Thursday, May 31, 2012

Inside a bad person there is a good person hiding

May 16, 2012
We are in an age of technology. Technology has shrunk the globe into a village. We are in a global village. I would want to see it as a Global Family. This is my dream, to see the world as a One World Family.
It is so fortunate that this world has so many diverse cultures, traditions, languages and religions. Do you know what intelligent people do? They always celebrate the differences and the diversity. And the foolish fight and create wars.
Isn’t it? What we want to do in the world is to educate people. The reason why people are so ignorant and stupid is because they have had no opportunity to expand their vision. The goal of The Art of Living is to provide such a broad vision to life; to turn every tear into a smile, anger into compassion, and hatred into unconditional love.
Let us all join hands to see such a world – a world free from violence, disease, sadness and poverty!

In anger we say, ‘I give up’. Without frustration or anger, say, ‘I give this problem up, I cannot solve it, let the Divine help me’, and know that you will always be helped. Have the confidence that you will be helped.

First, we need to dream big. When I was in school, when I was a boy – even now I am a child only – I used to tell all my friends that my family is all over the globe. They would come to my mother and ask if we had a family in London, in Germany, in France, in America, and my mother would reply, ‘No’. She would pull my ear and ask, ‘Why do you tell lies?’
My mother would say, ‘He never tells lies, but this is the one thing he keeps saying, that he has relatives and family all over the world and that he knows people from all over the world.’
I used to tell my friends, ‘What do you want? Stamps or coins or currencies? I will send it to you, don’t worry. I have everybody all over the world.’
Why I said this is that deep inside all of us, there is a spirit that connects everyone.
Every human being is born with joy, enthusiasm, love and wisdom. But as we grow up, somewhere we tend to lose it. We should not lose it. We should maintain this gift that we all have received.
Okay, if we have lost it, we should regain it. And how do you regain it? By broadening your vision, and creating a sense of belongingness with everyone around you.
This is my second visit to Bulgaria. I already see a lot of changes here. Infrastructure is coming up, the economy has become better than before; it could be even better. At the same time, I would say that you have your deep roots, thousands of years of culture and tradition. Don’t lose that. The youth should maintain their roots and broaden their vision. So, that is the reason we said that we are going to put together a big bagpipers performance today. The purpose of this is to encourage the old traditions and the culture.
I would also like to mention that some of the Bulgarian singers and dancers also visited India and we had their performances in India as well.
So, we need to bring people together. This is wisdom. A violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, sorrow-free soul, trauma-free memory and a stress-free life is the birth right of everybody. This is what The Art of Living and all its volunteers are working towards. I am so happy and I congratulate them, there are hundreds of volunteers here who are tirelessly working day and night to bring smiles on the faces of people.

So, I will give you just 5 points or 5 secrets on how to be happy.
Once a wise man drew a line and told his student to make the line shorter without touching or erasing it. How would you do it?
You have to shorten a line without touching it.
An intelligent student then drew a much longer line underneath that line. So, the line automatically became shorter. The lesson here is that if your difficulties appear to be very big, lift your eyes because you are only focused on yourself. If you lift your eyes up and look at those who are in a worse condition than you, you will suddenly feel that your burden is not as bad as you thought it was.
If you think you have some big problem, look at people who have greater problems. Suddenly, you will get the confidence that my problem is much smaller, and I can manage it.

So, the first point on how to be happy is to see the world where there are greater and bigger problems. Then, your problems will appear smaller. The moment your problems appear smaller, you will get the energy and confidence to deal with it or solve it. In simple words, serve those who are in greater need.

Second, look at your own life. In the past, you had many problems. They have all come and gone. Know that even this will go and you have the energy and power to overcome it. You will get self-confidence by understanding and looking at your own past.

Third, and most important, do some breathing exercise and relaxation.

Fourth, you know, in anger we say, ‘I give up’. Without frustration or anger, say, ‘I give this problem up, I cannot solve it, let the Divine help me’, and know that you will always be helped. Have the confidence that you will be helped; a power in the universe is going to help you.

The fifth one – what do you think is the fifth one? I leave it to you. You think about the fifth one. I can go on up to 25 or 30 points, but I would like you to come up with it. We are always looking for solutions from someone else. We forget that if we turn our mind inward, we can get some ideas, some solutions. This is the fifth one – Spontaneity! Be spontaneous. Spontaneity will come when you take a few minutes to go deep within yourself. There is nothing great in smiling when everything is normal, and when everything is going the way you want. But if you awaken the valor inside of you, and say, ‘Come what may, I am going to keep smiling’, you will notice tremendous energy just rises from within you. And the problems are like nothing; they just come and disappear.

I would also like to mention that our volunteers have done such good work in all the prisons in Bulgaria. After doing the course, the whole lives of hundreds and hundreds of people who are in prisons have changed. That is so nice!
This is what intelligence is. Intelligence is bringing out the good even from within one who is a criminal. Within the worst criminal there is something nice inside; there are some good qualities. We need to bring those out. That needs intelligence. To condemn somebody does not need much intelligence, but bringing out compassion from those who have been condemned needs some work; and I really congratulate all our volunteers and teachers who have, without any selfish motives, gone to the prisons with just one wish – to bring back human values in their lives.
The foolish people try to paint everybody as demons and ‘bad’, even for pious persons. People say everybody is bad. The whole world is bad. That is so unfortunate; it is not good company. Last week, when I was in Canada, a couple came to me; they were all in tears. Their teenage son had committed suicide. In the suicide note, he had written that the whole world is bad; it is not worth living. Good people have got no place on this planet. All evil and bad people have taken the reins.
How much pain that youth must have experienced, because everyone tells you how everyone else is so bad. That is not good company. Even inside a bad person, there is a good person hiding that has to come up. When the goodness comes up, the negativity automatically disappears.

