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.
There is an old Sanskrit proverb which says, ‘Praptetu shodase varshe, putram mitra vada chareth’. If your son or daughter becomes 16 years you should no longer be their parents, but you should become their friend. You should befriend them and understand their mindset and their difficulties. Transformation can only happen through understanding and not by imposing. You cannot impose your ideas on your children, or for that matter on anybody. All that you can do is place your ideas before them.
If they are doing something wrong, you should make them aware of the ill effects of it. If someone is getting into drugs, take them to drug rehabilitation centers and show them how (drug addicts) are suffering there. Ask them, ‘See where they have landed. Do you want to be like them?’ This is what we need to ask them. Transformation can happen only through education, and education can only happen if you have accepted people and understood their position and predicament and create a space for them to grow.
You have to create the much needed space for someone to grow and you should persuade them and not impose your ideas on them.
Just look back and remember when you were a teenager. When your parents used to force some ideas on you, did you like it? No, right?
From generation to generation there is a certain gap that comes whether you like it or you don’t. It happens. The skill is to bridge the generation gap. This is the first step.
The second step is to bridge the gap between cultures.
In India, the culture changes with every 200 miles. It is the same even in Europe. We need to think about how we can bridge these cultural differences and religious differences. I tell you, it is very simple to do. You just need to have purity in the heart and a sense of belongingness with everybody. Whether the other feels that way or not is none of our business. The path of spirituality is when you feel no one is a foreigner and everybody is belongs to you in spite of what they are and how they are.
Now you will ask me, how can we take ISIS as a part of us?
I just want to ask you, if people are sick, don’t you think they still belong to you? People get different mental sickness and are hospitalized, but they still belong to you right? Similarly, these people are also terribly sick! Their brain has the cancer of terrorism. They are sick and we should see how we can impact a change in them. I know it appears to be next to impossible, but still they are part of the human race on this planet. But they will change.
There is a story of angulimala (finger garland). There was a guy who had the hobby of collecting thumbs of people and making a garland out of it. He created so much terror. He had collected 999 thumbs by killing so many people. He was looking for one big thumb for his garland.
He accidentally met Lord Buddha. He saw Lord Buddha, a tall, young, robust man meditating. He wanted Lord Buddha’s thumb to be the 1000th one. But the moment he saw Buddha and went to him to take his finger, something happened to him. He just collapsed and his whole life changed and he later became a monk.
Valmiki was a dacoit and then something happened and he became one of the greatest saints. There are plenty of stories like this. There are many possibilities; anything can change. So let us keep our awareness in the present moment and not have any ill feeling towards anybody on the planet. Our hearts should be pure.
The Gayartri Mantra says, 'Let the divine inspire our intellect'.
It is the intellect which give direction to our life. Spirituality is not throwing away your logic. Many people think spirituality means being emotional and not using the intellect. That is wrong. It is a simultaneous development of the rational and that which is beyond the rational mind, to that experiential realm of consciousness.
The mantra says, ‘Dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt’, let the divine inspire my intellect and make it so sharp and rational, and let it reach the highest goal.
Mahatma Gandhi used to sing this prayer every day, ‘Let our intellect be soaked in divinity and let noble thoughts flow into our minds.’ This is the prayer. This is something you also can pray for.
Today you had tweeted an interesting article that consciousness creates this physical world. So many universes are being created through consciousness. How is this possible?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, there are multitudes of universes, one inside the other. Our brain is nothing but a frequency analyzer. Our perception is like keeping a radio needle on one particular frequency. If you move that (meaning if you change your perception) then another reality dawns. It is so fascinating, that is why I tweeted that article.
Dear Gurudev, it happens often with me that when I think or say something, it happens immediately or after a while.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is what happens when you meditate. Whatever you think starts happening, orwhatever is going to happen, those thoughts come to you.
Before you need something, you already have it and that is a perfection, so you better ask for something big! Don’t ask for small things.
When you have an intention and you put your attention on it, then manifestation happens. Anything that you want to do happens only through intention. Even to come here, you intended that you want to go to ashram. So, that very intention took your body to get into the car and drive through all the traffic and you landed here. So first intention, then attention and then manifestation follows.
Gurudev, I understand that all religions are messengers of peace and divinity, then why does only Hinduism care for animals?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There are many things you can wonder about different religions. You need to see the uniqueness in every religion and in every tradition. The uniqueness of any religion is a world heritage.
Now, you should not forget that there are Jains who are totally vegetarians and who honor animals. A large number of people in the West are becoming vegans. They respect animals. There are animal rights associations everywhere in the world now. We think outside of India everybody eats meat or everybody would be cruel to animals. That is not the case.
Throughout the world there is big awareness about the benefits of vegetarianism, throughout the world there are societies for prevention of cruelty to animals.
You can find compassion and protection towards nature and animals everywhere in the world. Today, more and more people are respecting animal rights.
How can we control the mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Through the breath. If you can control your breath then know that you can control your mind. Do pranayama and once you keep doing pranayama you will start gaining control on your mind. You cannot control the mind directly, it is not possible. When you like something then the mind is there fully.
Suppose you like a movie, that 2-3 hours you are totally focused. Your focus stays on the television or the screen because you like something. Mind gets focused when there is liking towards something. When you don’t like something and still you have to focus, then take the help of the breath. Breath can help the mind focus.
If you love something you don’t need to focus, it is already there. Love brings focus along with it. Greed and fear can also help you focus. If none of these three things work then the fourth one I would say is dispassion. Dispassion can bring focus.