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Q: Is leadership in the Art of Living based on seniority or spiritual evolvement?
Sri Sri: There is chaos and bliss here! Everyone is welcome to contribute to the organization’s growth, and grown himself. The Art of Living has one policy: we don’t reject anybody. We carry everyone along with us. That is a very tough job. There are hundreds of challenges.
The human mind is like the wild elephant – its makes all sorts of concepts, and ideals. People who don’t work have great ideals. When they start work, they realize that many ideals don’t work.
On the other side, there are people who have no ideals, and go with the chaos. Both approaches are wrong. If you drop ideals completely, organizations become hopeless. However if you don’t see practicality, and don’t have a foot on the ground, you cannot perform a dance. If your feet are buried in the ground, can you dance? If your legs are not on the ground, can you dance? You have to have a foot on the ground. Life is about balance.
Life is complex, and the world is full of complexities. Many complexities will arise. What you need to take care is not to get frustrated, and deal with them. We have to. Conflicts, and complexities are everywhere - in bureaucracies, political parties, social organizations, NGOs, schools, colleges, everywhere. Even in a house, there could be so many complex behavioral patterns. Yet, rejection is not the way, frustration won’t lead you anywhere. That is the skill you need to acquire. Skill will help you move through sleeping elephants. A saint from India once said: You have to walk through sleeping elephants. When wild elephants are awake, you can’t walk.
How do you get the skill? Silence is the mother of all skills. When you lack some skill, sit quietly for a moment. Then that part of the brain becomes active, that can give you intuition and ideas.
Silence is the mother of all skills, innovations, and inventions. A few moments of quietness. This is the first step. Take a step away from the situation. When you are in a situation, you cannot be a good judge – you have to step out of the situation for a minute and look at it. Through quietness: you will gain the skill right there!
We need to get out of the blame game. If anything goes wrong, you either blame others or yourself. This tendency is so deep in our psyche. Silence gives the skill to see the distance. This principle and philosophy has been developed in this country. However, it has been kept only with a few select people. That is why spirituality should be kept alive in every part of the world, so that everyone can gain skill with ease, and grace. This is the main advantage of meditation practices: it enables you to handle situations with ease and grace. A few moments of silence will bring up tremendous talents from within us.
However, if someone practices too much silence, then also they lose their skills.
Ati sarvatra varjayet – drop anything that is too much. Avoid extremes.
(A member from the audience says: If the bliss and happiness felt here (in the ashram) could spread all over the world, there would be no violence in the world.)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely. That’s why you should come here, and spread the word, like sahasra sesha. Each one should inspire at least 1,000 people. Have the intention of bringing knowledge, joy, love, and happiness to the lives of 1,000 people. This is real merit.
Good luck does not come by lucky charms. It comes from good work. Good deed is to bring happiness into the lives of people. This is the best way. I have seen that. So bring this joy, solace, and happiness in people’s lives. When the hearts and minds of people get healed, their spirit blesses you. That becomes your real merit, good luck.