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.
The challenge in life is to find peace amidst chaos. See there is no much noise here. Tell me how many of you are getting irritated because there is so much noise in the background? (Some in the audience raise their hands)
I think there are more of you. Some in the audience are hesitant to raise their hands. Now The Art of Living begins here, even thought there is noise, accepting it and being at peace.
Let us say that you are stuck in traffic. Now you have two choices:
1. You get frustrated, or
2. You spend your time planning, or reading, or listening to some music Life poses many challenges. The way of the wise is to accept situations and move through with a smile.
If you don't follow ethics in business, the fall will be very sharp and very hard.
I heard of how much suffering this part of the world has undergone. It really breaks my heart when I hear of the incidents. But now is the time to let go of the past and move on with a new conviction, and that is what I would call The Art of Living.
We need to create waves of happiness. There is a prayer in Buddhism which says, 'Rakkhantu sabba devata', which means: let all the Gods and Goddesses protect us!
In India we say, 'Sarve bhavantu sukhinah', which means: let everybody be happy!
So creating a wave of happiness is a very important thing for all of us to do. Don't you think so?
Even if one person in your family is not happy, can you be fully happy? Not possible! So your happiness depends on the happiness of your family. But can one happy family live in a country where neighbors are not happy. That is also not possible, because the neighbor's unhappiness will sometimes create problems for you. So for everyone to be happy, we need to take a proactive role in society. And that proactive role is service to society.
How can we do that? We can do that when we find our inner peace. Today, in this age of technology, we don't need to wait for long to heal ourselves. We can heal ourselves, our minds, our psyche very quickly with breathing techniques. With meditation our mind can radiate with positivity. So this is very precious.
Life is like a tree: a combination of old and new. The roots are old and the shoots are new. So life should be like that. We need both ancient and modern and Cambodia is blessed with both: an ancient culture and modern technology.
I know that sixty percent of this country's population is of the youth. So while we are progressing in technology, in studies, in skills, it is necessary to preserve the ancient culture as well. And I am sure Cambodia will be able to do this, because the tourists are so much interested in the ancient culture of Cambodia.
With meditation our mind can radiate with positivity. So this is very precious.
The heart always longs for old. What do we take pride in? We take pride in old friendships. We say, 'This is my old friend', because the heart wants old, but the mind wants what's new; latest technology, latest fashion is the run of the mind. And we need that, but at the same time we should not forget the heart.
Today I went to visit the palace. They were showing me all the ancient things there. There is a pride to own something old, something ancient!
So the youth need to have has both: the old family values and ethics, and at the same time, progress in technology, science, innovation, business, etc. So I wish for the business community here to inspire the young people to become entrepreneurs without losing the ethics.
Young people want to do business and make quick money and don't want to care about ethics. But I tell you, we must tell them about those people who have risen like that and have fallen very quickly. If you don't follow ethics in business, the fall will be very sharp and very hard. So I would like to remind the business community and the young entrepreneurs of this.
I am sure all of you are engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR activity). If not, you must all engage in some CSR activity. Start schools and educate children. This is something we all must do, contribute to the education of the population.
Education is not just information, it is building character. It is building a personality. Venerable monks are present here, I am sure they would all agree with me that we need to create values, ethics, and dharma.
So every day, a little bit of breathing exercise to calm down the mind and also meditation twice a day will enable you to live a life which is full of joy, happiness, compassion, love and divinity.
Education is not just information, it is building character. It is building a personality.
Three things are important:
1. Clarity in the mind
2. Purity in the heart and
3. Sincerity in action
This is the essence of dharma, and this is what Lord Buddha taught. When Buddha walked in India, in those days, people were highly intellectual. They knew about God, they knew about everything but only intellectually. So what Lord Buddha said, 'I have a simple technique for you. Sit and watch your breath, watch your body, watch the sensations in the body and reach to your true nature'. This is what was taught (in essence meditation), and meditation is the essence of Vedanta as well.
The whole Vedic literature talks about one thing, find that divinity inside of you, that is Vedanta. Actually Advaita, Vedanta and Buddhism are the same, but seen differently.
