Thursday, February 25, 2010

Your spiritual practices will take you out of bad habits

Bangalore ashram, Feb. 22: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar just returned from a week-long trip to the North-east of India. Narrating experiences from the trip, Sri Sri spoke about his visit to Bodoland in Assam. “A very remote area, and a tough place, much affected by violence. Our YLTP teachers (graduates of the Youth Leadership Training Program) have done such a good work. Over 1,50,000 people gathered under the hot noon sun for a satsang in Bodoland. In such remote areas, people have started doing good work. There you can’t complain if you don’t have electricity because anyways, there is no electricity! There is no electricity, road or water there. But people were contented. When we have all the facilities, we complain but sometimes where there are no facilities available, people live with contentment.”

(Someone from the audience asks a question)
Q: How do I drop the desire of alcohol and cigarette?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are three things that you can do to drop such a desire for alcohol or cigarette.

Do your spiritual practices daily. It will take you out of such desires.
Think that intake of alcohol or cigarette smoking will diminish your good luck. If you take like that, then something unlucky or unfortunate may happen.
Suppose someone offers you a crore ($10 million), if you stop alcohol or cigarettes for a month. Will you still do it? Each time you get a desire to do that, you will think that you will lose the 1 crore.
So, you will control yourself because of greed or fear. To come out of a bad habit, fear and greed are divya aushadi, best or even magical remedies!
After that, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar led the audience through a meditation.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sri Sri speaks- Valentine's Day 2010

The Times of India, 12th February, 2010
H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This Valentine’s Day, make the Divine your valentine. See the Divine in your valentine and make the divinity your valentine. Have the same love for everyone, with different flavours. You cannot behave the same way with everyone, but you can love all of them. Love transcends behaviour and etiquette.
Abiding in the Self, you become the valentine for the whole world. Spirit is the valentine of matter and matter is the valentine of the spirit. They are made for each other. If you hold on to matter and do not respect the spirit, then matter is not pleased. If you honour the spirit, then you will care for the world, and when you care for the world, it will take care of you.
Keep your heart in a safe place; it is too delicate. Events and small things make strong impressions on it. A precious stone needs a setting around it - gold or silver - to hold it; in the same way wisdom and knowledge are the settings that will hold your heart in the Divine. To keep your heart safe and your mind sane, you cannot find a better place than the Divine. Then the passing time and events will not be able to touch you; they will not create a scar.
Often, you do not know how to respond, or feel obliged and bound, when someone shows a lot of love. The ability to receive genuine love comes with the ability to give love. The more you are centred and know by experience that love is not an emotion; it is your very existence, the more you feel at home with any amount of love expressed in any manner.
There are three kinds of love. The love that comes out of charm, that which comes out of comfort and divine love. The love that comes out of charm does not last long. It comes out of unfamiliarity or attraction. In this, you lose the attraction fast, and boredom sets in. This love may diminish and bring along with it a fear, uncertainty, insecurity and sadness.
The love that comes out of comfort and familiarity grows, but it has no thrill, no enthusiasm, joy, or fire to it. For example, you are more comfortable with an old friend who is a familiar person rather than with a new person. Divine love supersedes both the above. It has an ever present newness. The closer you go, more charm and depth come to it. There is never boredom and it keeps everyone on their toes.
Worldly love can be like an ocean, yet an ocean has a bottom. Divine love is like the sky which is limitless. From the bottom of the ocean, soar into the vast sky. Ancient love transcends all these relationships and is inclusive of all the relationships. Let love be. Don’t give it a name. When you give it a name, it becomes a relationship, and relationships restrict love.
Often, one experiences love at first sight. Then as time goes on, it decreases, decays, turns into hatred and disappears. Ancient love never decays. Although its mortality rate is high, love dies very young. After a few days, weeks, months, or years, it dies. In society, you say love is never a tree, it is a seasonal crop.
When the same love becomes a tree with the manure of knowledge, it becomes ancient love that goes from lifetime to lifetime. That is our own consciousness. You are not limited to this present body, this present name, this present form and the present relationships around you. You may not know your past, your ancientness. But just know you are ancient, that is good enough.
Pain goes with love. Because you love someone, even a small action can hurt you. And in hurt, you feel very delicate, very deep. Love also creates the same sensation. Separation creates the same symptom. If you don’t love somebody, you will never feel hurt by them. Understand and accept this. Then that hurt will not turn into a sore feeling. Rather, that very hurt will take you deep into dispassion and meditation.
When love glows, it becomes bliss; when it flows, it is compassion; when it blows, it is anger; when it ferments, it is jealousy. Let love be. Don’t give it a name!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The moment you are centered, you see Divinity everywhere

Kolkata (India), Feb. 12:
Just before conducting the Rudra Puja on Shivratri night,

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke about the true essence of Shiva and Shivratri. Let us understand a little about the Shiva tattva. Only a little can be known. The intellect has to be content and finer feelings awakened. Both scientific understanding and spiritual wisdom are necessary to bring this contentment that is holistic and complete. There is no need to go to on long pilgrimages to find the Divine. If you don’t find God here, where you are, then it is not possible anywhere else. Where the mind dissolves, Shiva is there. Be established wherever you are. The moment you are established, centered, you see that there is Divinity present everywhere. This is meditation. One of the names of Lord Shiva is Virupaksha - meaning one who is formless yet sees all. We know that there is air all around us and we can feel the air as well. But what if the air also starts feeling you? Space is all around us, we identify space. But what if space also recognizes and feels your presence? This happens. Only we don’t know it. Scientists know this and they call it the theory of relativity. The one who sees and that which is seen are both affected when seen. The Divine is all around you and is seeing you. He doesn’t have a form. He is the formless core of existence and the goal. He is the seer, sight and the scene. This formless Divinity is Shiva. To simply wake-up and experience this Shiva tattva is Shivratri.
Usually when there is celebration, awareness is lost. Deep rest in celebration with awareness is Shivratri. When you face some problem, you become aware and alert. We are at rest when everything is well; on Shivratri we rest with awareness. It is said that a yogi remains awake when everybody else is sleeping. For a yogi, everyday is Shivratri. Lord Shiva is beautifully explained in a verse by Adi Shankaracharya (Sri Sri recites a few lines from the verse).
Adyantahinam - One without a beginning or end. Sarvada - He is the Bholenath (innocent ruler of all) who is present everywhere all the time. We think Shiva is somewhere else sitting with a snake around his neck. Shiva is one in whom everything has taken birth, who encompasses everything right this moment, and in whom everything in creation dissolves. Every form you see in this creation is all his form.
He permeates the entire creation. He is never born and has no end. He is eternal.
He is the fourth state of consciousness, the turiya avasta, the meditative state, that is beyond the waking, deep sleep and dream states.
He is the non-dual consciousness that is present everywhere. That’s why to do Shiva puja, you have to dissolve in Shiva yourself. Being Shiva, you do Shiva puja. Chidananda rupa - He is the consciousness that is pure bliss.
Tapo yoga gamya - One who can be known through tapa and yoga. The Shiva tattva can be experienced in the knowledge of the Vedas. The state of Shivoham (I am Shiva), Shiva kevaloham (there is only Shiva) is attained. Shivratri is the day to experience a wave of joy and contentment. Without yoga, Shiva can’t be experienced. Yoga doesn’t mean only asanas (physical postures) but that experience of Shiva tattva which happens with meditation, pranayam: when that ‘WOW’ happens from within.
The word Shambo has come from the same source - to realize how beautiful the Divine is, the creation and the Self is! It is a miracle how the same consciousness is present in every being in this creation! There is no other miracle greater than this. How did this One become so many? This tradition (of Shivratri) of moving from many to one is so unique. Yoga and meditation is necessary for that. Without meditation, the mind is not calmed. On the occasion of Shivratri meditation, bhajans are all part of the celebration. Everyone participates with a full heart. Everyone should sing. Shiva is the cause of all causes. Because of which everything is there – the tree growing, the sun rising, the wind blowing... The reason for everything happening is Shiva - because of whom everything happens and without whom, nothing happens. Panchmukha, Panchtattva – There are five faces to Shiva - Water, Air, Earth, Fire and Space. Understanding these five elements is tattva gyana (knowledge of the five elements). And then Shiva is worshipped as Ashtamurti (eight forms)– Mind, Memory, Ego are also included. This is both the form and formless aspect of Shiva. Worshipping Shiva is dissolving in the Shiv tattva and then wishing for something good. What to wish for? Wish with a liberal heart for the universal good, nobody should be unhappy in the world. ‘Sarve janah sukhino bhavantu .’ And make one sankalpa on this occasion. It is something which comes to you again and again like your breath, like your heartbeat. And when you surrender such a sankalpa to the Divine, it will definitely come true.
We also worship nature. Divinity permeates everything in this Earth. Puja is not complete without honoring the trees, mountains, rivers, Earth and the people living on the Earth. Honoring everyone is Dakshina. Da means to give and Dakshina means giving something that will cleanse us of all impurities. Offering with which all your sins vanish. No puja is complete without Dakshina. When we act in society with skill and free from the distortions of the mind, all negative tendencies like anger, worries, sorrow are destroyed. I will say give your tensions, worries and sorrows as Dakshina. And how does that happen? With Sadhana (spiritual practices), Seva (service) and Satsang (company of the truth).
Ride the boat of the intellect to dissolve in the ocean of finer feelings and faith.

