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After reading various blogs discussing the values of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living Foundation, I was looking for a forum to share my personal experiences of being involved with the Foundation. As one of the founding members of the organization, I have worked closely with Sri Sri for more then 22 years. Having spent countless hours in his presence, I have seen him in many diverse situations that have shown me again and again that his is a total commitment to a mission of eliminating human suffering on this planet. Besides sleeping just a few hours a day and taking meals, all of his time is spent in teaching, serving and uplifting others. He doesn’t seem to have any personal agenda or a separate personal life.
Yet in spite of Sri Sri’s dedication, he has received criticism from a few individuals who want to portray him as a fraud.
As the current president of his organization in the US for the last 5 years, I see where every dollar goes. The finances of all of his organizations reflect this emphasis on service. Because all of our organizations are registered 501c3 non-profits, all of the foundation’s 990 financial information is available to the general public to view on the Guidestar website after taxes are filed each year.
Sri Sri has a very Gandhiesque approach to running his foundation. He is more concerned about the future growth and expansion of the organization rather than in any personal gain. He refuses to take any of the honorariums he receives for his personal use and insists that all donations that have been given to him are to be used to support the numerous social service projects he has inspired in India and abroad. In fact, if his staff did not look after his personal needs, I’m sure Sri Sri would still be living in his original hut-like room at his ashram in Bangalore. His life is an open book. When he is not flying across the globe meeting political, religious and business leaders, sharing wisdom and collaborating on ways to improve the quality of life on the planet, he is either sharing knowledge, answering the plethora of emails he receives form Art of Living members and volunteers from 154 countries or spending personal time attending to all the individuals who come to meet him and receive his guidance.
At all hours of the day and night there is a sea of people waiting outside his room eager for a few moments to meet with him. And inside his room or hotel suite there are numerous volunteers assisting him in whatever way they can. Besides the few hours he sleeps or meditates, Sri Sri doesn’t have any alone time. I’ve often played the roll of being his secretary and spent more then 16 hours a day with him. There are so many interruptions, that getting work done is always a challenge. Getting a few moments alone with him is very rare. There is a constant revolving door to his room with someone entering and grabbing his attention at almost every moment.
Many times I’ve questioned Sri Sri’s motives for adhering to a daily schedule that is so grueling and physically demanding. No matter how many demands and challenges he faces, Sri Sri remains exuberant, posed and attentive to all who came to meet him. He is clearly there for one purpose, to ignite a spark of self-awareness and compassion that can help people lead a more fulfilling and productive life.

Michael Fischman

President of Art of Living Foundation , USA

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Here is the link to the Part 1 of 8 parts of this beautiful talk by Dushyantji. Jai Gurudev

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On the eve of the Third International Women’s Conference to be held at the AOL Foundation in Bangalore between February 6 and 8, Bhanumathi told MiD DAY the theme of the conference was Light of Leadership. The director of AOL’s Women and Child Welfare programmes said they would discuss the role of the woman as a leader during the meet. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: What is the objective behind the conference?
Bhanu Didi :The vision is to bring together women from diverse backgrounds and beliefs and create a harmonious thread of friendship and belonging. The theme of our 3rd conference is the ‘Light of Leadership: Integrating Global Perspectives’. I would say, today, more than ever, the world requires leadership that is compassionate, progressive, equal and responsible. Our aim is to bring out the role of women as leaders and share a vision of progress for the whole globe. This conference aims to highlight what women can achieve. It’s a meeting of hearts and minds.

What are the projects being undertaken for uplifting women?
Bhanu Didi :  Sri Sri often says: “When you train a woman, you help the entire family, community and nation.” Based on his direction, AOL focuses on empowering women by providing vocational training and life skills. Our programmes help to gain economic independence, instil confidence and inspire women to become leaders in their communities. The Youth Leadership Training Programmes and Rural Development Programmes have transformed the lives of thousands of women across the world. I am very happy to say that the outcomes are very inspiring.
Of course, a lot more needs to be done in this regard. But it is a clear beginning and will take shape in reviving our traditional culture of honoring women.

Q :There is much talk on discontinuing pub culture. What are your views on this?

Bhanu Didi : Pub culture is new to me. Our generation had a different upbringing. I would say, this is western culture and is not natural to us. Whether it is a boy or a girl, drinking is not welcome. Nowadays, youth are stressed because of environmental and peer pressures.

This is escapism under the garb of relaxation and happiness. Youth resort to such modes of escapism and later become their slaves. Youth love to be free. They don’t understand that habits like drinking and smoking, which are addictions, result in bondage. The only answer to this situation is proper spiritual education where you get higher pleasure through meditation.

By adopting spiritual knowledge, you can control your mind. It helps you recognise your own power and makes you realise that external pleasures cannot give you inner joy. You can be cool, be popular and have a healthy lifestyle as well. I am sure that present-day youth are intelligent enough to opt for a healthy lifestyle of vegetarianism, yoga and meditation.

Q: There is a debate on moral policing. Do you think outfits such as the Sri Ram Sene or Shiv Sena have the right to don the role of a moral police?