So the children of this country deserve this. What do they deserve? A violence free society, a disease free body, a confusion free mind, an inhibition free intellect, a trauma free memory, and a sorrow free soul. Let us all work towards making it a reality, and that is what Art of Living is committed to doing. All the best to everyone of you.
With these few words I wish you all a prosperous, happy and enlightened life. May you all be blessed with good health and a good heart to serve humanity!
Gurudev, how do I know that what I am doing is right?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
At least now what you’re doing is right by asking this question. We must ask questions. When you stop asking questions, either you are fully satisfied or you are very stupid. If you are not fully satisfied, you can keep asking questions, it is good.
Ask yourself again and again, ‘Whatever I am doing now, is it right?’ Ask yourself, don’t ask someone else. When you ask yourself, it feels right to you many a times.
When your actions are not motivated from greed, jealousy or anger, then what you do is right. Greed, jealousy and anger, if these three things are behind your action, even if it is a good action, it will be wrong. But, if your action is not our of greed, jealousy, anger or hatred, then what you do is right.
Just now I received information that a boat with explosives exploded in the ocean. Just like 26/11, a big terrorist attack was going to happen and it was averted; 4 terrorists died. It has come in the internet and in the papers. It is so unfortunate. This is not the right action.
What happened a few days ago in Peshawar is not the right action. Out of wrong understanding of religion, out of hatred and anger, these people went and killed those little kids and later someone justified it. That is not a right thing to do. Terrorism everywhere in the world is a big issue today whether it is in Pakistan, Australia, Italy or France. This is to be condemned.
Again I would say, these people are misguided and ill-educated. If they had education and a broad vision of life, they would not do such things. They never had an opportunity. That is so unfortunate.
Why are people so crazy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If you think people are crazy, are you one of them? If you think you are not one of them, someone else might think that you are crazy!
In this world there is all types of craziness. If an alien comes to this planet and goes to a soccer stadium, he would find it to be an absolutely crazy place! He will not be able to understand why the 11 players are chasing one ball and are trying to get the ball into the net, and why are there 11 others on the other side stopping them, that too for one little ball. He would say, ‘Why are they all fighting over a ball?’
An alien would say, ‘Let me give 22 balls to 22 players. Let them kick their balls and keep them in the net!’
If their goal is to put the ball in the net, he would say, ‘Okay, let us all go and keep it there.’ He will fail to understand why people are kicking the ball and falling over each other and 50,000 people around are clapping and crying and howling! (Audience laughs)
It sounds absolutely crazy!
Like that there are many such crazy things in the world. I used to find English language very crazy. You write, ‘know’ and pronounce it as ‘no'. I would say, ‘know!’ (pronouncing it with the k sound) You should speak the way you write and read. You write ‘knowledge’ and put a ‘k’, I would say, ‘knowledge’ (pronouncing with the k sound). Everyone found it absolutely crazy.
My mother tongue is such that the way we write is the same as what we speak. In English, several letters become silent and you don’t know which is silent and which is not silent. It was so difficult. I had to write in English and then write in Kannada below that. Once my class teacher looked at my notebook and asked me, ‘What are you writing? It is wrong’.
There is no match between speaking and writing. You say something and you write something else.
Like that there are different crazes in the world. Everything is a craze and people are crazy for different things. Some are crazy about games, some for politics, some for money.
Do you know what happened in China? On New Years, in Shanghai, somebody threw fake currency from the top of a tower and 35 people died in a stampede. Is this not crazy,? People going to get free money falling from some building onto the street? There is no limit for being crazy. At least here it is good crazy! Some people are crazy about mediation and some are crazy about singing. It is okay! Here in Art of Living you can find a variety of craziness! (Audience laughs) We are not homogeneous. All types of specimens of the world are in here. If you want to find all types of crazy people in one place, you are in the right place!