Trapped in Freedom

Bangalore ashram, Feb. 10:
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar led the audience from 51 countries through a meditation. When everyone opened their eyes, they were surprised to learn that they had meditated for 18 minutes.

He then released a book called ‘Trapped in freedom’, a compilation of experiences of one on the spiritual path. “It is very interesting to see how spiritual experiences are combined with the mundane in the book,” said Sri Sri.
He then honored a scholar, Mithran namboodiripad, who has been with the Art of Living for the last 25 years. years. Introducing him,He said that Mithran namboodiripad was a learned Sanskit scholar and had memorized five million Sanskrit shlokas

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Everyone should be given the opportunity to contribute

Bangalore Ashram, Feb 09:
Sri Sri Ravi shankar reached the ashram at 8:30 pm, and came straignt for satsang at the Vishalakshi Mandap. He just returned from Velanganni, a hamlet in Tamil Nadu and shared his experience of addressing 1,000 Roman Catholic priests of the Indian Priests Congress. Then, a little girl stood up and told Sri Sri that there was no Art of Living Center at her hometown, because of which programs were not being conducted. After saying this, she started crying. He assured her that a center would come up. the girl's mother stood up and said, "With whatever, we have we want to buy a plot on which we can construct an Art of Living Center."
He said, " You can't be emotional and give everything you have, as I won't accept it like that. Many people should contribute a little to have the center. Many people in the past also said this. At frst, when I went to Canada when there was no center there, a man came to me and said, Sri Sri, my whole life has been transformed. I have $15000 and I want to put all this money and make an Art of Living Center." I refused him and said , " I am not in a hurry to have the Art of Living Center. If you insist, you can contribute $1000 and if you still want to contribute more, you can give $2000 but not more than that. Everyone should be given the opportunity to contribute."
He said that the divine's job was to take care of His Devotees' needs.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mantras are those sounds which you hear from deep within during meditation & the aim is to bring one back to the source

Bangalore Ashram, Feb. 8:
Q: Guruji, singing Shiva and Krishna songs in satsang make many people wonder. Although we imbibe so many good vibrations this still makes some people think that we are singing Hindu songs. Why do we sing songs of so many Gods? People from other religions get confused between the real meaning of satsang and the symbolic meaning behind mantras.
Sri Sri: The sound of ‘Om namah shivaya’ includes all the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. Hinduism is not a religion as such. People have been chanting this for thousands of years. Mantras are those sounds which you hear from deep within during meditation and the aim is to bring one back to the source. During later days, people started putting faces and drawings to these mantras. Mantras have got certain vibrations/ energy. They are universal.
Even in churches in Latin America ‘Marnah nath’ is used. Its translation in Latin and Sanskrit is so close. For ‘Lord’ the word in Latin is nath and also in Sanskrit the word nath is used to mean ‘Lord’. So the word marnah nath meaning ‘My lord’ which is used in Christianity is actually a Sanskrit word.
Chanting in Sanskrit is beneficial because Sanskrit is the oldest language known to mankind. It has a deep impact on the consciousness. We welcome all songs – Japanese, Korean, Spanish. Any song you want to sing is welcome. We sing a lot of songs in Spanish and Portuguese in satsangs in South America. Of course, in India everybody easily connects with ancient mantras. Take any language you want but along with it take this also. How many of you feel singing and chanting these mantras creates some vibrations? (All raise hands in affirmation) It’s obvious. In Vedic chanting, many times you don’t know even the meaning but it has some effect.
In the morning we did Rudra Abhishek, this has been practiced for over thousands of years. We use crystal, milk, yoghurt and flowers etc. They all create a certain impact and send out positive vibrations.
Q: We are hearing so much about Shivratri. What is the importance of Shivratri?
Sri Sri: We are either in the sleeping, waking or dreaming state. Shiva is the fourth state of consciousness - the meditative state. On that particular day, just before the new moon arises people stay awake all night and celebrate. The belief is that whatever you wish for comes true. For the general public, the night of Shiva is the night of celebration. For the wise seekers who are on the spiritual path, every day and every night is a celebration.
Q: What is the rule to be reborn? Who maintains records of all human beings? Why don’t we remember anything about our non-physical form?
Sri Sri: It is not very difficult to know. You can do the eternity process and you could know.
Q: Guruji when will we witness something bigger than the Silver Jubilee Celebrations?
Sri Sri: Should we do something bigger than Silver Jubilee? (A big yes from the audience) Yes, why not? Next year in 2011, the Art of Living will complete 30 years, 3 decades . Let’s see. We will plan something. You also plan. Let us make a pool of ideas.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The more sattva/ purity rises in your life, the more easily your tasks get accomplished

Bangalore Ashram, Feb. 7:
Swami Ramdev paid his respects to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the evening satsang at the International Art of Living Center. In his welcome to Swami Ramdev,
Sri Sri said ‘The progress of India is always done by saints, sanyasis/renunciates. Swami Ramdev has contributed a lot to spread yoga and Ayurveda in different regions of India, including many villages’.
Swami Ramdev shared his vision of an India free from hunger, poverty, corruption and all other social evils. He expressed gratitude towards Sri Sri for Art of Living's contribution towards social progress.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The more sattva/purity rises in your life, the more easily your tasks get accomplished. The amount of sattva/ purity in us decides the productivity of our input. If you put in a lot of effort and the result turns out to be less or below your expectations, it means that there is a lack of sattva/ purity in life. When we meditate, then our work happens easily. How many of you have noticed this? (Audience raises their hands). People are unaware of this secret. They think why to spend 20 – 30 minutes meditating, when that time can be spent to earn them money. It is very important to meditate whenever we get time, so that you accomplish your tasks more efficiently and with ease
Q: Will you please talk about animal sacrifice?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Animal sacrifice (bali pratha) needs to be stopped. It is not written in any scripture to kill helpless animals. It means to surrender any animal tendencies that you find within yourself. You can explain this and make others understand too.
Q: Guruji, in Jharkand many efforts are being made by saints to do away with the problem of Naxalism but no solution is working.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Naxalites are good people. They need to be given a little understanding and direction. This is because of the lack of religious and spiritual education. If the educational institute includes even a little bit of religious education no one from that institute will turn out to be a Naxalite. In the name of secularism, religious education has been abandoned.
Q: Guruji when I meditate on you many other Guru’s also come into mind. What is the solution?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good. Greet them all.
Q: Everyday people make requests to you that can be directly requested to God. Is it that God pays more attention to you than to us?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I leave that question with you to wonder about. You should have something to wonder about. Besides, why do want to know all the trade secrets! (Laughter)
Q: What is your advice to youth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If they want advice, they can take it. Usually I don’t give advice that is not taken. If advice is not taken, it remains as orphans in the air. The youth know that they have a responsibility towards their elders. I am always for joint families where all the generations live together but it has both advantages and disadvantages.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

