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.
We should take the lessons from the past, and not the trauma from the past.
Usually, people hold on to the negative from the past and feel uncertainty, anxiety and fear about the future. This is the foolish way of living.
Intelligent people, people of wisdom, do it the other way around. They learn the lesson from the past, and keep hope and enthusiasm for the future, not anxiety. So you are all intelligent people, isn't it?
Who is the observer? Is our goal to merge with the observer?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There is no goal, there is nothing to merge. It is there, that is it. Got it? What is there is there. In the present moment it is always there; the witness is there. Who is asking the question, that is the witness.
All that you need to do, is to know that the mind is getting clogged by desire after desire after desire. This bombardment of desires does not allow you to see the clear sky, that you are. So, throw the desires.
'Vihaya kaman yah sarvan pumams carati nihsprhah nirmamo nirahankarah sa santim adhigacchati' (2.71)
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna has said, throw the desires, and then you get relaxation. Otherwise, there is a burning desire for something or the other, and this keeps you running.
As long as you are running on the treadmill (i.e., after desires), there is no relaxation. Somewhere you have to press the 'stop' button and sit down!
This is what we are doing. Running and galloping on the treadmill does not take you anywhere. Time and again, when you relax, you understand the truth. But even that state cannot be there forever. So again another thought, another desire will come.
What does Yogi mean? One who gets one desire in one year. What does Ayogi mean? One who gets a million desires in every moment; every day. So lessen your desires. Got it?
Now you may ask, 'How can I lessen my desires?. Know that everything is going to finish! That’s all. This is Vairagya, and you don’t need any practice for this. Everything is going to finish! This one thought is an antidote for desires. Everything is going to be finished. This is meditation. Without vairagya, meditation is next to impossible!
Gurudev, when God itself has become a botheration, then what to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Do not become a botheration for God! When you think God is your botheration, then you have become a botheration for God! This becomes a problem.
Once a woman in Jamshedpur, or somewhere, was fasting for 8 days, and she said she will not eat food till she talks to Gurudev.
I said, 'This is a big problem'. I keep travelling around the world, the phone connects at some places and doesn’t connect at other places. If people start thinking this way, then there will be a big problem!
Then I had to scold her and say, 'Don’t be like this, first eat your food'.
I said to myself, 'This is not an act of seva, rather it is making me do seva!'
I am ready to do seva, but this becomes a headache for me! I said, 'I don’t believe in these kind of things'.
You should never say this, that God has become a problem for you. If you long for God, or for your Guru, in your heart, then that is good. This takes you on the path of progress. If that longing is not there then there is no juice in life.
The day the longing ends dryness begins to come in life. People keep yearning for the materialistic world, people yearn and they die for materialistic things. But you should yearn for God, then you will become realized. You will rise and attain everything in life, such should be the yearning for god.
Dearest Gurudev, when love turns into bitterness, what to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Just wait, don’t react, the bitterness will turn back into love again.
You often see that the people for whom you have done so much, they turn bitter! And you expect everyone to be in an enlightened state, that is not possible in the world.
Everyone is not just going to be smiling and accepting you as you are, and unconditionally being in a giving and loving space. That is not possible. You will have to face reactions, and you should face it, that is all.
Dear Gurudev, the soul is eternal, pure and ancient, then how did it become deluded, that it does not know itself in its true nature?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is called Atiprashna, i.e., the question which does not really concern you, and it is too much to ask for.
So why did the first ignorance happen, these questions were never answered. In the scriptures also, it is said that this is Atiprashna.
What are you going to do knowing that? Even if someone will say, 'Okay, this happened two billion years ago', what is the use? What are you going to achieve, or solve by it?
There are many other things to know. First know who you are, and then you can say, how the first ignorance came.
Gurudev, I am quite organized but my wife and daughter are totally opposite. This is one of the reasons I get annoyed at times. How do I correct them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
That is okay, you should keep doing it so that they learn to be more organized. Otherwise there is no fun in life! Someone should lose temper, someone should cajole and pacify. Otherwise it will be so boring; eventless, juiceless, tasteless life. But don’t take it too far! Once in a while is okay.