We have always said, ‘Accept people as they are'. Sometimes I wonder, ‘Why did I put this point! I have been trapped by it!’ I have never said anything in my life which I have not practiced, so since I have said this, I have to practice it and I have been practicing, carrying on and accepting all sorts of craziness. I tell you, there is hope! I am still happy!
Dear Gurudev, you have said that once we are on the path we should just relax as you are doing all the work. What does this mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I say many things at many times, don’t take it of out context. You should keep it in context. I have said, ‘Till you catch a train you have to run, once you have caught the train, relax with your luggage. Just by you running inside the train with your luggage, the train is not going to run any faster. So, once you’re on the spiritual path, drop your anxiety, relax and you will reach where you have to reach'.
I say don’t go spiritual shopping. Some people go spiritual shopping, a little bit here, a little bit there. Relax. You have gotten wonderful knowledge and a wonderful path, all in one package. Just relax!
Dear Gurudev, when it comes to parenting, what is the difference between responsibility and attachment or bondage?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
When it comes to children, it is a sacred responsibility. Our responsibility is not just providing food, shelter and education. We should see that their mentality, emotions, intellect, thoughts and behavior is on the right track. This is necessary.
Dear Gurudev, as a working mother, I cannot spend quality time with my child. In this modern age what is your advice to working mothers?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Where there is a will there is a way. Children are not the problem. Here is Elonka, she has three little kids and with three little kids she would conduct courses. She would feed the baby then give it to someone to take care and then she would conduct the course.
If you have a passion to do something, children are no obstacle. There are many mothers who in spite of bringing up their children well and giving them quality time, still do that something that they want to do. All you need is passion. When you have a passion to do something, you can fit in everything. It is only a mindset. You have to be determined, ‘I have to do it,’ and you will do it.
Of course, your first priority is your kid, but priority means that you can do other things also. I am not saying that your job is to only be a mother and take care of your children; that would be stifling for the kid also, they also want some time away from their mothers.
If you have a passion and a will, you can always find a way.
Gurudev, when I get close to my goal, suddenly something thing happens and I am not able to reach my goal. This happens every time. What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I want you to revisit your own life and see how many times you have succeeded. Whenever a problem comes in front of us, we eternalize and generalize it. We should stop this. If there is a problem and you say, I want you to say, ‘Oh, I will face this problem!’
Instead what is it that you do? When there is a problem you eternalize it, you say, ‘Oh, everybody is foolish, everybody is bad. Nobody likes me'. This is generalizing. How can this be possible?
In our mind we blow it up, generalize and eternalize the problem. When you sow such seeds (in the consciousness), such things will occur more and more.
Now, you’re in the right place. Move on with this commitment and affirmation that you are not going to generalize or eternalize. If you revisit your past, you will find that you have succeeded many times. Sometimes you had taken more than you can chew on your plate. This does not happen always.
Suppose your determination is weak, again you are in the right place, pranayama, meditation and all these spiritual practices will help you move faster.
Take a few moments every day for doing nothing. It really brings a lot of energy and uplifts the spirit. I think this is what is needed today. Our brain is bombarded with so much information, and so we need to recharge from time to time. Isn't it so? So a few moments of conscious relaxation will make a difference.
There are two types of relaxation:
One is unconscious relaxation, which is absolutely essential, and which we do every single night; probably in the day time also. But there is a rest which is different from sleep, when we are conscious and still relaxing. That is what is meditation.
You must have heard about a research paper which has been published recently, that if someone meditates for two months, i.e., eight weeks, the structure of the brain changes; the grey matter increases.
So, there are many benefits of meditation:
1. It just gives you more alertness
2. It gives you a very relaxed and happy feeling from inside
3. It helps you create a stress-free and violence-free environment
4. It helps improve your communication with people
5. It boosts your immune system
See, the mind is very judgmental most of the time. And with these breathing exercises and relaxation, prejudice in the mind just disappears.
2. Don't Just Motivate, Inspire People
You know, the president of World bank once asked me a question. He asked me, 'Gurudev, we do so many projects but most of them don't reach the point of success. How come all your projects are successful? What is the secret?'
