Keep conflict out of Olympics, says guru
Apr 30, 2008
Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has appealed to everyone involved in the Olympic torch relay to shun violence and stop importing conflict to the Games.
The head of the Art of Living Foundation was speaking yesterday in Hong Kong, where he will deliver a public lecture on his sudarshan kriya meditation technique.
“Violence of any sort should be shunned. Dialogue in a non-violent manner is the path I would always advocate,” said the 51-year-old guru, who founded his international educational and humanitarian organisation 26 years ago to promote spiritual awareness.
“Street demonstrating just creates a sensation in the mind but it doesn’t give any long-term solutions. It will all be only a minute’s news,” he said.
“The world is free for everyone to air their opinions. Sit with the torch, jump with the torch, do whatever you want.
“It’s a free world and sport is something for all nationalities and cultures and religions.”
The Beijing Olympic Games was a “multi-religious and multinational event”, he said. “Such events are a place for peaceful coexistence and celebrating, rather than reeling in conflict. I wish all the players there a more festive and celebratory atmosphere.”
The spiritual leader set up the International Association for Human Values in 1997 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
Olympic athletes tended to be a bit tense because they were under “tremendous pressure to perform for their country”, the guru said. They would benefit from taking Art of Living courses in sudarshan kriya, which involves rhythmic breathing leading into meditation, Mr Shankar said.
Last year the association put a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly that it should adopt a declaration of human values written by Mr Shankar which includes non-violence, compassion, an eco-friendly attitude, service to society, enthusiasm, integrity, honesty and sincerity.
The spiritual leader said he did not know how far the resolution had got but was sure that it had been discussed within the world body. He said that, at the prodding of the association, the World Health Organisation had recognised spirituality as one of the conditions for good health.
The association has been working to resolve conflicts in Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia, in Ivory Coast in West Africa, and in Sri Lanka by talking to both sides. It recently held a conference in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, which brought together Tamil Tiger leaders and Sri Lankan government officials for the first time.
“A lack of globalising wisdom is the reason for terrorism in the world today,” he said. “I see secularising religion [as part of the solution]. It means people following a particular religion should also accommodate in their sense of belonging people of all other faiths.
“Socialise business, so every business should have a social corporate responsibility. And politics are ridden with so much corruption. Political people should follow the example of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King and people like that, who have a deep sense of spirituality in them,” he said.
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