Friday, December 30, 2011

Your questions will be answered even before you ask!

December 14, 2011

It is said in the Upanishads, ‘Ma Grudha Kasyasvid Dhanam’

There are two tendencies that are within us, one of taking and the other of giving.
What is worth noting is which value system we are imbibing in our children. If they are hesitant to take or ask, then that is a sign of good values. But if they are hesitant to give then there is something wrong there.
It is a good sign when people feel hesitation to put their hand out to take. But if people hesitate to extend their hands out to help then we need to change the direction of society.

Every person feels some hesitation to take from somebody or the other, especially if they have to take from relatives. When it comes to relatives, one would want to give more than take and this is a tendency that is naturally present in children. If the child is sattvic he always makes an effort to share his belongings with everyone. But if the child is rajasic then he tries to take things from everyone.

We have been raised with these values of giving and sharing. When it would come to asking for anything, there was so much hesitation. Even to ask my father there was so much hesitation. I never asked him for anything. Yes, that is extreme.

We have got to imbibe the value of giving and sharing in children; happiness in giving and sharing and hesitation to take. They should feel hesitation to put their hands out and ask. There are people who have enough yet they keep asking for more. This is very strange.

One Swamiji who has a very big dental college came to our Ashram. He said he urgently needed fifteen lakh rupees and he would return it within two weeks. I felt that since he needed it urgently for some work, maybe for some temple or something, we must give and so we gave him.

Six years passed by but he did not return the money.

I said, ‘Oh! This is the matter. Now, we will not leave him.’
I told him, ’Swamiji if you would have asked for donation, we would have given you as donation. But you asked for a loan. So, now you have to return.’ This I did because I don’t want a Swami to be called a cheater. As it is, there are few honest swamis in this world. And this swami needed to be taught a lesson.
I told my people don't give up. Knock at his door every day until he returns it. Why should he be excused? We spend lakhs and crores of rupees building homes for the poor but giving charity is one thing. If someone plays crooked with you, you need to catch them no matter how big that person is.
At the same time, no matter how a person is, we do not have to be disrespectful towards them. It is not good to disrespect any one. I asked my people to treat him with respect and request him to return the money in the same way as it was given to him, with as much respect and honour, but he refused. Finally, I had to speak to him. I spoke to him in a straight-forward manner. He felt very embarrassed and promised to return the money.
To ensure that another does not commit a mistake, or be driven to make a mistake, is also a sattvic quality. This quality must be present in all of us. A rajasic person will sit quietly and watch another commit a mistake and later will say, ‘see, he made a mistake.’
There used to be saint who would scold any person who came with a complaint to him about another person.
He would say, 'so you were waiting for him to make a mistake so that you could come and complain to me about him.'
I call this ‘Supervisor Mentality.’ We wait for someone to make a mistake; then we go and complain to the boss, so that we can be in the good books of the boss. The boss will think good of us, and punish the person making the mistake.
So to take advantage of someone's mistake is also an asuric (demonic) and tamasic quality. To guide or protect someone so that he does not make a mistake in the first place is a sattvic quality.
Your daughter-in-law makes a mistake and you go and complain to your son. Instead, before your daughter-in-law makes a mistake guide her so that she does not make the mistake - such is a sattvic mother-in-law! Even if a mistake is committed, not making her feel guilty is a sattvic quality.
Many people enjoy making others feel guilty. This happens a lot between husband and wife also. So I have heard and witnessed too.
'This is what you did to me! I am right and you are wrong!'
Distance develops in a relationship when you make the other feel guilty.
A Guru will never do this to his disciple, 'you are wrong; you are stupid, I am right. Learn from me.' He will never say this.
A Guru always takes the disciple to be part of him and leads by example.
'Come my dear, you are a part of me. Observe me and you will also grow and become great like me.' Setting an ideal for another to follow and not inducing guilt in them - this is a skill, an art.
Uplifting a person in the skilful manner is the job of a Guru. This is when both the Guru and disciple are of sattvic nature.
If the disciple is so thick-skinned that he is unable to take hints and does not follow clear-cut instructions, then some Gurus, out of compassion resort to anger. But even then there is no guarantee that it will work.

I have seen many times after shouting and yelling, finally the Guru changes his nature, whether the disciple changes or not. The disciple influences the Guru instead and the Guru remains tense all the time.

There is a saying in Telugu – A music teachers tells the students, 'I have lost my prestige by teaching you. You have learnt nothing, and I forgotten nothing.'
As per the rules, a teacher must forget all the knowledge after it has been taught to the students. Why? This is because whatever one has not forgotten becomes a bondage for the next lifetime. So the best is to learn and then forget it all. When to forget? Once you have taught it to someone you will have gained the right to forget.

Knowledge is considered to be like soap. There is nothing more purifying than knowledge. But if you hold on to knowledge, it will turn into ignorance and arrogance. That is why it is said to learn and forget.
So if the music that we have learnt remains imprinted in our mind, then it becomes a problem in the coming lifetimes.
Becoming hollow and empty, that is liberation. But when? Only after the disciple has learnt, then! Otherwise, that knowledge will be lost.
After gaining knowledge it should be imparted to someone, this is a rule.
A disciple gains respect when he is associated with his Guru. People generally say, this is the disciple of so and so Guru. And that is why the teacher loses respect when the students do not learn.
So, when there is an attitude to give and hesitation to take or to ask, then the direction of life has reached an elevated level. If there is hesitation to give and no shame in taking then that comparatively is of a lower level of existence. And there are some people who even go to the extent of pouncing, grabbing and seizing which is an even lower level of existence.
Now in this world there are all kinds of people and all sorts of things happen. So we must not hold anyone guilty. The important message of today is that we must set an example for others and not make them feel guilty.
So, all you teachers, uplift people when you are imparting knowledge. There will be some people who will need a little scolding.

Today, a lady who had come to seek blessings looked upset. I scolded her and she started smiling. So sometimes it is needed to scold people. Everything has been given and yet we sit and cry over small matters concerning the daughter-in-law, son, grandchildren and so on.
For how long will you cry like this? Wake up! It is impossible to find complete happiness in the world. Happiness is always accompanied by some problems or the other, here and there. Have the courage and wake up!
Sometimes to wake people up a little scolding is needed.
Children are shy by nature.
When I was young if we had any visitor at home I used to run away. I was very shy to do my pooja in front of others; I would feel so conscious of someone watching me. Doing pooja when I was alone felt very comfortable.
Every child has some degree of hesitation already present; it just needs to be channelized in the right direction. Like there should be hesitation to lie. If we practice it then it will automatically be imbibed by our children.

Q: Guruji, please talk about Guru and disciple.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A unique flavor of love is the Guru-disciple relationship. If there is no love then there is neither Guru nor disciple. No one can come in between the two and nor is there any space for jealousy or anger. Upanishad is when disciple sits close to the Guru.
Where there is no Guru and disciple there is no world, and what the world needs is the Guru and disciple. Knowledge is what happens when the Guru and disciple sit together.
Q: Guruji, there are so many Upanishads. Out of them which is the most important one?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Out of the 108 Upanishads, the first eleven are considered extremely significant; and among those eleven, Ishavasya Upanishad - which says ‘Everything is God’; everything is soaking with the Divinity. Experience this Divinity, do not harbor any hatred, resentment or greed and live for a hundred years happily in joyful service.
Q: It is said that the soul will always guide us on the path of truth. How do we hear the voice of the soul?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The voice of the soul can be heard in deep meditation. When you are in deep rest and the inner voice that comes which gives you peace and comfort is the voice of the soul.
Peace is the nature of the soul. Whenever you receive any happiness, it is from the soul and not from this world.
We think that happiness has come from an object but happiness actually comes from within.
Like when a dog keeps chewing on a bone his mouth starts bleeding and he thinks the bone is very juicy. It is not the bone that is juicy. Lord Krishna has beautifully said in the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Anityam Asukham Lokam Imam Prapyam Bhajsamah’. This world is transient and there is no pleasure in it, after attaining it, look towards me. Dissolve in me, chant my name; only then will the mind be at peace.
Q: Guruji, for psychosomatic diseases which meditation is good?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sudarshan Kriya and Pancha Kosha or Sahaj Samadhi meditation is good.