If you follow wisdom, fun & joy follow

Bangalore ashram, Feb. 5:
Q: Guru, I often see people bow down to you. Is doing all that necessary?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, no, not at all. These things are really insignificant. You know, these outer gestures are insignificant. Don’t give too much importance to them. All these gestures don’t matter. We all are connected from a deeper level, the level of the heart. That’s how we have met and we are all here.
Q: Yesterday you talked about leela (game). One can comprehend it intellectually but how to make it an inner experience?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t have to make it an experience. You simply have to wake up and see that life is a game. Wake up this moment as I am speaking. Whatever happened till now, is it not like a dream? You had dinner this evening, meditated in the morning, did yoga in morning and went to bed last night, and if you go over your own memory there were good / bad events, you had profit, you had loss but right this moment it’s all gone. Wake up this moment and you will see that tomorrow, the next 10 years is also like a dream! When you realize this whole phenomenon, that has happened in the past and future, it's all like a play, a game. You don’t have to think this is a concept and I have to experience it. My dear, memory is memory. Your thinking that you have to experience memory is a concept and your thinking that you don’t have it is again a concept. You simply have to realize right away that it is all a dream. This could be a dream. That very moment you feel a sense of relief. A soothing wave overtakes you. Don’t wait till someday you will experience - it’s all a game. May be after you leave the body you will experience one day. Then also you will realize I could have done that much before.
Q: What is the difference between dispassion and indifference?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, in indifference there is a sense of apathy, rejection and disappointment while in dispassion there is joy and enthusiasm.
Q: Do we all have a purpose in life or we all come and go whenever? If there is one purpose, what is it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, it’s best to take out a paper and pen, and list out what is not the purpose of your life. By negating it will be easier for you.
Q: Is Art of Living the best spiritual path? People say it is the best. Isn’t it a seed of war, calling my belief to be the best? The symbols of other religions in Vishalakshi Mantap tell us that all other religions are also good.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I leave it up to you. You discuss and decide. Go through all the confusion and come to your own conclusion. I never say it is the best and I also don’t say it is not the best. It is up to you. It will not be the truth to say it is not the best. And it sounds very funny for whenever someone says ‘it is the best’, you have a sort of resistance for that.
So sometimes some of these questions are best not answered. I am not here to clarify your doubts. I am here to create more doubts. Doubt is always about something, which is positive. When somebody tells you ‘I love you’ and you say ‘really’? But do you ask ‘really’ when somebody says ‘I hate you’? You doubt your capabilities but you never doubt your weaknesses. You are so sure of your weaknesses! You doubt in the honesty of people and never in their dishonesty. The nature of doubt is such that it always clings to something, which is positive. So if you have a doubt, I will encourage you that this is very positive.
Q: Guru, you said being a perfectionist is a cause of stress. Yet everything about you is so perfect. You are perfect, your actions are perfect, your words are perfect, your understanding of God is so perfect, this Ashram is perfect and so many other things. What is the difference between your perfect thinking or, mine or ours?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just that you have to look at yourself in the mirror. That’s it. You move from perfection to perfection. You move from one perfection to another higher perfection. That’s how you have to look at life. Otherwise you see this is not perfect, everything is imperfect, everything is hopeless. And we tend to get into negative framework. Isn’t it?
Q: What is Upanishad?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sitting close and listening is Upanishad. Upanishad is a collection of discourses of high knowledge, and the manner it was transmitted from a Master to students is very interesting.
One of the Upanishads beautifully brings this out well. Once a boy went to his father who was also his Guru and asked, 'What is God?' To which the father replied, ‘Food is God’, for everything grows from food, everything is sustained by food and when there is a lack of it, everything dissolves and everything again becomes food.
So the boy went and thought about it for several months, understood all about food and came back to his father, and again asked ‘What is God?’ The father said, ‘Parana is God’. The boy went, thought and understands all about prang, how it is going in and out of body, how many types of prang there are and read all experiments about prang. He again came back to his father and asked, ‘What is God?’ The father looked at the child’s face, so glowing and so vibrant. The father said, 'Ok, the mind is Brahman, mind is God'. The boy went and thought till he found the ultimate bliss.
Notice, that the student didn’t complain to the teacher that he was earlier told ‘Food is God’ but later something else. He simply came and again asked the question. So this is an ancient way of teaching, step by step – food, then prang, then the mind, then the inner spirit, then the universal spirit, Bliss. Bliss is Divinity, the space. You are like the space. Then he said, 'There is no difference between you, me and the infinite self. We all are one. The Self, Guru and the universal energy are not different. All are made up of one substance.'
Today if you talk to scientists who study the string theory, who study quantum physics, they will say the same thing that is said in Upanishads. In the Upanishads, it was said thousands of years ago that 'God is not a person, sitting somewhere up in heaven but God is present everywhere. He is omnipresent and omnipotent, the energy of which you are also made of, everything is made up of.' Don’t confuse God to be a person, somewhere sitting up in heaven. Godliness is your own nature.
God is Vibration. God is Love. God is Truth, Existence. God is Beauty.
People right through history have told this. Lord Krishna told Arjuna, ‘People think I am a human being but I am not. People confuse the Divine to be a human being. But God is the force, He is energy. That is Divine and not a person.’
Q: What is secret of selfless service which is devoid of personal conflict?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just do service. Don’t think too much, whether it is selfless or selfish. Never mind. Don’t analyze too much. Let’s keep it simple. If you enjoy doing service, it’s good. If you don’t enjoy, never mind because someone who is benefitting, is enjoying. It’s better not to analyze too much. Where is the time to think? If there is an intention only, it will make you feel uncomfortable. Just think I am doing it with all my heart because it has to be done. Finished. That’s it. And if you are enjoying then don’t think, “Oh I shouldn’t be enjoying” because whatever you try to push down, fight with, it simply comes up.
In my commentary on the ‘Narad Bhakti sutras’, I have said: ‘Without any conflict, repose in the Self’. Now suppose there is some conflict, then don’t try to get rid of it. Simply embrace it and you will find it disappears.
Q: Guru which is your favorite quote from the Gita?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have so many. There is no point in you picking my favorite quote. You read it and find your own favorite quote and keep reviewing it every few years because it may change. You can’t find a more contradictory scripture than Bhagwat Gita. In every chapter Lord Krishna says something different. It is like climbing one step after another. And all that is said is relevant from a bigger picture. Arjuna also said, ‘Krishna, you say different things at different times. I am so confused. Please tell me one thing that I should do.’ Then Lord Krishna says intelligent people know there are many facets, many angles, all is spherical whereas dull people think everything is linear.
Q: Guruji, how do I know if I am growing on Spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Look, there are no criteria. See from the past if you are more calm, or drop all spiritual practices for a month and see how do you feel, whether it makes a difference, or ask people around you if you are behaving better than before. Now none of these are benchmarks. And after listening to all these opinions, throw them all into the basket. If you learn to relax well, if you are able to see everything as a dream – nature of the universe, you are progressing. There is no other way. You are on a conveyor belt, you can’t be stuck, you have to move, or you will be pushed. When you are on conveyor belt, you will be moving.
Q: Guruji, I have my partner whom I love with all my heart but I still get attracted to other people even if I don’t want to. How can I get rid of it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, the mind always gets attracted to something new but the heart always recognizes something which is old. You always say, ‘It is an old friendship’, Preet purani, ancient love. Whatever you are attracted to, if it becomes a little difficult to get, you develop love for that. If you get it easily, it is finished. When love gets deeper, it becomes devotion. When love matures along with wisdom, it becomes devotion.
Q: Guruji, I get bored nowadays. I am contented in my heart but nothing gives me joy except from your talks. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My dear, why do you have so much time sitting and thinking about yourself? If you are happy, go and do seva (service). We have lots of things to do. Care for others, do some service. There is so much to learn. Learn more. Don’t run behind joy. Let joy run behind you. If you follow joy, misery will follow. If you follow wisdom, fun and joy follow. Wherever you go, fun tags behind you.
Q: Guruji, if human being knows that if one is born then he has to die, then why does he worry so much about death?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, there is lack of spiritual education, broader vision and knowledge of who one is. Ok, let me ask you all a question. You know, all those who have grown old don’t feel that they have grown old. How many of you feel this? (Many raised their hands). You are 50, 60 or 70 years old and you feel that everybody else has grown but you haven’t changed. You see your little 1- 2 year-old child has grown to 16 years but you don’t realize that you have also grown equally. You know, many times father and son, mother and daughter have this conflict because neither father nor mother think that they have grown older. It is the same problem with mother – in – law and daughter – in – law in India, perennial household word because you feel that you haven’t changed, you haven’t grown. This is because there is something deep inside you which never dies, which never grows old. Time doesn’t touch that aspect deep within you.
Q: When we do mistakes, people get angry. But even when we rectify the mistake people don’t leave their anguish? What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Bring them to the course. They are not living in the present. Bring them to the present. They keep on hanging on to the past. You have changed but they forget to change.

Monday, February 15, 2010

There is no caste for the spirit

Transcript of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's address at “Indian Priests’ Congress” -Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health, Velanganni on February 9, 2010. This conference was attended by 1000 Roman Catholic priests across India.

