Overcoming Challenges to Peace

Posted on: Sunday, September 20, 2015 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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There are usually two sides to a civil conflict and no matter who strikes first, eventually both sides are wounded. Conflict arises in the first place because both sides stick to their stand, yet to resolve the issue, both need to be made to rise above and look at the larger picture. Breakdown of communication is a major cause in escalating the dispute and thus, dialogue is an important tool in resolving it.

When I visited Latin America in June this year, we sent a message to meet with the leaders of the Colombian rebel group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). They responded positively and we had a very fruitful meeting in Cuba. The armed conflict between the Colombian government and FARC has been going on for five decades, claiming more than 220,000 lives and displacing over 7 million people. Though they engage in violent acts on the outside, yet inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help. When the victim is healed, the culprit disappears. I told them that I understood their plight but non-violence was the only way towards social justice. They adopted the Gandhian way immediately and soon declared a unilateral ceasefire. The government also reciprocated with a ceasefire a few days later.

People who take to violent means due to a sense of injustice, can be engaged in dialogue if approached the right way. From their perspective, they are fighting for a cause out of righteousness. In a way, their passion, commitment and the spirit of sacrifice is commendable. When outer dynamism, which they have in abundance, is complemented with inner peace, they can prove to be a boon to the society. Many of our free tribal schools in terrorist-affected regions are being run by former extremists. In fact, in the beginning, they threatened our volunteers to close them down. But when they saw that these efforts were benefiting their own communities, they became volunteers themselves.

Yet terrorism arising out of religious fanaticism is very different. It is blinded by a doctrine that is not open to any discussion or dialogue. For them, people who disagree with their scripture or think differently have no right to even exist. On my visit to Iraq in November, 2014, I offered to have a dialogue with the Islamic State group; they responded with a death threat! If even a small part of the world lives in such darkness, the world cannot be a safe place. So far, the horrible atrocities that they were committing were limited to the region under their influence but the mass exodus of millions of refugees that they have now caused affects the whole world. If the neighbour’s house is on fire, it is only a matter of time before the fire reaches your own doorstep. To prevent the spread of this fanatical mindset, religious leaders can play a big role in imparting a multi-religious education and an education in peace. There is a need to bring a shift from the idea of “sole ownership of heaven” to an ideology of “many paths to One Goal”. Honouring diversity as an essential characteristic of our planet can help us move from merely being tolerant of our differences to celebrating them.

Turbulence is a part of this world whereas making peace is the nature of our spirit. If with a strong resolve and skill, we are able to remain centered in peace, it does not remain limited to just us, it begins to calm down the turbulence around us as well. On this International Day of Peace, let us resolve to be established in peace inside and be dynamic in action to bring it to the world outside.

Source: Huffington Post

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Thousands Attend Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Maha Satsang at Odisha-Based Sri Sri University

Posted on: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 | Posted by: Art of Living Universe

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“Education with inspiration is of no use, the purpose of knowledge is inspiration. Youth must be inspired and must, in turn, inspire. The sign of a well-educated, well-cultured individual is a healthy body, happy mind and sharp intellect. That is the kind of atmosphere that is created here. This is one of the happiest campuses in India,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, addressing thousands who had gathered on the premises of Sri Sri University for a Maha Satsang with the world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader and founder, The Art of Living. Sri Sri is also the founder and lifetime president of the University.

The event was watched in over 1500 locations across 68 countries through live webcast.

“In the ancient days, India was controlling one-third of the global economy.This was because of our education system. More than 10000 students were coming to India to study in Universities like Nalanda and Taxila. Our freedom fighters wanted India to have good universities. Today our universities do not feature even among the top 100 Universities in the world, we have fallen behind,” he said.

“Our education system collapsed because we borrowed all the negative traits from the West, especially of substance abuse. We did not borrow their positive qualities – of discipline, cleanliness or punctuality. India has given one of the best prayers, the Gayatri Mantra, to the world. The Gayatri Mantra signifies the purity of intellect. We must ensure that our intellect is not corrupt. If this culture is there from the beginning, there is no problem.”

Sri Sri also answered several questions from the audience on a wide range of topics from brain drain, faith and peer pressure to destiny, the purpose of life and the significance of the various forms of Indian deities.

“The snake on the deity Shiva’s neck represents the state of higher awareness which comes through meditation. The lotus, conch, mace and chakra in the hands of the deity Vishnu as well as the blue colour of his form, represent the five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space, which make up all of creation.”

Sri Sri also invited the people of Odisha to join the World Cultural Festival, to mark the 35th anniversary of the Art of Living Foundation, in New Delhi from March 11 - 13 2016. 154 countries are expected to participate in the event.

Source: Orissa Diary

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