The follwing interview was conducted as part of course work by Jamshida EM, Sudhindra Kadur Keshava Murthy, Anusha Rajagopal, Remya Roy Zachariah Cherian and Gaurav Rastogi from the PGSEM 2011 batch.
1. What is the one differentiating factor (leadership challenge) critical to a spiritual leader's quest to bring about a social change/impact to the masses?
Sri Sri: The crisis facing the world today is fundamentally one of identification. People identify themselves with limited characteristics such as gender, race, religion and nationality, forgetting their basic identity as part of the universal spirit. These limited identifications lead to conflict both globally and on a personal level.
Every individual is much more than the sum of these limited identifications. The highest identification we can have is that we are part of Divinity. Then comes the identity that we are human beings and members of the human family. In divine creation, the whole of the human race is united. The work of a spiritual master is just this; to give you a larger picture.
2. Many instances of interactions with various classes in the society requires a spiritual guru to take a stand - how important and feasible is it for a guru to take an unbiased, unprejudiced stand? And how is this feasible?
Sri Sri: Spiritual leaders don’t belong to a particular group. They stand for truth.and they keep forth that which is true and then suggest accordingly. When you are unbiased in your mind, compassion simply flows. When you have belongingness with everyone, irrespective of their class, economic background, intellect, if you can connect, then compassion flows. You could be anybody - Chinese, African - put yourself in different shoes, playing different roles, then suddenly you find that you are stuck as being somebody, and then you will see it is much more universal.
3. Is leadership a science or an art? Is there any facet specific to spiritual leadership?
Sri Sri: It is both! It is science because it requires planning and reasoning. And it is art as leadership is all about heart.A good leader should be 'satya-darshi' (truthful), 'sam-darshi' (equanimous), ‘priya-darshi’(pleasant personality), ‘par-darshi’(transperant) and 'door-darshi' (farsighted). A leader should have a mission and a vision and a spirit of sacrifice, compassion and commitment.
4. Corporate leadership is all about capitalism, what is your message to make the corporate leadership more inclusive?
Sri Sri: Capitalism per se is not a bad word. But it has to be applied with humanism. There is no problem in having an idea/asset and using it commercially for gainful returns. Problem comes when profit and returns become the only motive of capitalism. I would ask the Corporate leadership to take a few deep breaths, assess and analyse, and then move in such a direction where capitalism and humanism move hand in hand. Taking care of genuine needs of the work force, setting aside some part of the profit each year for Corporate Social Responsibility and using green and non-polluting technologies can be some ways to move ahead. Many of the Capitalists and companies are already doing so and they need to be encouraged.
5. What inspires a spiritual leader and how does he/she convert the inspiring thought to actions?
Sri Sri: The thought of alleviating the sufferings of people inspires a truly spiritual person. The “sankalpa” (intention) manifests itself effortlessly when a person moves ahead with the motive of common good. Nature joins in to support anyone working for common good. Things start happening to support the sankalpa of a spiritual person which is always aimed at larger public interest.
6. How does a spiritual leader set goals, evaluate results?
Sri Sri: A spiritual leader sets goals in terms of how betterment can be brought to society as a whole. Of course there are also measurable goals which are set. The important thing is that although a spiritual leader sets goals, there is no “jwar” (feverishness) in it. The goals are set and surrendered to the Divine and actions are taken according to the goals but without fretting over them constantly. Results are evaluated not only in terms of achievement of those goals but also the empowerment and enrichment attained by those who are involved in the process of achievement of the goals.
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