Guru expounds on virtues of education

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 April, 2008, 12:00am

Nearly 1,000 Hongkongers took time out from their hectic schedules to listen to Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's message of peace and harmony last night.

The head of the Art of Living, an educational and humanitarian foundation, led a public celebration of wisdom and joy at the invitation of the Hong Kong Institute of Education's Centre for Religious and Spirituality Education, which has just launched a spirituality education programme for trainee teachers.

Mr Shankar was welcomed by institute president Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and presented with a garland by Indian consul general L.D. Ralte before settling down on a giant white sofa between pots of white lilies and orchids.

Armed with a large microphone, he proceeded to charm the audience, which included many of Hong Kong's great and good, with an unfaltering stream of jokes, repartee, story-telling and sayings aimed at raising spiritual awareness, including one borrowed from former British prime minister Tony Blair.

'There are three things that are necessary: education, education and education,' he said. 'The first is the education that is necessary in your job and your career. That education is essential. Second is the education that helps you to be a better human being and in your interaction with people around you - how friendly and effective you are in your communication. The third education is how you can maintain the higher spirit within you. Wisdom is how to live in the present time and accepting that whatever has happened in the past is done.

'I'm very glad that this institute has taken this enormous job of educating teachers. In Europe 40 per cent of school teachers are depressed. What will the children learn from a depressed teacher? I am happy that, at least here, you have at least realised this and see that there is a need for spiritual education.'

After 20 minutes of guided meditation - during which you could hear a pin drop - the spiritual master led the audience in a collective chant of the Sanskrit word 'Ohm' before ending with two homilies for better relationships - one aimed at men and one at women.

Sylvain Remy, a French tourist visiting from Korea, said he was determined to attend the event as it was a 'very rare occasion' to see the guru in Asia. 'It was wonderful to be in his presence and the meditation was very relaxing,' he said.