You are holding that question for so long. ‘Somehow, I have to ask this question.’
Asking questions also becomes a compulsion. Unless you say it out you feel restless.
When you come to the Guru, shed all your questions. You will get the answers to your questions effortlessly even before asking. This is the highest level of conversation.
There was a question in your mind or the question came and disappeared but what knowledge you had to receive you got.
And beyond this also is when there is no concern for knowledge. You are contented just sitting here and the mind is happy.
This is how the Gopis were. When Udava went to give knowledge to the Gopis, they said, 'what knowledge are you giving us? Is everything okay there in Dwarka? We are happy with knowing this much. We have no need for any more knowledge.' But this is one step beyond. Now you don't think, 'I don't need any knowledge.' That will not work. Knowledge has its place; it is also necessary.
Karma has its own place; that too is necessary and interest in society is also necessary; it also has its own place. There should be concern for everyone; that too is important.
This is the art of living - take everything along; social responsibility, integrity, sadhana, satsang, everything.
Q: Guruji, you have shared all the types of meditation with us. If you share the ‘hollow and empty’ meditation with us as well, it will be like icing on the cake. Jai Guru Dev!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Cake without icing also tastes good, so eat cake without icing.
Sit for the advance course and do the ‘hollow and empty’ meditation.
Q: Guruji, in Kerala 40 lakh people are worried about Mullaperiyar dam. Similarly in Tamil Nadu also, people want water from the same Mullaperiyar dam. Because of the threat of the earthquakes and heavy rain people are worried.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I haven’t had the time to study this issue. I want to study it deeply.
Mullaperiyar is not a new dam; it has been there for such a long time. Suddenly, at this time, in this season, why has this come up? I want to go into the details of it before I make any comment.
For the welfare of the people if scientists from Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the central scientists sit across the table and see how we they can find a solution if there is a serious issue, then the executives can easily resolve this matter.
What I would appeal to people of both Tamil Nadu and Kerala is do not engage in any violence or hatred between the people. At this time of the year there are many pilgrimages and a lot of people from Tamil Nadu are going to Kerala and many people from Kerala go to Tamil Nadu to visit temples. These pilgrimages are uniting people and there is national integration happening by these pilgrimages. At this time burning Malayali shops in Tamil Nadu or throwing stones at vehicles from Tamil Nadu in Kerala is totally unacceptable. So I appeal to people from both states to not engage in panic, rumours, activities or demonstrations which would bring any form of violence or disturbance or loss of property to anyone. I request the intellectuals, the geologist, and the scientists to sit together and find a solution. Whether a new dam has to be created, the old dam has to be strengthened or whatever needs to be done, can be done. There is no need to panic about the situation.
Q: Guruji, what is knowledge? Is knowledge only that which is read, written or heard or is it the intelligence within?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Our consciousness itself is the embodiment of knowledge. This desire to know that arose in your mind - the one who desires is the embodiment of knowledge.
The knower is the embodiment of knowing.
Q: Guruji, what is Karma? How can we attain salvation from our previous karmas?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You attain salvation from knowledge and not from Karma. Karma has its own laws and it goes on. Do good deeds.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

You are complete

December 13, 2011

There are two basic instincts in human beings, one is food, the other is sex. These you have been doing in all the lifetimes, when you were an animal and now as a human being. You are born out of these two - food and sex.
It is so beautiful that in this country (India) they connected both these with Divinity. Food is connected with God. In the Upanishads, it is said ‘Food is God’. When you consider food as God you will not over eat. You don’t simply stuff food but you eat food with so much honour. No festival in India goes without food. And when you go to temple the first thing they give is some Prasad. Prasad is just a little bit of food that is given. Without Prasad there is no pilgrimage, no festival. Food is connected with God.
Similarly, sex is also connected with God. Otherwise you keep sex separate and think this is my material life and think of God as different. But here the ancient people, they linked that to God so that no aspect in you remains away from God. A basic instinct doesn’t remain away from God. That is why they put Radha Krishna and Shiva Parvathi. Shiv Ling is a symbol of that. So when you honour sex and consider it as part of Divinity, then your obsession disappears, lust disappears and sacredness dawns.
And the basic instinct from being an aggressive lust gets transformed into a submissive love. This is the ancient thought. But some people are misusing yoga for their enjoyment of the carnal instincts, this is wrong. This is a blunder. It should be the other way around. Whenever there is a carnal instinct transform that into a Divine inner experience. There is a beautiful word in Sanskrit called Atma Rati, union with one’s being, oneself. Rejoicing in one’s own self.

There are two things, Prakriti (nature) and Purusha (consciousness). Nature and consciousness inter play all the time. Your body and soul. Your body is female and your soul is male. So their coupling is happening all the time. And seeing that union within oneself is Samadhi.
That is why Samadhi is considered to be a thousand times more joyful than the carnal instincts. Whatever joy sex gives, Samadhi is thousand times more joyful because there is no effort, there is no action there. It is only Being and just Being. So just the Being consciousness, the play and display of consciousness comes to one’s awareness, comes to one’s experience. This is very beautiful.

Don’t keep any corner of your existence away from Divinity. The Divine should be interwoven into every aspect of your life and this is called Brahmacharya, which means moving in the infinity, uniting with the infinity.
Isn’t that so beautiful?! It is very deep and very high knowledge. If you don’t get it in one time, never mind, keep listening and keep understanding and one day you will say, ‘Ah! That is what Guruji was talking about.’
So here (in India) when you go to any temple anywhere, you find both the aspects, Shiva and Parvathi, Prakrathi Purusha. Consciousness and matter. This is to first recognize the duality and then see the unity. They are not two, they are not different, they are two sides of the same coin. You are complete.
What does this mean? You are both man and woman. Coming out of this label, ‘I am man’, ‘I am woman’ - Getting out of your identity. This is Vedanta, the highest philosophy of the universe.

We keep identifying ourselves, ‘I am a man’, ‘I am a woman’, ‘I am old’, ‘I am young’, ‘I am educated’, ‘I am illiterate’. Throw away all these labels. What remains is pure consciousness. Do not even say I am consciousness. Just know I am consciousness and not even say it. Don’t go around saying I am nothing.

Adi Shankar once said, ‘One who labels themselves as something is a fool and one who labels themselves as nothing is a bigger fool.’ One who is nothing does not talk, so just keep quiet. How can you say I am nothing when you are saying something?! There cannot be somebody there saying I am nothing. So keep quiet, shut up. If you are nothing then shut up. Be quiet.

When you consider the basic instincts of food and sex as sacred then the aggression in you disappears and surrender dawns in you. Gratefulness and love dawn in you.
That is when it is said the devotee and the Divine have become One. They have merged into One!
It is so fascinating, isn’t it?!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A disciple should be hollow and empty