Intelligence is bringing out the good even from within one who is a criminal. Within the worst criminal there are some good qualities. The foolish people try to paint everybody as bad.

Q: What do we do when we don’t enjoy our work anymore?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should work for making a living. But for joy, you should do some service. Engage yourself in any social service. You will find that it brings you contentment and happiness. I knew this question was coming, so I said that there is joy in giving. Find the joy in giving rather than taking.
Q: How do we maintain a good relationship with our children in today’s fast times?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We have designed a course for that. It is called KYC – Know Your Child and KYT – Know Your Teen. It is just for two hours per day, for two days. You will get many beautiful ideas in this course. It has become so popular all over because it is very effective.
Our relationship with our children changes and the way they respond to you also changes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Every individual can instill faith or destroy faith

May 13, 2012
Montreal, Canada
Today’s message is that everyone one of you is a leader.
You lead somebody somewhere. Either lead them on the right path or lead them astray. This is for sure that everyone is a leader. And if you have to lead everyone in the right path your life needs to be very pure, spotless. And that is what is here. Here we are spotlessly clean. Very clear, very pure. And even this is not something we have achieved, it is a gift.
Do you know, these 56 years, I have not said one bad word to anybody, ever. Worst I have said is, ‘Stupid’, that is all that has come out from my mouth. But I can’t take credit for it, because any other words just don’t come to me; unpleasant words don’t come.
So what I am saying is that when you realize that even this purity in life is not your making, it has come to you as a gift then humility remains in life. If there is humility then you are always moving forward. There are no pitfalls. When the humility is missing then a person falls.
So, everybody is a leader. In order to lead on the right path, in right knowledge, you need to be pure; inside out pure. And how do you become pure? When you are in association with purity you become pure. And purity comes with knowledge, wisdom, pranayama, and all that.
What does knowledge do to you? Knowledge simply purifies you. It is like a detergent.
‘Nahi Jnanena sadrusham pavitram iha vidyate’
There is nothing better than knowledge that can purify you.

Everybody is a leader. You lead people either towards light or towards darkness. In order to lead on the right path you need to be pure. And how do you become pure? When you are in association with purity you become pure.

Every individual is pure in the present moment. However your past has been it does not matter. Dump those thing and surrender. If at all there is the word surrender or offering then that is only about the past. However the past has been, you surrender that. In the present moment you are pure and you are innocent, believe in that. Believe in your purity, and that is it.
A siddhi, or perfection is right now.
So knowledge purifies you, but if you think, ‘Oh, I am the purest person. I have a very good heart and a very good mind’, etc., then that ego can also be dangerous. It makes you impure very soon.
So honoring the purity and not ascertaining that is important. Being humble but not claiming that you are the humblest person on the planet.
To say, ‘I am the most humble person on the planet you can ever see.’ It is ridiculous.
So if we are pure we can lead everybody, we can lead the whole world in the right path.

Thought, word and deed.

You may say, ‘Oh my deeds are very correct and clear, but my thoughts, what do I do with them? I don’t do anything, but the thought comes in my mind to strangle that person, what do I do?’
It is a question? Tell me how many of you had this question here?
Some people sitting in the back also had this question. Raise your hands those who have this question, don’t feel shy. See, so many people.
‘Guruji, by deed we don’t do anything, even the words we can control, but what do we do with the thoughts?’
I tell you, it will automatically start happening. That is why when the body is cleansed, the mind is also cleansed, and good company is essential.
See, if you are in the company of people who are very sattvic, or in the right atmosphere, such thoughts don’t come. When do they come? They come when you are in the company of people who are uptight, angry and agitated. You seem to pick up their vibes.
Now, every time you get a negative thought, don’t blame others. Don’t say, ‘That person is putting this thought into my head’. This mind is so tricky that in any situation it can get you trapped.
That is why there is a proverb in Sanskrit that says, ‘Vachyarambhe Vikaro Nama Deyasya’, which means, the moment you say something things get distorted. So pranayama, meditation, all this will purify the thoughts.
Then words; your determination, your will not to utter those words which are unpleasant and which should not come out of the mouth, you should not utter them. You should not make them come out of your mouth. You know what I am saying.
Make a sankalpa, ‘I’m not going to say these unpleasant words’.
Saying, ‘Oh my God’, that is okay, but something else should not come out, whether you make a mistake, or someone else makes a mistake.
People say, ‘Oh Jesus’ that is okay. ‘Hey Ram’, that is okay, but not the other words.
We need to culture our speech. If you speak unpleasant words then children will also pick up the same thing.
So words and then deeds of course follow. Deed is a very small thing. Most important is your mind.
So, everyone is a leader. You lead people either towards light or towards darkness.
You either tell them things that confuse them that they lose whatever nice things they have in their heart and in their mind about goodness, about society, and they become paranoid and go astray, or you lead them towards wisdom and joy. Every individual can instill faith or destroy faith. Every individual has this capacity. Not forever though. You cannot destroy someone’s faith forever but only temporarily. For eight to ten years their mind goes round, round and round. They don’t believe there are good people on the planet and they believe everything is bad, everybody is hopeless.