I said, 'The secret is I don't manage it, I let it go organically, whatever is happening'.
There are two things, one is motivation and another is inspiration. Usually, in all corporate setups, they motivate people by giving them some raise in the salary, or a bonus, or some facilities. That motivates people and make them do better for a short period of time. Motivation is not long lasting, it is time sensitive; it has an expiration date. After some time you have to motivate them again. But inspiration is something that lasts longer, rather it has a longer shelf life.
You know this is what Mahatma Gandhi did. He inspired people. My teacher was with Mahatma Gandhi for 40 years. When we were children he used to tell us small stories of his days with Mahatma Gandhi, and they were very inspirational. I will tell you an incident, are you ready for it?
Wasting No Time
One incident was when Mahatma Gandhi was travelling in a small train uphill to Darjeeling. Darjeeling is a hill station in India, and you have a small train that goes there. It is a narrow gauge train. Now what happened is that, when the train was moving up the hill, somewhere, the engine got itself disconnected from the coaches. So the engine went ahead and the coaches started sliding backward.
Just imagine on a big hilly terrain, coaches are sliding backward, what would happen? There was huge panic, as people were between life and death. Any moment the coaches could fall off the hill, and one would not even find a trace of a bone. It was the Himalayas.
So while there was panic all around, Mahatma Gandhi was dictating letters, and he said to my teacher (he used to call him Bangalori, because he was from Bangalore), ‘Bangalori, take dictation’.
My teacher said, ‘Bapu (father), do you know what is happening? We may not be alive. We are in-between life and death. The coaches are moving backward with nothing to stop it, and its gaining speed.’
Do you know what Mahatma Gandhi said then? He said, ‘Suppose we get saved, we would have wasted all this time. If we die, we die. But if we are saved, we wasted so much time? So, come on, take dictation’.
With trembling hands my teacher was taking dictation.
He used to tell me, ‘Look at this old man, he would not waste a moment of his life’.
That was very inspiring. Even when he knew that there was danger, and death was just around the corner, Gandhi never wanted to waste even that much of time. He was busy, and he said, let us keep ourselves busy. And in a few minutes, maybe half hour or so, the train came to a standstill. It was picking up speed and then it stopped on its own.
3. Have A Feeling of Ownership With your Company
A person maybe working in a company for 20-30 years without having a sense of belongingness. There are two things:
1. Feeling a sense of belongingness; having an emotional connection with the company you are working for
2. Just making use of the company like a slot machine. You just put a coin and you get what you need
So, if you have the attitude of a slot machine with your company, it will not bring you better results. But if you have a feeling of ownership with your company, an emotional connection with your company, then you will always feel energetic and enthusiastic. And you will be able to take any pitfalls. Having a connection with the organization you are working for makes a huge difference.
4. The Four C's: Commitment, Connectivity, Compassion & Creativity
We need to see how we can bring these four Cs into the setup we are in.
Commitment: We must take it for granted that people are committed. Never question the commitment of the person. If you tell someone that they are not committed enough, it is not going to help them to be more commitment. You must tell them, 'Hey, you are really committed', and re-affirm their commitment. Commitment is actually there in everybody but sometimes it is covered with stress, misunderstanding, and personal issues of many types.
Connectivity: Make people connected. I would say, we should throw open chances for discussions. Discussions create a sense of connectivity. Sharing your problems or issues creates connectivity. Discussions, sharing, and listening will create connectivity. Whether you follow what the opinions of others is a different thing. At least you must have the attitude to listen; listening and respecting.
Some people may have completely different opinion. Sometimes you may think they are very stupid, even then you should listen respectfully.
See, normally if someone's ideas are good, we respect them. If someone does not have very intelligent ideas, we tend not to respect them. My suggestion would be to respect people for what they are, not because they are intelligent or dumb; talented not not talented. Don't you think so? Isn't this a new way of looking at things? Just respect people. They may have the most dumb ideas, or have no ideas, but still giving them respect creates that connectivity. When people feel connected then they also feel protected. And when they are protected, their integrity level goes higher. We all want people with integrity, don't we? Yes!