December 12, 2011
Q: Guruji, you have travelled the whole world. Wherever you go, you spread the message of peace. What do you feel about the bitterness and unrest among people everywhere?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A family is formed by a person. A society is formed by families. Several societies give rise to a nation. Several nations form the world. So if there is peace among individuals, there will be peace in the world. A person experiences peace as soon as he or she gets rid of all the stress in the mind. When a person starts being peaceful, it will bring peace to the family and the society as well.
Nowadays, there are fights within families and bitterness among people. People are suffering due to stress. People are caught up with various types of stress and have lost their peace of mind.
Q: What is your message for world peace?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: World peace can be achieved when people become ready to help each other. All of us belong to one family. Everybody should be able to say: ‘Whenever you are in need, I am with you’. There is a fear among people that no one would help them when they are in need. This is the sole reason for all the corruption and violence. People have somehow lost this trust. People have lost faith in themselves, in the Divine and in the society.
There must be faith in the goodness of people in the society. People must have faith in themselves and faith that the Divine is taking care of us. If a person has faith in all the three, it will bring peace to them and also to the society.
Q: We are carrying this torch as part of our campaign. Would you please speak on the significance of light?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Light is the indication of life. Fire always goes up, even if you bend the torch. Similarly, there must be enthusiasm irrespective of the situations in life. People and situations may try to pull you down, but you must keep yourself enthusiastic. It indicates that you have to move ahead irrespective of the situations in life.
Q: When I was doing meditation I could feel that my mind was dissolving. I am not sure where does this mind come from?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This mind is my enemy and this mind is also my friend.
If the mind listens to me it is my friend and when it goes all over the place it is my enemy. So, there is no bigger enemy in this world than your own mind.
Q: It is said that after Mahabharata war India’s downfall started as we lost a lot of talented people and scholars during that war. What is your opinion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Of course with every war there is a destruction of talents, resources, human beings and values. But it is incorrect to say that India did not have greater talents after that.
Many others came much after Mahabharata, Chanakya, Shankaracharya, Gaudapadacharya, Suka Maharishi.
So this is not the absolute truth but the partial truth.
Q: Krishna has said in the Bhagavad Gita that neither he likes anybody nor does he dislike anybody. On the other hand he says some people are very dear to me. Can you please explain this duality?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is Krishna’s specialty, to speak all the opposites and create confusion.
At different levels of existence and for different incidences he says these statements and both are true.
On one level he says people who are calm, compassionate, happy and loving, I like them the most. So, you are most dear to me - this is true.
Another time he says, don’t take me for granted, I have no likes and dislikes. Everyone is dear to me and I see myself in everyone. The Bhagavad Gita is the most contradictory book you will ever read and it is the complete truth because it is so contradictory.
Q: What is the significance of different types of meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The goal of every meditation is to bring you back to your center, to that inner state of joy and peace.
Since your mind is all over the place I have many tricks to catch it and bring it back.
Q: Guruji, you always say that you have a lot to give us, but we should have the ability to receive it. So what are the qualities of your dream disciple?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A disciple should be hollow and empty.
At the same time whatever you have heard or listened, don’t take it for granted. Study the knowledge and read it again and again. Know but be as though you don’t know. Don’t let that arrogance of knowing come into you. Just be your natural and simple self.
Q: The ultimate knowledge is ‘Aham Brahmasmi’, but there is so much bliss in Bhakti. Realizing that you are one with Divine will be boring as we need two to enjoy. Is being in devotion the final destination or there is much further to go?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, only as a concept ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ is boring, but as a reality it is not that way. Once you reached that state the only thing you can go for is devotion. If not then devotion automatically leads you to that.
Q: Guruji, if my children even after doing Art Excel and practicing kriya on a daily basis steal from the house, what should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s not that after doing kriya children will stop stealing things. It is a good thing they are doing Kriya but what you need to find out is why do they feel the need to steal.
You must sit them down and speak to them.
Sit them down and tell them, ‘my dear, if you want anything ask me, I am there to give you whatever you want.’
What parents do is they train their children to be like this. You give them some money and you say, ‘this is your money, you keep it with you. Don’t give it to anybody.’
When they go to school with their lunch boxes we tell them, ‘see this is your food, you only eat it and don’t give it away to your friends.’
By saying such things we are killing the generosity that is in the child which is the nature of children.
When I was a kid, in my house we used to have a bowl in which money use to be kept. Whenever we needed any money we used to take it from the bowl, spend what we needed and then we would put the change back into the bowl.
We never had the feeling that this is my money; I should keep it in my pocket.
So many people were living in the house but no one would take anything extra. Just as much as one needed they would take and put the remaining back in the bowl. The house had one common kitty.
So such values should be instilled at home for the children. Keep one bowl and put how much ever money you want. This way the children will also bond better with each other.
Q: Guruji, some say that married women should not chant Lalita Sahasranama. Please guide if that is true?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In our country people just say anything.
Some say married women should not chant Lalita Sahasranama. Some say one should not keep a Shiva Ling at home. Some says women should not chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’.
This is all untrue, it is not mentioned anywhere in the scriptures like that.
Good things should be read and chanted by everyone. One should not get caught up in such superstitions.
These days it is hard to get a Pandit or Priest who is authentic. Many times the Priest who comes for performing the wedding ceremony reads the mantras for a death ceremony and no one knows what he is saying and which mantra is for what. The Priest came and chanted the mantras and so the work is done.
There is no authenticity in the ceremony or of what is being chanted.
And many times we are in such a hurry to finish the ceremony. We tell the priest, ‘Punditji, hurry up!’
We are lacking the devotion to even sit and listen to the mantras that are being chanted and know what the real meanings of these mantras are.
A Christian Priest gets so much respect but the Pundits in our country are not getting the respect that they should be getting. In our country the Pundits are not even getting the proper training anymore.
That is why we have started a school, ‘Ved Vigyan Mahavidyapeeth’, to train the Pundits to perform marriages and other ceremonies according to the Vedic Dharma Sansthan, so that people can understand the true meaning of marriage. Marriage is not just about wearing the mangal sutra, it is the saptapadi (the seven steps) that is marriage. Until you take the 7 steps together till then the marriage is not complete and it is very important to understand the meaning of the satpadi.
I would like to invite those of you who are interested to come for 2 month training. Then you also can become qualified to perform marriages, naming ceremonies, house warming ceremonies, thread ceremonies and the last rituals after death (antyeshti).
The significance of the rituals performed after someone dies is so astounding.

In the ceremony they offer sesame seeds with water to signify, all those desires that are still binding you after your departure are very small, let go of them and become free! We will fulfill these desires for you. That is why it is called tarpanam.
A son or a daughter can perform this ceremony. That is why tarpanam is done to tell the departed, let go and become free, we will fulfill all that you have left behind.
All of these rituals are so important, but we have forgotten all of them. But now at Art of Living we are reviving all of this and training people.
Q: Guruji, if one is meeting failure at every step of their life and even after coming to the Guru, one experiences even more failure then what should one do? What knowledge can one apply to such a situation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If that is happening, then every time your project fails rejoice, ‘today this project of mine has failed!’ And then surrender it.
If you are unable to let go off of your failure then how will you ever let go of success.
When you fail at anything, why do you hold on to it? Let go of it and be free.
Then you can say, ‘I am free!’
If you are successful, then you will get more and more projects one after another to handle. But if you are a failure then you are carefree!
Just make sure your heart doesn’t fail worrying about failure at work.
Q: Guruji, a dear one dies and then again reincarnates but we continue to offer tarpanam in the name of that soul. In that case where does our offering go?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In the ancient days people were very intuitive, they would know when their relative has reincarnated and then they would stop the offering.
But we don’t know nowadays whether the soul has reincarnated or not. So continue giving tarpanam. There is no harm in remembering our ancestors, it is a good thing.

Kabir Das has said, ‘Naam japan kyon chhod diya. Krodh na chhoda jhooth na chhoda satya bachan kyon chhod diya.’

