Thursday, November 10, 2011
Your hankering for pleasure is causing depression in you. Wake up and see all pleasures are momentary. How long will it stay? 5 to 10 minutes you find joy and then it’s gone!
October 15, 2011
Q: Guruji, we have focused a lot on the solar plexus this week, the solar plexus is also known as our second brain. You said it’s usually the size of an almond but it grows in size as we meditate. Can you comment on the importance of the solar plexus?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Solar plexus is the center of gravity of the body. Your body can be balanced with a stick on your solar plexus. It will balance. And all the functions of the brain are done by the solar plexus, so it’s important. Your emotions get locked up there. And I heard from a doctor, a scientist he said that the solar plexus is small, but in those who do yoga and who are yogis who do a lot of meditation, it really becomes much bigger, almost 3 or 4 times the normal size. So then you have control over your parasympathetic nervous system and all those things. Also much more control over your body, your senses and your mind. That’s what a very well known doctor said, and it is also the experience of many people.
Q: Guruji, many of us who are surrounded everyday by electronic devices, TV, Internet, cell phones; do they leave an impression on us? Do the electronic emanations from all the devises have a harmful effect on our spiritual life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes you can’t avoid them. Use them but don’t use them too much. You can have one or two televisions at home, but having it in the bathrooms?! I don’t consider it a wise thing to do. At least in one place you should leave your mind to be free. Don’t keep newspapers and magazines in toilets and bathrooms. (Laughing) We should limit our use of electronic devices. These days you cannot avoid them. There is radiation everywhere, there are TV towers everywhere, and there are telephone towers everywhere. You hardly find a place where there is less electromagnetic radiation. In the ashram there is no cell phone, it doesn’t work, even for me. In a way it is good. So you come to ashram, there is no cell phone in the ashram, finished! No cell phone communication for ten days. But still internet and other things are there.
Q: Dearest Guruji, I’ve been noticing in the midst of the course that I’ve been getting emotions of love, which then change to fear, to hatred and then to love again changing from one to another constantly. What can I do to keep my consciousness coming out of love only?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Take life in its totality. Don’t try to choose, relax. Got it? That’s a trick. Because you always say I want only love. Suppose it doesn’t happen, you get angry. You’ll start blaming yourself, start blaming others. You will start blaming the technique, so the best way is to be hollow and empty. Allow things to come the way it is coming and move on further. Just be aware of it and then move on further. Only love should come is not possible, unless you are so detached from everything. If you have total detachment then nothing but love comes from you. And to grow into that level is natural on the path. Once you’re on the path, in this knowledge, you’ll suddenly see you are growing. ‘Oh wow! This is it, this is it’, that awareness just comes up, isn’t it? Tell me for how many of you it’s already happening? See look at that, so many.
Q: Guruji, can you please talk about who your Guru was or is? And also the tradition of teachers that you come from, thank you!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have already spoken about it in a Guru Purnima talk, but another time we’ll talk about it.
Q: What is the significance of looking at the moon and then towards the beloved in the karva chauth offering?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See festivals are celebrated with significant events in the history. You celebrate Christmas because there is a significant event. People celebrate Eid because some day in the past something good happened on that day. So, like that we celebrate. So each festival has a story behind it or has an astrological significance. Like that, Karva Chauth is the 4th day after the full moon, where women fast the whole day for the well-being of their husbands and then they celebrate and eat. This is practiced and there are some stories behind that. Like Diwali, several stories are connected with Diwali, the festival of lights, one being the coming home of Lord Rama after 14 years of exile. Another story is how a wicked person who was bothering everyone was defeated and when he was defeated he was asked what your last wish is? He said that on this last day on which I am exiting this planet I want everyone to light lamp and get rid of darkness and celebrate my leaving this planet. See that’s a very good wish of someone who was like Hitler, who tortured people. Lord Krishna wife Satyabhama, she defeated him. He was so powerful that no man could defeat him, but when woman stood before him, he took it very lightly. What can this woman do? But really, the woman defeated him. Krishna’s first wife defeated him and Krishna was behind it. The name ‘Narakasura’, which means man of hell; this came because he created hell for everybody and he tortured people. So then he was asked, ‘what your last wish is now that you are dying?’ He said my exit should bring light into everyone’s life. So everybody should light a lamp, light as many lamps as possible, celebrate their life, forget all the bitterness and celebrate life and so Diwali came to be. So like that there are so many stories. Karva Chauth, there is one story. There was a King Satyavan and his wife was Savitri. He lost everything and he lost his life also. When death came to take him she prayed and her sankalpa was so strong that she brought him back to life. The soul which left the body came back to life again. So that is known for Karva Chauth. And there are so many mythological stories. She said sun will not come and sun did not come for that many hours, whatever. Something like that, there are many stories. So Karva Chauth is one other festival. Celebrate, doesn’t matter for what; fast and then feast. That’s all life is about. Isn’t it?
