values. Through his life and work, Sri Sri has inspired millions around the world with a vision of a stress-free, violence-free world. He has founded courses that provide techniques and tools to live a deeper, more joyous life and he has established nonprofit organizations that recognize a common human identity above the boundaries of race, nationality, and religion.

 

Art of Living Wisdom.

In the Northern hemisphere, months of April, May and June mean summer. At the peak of summer, most lands look parched and dry. Availability of water in summer becomes a problem in different parts of the globe.

Perhaps, as a warning of this oncoming problem, the world observes World Water Day on March 22nd every year.

The Stark Reality – Water, a Finite Resource

Water is a renewable resource. At the same time it is a finite resource. The amount of water available globally is in fact very limited, for nearly 98 % of the water on earth is in the form of water in the seas and oceans, as salt water. This water is neither useful for industry, nor agriculture, animals nor humans.

Trying to harness this brackish sea water through the modern reverse osmosis process is not only capital intensive and costly but the annual operations and maintenance costs are prohibitive too. That puts almost 98% of water on earth, out of our reach.

Given this scenario we have to depend on the balance, little over 2% water for our water needs.
A substantial portion of this 2% of fresh water too, is locked up as ice in the 2 poles, the ice caps on snow covered mountains and the heavy glaciers in them. They form about 1.725 % of the total water on earth.

So, what is left as flowing fresh water, is hardly 0.025 % of all the water in the world.

Water on Earth

Flowing fresh water is thus not infinite, but finite and very miniscule. Human population on the other hand has been growing steadily, adding about one billion to its population every few decades.

water supply decreasing
This means that the same quantity of water has to be shared by a billion more people every 10 years, which means that there is going to be less and less water for each individual, for their needs of life, as the years roll by.
Farming, a Water Guzzler?
The major needs of water for life are not for drinking, bathing and washing, but the major consumption of water is for growing the food we eat. Hence many tend to classify farming as a water guzzler. Many city dwellers are also under the impression that animal products may be a viable alternative to growing food during water shortage.
Is that really so?
The Reality

1 Kilo of grain, be it rice, wheat, pulses, cereal, needs about 1500 liters of water. That is indeed a high volume of water needed to grow grains.
In comparison, to create 1 kilo of meat, approximately 15000 liters of water are calculated to be required. So, growing live stock for meat is actually 10 times more water intensive than growing grains for food.
This is a bigger water guzzling reality.

water needed to grow food

Vegetarianism – A Need, Not A Choice Any More

If earth has to be sustainable and water resources have to be judiciously handled for the burgeoning population, then it becomes not a choice, but a necessity, that we move away from being a meat eating population to vegetarianism, so that 9/10th of the fresh water currently lost on growing live stocks just for human consumption, is made available once again for human needs.

Food Wastage – What else is wasted?

What is even more worrying to observe, is the atrocious wastage of the food that has been produced using this limited, precious water. It is estimated that about 30% of all the food that is produced is wasted. Just imagine the amount of manual effort, land use and other resources that had gone into the production of this food for consumption. Think of the amount of the precious water that has gone into producing these foods, which literally goes down the drain when the food is wasted.

Virtual Water

The water that goes into the production of food is now referred to by the term “virtual water” of the product. In today’s world economy, there is free trade of food from one region to another. With newer technologies to keep food produce fresh during transport and genetic modifications to give them a longer shelf life and world appeal, we have now transcended the bounds of seasons, climates, geography and topology.

Non seasonal and non local foods have therefore found their way into local reach thus encouraging some regions of the world to produce in excess of their local consumption needs, so that it can be exported for more gains, to other regions of the world where this product is in demand.

Along with the produce, since there is also a virtual transfer of the water that has gone into the making of the produce, there is also a “virtual water trade” happening along with every trade of produce.

Trade Compensation

Producers get paid for their produce.
Exporters get paid for their handling.
The nation receives foreign exchange.
But what about the “virtual water” that has gone into the growing of the produce and has been traded with?
Has the land been compensated enough for the depletion of this virtual water?
Will the monies received, be able to reproduce water in excess of the finite limit of fresh water that falls on a land?
Who is to compensate for this loss in Nature? Does it really matter to us?
This question gains further significance in the context of the current, lopsided, world economy and trade.

A Man-made Global Imbalance

A careful look at trends around the world will show that most of the water intensive produce of the world is produced in and exported from the developing and underdeveloped countries of the world. Typically the countries in the tropical belt which receive more rain and shine.

These countries send out their finite amount of fresh water as “virtual water” in their product exports on one hand and complain of shortage of water on the other hand to meet the direct needs of water. They finally end up borrowing from the developed nations to find solutions for their water shortage problems, little realizing how it is being created in the first place.

As a global community, we need to become aware of this virtual truth, of an imbalance being created by mankind in the last few centuries.

A Natural Balance

Our ancients seem not to have encountered such an issue. Could be because of their prudent way of living, guided by the rhythm of seasons, climates and topology. Humans and animals consumed locally produced seasonal products – those that were adapted to be produced in their local topology, those that could be produced in that season, for their climatic conditions.
This not only kept them fit and healthy for their local conditions but also did not put undue stress on their finite amount of local water, in order to produce locally for the entire world.

Reflecting on Virtual Water

virtual water a reflection on Art of Living Blog

The overall amount of water on this earth has not changed. This earth has in the last many millennia sustained its population of people, animal life and plant life with these finite water resources. We the humans have made this free natural resource into a trading commodity in the last few decades.

How long will this help sustain the modern, commercial times that we live in? Are we, in our pursuit of satiating our taste buds with alien foods and in our greed for monetary wealth, creating imbalances in our minds, body and Nature?

