According to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a revered spiritual leader and humanitarian from India, human flourishing is based on much more than material wealth: It should be predicated on the shared values of happiness and a free society. On Tuesday, AEI’s Arthur Brooks hosted Sri Sri to continue a conversation about human flourishing that began when AEI invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to AEI. Sri Sri argued that stress shrouds happiness and that one should focus on boosting energy levels or reducing demand. He applauded the values of capitalism and hard work, but also emphasized that capitalism without compassion cannot make a just society.
Using India as an example, Sri Sri exalted the values of pluralism, arguing that a slow, messy democracy is better than a faster dictatorship. Social media plays a great role in building a free society, but he warned against its misuse. Sri Sri discussed how spiritualizing politics can reduce governmental corruption.
He likewise endorsed the belief that wealth is good, but stressed that it should be accompanied by morality. Brooks summarized three lessons from the discussion: while capitalism is a beautiful blessing, humanism should come first; the secret to happiness is inside us; and one’s purpose should be directed by serving others and working hard to foster common brotherhood.
Registration and Lunch
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living Foundation
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI
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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a revered spiritual leader and humanitarian from India whose mission of uniting the world into a global family has inspired millions of followers to broaden their share of responsibility and serve society. In 2009, Sri Sri was named by Forbes magazine as the fifth most powerful leader in India. In his appearances worldwide—including the 2012 World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland—Sri Sri has discussed how capitalism cannot survive without humanism. He founded the Art of Living Foundation, an educational organization with a presence in more than 150 countries, to offer self-development programs that facilitate elimination of stress and foster happiness and well-being for individuals. He also founded the International Association for Human Values, a humanitarian organization that promotes societal responsibility and human values in political, economic, and social spheres.
Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI and the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 10 books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His books include “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise,” “Social Entrepreneurship,” and “Who Really Cares.” Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.