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.
God is the Summun Bonum of creation, don’t make him as an object of knowing. God is love, can you see love? You can see love only through the manifested expressions. You can see love in a child's eyes, in a friend’s eyes, or in the eyes of an elderly person. You can see love in animals. A dog can express love, but show me love without a dog or a person. Can you ever see love? Has anyone seen love or compassion? No, it only gets partially expressed through the manifest forms of the universe, as it is inexpressible. Love cannot be expressed but somewhere you get the glimpse of it, and that is what 'Linga' is. 'Lingam' means 'a sign'.
Even the genital is called lingam because that is how you identify whether a baby is a boy or a girl. When a baby is born, there is one organ of the baby which helps you identify whether the baby is a boy or a girl. Other than that, every baby looks the same. You can’t make a distinction between a boy or girl. That is why the genital also came to be called as lingam because that is a sign which indicates whether the baby is male or female. So lingam is identification.
In Kannada literature, and also all over India, wisdom, love, knowledge are all recognized through the saints, so the term 'Linga Jangama', where linga means a sign and jangama means a saint or Sadhguru (here meaning: the saint gives you a sign of the existence of a higher consciousness; of God). Once you recognize this (consciousness) in the Sadhguru, then it doesn’t stop there, then you recognize it in everything; in every child, every tree, every animal. The entire universe is nothing but a manifestation of consciousness, and if consciousness is God, it is everywhere. So don’t make God an object of knowing because the knower himself is the divinity, and the knower is inside of you; it is inside of everyone.
No atheist can say, "I don’t believe in myself". If he says, "I know I am present" then what is this I know? That which is the I of the 'I' is what God is. I is atman or self, and God is beyond the self. Anything beyond the self is God.
If your 'I' is a limited identity of thoughts, emotions and trends, then there is something which is beyond your thoughts, emotions and trends, and that core of your existence or consciousness is what you call God. In this case, there cannot be any atheist at all on the planet. But if you think of God as an old man sitting above the clouds, trying to give you a finger, and when you go close, he runs away; if that is your concept of God, then definitely atheism is better. And they are correct as no such thing exists. But if an atheist says, "Nothing exists because I don’t know of it", then they are neither scientific nor honest. And if they say, "I don’t believe in anything till I know it", then also they are not scientific because there are millions of universes. Just because you cannot see all of them, you can’t say they don’t exist at all. All that you can say is, "I don’t know". This shift from 'I know it all' to a 'I don’t know. Maybe, perhaps' is important.
God is called Ageya, which means unknowable, but still it is there. It (God) gives you the sign that it is there. It is an intelligence based on which everything exists in this universe. That sign is good enough. No one can deny the existence of intelligence, or of law and order in this creation.
Gurudev, could you please tell us the meaning of vigraha and anugraha.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Graha means holding onto something. The whole universe is moving very fast and whatever is holding this universe is called Graha. Agraha is when you hold onto something and you insist.
Then comes Nigraha which means being in control. It is also a type of holding.
Then comes Vigraha which is holding onto something ethereal. There is something that you cannot perceive but in a special manner, you try to hold onto it. The infinite, unmanifest divinity cannot be beheld but through some special means, if you want to establish a sort of communication or connection with it, then that means or medium is called Vigraha. That medium which helps you grasp the uncomprehendable is called Vigraha. Anugraha is that which holds you up -- grace, blessings, bliss. That which upholds you is called Anugraha.
Gurudev, is doing financial seva equal to doing physical seva? I feel guilty because I am unable to contribute physically to seva as I have a very time consuming corporate job.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Any seva is good, you don’t have to feel guilty. If you cannot financially do seva, or physically do seva, even just sending your blessings is good enough. Just through thought waves also you can send good vibrations. That also is seva.
I have had many people coming and telling me, "I am so old and so weak, I can’t do seva". Their hearts are yearning to do seva, but physically they cannot do.
I tell them, "Don’t worry, just sit and pray. Bless and send the vibrations of positivity. That is also seva". Now the youngsters sitting here, don’t take this as an excuse not to do save, and say, "Gurudev has said that I can just sit and bless everyone". That is only when you cannot do seva physically.
You know, when I was in Delhi, one lady came and gave me a cheque of Rs.3.00,000. I asked her what she does and she said she is a school teacher. I knew that she had taken a loan to give me the contribution. She said that so much of transformation has happened in her life, and she wanted to give something. I said, “No, I am not going to take this money. I am going to take only Rs.5000 from you”.
A similar incident happened. A young boy who just did the Happiness Program three weeks ago said, "My whole life has changed". He has a mother and they have a four acre land beyond Gurgaon (city in the Indian state of Haryana) and he hands over a cheque of 2 million rupees to me and is crying for me to accept. I asked him what his bank balance was, and he said, "One Crore". I said, "No, I am not going to take. You keep it. It is mine only, but you keep it with you". He insisted that I take it, so I decided to take Rs. 200,000 from him and he was happy that Gurudev has accepted and not rejected what he gave.
It is not what you give that is important, it is the feeling with which you give that is important. That itself is seva. There are many people on this planet like that. In fact, you are all like that, you want to keep contributing. The feeling that I want to contribute is itself very precious, so let it be there. Don’t let it dry out. That is the juice in life to want to be part of something big.
Now, with this, you also need the wisdom of where to give, whom to give and what to give. If the boy who wanted to give 2 million had gone to someone else, they may have even take away the entire one crore. So you have to see who is deserving (patra) and who is undeserving (apatra) when you give charity. You need to see whether they are really qualified to receive what you want to give them.