Bhanu Didi :When we are responsible, we don’t need moral policing. A responsible citizen will never allow himself to be policed. Moral policing can be argued as concern for youth. Yet, this concern must be expressed in a compassionate manner, by educating them. Violence is not the answer. A wrong act can never be corrected through violent behavior. Only love can bring in the transformation. Every human being is divine. We have no right over another’s life or lifestyle. I would appeal to elders to respect youth and treat them as equals. Yoga is considered to be an anushasan. When one follows proper yoga of the body and mind, self-discipline is inculcated. Yoga can open the doors of self-transformation. This is my belief and my experience.

What should be the role of the parents when it comes to moral policing?

Bhanu Didi :Our tradition says: Prapte tu Shodhashe varshe, Putram mitram, Vada charet. Once a child is 16 years, treat him/her as a friend. Be a friend to your child. Advise them. Keep a close watch on them. Take an interest in their lives. That’s how you can become a part of their lives.

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Source ::http://bawandinesh.name/

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Bawa  said everyone asks for Guruji’s message for the New year, but we don’t have it yet… So here is my message instead!

And then he quoted a Shloka of the Guru Pooja:

“Nikhila nilimpa Parishad
Siddhim Vidhate nisham”

In a very memorable flight with Guruji from Bangalore to Mumbai, Guruji had explained the hidden meaning of that sholaka to Bawa, which he shared with us… The entire Host of the Heavens are there on the Guru’s door, ready to shower you with Siddhis and blessings and whatever you can possibly wish for! But, don’t get stuck there, don’t get caught up with some siddhis, come to me, come to me… Come to the Guru!

Don’t be like a person playing with a colourful sea shell or stone, some mere bauble on the beach when the entire Ocean with all its majesty and mystery and grandeur awaits….

Whatever we have got from our Sadhana is just like dust, worthless and meaningless and useless… someone’s health became better, somebody got a job, someone got married, another got superb grades and another became rich… and this is all worthless, its all junk… Only special effects!

The purpose of Sadhana is beyond our comprehension, the treasure that Sadhana is will never be revealed till you are stuck with the special effects… What you get here is so precious, and you dont know, you cannot even begin to know… Who Guruji is and what he has given to us…

People often ask me (Bawa) Whats the purpose of my life? Anyone who asks this question after doing the Art of Living course according to me is an idiot!
The purpose of this life is very simple! Learn the Art of Living, Practice it! Teach it to others!!! What else could it be?! ) Everyone was laughing…

For the year 2009 lets be utterly committed to our Sadhana and our Seva and Satsang… the answer to the problems that are facing the planet today are only in Indian Spirituality… Sudarshan Kriya, Meditation, Pranayama, Yoga, knowledge need to be given top priority!!

And then he paused… looked at everyone… there was a deep glorious silence and Bawa suddenly busrst into song… Jai Jai Radha Ramana Hari Bol… Jai Jai Radha Ramana Hari Bol…

(and he was perfectly on key and singing in Tune! … even Vikram looked a bit surprized :))

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sri-ravishankar

If You Want To Come To Me – Sri Sri
Praising me is not enough. I am not satisfied by your praises,gratefulness and gratitude. Do not just keep me on the stage, on the altar, put flowers and say, Jai Gurudev!’ Keep me in your heart.When you are grateful, there is also a lot of gratitude and you feel like praising. But all this should be converted into your soul and make you blossom.

Once in a while when you have a problem, you come and say JaiGurudev. Don’t say it only some times, say it all the time,everyday and every minute. All these qualities you see in me are also in you.

Only when you keep me in your heart, does guru ship arise in you.Otherwise just doing pad puja (worshiping the feet), saluting and running away, nothing will be born in you. If you only want to garland flowers, then go to temples. There are many idols there. There is no need of a Guru then. Not only that, there are many people in the world,who love to sit and be garlanded. Go and garland them.

If you have come to me, then change. Change from inside.

There is no happiness in the world which you cannot get by being on the path of knowledge. Once you taste this nectar, everything else will be bitter. Once you begin to float in this, you will never experience a lack of anything in any way in your life.

Don’t keep me at a distance. By staying far away from me you have no benefit whatsoever. You are just wasting your time and mine too. Whatever I am, you are that too. Whatever you thought was impossible for you, I have come here to show you that it is possible.

This body, this prana, has only one mission. It has come for one reason – to introduce you all to your own self, to reveal the true self to you. Who are you? You are truth. You are shiva. You are beauty.

See, many people come here. Some come just to visit the place and say, “oh! nice.” some feel nice inside and say, “oh! nice energy!”they take few deep breaths and go back after one or two days in a good state of mind. Few others come and stay a little longer, while, while others just loot every thing. They take every thing. And that is good. Those are the kind of people I want. They must loot everything.

The shop is open. So loot all you can.

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Navi Mumbai, Dec 10: A unique ‘Maha Yajna’, for global peace, held at Harigram, near Panvel, concluded on Sunday December 7. The Yajna organized by Shantikunj Seva Ashram and Vidhyadiraj Charitable Trust, had begun on Friday November 28.

Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar of the Art of Living, graced the occasion and blessed the devotees.

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