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Remember that you are innocent in the present moment

December 11, 2011

Q: When we are on the path of knowledge, how do we define the limits of fulfillment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wherever the mind can go, that is its jurisdiction. When a desire gets fulfilled, the mind goes away from it.
For example, if you want an umbrella, that is the area of desire. Once you get the umbrella, why would you think about the umbrella? Till you get the umbrella, the mind looks for it. Once you get what you desire, the mind moves away from it. This is a natural tendency of the mind. The mind thus keeps wandering from one desire to another.
In the path of knowledge, whatever is needed for us will come by itself.
Q: We say that Guru is a Garbage Collector. We give our thoughts, emotions and worries to you. What do you do with it? How are you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is not that Guru is actually a garbage collector. A Guru removes garbage, i.e., ignorance. Now, why are you bothered with how I handle the garbage? Just give it to me and be happy. I know how to process them! How do I appear to you? Fine, isn't it!
Q: Would you consider becoming an advisor of the government if they were more forthcoming?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, all of you should work together to ensure that such a government is formed. I keep giving advice, but some people don't listen to it immediately, they listen to it later. That's also good.
Q: What is the meaning of the rising sun and two swans in the logo of the Art of Living?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When the VM building was constructed, what happened is that there was a satsang in Mumbai where there were swans. Someone got the swans from Mumbai and kept it here. Now, when there are swans, it needs water, so we constructed a fountain.
Then someone else brought the Nandi (Bull). They had ordered it for a temple in America but somehow it could not be put there. So it was brought here.
Next, somebody brought a Garuda (Eagle). It is a one ton Garuda brought from Indonesia.
I suddenly realized this very recently that all the 3 Vahanas (Vehicles) have automatically come in front of the Guru Peetha. This has happened due to Divine will, otherwise why would someone want to bring a Swan here? That means that the Guru Tattva can travel by water, land or air to reach and protect you. Whatever transformation is needed in your life is possible.
It is not that someone just brought them here. There is a reason behind it. We had never thought about getting all these here. All of them started coming one after the other.
That means there is Truth in the Peetha.
Q: I always get negative thoughts. No matter how much we try to control them, they keep increasing.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: At least now you have realized that they increase if you try to control them. Don't try to control them. Embrace them.
Q: Nowadays, divorce rate has increased. What is your advice to maintain a harmonious relationship?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Let everyone do the Art of Living course.
Couples must participate in this together. Not just once but at least once in 3 months or 6 months. You will observe that all the bitterness goes away and an attitude of service arises. If they are busy in seva and celebration, when will they get the time to fight?
Q: Guruji, can you please speak about Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Gyana Yoga? Which path do we choose?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What do you like?
(Answer: Bhakti)
How did you know you like Bhakti? Through Gyan (Knowledge).
Now after you know that you like it, will you sit quiet?
You will attempt to obtain it. That is Karma Yoga. So with one the rest also comes along.
Q: When we are in the satsang, the mind is calm and centered. However, when we go back, the mind gets distracted. Why is that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That’s natural. That is to remind you to keep coming back to satsangs. When you keep the company of good people the mind changes accordingly. When you keep the company of bad people, the mind naturally goes towards that.
Q: It is said that the path of Yoga should be followed under the guidance of a Guru. Is it possible to learn like Ekalavya, who was not initiated by Dronacharya, but accepted Dronacharya as his Guru?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you can. Once you have learnt something from the Guru, then the picture of the Guru is enough.
Q: Can I learn through a CD?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No. Learn through a teacher first. You can later practice it by yourself. You can do meditation through a CD, but not the Kriya. That is why we have made many meditation CD's available.
Q: I read in your book that Radha was much older to Krishna and she was already married. The love between Radha and Krishna is celebrated. How is this acceptable for a married woman?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In those days it was accepted. Draupadi was also accepted.
Laws change from place to place and time to time. So you cannot have all the Dwapara yuga laws today. Eve teasing was permitted in those days, but today it is an offence.
Take the good things from every age.
There have been problems in every age. There have been weak points in every time of history.
Q: When I sit for meditation, the guilt of the wrong doings that I have knowingly or unknowingly committed torments me.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just surrender them. Know that I am here to take care of you. Drop all your botherations and be at peace.
Remember that you are innocent in the present moment. You may have done something wrong in the past, but have the faith that you are innocent in the present moment.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Every beautiful thing should remind you of the divinity

December 10, 2011

Q: Guruji, this earthly existence is but a dream. Then how will performing meditation, sadhana and satsang in a dream facilitate the process of awakening from this dream?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are sleeping and in your dream a snake comes and bites you and you wake up screaming!
So, there are a few things even in a dream that can become the reason for you waking up from the dream.
That is why it is said, 'neki kar aur kuye mein daal' - do good deeds and forget about them as though they are also a part of the dream. When you drop those deeds and meditate, then you will awaken.
There are two aspects of sadhana: Nishreya and Abhyudaya. One is awakening and the other is comfort.
Sadhana brings that comfort which one longs for and freedom is attained by it. We awaken from the dream and come out of it by doing sadhana.
Q: Guruji, please tell us about 'purusharth'. Is it just our effort, such as the sadhana, seva and satsang that we do or is it something else?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Purusharth means attaining these four things: dharma, artha, kaam and moksha.
Dharma is doing one's duty; kaam is fulfilling one's desires; artha is generation of wealth; and moksha is achieving freedom from all these. All four are essential. This is what purusharth is.
Q: Guruji, it is said that the intellect, memory and ego are changing spontaneously. Everything is undergoing spontaneous change and we are nowhere in the picture. So who is to be liberated and who is bound?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, all these are changing, but who is realizing that all these are changing? It is the soul, who is a witness. When one identifies with these aspects they become bound. But once you realize that everything keeps changing around me, but I am not changing - 'I am not this, I am the witness of this' - then liberation is achieved.
Q: Guruji, please comment on the significance of lunar eclipse and the restrictions imposed around this event. It is generally recommended not to look at the moon, and to not eat food for a few hours before the eclipse as it might cause indigestion. Please throw some light on this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you can watch the lunar eclipse, no problem! It is a celestial phenomenon. Only solar eclipse should not be watched with naked eyes. You should wear some glasses because the rays are harmful.
Why our ancient people said not to eat at the time of eclipse and before eclipse is so that the food is all well digested and you can do meditation. During eclipse time when you do chanting, meditation, or pray, it has a hundred times more effect - this is what is said.
The sun, moon and earth are in one line and so the cosmic rays are flowing such that at that time any sadhana you do has multifold effect.
So during the eclipse do your meditation, chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ or ’Om Namo Narayana’.
If you chant 108 times now, that means you have done it ten thousand times.
It is a very auspicious time for saadhaks; it is not a bad time. It is a bad time for enjoyment and for pleasures.
Q: Guruji, how and why did the tulsi (holy basil) plant come into existence on earth, and why is it dear to Lord Krishna?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because we had to come to this earth, plants came into existence first so that we could come.
In our country anything that is beneficial to life and which enhances the prana-shakti has been considered sacred. Tulsi as well as lemon has been considered very sacred. Neem tree also is supposed to be very sacred. To get rid of any infections neem and lemon are very valuable.
Devi (Goddess) is believed to reside in all these.
Tulsi is good for the chest - the residence of Vishnu. The chest is for protection and preservation, and that is why they say Vishnu and tulsi are married. Meaning these two have a very close connection. If you have a cough, you should drink a brew of tulsi.
In the same way Bilwa leaves are very good for the mind and the nervous system; it has a calming effect. Also if you are having stomach trouble, Bilwa leaves are recommended.
So whatever we consider sacred is found to be useful for various parts of the body.
Q: Guruji, is it okay to see someone's beauty? Is it not lust to look at someone's beauty?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You see beautiful things in the world and every beautiful thing should remind you of the divinity. Then the beauty itself becomes a prayer.
This is what is Soundarya Lahari.
Adi Shankaracharya wrote beautiful shlokas (sanskrit verses) called Soundarya Lahari. In that he says that everything he sees reminds him of the Divine. The waves of beauty, it all reminds him of the Divinity.
If you see some beauty and you want to possess it, then it is lust.
Q: Guruji, what is the message you would like to give the youths of today?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This country is yours. Wake up! Start taking care of it from now.
Q: Guruji, for a manager what should take precedence; the well being of the subordinate or getting the job done irrespective of the subordinate’s state of mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Getting the job done!
State of mind keeps changing. It is like putting a frog on a weighing scale and trying to measure its weight. You can never know its weight because it keeps jumping.
Q: What do you mean by self-realization? After one attains self realization, is he not reborn?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, that is absolutely true and you have come to the right place. Often people are at the wrong place. They want a cup of tea or coffee and they are found at a fabric store. But you are at the right place, just be a little patient.
Q: What to do if a person is fulfilling all their duties of life on a day to day basis but still lack humanity, compassion and truth, then how much value does such a life have?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Zero! It has no value. Nobody can act without these values.
Listen, in our country we have been taught about Yama, Niyama, Aasan, Pranayama, Pratyahara , Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. These are the basics of life; the A B C D of life.
It is better to focus on your own progress rather than focus on someone else.
If somebody is doing something wrong, do whatever you can to help them. Keep helping and serving them.
There is no end to the blame game. Otherwise you will start blaming Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Buddha and all of them. If you look for faults in people then you will only see faults all around you.
What you should focus on is the goodness and divinity that exists in each and every person who is around us. You should think, ‘how can I help the divinity to prosper in other people?!’
Otherwise we get into a negative mindset that this world is filled with crooks and bad people. Instead think that the world is full of innocent and loving people.
There are very few bad people and many innocent people. See the good in all and try to help them whenever you can.
Q: (A member of the audience asked a question but it was inaudible)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The observer is the atman and that which is beyond the atman is Paramatman. Just like the wave in the ocean. When the wave is clam, it is in the ocean. Similarly when the limited mind is clam it is with the Paramatman.
Q: Why can’t we come and meet you straight in your kutir? These chains that are around the entrance of your kutir make us more restless?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The road to my home is such; a little crooked, because everyone’s minds are a little crooked. Don’t worry, even if the road is a little crooked you will reach straight to your destination.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Observation brings wisdom and you need sensitivity to observe.

