An experience shared by Riza Pansacola Regis of Bali.
“WHEN A SPIRITUAL MASter is in town, drop what you are doing and go to imbibe the energy of the guru’s presence”.
This was the advocacy of my former yoga teacher. A “guru”, just like in our Filipino dialect, means “teacher”. But in the parlance of yoga, a guru who is also a sage, is one who is enlightened and able to spark the enlightenment of his or her student or devotee.
It was in the spirit of this knowledge that I basked in the presence of Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living, when he visited Manila three years ago. When I saw his photo on a flyer on the Internet, I could have judged him as just another Indian guru. But upon glancing at his long hair, compassionate face, peaceful eyes, and white robe, I was inspired to join the “Health and Happiness” workshop he would conduct for three evenings.
Heeding the call of my soul, I cancelled all my appointments and enrolled in the course.
The main thing that struck me upon entering the venue was the peaceful atmosphere of the ballroom where more than 500 people were enthusiastically and quietly seated on the floor which was covered with white sheets.
Guruji, as his devotees fondly call him, exuded lightness, wisdom and humor. The knowledge points that he imparted made a lot of sense and if applied, would make one’s life simple and happy. The activities were fun; the breathworks blissful. I felt very good at the end of each session.
My three evenings extended to two more days of following Guruji to other events he attended. Laughing at myself, I did not even think to analyze why I kept following him. I simply felt joy being around him as did all his followers whose smiling faces were very inspiring.
I learned that the Art of Living offers all kinds of workshops for adults, drug addicts, prisoners, and companies in 150 countries. When he was asked why thousands of people keep following him wherever he went, including Iraq, he answered it is because he refuses to grow up. His objective in offering workshops, he says, “is to put a smile on everyone’s face”. He describes life as well-lived “if when you are born you are crying while everybody around you are laughing and if at the end of your life you die smiling and everybody around you are crying”.
The powerful current of bliss I felt in the presence of this guru has drawn me in the past years to go all the way to Bangalore, India, where the Art of Living “ashram” (center) offers more advanced courses.
On other occasions, I sought to bask in his presence in Hong Kong and Bali, where he regularly visits his students and devotees. The precious gift that the Art of Living has bestowed upon me is the daily practice of “Kriya” (breathworks) and “sadhana” (meditation) which often stimulates me to sing and dance and feel happy in the mornings, charging me up for the day’s activities.