There are three things:

1. Faith in a power that is beyond explanation, beyond logic. A power that envelopes the universe.
There is no one God sitting somewhere and trying to punish you, no, forget about it. There is a law, there is a Divine energy. You can call it Divine or the basic energy of creation which has perfect orderliness. This is the best definition for God. God is the field or energy which has perfect orderliness, which is very compassionate and loving. So, faith in the loving energy that is the universe.
2. Faith in the goodness of people. There are good people on the planet with good hearts. There are innocent people.
3. Faith in yourself.
Bad company is what destroys faith in all the three.
‘What can you do? You can’t do anything in this world. Come on, sit down, you can’t do anything. You are in an illusion.’ That type of destroying faith in yourself, faith in the goodness of people around you, and giving you a picture that the world is a horrible place is bad company.
The other day a couple came to me and said their son, a young boy of fifteen years committed suicide, and the note he left said, ‘The world is a horrible place, I just don’t find any hope anywhere. People are fighting over religion and everywhere there is crime.’
A young vibrant boy said this world is a dark place, and said that he does not want to live here anymore.
Do you know, it is said that in Japan 30,000 youths commit suicide every year. Why? Not because of poverty but because the faith in the goodness of people and in society is gone. Do you understand what I am saying?
Seeing everybody as a fraud, everybody as selfish, and everybody as no good, this type of insecurity is created in society. So people even after marriage keep everything separate because they are scared that anytime anything can happen, living in the same house. ‘It is better I keep my things and you keep your things. We don’t know when your mind will turn otherwise.’

'Never mind if you have failed ten times, eleventh time you stand up and run. You can run.’ A good leader instills that confidence in someone. ‘Never mind, mistakes happen, move ahead.

That means that you don’t even believe in the goodness of your own spouse. You don’t believe in the goodness of your own kids, forget about the neighbors.
So that is what bad company is, they destroy the faith in the goodness of people, in the society and finally break your self-confidence.
‘You can’t do anything, how can you bring any change in this world, it is impossible. Just be practical.’ This is one type of leader. Unconsciously they lead people in that direction.
And the good leaders are the ones who bring enthusiasm, happiness, energy, and encourage others to move ahead.
‘Never mind if you have failed ten times, eleventh time you stand up and run. You can run.’ A good leader instills that confidence in someone. ‘Never mind, mistakes happen, move ahead.’
Even amongst criminals there is goodness. Inside a criminal also there is a good person sitting. We know from many of our teachers who have taught the Prison Smart program. Ask them, when they meet the prisoners and talk to them how it is. One who has been condemned by rest of the world, there is a good person sitting inside, isn’t it?

(Many in the audience say, ‘Yes Guruji’)

This is a good leader; he picks up the goodness even in those who have done criminal activity. There is goodness even inside them.
A bad leader is one who even in the best human being or even in a child they find something wrong and try to prove that the child is bad.
Even the courts give freedom for juvenile; they can’t punish them because they are kids. A bad leader finds faults even there. A good leader takes you towards happiness, confidence and knowledge.
So today you simply know; don’t ask me, ‘How do I become a good leader?’ The fact that you are here means you are a good leader, because birds of the same feathers flock together. So we are all flocking together. Know that you are a good leader and that is it; no doubting and no questioning that.
We have to seal the deal. The deal is sealed, ‘I am a good leader.’ No more questioning, no more cross examination on this front. Okay, done deal!
No more, ‘Oh I am not a good leader.’
However you have been in the past, that is a different story, but today the deal is sealed. You are a good leader. And that is it.
Yes. And then you should forget you are a leader. You are simple, you are nobody. It is better that way. When you feel very lazy and laid back and completely overtaken by inertia, then you should know you are a leader. And when you are all worked up, and you are so tensed and feel the burden of responsibility, know that you are just nobody. Forget that you are a leader.
If being a leader feels like a burden then you continue doing what you are doing but forget you are a leader. So don’t drop the work, the work should continue, yes! Good!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Devotion is like a diamond

May 11, 2012
Montreal, Canada
Devotion is a gift. You can’t take credit for your own devotion. You can’t say, ‘I’m so devoted’.
You can’t take any credit. If you are so devoted it is a gift; such a blessing.
What does devotion do? Devotion gives you immense happiness, deep love and Siddhis.
Siddhi means what you think happens and what you want happens, you bless somebody and it happens; all this happen through that state of your being. Devotion is the state of our being.
In the yoga sutras Rishi Patanlaji said, ‘Samadhi siddhirishwarpranidhanat’, devotion towards the Divine brings perfection of Samadhi. It makes your meditation so serene, and takes you to the perfected state.
So we can never say, ‘Oh I am so devoted’, if you are so devoted it is such a gift. Just pray that let this stay with me forever. Not to let anything else spoil it.
Devotion is like a diamond; don’t trade it for anything that is muddy. A diamond should never be traded for a cup of mud.

Devotion is a gift, you can’t take mileage out of it, and you shouldn’t. If you take, then that is the way we start slipping out of mediation and out of devotion. Feel grateful for being devoted. Be like a child and let go.

Do you know where you tend to lose your devotion? Doing something that is related to temporary things, fighting with somebody, wanting something, like wanting a job, or your relationship doesn’t work then your devotion suffers.
You lose your job and your devotion suffers. If somebody blames you then your devotion is gone. If your work does not happen then your devotion is gone. So we are losing our devotion over a few dollars or over small things. A little fight with somebody and you feel all your devotion is gone. Isn’t it?
It is the small things and small little desires where we lose devotion, and it is not worth losing. Isn’t it?
See, if you are a medical professional, you give medicine to people, and most of the time it works but sometimes it does not work. It depends on many things. It depends on karma.
Similarly in your life many things happen and some things don’t happen, but at least hold onto the devotion.
Again I am saying, sometimes it appears to have gone or going away, then also you can’t do anything about it. Just relax and pray for it.
So devotion is a gift, you can’t take mileage out of it, and you shouldn’t. If you take then that is the way we start slipping out of mediation and out of devotion. That is what happens, we recognize the devotion and try to take mileage out of it, and ascertain, ‘I am so devoted’.