Om Shanthi...Shanthi... Shanthihi...
Sri Sri : What a joy to speak to the lovers’of God! I am a child going to blabber in front of scholars. Let us discuss...
Lovers know the language of the heart-we are all lovers of God who want to unite with the spirit of the world. We all want to serve, ...see divinity in people around...
Three things are important for this:
Context (of life)
We have all the three. Apart from how to unite and connect, we have to know how to face challenges in life. When faith is shaken, how to rekindle it...
To know faith, we have to know doubt. Doubt is something about positive. We never doubt the negative.. we doubt whether we really happy, but never doubt our misery!
God is the most positive thing in the universe! Doubt about God, doubt in Self...How to get over these?
The Upanishads tell about the experience of divinity in four stages for the Seekers:
Saameepya: feeling the proximity of the Divine
Sannidhya: feeling the Presence
Saaroopya: doing what the Divine is doing, imitating the Divine
Saayoojya: Merging with the Divine.
Another challenge is to arrive at the inner peace and calmness. Mind vacillates between the past and the future. How to bring the mind to the Present? Using our own breath, we can calm the mind, reunite with the Spirit...Simple breathing techniques can remove negative emotions and we can experience Freedom within. Mind can right away go into Prayer easily, effortlessly.
We all are made of a substance called Love...God has made man in His own image.. and God is love.. Then why all the negative emotions? How to meet these challenges?
Wisdom, Spiritual wisdom help overcome these hurdles.
We are all committed to Service: service to God, service to humanity. Still, if something is missing, something is broken, then breathing, meditation can connect us to our inner self. Meditation is Wordless Prayer...words are there and not there at the same time! Ability to connect to everybody.. “There is no Other” the Mantra of Love! All is part of One...
As lovers of God, our relationship is only one...All in One.. One in All.. This is Prayer.. We don’t lack anything. There is abundance ..For the one step we take, the Divine takes ten...!!!
Let us open the floor for questions!!
Q: I get some experiences of fellow suffering/happiness. But how to go beyond my individuality and identity and get a deeper experience?
Sri Sri : Do not leave that passion for God. Whatever experience we are getting is due to His Grace.. not through our efforts. If you are able to love everybody, it is a Blessing! We have to be grateful...the more grateful we are, the more we get. What do you say?
Three questions: (a) how to sustain Prayer, when the faith seems lost (dark night of the soul)? (b) Is it possible to reach God without religion, through spirituality? (c) why is it that you never speak anything about casteism?
Sri Sri : I will answer the last question first! Please go through my book “Heritage of Dalits”. If you see the thousand Rishis of ancient India, 90% of them were “Dalits”-Vyasa, Valmiki and so on. The Upanishads tell that “all are born Soodra and become Dwija by action”...
I unequivocally condemn casteism. There is no caste for the spirit. When we want to see a good doctor, we don’t ask his caste. When we want to see a good lawyer, we don’t ask his caste. It is of use only in Politics! I don’t know Politics. I speak from heart to heart. I love to be with people of God like you!.
For the second question, I never tell to drop religion. Do not forget the essence of religion is Spirituality. Do you feel that connectivity, calmness inside...We know that during Tsunami, the Basilica housed people of all religions, temples and mosques housed people of all religions.Only aim was rehabilitation of people.
Terrorism arises because some people feel their way is the only way to God and others do not have the right to follow their way..
For the dark night of the soul, Rishi Patanjali describes nine obstacles in the path of the seeker. These include Diseases, Doubt, Dullness (inertia, Disinterestedness, Unsustainability and so on. All these can be overcome by practice of Yoga.
Q: Even when we are doing good, lot of discouraging situations arise. Can you give some suggestions to get over these?
Sri Sri : When nothing is of help, Prayer helps! A genuine “help me God!”...Any challenge is a chance to reaffirm our commitment....
Q: What is the significance of pilgrimage in Hinduism? What is your experience of any Pilgrimage?
Sri Sri :Best pilgrimage is Inward Journey! A pilgrimage is an opportunity for people to come together and pray together. As you know, praying together generates more energy, you know, a synergy. But don’t think God is only in pilgrim centres! God is omnipresent and omniscient. Ancient Rishis meditated in some places and put all that energy in some idol there. The scriptures talk about God as having no name and no form. There is freedom to worship God in any form or any name. Wisdom from anywhere was acknowledged.
Q: As a religious leader, what is your opinion about the anti-Christian violence (with a pattern and agenda especially since early 90’s) for Political gains?
Sri Sri : I see violence in a bigger context. I am concerned about all violence. Violence in the red corridor (Maoist)...Even domestic violence. I am also concerned about the increasing suicidal tendency in the country. Suicide is violence against the self.. When mind is stressed, it leads to violence. Depression leads to suicide. We have to work together. We have to bring back the human values. Education about human values...
The world is undergoing an identity crisis!.. A reversal of identity is needed.. First of all, our identity is that we are all Divine.. then we are human beings, then our gender, religion, country and so on..
We have to educate the society about the ONE divinity.. When that shift happens, we can relate to anybody, whatever be our ideology. Fear will be eliminated. Inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help...what is troubling him?...He could have been a victim of ignorance or brain washing or violence...
This education is the only way to bring peace around us, to make this world a beautiful place to live in...Thank you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love is the magic which binds everything together

Orissa, Feb. 2:
Q: Guruji, the atmosphere in this satsang is so beautiful. What is the magic behind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I know only one magic – love. It is the magic which binds everything together.
Q: Guruji, why are people moving away from religion and culture?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, the enthusiastic crowd here. I am not feeling the same after looking at this crowd. If we walk on the path of religion, others will also do the same. The youth is moving away from religion because of the way religion is presented to them. The people who present religion have no smile on their faces, no joy flows out of them.
At the same time any religion should be practical which can be integrated into our lives. There is no other culture as joyful as the Indian culture.
Q: How does one know who his true Guru is?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I suggest that you don't bother too much on who is true and who is not. You see what is it that you need. You take knowledge and then continue to move on. There are so many Gurus today and you should move ahead thinking yourself to be one of them. You are not less than any of them. But we need to adopt a balanced approach. There should neither be guilt or self blame nor arrogance or pride. On the spiritual path, both of these attitudes must not be there. There is only loss involved either way. And hence one should move on that middle path.
Q: Guruji, the youth is getting disappointed today because of chaos in society and corruption in politics. What is your message to youth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: All the youth should stand up now and start moving ahead together. When you all work in group then there is no such task that can’t be accomplished.
Q: Guruji in Orissa, the Sri Sri University is going to be established. How can we connect to it and get benefitted?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Bhubaneshwar is not that far from this place. You should all join in and contribute. I invite all of you there. You send your children to study there and you also visit the place. It’s not my university but yours.
Q: This question is also related to education. Can you please talk about primary education?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Work for primary education is going on and it will continue. We are providing training to teachers as well students in all schools. Parents will also be involved in yoga, pranayama and meditation.
Q: I'm confused – should I take Ayurvedic medicines?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We definitely need to adopt certain things from Ayurveda. When there is a stomach disorder, lots of thoughts disturb us. When vatta or pitta in the body gets imbalanced, too many thoughts arise in mind. There is Triphala (an Ayurvedic tablet) which balances the three imbalances in body. It is good to take Triphala for one– two months. You can take one–two tablets or one spoon of Triphala churna before going to bed. It increases energy levels in the body. Vitamin C also provides you immunity. Sometimes allopathic doctors prescribe medicines for 15 – 20 days for stomach disorders and that adversely affects the liver and body. There is Devati which you can take. It is very effective in curing fever also. Ayurveda has this specialty of correcting disorders and diseases without any side effects. And hence we should adopt Ayurveda. All these are home remedies and one should keep this with oneself. And if at some time some disease prolongs then one should definitely consult doctor.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I am independent means I am inner dependent

