If you've run into a few people who seem to have had a weight lifted off their shoulders it might be because they've had an audience with Avdhoot Baba Shivanand, the Indian guru who's been preaching non-religious sermons (no, that's not a contradiction in terms) in Hong Kong this week.
'I am not espousing a religion of any sort,' Baba Shivanand said. 'I just want to share my learning, the teachings of ancient arts and scriptures that have to do with a lifestyle to bring inner peace and happiness. I preach about humanity. Whether you're Christian, Hindu, Muslim, that's of no concern. I preach happiness, light, of the divine not of deity.'
Each night since Monday more than 1,000 people have attended his talks. 'In the early days, I used to find it [easiest] to address foreign [Western] audiences as they were a blank slate, no preconceived notions and no belief system. They were or are in search of something.'
So what are they in search of? 'The one thing I've found in my travels, from any part of the world, whether they be rich or poor, it all boils down to, 'how can I be happy?' Whether it's a better job, more money, better health, mankind is essentially in search for joy.'
So, can money buy happiness in capitalist place like Hong Kong? 'No, but happiness can buy you money,' he said with a laugh. 'Work hard, work well and do it with joy, and the money will naturally follow.'
Avdhoot Baba Shivanand's last free talk, in English, is tonight at Kitec, Trademart Drive, Kowloon Bay, 6pm-9pm.