The twenty-first century might be the seat for newer technologies and innovations, but it does come with a lot of vices as well. The main vice of the contemporary age is the mechanization of human beings and the consequent loss of humanity. It is to detangle human spirit from the mesh of mechanical existence that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar came up with the Art of Living teachings and sessions.
Let’s have a look at some of the glorious teachings of Art of Living —
Mercy might be termed as one of the basic human decencies that a person ought to have. However, Sri Sri terms mercy as an impediment which lacks any sort of intimacy. According to him, it also indicates lack of courage and valor which can hinder the process of transformation in any person.
According to many, tolerance is yet another virtue, but Sri Sri is against tolerance. For him, tolerance indicates a deep sense of dislike which may turn into hatred in due time. He sees tolerance as a “potential volcano” which might lead to massacre, if not taken care of properly before it bursts. His teaching to this end is: “Don’t accept people as they are, just love them as they are.”
A person appreciates someone when they perform some stuff that isn’t natural to them—that isn’t an obligation or a duty. It highlights a rare act or quality and hence, implies a sense of separateness or distance. According to Sri Sri, these small tokens of gratitude have a lot of hidden meaning which can create rifts and divisions among people. So, think twice before you appreciate someone!
Mistakes are of many kinds; but even an involuntary mistake is enough to drive a person crazy. According to Sri Sri, correcting someone else’s mistake is another mistake. Instead, mistakes should be made to understand through love and authority—qualities that both Krishna and Jesus possessed. Allowing room for mistakes and, likewise, making people understand their own mistakes bring people together.
In Sri Sri’s own words, “Surrender is not an act; it is a state of your being. Whether you acknowledge it or not, it is there. The wise wake up and see, the unwise take a longer time. Know that you have no choice, you are in a state of surrender deep within you.” Wanting to surrender or surrendering is an impediment in the path to enlightenment and success.
Beauty isn’t just physical. Physical beauty is a transient subject to all the adversities of nature; it is the beauty of the soul that stays forever. According to Sri Sri, “When your mind is not complaining, responsible, courageous, confident and hollow and empty, you are inexplicably beautiful.” It is complaining and nagging that takes away the beauty of a person and renders a hollow façade to their characters.
Generosity is the quality that should be upheld and celebrated. According to Sri Sri, it is the quality of the spirit—it makes life abundant, full of love and compassion. It is a quality that resides in all—irrespective of caste, creed and society that one lives in. However, one must never confuse it with gratefulness, which always has an external motivator.
Respect is an exemplification of generosity and kindness. People should respect others for the kind of persons they are, and not for the outer embellishments, offices and degrees that they hold. According to Sri Sri, one need not be great in order to be respected—it is by respecting lives that one becomes respected in everyone else’s eyes. However, the main deal is to respect one’s own self—the most important thing to achieve Enlightenment.