Buenos Aires: Indian guru and Art of Living (AoL) founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has exhorted religious leaders the world over to unite people through spirituality.
"Spirituality unites people of all religions, languages and cultures because basic human values are common and are shared," Ravi Shankar said at a summit of religious and spiritual leaders from Latin America here over the weekend.
The Indian guru, who is making waves in Latin America through propagation of his simple yogic exercises through trained breathing and meditation, touched Argentine hearts with a clarion call to unite people spiritually irrespective of race, creed and nationality.
Held for the first time in this southern continent during September 6-9, the four-day summit, fevida (faith), brought heads of religious institutions and spiritual organisations under one roof to find lasting solutions to myriad problems people face the world over.
Explaining the difference between religion and spirituality to the heads and about 1,000 delegates at the convention, the 56-year-old seer said religion was bound by traditions, rituals and beliefs while the latter was all about experience and faith in the master.
"To be spiritual does not mean you have to be a recluse, run away to forest and shirk duties. It need not be. It is an individual`s choice on what he/she wants to do and under whose guidance," Ravi Shankar said amid cheers and applause.
Terming it a privilege to participate in the historic event and address a diverse audience from different Latin countries, the guru said spirituality would make a practitioner child again and transform him/her into a pious and compassionate human being with a spirit of service and a sense of belonging with others.
"If someone says he practises spirituality, he should have a sense of belonging, a smile on his face, come what may. Everybody can smile when everything is fine. But if we can smile even in adversity, that will make us strong and spiritual," he told the delegates, comprising chief executives, political leaders, policy makers and aspirants.
Connecting with the audience during the hour-long talk, the guru expressed anguish over alarming levels of stress, violence, drug addiction, crimes and unhappiness in a majority of people, especially youth, across Latin countries.
"A sense of insecurity, fear and uncertainty about future due to various local and global factors has gripped a majority of the people, especially those who struggle to make both ends meet. What`s the way out? Make life simple through prayer and meditation (yoga) to get positive energy, regain peace and become happy forever," he observed.
Noting that the law of karma operates in all things at different planes of existence such as grosser (body), subtler (mind) and cosmic (soul), he said it was essential for everyone to understand the phenomenon to be on the right path.
"A few minutes of mediation and breathing daily will enrich your life beyond imagination as our yogic system not only regulates mind and develops thinking but also gives immense peace and happiness to share with all," Ravi Shankar asserted.
Referring to globalisation and integration of nations the world over, thanks to convergence of technologies, communications and transportation, the yogic master said wisdom, when globalised, would uplift society as it would create mass awakening.
Expressing disgust over corruption that was affecting development, disrupting economy and causing social unrest across the world, including Argentina and India, Ravi Shankar said graft was not because of a few bad people but so many good people were not doing what they ought to be to end the menace.
Asked what spirituality had to do with corruption, Ravi Shankar said when there was no sense of belonging, no will to rise above mundane life and evolve into higher or subtler levels of existence, then corruption, crime and anarchy take over society.
"Honesty, integrity and love uplift us spiritually and it is important to have it (spirituality) as much as we can to be happy, peaceful, successful and excel in any field, be it politics, business, education, sport, arts, etc," he added.
Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri, leaders of national and state political parties and noted citizens heard the Indian guru in rapt attention with others braving inclement weather, rains and chilly winds.
Headquartered in India`s tech hub of Bangalore, the three-decades-old non-profit AoL works for the cause of humanity and offers yoga courses for stress management and welfare measures for the common good of people across the globe.
The organisation says its branches are spread across 151 countries.