Shankar Brings Compassionate Outlook to UCI

While you wallow uncomfortably in your everyday qualms over what shoes to wear, others your age sit uncomfortably every day over a make-shift toilet, clogged with the filth of yesteryear. But perhaps it is upper-middle class Western society whose backed-up filth needs the most unclogging.
A unique, intensive and somewhat challenging six-day course from the Art of Living Organization is coming to UCI on March 18 to unclog your spirits with the ancient South Asian tools of wisdom and yogic breathing.
This is a course so enhancing that it has swept through many nations, including the Indian continent, reinvigorating and revolutionizing over 6 million lives, a course which could only be titled ‘The Art of Living.’
UCI students, listen, because you are probably not doing enough of it. Have you become self-absorbed? Do you watch TV instead of being an active participant in a global movement? Has the stress of life and school become so mundane and routine that you find yourself constantly cursing the alarm clock every time it jolts you from the sacred safety of the dream world? If so, this course is for you. It will change your entire outlook on life, your demeanor, and your commitments beyond just your own need.
‘One of the main things you realize when you travel the world is people are people whereever you go,’ said Matthew Scharpnik, coordinator of the program. ‘And people are primarily good inside.’
Scharpnik believes that although people around the world have at least a little good in them, sometimes this good can be clouded, hindered, by stress, depression, anger or anxiety. The course offers an alternative method to solving the world’s problems.
The Art of Living Foundation is a non-profit organization which does humanitarian work in many Third- World countries, but has focused on caring for children in India, teaching in prisons, servicing rural Indian communities and providing these types of therapeutic courses for the impoverished.
‘We are a non-profit organization engaged in social change,’ Scharpnik said. ‘We track, monitor, organize and report on it.’
Its founder, His Holiness, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who was reciting verses from the Bhagavad Gita at the age of 4, has studied with many spiritual masters, holds a degree in modern science and is a scholar of Vedic literature. Shankar has developed the methods used in the course through his own spiritual endeavors, and is renowned for his work. He travels around the world, speaking to people his message of love and compassion.
‘He speaks at the World Economic Forum and before the United Nations,’ Scharpnik said. ‘He will be coming to Mexico for the first time this spring.’
The course uses the techniques of Sudarshan Kriya, which purifies and rejuvenates the body and mind through specific wisdom, spiritual knowledge, health practices and breathing patterns which produce significant effects on the body, nervous and immune systems.
Aside from providing well-being for the self, the course’s secondary objective is to capture and enhance the essence of community service in every individual.
‘When people learn how to get rid of stress then you really see so many good qualities blossoming,’ Scharpnik said.
In fact, according to Scharpnik, a certain terrorist prisoner jailed for attempting to bomb the London Heathrow Airport had taken the course in prison and enjoyed it so much that he actually stayed a week longer than his release date in order to attend the last session. He is now one of the most dedicated advocates for humanitarian aid in India.
‘This man, like so many, was so devoted, so dedicated to a cause, a cause that was, of course, aimed at very negative outcomes,’ Scharpnik said. ‘But the course flips that around, and the momentum and energy in these people’s lives can be carried on to target a different cause.’
The course begins on March 18 and ends on March 23. The sessions are mainly at night, with weekend sessions during the day. The total cost of the program is $125, which goes toward the developmental work that the Art of Living Foundation does in rural communities across the globe, including the furnishing of hand pumps, wells and, yes, toilet blocks for local communities.
The Art of Living Foundation’s primary mission, which will be directly channeled to those of the UCI student body who are interested, is to help people celebrate life. It brings more joy into people’s lives. It teaches them to do service for others and forces them to take a step back and see what really matters. Its effects are so profound, that it has given Matthew Scharpnik a sense of hope for a humanity that is today riddled with problems.
‘It has taught me to see the humanness in everyone so easily, to see how there is one big family around the world,’ Scharpnik said. ‘Of course, you fight with your family, but you care for them and work out your difficulties, which is something that we all can definitely do.’

For more information on how you can become a part of this global family, please visit Artofliving.org, or send an e-mail requesting an application to Matthew Scharpnik at matthew@artofliving.org.