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 was a saint called Annamacharya, today is his birthday. He wrote the song that we just heard. He wrote about rising above caste and creed and seeing the oneness of mankind. He wrote about the presence of God in everyone’s heart and that there is only one divinity! He was a very simple person, and not much is known about his life. He has written many such beautiful songs in simple language with a lot of philosophy imbibed in it. Thousands of saints have been there in every region of India. So Saint Annamacharya was from the region of Andhra Pradesh, near Tirupathi. He was a devotee of Tirupathi Balaji.
Today is Buddha Purnima, Buddha’s birthday and Annamachrya’s birthday, and you all are meditating here in bliss. Many of you have also celebrated your birthday here today.
Birthday is the day when the wave (individual) remembers the ocean (its origin), its nature. When the wave remembers that it's nature is the ocean, then the fear of extinction vanishes. Otherwise, a wave always fears extinction, as it has arisen it has to fall one day (per nature). But when it remembers its magnitude, its infinity, the wave gains the strength of the ocean, even when it is a wave. That is the purpose of the birthdays and all the celebrations.
Buddha and Annamacharya have left such a permanent mark on the planet for centuries to come, for people to remember the glory of the divinity. Buddha never spoke about God, because in those days there were intellectual scholars that were so well read that they thought they knew it all. There is no point in talking to someone when they think they know it all, because they are fixed in their mindset.
I remember 35 years ago, in the beginning of The Art of Living, a scholar came. He knew all the Yoga Sutras, by heart. He had studied it for so long. But unfortunately he didn't know what meditation is. He had read about meditation but had no experience of it. I just watched him. He was so restless; with such restlessness how is meditation possible? So when he did his first meditation he said, “Oh my God! I have just been blabbering all these years". Just imagine someone who has never tasted a dosa, never even seen a dosa, but read about it and gave lecture on it all his life. That was his state. He immediately said, "Whatever I have studied is nothing. I know nothing".
So life is to lead you to the unknown, and in every step whatever little you begin to know, if you realise the unknown has increased, not the known then you are on the right path. The unknown is what is called Para Brahman (The eternal absolute truth which is the source of everything). In Hindi, it is said, "Knowing which you become that", (when you realize God you become God). That is Para Brahman, that is God. That is what we are. "Pothi pad pad jag mua pandit bhaya na koe, dhai akshar prem ke jo padhe so pandit hoye" (A famous doha of Saint Kabir which means, - reading books everyone died, none became any wiser. One who reads the word of love, only becomes wise)
Just the one syllable of Om is enough. And this is what Buddha also said - just drop everything (all that you know) and just be. What is the point of him debating with such knowledgeable people when they already feel that they know everything, even when they do not know everything. See, if someone is really sleeping, then you can wake them up. But can you wake up a person who is pretending to be asleep? So without knowing if they think they know, then they will never know because it is almost impossible to teach them. So Buddha said he won't talk about God. Like this he chose 11 topics that he said he won't talk about.
He then said, "There is suffering in life". All the intellectual scholars around him agreed to this, that at some point of time or the other, there is sorrow. Sorrow has come in life because of physical discomfort, or because of pride, or because of relationships.
You were supposed to get something, but someone else got it, and that brought you sorrow. You saw someone who is more capable than you, and your feelings of jealousy brought you sorrow. If it is none of these, then old age brings people sorrow. So for some reason or the other, people experience sorrow, and so Buddha said, "There is suffering in life".
Then he said, "There is way to get out of suffering". By saying this he opened a new path for people, and gave them a new hope. If you are caught in a whirlpool and you see the boat, it gives hope that there is a way out, and that it is possible. So Buddha said that there is a way to be free from misery and attain nirvana (through meditation).
So Lord Buddha taught these things to all those scholars, and guided them into meditation and helped them experience peace.
500-700 years later, this knowledge became a concept again and people forgot the experience. Then Adi Shankaracharya came and said, "Shivoham". He corrected whatever distortions that came into Buddhism and brought people back to the path. That is why he is called Buddha in disguise. He not only revived Buddha's teachings but also added something new. Buddha used to say everything is nothing, Adi Shankaracharya said everything is complete. He transformed emptiness into fullness.