Q: Dear Guruji, I have had thoughts of suicide many times in my life. Please help me. What happens if one commits suicide?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh ho! Suicide is the most foolish thing a person can ever do. It’s like someone is shivering in the cold and they went out and removed their jackets. What do you call them? Foolish! You are already so cold. You are feeling cold in a heated auditorium, in a heated hall and you go out and say, ’I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m cold’, and remove all your jackets. Leather jackets, your t-shirts, and your inner garments, everything you are throwing out. Will the cold become any less? No! People who commit suicide find themselves there because they are so attached to life. They are so attached to some pleasure, so attached to some fun and joy that they want to kill themselves. So when they kill themselves they find themselves in a bigger soup. ‘Oh my God, this restlessness, these desires which has created such an intense agony inside has not gone. Body has gone but the agony has remained’. It’s only through the body that you can dispel the agony; you can get rid of misery. Instead you destroy the very instrument by which you can get rid of agony. That is why this knowledge is so important. If people do pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya, meditation they will realize that, I’m not the body. So what? What is it that I’m hankering for in life? Hankering for love? Attention? Money? Pleasure? What is it that you are hankering? These hankering are boiling desires and it’s creating this foolish idea inside you to commit suicide. Dedicate your life for social cause, for some higher cause. If you feel you have to commit suicide, I tell you I need you to do my work, (clapping) so you better stay back. When you think only about yourself, me, me, me, me, what about me, then this is what happens. Depression comes in. Forget about yourself, you die for a cause but don’t kill yourself. It’s worth dedicating your life for something higher. I need you. You come here do work there is so much work to be done; help me out. Know that you are useful to me. At least if everyone else says you are useless remember, no I am here born at this time because I have to be, I have some use and Guruji needs me, so I’m not going to commit suicide. Got it?! So, do my work, if you cannot do yoga, meditation, then sweat and do my work. And I have lots of work that I can give you. I can give some work for the entire nations and entire population. I have plenty of work to do. So whatever you need, a square meal I will provide you. You need a roof above you, I’ll provide you. I guarantee you, but don’t kill yourself. The human body is so precious you know! After so many different lives and different bodies we get human body, human birth. Being a frog, a scorpion, and being a chicken somewhere, being a mouse somewhere in some hole, and after being a cat jumping around here and there and a dog somewhere, and a bird somewhere, and worm somewhere, then you get a human life after going through all those births. It’s so precious. Your hankering for pleasure is causing depression in you. Wake up and see all pleasures are momentary. How long will it stay? See they are so momentary, 5 to 10 minutes you find joy in them and it’s gone. Then what other things do you hanker about? Some people appreciating you? My dears it has no meaning. People may appreciate you in front of you; behind you they may feel jealous about you. That’s what happens. They praise criticize you today, tomorrow they criticize you. So what? Do you see what I’m saying? What are you hankering for? Appreciation from people? What is appreciation? Just a few thoughts that are passing their mind and you think they are going to do it forever? They have limitations. So what? Good comments come; some people have bad comments, so what. They criticize you, so what? Those who criticize you are also going to die, so what? All finished! And you the one being criticized will also die one day. Why are we so much bothered about adulations, somebody’s appreciation, or criticism? Why can’t we just be our self? You know it takes such a big load off our head, not being bothered by anybody’s criticism, anybody’s adulations we are just ourselves, natural. If you live so lightly where is the question of depression? Do you see what I’m saying? So those who get these thoughts of committing suicide, it is just your prana which is low, so do more pranayama and dedicate your life to a higher cause. There are millions of people who are suffering more than you, look at them. When your suffering becomes smaller you will never think that you want to commit suicide, number one. Second, you know that you are needed, you are useful. You have to do something in the world. Know that. Third is, forget about what people think about you. People commit suicide because they think they lose their prestige, their