By Gabrielle Wanneh
For The Diamondback
Renowned social reformer Sri M spoke Monday to a group of about 50 university students, faculty and others on the importance of global peace and understanding.
The Roshan Institute for Persian Studies — in collaboration with other university organizations — invited Sri M, who is also an educationalist and spiritual guide, to shed light on unity, an ideal being discussed more frequently after recent incidents of hate and prejudice on the campus and nationwide.
"There is so much concern going on in the world," said Fatemeh Keshavarz, the event's organizer and the director of the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies in this university's languages, literatures and cultures school. "We think that his message is a very important and timely one to be shared."
Sri M shared information on The Satsang Foundation, an organization he founded that promotes spiritual awakening and offers free education and healthcare to those who cannot afford it. One of the foundation's most notable programs he discussed was the Walk of Hope, a 7500-kilometer walk. Led by Sri M, this demonstration took place from January 2015 to April 2016 across 11 Indian states.
"Walking, especially among nature, is so unique," he said. "It restores one's connection with the Earth."
Sri M also mentioned he was in the process of organizing a walk in Washington, D.C., next year to bring those with differences together in this nation's capital.
Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions during a short panel session at the end of the event. Main concerns during the panel included how educators can promote peace and togetherness to their students, as well as how to convince others violence is not an answer when dealing with hate.
"I personally think that it is the responsibility of educators to live as an example themselves, but also help to form groups or clubs specially made to discuss how to bring people together and promote peace," Sri M said. "To teach about peace and humanity is just as important as teaching science and math — and it's not easy, but responsible people like us should not give up."
Mona Rezvani, who works for this university's Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace, said she was pleased with the overall message of the lecture.
"Usually, when you advocate for something, there's an us-against-them mentality," Rezvani said. "But his lecture was all about the oneness of humanity as a whole, no matter the difference of race, culture or ideology."
Chinmay Sane, a graduate student studying telecommunications, said he has been following Sri M's journey with spirituality long before his visit at this university. He described Sri M as a "deep man who has transcended another level of consciousness."
"He was really talking about unifying the globe under humanity," Sane said.