Bangalore ashram, Jan. 26:
Q: Guruji, during the course I feel very good but once I go out, I feel misery again. What to do to get rid of that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Imbibe this knowledge. Independence means depending on the inside. Your independence is only when you are dependent on the inside. You are miserable when you want things from others for your comfort. How much can you take? And even if you take everything, it is of what use? This is what I think. I am independent means I am inner dependent. So I want nothing from anybody. Just this aphorism, reminder of this, time and again, will take your mind, which is sticking to the outside, come to its center. You will feel the relief. Misery simply means you are stuck to the outside. Joy means you are in your element which is inside. If you depend on others for your comfort, you lose your joy. First, have this faith that nature will provide whatever I need or I deserve, it will never happen that nature doesn’t provide you with what you need. Secondly, I want nothing from anybody. And third whatever I have, be it be intelligence, great voice, qualifications, skill is only for others and not for me and I serve others as much as I can. Finish! Where is the misery then?
Q: Guruji, you love each one of us so much. I feel my love for you is much less as compared to your love for me. How can I increase my love for you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No way, you can’t increase your love. It is already there. You simply have to relax and realize it is there. Never question or doubt your love. You think, ‘Oh, others are having tears in their eyes and I am not having any’. Never mind, never look from at things that angle. Every child from the mother’s womb is complete. It is not that the first child is more complete than second and third is further less. Every mother knows that every child is full, complete. Same way your love is total, complete, at its height. Never doubt that and never compare it with others. If you feel your expression of love is less, it is because of your selfishness. All that you can do is be generous, be less selfish and you can’t do it overnight. Day by day, slowly be more generous, be more centered, and be more dispassionate. Then the love which is inside you, will start expressing itself. Even in the expression of love it should not be too much or too less. It should be the middle path. The problem in the world is that in the West, they express love too much. Husband and wife keeps on saying ‘honey’ and then they become diabetic (laughter), can’t touch honey any more. (laughter) It is just the opposite in the East, they never express love at all. Both ways are extreme. There should be a middle path. It’s like you want a seed to sprout, it neither sprouts when buried deep down in the soil nor when it is put on the top. It needs a little bit of soil and put in it and that’s it. Take the best of the orient and the best of the occidental. That is the middle path.
Q: What is surrender? Does that mean doing nothing and letting nature do whatever it wants to?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This word ‘surrender’ has been used, misused and confused so many times. I think we should use some other word. (laughter) Just relax, be in your element, feel the connection, have a sense of belongingness. In fact, the connection is already there, you simply have to feel it. This is a better word. What is it that you have that you can surrender? Worries, anxiety, tension, and depression! And those, too, you don’t know how to surrender. I want to be done away with this word ‘surrender’. I want none of you to use this word hereafter. It’s like a straw out of which juice has already been taken out, like sugarcane straw that you keep chewing and nothing comes out of it. Some better word is to be used now. Let go, relax, feel the connection and that’s it.
Q: How to be one pointed on the path? There are so many distractions pulling us back.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With wisdom, you come back. This very question tells you that that you are coming back, in fact, you have already come back, you are not distracted. Through wisdom or misery, you are brought back to the center. When you go off center, you are beaten, you start crying and then come back to your center. The wise come back to the center through wisdom. The not-so-wise face problems here and there and then come back to the center. This is the law of nature. This is how things are.
Q: In my country, most people are of the opinion that you can’t raise a child without a non - vegetarian diet, as the body will lack amino acids and the brain won’t function properly. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ample research has been done to contradict this theory. Look into that. There are millions of people who are vegetarian in the West and they are very brilliant. In fact, all the genius people in the West, including Einstein were vegetarian. Many of the top scientists have been vegetarian. This theory that the brain doesn’t work needs to be questioned.
Q: While Ayurveda is considered to be an indigenous system of medicine then why did English (allopathic) medicine have permission by a government to take over Ayurvedic medicines? Also English (allopathic) medicine claims to have a faster recovery rate?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, statistics show contrary to this. Even in modern medicine, the probability factor of medicine not affecting is very high. Research says that the placebo effect with modern medicines is nearly 40 percent. 40 percent of the effect from medicines being administered can be brought about using a placebo. Modern medicines are being discovered every day and those which were used 10 – 12 years ago are being discarded. The problem is that these pharmaceutical companies have a lot of western interest. It is the economy which is ruling modern medicine rather than their effectiveness. I feel we should have a combined, holistic approach. Ayurveda has some very good qualities, allopathic medicines also have some very good aspects and also homeopathic. Holistic medicine is the best. It is wrong to completely discard modern medicine and it is equally wrong to discard natural cures, ayurveda. In case of emergency, allopathic does well and ayurveda has a unique way of attending to the root cause of disease. Not only symptoms but also healing without side effects. Today, much research has been done on this and many have experienced this. For instance: The probability of remission of piles by allopathic treatment is very high but in the case of Ayurveda it is less than one percent. These are the things one should adopt about Ayurveda. Ayurveda is, anyways, adopting modern methods of investigation. So, the best is to adopt the holistic approach. Our aim is not to benefit pharmaceutical companies but people.
Q: What is the spiritual path? How does one know if one is on the spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Anything done to uplift your spirit, to make you walk towards the truth, that brings up human values within, that connects you to the innermost and outermost is spiritual. Meditation, pranayama, yoga, service, singing, chanting, creating happiness around you are all part of spirituality. If you create misery, then that is not spirituality. If you can create joy, it is spiritual. But not momentary joy. Such joy, in the long term, creates misery that is not spiritual. Alcohol, drugs can create momentary joy but they are not at all spiritual. That is the spirit.
Q: Krishna is ‘bhavana bhahit’. What does that mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have used some phrase, you tell its meaning. God is hungry for feelings. He doesn’t need your sweets or flowers. So if you sit with feelings, that is enough. See Krishna everywhere. Lord Krishna says in the Gita, “Wherever you see in any form, I am there. I am knowledge in a knowledgeable person, wherever there is knowledge I am there, I am strength in the strong, beauty in the beautiful, all is me”. Read the Gita deeply and best is to meditate. Be a yogi, yogi is the best.
Q: Why do some people not smile at others but are happy with themselves only? What is good? To maintain happiness with oneself or to be happy with people around also?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: (Jokingly) Ok, somebody didn’t smile at you and was smiling at himself being adjacent to you, is that your problem! (laughter) The world is like that, some people don’t smile at you, you don’t smile at someone. Leave others. Are you smiling? We maintain our smile that is good enough.
Everybody has one’s own set of problems and if that much compassion has arisen in you then you go and ask, ‘What is your problem? Why are you not smiling? Do you need any help?’ But then see whom are you asking (laughter) and in case you are slapped by someone, then give them your second cheek too. (Huge laughter) If that compassion is there, then ask everyone, ‘Why are you not smiling?’
Once in Switzerland, we were waiting for some conveyance and we saw that nobody on the road was smiling. I thought, everything is here and still people are not smiling. I had so many flowers with me and so I asked the devotees who were accompanying me to give flowers to those who were not smiling on the road and ask them to smile. That was such a fantastic program. After that we raised a wave called ‘Spread your smile’ in Netherland, France, Germany, Switzerland where people give flowers and said, ‘ Please smile and make others smile by passing on this flower’. Some people were shocked initially that nobody till that day bothered about their smile and suddenly somebody coming and asking them to smile.
But if you are in India, take care before giving flower to anybody. (laughter) Be a little cautious before giving a flower here in India. In India, if a girl smiles at a boy it is taken in a different sense. It is not normal, and a boy giving a flower to a girl is not taken as a very nice gesture. (Huge laughter) But in Europe, it is not considered bad. (Somebody from audience asked, ‘Let’s start this in New York also’.) Yes, we are doing there also, something called ‘A Rose of friendship, Pass it on’.
Q: Guruji, I am from Kerela. I want to ask – what does it mean to do puja (worship)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a saying that talks about puja. Yen ten prakaren, Yatra kutrapi dehina, Santosham janaye pragya Tadaye vishva lochan Create patience in people. When you bring a wave of happiness, wherever you go, that is puja. Whatever way when you create happiness and patience, that is puja, truly worshiping God. How beautiful it is!
Q: Guruji there are mental hospitals for mentally challenged people, what is the place for people who are in love with the Divine?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: For them, this whole world is their own. Such madness is welcomed everywhere. Everybody will invite them; everybody will welcome them and would love to talk to them. Because they know, we spread such fragrance.
Q: I feel lustful at times. What to do and how to get rid of that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When there is no joy in life then lust increases in you because then you get joy in that only. But when you find joy in life otherwise also, then the frequency of such desires starts reducing. When you start finding joy in sadhna (spiritual practices), joy in service, joy in satsang, joy in devotion, joy in surrender - that is the only way to come out of lust. No other way exists. When all are done together slowly, you come out of lust. Otherwise, you will have to wait for age. May be then you will be out of it. You won’t be capable physically to do it but you get rid of it from the mind or not, that is not sure.No guarantee is there. Usually very old people see all obscene stuff and try to get satisfaction from it.
Q: South Indians are deep into rituals. Are rituals very important to reach the spiritual path or the ultimate goal?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Man can’t be without ritual. Let’s be clear about it. Today is the Republic Day of India. What happens today in New Delhi and the capitals of other states is a ritual. There is a particular way you walk, a particular way you hoist flag, a particular way you behave. It is a national ritual. Even in communist Russia in Kremlin, three guards shot three gunshots in the sky everyday and perform a ritual.This is a ritual. Human beings can’t be without rituals. If your ritual is meaningful and environment friendly, then all the more better. A wise ritual is offering flowers, lighting a candle, creating love, planting a tree, distributing sweets, these are rituals with more meaning. And not killing an animal, that is not at all a good ritual. We don’t have any right to transgress other life. Violence or anything that pollutes environment can’t be a ritual. It is not a kind gesture to nature. If caring for the planet is considered a ritual or worship, that is the best ritual. In ancient Vedic times this is what they designed or considered. In one other school of thought around the world, going to temples and give bali (animal sacrifice) is a ritual. I won’t approve of those inhuman rituals. Ritual should be something that uplifts your spirit, that which elevates your spirit. In ancient times they call ritual puja. Puja – pu means out of fullness and ja means born out of it. So when you do something with full of gratitude, it is ritual. Even that has been distorted today. Human beings can’t be done away with rituals altogether. You can’t say, 'I don’t want ritual at all’. Have you noticed in homes where no ritual is performed, the energy is low? For there is no celebration, no vibrancy. Performing some sort of ritual, some sort of chanting or reading in home creates positive ions in the atmosphere and also has a good impact on children. That’s why I would say don’t be stuck too much with ritual but also don’t drop rituals altogether. Adopt a middle path. Like on Christmas you light a candle, you put up a Christmas tree. On Diwali you light lamps, decorate homes, exchange sweets, burn a couple of incense sticks. Also on Eid you clean homes, perform prayers, there is function. Whenever there is little bit of ritual, it creates a good atmosphere especially for children and develops a healthy, social, religious and spiritual kind of mind. Don’t you think so?

