Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Colors of Devotion
October 05, 2012
Honesty is a quality in a person’s nature.
If a person is honest, they are honest at home, and honest at work as well. Whether as a husband or a wife, they are honest towards their spouse.
Wherever they go, honesty just shines through their character naturally.
The same goes for Bhakti (devotion) as well. A devotee of God is also devoted to the nation, and to the creation. Their love and devotion is reflected in every sphere of life.
If one is devoted to their nation that does not mean that they are enemies of another nation. We have understood patriotism from a very narrow perspective. Nowadays, you will be considered a patriot if you speak against Pakistan. This is not right. Your feelings of patriotism need not oppose or put down any other country.
Often people question that how can a devotee of God be a devotee of the nation, or be patriotic as well. I tell you, for sure one can be.
If one is devoted to their nation that does not mean that they are enemies of another nation or other nations. We have understood patriotism from a very narrow perspective.
Generally, how do we express our patriotism? By opposing or having enmity with another country we express our patriotism towards our own country.
During the days of the British rule in India, you were considered patriotic if you stood up against the British. Nowadays, you will be considered a patriot if you speak against Pakistan. This is not right.
Your feelings of patriotism need not oppose or put down any other country.
If you see in America, those who call themselves patriots are simply patriots devoted towards their country alone. They are not opposed to any other country.
So, a patriot, or one who is devoted to his own country, is also devoted to the entire world; to the entire creation.
Those who are devoted to the Vishwatma (Universal soul), feel no conflict between their devotion for God, and their devotion towards their country.
See, when you look after, and nurture your own family, that does not mean that you are an enemy to the other people around. You care for others around you as well, and love them as you love your own family, is it not?
If a mother loves her own children very much, she can also have love for the other children in the neighborhood. It is not that if she has affection for her own children, she cannot have affection for the other children as well. Then that is not love; that is not devotion.
Devotion is such that no matter where it is, it spreads its fragrance all around; like a flower.
See, if you take this flower, no matter where you keep it, it spreads its fragrance everywhere. Whether you keep a Jasmine flower in the kitchen, or in your bathroom, it will give out its fragrance.
A flower will not discriminate saying that I shall spread fragrance here, but not there.
In the same way, wherever you place or direct your devotion, it will spread there; it will bear fruits and blossom more and more.
So you can have devotion and dedication towards your job as well.
A renowned Kannada saint once said, ‘Kayakave Kailasa’, which means that, one who does his karma (action) well, finds Kailasa (the abode of bliss).
This has also been said in Sanskrit in many scriptures.
So, true Pooja (worship) is the Service of the masses. There is no distinction between Pooja and Seva. Why? Because the basis or source of both is devotion, and the end result is also devotion.
The same goes for the Ahankaara (Ego) as well. Wherever you direct your ego it gets attached to that very thing. It acquires the form of that very object.
If you direct your ego towards the Brahman, then you will attain the state of Aham Brahmasmi (‘Aham’ means ‘I’, personifying the small limited ego here, and ‘Brahmasmi’ means ‘am the Brahman’. Hence identifying one Self with the Brahman that pervades all of Creation, dissolves the Ego).
A patriot, or one who is devoted to his own country, and is also devoted to the entire world; to the entire creation. Devotion is such that no matter where it is, it spreads its fragrance all around; like a flower.
When you attach your ego to small and trivial things, then it identifies itself to these small things and becomes narrow and limited like the objects themselves. It gives you a feeling of ‘I am something’; ‘I am a minister’; or ‘I am a sinner’; or ‘I am a very holy soul’; ‘I am intelligent’; ‘I am foolish’, etc. Wherever you direct or attach your ego that is what will grow in abundance and bear fruit.
So, just as ego is capable of growing in abundance, devotion is also capable of growing in abundance.
This has also been said in the Yoga Vidhya (principles of Yoga).
It is said, ’Tasya bhumishu viniyogah’ – (Vibhuti Pada #6, Patanjali Yoga Sutras)
The Yoga-siddhis (extraordinary miraculous abilities gained as a result of Yoga), and the heightened awareness or consciousness that one acquires through regular practice of Yoga should be channeled towards different activities that are beneficial to the Earth and society.
Q: Dear Gurudev, according to the Vedic scriptures, the whole world is an illusion, including the Galaxy, Universe, etc. I am not able to comprehend this. If you could please explain this further.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it is obvious. If you study quantum physics, it says the same thing. The name and shapes of objects is not real, what is real is that they are all part of One Wave Function.
Everything is made up of One energy. This is what the Vedanta always said.
Illusion means what? It does not mean that it does not exist, it means that it changes. Every object here changes, and all that which changes is called Maya. All that can be measured is called Maya.
It is wrong to translate Maya as illusion.
You know, one of the greatest professors of our time, Dr. Hans-Peter Durr, he was here in the Ashram a few years back. Do you know what he said?
He said, ‘Gurudev, I studied matter for 35 years only to know that it does not exist. What exists is only energy.’
He also said, ‘When I speak it appears as though I am speaking some eastern philosophy.’
The eastern philosophy has said this thousands of years ago what modern scientists are saying today.
So what appears is not what is.
This flask appears like a solid thing, but a physicist would say, ‘No, it is just atoms.’ And he would go further on and say, ‘It is all just energy.’
Inside each item there is vast space, and the way we perceive, i.e., our perception, is not the reality. Our perception is through the senses, and scientists go beyond this perception to infer the reality.
