The art of living gives healing touches to people bruised amid ongoing wars

Ibrahim, 12, was in the backyard when Daesh shot dead two of his brothers in front of him in Syria. Ibrahim escaped ISIS, but the memory of the incident left him traumatized and sleepless.

He began to look forward to a few minutes of meditative silence with his Art of Living teacher. In an act of fateful irony, Ibrahim learned lessons of peace in the heart of the century’s deadliest conflict. The teacher shares another incident of an 11-year-old child, who was given the task of carrying arms during the conflict. “He drew Kalashnikovs when asked to remember his favorite things and happy times.” The Art of Living, founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, works on a war footing to heal the trauma of over 5000 of these children who have been victims of hatred and violence for years.

Recently, Sri Sri received the Gandhi Peace Pilgrim Award at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in November this year for “his outstanding service and contribution to humanity…” Few people know that in September 2016, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar organized a forgiveness meeting between FARC leaders. and the families of 12 deputies who were abducted, held captive and killed by the FARC. There had been a bloody 52-year conflict between FARC rebels and the Colombian government that left 250,000 dead on both sides. At the end of the meeting, in a solemn gesture, the former guerrillas and the families of the killed deputies held hands and prayed.

In 2014, Sri Sri was one of the few world leaders to draw attention to the Yazidi genocide and send aid, rescuing and rehabilitating nearly 2,500 Yazidi women captured by ISIS. Sri Sri’s philosophy is based on spiritual humanism, which attracts people across identities, religions and cultures.

When the tension in Iraq soared in 2008, Sri Sri met with leaders from all sides (Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds among others). Peace watchers say he was one of the very few world leaders who was able to do this at the time. FARC rebel leader Ivan Marquez said: “His teachings are key to achieving a stable and lasting peace.

Last year, Sri Sri launched the global campaign “I represent peace” in response to the pervasive helplessness felt by people in the post-pandemic world, braving the consequences of several global conflicts, the disrupted economic order, the grim and lingering mental health impact of the pandemic.

“People come together when there is a crisis, when they feel threatened or when they are wise. I have a question – can’t people come together for something positive, something that can create harmony within society? asked Sri Sri in his address to the UN.

Save and rejuvenate 70 rivers/tributaries that only existed on paper; to reach out to communities living in fear of conflict and violence, to launch a national campaign against the threat of drugs; feeding millions during the pandemic, running daily meditations and trauma relief workshops for millions; provide medication; Rehabilitating and changing the lives of eight lakh prison inmates around the world, Sri Sri has worked tirelessly to alleviate human suffering.

In July this year, Sri Sri was decorated with Suriname’s highest civilian honour, the Grand Cordon – honorary Order of the Yellow Star, but to me his real reward is the smile on the faces of millions of his followers. , whose lives he changed, lives that breathe better, some of whom survived the worst human experiences – rape, war, abuse, explosions, drought, depression, natural disasters.

(The author is Country Director, The Art of Living, Middle-East)


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