status. What status? What is prestige? Who has time? Everybody is entangled in their own problems, their own mind. They can’t step out of their own mind. Where they have time to think about you? You know I remember a case of a very respectable lady in India, she was very proud about her family and her children. Her son went and married a girl from a lower class, lower strata of society. They are from a higher class and much wealthier and he married a girl from a very poor area and it was not a match because her shape and look was very different than him. It was very different. So the mother got so upset, so upset she said how can I go meet anybody. I cannot see anybody. And she went into such depression. I called her one day and told her, ‘look, who has the time to think about you?’ The whole time she was like, ‘how can I show my face to others?’ ‘How can I go to others weddings? They will all make fun of me’. I said, ‘who has time for you? It’s all in your head.’ She would not go to any other party, anybody’s wedding, nothing. She would sit in her own house; blame herself or her daughter-in-law or son for being very miserable. I told her, ‘no! You get up and go.’ You know it just needs that little push. Once she started going she found suddenly, she realized that yes, I was just caught in my own maya of my own mind. Everyone welcomed her properly, there was no need to put her head down and melt in such shame. These types of tendencies come because you think others are going to disrespect you. Many people do this. Honor killing that happens in Pakistan and other places, it’s horrible. Honor killing is not because God is going to be angry at you. It is, ‘how to face the society, how to face people around you?’ This is what bothers many people and they commit suicide. I tell you it is worthless; what the society thinks of you is useless. Recently it did happen, that one monk, a Swami wanted to marry. I said, ‘yes, you can marry, no problem. I don’t mind what people think, don’t worry what people think. If you want to marry you marry.’ But I said, ‘you don’t remain a Swami. You should write a one line letter that I don’t want to be swami because this life, monastic life is very difficult for me. So I would like to renounce this and not be a swami’, and everyone will accept. There is no problem. It’s okay he couldn’t be a monk he married, so what? But he said, ‘no, no, I want to keep it secret. I want to be a Swami and also live somewhere else in Europe secretly, six months there and six months here.’ I said, ‘I won’t like that. I would not let anyone deceive anybody else. This is deception. On one hand you pose to be a Swami and on the other hand you want to keep it a secret.’ I said, ‘I will not talk about that. Why you are worried what people think about it? Do you see what I’m saying? These are the things that because a person inner anxiety so natural and be open.’ I don’t find it is difficult, I find it’s the easiest.
Q: What if somebody commits suicide not because they are upset but because their body is in a suffering state?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Someone commits suicide because the body is in a suffering state that is okay. Suppose somebody is in deep, deep coma or has incurable diseases or something where the body is a big, big botheration. Then I would say it is okay, that is my personal opinion. But even then it is not the best because anyway you have to finish that karma. Why not just prolong it, whatever another 6 months suffering. There’s no need even there to commit suicide. But those people who go like that they come for short period to experience that period you know. That is the aborted children or children who are born dead. Sometimes these people have those sort of karmas in which in a short period they come to the world and they go and then come back again. But mainly we must realize that suicide is the worst thing and we need to help people who have that mentality. That is one of the major reasons that we should conduct Art of Living programs as much as possible. Wherever we can conduct that we should do. At least now they have something to hold on to. Do you see what I’m saying? When it starts, the breathing (Guruji breathing) and couple of bhastrika, it’s all gone! (Clapping)
Q: Jai Gurudev, can a Guru change the karma of a disciple? Basically stop something from happening or change the course of one’s life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, knowledge and wisdom is that which change the karma. You should read Celebrating Silence, Intimate Notes to the Sincere Seeker. The very first one I spoke about karma. Seven years we did it every week. Once every week we did the knowledge for seven years. I would send it to all the satsang groups. There is so much knowledge. Three hundred and sixty five days of knowledge sheets. You must use that, you must read that. You see what I’m saying? One knowledge sheet per day, that’s profound.