Compassion: See, we are not machines, we are living human beings with a heart. And our expression of compassion is absolutely essential in a working atmosphere.
You don't have to be compassionate all the time, then there is a disadvantage of people taking advantage of you, and discipline may collapse. But time to time, now and then, at least you must exhibit your compassion. And make a group and get involved in activity which can invoke the compassion of the team, such as, taking up a service project (CSR - Corporate service responsibility).
As a team take up some relief work, or do any activity which is not profit motivated. That is what we call CSR. Such activities bring a good bonding between the team. Of course, Japan is known for its team work. I think that is what I understand. Wherever I go I often mention this.
Creativity: You know, many times, an employee feels strangled in a setup. They feel that their creativity is not being utilized, or they are not able to come up with creativity. I would suggest that you provide some opportunity for people to express their creativity.
You know, we do this from time to time in our Bangalore campus. The cooks, the people who are taking care of the housing, the drivers, the cleaners, we make them all rotate and do a different activity to exhibit their creativity. Sometimes they come up with some music or a dance; things which you normally don't expect them to do. But because you give them an opportunity to come up with some creativity, they do it and it creates such a beautiful energy and a fantastic atmosphere.
1. Intellectual discussion, which is a left brain activity
2. Singing, which is a right brain activity
Both are necessary. We sing for some time and then if you have any question, you can ask and we will discuss.
Dear Gurudev, what is success in love?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Love is not a business to have success or failure, love is not a career to have success or failure, love is not even an act which you can call as success or failure, love is your nature my dear!
Whether you express it or not, it is there. Just realize love as your nature, you will not think of it as success or failure.
Some people may understand you and some may not. Some people who are in love with you, you cannot say that they will be in love with you forever. People who have lived together for 20 years, and had said at one point of time that they were made for each other, suddenly find that they were never compatible, and that they never got along.
Suddenly people feel suffocated and want to go their own ways.
Love is not an act, love is not even a situation, it is our very nature. If you are in love with somebody don’t think that it will be forever, unless and until there is knowledge or wisdom in it. Love with wisdom is eternal bliss. Love with selfishness or love for individual pleasure, sooner or later will bring misery and heart break. If your love is there to help others, nobody can destroy it, but if your love is to get something from the other, sooner or later, it will be broken into pieces.
Find out what you think love is. Is love only a name for getting you pleasure from others? If yes, then it is going to bring you pain. But if your love is there only to care and you cannot be without it, then that is your true nature. That is what is true love.
Love is not even an emotion. I have spoken a lot on love in Narad Bhakti Sutras and even Celebrating Love, look into it. The big confusion and chaos in the world is all in the name of love. I don’t know what all people do in the name of love; it is so pitiful.
Dear Gurudev, how to let go of people who are no more in our life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Expand your vision about yourself, about life and about this universe. This universe has been there for at least 19 billion years, and it is part of a billion of galaxies. If you observe the cosmos, the solar system is like a dot.
There are billions of galaxies and one among them is our Milky Way. So the Mily Way is very small, and in that, the solar system is a dot, and in that there is our planet Earth, and in that there is you! You have to take a lens to see and by the time you see, you’re already gone! (here meaning, the magnanimity of the universe in comparison with our existence).
What is your life? In this multi-verse, your planet is insignificant and you are even more insignificant.
Another factor is time. In so many billions of years, billions of people have walked this planet. There are seven billion people on this planet today, and many are being born every day and many are dying. Then what is your life? It’s like a blink of the eye, and you’re already gone! When you see your life from this bigger context, you realize that it is nothing!
80 years you live on this planet called Earth. Out of that, 40 years you spend sleeping, 10 years you spend in the bathroom, 10 years you spend in eating, 15 years you spend in working. The waking period in your life is so small.
What is this ‘Me, me me?’ It is nothing! Think and you will realize that life is insignificant.
Everyday billions of thoughts come into your brain and then they go. You hold on to some thoughts. You can’t hold on to all the thoughts. If you hold on to all the thoughts you will be in the mental hospital! When you see life from a bigger context all the worries disappear and a new dimension opens up.
