Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
When there is celebration, singing, dancing and meditation, questions do not arise. ‘What is the purpose of life? What is the meaning of all this?’ These questions arises only when ‘this’ is not there, or when ‘this’ is hiding.
God has five functions; creating, maintaining, dissolving, blessing and hiding oneself (God does not make things too obvious, although He is the controller of everything.) The nature of God is Sat Chit Ananda. Sat means truth or being, Chit means consciousness or awareness, and Anandameans bliss.
How do you know you are close to God? You are more blissful and conscious as you come closer to being with God; not drunk and unconscious, but drunk with bliss. It is different. Truth (Sat) it is, you cannot deny it. Can anyone deny you are (there)? Can anyone say, ‘I am not (there)?’You know you are (there)! Sometimes, people say, ‘I do not believe in anything’. You do not believe in anything? Do you believe in what you are saying? At least, you must be there, to believe in whatyou are saying. If you do not believe in yourself also, then what you are saying is invalid. Does that make sense?
Gurudev, Why do masters sometimes ignore disciples? Can a Guru ever forsake or get fed up with a disciple?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If you think you are very important, then you will be ignored. Got it? There is no question of forsaking. Does air forsake you? Does the sun forsake you?
There is nothing called forsaking. If anyone feels like that, it is all in the mind.It is very strange but true, even if there is nothing to worry and complain about, the mind will create something to worry and complain about.
The nature of the mind is such that if you have nothing to be miserable about, you will think about something that happened ten days ago, or ten years ago with somebody, and think that there is injustice. Then you get into a sense of victim consciousness. You need to watch out for this!Two things are detrimental on the spiritual path:
In the past, religion pushed you into feeling like a culprit. It made you think that you are a sinner, you must repent.This sense of being a sinner pushes you down, away from spirituality. It rattles your mind and brings such a sense of guilt deep within you.
Unfortunately, many people lived their lives in guilt and died with this feeling. That guilt consciousness never allowed them to come out of the small mind.People lived without realizing that oneness with the Divinity, that innermost peace and joy.
Jesus said, ‘I and my father are one’ (implying oneness with the Divine). He never said that you repent, you are a sinner. In fact, Jesus stood against it if someone said that anyone was a sinner. Later on, religious people used guilt as it was very convenient to enroll others.
‘Oh, I am victimized! I am right and you owe me an explanation. If nothing, at least an explanation!’ The mind rattles on being a victim.
Victim consciousness is on the other end of guilt or culprit consciousness. It is another big issue that the human race has fallen prey to.
Both, victim consciousness and guilt consciousness are detrimental on the spiritual path, they make you miserable. Whenever you think you are a victim, you cannot have proper rest. Then you keep crying or getting angry at others.
Gurudev, In The Ashtavakra Gita, we heard that we are not the doer. Is this not in conflict with self-effort? Please advise as to how self-effort should be utilized, especially in meditation.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You will realize that I am not the doer only when you put your 100% in self-effort, not before. If you have not done anything, you are only sitting there with your hands folded, you can never realize thatI am not the doer.
Meditation is effortless, yet to get into meditation, you need to put in a little effort. Did you notice yesterday, at the beginning, we put in some effort? There was an ache in the back, the shoulders, and then a few minutes later, it all disappeared. Effort is needed in the beginning, and then you have to let go.
The Ashtavakra (Gita) is like moving or rather flying through rockets.There are different ways (of flying), one way is to map the road first, and then you know where to go. Another way is to sky-rocket, direct to the source. Similarly, there are different levels to knowledge; that is the richness of this literary tradition. It is so rich that it can guide anyone, from a beginner to a nuclear scientist. It has something to give everybody. (In the past, no generation was ever deprived of the ultimate knowledge. If you did not tap into it, that was your problem, but the knowledge was available to all.)
When you go deep into this knowledge, you realize it is mind-boggling. You can understand the whole of Quantum Mechanics when you understand the Self, the consciousness. What scientists say today, that there is one field (of energy), this is exactly what the ancient people also said. God is not a person yet God can be called he, she or it, because it is conscious, it is lively. God is not an object, it is alive. The mind can be called he, she or it. There is the small mind and the big mind, the big mind is the presence, in which all the small minds exist. When you go deep in meditation, do you have any gender? No, gender is only related to the body. As a person, as a life, you are not male or female. You transcend the identity; Divinity transcends identity. That is why it is not that God is a person sitting up there. Most people have a concept of God as somebody sitting out there, and you are having a conversation with Him. You are conversing with your own mind. You can feel the presence of God; you can be God. Feeling is secondary, being is first. Knowing there is nothing other than this. What is right now, that is all there is (i.e., Truth, Existence and Bliss). Everything else, all the thoughts that went through our mind, all the interactions that we have had, all that has happened, are not there right now! Are they there now? They exist only in the video tapes in the library, where nobody bothers to look. At this moment, thousands of channels are working. Seven billion minds and multiple trillions of thoughts are being emitted out, and it is all gone! Can you wake up and see the grandeur of creation? There are billions of planets, billions of stars, and (we are) a tiny solar system in that galaxy.In the ancient days, it was said, ‘Ananta vai loka’, an infinite number of worlds, such that you cannot even count them. This grandeur of creation baffles the mind and brings it to the present. All that is right now is what is, the rest is just a play. That is the essence of The Ashtavakra Gita: everything is like waves in the ocean. Have you ever counted how many waves arise in the ocean? There are waves throughout the ocean, not just on the shore. Let alone how many waves are there in this second, think about how many waves have arisen in the ocean since the beginning of creation? Similarly, all these phenomena are just happening in the ocean of consciousness, and that ocean is Sat Chit Ananda.
Gurudev, If the world is an illusion, are we all having the same illusion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Partially. In each one of your minds, a different world is happening. Each one of you has your own little bubble of thoughts, ideas and concepts. The way you look at the world is very different from the other person. Thus, each one of you has a world in yourself, yet all of you share something.
Gurudev, If Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the sustainer, and Shiva is the dissolver, who is hiding and who is blessing?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is a function of the same; the five actions are of one God. All of them are blessing. It does not matter what name you call it. God is in control of the whole world. We only wish He makes it a little more obvious, then you would feel free from your worries.
Gurudev, what is Kundalini Shakti? What happens when it rises during Hollow and Empty meditations?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Kunda means pot, kundalini means energy in the pot. The body is like a pot. When the energy in the body rises up, it has many manifestations. All different emotions are just manifestations of one beautiful energy. It is one energy that manifests in different regions of the body. At the bottom of the spine, it is inertia or enthusiasm. When it moves up, it is creative or procreative energy (sex drive). When it moves up, then the energy manifests as joy, generosity or greed or jealousy. As it goes up to the heart region, it manifest as love, fear or hatred. Then in the throat, the energy manifests as grief or gratefulness, and so on.