See, an atom is not visible to the naked eye. You cannot see an atom and you can’t see energy, but you know it is there.
So the whole world does not exist means, just wake up and see, all the past, does it exist now? No! It is there only as a memory.
In the flow of time, events are dissolving, so events do not exist.
What is existing now, in the very next second, it is already gone. Like the river has fresh water every second. In the same way, the nature is always changing. And that which changes, is called Maya. That which can be measured is called Maya.
So, as a flow, it all exists, but not as a reality.
True Pooja (worship) is the service of the masses. There is no distinction between Pooja and Seva. Why? Because the basis or source of both is devotion, and the end result is also devotion.
The whole world is name and form. Neither the name nor the form is permanent – this is the message.
Names can be different. You call something by one name here and you call the same thing by another name in some other country. And in another country, it is called by some other name. So names are not a permanent thing, it is for convenience. It is the same with the forms as well.
Q: Gurudev, I have been reading the book on Ashtavakra Gita by you. Every word I read makes me feel so good. However, what you have mentioned about Dharma (one’s duty towards social and moral righteousness), Artha (pursuit of material and financial prosperity), and Kaama (desires) being the causes of bondage, is very true indeed. But I am not able to free myself from this bondage. I have done my Purushartha (four noble pursuits of human life – Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha (liberation)) but I feel this is possible only through your blessings now.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, in the Ashtavakra Gita it is said, ‘Na Grahyam Na Tyajyam.’ Neither must you hold on to it and nor should you try hard to drop it. Just be hollow and empty and see things the way they are.
It is said, ’Ye drishta labha santushtam.’
That means, whatever you receive, and how much ever you receive, be content with that. This is a very important thing – Contentment.
A seeker should have both, Contentment and Dynamism in activity.
I am always in favor of contentment. But when I stay contented then people around me mistake it for being complacent. So, from time to time, I pretend as if I am not completely contented with what is happening, and engage them in doing this or that, in fixing this or that; something or another.
The purpose behind this is to make sure that you do not become lazy and inactive.
So, be diligent, but at the same time, have a sense of contentment within yourself. This is very important.
There are some people who are active and work all the time, but have no contentment. And there are some people who feel very contented inside and so they tend to become lazy. They do not have dedication towards work. That is not right.
We have to take a middle path. We have to have both together – Dynamism in action along with a sense of Contentment. That should be our specialty.
Sometimes people wonder, why is Gurudev acting this way? Why is he saying, ‘Do this, do that’, etc. Why is he not talking about being contented and doing nothing?
But I keep a watch over everything, and whatever someone needs to do, I guide them in that direction.
To those who are very restless, I tell them to be quiet and relax. And to those who are very quiet and reserved, I tell them, ‘Come on, get up! Do something. Do this, and do that! Oh, see what good work so-and-so has done. You are just sitting and doing nothing’.
In this way I urge them to act.
In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna has also given knowledge in this manner.
Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, ‘You will not fight the war? What are you saying? People will make fun of you. It is better to die than to suffer the insults of so many people!’
So Lord Krishna goes to this extent to urge Arjuna to fight the war.
He tells him, ‘It is not worth living like a coward. It is better that you die than to live like this.’
Then later on He says to Arjuna, ‘Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja Aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah’, (Bhagavat Gita, Chapter 18, Verse).
Be diligent but at the same time, have contentment within. This is very important. There are some people who work all the time, but have no contentment. And there are some people who feel very contented inside and so they tend to become lazy. That is not right. We have to have both together – Dynamism in action along with a sense of Contentment.
Abandon all the religions and come and surrender to Me. I will liberate you and free you from all your sins. You cannot free yourself of your own sins. I will liberate you from all your sins. So do not worry about your sins, I shall handle them all. You be happy, and do not be dejected.
So you see, knowledge has different levels to it, and each level has its own purpose.
Q: Dear Gurudev, besides practicing Sadhana, how can we make sure we do not come back again and again, and get liberated.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Contentment! Satisfaction!
Everything you do, do it happily with contentment.
You have done today’s work and you are contented. And whatever work you do tomorrow, do with contentment.
Every moment in life, live with contentment, and that brings you liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Q: Dear Gurudev, what is the meaning of truth is multi-dimensional?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it says it.
See, to come to this place, someone will say, ‘The direction is to go straight and turn left’.
I would say it is correct.
Another person would give the direction, ‘Go straight and turn right.’
I would say that is also correct.
The third person will say, ‘Just go straight, don’t turn left and right.’
I will say that is also right.
Now, if you tell me, ‘There can be only one correct direction. You cannot have three correct directions.’ I would say, ‘Truth is multi-dimensional.’
This place is multi-dimensional. To come to this place, there can be many instructions, many directions, and all of them are correct.
Q: What is the purpose of this creation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is the purpose of any sports?
(Answer: To win or entertain)
Yes, just entertainment, or fun, isn’t it! Same way!
It is just that the Brahman was One in the beginning and he felt a little bored, so he said, ‘Let me become many.’ As soon as this thought came into the One consciousness, he multiplied himself into many.
Have you seen one of those big mirrors with a thousand small mirrors in it?
A person stands in front of one such mirror and he sees thousand figures of himself in a mirror. And each of those mirrors totally reflects the person. You can see your face completely in all the thousand mirrors.
It does not say, ‘When one mirror has completely caught your picture, how can it go into the other?’ No! This logic does not work, right?!
That is what it is, one Parmatman made itself into thousands and millions of images, but the Truth is one.