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, if all the pain I am going through in this life is because of the karmas of my previous life, then that makes me feel more sad. How do I face it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Don’t keep your head turned backwards. Look ahead and move on. You are trying to walk forward with your head turned backward. This is why you feel miserable. Just let go!
What good will you get by analyzing the past? It is all nothing. In life, everyone goes through pleasant and unpleasant times. Just walk ahead with courage.
There is so much knowledge and joy on the path. Despite all this, if you are feeling sad and miserable then what is the use of this knowledge? Just have this deep faith that only the best will happen for you. So what if right now there are some difficult times to face? Face them with courage and a smile. Just keep yourself busy with something or the other.
Do you know, the owners and heads of the large companies that we see today were once upon a time in great difficulty? They had a tough time getting a job. Many were not able to even get a government job, but they did not lose heart. They started their enterprise with a small shop and slowly built it into a business empire.
You will find many such exemplary role models in history.
So don’t just sit idly and keep worrying over things all the time, or think that one fine day God will suddenly send many blessings your way and everything will be alright. Do not waste even a single day this way.
What do we usually do? We get up in the morning and start reading the newspaper. This way, we end up spending an hour and a half of precious time. Then we spend two to three hours at home just watching television. If by chance you pick up a magazine, you just go on flipping through its pages even if the information is not worth reading. Nowadays we also spend a lot of time surfing on the internet. If guests come to our home, we spend time chatting and gossiping with them.
Some of our time goes into eating and drinking, and finally we get tired and go to sleep at night. This is not a wise way to spend your day.
Get up in the morning, and do your sadhana and meditation. After that, just get busy with your daily activities.
Make notes of what you have to do each day, where you have to go, etc., and what you have to buy. Plan your day and write down names of all the people you have to meet that day. Once you have made your notes, just get on with your day and your work. Go on ticking items off your list once you have finished them.
When you have finally done whatever you had planned for the day, just sit and relax for some time in the evening, or listen to nice music, or go for a nature walk in the evening.Every evening, spend some time with yourself. Meditate for 15-20 minutes in the evening again. You will find so much happiness in life. Then you will feel strong and energetic, and not lazy and dull.
Usually we waste so much of our precious time in useless activities, and then we get tired and have to sit and relax for a while. You should not do this.
So when you get up in the morning, make a list of all the things you have to do till the evening.
What usually happens? Our secretary or assistant hands out a list to us of all the activities that need to be done in the day. I usually get my to-do list for tomorrow today itself! (Laughter)
The list mentions all the people I have to meet, all the activities I need to look into throughout the day. Thankfully they spare an hour in the afternoon for me to rest for some time. But after that, I get back to work and my activities go on till 12 at night. This is how my schedule is when I am in India.
When I travel, then also my schedule is quite packed with many things to do. No matter which state in India I go to, the Apex Body members of that state ensures to keep a busy schedule for me. And I too want to stay busy through the day. I want that every second of my day is productive and useful for everyone.
I usually do not get the time to read or listen to any news because of having such a busy schedule through the day. So sometimes, in the flight, or when I am traveling by car, I read newspapers then. Some of the people who work with me, send me text messages regarding the latest news and happenings through chat and SMS, so I get to read the news when I get time.
You all send so many letters to me with so much love, and I go through them all. Many people write their letters with such a small font that it is almost difficult to make out what they have written (laughter). I wonder why they are being so miserly in using paper.
Some people fold their letters up several times before handing it over to me, in the hope that they will be able to touch my hand while handing it over. I did not know this, someone else told me this recently. They said that some people think that if they hand over a letter written on a regular size paper, they will not be able to touch Gurudev’s hand closely. But if they fold up the letter several times over into a small page, then they will be able to touch my hand when they give it to me.
It is so difficult to open and read a letter that has been folded so many times! Thankfully till now I do not need reading glasses, but if I continue to get such folded letters, I just might have to use them too! (Laughter)
So you all should manage your time well in life. Every day in the morning, make a plan of all the things that you need to finish by evening.