If you are conscious of this, just be like a child and let go. If you are devoted, feel grateful for being devoted, then that is a safe track. Then the devotion grows every moment.
See, in action there is never perfection. In any great act you will always find 1% flaw. Nature is like that. Any action however good it is, however beneficial it is, there will be a little bit of imperfection in it. Samadhi becomes perfected with devotion.
Now if you think, ‘Oh, I don’t feel the devotion, what do I do?’ Do nothing, just relax! Don’t think you don’t have it. You have it, it has not manifested now, but it will. A little more merit, do some seva and some good things and then it will manifest. Be in knowledge and it will come up.
Also the astrological situation has an impact on devotion in the beginning, for beginners. When a particular planet’s conjunction happens, at that time, the first thing that happens is devotion goes into the background. So when the Jupiter planet comes in the eight house it is called Ashtama Guru.
It is said that the pundits know that the person is going through Ashtama Guru, and he is going to go through turmoil for that one year.
What will happen then? The mind goes all over the place, mind is in turmoil, every decision is wrong, anything he does becomes hopeless, and moreover he loses all interest in spirituality. It happens once every 12 years. It can be for two months, six months or a maximum for one year.

For two months it will be intense, or for four months or six months. So when someone knows, ‘Oh this is my Ashtama Guru that is why my mind is like that’, then you have diagnosed the disease and you know why your mind is going like that.
If you don’t know, then you think, ‘Oh, I have wasted my whole life. Why did I do pranayama, why I did I do all these things. It is all a waste’, this is what happens and you stop doing everything. After one year’s time, then you realize, ‘Oh my God, I did a blunder, where did my mind go.’ You think that way.
Astrologers know and the people know in India, what you call sadesati, seven and a half years of Saturn. At that time people really lose all their material relationships, material wealth and for some people it is a very hard time. Health and all these concerns come if someone is only outward.

But if someone is spiritual then that same situation will make them so much better. It depends on how the person is. You must have heard people around saying, ‘Oh, for seven years nothing is working for me. I try but everything is a flop.’ This happens in the Saturn’s seven and half years that comes once in every 30 years. So it comes only twice in a lifetime, not too often. But that is good enough to shake a person; fry somebody.
Usually if it comes when a person is a child, within 15 to 20 years of age, it doesn’t have much impact, but only in the middle age it has an impact. But if it comes to somebody after they are 50 years, then also there is not much of an impact.
So this period of seven and half years also brings turmoil. In a way it makes a person turn inward. If you have noticed, those of you who came on the spiritual path, you came because there was some crisis. How many of you came because of crisis? This is what Saturn does. It creates a situation so that you get so fed up of the outside and you turn inside. In that way it is very good.
But Ashtama Guru that comes once in every 12 years is when faith is shaken. You even wonder whether there is a God or not. Nothing appears worthwhile. Everything appears tasteless and directionless, and feelings of boredom and confusion get generated. But that is for a short time.

And the moment you are in satsang, that moment the mind gets uplifted. All this gets cleared. That is why in the Guru’s presence or in satsang, or in sadhana, these planetary effects are minimum. It just does not affect you so much. People experience this over and over again, so many times.
That is why these traditions are such. The way they have put together, it is so amazing, and it is amazing how the tradition is kept and knowledge is maintained.

When you have to fulfill a desire of yours, it is so difficult. But in the spiritual path, dropping the desire is so easy. You drop it and then you forget about it. Spiritual path is the smoothest, effortless and easiest.

