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.
Divinity is in the simplest state or form of awareness, i.e., feeling 'I don’t know. Who cares, I don’t know'.
When you relax what is happening? The body relaxes and the mind expands. But when you want to know something, the mind is focused, it is intense and concentrated. We are trained to concentrate. We are trained to be attentive and then the attention, attention, attention becomes tension. So the first step in yoga is to let go, to relax.
Now don’t ask me, how do I relax? How do I let go? Just let go, that’s it. The desires in the mind is something that holds you, that restrains or restricts you. Instead of thinking, 'I want this, I want this', have the feeling that 'I will get what I need'. Once this feeling is there, then where is the need to want something?
Only when the mind feels 'I may not get it', it starts running 'I have to do it, I have to get it'.
Instead we must be focused on just one thing, 'I will get what I need'.
That is why it is said, 'Samadhi siddhi ishwara pranidhana', i.e., by letting go or dropping it at the lap of the Divine, samadhi starts happening in you.
Only two sutras refer to god in the Yoga Sutras and one of them is, when you need to get samadhi you have to give yourself onto the higher power.
We are trained to be attentive and then the attention, attention, attention becomes tension. So the first step in yoga is to let go, to relax.
The purusha or God inside you is free fromklesha (suffering), karma (merit & demerit),vipaka (fruit of action) and that goes into higher knowledge.
We will stop here now. This is good enough.
The five vrittis come and go. We should not fight with them, we should just recognize them and relax. In the realm of mind, the way to get rid of something is through relaxation and not through action.
In the physical realm, if we want to get something, action is essential. In the realm of consciousness, inaction is essential. So somewhere inaction and somewhere action is all what life is about.
Now let us talk about Vedic Wisdom.
See, nobody knows when the Vedas were written, but the historians of the world say that the oldest scripture that is written is the Rig Veda, there is nothing older than this.
So what are the Vedas? It is called 'shruti' which means 'we heard'. Many ancient Rishis in the past, when they went into deep meditation they heard something and then recited it. People who heard them repeated it and started recording it. So that which 'was heard' in deep meditation is called 'shruti'. In computer terms we can say they downloaded it. So those who downloaded the mantras are called Rishis. So the Rishis downloaded many of these mantras including Ayurveda.
How many of you know of the birth of Ayurveda? In the central part of India, in the forest, some thousands of sages or scientists of those days gathered together and said, 'We need to go into deep meditation and find out what is good for human beings; how can they be healthy and how to treat sick people'. There was no Materia Medica or any material before that.
Then they thought that if everyone goes into meditation, who will record? So one Rishi Bhardwaja said, 'I will not meditate, you all go into samadhi and you keep saying what you hear and I will record it'.
So in a state of deep meditation they said which herb is for which part of the body, what is the shape of the herb and everything was described; the entire herbology and how to prepare different medicines and how to treat different parts of the body. If you find one Materia Medica in the world which is in the form of a poem, it is Ayurveda. Ayurveda is not in prose, it is all in poetry. The whole medical science (of Ayurveda) was downloaded and even today it stands good. It has stood the test of time and stands good in today’s scientific age, and it has proven to be very useful. Now even Allopathy is turning towards herbal and Ayurvedic medicines. They have started recognizing it one by one.
In the realm of mind, the way to get rid of something is through relaxation and not through action.
In the physical realm, if we want to get something, action is essential. In the realm of consciousness, inaction is essential.
One of the best examples of this is turmeric. In 1980, we had a conference in New Delhi and we had invited Allopathic as well as Ayurvedic doctors and they had a debate.
Ayurvedic doctors said that turmeric is very essential. It is good for anti-ageing and stops decay of the cells in the body. The Allopathic doctors just smiled at each other and said it is only a pigment and has no food value. They completely dismissed it. Today, the same Allopathic doctors say that turmeric has 19 important functions and does the work of 19 life saving drugs. It also arrests Alzheimers, is an anti-oxidant, a blood thinner and does the job of aspirin. Aspirin affects your stomach, turmeric does not affect your body in any adverse way. It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer. All these benefits of turmeric have now been discovered.
Similarly butter; a whole generation went away from this world thinking butter is not good for health. They had been deprived of eating butter, but today, The Time magazine has a cover story about how butter is good for you. Ayurvedic doctors have always said how a little butter is good for your heart and not bad, contrary to what was believed in the past. So, Ayurvedic science is rooted in the Vedas.
Similarly, all the yagnas and the knowledge is so vast that no one person in one lifetime can understand and study all this.
There are 16 major branches of the Vedas and a person can study only one or two branches in his lifetime. It is like, someone cannot be a doctor for everything. One can only be a pediatrician, or a heart surgeon, or a brain neurosurgeon. Even in surgery, you can chose only one part. In engineering you can’t be an electronic engineer, civil engineer and an architect engineer as well. It will take you a lifetime to study all that.
To build a building you need a structural engineer, you need an interior decorator, you need an architect, you need a civil engineer. Like this, Vedic wisdom has got many avenues.
So for all those who are doing the Vedic Wisdom course, in this short period of 40 days, you will get an introduction and glimpse into of all this.
What is samadhi? Does it only happen with eyes closed?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
First it is good to start with eyes closed, then it can also happen with eyes open. A devotee has sung such a beautiful verse in Kannada. He has said, 'When my breath is so fragrant, why would I need any flowers?'
See, when your mind is in a very heightened or pleasant state, your breath is like a flower, very soft. When there is pain or heaviness in the mind, your breath is also heavy. When there is love for everyone, the breath has fragrance. So when there is fragrance in the breath, why would one need flowers.
Then he says, 'When there is ksame (forgiveness), daya (compassion), shanti (peace),sairnne (endurance) in me, why would I need to go and sit in samadhi?'
What is the need of samadhi where there is total forgiveness, total compassion, total peace and total endurance to welcome the opposites? When I can handle the pleasant and the unpleasant equally, because every pain and every unpleasant thing also gives depth to your life. They are also an instrument for you to progress in life. Not just pleasant situations but unpleasant situations are also stepping stones for you to become strong and stronger. So when all these four exist in me, what is the need of samadhi?
Now what are the four things?
1. Ksame which means forgiveness. The Earth is called ksama. Do you know why? Earth is most forgiving. Even though you dig the Earth and you are straining and sweating, in return, it nurtures you and it gives you water to quench your thirst. You till the soil and it gives you grains. So it is most forgiving
2. Daya which means compassion
3. Shanti which means peace. Peace is total relaxation. Feeling relaxed physically, mentally and emotionally
4. Sairnne which means forbearance or endurance
The next one is even more interesting. He says, 'When I have become the whole world and I see the whole universe as myself, what is the point in solitude? Where will I go and hide? This is not necessary'.
And then the devotee asks God, 'Are you listening? This is my opinion. You better listen'.
Every province in this country is so rich with knowledge written by saints who are blessed. Not that they went to school or learnt these things from any scriptures. It is from their own experience.