My parents missed a Gandhian
On Saturday, a few of us were lucky to hear Dr Ariyaratne speak. He is the founder of The Sarvodhaya Movement, which means Awakening for All(Everyone/all time). We also got to meet the the organizer for Sarvodhaya USA. I was excited to find out that the Movement is going global.
He’s won the respect and admiration of lots of organizations that promote peace. On his current tour, Dr “Ariy” has spoken at amazing organizations like Charity Focus, The World Bank, and even Google. He told Google how important technology is to helping in coloboration thought out the world. He told the World Bank that they are not working out of love (I think he meant how they are putting developing countries into hard debt). He’s trying to spread the word on Ahmisa, Service, Satyagraha, Colaboration, Upliftment, Buddhism, Loving Kindness, Non-violence, Gift Economy, Micro-finance etc.
The Movement has been able to bring those ideas into organizing 1500 villages in Sri Lanka. Amazingly he’s also been able to use the same ideas to keep his self-pride from taking over and to convince people that have tried to kill him to not use violence. In 2004, he was able to organize a meditation in Anuradhapura that was as large as the “Million Man March” to inspire peace in Sri Lanka. He joked, “It was the first time that 850,000 people were SILENT on an important issue!” He believes that people should never try to convince others of peace; they should find peace in themselves and the rest will understand(that peace comes with some faith in others and that can help them see themselves). There is a famous story of how a terrorist named “Choppe” wanted to kill him because he saw him as a threat. So Dr. “Ariy” met with the guy and convinced him not to. He said, “when a man comes at you with a gun, don’t assume he’s going to kill you–you are as good as dead if you do. But if you are at peace and think of him as a similar human with the same mental consituancies you can survive.”
My mom was really excited to see him speak because he is a national hero. She kept saying how wonderful he is and how he’s been able to stay above the corruption of big organizations. He’s a very humble guy. He says he keeps asking himself, “Who do you think you are? Gandhi?”. And that usually helps him check his pride. He also says it’s important that he always spends the money into projects as soon as he receives it. Alot of times pride comes into people of organizations that get big and they accept big gifts like Presidential Benz cars (like Sri Lankan orgs) and corporate private jets (like March of Dimes), where they could easily sell those things and invest that into helping people while catching a ride with someone else or flying coach.
But, my parents didn’t go to the lecture. They were in San Bernadino giving out clothes and food to some of the victims of the So Cal fires with a group that came together to help Victims of the Tsunami. I was really proud of them because of through the work they did for Tsunami victims, they felt the same compassion for people that lost their houses in a neighboring county.
Read the links above to find out more and hopefully you’ll be inspired as we were.
Here’s more inspiration with the same kind of thinking from another one of our home boys that got some recognition from the US government recently.