Great posts everyone – thanks for sharing your inspiring stories. To be fair, it’s not very surprising to see posts coming from a group of long-time Art of Living members sharing the common theme of Sri Sri’s positive values and character. On the other side of the coin, as MF points out in his post, not everything you find about Sri Sri on the web has a positive tone. This is unfortunate, but also not surprising.
Everyone has a different perspective on the things they observe around them. The well known Rorschach inkblot test, where psychologists analyze and interpret a person’s response to random images, hints that we all have a different point of view, a different reaction to what we see and hear. You can present the same set of facts to several people and be surprised (or not surprised) to hear the variety of conclusions!
I remember clearly as a young college graduate being extremely excited to land a job working for the Hewlett Packard Company (HP). I grew up hearing stories about this amazing company. My mother worked there before I was born. The parents of many friends worked there. At the time I was hired, HP had a reputation for being the best place to work in the United States, if not the world. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were legends in the tech industry. Well, I can tell you, I was sold! I was going to work in heaven and I was going to be paid for it! My admiration for the company and its founders remains today, but after getting to know some of my co-workers over a few months, I realized not everyone shared that opinion! People, depending of course on their own perspective and hot buttons, took issue with many different aspects of management, benefits, product decisions, etc. I learned that this is a normal, everyday part of running a large organization. Some of the criticism was valid and was acknowledged and acted on. Some was based on ego and emotion and was treated appropriately. Some was just plain wrong.
One of the things we learn in the Art of Living course is that the mind tends to hang onto the negative and that we tend to doubt in the positive. I’ve seen this over and over in my personal life, my career and the organizations I’ve been involved with. When someone can arrange the facts of a situation into a negative picture, for some reason it has more ‘Pop’ then when the same facts are arranged in a positive picture. Pollyanna, the dear character that always found the silver lining, usually ends up taking a back seat to the pessimists and conspiracy theorists. Go figure, but it seems to be a fact of life.
Unfortunately, for those in positions of responsibility, or that live in the public eye, or both, there are more facts floating around to arrange into pictures. Add to that our tendency to start treating the pictures we create as new facts. And don’t forget to include that we all have some real flaws to throw into the mix as well. The result is that it’s really difficult to find anyone (people or organizations) without critics. None of this means, of course, that any given point of view is right or wrong, true or false. That you should decide for yourself, with direct experience rather than anecdote or inference.
We’re an organization made up of human beings, with real flaws and real challenges. Sri Sri, to his credit, acknowledges this and adjusts the organization and our approaches when needed. And he expects us to do the same at our level of contribution. He solicits feedback and is always looking for ways to improve the delivery of our courses and events. Despite our best intentions, there are times when things don’t go as well as planned. It’s unfortunate, but we do our best to learn and move on.
I’ll come back to one of the main points of the previous posts: Sri Sri’s is a life lived for others. There are just too many facts that point in that direction; too many people whose lives have been uplifted. If your life has not yet been touched by this amazing human being, or the work the Art of living is doing, don’t let a few voices steer you away.