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No nation can afford to think only for itself

Cultivating a broad vision, a creative mind and a compassionate heart are important to deal with the challenging times we are in. Sri Sri Ravishankar writes.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2010 09:14 IST
Sri Sri Ravishankar
Sri Sri Ravishankar
Hindustan Times

There needs to be an uprising from the people. India and Pakistan need to come together for people to people contact because when people's hearts are not united, government rhetoric will continue.

And they will think that is the way to garner votes, but when they figure that the people to people bonding is stronger there will be no issue for them for their election. It will not be militarised as much. Like we have a very people to people relationship with Nepal. No one hears about any conflict between the two countries. If we can build a similar relationship with Pakistan, then terrorism will also come down.

If people rise up and say no we are not going to bomb or engage in any terrorist activity in our neighouring country, then the recruitment that happens for terrorist camps in Pakistan will drastically come down.

The people to people movement can be strengthened in many ways. Culturally, is one. I feel spiritually is the best. I was at the Wagah Border last weekend, and saw people from the other side holding placards saying 'thank you guruji'. They had tears...though I didn't get the visa to go beyond zero point, I told them that the borders can't stop the merger of the hearts - dilon ke beech mein sarhadein darar nahi paida kar sakti.

People have never been exposed to this knowledge and once you give them this knowledge there's a big transformation that happens...that aggression will disappear. It's a long drawn process, not something that can happen immediately. But the direction is good and I feel is giving encouraging results.

As far as China is concerned, they (the Chinese) are very intelligent people. They know what their society lacks or what would benefit their society. They don't want to be left behind or lagging in any way. All developing countries are suffering from stress-related problems and they are all turning to spirituality. Twenty-thirty years ago, spirituality was a taboo. In India today, for so many intellectuals, all this is hoax. But if you see companies like DaimlerChrysler, they talk about relaxation and spirituality. People recognise it. Today, the World Bank is doing these courses. To make people aware of their inner potential and to create harmony in society which is fast disappearing, China wants to take up spirituality.

Redefining troubled times
We can't blame the times as troubled or bad. We can only equip ourselves to cope with the challenges of the times. If you're well equipped, you can handle anything. Times are not bad. Take it as an opportunity. Spirituality is a core important thing. We need a broad vision, compassionate heart, and a creative mind. No nation can afford to think only for themselves today. For when environmental disasters happen, we have to think about our planet. The reason that the Copenhagen talks failed was because they didn't have this vision - of a one-world family.

Then, take things like alcohol. This time in Diwali, three times more alcohol was served than ever before. In Amritsar, the drug problem is huge, it's the drug capital of India. That's why we have taken up this drug free project in Punjab. With minimum resources, 29,000 people could be reached and de-addicted.

Look at their crop, corn. The original corn of Punjab contains more folic acid and protein than imported corn. I urge the farmers there that they should save their indigenous corn. People in villages used to be healthier earlier. Though their corn was small but people were strong. Today you have big corn and weak people. It's our foolishness that we just blindly follow the western agricultural systems and forget our own indigenous system, just because you get a little more yield.

I'm glad that all those who were for natural farming and were ridiculed are being appreciated today. I met a doctor in Punjab who said that '20 years ago people made fun of me when I said that you have to preserve the soil content.' Today they are saying the same thing. The same thing happened with ayurveda - it was ridiculed by western and allopathic doctors in the 80s and today it's back.

Time are changing, I'm pained to see the scale of corruption, but it's good that the youth is getting more involved.

We have to be proactive. Seva (service) sadhana (meditation) and satsang (religious discourse) are the three things that can make you proactive. By losing your enthusiasm and happiness, you're not going to give anything to the society, so at least keep up your energy and work towards a clean and better India.

Main principles are tolerance, simplicity and sacrifice. There's joy and pride in sacrifice. There's pride in non violence. This is missing today. A violent guy is considered a hero than a soft one. This was not the case earlier. If someone had a temper, they were not looked as normal. People with equanimity were considered leaders. That's not the case today. It's because perhaps we have sidelined spiritual and moral education, the value system has crumbled. We did not have pride in our own value system or culture, which is today being ridiculed by our own people. We are trying to copy the western society.

I would tell anyone, whether in business or salaried, to engage in social activities. That will give you immense satisfaction. If you're a lawyer, then take up free cases for the poorest of the poor, if you're a doctor, hold medical camps without expecting anything. A teacher could give free tuitions to government school children.

And at least for a week in a year do yoga, sit in silence and meditate.

- As told to Shalini Singh
(Sri Sri Ravishankar is a spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living Foundation)

First Published: Nov 18, 2010 23:38 IST