What a single glance can convey, a thousand conversations cannot. And what a moment of deep silence can convey, even a thousand glances cannot. Meditation is deep rest, and only your faith (in the Divine) can bring that deep rest. And what is the faith you should have? Faith that the Creator of this world belongs to me.
Three kinds of faith are necessary in life. The first is faith in yourself.
Three kinds of faith are necessary in life.The first is faith in yourself. The second is having faith in the fact there are good people in the society, and there is goodness around you. The third kind of faith is faith in the one Supreme power.
The second is havingfaith in the fact there are good people in the society, and there is goodness around you. If you think that everyone around you is wicked, then you also become like them. We then tend to give ourselves a certificate of our wickedness if we think in that way. That is no good. I believe that 90% of the people in the society are good and righteous. It is just 10% of the people who are engaged in wrong deeds. The remaining 90% have a pure heart.
The third kind of faith is faith in the one Supreme power, which you do not know, but which is ever present and which is making everything happen. So have faith in that Supreme power. The sign of God is that He is omnipresent, and is present in you as well. Is it not so? If you think that God is only present in the temples, then he is not omnipresent. If he is omnipresent, then he is surely present in you – this is the unshakable faith that you should have.
Then you should have this firm belief that ‘when God belongs to everyone, he belongs to me also’. Just have that deep and personal connection with God, with that Supreme power. Usually we never give much attention to anything that is public property. You never say, ‘Oh, I am in love with the public hospital, or railway station, or the bus stand’. Do you ever say so? No. We usually do not get attached to something that is universal and belongs to everyone. We usually get attached to that which is very personal to us, or that which belongs to us alone. This is why there is a tradition of having an Ishta Devta or an Ishta Naam in India (referring to the belief of having a personal or family deity, or a mantra, which is held sacred and in high reverence over others). So since ages, we have had this tradition in the form of your Ishta Devta, so that you can have that special and very personal bond with God. It would usually be some deity who appeals a lot to you, and with whom you feel that special connection with. You feel, ‘He is mine and mine alone’.
Then, was there ever a time when God was not there? No, God has been present at all times and everywhere. This is why you should feel that ‘God is present right here and right now’. Just have this faith, that’s it. This might appear confusing and difficult to believe at first. But gradually when you practice to reinforce this belief within you, again and again, you will start to feel that there is nothing beyond this. People usually say ‘I cannot see God’. I tell you, I see nothing but God everywhere! Everything is full of the Divine. This knowledge dawns within us from a deep experience, and not just from the level of the intellect. I strongly believe that every person can have this experience. All that is needed is deep faith. That’s it.
When we meditate, not only will we be able to fulfill our own needs which are very small, I tell you meditation will give you the ability to fulfill the needs of anyone around you also.
Meditation is an art. Once you know this art, then it becomes very easy for the mind to settle down. There are many benefits of meditation. It keeps your body healthy, brings joy to your mind, sharpens the intellect, increases your enthusiasm to work, and brings sweetness in your behavior. Meditation also cleanses the environment (of negativity). There are so many benefits of meditation. I was just reading about all this before coming here.
In the Harvard University in USA, and in the Oxford University in England, researchers have conducted experiments to see, what changes happen in the body as a result of Yoga and meditation, and how the DNA get transformed. Even at the physical level, both yoga and meditation, brings about many positive changes. We have already seen this happening. When we are transformed from within, then even the world around us changes. Today there is a lot of change needed in the world. How many of you would agree? Do you also desire for changes in the country? That change begins now, from here, and from within us.
We all have to attend to how we can change for the better. It is very easy to point fingers at someone else (blame), but it is difficult to change and improve oneself. You must have found yourself saying this very often. But I tell you, it is not at all difficult to bring that change within you. It is definitely possible, and one must do it. The first thing we need to do is to take out some exclusive time for ourselves every day; some 15-20 minutes. In those moments, just relax, sit quietly and think, 'Who am I? What do I really want?' It is very important to reflect upon this. This one thought can help dissolve all the negativity in the mind, and life is once again gets filled with the enthusiasm and joy.