Friday, February 12, 2010

When you broaden your vision, dispassion is there

Bangalore ashram, Jan. 25:
Q: I feel so good and full here but at times when I see rich and famous people, I feel I am nothing, I feel lack. Please help.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, if you want to become one of those stars then go for it, it’s not so difficult. Whether you are a hero, heroine, you will find once you are in the field which you are finding very great - it is just ok. If your calling is very strong then go for it, it is not difficult.
You know, our body is constantly emitting energy, vibrations. You are emitting energy all the time. And when you know your vibrations is what makes things happen in the world, you will know that you are in control. So when you are thinking that things are going to be negative then that is what seed you are putting in the universe, and that is going to happen. So with your positive thinking, positive ideas, positive sankalpa… It is said, that let positive vibrations come out of you.
Negative thoughts arise in you, yet you tell, everything is positive. And how does that happen? Not by just thinking, but by relaxing. Cutting a thought with another thought is only superficial but cutting a thought by silence, by letting go, by devotion, by faith, by surrendering to God, it is deeper.
Maharishi Patanjali says that poise of mind happens when you offer all that you can’t handle yourself to God, to the universal spirit.
The universal spirit is all around you, all the time. It doesn’t have a form, a name but it is around you all the time and you surrender your desires to that universal spirit. Be sure and know that your problem is going to be solved. That is siddhi, perfection. You notice in your own life, be centered, relax and let go and you will see things are happening effortlessly, it has to happen that way and if you don’t find that way, then there is some screw in the mind that is loose, that needs to be fixed. People ask for blessings and I give blessings in abundance, blank cheques of blessings but you should know how to fill it, encash it and the way to encash it is, ‘it is going to be done’, ‘my needs will be taken care of’, ‘best will be done’ without a question. Sometimes we don’t know what we desire, or we desire for something that we don’t deserve, or we desire for something much less than what we deserve. Ask and it will be given. When we deserve for more and desire for less, ask skillfully. So what is the way? Ask skillfully, and how: ‘I want this or anything better than this’. And have that positive frame of mind because it’s all neurons. One of the scientists says that our brain has different types of neurons, and there are certain neurons which create barriers. When a person in front of you touches someone else, the brain says, ‘You are being touched’ but there are certain neurons in hand which sends a signal to the brain that says, ‘it is not you being touched’. If your hand is given anesthesia and then if someone touches someone else, you will also feel the touch. And he (the scientist) says, we all are nothing but neurons, we all are connected, everybody is connected. The subtler we go we find there are only vibrations, and there are no neutrons, protons, electrons but all that exists is – vibrations. And then he says numbers are very important.
In Rudrapooja we say ‘ekachame, trisraschame…’,yesterday only we understood why do we say that. We chant odd numbers first and then even numbers in the Rudrapooja. He said if numbers won’t be there, the whole universe will collapse. Everything exists on numbers, on figures and if one number goes missing, the whole universe will collapse. It’s like on a cell phone you want to make a call and if you dial one wrong digit the call never goes to the right person. One can’t argue saying, ‘If one digit is wrongly dialed, how come I can’t make a call?’ And if everything is right, then life gets connected, so numbers are so important. And it is all just vibration.
One of the greatest physicist who was in the team of creating first nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki says. ‘I studied matter for 35 years to find out it doesn’t exist. What exists is just vibration’. Everyone of us is emitting and absorbing vibrations. And chanting, singing creates such a positive vibrations, you become a source of energy.
What is the difference between a bulb which is lit and a bulb which is not? One is emitting energy and in the other, no energy movement is there. And all singing, chanting and meditating is like lighting the bulb. Have you noticed the difference between those who are doing all this with faith and someone who has never done this? It reflects on their face. If you haven’t started noticing you better start noticing! (laughter)
What happens when you are worrying all the time? Suddenly you find the brain, the upper part has become like a stone, the heart has become like a stone. Similarly what happens when you hear a negative comment about yourself from somebody, the whole body has become heavy. You can’t avoid people saying negative things about you. How many have this question? And how many have this experience? When someone says something negative about you or when a close friend of you is feeling very low, suddenly you also start feeling the same, your whole energy gets down. That is why satsang is that important, this knowledge is that important. When you focus on someone who is depressed, you also feel the same and when you participate in a satsang your whole focus is shifted to knowledge. That’s why the Guru is important because when you think of Guru, when you shift your focus to the Guru in a few moments, your energy gets restored, you get back to your normal self. How many of you have experienced this? There is an old proverb ‘Guru bina gati nahin’ means there is no progress without the Guru because there are so many people around you and you are being tossed and turned by everybody’s moods, emotions and blames, and you are stuck, you can’t notice that. But when a Guru is there nothing of this will matter to you and even if it does it is only for few minutes or hours and then you are able to push through it, move through it. Like you have a rain coat and if it is raining you can always protect yourself from rain. In this context ancient people in India, Korea, Japan even in China had said that spiritual teacher, master or a person who is on the path is so important, so that you don’t have to keep feeling this negative vibrations, heaviness for days together.
Secondly, if you find nobody is available, no commune is available then what you do? Chant, do pranayama, nature walk, Vedanta or this science that everything is just vibrations.
Numbers are very important, so we chant ‘Om NamahShivaya’ 108 times, in Islam also they put a number 786, right? In Rudra Abhishek we chant an odd and even sequence of numbers. That changes the vibrations. Even pundits don’t have answers of chanting numbers in Rudra Abhisheka. We have to listen to the scientists to understand. They say this whole space is curved. Space is also like water, like you put a ball in water it curls. Water is a medium, like that space is also a medium and this was also said thousands of years ago in Vedas and that is why, it is the fifth element. Space is where vibration travels, it is a medium like water, air, fire and earth. And the same thing, scientists are saying today. It is amazing to see how people 10,000 years ago knew that space has a curvature, it is a medium and there are not one but 10 dimensions, which is the spirit. These facts open your mind to a higher reality.
Q: How can dispassion be practiced with close relations like family? Won’t that make me indifferent?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know when you broaden your vision, dispassion is there, it comes naturally. It is not something that you force yourself to practice and say, ‘I am going to be dispassionate’. The mind says, ‘You want to do this’ and you say, ‘No, I need to be dispassionate’. It is not an intellectual exercise but a phenomenon. Dispassion happens when knowledge expands, awareness expands and when you are more alert. The state that comes in you is dispassion.
Q: What is the meaning of surrender? Does that mean not to do anything, let things happen and nature will take care of you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No no. You do your 100 percent and when you can’t do any more instead of saying, ‘I give up’ in frustration, you say, ‘I give up’ with a smile and that is surrender. When you say it with anger it is frustration and when you say it with a smile; that is surrender.
Q: Guruji, it takes effort to start sun salutation but then I start finding intoxication in it. Will you please describe the phenomenon behind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you should do sun salutation. A little effort is needed for a beginner and a little effort is essential to begin with. What is happening with effort? The ‘rajogun’ or the restlessness in body is getting channelized. The tendencies to act get fulfilled and then what you are left with is simple harmony and that is sattva. So rajogun (restlessness) gets exhausted by your exercise and sattva brings you into meditation. So it’s good to put some effort in the beginning and in the end you let go and relax, there lies the reality.
Q: What karma should I do that I don’t have to take birth again?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why not take birth again? We don’t want to take birth again because we find this birth miserable but when there is joy in this birth, you are doing satsang daily, then why not take birth again? When you are in joy, doing satsang and serving people around then you will say I should have hundred more births like this. When you are so tired of this birth, when hopes and desires have tired you, when desires have burnt you then only you say, ‘I don’t want to take birth again’. Whatever desires you have, fulfill those and those which are not to be fulfilled, drop those and be happy.
What is the difference between a dream and an aim?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you talk about an aim you think it is practical, but when you say I have a dream, you think it may be or may not be practical. When you say, ‘I have a dream’ there is a little doubt about it but you feel stronger about having an aim.
Q: Guruji, does healing work?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: From your side, definitely. If it heals from your side other’s will get healed.
Q: Guruji, you are so beautiful, so serene that I can’t move my eyes from you? Who are you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First ask yourself, ‘who am I?’ and when you get this answer you will also know who I am.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

There is a non-changing, eternal element in you

Bangalore ashram, Jan. 24:
As it was Sunday and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar usually talks in Kannada, there were many people in the ashram who didn’t understand Kannada. So Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said, ‘If you don’t understand kannada it doesn’t matter. Just be a part of everything. Laugh when everybody laughs and clap when everybody claps’.

