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.
(Below is a continuation of the post Train The Mind Again And Again)
Gurudev, it is said that Lord Krishna forgave the 100 wicked deeds of his cousin Shishupala. But when Shishupala committed the 101th wicked deed, Lord Krishna hurled the Sudarshan Chakra (the Lord’s divine discus) and beheaded him. If Lord Krishna had tried warning Shishupala at the 99th deed, maybe he would have stopped. Please speak about this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Lord Krishna gave a warning every time a wrong deed was done.
In fact, despite warning him the 99th time also, when Shishupala did not stop, Lord Krishna had to take that step of beheading him. It is not that Lord Krishna forgave him without making him realize his mistake. No, He forgave Shishupala each time only after making him realize the wrong he had done. What is the use of forgiving someone without making them realize what mistake they have done? They will never realize otherwise. So every time Shishupala did a wrong deed, Lord Krishna would make him realize what wrong he had done, and only then forgave him.
See, mistakes do happen. But what we often do is go on repenting, 'Oh! I made such a mistake', and we feel guilty. Or we pretend as if the mistake has not happened at all, and strive to prove that it is not a mistake at all. Both these approaches harm a person.
So one is the denial mode, which is to deny that you have made a mistake. The other mode is that of getting stuck in guilt and shame about the mistake; so much that you fall ill because of it. One should adopt the middle path between these two. So when you have made a mistake, do not go on repenting over and over again about it and become miserable. At the same time, do not deny that you made a mistake. The middle path here is to realize that you have made a mistake and that you have learnt something from it. And move on!
So by following the middle path, you accept that you made a mistake but at the same time you do not get stuck in the guilt of it. You learn from it and move ahead.
You should remember to adopt the middle path for yourself and for others too.
If someone else makes a mistake, then repeatedly scolding them and nagging them so that they realize their mistake will only ruin your relationship with them.
Just think about this. Suppose someone continuously keeps nagging you for a mistake you have made, would you like to be with them? You would feel like moving away from such a person who constantly keeps reminding you of your mistake. No one commits a mistake deliberately. Mistakes simply happen because of a lack of awareness. Once awareness dawns within you, then you should simply realize that you made a mistake out of ignorance, and by realizing this you come out of the mistake.
Once you have that awareness, you become innocent and free once again. The moment you gain awareness, you also become aware of your innocence.
So just move ahead knowing that you are innocent, rather than chewing on your mistake. It is important to have complete faith in your innocence.
At the same time, pointing out someone else’s mistakes all the time and making them feel guilty about it is also no good. Then they will go on distancing themselves from you. So do not do this. Making others realize their mistakes without making them feel guilty is also a skill. It is an art. You have to skilfully make the other person realize their mistake without making them feel guilty, and then pat them on their back encouragingly and say, 'Come on, move ahead. It is alright. Mistakes happen. I have forgotten it, so you also forget about it'.
Do not let anyone stay stuck in guilt or continue feeling like a culprit. A person who is made to feel like a culprit all the time will only go on committing more and more wrong deeds. He will never improve his ways. So to save the mind, you have to first save it from this culprit consciousness. Do you get what I am saying?
Having this culprit consciousness means to continuously think, 'I am a culprit. I did such a wicked deed'. This feeling of guilt consumes a person completely and does not let him progress on the spiritual path. The first step towards spirituality is to free oneself from this guilt consciousness.
The next step towards spirituality is to be free from ego. Often people boast that they did so-and-so great thing. 'I am the greatest', this is also not conducive to spiritual progress. You need to become Akinchan as well (meaning: to feel ‘I am nothing’).
Now this does not mean you keep thinking that I should become nothing. Do not get caught up in a web of words. If you get caught in words then you end up creating a totally different web of thoughts and impressions. This is why I say that you should just be simple and natural. When you are simple and natural, then all problems and entanglements get resolved effortlessly by themselves.
Gurudev, in the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, it is described how every warrior blew his own conch before the start of the battle. The names of the different conches are also mentioned. What is the meaning of narrating this? Please explain.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I feel there is some great secret behind narrating this. There must be some meaning behind the name of every conch shell mentioned in the verses. People who are good at research should put their minds to this and find out what the secret is.