Some people come to me and say, 'Oh Gurudev, my business is not running well', and they become miserable. I tell you, if your business is not doing well, start another one.
There is so much to be done for the society today. Register your name for service activities with the Ashram HR over here. I have heard many people here saying that they have nothing to do. I would suggest to them to register their names with the Ashram HR. There is a lot of work to be done.
Just keep yourself busy with work.
So there are a lot of avenues and service activities here for one who sincerely wishes to serve. If you are interested in doing business, there are many business opportunities here. We have such a huge Art of Living family here. You do not have to worry about anything at all here.
Some people come to me and complain that their son’s or daughter’s marriage is not getting fixed. To solve that we have formed the Art of Living Matrimony department here which has its own website.
There are some minor problems with the website which the volunteers will fix it in a week’s time. Then it will become easier for you all to register and find a partner of your choice.
So, all these worldly activities and duties will keep happening from time to time. But do not think or try finding perfection in them. There will always be some flaw in worldly activities. When we go deeper on the spiritual path, and in meditation; only then will we be able to overcome and rise above these minor problems and events in life. Only then will we be able to experience true bliss.
This is why we changed the name of our Part-1 course from Basic Course to The Happiness Program. We want people to come and attend the course and experience that bliss for themselves. All their problems and miseries get resolved when they attend the course. They are able to rise above their problems and sorrows with the help of knowledge.
I recently met a saint in Rishikesh who had come to attend our Satsang there. He told me, 'Usually in schools, student pass one class after clearing exams and move on to the next. But this school (referring to the path of knowledge) is unique. One who comes here does not pass. Once they come (on the path), they stay here, because here they find the true joy of life. The path of knowledge is very juicy and full of joy. It brings you on the path of righteous action. It gives you the experience of love that is so total and eternal, and you find peace that is so everlasting.
Having this, you can move ahead in life with confidence. That is why it is said: 'Charaiveti! Charaiveti! Charaiveti! ' (From the Upanishads, meaning: 'Move on! Move on! Move on!')
Our Vedas proclaim the same thing, just keep moving on in life, do not get entangled in anything. One who moves on in life, being firmly established in self-knowledge, attains the ultimate goal of life. But one who runs here and there feverishly behind cravings and desires, loses sigh of the very purpose of life.
Despite all the developments and the abundance of spiritual wealth in our country, why are the youngsters still yearning to go abroad? India does not seem to them as a place worth living.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, it is good that our people go abroad. There are many opportunities in other countries.
If you observe today, people everywhere are traveling and spreading their roots in different countries. It is only us Indians who are not traveling and spreading our roots in other countries.
What is important is, once we settle abroad, we should not change and forget our roots and our traditions. We should maintain our cultural identity even after moving to a foreign country.
This is what used to happen earlier. Someone would be known by the surname ‘Chauhan’, but after migrating to another country, he would change his name to Peter.
Someone who called himself as Krishna changes his name to Chris after moving to a foreign country.
So in earlier days, people used to change their names once they moved to a foreign country. It does not happen any more these days. Though I have heard that people who work in call centres in cities like Mumbai often change their names. You should not change your original name. Keep your name and your cultural identity intact.
In China, where there is a predominance of Chinese people, even the signboards are written in Mandarin and not in English. Similarly, if you travel to Vancouver in Canada, in certain areas you will see that signboards are written in Punjabi. This is because the Punjabi people who migrated to Canada to make a living have kept their culture and traditions alive.
Even today, they have constructed and maintained Gurudwaras there. Many Punjabis there have taken up farming as a full time profession and are earning very well, but they do not know to speak in English.
They have not forgotten their language and culture. We need to promote the same kind of sentiment in India also. People in India must feel a sense of pride towards their language and culture. We all need to work towards that.