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.
Gurudev, what is action in inaction and inaction in action?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is very clear. This is the whole secret. When you are acting with hundred percent attention, something in you tells, ‘I am not doing it, I am not acting. It is just happening'. How many of you have had this experience? (Many in the audience raise their hands). This is seeing inaction in action.
Sometimes you get angry, or you behave in some manner and you feel that you are not doing it, it is happening. Someone comes in front of you and you just blow up, knowing very well that you are not doing it purposely. Something in that person triggers something in you, and you start behaving like that. How many of you have has this experience? (Many raise hands). You wonder, ‘My God, I never wanted to do this!’ That is seeing inaction in action. You act because that person had to get those words, or that karma from you. So he just pulled out those words from you, and you never really wanted to say it. That incident had to happen and it was a karma. This is a little higher knowledge. Now don’t try to apply this knowledge to every mistake you do. You yell at somebody and say, ‘I didn’t mean it. It was karmic and you had to get it, so I had to yell!’ This is misuse of knowledge. Don’t do that. Don’t misuse knowledge in that sense.
Sometimes without your wanting to do an act, you do it. You don't want to do it, but you feel helpless, and you are just watching the act happening.
You see that you are not doing it, yet an action is happening, this is seeing inaction in action.
You are sitting with eyes closed and meditating. You are not doing anything, yet the vibration that you are generating from within you is changing the world. This is action in inaction. You’re sitting and meditating, you’re spreading the waves of compassion, waves of pure love and devotion, waves of harmony, and that harmony is hitting others and it is changing their mind-set, it is changing the atmosphere, it is removing the negativity, it is making things more positive. You’re giving blessing to people. With your blessing things are changing. This is action in inaction. You sit in samadhi, you sit in deep meditation, that samadhi is definitely creating a lot of action in the world. That is action in inaction. This is very difficult to explain. I have made an effort to explain it with whatever little examples.
Dear Gurudev, in the context of creation and Pralaya (meaning the ultimate dissolution of creation), two terms are often used: Mahatattva (the supreme principle or element of creation) and Tanmaatra, which are both difficult to understand. Can you please throw some light on this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Tanmaatra means a measure of any sensation or phenomenon that happens within our body (the minimum quantity of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch that can be perceptibly experienced by our five senses). It is a measure of anything that manifests at the level of the physical body. For example, our eyes see things with the help of the light that enters our eyes. It is because there is light within our eyes that we are able to see objects. Often when people lose their eyesight, it is said that the light has left their eyes (meaning that light no longer enters their eyes to help them see). Now, the amount of light that we can see varies in different species. An owl can see even in the dark or in very dim light, but we will not be able to. A cat also can see very well in the dark. So we say that an owl’s Tanmaatra or that of a cat’s is much higher than ours. As humans, our Tanmaatrato be able to see in dim light is far less. That is why even when there is no power or light, a cat is able to clearly see what is kept where.
In the same way, we can understand this difference in Tanmaatra when it comes to the sense of smell. An elephant has a very strong sense (or Tanmaatra) of smell. It can smell things clearly from far away and can correctly judge as to what lies ahead, or what is coming towards it, and from which direction. And it remembers that for years to come.
In the same way, there is a Tanmaatra associated with the sense of taste. A food object has a defined taste, but we experience different tastes when we eat it. For example, if you eat a little sugar and then drink your tea, then you are not able to taste the sweetness of the tea. If a particular experience (of an object by the senses) is below the Tanmaatra associated with it, then you are able to experience and understand it, but if it greater than theTanmaatra associated with it, then you are not able to comprehend it properly. So when you eat sugar first and then taste your tea, then you are not able to taste the sweetness, because the Tanmaatra has changed. So this is what is meant by Tanmaatra. Each of our five senses – the eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin – are collectively called the panch jnaanendriya (the five senses of cognition), and each of these has a Tanmaatraassociated with it. It is because of this Tanmaatra that we are able to see, hear, smell, taste and touch.
Gurudev, India is rapidly emerging as one of the youngest nations of the world. How do we channelize all this energy of the youth towards the progress of the country? What should the youth of this country bear in mind as they move ahead in their lives?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is why we have created Volunteer for a Better India (VBI). All of you should become active members of VBI. I want us all to bring about a wave of happiness in every corner of the country. You all should work for this. The population of our country is 120 crores. If just 10%of the poplution gets actively engaged in VBI, then there will such a huge transformation in our society, and in our country. So everyone of you should have this as a target for yourselves. Each one of you should bring 10,000 new volunteers into VBI. It is not difficult at all. Get people to fill in the Happiness Survey. Form groups of three and reach out to people and get the Happiness survey forms filled by everyone. When you cross 5000 or 7000 surveys, just send me an email informing me of this. Even the ladies can get together and do this.
If we can provide India with a strong base of 10 Crore dedicated volunteers, who can dedicate at least one hour every day for the society and the country, then the entire face of this country will change. We have such great knowledge with us, yet we are miserable and dejected. What then is the use of such great knowledge. We are sitting on top of a great treasure (of knowledge), yet we weep and cry for small petty things.
Just think over our country’s situation today. There is an abundance of oil in the middle-east countries, and in countries like Malaysia, yet we are exporting oil and petroleum to these countries. We are sitting over a great wealth of oil and natural gas in our country, yet we are behaving like beggars, asking for oil imports. This is the work of the corrupt people in the government administration.
I was just reading about something yesterday. In a span of just six months, there have been ten major sea accidents by the Indian Navy. Have you ever heard of something like this happening in any other country? Such accidents do not simply happen by chance (implying the work of conspiracy by some corrupt officials). When such accidents happens, everyone in the country takes the naval officials to task and questions them as to why such an accident took place (on grounds of alleged negligence). Despite ten such accidents having taken place, our ministers do nothing about it, except sit there and watch the scene unfold. This is very unfortunate. Had this happened in some other country in the world, people would have been shocked and angry about it. But in our country, our officials and our people are simply sleeping over it. No one is concerned about how many lives were lost in such mishaps at sea. All they are interested in is about filling their own pockets with money.
We have a huge wealth of coal and mineral resources, yet we are importing coal from other countries. Our country is so rich in Bauxite ores (an ore from which Aluminium is made), yet we are importing that as well. We have such great wealth of iron ore, yet we export our rich ore deposits to other countries (at lower prices), and import finished steel products (at higher prices) from them. This is most unfortunate.
There is no dearth of talented scientists and researchers in our country. There are talented people everywhere in our country. So the youth of this country are very capable of bringing about a huge transformation. I would ask the youth to just come together and bring more people to VBI. We should all think of doing something big in the coming 3-4 years. Do you all agree with me? Will you all join? Just do it.
Gurudev, if everything is predestined, then what is the use of action, or free will?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If everything was predestined, then there would be no use of free will. No, you should use your Viveka (the sense of discrimination of right from wrong), and understand that some things are predestined, but then you are also given free will to make the right choices and act in a righteous way. Where you cannot use your Viveka, then there are prescribed ways for doing certain things. Life is a combination of both destiny and free will. Some of it is written (predestined), but you also have been given the freedom to choose the way you act.