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.
(Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and The Art of Living Foundation Hosted 'Yoga: A New Dimension' To Celebrate the First World Yoga Day at the Lincoln Center, New York. The evening highlighted the rich heritage and deep values of Yoga through spiritual discussion, dance, music and a guided meditation led by Sri Sri. Below is the transcript of what Sri Sri said):
Wow... and the celebration continues (of the International Yoga Day). Usually, celebrations are with balloons and champagne, and people have lots of things to eat, but this celebration has been different. In this particular celebration, people came with empty stomachs. All around the world, people fasted in the morning to come and do yoga, and they did yoga and they are happy. So the celebration today has been a celebration with a difference. No balloons, no pollution, but everyone coming together in a spirit of celebration.
Seeing what is temporary and what is permanent in life, and what we need to do and what we should avoid doing, this is wisdom.
True celebration begins from within. It is not a cosmetic celebration, but something that dwells up from deep within. And yoga is that which creates an informal atmosphere; an atmosphere like a family get-together.
Do you all feel at home here? Why not we take just a moment to greet the person behind you and next to you? Shall we do that?
We convey more through our vibrations than through our words. Our communication happens from a deeper level of our existence, and yoga is uniting with that.
You can hear a talk on love for two hours and you may not feel it. But just one glance from a baby or a puppy conveys that to you in no time. So true communication happens from a deeper level. And this communication is not just between two people or a few people. It is between us and this entire existence, and that is yoga. Yoga is not just doing some exercise. Yoga is much more. It is to bring a quality to our life. It is to expand our awareness, sharpen our intellect, and enhance our intuitive ability.
We are all gifted with sixth sense, but we seem to be losing it in the hustle bustle of life.
35 years ago when I would talk about meditation and yoga, people would say, 'This is not for us. It is for some others out there'.
The opinion of the general population of the world was that yoga is not something normal. How many of you have had this experience where you have encountered a lot of prejudice to this ancient discipline? (Some in the audience raise their hands)
Yoga means union. Do you know that the word yoke (which essentially means to unite) comes from yoga? Yoga unites our hearts, mind, body and spirit, and it unites us with the people around us.
Yoga is something that brings humility and humor, both. And both are your very nature.
Now, if you progress deeper into this field (of yoga), you will say, 'This is nonsense. Yoga is nonsense'.
Are you surprised? Are you shocked? (Everyone in the audience says, 'Yes') Yoga is all nonsense!
This is true my dear because there is no two. You can only unite two things when they are separate. When there is no two, and when nothing is separate, where is the question of uniting; unity is an illusion. This is called Gyaan Yoga: there is no two, we are all one.
Uniting implies that there is an effort. If you had to unite the right hand with the left hand, it appears as an effort. But wake up and see, they are your own hands, they are already one. You cannot say, 'I am uniting my hands', they are already one. This is Gyaan Yoga. Bhakti Yoga means - there is no other, everything and everyone is a part of me. A sense of reverence and deep love for all that is, is called Bhakti Yoga.
Then comes Karma Yoga. Doing anything with passion, with full attention to it, is Karma Yoga. Now we play many roles in life, but are we playing every role with passion, with responsibility, and with care and concern? This is Karma Yoga. Hath Yoga is (when you think you cannot do a particular thing, yet) stretching beyond your perceived ability.
So all these are the different types of yoga.
We are all one: this is what Quantum Physics and Quantum Mechanics also says. If you ask a Quantum Physicist, he will says, 'This is all just wave function', and this is exactly what Gyaan Yoga is.
In life we need both, an understanding of the Quantum Physics (i.e., an understanding of the absolute) and Classical Chemistry (i.e., an understanding of relativity).
There has been a big confusion in this field. I have had many people ask me, 'Why is it that India, in spite of having such great wisdom, has gone back in the last few centuries'.
This is because there was a confusion between Classical Chemistry and Quantum Physics. What we need to know is that they both have their place, and they both are essential.
See, in this hall, everything is made up of wood: this is Quantum Mechanics. At the same time, the door is not the floor, the floor is not the ceiling, and ceiling is not the sofa: this is Classical Chemistry. Both have their place, both are true, but there is a distinction. And seeing the distinction is called Viveka. Seeing what is temporary and what is permanent in life, and what we need to do and what we should avoid doing, this is Viveka.
Today, ask yourself. 'Am I being natural? Am I connecting to myself, and to everyone around me? Or am I bothered about what others are thinking about me? '
Now after hearing all these things, you might think, 'Oh my God, this appears to be so difficult'. I tell you, just relax, yoga is fun. Yoga is something that brings humility and humor, both. And both are your very nature.
If we had more humility and humor, this world would have been a very different place. Don't you agree with me? All the wars are because of ego, and lack of humility and humor. Just a small word from somebody can cause such uproar in the world. Simple things have caused huge disaster because we lack humor. Yoga is serious and at the same time it is full of fun.
So, today, ask yourself, 'Am I being natural? Am I connecting to myself, and to everyone around me? Or am I bothered about my own self-image a lot? Am I sitting and thinking about what others are thinking about me? '
Do you know, this was a big issue when we started yoga in the initial days. People would come and do yoga very secretly and say, 'Don’t tell anyone that I am doing yoga, because they will not understand. They will think I am doing something crazy'. Fortunately, today that prejudice has gone. Paradigms have changed. With the UN declaring 21st June as World Yoga Day, it has encouraged those who were a bit apprehensive about yoga to come forward and give it a try.
Something that makes you happy, something that uplifts your spirit, something which makes you strong, vibrant, and powerful, why would you not do it? Again, it is not just an exercise. It is because people have no idea about it that they think it is just an exercise.
This morning when we did yoga and meditation at the UN, many of them there did it for the first time, and they felt so good. It brought such clarity to the mind and many of them said, 'Before every negotiation, we should sit and meditate'.
When you go for negotiations, dialogues, and talks, there is so much stress. And Yoga is something that can relieve us all from stress.