Now when you go into the microcosm, it is even more exciting. There are billions of cells in the brain and many are being born every day and many are dying. There are 50,000 types of bacteria in your stomach. There are 3 different colonies of mites that live on each line on your forehead. They have their colonies; they don’t cross their lines.
In India, people would put three lines of ash across their forehead, I used to wonder why, but now scientists say that those three lines have colonies of mites and they all are very different.
Similarly, on the tip of the nose there are so many types of bacteria! Scientists are still baffled! The information got from the tip of the nose is even more than what they can get from the DNA. Scientists still haven’t understood how much information the tip of the nose can provide. When you go deeper and deeper into the microcosm there is so much! It is baffling!
You take one atom, the space there is like that between the galaxies. An atom is 99.99% empty space! The same is the case of the cells in our body. The cells in our body are just empty space. Whether you take the route of science or that of spirituality, you will reach the same point. Both say the same thing, that it is all space. It is very interesting.
Recently there was an article published by the American Medical Journey which said that if a person meditates regularly for 8 weeks, the structure of the brain changes and the grey matter increases. So many benefits come out of meditation.
Just learning about genes is fascinating! Do you know that in one human gene you can find all other genes.Every other animal is present in one human gene! You can create an elephant using one atom from your body. The human body is so complete that from it you can create every other gene. This is all so fascinating.
When such things are there, what is there to worry? I even forgot your question!
Dear Gurudev, what is the real purpose of our existence on the Earth as a living human being?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is to find out who you are and to become a little angel. When you’re living on this planet, bring a little happiness to everyone around you and you be happy. Be a little angel in the world.
I feel like I live in two worlds, the Art of Living world and the rest. It is sometimes so difficult to combine the two. Could you comment on this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Good, be a bridge. You are the bridge, help people walk from here to there. It is a very short bridge.
Tomorrow is Shivaratri, the celebration of the Transcendental Truth or reality; the only reality. Shivaratri is a celebration of the truth that is ultimate bliss (Satchidananda); the substratum of the whole creation, and also the essence of everything that exists.
Shiva Tattva is the essence of all that is unmanifest and manifest in this creation. As we relax and meditate upon the Shiva Tattva, we realize that true bliss and joy which is our real nature.Just accept everything around you, that is the essence.
Small things upset you from time to time and your mind gets caught up. Just drop all these and recognize that everything is part of a divine process.
Small things upset you from time to time, and your mind gets caught in cravings and aversions. On Shivaratri, just drop all these and recognize that everything is Lord Shiva and reside in Lord Shiva. We are all a part of Lord Shiva’s divine procession.
You must have heard that there are all types of beings and creatures in Lord Shiva’s entourage – the Siddhas (perfected beings), wise sages, intelligent beings and even fools! (Laughter) Everyone is a part of Lord Shiva’s family. Each one of us is a part of Lord Shiva’s grand entourage. When you have this deep realization, then all of life becomes a celebration.
Life is also like that. In life we see all types of people – some are completely foolish, some are very wise. We see a wide range of behavior patterns, tendencies and emotions. Everything ultimately is a part of the Universal Spirit, a part of the One Reality. So just accept and take everything along. That is the message of Shivaratri. Do not get stuck anywhere, just keep moving ahead in life with this total acceptance – of oneself and of one’s surroundings.
Many times we become choosy of what we accept. Sometimes we accept the situation but we do not accept ourselves. Or we accept ourselves the way we are but we do not accept the other people around us. Neither of these alone can lead you to a sense of completion or fullness. You have to look into both (acceptance towards oneself and acceptance towards the situation) – that is, you should accept whatever is inside and whatever is outside. So just let things be. This is the way to go inward.
Accept whatever is inside and outside of you. This is the way to go inward. So just let things be.
What stops you from experiencing that deep inner peace or silence? Our mind thinking that 'This should be like this' or 'This is not how it should be'.