Q: Guruji, please explain how to determine if something is a feeling or an intuition.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Time will tell you.
Q: If the creator is real then how can this world which is part of the creator be an illusion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What does illusion mean? Illusion means appears to be.
See in a hologram, all the figures appear. In the hologram all the rays are real, but the figures are temporary. They are not the real existence. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Actually the word Maya means that which changes, that which can be measured. And measurement is not the same. If something weighs one kilo here, when you go to the North Pole it will weigh different and if you go to Singapore that same thing will weigh different. If you go to moon, its weight will be just 1/6th of what it weighs here. And this knowledge people had in the past. That is why they said this whole universe can be measured and measurement is not real.
Q: Einstein’s special theory of relativity which gives us E=MC2 is based on the fact that the speed of light is the only thing that doesn’t change. Can you say something about that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With the discovery of dark matter and dark energy they say that there is a very big difference. Even the measurement of light is only relative, it is not absolute.
In that sense, love, light, etc., cannot be measured, it is all part of the Divinity, it is not Maya.
But this dark energy and dark matter which science has come up with now is very interesting. That is what has been said even in the Rig Veda. It is said that in the beginning the universe was dark energy covered by darkness. People would not understand this; they found it very weird and something with no sense. But in the Nasadiya Sukta (known as the hymn of creation), it says, ‘Neither this was, nor that was, it was all dark energy covered by darkness.’
The latest discovery about that is absolutely befitting. Actually, it looks like it has been translated from Sanskrit. And it talks about, what you call the Milky Way, how all the planets and stars were just gas and water. How from space element gas came and light came. The friction from the gas made light, from light came water and from water came the earth. It is such a beautiful description of the galaxy.
Q: Dearest Guruji, can we meditate on you instead of a mantra? What is the best way to mediate to merge into your energy and become you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now just take the mantra and let it go, don’t do anything.
Q: In my school, almost all the children say bad words, how can I control myself from saying these words? And how can I help them to stop saying these words?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have the power. You are superman, I tell you. You be determined, ‘I will not say any bad words.’
Do you know, I have not said one bad word all these years? So when I could do it, you can also do it. Never has it come to me, even when I was upset. The worst word that has come out of me is, ‘Stupid’, that is all I have said. Nothing beyond that, no swearing, not a single bad word, ever.
Q: Why is the road of spirituality so difficult?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Difficult?! My goodness! This is the smoothest, effortless and easiest. Other jobs are very difficult. I go for the easiest things in the world. It is so comfortable and so easy, you can smile your way through, dance your way through. It is the other things in the world that you have to do that is difficult. When you have to fulfill a desire of yours, it is so difficult. But in the spiritual path, dropping the desire is so easy. You drop it and then you forget about it.
Q: If someone, whom you know loves and cares for you, doesn’t show it to you anymore, how do you still believe that they do and not get angry with them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Give them some time, let them take a break and recharge them self to show you their care back again. People do need a little bit of recharging again and again.
You have drawn all that love and attention from them and it needs a little more time to get recharged. Just know they are recharging their batteries. If you demand from someone to show you their love, it is not going to work. On the contrary, it will be counterproductive. So never demand and never question, ‘Why don’t you love me?’ Don’t say that.
In fact, you should say the other way around, ‘Why do you love me so much? I don’t deserve it. Why do you love me so much? You love me too much, I can’t take it anymore.’ Tell them this and you will see everything changes. You know, it is such a burden for someone to prove their love for you.
Suppose someone tells you the same thing, ‘I don’t think you love me, come on show me.’
Then you will think, ‘Oh my God, how should I prove that I really love him.’ It is such a burden and nobody wants to carry such a burden on their head all the time.
Everyday you come home and prove that you really love your spouse at home. No! Take it for granted and move on. Don’t try to make someone accountable to prove their love for you.
Q: As Buddha attained enlightenment he must have experienced what other masters experienced, yet he never spoke about God. Because of this some people even say that he was an atheist. Can you talk about this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, in Buddha’s time there were many concepts of God. Many people had read all the Upanishad.
You should remember all of Buddha’s followers were high intellectuals in contrast to the followers of Jesus; they were all fishermen; simpletons. But Buddha’s followers were well read high intellectuals, so they all knew about God; they knew about Brahman, they knew about Atma, they knew about everything. And when you start talking and discussing, it will only remain on that level.
Again, since there were so many schools of thought, if he would approve of any one school of thought then the other schools of thought will say, ‘No that is not that way,’ and then they would all go away from him. So Buddha was very clever, he said, ‘Let me not talk about all these different schools of thought. People will all come and really enjoy and find the truth for themselves’, because they were all stuck there as they all studied in big universities. There were big universities at that time, thousands of people were studying, and they studied all the different schools of thought, scriptures, medicine and everything. India was at its peak at that time.
So Buddha said, ‘I am not going to get into this argument. I just want to give them a simple technique.’ Like what we do. We don’t talk about a belief system, religion or anything. We simply say, ‘Just do Sudarshan Kriya’, and everybody does it – Muslims, Jewish people, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, everyone does it and they find the true experience of being hallow and empty.
So that is why Buddha said, ‘No, I am not going to speak about God.’ That was the right thing to do at that time.
Whereas Jesus was different, in his time there was only one school of thought there, in the village where he was teaching, and they all believed in God. Judaism was the only school of thought and they all depended on only that one book. So he spoke on the same lines of God, and then he introduced them to the knowledge without negating it.
Do you see what I am saying?
Moreover, his followers were very simple people. They did not even have that deep study of different scriptures. So it was easy, they all were charmed by the simple message of God is Love, and they followed.
Lord Buddha did exactly what he had to do and it was absolutely fine. That is why later on also, when Adi Shankara and other saints came, they found that there really is no difference between what Buddha said and what the Upanishads say. So India never became a Buddhist country because what Buddha said was already present.
Buddha never started a religion by himself; he lived as a Hindu monk. He became a Hindu monk and died also as a Hindu monk only. But afterwards Buddhism became a separated religion. He was just a reformer of the Hindu Sanatana, the ancient way of life. It was not even called a religion but just a way of life. He was part of the ancient way of life, and then it became a religion afterwards when it left India.
The influence of Lord Buddha was so much afterwards that people started forgetting all the Upanishads and everything, then Adi Shankara from the tradition, he came and he re-established Yoga and Vedanta. Adi Shankara said only thing, it is just one flip over and that is all that happened. Buddha said everything is emptiness. ‘I went deep in meditation and I searched but I could not find any Soul or any Self.’ This was his last sentence.
Adi Shankara said it in a different way, referring to Self as an object or as a substance. So Adi Shankara turned it around and he said, ‘Who could not find the Self, that is the Self, and this Self is all bliss, it is space.’
And then he just brought this whole knowledge, this philosophy back. Till this point, everything else said in Buddhism is the same – I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not this, I am not this – and then when you go to the center core, Buddha said, ‘There is nothing’, and Adi Shankara said, ‘There is everything. This is the spirit, this is consciousness, and the consciousness is in one place, and every place.’
So in short, just like Jesus, Adi Shankara also lived only for 32 years and in those 32 years, he traveled the length and breadth of what is India today, several times.
In those days there were no vehicles, no cell phones, nothing. So it is said, any direction Adi Shankara would walk there would be victory there, there would be celebration, because 500 years after Buddha, people became very pessimistic. It is said that people were not taking interest in anything in life. They said, ‘Life is anyways sorrow, life is misery, so we don’t have to do anything.’
So, the military was not there, the Kings were all discouraged, the celebration aspect simply vanished. People were only talking about Anitya – Everything is impermanent so just become hallow and empty. This was the only slogan that was being said throughout. But Adi Shankara said, ‘Come on, it is impermanent, but there is something permanent as well, so let everyone celebrate, sing, dance.’
Then he started Bhaja Govindam, and then music, dance, culture and all these things were re-introduced by Adi Shankara.

If you have taken a step into spirituality, what you need to remember is, 'In any condition let me be happy. Wherever I am, however I am, I want to be happy. Even if I have to go through a tough time, I will go through it with a smile', this one determination you should have.