It’s time for mankind to pause and think, “Do we all really need global food at our local kitchens, at the price we are all really having to pay for it?”

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Art of Living Projects.

1 month old baby Rupsa (picture below) was admitted to a Nutritional Rehabilitation Center with respiratory distress due to improper feeding in Kolkata. She was fed sugar and tap water as soon as she was born

malnutrition.artoflivingblog

 

2 year old Asik Laskar, who cannot sit, talk or eat on his own is severely malnourished and suffering from respiratory distress. His mother suspected “witchcraft”. What it was, was severe malnutrition along with cerebral palsy.

malnutrition.artoflivingblog

Malnutrition is an unfortunate reality in a world of abundance. While it robs some children from reaching their fullest potential, for some, it spells death.

 Despite India’s booming economy and growth in the recent decades, more than one third of the world’s malnourished children live in India. Nearly 6000 children die everyday in the country, due to malnutrition-related causes. The malnutrition figures for the country are worse than sub-Saharan Africa.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh condemned the situation, calling it a “national shame”.

This, when India runs the largest child development program in the world called ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services).  So what went wrong? What are some approaches the Government and NGOs can take to make a dent in the malnutrition figures of the country?

 

The good news is – with timely treatment, lives can be saved, damage can be limited. With education and advocacy, malnutrition can be entirely prevented.

In a vast and complex country like India, the causes of malnutrition are also varied. Most of the time, malnutrition starts in the womb. The mother is often very young, uneducated, malnourished, and does not have the required family support to experience a healthy pregnancy. The child therefore is born weak, susceptible to diseases and compounded with inappropriate childcare practices, suffers from malnutrition.

One of the major causes for malnutrition in India is gender inequality. Due to the low social status of Indian women, their diet often lacks in both quality and quantity. Women who suffer malnutrition are more likely to give birth to underweight babies, breastfeed for a shorter period of time and lack resources and knowledge to feed their children optimally.

Other leading factors include poverty, lack of knowledge about optimal feeding practices, superstitions and myths, seasonal migration, corruption, lack of access to health care and poor hygiene and sanitation.

What do the abysmally high child malnutrition rates mean for the individual and the country?

Deficiencies in nutrition inflict long-term damage to both individuals and society. Nutrition-deficient individuals are more likely to have infectious diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, which lead to a higher mortality rate.

It also has consequences on a macro level, such as a greater disease burden on and lower economic output for the country.  In a country where labor and human capital is considered a major asset, it does not bode well if half the population is under-nourished and only marginally productive.

Importance of optimal nutrition in the first 1000 days of life

The first 1000 days of life, starting from conception till the child turns 2, is the “window of opportunity” where good feeding practices and care can lay a strong foundation of health for the rest of the child’s life.

That means nutrition and care for the pregnant woman is as important as feeding the child after it is born.

malnutrition.artoflivingblog

 

If a child does not receive adequate and appropriate nutrition during this critical period, the adverse effects on its health is irreversible. It has long term consequences such as poor physical, cognitive and emotional development, lower performance in school, reduced earning potential, undernourished progeny as well as greater susceptibility to illnesses and infections.

Health programs were largely failing to reach infants in the first two years of their lives, when malnutrition usually sets in and causes permanent mental and physical damage. The government lacked a coherent plan to overcome the shortcomings of the child health program, which depends on village health workers who are overburdened and poorly educated, trained and paid.

Community-engaged programs to combat malnutrition

Engaging the local community to take charge of their nutritional status, in the first 1000 days of a child’s life, is immensely effective in establishing a sustainable nutrition model.

A community level grass root intervention typically involves local community leaders, trained health workers either from the community itself, NGOs, and existing government infrastructure such as Anganwadis, ASHA workers and local health care facilities.

malnutrition.artoflivingblog

Community members are trained on how to use the resources that are already at their disposal to feed themselves and their children, how to practice sanitary habits, keep their environment hygienic, importance of immunizations, at-home remedies for simple illnesses as well as connecting them to available government entitles.

 

Typically, children and pregnant women who are moderately or severely malnourished are identified by health workers. They are provided targeted intervention such as regular weighing/measuring, lactation support, provision of folic acid supplements to pregnant women, training family members on healthy and hygienic cooking practices and promoting child care practices that will keep it healthy and disease-free.

 

In the process, the social causes of malnutrition in the community are also identified and counseling and behavioral change efforts are undertaken. This includes promoting the importance of a woman’s nutrition during pregnancy, lessening her work burden and promoting institutional delivery among others.

 

This creates a sustainable model that will go a long way in breaking the cycle of multi-generational malnutrition and keeping communities healthy.

 

NGOs play a crucial role in capacity building and training of government health workers, providing technical expertise, helping bridge community resources to provide a comprehensive nutrition program, measuring success of the programs and advocating for policies that will help improve nutritional outcomes of children.

 

With the right engagement and will from all sectors of society, malnutrition can be reduced and the unnecessary suffering of millions of children can be mitigated.

 

Healthy children are crucial to building a healthy nation.

As architects of future India, children deserve attention to their overall well being. There is a popular saying ” you are what you eat”. It is a calling for all those who care to contribute towards building a better India.  Good health through proper nutrition brings harmony in a family, society and nation at large.

 

Pooja Srivatsa

President – Child Nutrition Foundation (CNF)

www.childnutritionfoundation.net

CNF is a Bay-area (California) based non-profit organization, committed to raising awareness, supporting and implementing projects to fight maternal and child malnutrition in India. We implement nutrition-intervention projects in identified at-risk communities in partnership with local health workers, government and health care resources.