After almost 6 months of back-and-forth emails for approvals, permissions, animated discussions on the topic of the talk, publicity, strategies, hurried last minute changes, the day had finally come ! The excitement of the members of the NUS student chapter of Art of Living was palpable:
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the world renown spiritual leader & humanitarian was to address the NUS students and staff on March 31st at Shaw Foundation Alumni House on “Beyond the Rat Race“.
The talk was to start at 5 PM and people started turning up by 3.30 PM for the front seats ! By 4.25 PM, the main Auditorium was full and we opened up three adjacent seminar rooms with the simulcast facility. By 4.45 PM, all the seminar rooms were full too and we had to start turning away people! A short video about Sri Sri’ work and initiatives taken up by the Art of Living was played to fill in the time till the clock struck 5 .
At 5, an obvious increase in the noise levels with people rushing to the entrance for a glimpse heralded His entry. Escorted by Bhumika, who was wearing the Rat mascot costume and staging endearing antics, Sri Sri was greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation as he entered the hall to an audience waiting to be inspired!
Taking the mike, Sri Sri asked to do something different today. Instead of speaking on the given topic, he wanted a lively QnA, with the audience telling him what to talk about!
The first thing Sri Sri did was to create a friendly, cordial atmosphere for a true discussion to take place by asking the audience to greet their neighbours. The effect was unmistakable! There was a smile on every face and all trace of formality had disappeared. A sense of belongingness had been created – a live example of how Sri Sri makes people all across the world feel at home with him. Sri Sri asked everyone to ensure that no one had been left out. He said: “We don’t want anyone to feel alone in this planet. That’s my goal. We are all a community of human being. The world is one family (and) we should have that sense of togetherness. ”
Sri Sri engaged the audience in a session of insightful Q & A on topics ranging from the connection between Science & spirituality, achieving harmony between cultures and religions, what true success in life means, importance of meditation & self-introspection in life, dealing with world leaders, giving back to the society and even the meaning of life! Some memorable quotes from the evening:
‘What is this?’ is science.’ Who am I?’ is spirituality. We need both science and spirituality to bring contentment to our soul
The world is like a Bouquet of flowers! Harmony in diversity is the way of life.
Audience: “How do you interact with World Leaders for peace negotiations?”
Sri Sri: “I meet them as humans first”
Audience: “If we forget everthing when we die, what is the point of doing anything in life?”
Sri Sri- “Tell me, What did you have for breakfast on 31st March exactly 5 years ago?”
Audience: “I dont remember…”
Sri Sri – “Then what is the point of having breakfast ?! “
It was such a uplifting experience!
450+ members of the NUS community attended the talk by Sri Sri at the Shaw Foundation Alumni house, National University of Singapore.