December 08, 2011

Q: The meaning of ‘Aasakti’ is interest, inclination or intention, while ‘Nirasakti’ means the absence of interest or inclination. How to perform an action when there is an absence of interest or inclination to do that action?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now I will ask you a question. You bathe in the morning. Do you bathe with a lot of interest? Do you brush your teeth with a lot of interest? No, you don’t.
Just because you have to do it, you do it! It’s natural and effortless.
Anything that is natural does not require effort.
Like when you smiling naturally that smile in effortless, but if you are asked to smile then that become a difficult task.
Doing an action that requires effort is ‘Aasakti.’ However doing a work that comes naturally and gives you inner peace is done in ‘Nirasakti.’
Let me give you an example: If you ask the women here to prepare food, they would be able to prepare it without much effort. However if the same task is handed to a man, he will flip through the pages of a recipe book again and again to prepare the same food. He will keep tasting the food to check the balance of spices.
So wherever effort is applied, the job is done with ‘Aasakti’, and this leads to feverishness.
You being feverish about going to Mysore is ‘Aasakti’; effortlessly driving your car to Mysore is ‘Nirasakti’.
‘Nirasakti’ is not disinterestedness or depression; it is just an effortless attitude.
Q: Please tell us about Sanjay. This is because Sanjay had the opportunity to meet Lord Krishna even before Arjuna. Please also tell us about his far-sightedness.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You must have experienced having a gut feeling where something deep inside tells you, I should do this or this is going to happen.
When such an intuitive ability gets enhanced in you then suddenly at one point of time the inner eye can feel and gather information and you understand what will happen in the future. Initially it will come as glimpses.
Everybody has this ability. At some point of time everyone has little glimpses of what has happened or what is going to happen without perceiving it through the five senses or intellect. This is when the sixth sense dawns.
Sanjay was gifted with this sixth sense.
He meditated for a long time and from this state of meditation he saw all that was happening in the war field and started narrating it to Dhritarashtra.
Today, in America you will find that there are a number of psychics, but their narrations are not completely correct. It will be partly correct because they don’t really connect to that being and their own mind comes into action. So you have to be really hollow and empty and completely free from any cravings or aversions, then the intuition is clearer.
Q: What is the meaning of ‘Shiva linga’?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: ‘Linga’ means symbol or identification.
You identify whether a child is male or female by one symbol. The reproductive organ is also called ‘linga’ because by that you identify the gender of the child when it is born.
So ‘Linga’ is a symbol that is the representation of the cosmos and the creator of the cosmos as one.
It is the ‘Shiva’ and the ‘Shakti’, the two principles in the creation. The silent unmanifest and the dynamic manifestation together are represented as ‘Shiva linga’.
Shiva linga is not just ‘Shiva’ but the completion; the total Parabrahma.
Q: What is the difference between longing and craving? How do I know if I am in longing or craving for something?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Craving is for temporary, petty and small things but longing is for bigger and permanent things. Like you have cravings for sugar, success or sex, but longing is associated with love. You feel something in your heart.
Q: What is the meaning and significance of superstitions and how much importance to attach and practice in our lives?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Once you say superstition it is finished. There is no need to analyze that.
You don’t go and analyze a garbage can. Anything we consider garbage we go and put it in the garbage. So what!
Q: Guruji, when I am in doubt or confusion and no one is there to clear my query, to answer my doubt, what should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Doubt is because of low prana, enhance your prana. Do Bhasrika, attend to your food and exercise. Exercise makes the circulation better and then the doubts all disappears.
Q: What is the difference between God and an enlightened master?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you say God is love, we all are made up of.
If God is creativity, everybody has creativity. If not everybody has procreativity.
Then God is Satchitananda, which is truth, existence and consciousness. You have consciousness and you have existence.
When the self is there, then God is there. If there is no self, there is no God. So God is the consciousness which is permeating everything.
God is the space and you are a part of that space.
In the ancient Upanishads there is a story: A child asks his father, ’Daddy, what is God?’
The father brings the child outside the home and says, ’Look! Before this house was built what was here?’
The boy said, ‘nothing, empty space.’
’So, where is the house standing today?’
He says, ’in this empty space.’
’Tomorrow if the house is destroyed what will remain?”
He said, ’space!’
Then the father said, ’that is God!’
Space is God. That in which everything ‘is’ today; in which everything has ‘come from’ and into which everything ‘will dissolve’, that is the Divine. That is the centre core of everyone’s existence.
God is in everybody but when you become centred or when you are enlightened, it means there is space but the space is visible like through the window.
Behind the window there is the same space that is behind the wall. But only through the window you can see the sky.
Q: Guruji, today is Dutta Jayanthi. Please tell us something about Lord Duttatreya!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Today is also Hanumath Jayanthi and today is also Pitaji’s birthday.
This is the first year he is not physically there but his spirit is here.
Birthdays are there to celebrate and to remember and recollect what good qualities they possessed.
Duttatreya learned from everything in creation.
Atri Rishi had no children, so he adopted Dutta.
Dutta means given, taken or adopted. That is why when one adopts a child, they say ‘Dutta Svikara’.
So Atri and Anasuya had adopted a child who was called Duttatreya and he had Brahma Shakti, Vishnu Shakti and Shiva Shakti.
Many have creativity but they cannot maintain. There are people who are very good at starting things but they don’t continue with it. This creativity is Brahma Shakti.
If you have Brahma Shakti, you can create things but you don’t know how to maintain it.
Vishnu Shakti is to maintain. There are many people who are managers. They can’t create but if something is created and given to them, they do an excellent job in managing it.
So one needs to have Vishnu Shakti also; the energy to maintain what you create.
And then is Shiva Shakti which is bringing transformation or newness. Many can just maintain but whenever a change is needed they don’t know how to bring a transformation; how to take it to another level. So Shiva Shati is essential too!
When you have all three that is Guru Shakti!
A Guru or a guide has to know all the three Shaktis.
So Duttatreya had all three in one which means he is the symbol of Guru Shakti. The power of the guide, creation, maintenance and transformation, all in one!
Duttatreya learned from everything. He observed the whole creation and he learned some lesson from everything.
In Srimad Bhagavatam it is said: it is so interesting how he looked at a swan and learned something from the swan; learned something from the crow; from the trees and he also learned something from an elderly woman.
For him knowledge was flowing from all sides. He was so open in his mind and heart to receive knowledge and amalgamate it in the life.
Observation brings wisdom and you need sensitivity to observe. If you are caught up in your own world, you become insensitive to the messages coming to you from those around you.
When people are caught up in their own stuff they don’t see the other person’s point of view at all. And such people also believe their perception is absolutely right even though you know their perception is incorrect.
Q: How do you decide as to what is the right balance between selfishness and selflessness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That depends on you.
You have to see what is needed. Whatever your consciousness can do, that much you do.
You cannot donate the shirt you are wearing but suppose you are having two idlis and the person sitting next to you is hungry, you will share an idli with him. Is it not? That is because it is inbuilt in you.
When you become broad-minded and bigger in your attention then you have a greater ability to share yourself.
Suppose you have Rs.500 in your pocket and someone is in need, will you not share with them? You will because you know you have more money with you or the ability to gain it. But if you need that money for your bus charge then first you will take care of yourself, and there is nothing wrong about it.
This is called ‘Apad Dharma.’
On the flight they say, ’first put the oxygen mask on yourself and then on the child next to you.’
This is because if you are not there the child cannot put the mask on you.
For a Sanyaasi or someone who is totally liberated from cravings, it doesn’t matter, but if you are the caretaker of a household then you have to follow Apad Dharma.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Without commitment there is no stability, no happiness and no progress in life

