People Who Have Inspired Me I-Interview with Nithya Shanti, Spiritual Teacher & Writer

Once upon a time I was serious and boring.

Spirituality, I thought was just like me, seriously boring and boringly serious. And then I met the king of playfulness & joy, smiling Buddha or rather playful Buddha Nithya Shanti.

And touched by his magic, I storied playfully thereafter.


1) How does one find peace in this turbulent world? Tell some simple techniques and ways for the busy executives including the spiritual retreat that you do.
The idea of seeking peace and finding peace is itself the antithesis of peace. Whatever can be found can also be lost. Most of the time our idea or concept with peace is rather rosy, romanticized and divorced from reality. Such ideas will always conflict with the rich vibrant uncertainty that is life. I recall reading of an incident where a spiritual seeker met Ramana Maharishi and asked him "I have been seeking peace for thirty years and despite all my efforts I have still not found it. I want peace! Please guide me." Ramana Maharishi just sat there in eloquent silence, gazing at him. This went on for about half an hour! Then he softly said, "You said 'I want peace'. Drop the 'want', drop the 'I', what are you left with?" The man immediately fell into a profound peace, which you always had, but had never recognized. So don't seek peace. Be peace. Be as you are, in peace, as peace.


2) Why are your workshops known as Joyshops? What are hadayoli and SMS joyshops?
They are called "joyshops" because they are about spreading joy, not working to gather some knowledge or new set of concepts. Although that may also happen. The word 'joyshop' occured to me in meditation and resonated better than workshop. Thus the name.
Hadayoli is often assumed to be some deep sanskrit term, but it actually stands for HAppiest DAy of YOur LIfe. SMS is a joyshop I designed for youngsters. It means "Some More Smiles". These fun, quirky names give people a sense of what to expect in the joyshops. Although its always unexpected, becuase most of the time even I have no clue what is going to happen in them. We co-create it with beautiful intentions and clear attention. That is what makes it so healing and wonderful.

3) How does spirituality impact our personal and professional life?
I see spirituality as a love of awareness, a love of reality, a love of truth, a love of all of life, and a love for all our thoughts, feelings and states of being. Embracing all of life. The impact on personal and professional life (which is actually just life) is that there is less resistance, more ease, more acceptance, more compassion for self and others and a greater sense of freedom and possibility. Its like realizing you are no longer in a prison anymore. Like it was all just a dream and now you see through the illusion of conceptual thought and really meet people, really meet experiences, fully, without the constant inner commentary of preferences and judgement. Its fun.

4) Share few of your memorable experiences as a Buddhist monk.
Haha! The whole experience was memorable! I was a monk for six years and they were the best years of my life. Why? Because they helped me realize that I have always had a perfect life. And will have. One time I had to walk in pouring rain through a thick forest full of leaches and wild animals for nearly two hours. I realized that whenever I thought of how much further I needed to go, I suffered. Whenever I focused on 'just this one step'. There was no suffering. It was an important lesson. No matter what our circumstances, in the present moment, there is never any suffering. Things just are the way they are.

5) From MBA at XLRI to a Buddhist Monk to a Corporate Trainer. Nithya what is the next surprise you are going to throw at us?
That's a surprise ;)

6) What is your life philosophy and life motto?
I have a few :) (1) Being like a Sun, Loving Everyone, Spreading Delight, Merging into Light. (2) Spreading happiness (3) Everything is perfect, everything is joyfully improving. (4) Love of awareness, awareness of love.

7) There is a theory going on that earth will see a consciousness shift in December 2012. When will we have the age of enlightenment in your opinion?
2011, 2012, these are numbers. Completely true. Completely false. The shift always and only happens by returning to the pristine now. Everything else is a nice story. His-story, Her-story, Miss-story, Mystery :)

Thanks a lot Nithya. Personally I have been inspired by your unique approach of adding a dose of humour to spirituality.
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Brief Profile
Nithya Shanti is a spiritual teacher and writer. He shares principles and practices for happiness and well-being with individuals, communities and institutions around the world. His website is www.lovingsilence.org and Facebook page is www.facebook.com/spreadinghappiness.
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