Q: I had my Upanayanam many years ago but I never quite understood the significance of the ceremony, the thread and Sandhyavandanam. Can you please explain? Isn’t Kriya enough, why Sandhyavandanam?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you do Kriya, that is good enough and afterwards if you are being initiated, do the Gayatri Japa.
Gayatri Japa means – Let my intellect be inspired by the Divine.
It is our intellect which blocks the vast Divinity from expressing itself fully in life.
So, the prayer is, ‘May the Divine inspire my intellect. May the Supreme Energy manifest in my life and in my intellect.’
And in Upanayanam, they usually put a thread on you and the thread is to signify that you have a responsibility towards the knowledge, towards your parents and towards society. So it signifies carrying your responsibilities on the shoulders.
A young boy, before he goes to study, they make him realize that, 'You have the responsibility.’ And then the child studies and comes back.
When you have finished all your responsibilities, in Sanyasa, then they remove the thread and throw it.
If you are a recluse, then you don’t have the thread. This is a system that has been followed from a long time.
Q: Guruji, string theory talks about parallel universes. Can you say something on this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, parallel universes are talked about. There are 14 worlds and they are parallel, one inside the other. Right here there could be many universes. The Pitra Loka is not somewhere else, it is right here. That is why our senses only analyze a few things – tanmatras.
There is a little bit of all the five elements present in our senses and because of their presence we are able to see and experience this. Like our tanmatra of light is different from the tanmatra of an owl. So if it is very dark outside, you can’t see, but an owl can see.
Tanmatras of bats is even different. Where you cannot see anything, bats can see. Its ability to perceive is different. You will need a torch to move around in your room when everything is dark, but a cat doesn’t need it, it will find its way. So, our all our five sensory perceptions are based on something called tanmatras – our frequency.
We are tuned to a particular frequency, but the universe is of infinite frequencies.
Q: I just started a new anti-psychotic drug for the condition I have. I would like to hear from you some message of inspiration or hope. I love you and I feel so much a part of you but I am feeling like a failure right now, and I worry that I won’t regain my talents. I keep fighting, but some words from you will be very helpful.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t fight. The body needs medicines, just take them, relax and be happy. If you have taken a step into spirituality, what you need to remember is – in any condition let me be happy, wherever I am, however I am, I want to be happy. I will be happy, I will keep smiling, and even if I have to go through a tough time, I will go through it with a smile – this one thought, this one determination you should have.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A criticism should go with compassion and care

May 10, 2012

Montreal, Canada
Love is something that you can never get rid of. It is your nature. Either it presents itself in its pure form or it presents itself in a distorted form. Either there is pure love, or pure love gets expressed in a distorted form.
What are the distortions of love? Anger, jealousy, hatred, greed and possessiveness. All these paraphernalia, negative emotions are nothing but love upside down. Even blame is love. Do you see what I’m saying?
If you don’t like somebody, you would simply move away from them. If you keep blaming, that means you really like them. You can’t stay away from them, you can’t get away from them and that is why you keep blaming them.
What is the use of blame? See, you blame someone and if that person is really a culprit, for the first time it will provoke him, but if you keep blaming him, he becomes numb to it; he doesn’t care. Suppose someone is a real thief, and you keep telling him, ‘You are a thief’, you are wasting your time blaming him, because every time you say it, it doesn’t matter to him. It doesn’t touch him at all.
The whole day, you stand on the top of a tower and keep shouting, ‘He is a thief, he is a thief’, so what? A thief will never feel affected by it.
So, a true culprit doesn’t get affected by your blaming him or her. If he is not a culprit, if he is an honest person, really genuine and you blame him, it pierces his heart; it touches his soul, stirs his soul. If that person is a yogi, he will use it for his benefit.

Blaming your mother-in-law is not going to give you anything positive in return. You may get a lot of problems! Instead of blaming them, take this opportunity as an exercise for you to maintain your equanimity.

If that person is a yogi meaning, the one who has some wisdom, he will say that people praise and they blame, but I have to keep my equanimity. So a yogi uses it as an exercise to maintain his equanimity and wishes only good to everyone. If the person is not that wise, if it pierces his heart and he feels the pain, it rebounds back to you. So, in either case, it will not serve the purpose to blame someone, and write badly about them day and night.
There are some people who I have heard write only negative about The Art of Living, day and night. At least by this, they are following what we are doing! They write all sorts of rubbish. It doesn’t matter to us. What their purpose is, we don’t know. Do they want to prevent others from coming to The Art of Living? I tell them it is not going to work. People will anyways come. If they write negative, more people will be curious to know what it is and they will anyway come. So, they are simply wasting their time and energy.
So, blame does not lead you anywhere and does not give you any result. Suppose by your blaming, you can correct somebody, that is excellent, but the thing is you cannot correct a culprit by blaming him. You can only correct him with love, compassion and communication. Blame means no communication.
If a real culprit is there and you want to correct him, you can only do it through communication. And if it is not a real culprit, your whole exercise is futile. Are you getting what I’m saying? Your whole exercise is futile because you are blaming and blaming, and it does not help.
Say, in your home, someone is incorrigible and they irritate you. Your mother, your father, spouse, children or somebody irritates you, what do you do? You keep blaming them. Your blaming your mother in law is not going to give you anything positive in return. You may get a lot of problems! Instead of blaming them, take this opportunity as an exercise for you to maintain your equanimity; your inner balance. So, if everything is okay, if everybody is praising you and you say that I am a very balanced person, it doesn’t mean much. It doesn’t make any sense.
If a bunch of people or even one person is blaming you for what you have not done and you still keep your balance then that means you have achieved something, you have gotten somewhere, and you have risen to some level. Are you getting what I’m saying? You need such an opportunity. Somebody blames you and you are able to maintain your equanimity, knowing what they are doing is completely rubbish and false.