December 07, 2011

Q: Guruji, In Shiv Sutras, you have said ‘Gyanam bandhanam’. I am confused; does knowledge make us free or put us in bondage?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See after meditation when you become aware of your body and surrounding, your limited mind comes into understanding of limited things.
At one time you can understand only history, or mathematics, or physics or chemistry. Only one thing at a time you can understand. The knowledge of a particular thing limits your mind from vastness to a limited sphere of knowledge.
That limited knowledge is bondage.
Q: If you are pure in your intention and action and yet you are perceived as just the opposite and blamed, what should we do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just smile through it. Don’t worry about what others blame. You should not keep quiet also, you should educate and ignore.
Q: Guruji, Part 2 course is a journey from head to heart. What is the place of logic in spirituality?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Logic has a very important place. It is through logic only that you get into spirituality.
Logic makes you see what is life and what is the world and how you are wasting your time!
A logical mind says, ‘no, I should not waste my time. Life is short, everything is ephemeral.’ There is no point in worrying about the past or brooding about the future; this is logic.
So logic gives you a step into spirituality and so logic is important. But it only a step, you can’t sleep on the step. You have to enter the house. So it is the first step to enter the home.
Q: Guruji, you have said to overcome habits one should take a vow. What is a vow?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you have any bad habits, you can take a vow.
If you are habituated towards talking negative, then you say, ‘today I am not going to talk negative. I am not going to complain about anybody.’
So taking such steps makes a big difference.
If you are used to overeating and you take a step, okay I am not going to overeat for one week. I am going to eat only a little. That is a vow.
Q: When things change from I want to do it to I will have to do it, it becomes very difficult to act. What to do in such situations? It happens to me when I do seva?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Commitment is essential. Without commitment there is no stability, no happiness, and no progress in life. So if you take a commitment you have to fulfill that.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One who acts from a deep source of intuition is a Yogi

December 06, 2011

Q: Guruji, what to do if I feels strong temptation for something. How to get over it the moment it arises?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is like learning archery in the war field.
When temptation arises at that moment there is nothing you can do because whatever you think, you will be swayed by your emotions. Emotions are much more powerful than your thought process. But still when you strongly feel this is no good, I should resist this, that itself will bring a break.
It is like driving a car that has breaks, anytime you want you can put the break. That will power one needs to develop. For that prelude is broadening your awareness. Then definitely the temptations become smaller and then disappear.
Q: Guruji, How can I make myself so strong that the misbehavior of other people do not affect me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First of all don’t think you are weak. Thinking you are weak is the problem.
Turn back and see in the past how weak you were and how much stronger you have become. Focus on what you have become today, much stronger than you were before.
Q: How can one act without getting attached to the fruit of the action?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In the sixth chapter of the Gita it is said, ‘Anāśritah karmaphalam kāryam karma karoti yah.’
He is the one who is centered; he is the one who is a yogi who does not base his action on the past karma.
‘Anāśritah’, means one who does not react.
You recognize that whatever is in this moment is the result of past actions.
When you recognize this then suddenly you wake up and you say, ‘okay, I am going to put my past behind me. Today I am different; I am going to do everything fresh and new.’ Then you get such centeredness.
You drop the past. Forget that you are an engineer or a doctor or a commerce graduate. Keep all the titles that you have aside, all the roles you play aside. Then suddenly you wake up and you are a brand new person. Suppose you are taken and put on another planet tomorrow. You are on that planet and you have left all your degrees, all your associations, everything behind.
Wake up! Now, today, ‘I am’; ‘right now, right here, I am’.
It brings in a huge surge of energy with such centeredness.
Your hanging on to the past is gone. Your hankering about something that you have heard or seen or imagined for yourself in the future is gone and all that you are left with is this moment - totally alive!
This is what is said as not depending on the results of the past actions because whatever we have today on hand is all the result of past actions. You are a doctor it is because you studied medicine. You are an engineer it is because you studied engineering. If you are unhappy today it is because of the past actions.
So letting go of all the past and being in the present moment is what ’Anāśritah’ means.
I am not saying discard all the past actions and results of all the past actions, it is not possible. You can’t get rid of the actions. Our body is a product of past action. Our Mind is a product of past action. Our intellect is a product of past action. All that we have, our ego, body, mind, everything is a result of past action.
Not depending on them and acting from a deep source of intuition, from a space of nothingness, fresh new thought, and fresh new action is what Sanyasi or Yogi means.
So if you can act like that for one day that means you are becoming a yogi. You are skillful and you are acting now.
Somebody has blamed you. You are not hanging on to the blame but today you are talking to them as though nothing has happened. This is: not depending on the past actions.
You have received some favors from somebody in the past, and you feel so obliged to return that favor. That is: depending on the past action.
Not depending on the past action is: today you take the merit the way it is. Now, this moment! That action is most skillful.
It is easier said than done. I know it is difficult to do, but it is not impossible.
Q: Guruji, in Hindu religion it is said that a husband and wife relationship lasts for 7 lifetimes. How will I know which lifetime am I currently in?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you are in love right now, then know it is the first lifetime and you are going to live together for six lifetimes more. If you are tired of the relationship then know that seven lifetimes are completed and this is the last one.
It depends on you! You decide which lifetime this is. Or think it is neither here nor there, somewhere in the middle.
Q: Guruji, It is said by the World Bank report that developing countries like, India, Africa, etc., would face severe shortage of food by 2015 if the governments don’t take concrete steps towards agriculture and its sustenance. These days we see a massive migration of families from rural to urban areas. What is your advice to the government and the people?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We must go back to farming. People should do farming.
I advice all those people who have taken to agricultural science and agricultural degrees to get back to the farm and grow more food. It is necessary.
That is why we have started an agri-business academy here in the ashram.
So agriculture is also a business and students should know how agriculture is a very prosperous business around the world. China has bought many acres of land in Africa and they are doing such good cultivation there. We should learn from China, how they have taken care to go to other countries and cultivate there also.
I was in Ethiopia and I was told there is a lot of land in Ethiopia. There are some Indian industrialists who have bought land in Ethiopia and other African countries and they are growing palm trees and other things there.
So here we must grow food. Everyone should see how they can contribute through vegetables or whatever way. Small or big everyone should grow something.
In the ancient Indian spiritual practices, agriculture has been an integral part of it. Any ceremony or Pooja would not start without ’ankurarpan’ (sowing the seeds).
If you see in Chandi Havan the first thing they do is sow the seeds and when the sprouts come only then they do other celebrations.
So it is very important that people should grow more food. Today, everyone is leaving villages and going to the city, it is very important to do farming in the villages.
Q: I get jealous when I see other people doing the Art of Living course. How do I overcome this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You introduce people to Art of Living. When they do it and when they thank you, then you feel like doing more.
If people come and thank you, ‘it’s so good of you that you introduced me to this course. My whole life has changed.’ How would you feel? Would you feel jealous?! How can you feel jealous?
You have not enrolled people into the course that is why you feel jealous. Especially your close friends, if they are happy and joyful and jumping up and down, dancing and if you feel jealous there should be something wrong in your psychology.
You should be happy with the happiness of others and you should be touched by the unhappiness of others.
Art of Living brings so much happiness to people. So you must wake up and start actively introducing people to the course and you will find a difference.
Q: Is female life a punishment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, who said that? Male cannot exist without Female. Every male has come from female.
It is both ways, female cannot exist without male. That is why this Prakriti and Purusharth are two integral aspects of creation. How can you say one is sin or not good. No! That is wrong understanding.
Q: Guruji, how do we ensure that people around the world get basic opportunities like education, food and shelter? There are so many people without basic needs.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You must know that it is not just the basic needs that a person wants.
Basic needs anyway get fulfilled. But one needs something more than the basic needs.
It is up to you, what you think is ‘basic need’.
Inner peace is so essential.
If you have every basic need but you are sick, you are mentally not sound, what good it is?
You may have good food but no appetite. You have a nice bed but you have insomnia and you can’t sleep. You have all the wealth but you have no friends, no family, no enthusiasm and no love in life, what will you do?
Everything has its own place so you must acknowledge that.
Q: How to deal with people who always give negative vibrations? Should we avoid them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t think somebody will only always be negative. In everyone there is some goodness. You see how you can help kindle that goodness.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If you are chanting you cannot be depressed