All the crime that happens in society, today happen under the influence of addiction to some substance or another. Why does a person get addicted to something in the first place? It is because they experience a loss of enthusiasm and dejection in life, and so to compensate for that, they resort to different kinds of addiction. I would urge all such people to come here to the Satsang. I promise to give you such an (spiritual) addiction, that you will never be able to let go of. Just look at all the youth who have gathered here. They have left all sorts of addiction and bad habits and are completely soaked in the bliss of Satsang. Once you experience this joy (of satsang) in life, all negative tendencies simply disappear.
A person who himself is troubled from within will create only trouble for those around him. And there is only one remedy for this – a wave of spirituality. Today, whichever place of the world you go to, you will find people doing Pranayama, meditation and Sudarshan Kriya. If you go to the city of Tromsø, which is the farthest point of human in-habitation in the Northern hemisphere, there also you will find people doing Pranayama and meditation. Similarly, if you to the city of Tiera del Fuego, the last inhabited city in the Southern Hemisphere beyond which there is no habitable land, there also you will find people meditating and practicing the Sudarshan Kriya. We must work to bring transformation in the individual first.
A person whose mind is content and who thinks, ‘I am content, I need nothing’, becomes very powerful; his mind and thoughts become sharp like a laser beam. And the blessings given by such a person definitely bear fruit.
What are the problems we face? We get angry at many things; or we feel dejected and uninterested in everything around us. We suffer from jealousy. We are restless to quickly earn a lot of money, regardless of the way we can earn it. We do not think about ethics and morality at all. Why does all this happen? It is becausesomewhere inside, we do not have faith on ourselves and our capabilities. We do not have this faith that whatever we need will surely be provided, in much more abundance that what we actually need, and even before the need arises.We have lost this faith, and neither have we had an experience of this. When we meditate, not only will we be able to fulfill our own needs which are very small, I tell you meditation will give you the ability to fulfill the needs of anyone around you also.
There is a tradition in India to always take blessings from the elders in the family before starting any good work. It is followed even today. When we print out invitation cards for some grand function, we first write the names of our elders on the card before anything else. There is a psychological and scientific significance to this. As a person grows older, he should become more and more content (implying a sense of fulfillment).When a person is content from within, then the blessings he gives surely manifest. The blessings given by a person whose mind is constantly stuck in cravings and aversions will not bear fruit. A person whose mind is content and who thinks, ‘I am content, I need nothing’, becomes very powerful; his mind and thoughts become sharp like a laser beam. And the blessings given by such a person definitely bear fruit. That is why it has always been the norm to go to elderly people to seek blessings, because they do not want anything from life. Having lived so long, they have reached a stage in life where they are content.
You can see this even in small children. Just ask a small child who is around five or six years old, ‘What do you want?’, they will answer ‘Nothing!’. In this stage of childhood, when the child is full of this feeling ‘I do not want anything’, they too have the power to bless. The same goes for the elderly people also. But nowadays unfortunately, we do not see this with the elderly. They become old, but despite having lived so long, their mind still does not give up its desires. There is no reflection of any contentment in their mind.
(Note: The discourse was given in Hindi. Above is a translation of the original talk.)
Knowledge cleanses our mind and bring peace. Be happy, and don't keep finding fault in others.
For those people who got engaged today, I have some advice for you. Never question the love of your beloved. Don't ask them, 'How much do you love me?' If you find that their love is a little less, then tell them, 'Why do you love me so much?'
Remember, demand destroys love, so never demand. You are here only to give.
Both partners in the relationship need to remember that, I am here to give myself 100% to the other. If you do this, then you will see that the relationship will be healthy and long lasting.
Instead, what do we do? We keep demanding and asking, 'Why you didn't do this for me?' If you demand for something, love starts diminishing. So, no demanding, only contributing to each other.
Go with the feeling that I want nothing, I only want to contribute. My life is there is contribute. If you get into a relationship with this mindset, you will find a big difference in your life.
Can the mind continue its process of evolution between lifetimes as well? Does it need a body and situations for its evolution?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, it needs a body. That is why the human body is very precious.
