Washington DC, USA, June 24
Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), hosted Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to continue a conversation about human flourishing that began when AEI invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama. According to Sri Sri, human flourishing is based on much more than material wealth.
‘Drive behind a bicycle’, replied Sri Sri, when asked to advise the American population of which only one third consider themselves happy. He argued that stress shrouds happiness and that one should focus on boosting energy levels or reducing demand.
Denying the conflict between compassion and capitalism, Sri Sri applauded the values of capitalism and hard work, but also emphasized that capitalism without compassion cannot make a just society. “Whether capitalism, communism, socialism or whatever ‘ism’ it is,” Sri Sri responded, “no ‘ism’ will work without humanism.”
Using India as an example, Sri Sri exalted the values of pluralism, arguing that a slow, messy democracy is better than a faster dictatorship. Social media plays a great role in building a free society, but he warned against its misuse. Sri Sri discussed how spiritualizing politics can reduce governmental corruption. Sri Sri also offered his panacea on how to counter terrorism and religious extremism that is on the rise in many parts of the world. He asserted that it was all about “uniting people of all religions and sects within a religion to come to an understanding that we’re all part of one universal human family.
Later in the program, Brooks summarized three lessons from the discussion: while capitalism is a beautiful blessing, humanism should come first; the secret to happiness is inside us; and one’s purpose should be directed by serving others and working hard to foster common brotherhood.
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