December 05, 2011

Q: Guruji, sometimes I feel I am wasting my life by doing common things which people do like getting a degree, a job, marriage and children. I want to do something for the world. At the same time I want to fulfill the expectations of my parents and life partner.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you want to take care of your personal life and you want to do something for the world. Now, if you think they are in conflict with each other then you cannot move even one step forward. First of all know they are not in conflict. 
If you are already married and have the responsibility of your wife and children, you should take it and then along with this add social responsibility for the knowledge, for the dharma to your life. 
Know that you can do both.
If you are single and you want to dedicate yourself 100%, that is very good. You are most welcome; you are free to travel everywhere and take care of the world and achieve something great.
Q: Guruji, sometimes I feel bored with seva, satsang and knowledge. Is something wrong with me and am I on the path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know there are 9 obstacles in the path of Yoga. 
I have already spoken about it in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. 
Vyadhi, Styana, Samsaya, Pramada, Alasya, Avirati, Bhranti Darsana, Alabdha bhumikatva and Anavasthitattva. These are the nine obstacles. 
Physical disease, mental inertia, doubts coming to your mind about the path; and then not attaining any state, not having any interest in anything. 
These are all momentary obstacles that come to any yogi. But when you continue with one pointed devotion you can overcome all these obstacles. 
It is not a big deal, they come and they go. 
Many of you have had this problem, sometimes you don’t feel like meditating and afterwards suddenly your meditation became deep. Or sometimes so many doubts come to your mind and then suddenly one day they all disappeared.
Q: Guruji, what is the technique behind, ‘you are everywhere yet nowhere and you are nowhere yet everywhere’, can you teach us?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Hollow and Empty! 
Relax and let go. 
It is the ego, that ‘I am’ is separate from everything, from existence. That causes the sense of not being part of the whole or not being the whole itself.
Q: Guruji, how I can be independent of the result of my actions?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you surrender all the past actions and are ready to face the consequences of those actions. 
If I stole something and I say, ‘yes I have stolen, give me whatever punishment you want to give me.’ I am ready to take the punishment. That is what surrendering really means. 
I have stolen but don’t punish me does not mean surrendering. 
Now, when you are ready to accept the punishment, then the giver of punishment says, ‘no, I won’t punish you’, and he relieves you of the action. 
An action has already happened through you and there is a result. So as an antidote to that you do some good action, this is called Prayaschitta. Suppose I said some bad words that hurt someone, then I do prayaschitta.
That the Guru can give or the person who was affected can give, or with your own intuition you can decide what prayaschitta you will do. 
‘I will bring happiness to so many people’ or ‘I will do some good work’
Q: Guruji, in the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says, ‘Ananyashchinta yanto mam ye jana pari upaasate teshaam nitya bhi yuktanaam yogakshemam vahaamyaham.’ What does it mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: One who thinks of me and me alone; who keeps me in his mind and heart, I will free him; protect what he has and give him what he needs.
Q: Guruji, what is the significance of Mangalsutra? Why do parents say that it should never be removed after marriage? Is it okay not to wear it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Once I was coming from Paris airport and I was boarding the flight. One lady came and asked me, showing me her ring, ‘is this necessary?’ 
I just looked at her and said, ‘no, not necessary, it is okay if you don’t want to have a ring.’ All that it meant to me was a ring.
She went back and sent a divorce letter to her husband. Her husband wrote me an email saying, ‘Guruji, did you tell my wife to divorce me?’ 
I said, ‘I never did anything like that, put her on the phone.’ She said, ‘Guruji, in the airport I asked you is it necessary to have my ring and you said no!’ 
That ring was her wedding ring. 
So if you remove the wedding ring in the west it means you have said goodbye to your once upon a time sweetheart. 
There is some sacredness in marriage. To establish that sacredness mangalsutra is worn. 
Mangalsutra means that thread of auspiciousness, holding which you walk on the path of dharma, so it is not removed and it is always with you. 
You don’t want auspiciousness to go away from you, that is why people attach that sentiment to it and it is worn.
At the same time there are some superstitions attached to it. Someone has to undergo an operation and the doctor says you have to remove your jewellery and they say, ‘how can I remove my mangalsutra. I cannot remove it’. 
You don’t have to go through such mental or emotional turmoil. It is just a thread or chain like any other chain. 
So when it is really necessary you can remove it, it doesn’t matter. But generally sacredness is attached to it. So it is good to wear the thread.
Q: Guruji, I get fooled a lot of times. What is that I should do to be wise?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you get fooled it is not only because of lack of intelligence but also because of greed. 
People who are very greedy get fooled very fast. That is what I have noticed.
If you are over ambitious and greedy it is easy to fool you, but if you are centered, calm and stable, it is hard to fool somebody like that.
Q: Guruji, we should not expect anything from others but is it wrong to expect from ourselves?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s ok if we expect but if it is not met then doesn’t matter, relax!
Q: Guruji, I am entangled into a relationship but now I realize it’s holding me back from doing seva. I now really want to get out of it and it is not easy. What can I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do chanting! If you are chanting you cannot be depressed.
When you chant ‘Om’ it calms down those centers of emotions and once that is done the depression vanishes. 
So if you are depressed it is because you are so engrossed in the material world. Day and night thinking what about me you get depressed. 
What you should do is, in the morning when you wake up, say, ‘what service you can do?’ 
How best I can be useful to all these people or to the world; to this knowledge or to this organization. If none of that comes, then how can I be useful to Guruji. At least think that way. If your focus is on this direction and you continue you’re chanting and your meditation knowing this life is temporary and everything here vanishes, and chant ‘Om Namaha Shivaya’, you cannot be depressed. 
Depressive negative energy will simply vanish. 

