Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar -- who has been called the Guru of Good Cheer -- says the joy of sharing can keep people happy most of the time.
In today's world where there is so much stress, he tells Editor Saisuresh Sivaswamy and Nikhil Lakshman that once you get a glimpse of yourself and know who you really are, the smile will never leave your face. The concluding segment of a five-part interview:
Many people we met said they heeded the call and came over. How does one know when the call has come?
How do we know it? How do you know when you have hunger? How do you know when you are sleepy? It's obvious.
You should listen to your soul, the mind, your being. When there's a quiet inside, your intuition takes over.
Our readers would like to know from you what would be your prescription for happiness. How can you be happy? How can we have peace of mind in today's world where there is so much stress?
See your life in a broader perspective. What is that you want to do in life? Or how you want to be remembered. How you want to contribute instead of fighting joy and acquiring all the time.
If you can switch that to a tendency of a grandmother, a tendency of how I can be happy by giving more, what more I can contribute.
There is a joy in getting, and there is a joy in sharing. The joy in sharing keeps you happy most of the time. Take a few minutes for yourself and meditate. Take up some small project, whatever you can, to help out. It's a practical solution.
A few minutes of introspection and meditation about yourself, your life and a few dedicated acts of kindness that you can do.
There is currently a lot of buzz about India. Everyone is talking about India being the next superpower. Would you like to share your thoughts about the future of India? How can India become a truly great nation?
India even today leads in human values. In spite of the enormous problems, the enormous challenges we have, there is still compassion, there is still the sense of serving the needy.
In every corner of this country there is a sense of togetherness, belonging, in spite of a lot of challenges. I think there is human potential.
The only thing we really lack is self-confidence, confidence in the past, in the present, in the future.
Are you optimistic about India's future?
I am realistic about it.
The crowds outside go into a frenzy when they see you, they weep, cry, all in love. So much of love directed at you, it can get quite frightening.
It is the lack of love that brings the fear. Love just cannot bring you any fear. This is enthusiasm you see. I give them absolute freedom to do what they want. I don't tell people don't shout, don't do this, don't do that.
People are free to do what they want. There are little dos and don'ts. Of course, we don't allow alcohol, smoking, violent behaviour. Other than that people are welcome to do what they want, free to express joy.
You can't stop what you do, there is so much of latitude, there is naturally a bout of music and craving that comes up in people. Also, they sit in deep silence. So people are very bubbly on one hand, they also go into meditation -- still and completely quiet.
There is no depth of life if you don't do meditation. Because people here meditate, you see that fullness. On one hand they have joy and enthusiasm, and on the other hand there's a depth of silence.
Don't you feel tired sometimes like the rest of us human beings do, captives of endless expectations?
No, I don't do anything that is not in my nature. So that question doesn't arise. I don't feel exhausted, tired, feel sick or try to run away saying enough is enough, so these sort of things don't happen to me at all.
I don't do anything that is not in my nature.
Anger is not in your nature?
Sometimes I try to show anger but I have not been very successful. You know, anger may be needed sometimes. When I do try to show it, the difficulty is that people don't believe in it.
And what keeps you going?
I am not doing anything special for anybody. I am just being myself. Whatever I am doing that's all just so natural, like water finds its gradient, light travels in its way.
Like anything in nature, I am just being myself, following my nature. I don't think I am doing something great or a big favour to anyone. Not at all.
Your followers say you keep smiling all the time. What is the secret behind that smile?
Nothing, remove the cause of sadness. Why are you sad unnecessarily? Because you don't know what is there. You don't know how deep and vast and profound you are.
Once you get a glimpse about yourself, who you really are, the smile never leaves your face.