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.
“A seeker is one who knows that intrinsically, every human being is a spark of Divinity and so they cannot be bad. I tell you, there is no bad human being created by the Creator. Everyone has light in them.
Do you believe in the goodness of people?
There are basically two types of attitudes, or two kinds of people in the world.
Those who think that all people are intrinsically bad – inside they are very bad.
Those who think that basically everyone is good deep inside, even if their behavior is a little bad; it is only at the circumference.
The first kind of people cannot trust anybody, and the second type of people does not doubt anyone too much. Do you see the difference? If you think intrinsically everyone is good, then your doubt is only superficial. You don’t deeply doubt anyone because you know there is goodness in everybody. You believe in the goodness of everybody. The other set of people have this big issue of trust, because they think intrinsically everybody is bad. Even if they appear to be good outside, deep inside they are not good. This attitude, this assumption in your mind causes you to not trust anybody.
Wisdom is to see that negativity is only at the circumference
It is so interesting to see that if you find something wrong in a person, you think, that is the true nature of that person.
I want to share one incident with you. Last year, I went for a big satsang in one of the northern cities of India. At the satsang, there was this notorious person who came in, climbed onto the stage and started moving around. All the journalists and everyone else said, “This guy is a criminal, how did he get access to Gurudev? How is he standing with Gurudev?”
This man was so notorious; he would say, “I can make a call and stop any airplanes.” He would just tell any taxi driver to get off the car and he would take the taxi and go. He was someone with a big criminal record. So when he came to the stage everyone was wondering, “How did Gurudev allow this?”
You know, this same person, who has not done any course or anything, three months later came to the Bangalore Ashram on Shivratri to meet me. He took my picture out of his pocket, and said, “Gurudev, since I kept this picture in my pocket, I am not able to do my work. What has happened? What have you done? My life is all topsy-turvy; my whole life has changed. There is so much joy here! Now I want to take this joy to my state, and to every home.”
This is the same guy who was considered to be the most anti-social element by everyone. Even journalists are afraid of him. Journalists, usually, are not afraid of anybody. But they said, “This guy is horrible.”
The world is as you see it
You know, how we perceive people, is how the world becomes. In Sanskrit, there is a proverb that says, ‘Yatha Drishti, Tatha Srishti’. As you see the world, that is how the world becomes for you. If you see the world as full of horrible people, in your experience, only such type of things will happen. If you see the world as full of good people, even in the worst criminal, you will see there is a very nice person hiding deep inside him. You will recognize that.
So, don’t judge people, or label them as bad people, or good people. There is only one Divinity which expresses itself in so many ways, in so many people, in so many moods and in so many colors. It is one light. If we can recognize this, then we will have such deep peace in our hearts, such trust and faith that nothing whatsoever can shake us.
Everyone has light in them
A seeker is one who should know that, intrinsically, every human being is a spark of God, so they cannot be bad. There is no bad human being created by the Creator. Take it from me – no bad person at all. Everyone has light in them. Somewhere it is hidden, somewhere it is sleepy, and somewhere it is more in action.
So these are the two paths. See in your mind, which side are you going. Are you going towards trust, or towards doubt? If you are going on the side of disliking others or disliking yourself, then it is the time to give a shift to it, and say, ‘No, intrinsically everybody is good.’
In India, the last full moon of the year (as per the Lunar Calendar) is celebrated as Holi. The next full moon will be the New Year. So before that, the tradition is to just take all the old stuff and put it in the fire and play Holi with colors.
Holi is the festival of colors. From centuries, this is one festival has been uniting people of all classes, castes, age-groups and generations. Everyone comes together and celebrates the oneness of humanity, and that is the message of Holi.
Society divides people, sometimes on the basis of profession, sometimes on the basis of gender, sometimes based on age-group. Holi is a time where we break all the barriers of gender, nationality, race and religion – from the elderly to the young you hug everybody, and put colors on them. It's a unifying celebration.
The Significance of Holi
There are different colors associated with our feelings and emotions. Anger is associated with red, jealousy with green, vibrancy and happiness with yellow, love with pink, vastness with blue, peace with white, sacrifice with saffron, and knowledge with violet. Each person is a fountain of colors which keep changing.
If your life is like Holi, where each color is seen clearly, then that adds charm to your life, it is vibrant. When all the colors get mixed, you end up with black. So also in life, we play different roles. Each role and emotion needs to be clearly defined. Emotional confusion creates problems.