The names of all the conches mentioned are so beautiful. There is a verse in the Gita:
'Panchajanyam Hrishikesho devadattam dhananjayah. Paundram dadhmau maha-shankham bhima-karma vrkodarah'. (1.15)
These verses were not simply written just like that. There are qualities associated with every name. Every name is special in some way.
For example, the word 'Parna' means 'A Leaf' in Sanskrit. But do you know what it really means? It means that which absorbs the radiant light of the sun within itself.
We all know that leaves perform the function of photosynthesis. A leaf absorbs the sunlight and the moisture from the environment to generate chlorophyll. This meaning is contained so beautifully in its name.
In the same way, what does 'Aparna' mean (one of the sacred names of the Mother Divine)? It means that which does not absorb the sunlight; it means that which does not take anything and remains untouched by everything. Suparna means that which shines or is able to fly. The Garuda (revered as the mount of Lord Vishnu) is referred to as Suparna because it can fly. It uses its feathers to push the air below and fly upwards in the sky. So in this way, every word implicitly contains a practical meaning in itself. This is the specialty of Sanskrit.
Gurudev, it is said, 'Sattvashuddhaira karyasidhhi' (Meaning: One achieves his desires by increasing purity and positivity, i.e., sattva). Is purifying one’s sattva sufficient to achieve what one desires, or is it one of the many factors for success?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There is a verse in Sanskrit, 'Raviryartevantyam pratidinam-uparasya narabhasyah. Kriyasiddhir bhavati Sattve-mahatam nopakarane'.
(From the Raghuvamsa by Sri Kalidasa)
It means that one cannot achieve desires by upakarana alone (Upakarana implies the means or medium used to accomplish one’s desires). By enhancing one’s Sattva(positivity) one is able to accomplish what one wants. But this does not mean that one can achieve something without using any material means or medium.
You can understand it like this. You can bake bread on the stove only when there is fire (here referring to Sattva). If there is no fire, the bread will remain uncooked. But to make bread, you also need wheat flour, water and a baking pan (these being the materials). Only then can you prepare the dough. So, just having dough, or just having fire alone cannot bake bread.
If you just keep saying, 'I am very positive, I am very Sattvik', and think that everything will be accomplished by that alone, then that is not going to happen. You definitely need the tools to accomplish what you want.
There also comes a stage in which, the moment a thought or a wish arises in the mind, it gets materialized and fulfilled instantly. This is called Naishkarma Siddhi and it happens in very rare individuals. It means having all your wants and desires fulfilled even before the thought arises in the mind. And who gains such ability? One who is totally content from within and free from all actions and their attachments, attains Naishkarma Siddhi.
It also happens to a devotee who is so totally soaked in devotion and desires nothing at all. Such a devotee too attains Naishkarma Siddhi. But for that they have to strive for a long time in their life to attain such a state. Once a person attains such a state, then whatever he thinks immediately starts happening.
Such a Brahmajnani (one who has realized the Brahman or the Supreme Consciousness) effortlessly acquires Naishkarma Siddhi. But a Brahmajnani also attains this Siddhi over due course of time. When the time is right and the person has become ripe, then he attains Naishkarma Siddhi.
How many of you have experienced this that whatever you think of starts happening? Yes, this is called Naishkarma Siddhi. Everyone surely gets a glimpse of this in their life, but it may take some time to attain it completely.
(Note: The discourse was given in Hindi. Above is a translation of the original talk.)
Today, let us contemplate on the difference between Atma (the soul or the Self) and the mind.
The soul is unchanging, and it is the same at all times, but the mind keeps on changing from time to time. This is why our mind has been linked to the moon (referring to the different phases of the waxing and waning moon).
It is said, 'Chandrama manaso-jayate' (From the Purusha Sukta in Rig Veda; meaning: From His Cosmic Mind was born the Moon). There is a deep connection between the moon and the mind. Just as the moon waxes and wanes over the days, in the same way our mind also experiences ups and downs. Sometimes it expands, sometimes it contracts. Sometimes it is happy without any reason, and sometimes it is miserable without any reason.
This is why people through the ages have said, 'One who conquers the mind conquers the entire World'.
The mind alone is the reason behind bondage and liberation. Whether we experience some bondage or attachment, or whether we feel free, the reason for this is the mind. So we have to train the mind again and again.