Q: I am little nervous in front of you and my heart beat is also rising. While doing the course I heard that our existence is eternal. I want to know what is connection of this incarnation with the eternal presence?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To know that everything is changing you need to have a reference point. That reference point is the unchanging in you. There is a non-changing, eternal element in you because of which you can experience change.
Q: I am coming from Tamil Nadu. I took the course. After the course, I underwent lots of struggles. The more I do my sadhana, lots of challenges, problems are coming. What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a saying in Tamil which means that ‘God created the tail of the goat according to its capacity’. Be bold and face the problems. Don’t worry, only that kind of problem will come in life which you can handle, which is within your capacity to handle. So handle it, go through it all boldly.
Q: I do seva for the society by organizing courses and I sometimes fail to do my home duties. In that case, my parents scold me saying, I am not taking care of home. Should I take care of the society or home? What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your know, how to ride bicycle? How do you balance? Like that, you have to do both and balance the duties.
Q: I want to know the relationship between the conscious mind, sub-conscious mind and the infinite intelligence of the sub-conscious mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! The sub-conscious mind has infinite intelligence. Whatever you put in the sub-conscious mind, it will manifest. If you put the thought that you are poor, that will start happening and if you put positive thoughts that everybody is good then that will start happening.
Q: In 2003, you came and started good work from the temple. All good work is happening till now. We request you to come again and bless the people.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, in Tamil Nadu, you have to do lots of work. There is a lot of problem regarding caste. You all have to do something, work for it.
Q: I am coming from Polachi. I was having a spinal cord problem before taking this course. I took the course and now I can sit and do all my work without anybody's help.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, what doctors can’t do, pranayama does. It can do wonders
Q: After solving one problem, one more comes up. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have the faith that you will be helped and your problem will get solved.
Q: Guruji, I am physically handicapped. I was thinking, how can I contribute to society? Now I am working with the Divine Karnataka Project, presently, in the Sheshadripuram slum (in Bangalore). I am feeling very confident.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We have to work a lot in slums. We have to make them literate and we have to eradicate castism from slums. For that we all have to work together. In Bangalore alone there are 400 slums and Art of Living is working in 105 of those slums. People in slums are addicted to alcohol and we have to stop this. Those very places and countries have lost their culture where people were too much into alcohol. People in these areas earn good money but they spent more than half of that on alcohol. How can we stop them? By giving them an alternative source of intoxication, by bringing them to satsang and making them experience intoxication and the joy of meditation. Do you feel intoxication in meditation and satsang? (‘Yes’ from the audience) So, you feel change after doing all this. All DKP yuvacharyas (youth leaders) have to go to slums and work in these places. You may face some obstacles but walk ahead and keep working. A member of the audience shares an experience: “I did the basic course three months ago in Andhra Pradesh. The happiness I have experienced in the last three months, I didn’t experience in the last 26 years of my life. I am very thankful to you.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Culmination of prayer is meditation

