26 June is observed as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse. The Art of Living Foundation conducted a satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Bangalore Ashram to discuss this issue. Below is the excerpt of the talk by him
Sri Sri: The nature of mind is to seek joy, seek ecstasy. Know that it cannot be found in the area of the five senses: taste, touch.
The craving continues to exist because it wants the highest. Mind belongs to the highest peace. In search of the higher ecstasy and satisfaction, one has gone into the trap of drugs.
If you look at the drug addicts. They will not exhibit any of these qualities: peace, contentment, joy. When you are addicted to drugs you look worn out and sick. This very well denotes that drugs only give an empty promise and they do not deliver.
There is a small story.There is a gentleman who prayed and asked God for a conch. Whatever you ask, Gods will give you. The gentleman’s neighbor got so jealous, he also went in search of a similar conch. He found one that will double whatever you ask for it. He feels that this conch is better that his neighbor’s conch.
He brought the conch home. He asked the conch for a bungalow. The conch said, “Why one, take two bungalows?” It would simply double whatever he asked for, but not deliver. All addictions of this planet promise joy, but they never deliver. Let’s take the simple addiction of smoking. Smoking does not bring any joy, but not smoking gives you pain, suffering, and problem. How to get over it?
There are three things that you do to get over addictions:
1. Fear of disease: If doctor says, if you take one more peg of alcohol you will be dead.
2. Greed. If someone tempts you for something bigger. If you stop your addiction for a month you will get a million rupees.
3. Love for something higher. I would prefer love over fear and greed. Love can elevate your body-mind complex and stop the craving.
4. Having a bigger addiction. Something that can intoxicate you. This is love for the creator, love for God. A higher ecstasy that you can find through meditation, pranayama, devotional dance.
They can all give you such an ecstasy which can snap you out of addictions. Sudarshan Kriya and Shakti Kriya are techniques that can help people find the happiness that they are seeking. We are seeking happiness here and there. But the source of happiness is right here: within. This can help people find what they have been looking for all their life. We need to be more aggressive in our approach to make people understand and get people out of their addictions. Once people do this, they know. I could get the peace. That is here in a permanent basis. The benefits of meditation are many: health is at its optimum and your mind is calm and serene, you r heart is full of love for everyone. You exuberate all this. We become self-reliant and we become strong. That inspires many around you. It is that conch that really delivers and not just promises you. We need to take the techniques of yoga and mediation to every house. Spirituality, though it may appear to be a little strenuous, but on a permanent basis delivers what you have been looking for in addictions all your life.
Q: The family of drug users goes through a very difficult period. What is your message for them?
Sri Sri: I would tell them that you should take a pledge from the kids and put them on the spiritual track. For example, in homes where they have vegetarian food, they bring that feeling against consuming non-veg food. If kids have already started consuming drugs, we have to bring them back. We have to deal with patience and with sensitivity and take them to de-addiction camps again and again. The company that the child keeps also matters. Today, drugs has become a business. You need to work not just with your kids but all the kids in your neighborhood.
Q: Rajindra Kumar from Punjab: Will we, addicts, remain a question or will we ever be solved?
Sri Sri: You have not come as a question. Know that you have received the answer.
Q: There are many celebrities who are addicted to drugs.
Sri Sri: The so-called celebrities are such bad role models to follow. In fact, they are not role models at all. They may be successful in acting, but they are failures in life. And people need to realize this. You can only watch them on the screen. If you know them personally, you will know what kind of people they are. They do not know about spirituality; they never got connected to the life that is there in them. But I would tell the celebrities to acknowledge their weakness and warn the population not to emulate them and let people know that they are suffering. We welcome all those who are under the influence these intoxicants. Keep your profession aside and come here to meditate. I am not pointing fingers at you. I understand your situation. There are millions out there who adore you. Be a true role model to all of them. Money and fame is not everything. A pure heart is.
Q: Dr. Navjot Sidhu, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Punjab asks, ” How can we encourage people to offer employment benefits to de-addicted youth?”
Sri Sri: We have to talk to people and convince them. Don’t be prejudiced against them (drug addicts). We must help to remove the prejudice in the society.
Q: Are there any specific yoga asanas for de-addiction?
Sri Sri: All these asanas are good. It depends on the age and flexibility (of the person). Pranayama is a must. Kriya is a must.
Q: Dr Anju Dhawan, Professor at the National Drug Dependence Treatment Center, AIIMS: There are sudden factors that can protect people from going towards drug abuse, building the inner strength through meditative practices can play a very important role. What can Art of Living do in this regard?
Sri Sri: We will ask teachers to go to their doorstep. Usually we teach meditation to those who want to learn. Here we have to walk that extra mile and make them sit and meditate. It is a big task. It is like trying to feed a child who does not want to eat. But a good mother does it. A teacher plays the role of a mother. With a little bit of insistence you should be successful.
Q: Satyavir Nowlakka, Delhi Police, Crime Branch: Many people in the police department are addicts and they do not realize that they are in a mess. How do we talk to them and help them come out of their addictions?
Sri Sri: I say that they should be teetotalers. Because it is good for the health. The Armed Forces and Police, their health is the most important and you are supplying them something that is not good for their health.
Q: People who take drugs often struggle with craving and repeated relapse in spite of treatment efforts. Guruji, please guide how should they handle this difficult situation?
Sri Sri: There should be constant touch for a few years at least. They should come for follow-up.