It is said, ‘Manaiva manushyanaam karanam bandha-mokshayo’.
It means, the mind alone is the reason behind bondage and liberation. Whether we experience some bondage or attachment, or whether we feel free, the reason for this is the mind. So we have to train the mind again and again. This is the essence of knowledge.
As we go on practicing this regularly, we gradually attain the siddhi (extraordinary ability) to tame the mind, just as a person, after repeatedly going through problems in life gradually gains the ability to smile through them. Then a stage comes where he does not feel any misery in spite of a problem.
For example, if you scold a child once, he feels very sad. But if you scold the child every day, then he becomes so habituated to it that he feels nothing. Then the child thinks, 'Oh, I keep getting a scolding every now and then, it is nothing!' Then the child does not get troubled by it and just moves on.
In the same way, as we go through the experiences of life (whether pleasant or unpleasant), a stage comes when this realization dawns within us that 'Everything is nothing'. That is when we begin to get established in the Self. To be established in the Self means that regardless of the person, object or situation that comes before us, we do not lose our smile and equanimity even for a moment. Even if we do lose it, it is momentary and we instantly gain it back. Then we are strongly and firmly established in the Self.
We do not get disturbed by petty and trivial matters. And even if we do, then it does not stay for very long. Its effect lasts only as long as that of a line drawn on the surface of water. It does not become permanent like a line etched in stone. Then it is said that one has become a Siddha(a perfected one), that one has truly become established in the Self.
But for this to happen, we have to regularly train the mind. This is what is meant by conquering the mind, or ‘killing’ the mind, as some say.
You know, some people say you must conquer the mind, while some say you must kill the mind. Both are one and the same, just the way of saying it is different. Gaining victory over the mind or vanquishing the mind is the same thing.
Gaining victory over the mind or vanquishing the mind is the same thing. Now to achieve this, the Guru is the way. When the Guru appears, the mind disappears.
Why is it so? It is because of deep faith.
Now to achieve this, the Guru is the way.When the Guru appears, the mind disappears.
Why is this so? It is because of deep faith (when there is deep faith, then the mind is in a state of surrender).
The devotee has deep faith in the Guru, because he is aware of the nature of his mind. The mind is not dependable, it keeps oscillating from one thing to another. Sometimes it likes this, sometimes it likes that. Sometimes it says, 'Yes', and sometimes it says, 'No'.
It is only when one observes everything with Prajna (an awakened intellect or wisdom), then one is able to see things from both near (in the present) and far (in the future) with unwavering clarity.
Otherwise, if we perceive everything only through the mind, then we feel a sense of restlessness (as the mind keeps jumping from one thing to another).
That is why when children are making decisions regarding their career, they usually consult three or four wise people. Even if they have a strong desire to do something, they will put it aside for a while and consult someone experienced before actually doing it. Why? It is because we simply cannot rely on our mind which keeps moving from one thing to another.
The mind is fickle, sometimes it likes something, sometimes it dislikes something. The first thing that we cannot trust in the world is our own mind. Everyone and everything else comes second. It is our own mind that deludes us in the first place. Our mind is deceptive. This is why we must again and again strive to silence the mind, and be established in the Self.
Latch yourself firmly onto that (Self) which is eternal, unchanging, and unshakeable, that which neither expands nor contracts. That is what you are, that is what I am, and that is what God is.
We often think, 'Who is God? What does God look like? Where is He?'
I tell you, just have this deep unshakable faith that there is a supreme power which is making everything happen. That Supreme power belongs to you, and is within you. Just have this firm faith and repose in the Self. Then meditation happens effortlessly.
Today a scientist came to visit me. He is a practicing neurologist. He showed me a very nice presentation. What he told me was very interesting.
Purify your mind with knowledge again and again. Otherwise if we indulge the mind too much in just eating, drinking and other desires, it becomes dull and restless. Our intellect becomes unstable. So channel your mind one-pointedly towards knowledge at all times.
It is said that one attains a human birth after passing through 84 Lakh births (here meaning different types of bodies or forms of life). The scientist was correlating this fact with the evolution of the brain.
The lower part of our human brain - the Brain Stem is called the reptilian brain, and it is present in all other animals also. The layer above it (which controls more evolved life functions) is said to be present only in Mammals. It is said that the frontal lobe of our brain resembles that of the dolphin’s (regarded as a highly intelligent sea animal).