You know, in day to day life, when you do things, sometimes you lose energy. When the energy goes down, the mind also goes down. Haven't you had this experience? (Audience say 'Yes')
Sometimes you wonder, why is my mind going down? Many people ask this question.
You think, 'I feel so depressed and down. Nothing feels interesting'. A sort of, (the mind)feeling down, happens to you.
This is because of a few reasons:
One of the reasons is Time. There is a particular time in everyone's life cycle, where for no particular reason the energy of the mind goes down.
The second reason is, too much thinking and too many desires. When the mind is clogged with too much ambition and too many desires, it will definitely give rise to depression.
The mind goes down because it loses all its energy in just thinking and thinking, and dreaming, and wishing for this and that.
So too many desires causes the mind to go down. That is why vairagya (dispassion) is essential to counter depression. If you have dispassion, you cannot be depressed. The lack of dispassion causes depression. So too much ambition and too many desires drains your mind of energy, and you feel depressed.
The third reason is when energy is low in the body; when the body is weak. When you do not have much energy, or when you are sick, then the mind goes down.
Associating with the body's vitality, energy and fluids, the mind becomes low. It can happen through some sickness, or because of a wrong diet.
Sometimes you eat some food that does not suit your system, or you eat too much, then also you feel depressed, and this is a vicious circle. People eat more because they are depressed, and then they get depressed because they ate too much.
So, if you feel a little low on energy, or depression, for a few days stop stuffing yourself with food. Eat some light food, or fruits, and suddenly you will feel your energy go up.
Don't fast too much, again that is not good. Fasting is good to a certain limit.
So, eating light food helps uplift mental energy.
You need to be aware of this. When you are feeling lonely or depressed, you have the tendency to stuff yourself with more food, and the more food you eat, the more depressed you get. Because you are depressed you keep eating, so you get caught up in a vicious circle.
If you pay attention to food, and eat the right amount of food, and the right type of food, at the right time, then the mind energy can go up. That is another way to counter depression.
The fourth reason is, total inactiveness. If you are too active, then you get depressed. Or if you are totally inactive, and don't do anything; or do things only for yourself without a mission or a vision to do something for others (lack of a seva attitude), definitely brings depression.
That is why in the ancient days, in the ashrams, people were always pushed to do some service. Go to the slums, sweep the floor, or water the plants, and keep things neat and tidy. Keep yourself busy. If you keep yourself engaged in some activity, that is also another way to counter depression.
So, here, either someone who is too outgoing, or someone who does not do any work physically, and sits all the time engaging in mental circus, get depressed. So the middle path is the way to come out of it.
From time to time, go into deep meditation, and then come out and dynamically get involved in activity, without thinking 'what will I get from this'. Whatever is necessary to be done in the world, do it. What the time and place requires you to do, doing that, is service. This will also help you to uplift your mental energy.
The fifth thing is, you are all singing, dancing, listening to the chanting, sitting for the Poojas, all this also uplifts your energy.
Now you cannot say, I only want to sit in the Pooja and go on chanting, and do only this. No, it is not going to work. Or, I will eat as much as I want, and then I will come and sit in the Pooja, that won't work.
If you say, 'I will sit and meditate the whole day, and do nothing else', then you are wasting your time, because your meditation is not going to go deeper. That is why, you all must always remember the verse from the Bhagavad Gita, 'Yuktahara-viharasya yukta-cestasya karmasu, Yukta-svapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha'.
You must always have that balance between activity and rest. The right amount of food, the right amount of activity, and the right amount of service (service is necessary) is essential. When you follow this, then all the sorrow runs away. When you follow these conditions, then you get united with the universal spirit (Yoga happens), and then sorrow runs away and you smile!
Can you please speak about Kaal Bhairava?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Kaal Bhairava is the Lord of Time. Time itself is the Divinity.
Do you know what the vehicle of Kaal Bhairava is? It is Shwana (Dot). Shwa meansYesterday or Tomorrow, Na means Not. So, Shwana means, not yesterday, nor tomorrow; which means Now.
So, where does Kaal Bhairava reside? In the now.