Bangalore ashram, Jan. 23:
Q: Guruji, I think life is miserable. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You think life is miserable because you are hanging onto desires of the past, impossibles of the past, you are not accepting the present, you are not moving ahead or you are hoping for something too much. Correct? Be practical. Life is a mixture of problems and pleasure. What does your mind do? It messes up the problems and blows it out of proportion and makes oneself miserable. So who is responsible for your misery? Yourself. So when is the program? When is the program not to be miserable? (Laughter) Now, right now have you gotten over your misery right now? (A dim ‘yes’ from the audience) The ‘Yes!’ should be louder (A strong ‘Yes’ this time). That is it. You know, if the room is dark for 20 years, it doesn’t take another 20 years to bring light in. it just needs one connection, one switch on and the whole darkness goes away. Your life may have been miserable in the past, but wake up and see, so what? Problems come and go in everybody’s life. Look at your past, problems came and they have all vanished. Right? We forcefully make the problem stay, just wake up and see, where is the problem? The problem is not there. You can have some physical problem in the body sometimes, some pain here and there but is there anyone who has never suffered physical illness? Everybody has some physical problem at some point in their lives and when you violate laws of nature, pain comes, suffering comes. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
Q: Guruji, is there any past birth and rebirth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This question is futile now. You know why? Because it is proven by the scientist community, it is beyond doubt now. Parapsychological department in psychological clinics have done experiments and past life regression is used as a therapy in most of the clinics and many people have gotten well. You can also do an eternity process hereand ask the teacher to take you deep in it. Have your experience, it’s not a big thing.It is beyond question now, it is a fact.
Q: How to overcome fear, anxiety and insecurity?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Fear, anxiety and insecurity are same shades of the same color. One is slightly brown, another is dark and the third one is the darkest brown. Grey is a better color, light, medium and dark grey. Meditation, pranayama and the faith that you are not alone, faith in the Divine will definitely help. Divine faith is very abstract, at least faith in the Guru, teacher is there, Master is there, faith in yourself, faith in the universal spirit, faith in the goodness of people around. There are good people in the world. When you think everybody is wrong, everybody is bad then insecurity dawns. Suppose this is not your experience and you have found wrong people, who had deceived you all the time then at least look for good, enlightened people. Ok, now if you understand all this intellectual stuff and still anxiety comes, then what to do? Sudarshan Kriya, pranayama and meditation. After the tsunami (in South-east Asia, 2004), so many people could not sleep, they couldn’t even see the ocean. A lady witnessed her three to four children being washed away, she had a child in her arms and she couldn’t do anything for she had to look for her own self. Such incidents happened in front of so many people. So many families, somebody’s children, somebody’s wife, somebody’s parents were flooded away. All people were saying, ‘Take us anywhere but not the ocean’. And all those were fishermen. What would a fisherman do on mid land? After the earthquake, people couldn’t get into their homes. For days, people slept outside their houses on roads till our workers, our volunteers went there and taught them Pranayama, bhastrika and meditation, and then they went to their homes. That is where trauma relief, meditation, pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya helps tremendously. We have hundreds and thousands of such experiences and you should go through their experiences. In a matter of two days fishermen said, ‘Give us boats and we want to go out into the ocean’. They had come out of fear, anxiety. This has happened with thousands of people. I am telling you we have such beautiful knowledge, practices that can take us out of misery, worries, anxiety, conflicts and suicidal tendencies. Just in the recent past, 20 students in Bombay alone committed suicide. In Bombay, Maharashtra, suicidal tendency among youngsters is so high that we have announced that anybody having the slightest tendency to commit suicide, call us at the Art of Living helpline. Our volunteers and teachers are working 24x7 to help them out.
The YES+ program (Youth empowerment seminar) has helped 1000s of youth to come out of suicidal tendencies. All this happens because we don’t see life from a bigger, broader perspective; A girl got 92 percent and committed suicide for she could not get admission in the college of her choice. Because you don’t give them spiritual education, a bigger vision and ask them to only perform and perform that the pressure of performing better, pressure of marks becomes bigger than life itself. Don’t pressurize children too much, we have to give them a broader vision. Never mind you lose one year. Life is more precious than your profession, your success, your so-called success, your finance, and your prestige in society. Finance is for life and not life for finance. These all are only periphery, accessories for life and not the core of life, existence. This vision has to be brought to children.
Wake up and see everybody is caught up in their own things. Whether your financial status goes up or down, whether your relation is going good or bad, who cares in society? I tell you, nobody cares. Don’t worry about what others may think, what will my status in society be? If you are doing well they are jealous of you, if you are not doing well they don’t even count you. In either case, you don’t have to worry about others’ opinion about you, to show yourself up. And these inter cast marriages; parents are worried what others will think of their children. Who has got time to think to whom your son or daughter got married to? Whether it is in outcast or same, let it be, let it be outcast, you be more free, happy. (laughter and applause) These are silly, insignificant things that people have put in their minds and worry. Wake up and see, there is so much love in life, there is so much wisdom in life.
Q: Do impressions in the mind have a role to play in the next birth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, your impressions in the mind are responsible for your next birth. Your strongest impression is the factor.
Q: Yesterday, you said there is no significant purpose for the universe but it is also said that every individual is born for some purpose. Isn’t it contradictory?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Truth is contradictory. Every little thing has a purpose, at the same time, it has no purpose because this whole thing is a game. If you consider the world as a game, then there is no purpose. A game has no purpose, it is an expression of joy. Dance doesn’t have a goal because dance in itself is an expression of happiness. What is the purpose of you laughing? Does laughter have any purpose? You are happy, so you laugh. You don’t have to wait for a joke to laugh. You know, children don’t understand jokes but they laugh, babies do laugh. If you think jokes are the only reason for one to laugh then babies would never laugh till they understand your jokes. You have an illusion that you have to listen to a joke to laugh. Laughter has no purpose because it is an expression of being, an expression of joy.
Love has no purpose because it is your very nature. The sun has no purpose to send its rays. If you ask me, why does sun shine, what does it achieve? I’ll say, ‘Oh my God, you are such a businessman, you need a purpose for everything!’ The sun shines because it is its nature. It can’t but shine. So, in this context, I said, ‘Whenever you think, ‘what is the purpose?’ you are caught up in the cause and effect phenomenon. No doubt, the cause and effect phenomenon is there, it is a law of nature but truth is beyond the cause and effect phenomenon. Divinity is much bigger, more vaster, Divinity is beyond that. It is much bigger and vaster, so in this sense I said, there is no purpose. Sun shines because it is its nature, wind blows because it is its nature. What is the purpose of the tsunami? Was it just to kill people? If it’s purpose was to kill people only then it must have hit only those areas in which people lived. But it hit those areas also where there were no people. Nature is beyond cause and effect or conclusion, theory, understanding or misunderstanding. It is the existence which is total, beyond purpose. So you can say, virtually there is no purpose. If at all you have to pin down to a purpose then the purpose of nature is to take you to the Source, is to remind you of the Source, connect you to your Source.
Q: How can the Self be love, joy and peace? Aren’t they all different?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Can there be joy without peace? (No, said the audience). If you want to make a distinction, then peace is very mild and always connected to disturbances, love is more to the heart and could be hate or love. Then joy, you find small or big joy. But they are all your nature. Like you can see, you can hear, you can smell, you can taste, but it is all you. There is something deep inside you which unifies all. All emotions are part of you. Their functions and expressions are different but all are in you. All arise in your mind. In this sense, they all are one, in another sense they are all different. When you smile you are different, when you sleep you are different, when you eat you are different but all are you. In this sense, they all are one. When someone dies, people stand up and say, ‘Let’s have a moment of peace’. Certainly that is not a joyous occasion and nobody will say, ‘Let’s have a moment of joy, somebody has died’. In some joyful celebration, like marriage, people don’t say, ‘Let’s have a moment of peace’, that will always be called a moment of joy. My dear, all are part of you, all arise in you and in that sense all are one, all are linked.
Q: What is thought, Why it comes and from where it comes?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Is this a thought? It came in you? Why did it come? Now find out. As soon as you realize this, the question is, itself, a thought and it has come in you, you have answers for the first two questions. And why does it come? Because of a lack of any other questions.Now I want you find its source. When you start finding source of thought, you have started on a journey for which you are here. Our journey is to find the source, from where this thought has arisen. I want all of you to be scientists. Scientist goes on experimenting, asking questions. It’s a very good opportunity to find out where it comes from? What is its origin? Since it comes in you, you find its answer. If it doesn’t come in you and somebody else, then I’ll answer.
Q: There is so much conflict and violence in world in the name of religion. Is there a need of religion?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Communists opposed religion for 50 years. They didn’t get success. Communist people think religious people, especially in Russia and China are very authoritarian, they don’t give freedom. So they want to be done with religion but did they not unleash much more violence? In Stalin, Lenin and Mao Zedong, millions were massacred in the name of communism. Religion ruled with fear, fear of you being sent to hell. Religious leaders were authoritarian, trying to get hold of society by creating guilt and fear in people. Communist also did the same thing but not with guilt but with fear. They remove only guilt but they couldn’t remove fear, instead they instill more fear and violence in society. I don’t think communism did any better. It didn’t make people rich. After 50 years, people have come back. A big church in Moscow was demolished and a swimming pool was made instead of it. Today that swimming pool is demolished and a church is made again. I think it is humanism which is most important. If humanism is there in religion, it does good. And when humanism disappears from religion, it becomes like a mafia. In the same way, communism also ignored humanism. So when humanism went away, violence and fear dominated even in communism. These Maoists party! Did it do any good in the country, in all 213 districts? It didn’t make anybody rich. So you can’t be done away with religion.
We need to have interreligious communication, inter-religion faith. Every child should know a little bit about other religions also. Yes, we don’t need religions if all become spiritual. If we can transform this world into a higher plane of religion, which is spirituality then it will really be an intelligent thing to do. But just opposing religion as communists do, can’t serve any purpose. It is like throwing the baby with the bath water. Because religion has some moral values, some human values, it gives some strength and solace, and if you also take solace without replacing it with spirituality then you are doing injustice in the society
Q: Why are love marriages and arranged marriages increasingly leading to divorces?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, divorce is happening day by day while family values are eroding, the generation gap is widening and interdependence is being forgotten. Husband and wife forget that they are interdependent. They need each other and both look for independence. I haven’t done any research on this why this is happening. (laughter) but if some of you do that research and publish a paper it will be good. Atleast people will be aware of these pitfalls. Whether it is a love marriage or arranged marriage, marriage is always a chance, if it clicks it is a chance. Sometimes it may appear to have clicked for a short period of time but in the long run, it becomes a question mark. And vice versa also. Sometimes in the beginning it may appear to be completely incompatible but as time goes it becomes very compatible. It is like a chameleon – changing colors all the time. If someone can see this, they have a hope. And if it appears to be not so, then move on without guilt because there is no point in suffering life long. If you have given 100 percent then you better move on your path and let the other move on his/her path rather making the whole live of both, miserable. But the question is whether you have given your 100 percent, have you made all the effort to make it work? That is important.
Q: What is the importance of horoscope matching when it comes to marriage?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Astrology is a science but all astrologers are not scientists. (laughter) First of all, you don’t know whether the time of your birth and all other factors are right or not. Sometimes, we don’t keep records and there are various factors. There is probability in all those factors. So, if you find someone who is good, the astrologer says, ‘Good, it does have a value but it is always with a pinch of salt.’ It is said that there was a great astrologer of this country and he made all the horoscopes of his daughter. But his daughter’s marriage didn’t work. It was quoted as a probability factor. In all scientific experiments, there is always a probability factor – may be, may not be.So we must take it with that probability and not as definite.
Q: What is the difference between God (Parmatma) and Devta?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Parmatma is the sun, devta is its ray. Without the sun, there is no ray and without the ray, there is no sun. A ray has all seven colors, these all different devtas. God is the combination of all the seven colors. God is certainly not made of one color. When all colors combine, white is obtained and that is Parmatma. You can understand this like different organs - eyes, ears, nose, all combine to form you. Your eyes are different from ears, your nose is different from tongue but all is part of you. The totality of the whole creation, with all the energies is given a name and it is called Parmatma, Parampita (supreme father). In ancient terminology, God is called Parmatma, Parampita.
Why only Parampit , He is also Parammata (Supreme mother).Why should God be called father only? God is also the mother. God is father, mother and God is also the Self. All Gods, goddesses are like rays of the sun, one sunlight and all the rays together is God but these are all different aspects of God. All are different aspects of the one Divine like in one human being, one cell somewhere becomes the eyes, somewhere the ears, somewhere the nose, and all this has happened from one fertilized cell, embryo. So, God is the sum total of all Divine elements and in the Vedic times, ancient rishis identified all these elements and called then devtas. They designated 33 types of Divine energy and called them devta and they tell how these are connected with the cosmos, like the eyes are connected with the sun. They established connection between the micro cosmos and macro cosmos. …It is very amazing analysis, amazing science of unity of the universe. It is not too many Gods, it is aspects of God. Though you are one, you have different functions. When you sleep you are different, when you smile you are different, when you eat, you are different. Crore means category, 33 crores means 33 categories of devas. Crore is also a number, 10 million but here it is not referred to as a number. 33 crore means 330 million and so people started taking that way.
Q: What is difference between prayer and meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Prayer is asking, meditation is listening. In prayer, you ask, ‘Give me this, give me that’, giving instructions, demanding. In meditation, you say, ‘I am here to listen, what is it that you want to tell? Tell me, whenever you are free, I am here. Culmination of prayer is meditation. Prayer goes to the peak and that is meditation.