So the makeup of the brain has evolved and developed differently for different creatures. Just as we speak about the 84 Lakh births, the brain as an organ too has developed and evolved differently for different creatures and species.
The brain is very astonishing. When our ancient Rishis were recognizing and counting the different tattvas (fundamental elements or principles) in this creation, they counted the brain too as one of them.
We should take interest in our scriptures, in this knowledge. We should take some time out every day and listen to knowledge.
You should read Yoga Vashishtha (a sacred scripture containing the enlightening dialogue between Lord Rama and Sage Vashishtha). Read the Ashtavakra Gita again and again. Just reading once is not enough. Purify your mind with knowledge again and again. Otherwise if we indulge the mind too much in just eating, drinking and other desires, it becomes dull and restless. Our intellect becomes unstable. So channel your mind one-pointedly towards knowledge at all times. Keep practicing this regularly. By doing this, we gradually gain the siddhi to conquer the mind. Siddhi means perfection. It means we become skilful in conquering or vanquishing the restless mind. Attaining this skill is a great thing. And all of us are capable of doing this. It is not that only some of us can do this and others cannot. No, not at all. In fact, it is very simple and easy to attain.
Gurudev, sometimes I feel guilty for not feeling guilty. If I don’t feel guilty will the law of karma have any effect?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You don't need to worry about it. You don't have to force guilt on yourself. Actually the case is, deep inside you are feeling guilty. But you are trying to brush it off, and this is what the problem is. If you really don’t feel guilty, you will not feel guilty about not feeling guilty at all. It is because you are feeling a little guilty, and you are trying to push it away, which is creating a conflict in you. So what you need to do is, simply accept it. Accept the mistake and whatever you need to do for remedial measures, you do it. Once you accept the mistake and want to do some remedial measures, then you will find peace within yourself. But if you brush off the mistake and act as if it never happened, or you didn't do it, it is then that the prick starts from within. So the first step is to accept, and then to do some remedial measures. That is it, then it is done.
Gurudev, would you recommend that I prepare for my goals, or should I just go with the flow?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Both. You cannot be just say that I will go with the flow. At the same time you cannot be stuck with a program you made one. Both together are necessary for growth. You should have a program, you should put your full effort, and then you should also be able to adopt to the situation.
Gurudev, you say, 'Don’t expect anything', but aiming for something is also like expecting. What is the difference?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, I am not saying that you should not expect anything at all. We only say thatexpectation reduces joy, that is all. It is a very clear statement. You can have less joy sometimes, no problem. Sometimes even that is essential.
Gurudev, have you seen God? How does he look like?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Exactly like you. You are made in the image of God.
Why does Shanmukha (Karthikeya) have six heads?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
So that he can recite all the Shad Darshanas (six Hindu philosophies) at once. Six faces - this has a significance. We say, 'The four directions', North, South, East and West. Brahma has four faces, which means that, he gets knowledge from all the four directions. But Karthikeya is special, he has six faces. Sixth face is an indication of the sixth sense. It can also be interpreted as, he get knowledge from all the four directions and from above and below. In this way, you can interpret it in any manner.
Then there are six imperfections (vasanas) which trouble the human mind. Karthikeya is there to remove these six imperfections, i.e., Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed),Moha (attachment), Ahankar (ego), and Matsarya(jealousy). These six imperfections are removed by the six faces of Karthikeya. These are the six enemies, and these six enemies are eliminated by the six faces of Karthikeya.
There are six Darsanas: 1. Samkhya (strongly dualist theoretical exposition of consciousness and matter) 2. Nyaya (explores sources of knowledge) 3. Yoga (a school emphasising meditation, contemplation and liberation) 4. Vaisheshika (school of atomism) 5. Mimamsa (school of orthopraxy (emphasis on conduct)) 6. Vedanta (knowledge in the Vedas)
Then there are six Vedangas (Limbs of the Veda): 1. Jyotisha (astronomy) 2. Chandas (meter) 3. Nirukta (etymology) 4. Vyakarana (grammar) 5. Shiksha (phonetics), and 6. Kalpa (ritual)
These are the six Vedangas and the six Upangas, and Karthikeya is a symbol of imparting this knowledge.