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Live The Moment

I got a rare chance to meet a Living Saint

From my Star Column “A Different Spin”

When I was flipping through the Star a few weeks ago, an article written by T Selva caught my attention. It was simply entitled “Sweet Silence” At the time, I was yelling at my 3 dogs to stop barking because someone was at the door and my phone was ringing in the middle of me sending off a twitter message. I remember thinking what a terrible example I was of “sweet silence”

I’ve read countless books on how important it is to silence the mind because living in a world surrounded by noise and constant stress can overtax our bodies and drain our creative energies. In the midst of a manic film schedule, I was naturally intrigued by the impending visit of a famous Indian Guru coming to KL called Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (also referred to as Guruji).

He is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, which aims at relieving both individual stress and societal problems and violence. Today, the Art of Living Foundation is the world’s largest volunteer based Non-Governmental Organization, active in over 140 countries. It has touched more than 20 million people from all walks of life, different religions and cultures. The Guruji has also been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Here’s the odd part. I was at the Star two days later for something totally unrelated, and guess who I ran into by sheer coincidence? T Selva! Of all the people working in that building, the author of “Sweet Silence” gave me the contact information I required and said if I was meant to meet the Guruji, it would happen.

As it turned out, I missed the seminar in KL altogether but lo and behold, the Guruji was scheduled to visit Penang. An incredible 13,000 people showed up (see above pic) just to get a glimpse of him and to hear his words of wisdom. In attendance during his one-hour talk was Penang’s Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng. I was actually in Penang during the same dates as Guruji to film my new food show. I couldn’t believe my luck!

I actually ended up having a private audience with him and a select few members of the media in his hotel suite! Words can’t explain how privileged I felt to be meeting him up close and personal. There were so many questions I could have asked but they didn’t seem important in his company. I ended up putting my notebook aside and blurted out, “do you mind if I gave you a hug?” and I scrambled off my chair to give him one!

Just observing a great master who was really present was like Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now coming to life for me. For all his keen intelligence and profound wisdom, there was a child-like quality about him. I didn’t expect him to be funny but he had a sense of humour. He made everyone in that room laugh with the simplest of statements (My Mum and me below watching him throw out chocolates to the press members in the room. Really cute! We got some too! 🙂

Someone asked him what his secret to happiness was and he said, “when you make others happy, it makes you happy” Unfortunately, people always get into the habit of postponing happiness, “once I get the job I’ve always wanted, or that car or dream house, I’ll be happy” yet the moment right now is the only one we have any control of. As Buddha said, “Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

But how do we live the moment in this dog eat, dog world? It’s near impossible to be fully present when our thoughts are leaping from topic to topic like turn tables in our mind. Guruji spoke about the importance of silence in removing stress and anxious thoughts. In ancient texts, it is actually recommended that every individual spend some time in silence every month to strengthen the mind and clear out the clutter of useless, negative thoughts.

This is where our modern lifestyles don’t help. So many of us are addicted to our phones and gadgets. We feel totally lost without them. We keep absorbing more and more input. Even watching TV before you go to sleep is still cramming your brain with more information. How do we give our overworked minds a break?

Someone asked the Guruji, “I think I can remain calm so long as someone doesn’t say or do anything to anger me” but that is not the reality of the world we live in. We cannot control the people around us, only ourselves, so it’s up to us how we respond to any situation life throws at us.

He said, “The next time someone is rude to you, make sure you do not get upset. Just return a broad smile. If you can digest rudeness, nothing whatsoever can shake you.” It is easier said than done but just a little bit of silence can go a long way in strengthening our minds.

Simply put, the more we’re surrounded by noise, and modern day pressures, the more stressed we become which is why pure and uninterrupted silence can work wonders for the soul. It is also the quiet space where ideas and inspirations can come to you. If someone gave you a miracle remedy in a bottle, it might cost you a small fortune but silence is free.

Have you tried not talking to anyone for an entire day? Even if it was only for one day in a year, just try it and don’t use your mobile phone or computer either. Just get out of your usual environment, and immerse yourself in nature to recharge your batteries.

I am truly grateful I had the chance to meet the Guruji. It was like a speed hump on my journey reminding me to be present and to slow down because I was going too fast. We all know the theory but the real challenge is putting it all into practice. We need to make time to stop and smell the roses and to talk less and listen more to our own hearts.


3 Responses to “I got a rare chance to meet a Living Saint”

  1. “When you make others happy, it makes you happy”. How true. Many of us… me included at some point, assume that being happy is being do WHAT I LIKE.. in a selfish manner. Its more about me than others. Then.. sadness and loneliness sets in.. Then.. aha.. i realize that the world flows naturally in a sense that we have to contribute and share our gifts/talents to others. Then TRUE happiness sets in when I see others benefits from what i have to contribute in anyway big or small.

  2. It was a very interesting article and i am one of them who miss the talk (invited by my friend, Mr Sunshine) due to an early judging appointment. Thanks for sharing the tips with us, readers of the Star.

    Understood that there will be a speical seminar for hose interested, any information available.

    Terima Kasih,

  3. U r really seeking the true inner self of u r self. If one is little selfless one has forgone a little bit of self. If one is totally selfless then one has dishevelled oneself of self. Then u transport u r selflesness into the nothing in which lies everything. Sans possesion, sans expection: it’s sans ego. U will find the beauty in u r selflessness

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