Interview with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
“Spirituality at workplace has positive impact on the bottom line of a company.”
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a world renowned spiritual and humanitarian leader, and the Founder of the “Art of Living” (world’s largest volunteer NGO, active in over 140 countries), which celebrated its Silver Jubilee in February 2006. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s message of compassion, commitment to society and a universal understanding of life has resounded in the lives of millions worldwide.
Many of us fail to distinguish between religion and spirituality. Is there a difference between the two? What according to you is the difference between religion and spirituality?
Sri Sri: Spirituality is like the banana, and religion is like the peel. What’s happening is that people are holding on to the peel and throwing away the banana.
What are the challenges faced by the world of business today? Can spirituality play a role in overcoming these challenges?
Sri Sri: Lack of trust and intellectual poverty are some of the challenges faced by the world of business today. Spirituality can definitely play a role in overcoming them.
Companies like ServiceMaster in the US states one of its company objectives as: “To honor God in all we do”, while Kyocera from Japan has its corporate motto as: “Respect the Divine and Love People.” Even leaders from Indian companies are speaking about application of spirituality in business. What is the reason behind this increasing interest in spirituality? Is it a fad?
Sri Sri: It’s not a fad. In fact, spirituality is the basic truth for life. One can avoid it for some time, but cannot escape it. One cannot turn away from the truth. Spirituality is a quest for truth. One can avoid truth for a short time, but cannot dismiss it.
Are concepts like “spirituality in the workplace,” “organization renewal,” etc., meant only for mature organizations which have financial and human resources to support such activities? What about startups, small scale industries, etc?
Sri Sri: Spirituality brings a sense of commitment and a work culture. Taking responsibility is a vital component for any company’s progress. You don’t need money to kindle inspiration in a person; you just need a living example. People are not moved by principles and philosophies, but by examples. Every organization should have a person who can uplift the spirit and encourage people in trying times. And such a person is truly spiritual.
Are there studies to show that tapping spirituality at work has resulted in a positive impact on business? Can you cite examples of companies that are boldly engaged in spiritual dialogues inside and outside the organization?
Sri Sri: Yes, our experience is that spirituality at workplace has positive impact on the bottom line of a company. Many companies which have participated in our corporate executive program have recorded sharp declines in their medical bill. Many companies are adopting spirituality in the workplace. Several big companies including ONGC, and SAMBA Bank of Saudi Arabia, have undergone our programs.
Your message to a business leader who would like to tap spirituality at her/his workplace?
Sri Sri: Put together a program and take the help of those who can bring in spirituality without dogmas.
Are there any other thoughts/ views you would like to share with our readers?
Sri Sri: Just remember you are an infant in whatever field you are. There is a lot to learn.
By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.