So, for someone who is blaming an innocent person, it is not going to do them any good, even though the victim sends them blessings. Those who blame the innocent, it is not such a good thing. However, constructive criticism is essential.
This does not mean that you always say good things and nice things even when you feel nothing is okay. You put a smile on your face, but you feel very angry inside. This is not going to work. We should be genuine. We should be honest. You know, suppressing anger inside is also another problem. At the same time, being a time bomb all the time or a timeless bomb is even dangerous. So, we need a certain balance in life, certain wisdom. Silence, meditation and all these practices will take you in that direction.
Now, don’t tell me, ‘Oh, I have been doing meditation for so long but I still lose my temper’. Never mind. If you were losing your temper a hundred times, now you are losing it a dozen times. If you were losing your temper a dozen times, maybe you lose it a couple of times now. So, it always reduces.
You can never say that it does not work at all. When you blame someone, just analyze what your purpose of blaming is. You want to correct the person, is that why you are blaming? Or are you blaming just because you want to vent out your emotions? What is your attitude? Why do you want to do it? Venting out your emotions or blaming someone only shows how immature you are, how much jealousy you have, how you have no control over your own mind, and how much more you need meditation and all this. Isn’t it?
There is a very beautiful couplet in Kannada which I used to study in school. It says, ‘If you have built a home in the forest and you say that you are scared of animals, what can I tell you? You have built a home on the seashore and then you are scared of waves, what can I advise you? And you have built a home right in the middle of the city, and you are averse to noise, what can I advise you? In the same way, having built a home on the top of a hill, you say that you don’t like breeze, you don’t like wind and you are scared of wind, what can I tell you? Similarly, being in this world, in the society, if you are scared of blame and praise and say that I don’t want to be praised or blamed, what can I tell you? I take refuge at the feet of my lord and then there is comfort wherever I am. The only comfort is the refuge at the feet of the lord’. It is so beautiful!
Which is the place where there is no fear? That is when I take refuge at the feet of the Divine. In school, we used to laugh at these little poems in our textbooks. But now I think they have removed all these poems.
So, that used to be a lesson for us, that if someone blames you or criticizes you or they praise you, you should treat them the same, you should not be worried about it. Stand up to criticism. And give constructive criticism with compassion. A criticism should go with compassion and care. That works. Blaming is out of anger, jealousy, hatred and does not work. It does not yield any result.

A person is blaming you for what you have not done and you still keep your balance then that means you have achieved something, you have gotten somewhere, you have risen to some level.

Q: Dear Gurudev, I feel that the current education system is often more harmful to the children. We are taught to compete instead of cooperate and encouraged to study for grades and jobs instead of learning for the joy of understanding things. We are forced to absorb information and facts instead of pursuing things at our own pace and knowledge. What is your guidance on this, Guruji? Should we seek out schools without exams and a rigid syllabus?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, though the education system is not perfect, we are compelled to go with the flow, because only then your child will get a job. They will get an academic recognition. Even in medical science, there are many textbooks that were written long ago but are being taught today. Today’s modern medicine has made many things irrelevant, but we still go on studying the old textbooks.
Yesterday, I heard that there are some 43 genes that cause heart problems, but our medical science only knows five or six. They think of only those parameters. They don’t know the other parameters.
So, science is being updated every day. New researchers are coming up and old paradigms have become obsolete. There is a paradigm shift, but children are still studying the same syllabus in schools and colleges. It takes quite a while for them to update the syllabus.
For example, in history there was an Aryan invasion theory, which said that Aryans came from central Asia and invaded India. Today, they have proved that to be wrong and a complete falsehood. But still, the textbook carries the same story. It may take another decade for them to change all this. But there is no option. If someone says, ‘No, I will not study this, I will do it on my own’, they will not get a degree. They will not get a job. They will not even be considered as an educated person, though they may be more knowledgeable. If you are just studying for your own hobby, for your own joy, for gaining knowledge and wisdom, you don’t need any academics. But when you are seeking it as a profession, seeking a job, you will have to go with the flow.
In the past, several wise men have tried this. Many people have been experimenting this, but the success of this project is a big question mark. We don’t know how many children who have studied there have gotten a job and have become successful in their careers. They may have, but it is a big question mark.