Or we think that 'People should be like this and not like that', etc. That is what blocks our mind from settling in silence. When you keep thinking in this manner, your mind is still at the periphery, and this keeps you from retrieving the mind to the center. For the mind to be able to go to its source, the mantra is let it be!
Then you are able to go to the center. Once you are at the center, then whatever sankalpa you take starts to manifest, and things start happening.
Gurudev, can you please tell me the exact purpose of shraddha (faith or devotion)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Shraddha means loving the unknown. You know, you either love or do not love that which you already know about. Right? But if there is something you do not know, then you do not hate it, and you also have a choice to love it or not. Loving something which you have no idea about is called shraddha. Shraddha brings you knowledge. It is very subtle. You have to catch this else it slips from your understanding. There is something that is unknown, and you love it. Andbecause of your love, you slowly start knowing it. Do you see what I am saying? Let us take a small example. Say there is some small ceremony or ritual being done, like how in the morning today we had the Rudrabhishekam. You do not know what it is, some mantras are being chanted and there is a Yajna happening, yet you simply love it and sit for it. Then you feel something, you experience certain vibrations arising during the pooja. How many of you have experienced this? (Many in the audience raise their hands) Similarly, you do not know what meditation is, but you start liking it and do it, and then you start knowing it. You feel, 'Oh wow, meditation is so good'.
So shraddha gives you more understanding, and more knowledge.
If there is a resistance in you, then that is a lack of shraddha. It means that even before knowing something, you have a resistance to it. It is like putting a wall, thinking, 'I shall sit separately. I do not want to know this'. Then you cannot know it at all. When you say, 'I do not like it', then you also cannot know it. But when you think, 'Oh! There is something new, I love this', then loving the unknown is what is called shraddha.
It is not even important that you understand it totally, yet its benefits surely come to you.
Gurudev, on what basis can I call myself as spiritual? Is the meaning of spirituality to go beyond the senses?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I tell you, you just declare that you are spiritual. There is no problem, and nobody will challenge you. Nobody can, for everyone is made up of spirit. It is the spirit in you which is speaking, which understands, which is perceiving and communicating, etc. Everything is being done by the Spirit. Honoring this is spirituality.
Do you have some love and some peace within you? Do you have any of the human values within you? Then you are spiritual for sure. And if you are meditating, then you are doubly qualified to call yourself spiritual. You can say that you are a Ph.D. in spirituality (laughter).
Dear Gurudev, when you come before me, then all the highest knowledge like that mentioned in the Ashtavakra Gita, Upanishads, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, etc., all falls apart. Dispassion crashes into pieces and I become clueless. Why does this happen to me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Good, you are lucky! (Laughter) People long for that to happen. Knowledge is like a detergent, it is there to purify you. After applying it, you must also wash it off. You do not say, 'I have bought an expensive soap which I have applied to my skin and I am not going to wash it off'. You do not keep expensive toothpaste in your mouth the whole time. Right?
So, the purpose of knowledge is to get rid of ignorance. It is like detergent. You have to wash it off too. Then you become hollow and empty. Then you become Nirankaar – it means you become lighter. Otherwise the burden of knowledge can bog you down.
With knowledge you become more simple and natural. The purpose of knowledge is not to make you arrogant, but to make you more humble. It is to make you lighter, instead of thinking 'I know it all'.
The purpose of knowledge is to lead you from a frustrated 'I don’t know', to a simple and innocent 'I don’t know'. It is to take you from an ugly 'I don’t know', to a beautiful 'I don’t know'.
Gurudev, you said that during shivaratri, the divine comes closest to this planet. Please elaborate.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, it is not like that. The whole planet is the Divine. What I had said was that on Shivaratri, the Shiva Tattva touches the Earth, meaning the Shiva Tattva becomes so alive, and one is able to experience it much more strongly.
There can be so much misinterpretation to knowledge like this. Imagine what might happen after 500 years. People may not recognize the Art of Living then! (Laughter) Luckily, due to technology we can save and store all this, so that later we can correct or challenge someone saying, 'No, that is not how it was mentioned'.