Kiran, well, we called him Kiran. His real name was Chris. He was from Germany. He was my TTC teacher, and i had done a few advance courses with him too.
He was so calm and composed all the time, i thought he was enlightened. He radiated joy and love. He stayed in India for more than 3 years, roughing it out at our Ashram, when the ashram was a barren piece of red earth. Patiently beautifying, sometimes inch by inch. He wrote out a piece that was circulated to everyone in Norway where he now stays with his family… Here it is:
IT IS SO MUCH MORE
“Let the silence speak of a peace you seek. Feel the love divine –
for every shining star tells you who we are in the grand design”. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
“The one who works alone, adds – those who work together, multiply”. Unknown
As we are preparing to be present at the World Cultural Festival in Berlin in July, I want to share with you my personal reflections on the importance and significance of this important opportunity for us all.
I remember the state of my mind many years ago. I was worried most of the time, not only about my own personal future but also the future of mankind. Whenever I met a happy person, I thought this person had to be an egoist. I just could not understand how anyone could be happy in the face of tragedy, pollution, conflict and misery. It felt most natural to be depressed.
Today, it looks very different. No, not the headlines and not mankind’s prospects of survival, but the way I see our role in all of it. It was not until after my first Art of Living course in 1987 (one year after Chernobyl) that I realised that I was not really changing anything by being depressed. What I was doing instead was adding my own fear and worries to the already heavily burdened collective consciousness.
It is no secret that we are all connected and influence each other by our actions and non-actions alike. Strike a tuning fork and you will find that any other tuning fork placed within a fair distance will start vibrating sound as well. Similarly, our moods affect the world around us. No matter whether we are happy or unhappy, it is contagious. Awareness of this fact will make us want to take more responsibility – for our own lives, that of others and that of the planet.
Yes, the World Culture Festival in Berlin in July will be celebrating Art of Living’s 30th birthday. But it is so much more than that. Choosing a venue in the heart of Europe where war and destruction were ignited in the past is no coincidence. For us today, it is an exceptional opportunity to come together and send a different message – one of light and peace, acceptance and tolerance, knowledge and love. Imagine people from all over the world coming together from different cultural and religious backgrounds and setting an example, celebrating harmony in diversity and taking responsibility for peace and joy in the world.
Back in early 1989 I attended a silence retreat with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Timmendorfer Strand in the north of Germany. When we broke silence after a week, he appeared very pleased and I will not forget what he said: “Your silence and meditation has helped to bring down the wall.” I remember feeling honoured, but to be honest, it sounded completely over the top. I had grown up in a divided Germany and anyone predicting that the wall would come down peacefully any time soon would have been considered a dreamer (at its best!). But then, just a year later we saw that the wall had come down and Germany was on its way to be reunited.
70,000 people meditating together – do not underestimate the effect this will have on the collective consciousness. This is a very important contribution that we can make. Also if we can encourage others we may know from other faiths and practices to join us, this would be a significant step towards harmony and unity at this pivotal time for the world.
The festival in Berlin should be seen in this light. It is a major chance to enliven the collective consciousness with impulses of harmony and positivity and create an awareness for the vital role Yoga and spirituality can play in building and preserving peace.
I will be in Berlin. Let’s be there together – and make a difference.
(Christopher Kiran Byrt)