That is why in ancient days people would do Sandhyavandanam three times. In the morning you wake up, look at the Sun and think of the beautiful day it is going to bring you and thank the Sun for life and for the planet earth. Our life and planet is dependent on the Sun, so you thank the Sun. Again in the afternoon you do Sandhyavandanam and again in the evening you thank the Sun for the beautiful day and feel connected to the whole universe.
When you do this, there is no question of getting depressed. When you don’t know that you are connected with the whole universe and you think you are just some small person wanting small little things and you are bickering on your own weaknesses saying, I am weak, I don’t know this and I don’t have that. I sit for meditation and I did Kriya but nothing happens to me. This type of bickering in the mind shows the small mindedness. You have to come out of that. You take responsibility, I will come out of this and I’ll dedicate my life.
All these people who want to commit suicide, I tell them it is such stupidity. You want to commit suicide because you are so bent upon your own pleasure, your own happiness, and your own comfort. You dedicate your life for a greater cause then depression will vanish.
When you say, I am not going to take my life away but I am going to dedicate it for the world, for humanity, for the country then so much happiness comes. 
Come what may I am going to fight.
I think all the depressed people should be made to realize this truth and chanting will elevate them. 
Either you dedicate yourself to the world, to the nation, to culture, to dharma or you dedicate yourself to God, to the Supreme Being, to the sacred knowledge.
That dedication can pull you out of this rut.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Yoga makes you a child again

December 04, 2011


Leading Yoga Gurus of various lineages came together at The Art of Living International Center for a two day 'International Yoga Summit'. The two-day conference had eminent speakers exploring ways to use yoga as value-based education and a tool to bring world peace.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was instrumental in bringing all the Yoga schools together on a common stage.
The Yoga Gurus deliberated on the following topics:

1.Keeping the purity and authenticity of knowledge yet disseminating Yoga to every nook and corner of the world
2.Physical and emotional health through Yoga
3.Mental health through Yoga
4.Challenges faced by Yoga Masters

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar commenced the session with the following words.

Yoga is prevalent in all the ancient scripture. Jyothish, Ayurveda, Vedanta are all permeated by Yoga. Yoga is the basis on which everything else works and that union is emphasized in the Vedanta.
Today we have Vedantis here and the Yogis here, what more could one want?!
Where ever there is Yoga and Vedanta there is no abhava (lack), there is no anyaya (injustice), there is no agyana (ignorance) and there is no ashaucha (impurity). These are the four things we need to get rid of in society: agyana, abava, anyaya and ashaucha. So Yoga makes you a child again.
There are a number of Yogas: Karma Yoga, Gyaan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga. The Gita is all Yoga from beginning to end, and the amalgamation of all this, taking everything together and moving forward in life is essential.
We have such great experts here and this is such a great day. Just the Yogis’ presence will do the job. We have received lots of blessings and we are going to receive more. So when you go out from here, you will also have a child like mind and that innocence which is very important; an innocent mind, a pure heart and pure deeds.

Krishna says, ‘Yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantaratmana’, of all the Yogis the one who resides in me is the one who keeps me in his heart. The one who has put me in their heart, will excel in everything. So bhakti is very important.
Today, Bhakti Yoga, Gyaan Yoga and scientific Yoga, all have come together. Such a great fortune! So, enjoy the conference and remember you have a big responsibility to take this to the door step of every household. Make the world free from misery and free from suffering.
God is blessing you and will continue to bless you all!
The Yoga Gurus also signed a proclamation for having UN declare 21st June as the International Yoga Day

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The more you smile the closer you are to the Divinity

December 03, 2011

Q: Dearest Guruji, how to come out from past memories that disturb my mind and soul? Sometimes it hurts a lot.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you give events too much importance that is what happens. Know that all events are like bubbles on the surface of water. Pleasant events, unpleasant events are like waves, they come and they are gone and you are pure, untouched by them. You must remember this!
Second thing is when you are disturbed you feel some sensation in the pit of your stomach.
So instead of putting your attention on the event put it on the sensations in your body. If you observe the sensations you get transformed.
Q: Dear Guruji, if God knows everything then how is life interesting and exciting for him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: God knows and he doesn’t know as well, both!
Its like, when a hair is pulled from your head you feel it. But do you know how many hairs are on your head? You don’t know! So on one hand you know about every single hair because if you pull it it pains you, but at the same time you don’t know how many hairs are there.
So knowledge and ignorance go together in that sense.
Like a librarian knows almost all the books that are there in the library and he can guide you to where the book is. But if you ask him on which page of which book what is said, he will not know. He knows where the book is and he knows the book but yet he does not know all the contents of the book.
Similarly the game can only be interesting if you don’t know the result of the game before hand. If you know who is going to win and who is going to lose then you can’t be sincere in playing the game.
Q: Guruji, I think the biggest attraction is to know the self, which is very abstract and remote for me. What is the quickest way to realize the self so that I do not get caught up with the mundane attractions?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are at the right place at the right time.
Q: Dear Guruji, what is spirituality? Is it about religion or is it about the personality?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are made up of matter and spirit.
Our body is made up of amino acids, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. Your spirit is made up of love, compassion, peace, generosity, commitment, caring, intelligence, responsibility, happiness. These are all the nature of spirit.
That which enhances the spirit of enquiry, commitment and compassion in you is what spirituality is. Your connection to the universe is spirituality.
If you go to the root of every religion, this is what it says. In Christianity Jesus said, Love is God and God is Love.
In Hinduisum it is said ‘Asti, Bhati, Preeti.’ Preeti (love) is the nature of God.
Islam talks about peace, commitment, compassion and giving.
So the forms are different but the substance is the same. Holding to the true substance is what spirituality is. And you can do that by going in deep meditation.
What words you use to pray is secondary. What state of being you are in is most important. If you have that soft, inner beautiful feeling, then you are spiritual. Otherwise you may be a priest somewhere, very hard inside but you are not spiritual. You may go to a temple or church and bow down many times, it means nothing! But if you are walking in the street with an uplifted feeling, then you are close to God. The more you smile the closer you are to the Divinity.
Q: Dear Guruji, I always feel lonely and left out even thought I have everybody around me. How to come out of this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is good, take it as a gift. Don’t think it is bad.
You feel lonely then know, ‘when I am lonely I am with God and when I am with people then also I am with God.’ When you are lonely you feel free. ‘I came to this world like this and I will go back from this world like this.’
That idea suddenly will make you blossom and something from inside will just spring up.
Q: Dear Guruji, it seems like love has another side called ‘attachment’. Love is a beautiful feeling but attachment causes pain. How can one love without feeling attached?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now don’t struggle to detach yourself. You feel attached, that is it! You are attached there is no way out of it.
If you keep doing seva then you will see the attachment will find a larger dimension.
And if you don’t put too much attention to detach, you will find detachment is also automatic. It will come to you with age, time and maturity.
Q: While doing meditation there are some vibrations which come in the Agya chakra. At that time do I do something or just keep quiet?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If some vibrations come in the Agya chakra let them be there. Don’t try to enhance it or get rid of it, just relax and do nothing. Let whatever is happening happen.
Q: How to meditate in a chaotic city?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now, for meditation a quiet environment is congenial, no doubt.
A serene and quiet place with good energy is best suited for meditation but it does not stop you from meditating even in a chaotic place.
Do you sleep in a chaotic place? Yes.
Someone who has lived in a quiet place and suddenly they go and live in an apartment in New York next to the highway, they say, ‘oh my God, the whole night there were sounds of traffic. It felt like the car is running over my head and I could not sleep.’
But the other people who live there are used to the noise and they sleep because they accept that chaos.
Whenever you want to go inward, you need to accept the outer. When you keep resisting the outer you cannot go inward.
So how you deal with the chaos is your own choice.
Q: Guruji, what do you suggest for Attention Deficient Adults. How do they get out of it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They should know that death is near.
Attention deficiency is there because they feel death is so far away. They are either locked up on what could be more joyful or there is some restlessness in the system to achieve something which is only in imagination.
So pranayama will help, food will help and time will help because nobody can have this attention deficiency for too long. Somewhere they should change.
Listen to knowledge of dispassion that too will help.
Q: Guruji, sometimes out of social obligations I need to sit in the company of people who drink alcohol. Is that okay?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: As long as you don’t start giving them company in the drinking also.
You can sit socially but you can say, ‘I prefer soft drinks and I will have only soft drinks.’
Q: Guruji, what should be the purpose of life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First make a list of what should not be the purpose of life. The purpose of life is not to be miserable and make others miserable. Purpose of life is not to show-off to other people. Purpose of life is not to think on small terms for short term joy and little pleasures.
So you think about it and one day you will discover. When you discover you will say, ‘wow!’
Q: Guruji, I somehow cannot allow people to be very close to me. What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t analyze this so much. Who is anyways close to whom?
If one is not close to them self then nobody is close to anybody. If you are close to yourself then you are close to everybody.