Q: Dear Guruji, is there anything in reality called negative energy or negative vibes from other people that can affect us? I have a tendency to fear certain people whom I think pass on these negative energies to me.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, in the absolute sense, no but in relative sense there is. You can feel those things but it is not a permanent thing. It is limited by time. Like smoke comes; smoke is not a permanent thing. Smoke you could find in somebody’s farm when they are burning the leaves then smoke comes. But it’s not going to be there forever, you are not going to live amidst smoke 24 hours. Smoke comes and it vanishes. When fog comes, planes wait for that little time. Once the fog is clear the planes take off. You think planes are worried about the fog? No. It’s just matter of time. Similarly some negative energy comes, you feel it, you feel upset, you feel something in the stomach, you feel something in the body but it’s only for a few minutes and it just goes away. See it goes even faster with a few pranayamas, bhastrika and mediation. All this will chase away those negative vibes. Why do you have to be worried about negative vibes? You should never be paranoid about negative vibes. Negative vibes are just like passing smoke or fog. You know of course in L.A. there is smog but the people don’t leave L.A. The city is not deserted. Millions of people live there. It just comes for a while and then disappears. And negative vibes don’t even come as regularly as the smog in L.A. They just are there for a few minutes, at the most few hours and then they go. And you have the key to get rid of them. Excellent! And one more thing is salt. Bathing in salt or putting salt in the bathtub can also take away any negativity. You know why people feel so happy in the ocean? Because there is salt in the water that cleanses the subtle and not just the gross. But when there is mantra chanting it’s even more powerful than the ozone or salt in water. That’s the strange thing in India. You will find the beaches are empty, nobody goes to the beach. Do you know this? Nobody goes. Even if you go to Bali, the Balinese people are not fond of the beach. They don’t go to. Only tourists go into beaches. Same in India, you will find local people do not go to beach. It’s not a favorite spot. Maybe in evening they may just take a walk. If you are in Chennai it gets very hot so you get little breeze. They are not fond of salt water, going into ocean. People seldom do because there is no inner craving, that it gives more than the inland. Are you getting what I’m saying? You already get so much energy so your system doesn’t crave to go near the ocean or take a swim in the ocean to feel better because on the land mantra chanting has been happening for millenniums, for ages. So it’s still vibrant. So prana is already high. It’s not especially high along the coast.
Q: Dear Guruji, is organizing more and more courses and growing the organization the main goal of Art of Living or is it being loving to other people? Some teachers get lost in advertising, PR, so much that they become so much like business people rather than exponents of your love. They don’t represent you well even an iota but they do represent Art of Living. What can be done to balance this out?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s good. In the TRM (Teacher’s Refresher Meet) let the teachers sit and brainstorm and see what they can do. This is good; you need to balance, yes. You need to speak the language of the society at the same time the essence should not be lost, isn’t it! You know what is very difficult is to put Art of Living in one category; very difficult. You know why? Because it is such a heterogeneous group, it is not a homogenous group. Not everybody is alike, not everybody is same. It is so heterogeneous that you find the most educated and the completely uneducated. You find the worst case and the best case also and you find people who have just come out of prison too. You find people of all strata here. People completely cuckoo will also be part of Art of Living. And if you see four or five of them who are cuckoo you can’t say, ‘oh Art of Living is all cuckoo’. And you can’t say, ‘Art of Living is full of executive like people.’ No! Here we have the cuckoos as well as executives. An executive is also here. We welcome everyone. And you know I am caught here because the first thing I said, ’Accept people as they are’. (Laughing) And we have all sorts of specimens. Sometimes people ask me, where did you get this bunch of nuts? Its assorted nuts, we have all of them and we are tied up with them, and that’s it, we can’t do anything about it. Because I’m tied up with my own first course point, ‘accept people’, you know. I’ve never preached anything that I’ve not practiced. This is a fundamental thing. One thing for sure is never say anything that is not in your experience or which you’ve not practiced, simple. So you can never ever put Art of Living in one category. You can’t say Art of Living is all good people. No there are crooks also. And I tolerate them so that they can become better. If I also send the crooks away, where will they go and become better. I don’t see a better place. If I see a better place it would be a great relief for me. But so far I have not found any. If you find somewhere, someplace, tell me. I can pick them all and then show them the way there. So there are crooks. In the name of Art of Living there are people who try to be selfish and do things. But fortunately their numbers are insignificant, minimal. There are a few here and there that there is no doubt. So there are all types of people. So we must acknowledge that this is most heterogeneous group or place. So anyone holding any such concept in their mind, tell them you are mistaken. Saying, ‘oh all are bad, you are mistaken in that’. It’s in your head. All are bad? Impossible! Same with the society, whatever is society is what we are. In the society, it’s not that everyone is bad or everyone is good. There are all types of people out there, right? There is a proverb you must remember it’s a very nice proverb. When we were in school we learned it, even before we were teens we learned these things. ‘Adore the wicked first, and then thank the good man for the wicked is teaching you at his own cost and the wise are only teaching you.’ So the wise that is teaching you is not teaching at his own cost, but the wicked is going down, falling into a pit and warning you, you better not fall. So you should first thank the wicked and then the wise. This was a couplet we used to learn in school. It is so, so good. It brings that acceptance inside you. It shields you from getting paranoid and angry. Do you see what I’m saying? Either you are paranoid about someone who is bad or you are angry. And then you become worse than someone whom you think is no good. But when you know that they are teaching you some lesson, warning you what you should not do. It is such a shield, such a relief for your spirit to glow in its splendor. What do you think? It keeps the mind so clean.