When you are a father, you have to play the part of a father. You can't be a father at the office. When you mix roles in your life, you start making mistakes. Whatever role you play in life, give yourself fully to it.
In ignorance, emotions are a bother, in knowledge, the same emotions add color. Tell yourself that you will do justice to all the roles. You can play all the roles: a good spouse, a good child, a good parent, a good citizen. Assume that you have all these qualities in you. Just let them blossom.
The Significance of burning the Holika (bonfire on the night before Holi)
The burning of Holika has an effect on the coming monsoon.
There is story of Prahlada (from where the festival of Holi originated). Prahlada was a young boy who was very devoted to God but his father was an atheist. His father was a very egoistic and cruel king and he wanted to teach his son a lesson because he was hurt that the boy was preaching the name of God.
He tried in all ways to change him but the boy didn't change. When he couldn’t change him, he wanted to kill him. So he approached one of his sisters. She had a boon that whoever she took on her lap, she could do something and the person would get burnt. Her name was Holika. As the story goes, she took Prahlada on her lap to burn him, but instead she got burnt and Prahlada came out safe because he was chanting 'Hari Om’, and was devoted to God, and that protected him from the fire.
In some of the villages, people do fire walking but nothing happens to them, not a blister on their feet! Faith has a great power and it contributes to life. This is the message behind burning of the Holika.
(The International Women’s Conference (IWC) brings together women leaders from various spheres of society such as politics, arts, business, media, and academia to engage in meaningful dialogue. Below is the transcript of What Sri Sri Said at the Inaugural session of the conference)
Usually someone holds the mic for me. Today, it is such a pleasure to hold the mic for all these wonderful women.
Spirituality Transcends Gender
You wonder, what has spirituality to do with gender? Really, it has nothing to do with gender because spirituality transcends gender.
What is spirituality? Is it something that is not normal or natural? No! We are made up of matter and spirit. Our body has amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates and all that. And our spirit is made up of love, compassion and peace. All that which enhances the value of spirit is spirituality, and women need it all the more because women are the greatest influencers.
A woman influences her children, influences her spouse, influences her parents, and the society. A woman is very gentle and soft so she needs the strength. Spirituality is what gives her that strength and inner peace. If you don’t have inner peace, you can’t have peace in the family.
A Peaceful Woman Can Remove Conflicts
A woman is a woman’s best friend and worst enemy as well. Many conflicts arise between two women. If families are splitting, mostly the cause of it would be a woman because a woman is emotional. This is why it is important for women to find inner strength and peace. If she is peaceful, she can manage all other conflicts at home. But if she is disturbed, and has tears in her eyes, it keeps everyone on their toes.
Having said this, I would also like to say to all the women here today -
Women don’t need to go and ask someone to empower them. They already have the power. In this country, from ancient times and in mythology, all the power has been kept with the goddesses. The ministry of wealth is Devi Lakshmi, the ministry of education is Devi Saraswati, and the ministry of defense is with Devi Durga. What is left? Nothing much is left with the man actually. So, the main power is with Devi, and so is the same with woman. In India, we don’t say ‘Mr. and Mrs.’, we say ‘Shrimati and Shriman’. So women empowerment is already there. Take it for granted.
Don’t take things too seriously, have fun. If you have fun, you can create fun all around. If you are uptight, you create such an uptight atmosphere around you. So, humor, entertainment, wisdom – all these qualities help you be your natural self. You know, in this country, women have created 56,000 types of food. You go to Tripura, which is a small province near Myanmar and Bangladesh border, this little state alone has some 180 types of food varieties. People do not know this. Similarly, music and dance, without all this life is so dry. And creating an atmosphere where people talk about wisdom rather than complain about each other or create problems is natural to women. Creating an atmosphere of celebration is inbuilt in women. You have to make use of this tendency, this strengths that you have. If there were more women religious leaders, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much conflict in the world today. Either there would be no conflict or there would be much worse conflict.
Don’t listen to people who say that women cannot lead religious or spiritual areas. Gender equality is to be honored in every country, and if religious leaders take up gender equality, we can move forward very fast. So, there are areas for women to take a lead in. Don’t wait for someone to invite you. Just jump in and take the lead, like the wonderful women present here have already done.
Innovation and inspiration will come when we have inner peace. A peaceful individual only can make peaceful families. And peaceful families can make peaceful localities and communities. And if communities are peaceful, only then can the nation be peaceful. So the root cause is to find the inner strength, inner peace and that you can do through meditation, yoga, selfless service, and music. There are so many ways to find inner peace.