Q: Guruji is it alright to do Reiki or other healing techniques on yourself or other people? I’ve heard that some healing techniques pass on the healer’s karma or create a spiritual debt. Can you speak more about this? Thank you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it does. It’s okay, sometimes you can do Reiki, it doesn’t matter. But I would say just meditate and bless, that is better. Blessing doesn’t bring you any karma, it keeps you free.
Q: Guruji I’m waking up in the middle of this course and discovering that I have played the role of a victim throughout most of my life. How can I step out of this role and not fall into it again.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have already done it now. By not wanting to be a victim, you are already not a victim anymore. Got it? You know, when you go out to vote, you have already voted, so relax. You know, I’ve seen people ask, ’How? How? How? How?’, A student keeps asking and the teacher keep saying, ’Do! Do! Do! Do!’, and both the student is tired and teacher is tired. ’How? What I should do? What I should do?’ And teacher says, ‘Do this! This! This! This! This!’ So you have to do this and this and this and this but oh my God! But then, ’How? How? How? How? How?’ (Laughing). Relax. Don’t ask me how? (Laughing) Then I’ll be in trouble. You are in the train and train is moving. You are in the flight and the flight has taken off. No point in running in the flight from this end to that end, you are not going to reach any faster. Got it? Did you get the clue? Relax!
Q: You’ve said that many souls take bodies to cleanse themselves, to purify themselves for some other purpose of growth. Are there other reasons that people take bodies? And how did you choose this life or this body for this lifetime?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, one is you come to cleanse yourself. Another is you come to cleanse others. Two options; One is you’re a prisoner and you experience your sentence, whatever 6 months, 8 months, 2 years, 3 years or 20 years life imprisonment. Another is you are a jailer and take care of them and bring them out. These are the two options that I know of. And how you choose your parents depends on the energy field that you are. When someone leaves the body the last thought matters. If the last thought is about chicken you will find yourself in the poultry farm. So there are many stories in India about what your last thought should be. It should be of something wonderful, of service, of love, of compassion or something bigger. Think about God; think about some generous act or good people. And also first thing in the morning, there is a word in India which is very commonly used, ‘Pratha Smarana’. Pratha smarana means one who is worth remembering first thing in the morning. You know don’t remember your enemies in the morning, but remember the wise people. So you should aim at becoming pratha smarana. Everyone should become the one that could be remembered first thing in the morning so that everyone feels fresh and energetic the whole day. That’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?! That word is so beautifully called; people whom you can remember in the morning. And whomsoever you remember in the morning, the same person you’ll remember last in the night also. So whatever is your last thought in the night will be the first thought in the morning. I think this is in all traditions. Just before going to bed, mums tell the kids to pray, isn’t it? Pray before going to bed. It’s an ancient tradition all over the world I suppose. Just pray, think about nice things when you go to bed. And when you wake up first thing look at your hands and what do you say? ‘Oh let me do good things from my hands this morning’. You look at it feel let my luck be good, let my lines be favorable and let me do good things. Let there be knowledge, let there be good work happening, let there be good wealth coming to my hands; this is the Morning Prayer. The old ancient Vedic prayer is. ‘God of the wealth is in the beginning of my palm, residing in my palm. God of wisdom is residing in my palm. God’s valor is residing in my own palm. So let the good things happen through me’. This is how we are supposed to wake up and look at our hands.