Home schooling is good in America; more and more people are doing home schooling. I am not saying no, but you may have to find out about it. If you have a family business, then degrees don’t matter at all, because your children will anyways manage the family business. Then they can do anything they want.
Q: At the time of death what is the ideal mantra to chant, or image to have? The scriptures say that if you do it right, you can achieve moksha (liberation). Also, what can the family members chant or whisper or do for the dying person to help liberate them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Om Namah Shivaya is what I would say. Om Namah Shivaya or Om Namo Narayanaya or Hari Om; any of these.
Q: What causes me to lose my connection to you many times, only to find it again? Can you comment on this? Is this going to change one day?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Know that the loosing of connection is an illusion and having the connection is the reality.
Sometimes, when there are dark clouds, the blue sky doesn’t appear. The blue sky has not gone anywhere. In a few moments, those dark clouds will disappear. Sky is always there. It is there before the clouds, after the clouds, during the clouds, all the time. In the same way, one’s connection is always there; it is an illusion that it appears to be disconnected.
Q: Is Atman one or many? If it is one, what carries individual karma and takes it from one body to another? What retains the individuality even after one is enlightened? Is there one enlightened being or many?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With the questions you asked, we could write a book! We will take it all up sometime. Right now, you keep wondering about that.
Q: Do you know which member in the audience is asking the question that is being read aloud?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: As long as you take the answer, it is good. Don’t think that answer is for someone else. That question is yours and the answer is just for you.
Q: What does Om mean when we chant it 3 times, what does it invoke in us?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, somewhere in Boston during Guru Purnima in 2010, a lady from the Boston-Connecticut area had done a research where they recorded the sound Om, put it in the computer and found that the frequency of Om is exactly the same as the frequency of earth’s rotation around its own axis. So, in some sense, earth is saying Om. It is very interesting.
Om is called the sound of one hand clapping. Om is the eternal sound; Om is the sound which is there in the universe all the time.
All the saints in the past, when they went deep into meditation, they just heard Om. So, Om means many things. It means love, eternity, purity, peace. Om is made up of several dhatus: 'Ah' 'Oo' 'Ma'. Just ‘Ah’ has 19 meanings.
You can derive some several thousand meanings from Om. All those meanings are attributed to Om, so Om is the seed of the whole creation; Om is the sound of creation.
In Bible too, it is said, ‘In the beginning there was a word and the word was with God and the word was God’. That is Om.
There they don’t say which word; the word is Om.
It is in all the religions in some or the other form. That is the true name, ‘Ek Omkar Sat Naam’. Om means truth. It is the name of the infinity or the Divinity. It means love. It is the origin of the universe.
There is a beautiful verse in the Guru Granth Sahib, which begins with ‘Ek Omkar Sat Naam, Karta Purakh’ – From Om everything has come, in Om everything dwells, and into Om everything will dissolve; both matter and consciousness.
The best thing is that it is a complete vibration. ‘Ah’ affects the lower part of the body, ‘Oo’ affects the middle part, ‘Ma’ affects the upper part. The total prana is represented by one syllable Om. Before birth, we were part of that sound and after death we will merge with that sound; the sound of the spirit. So, you can say many things about Om. There is a whole Upanishad, the Mandukya Upanishad, which is all about Om.
Now, why don’t we take only Om as a mantra? Why do we need any other mantra to chant during meditation? Before meditation, you chant Om and create the vibration, but for meditation you need different mantras. Just Om is not used; Hari Om or Om Namah Shivaya, or something else is used along with Om.
Only recluses, those who want to do nothing with the world, or are very old are allowed to do chant Om. Even then, it is not advisable.
Q: Is enlightenment achieved through meditation only?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Is thirst quenched through water only? Is hunger quenched through food only? Or can you dance and get rid of your hunger? What do you say? Seva is essential; seva, meditation, all that are essential.

If you are doing everything only to satisfy your own self, you will be bored, because nothing in the world can satisfy you. Do something that is good for others. Any seva you do will always bring you benefits, beyond your imagination.

Q: I am not sure about what I want to do in life. I want to ask you but I don’t even know what to ask and what exactly I want. I get bored doing anything in very little time. I find myself being very moody. I am not satisfied or happy doing anything. How can I live my life with this kind of mental state?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You want comfort too much. Get out of your comfort zone. You are only thinking of your comfort and pleasure; that is when you get into this sort of stage or state.
You are here to be useful to somebody else. You are here to do something useful to someone. How can you be bored? Even if you are bored, you have to do that, because what you do is useful to someone else. If you are self-centered, and you think, ‘If I like it only then I will do it’, then that is not seva. That won’t bring you satisfaction. Do you see what I’m saying?
‘I don’t like meeting people’, but you are meeting people for your sake or for their sake? If you are meeting people for their sake, then your life is fulfilling.
You may say, ‘Guruji, you can do this, but what about me? I cannot do this.’ At least do something! You don’t have to do what I am doing; at least do a portion of it, maybe ten percent or five percent. See, I am very free, but yet I am not free. Every day of mine is bound. Do you see what I am saying?
You have all come here to be in satsang with me, I will say, ‘Oh, I don’t feel like being here. I feel moody. I want to go somewhere, to Shawinigan, Trois-Riveres’, and I take a car and just walk away and you are sitting here, waiting for Guruji, where is Guruji?
I don’t want to do this but I am doing it all the 365 days. I am answering the same questions; people are saying, ‘Will you find a husband for me?’ ‘Will you find a wife for me?’ or ‘Get me a job’, or do this, or do that, or take a picture with me, ‘You don’t care for me’, ‘You care for me’; all these stories. Do I feel bored? I have been doing this for 30 years now; more than 30 years, even before The Art of Living too, for 40 years!
I can’t say I want to go somewhere for a ride. So, do something that is good for others. I need so much of your time, your work. Don’t worry about whether you like it or not, just do it and see. Sometimes you don’t like doing things in the beginning, but later on, you will reap the fruit of that action. Any seva you do will always take you up; it will always bring you benefits, beyond your imagination. So don’t underestimate that. Do you see what I am saying?
Otherwise, if you are doing everything to satisfy your own self, you will be bored, because nothing in the world can satisfy you. And you are lucky in a way that you are getting so bored so quickly. You are so lucky; you are the right person as a seeker, you have the right ingredients to grow because you get bored with all these material things. That is good.
One very good thing with the kids these days is that they get bored with everything very soon, but instead of getting frustrated, they should move that whole energy in another direction of evolution, to go higher.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Being useful is the purpose of your life

May 09, 2012
Montreal, Canada

In life there are two situations: One is when you are comfortable and happy. Another situation is when you are upset and unhappy.
So what is needed to maintain this comfort and happiness is a willingness to do service.
When we are happy then we don’t serve. Usually the mind doesn’t go in the direction. When you are happy you just want to enjoy and don’t think about care, share or service at that time, and that is when it is very much needed. When you are happy and you do service then happiness will remain.
What we need to ask for is the willingness to do seva when we are happy, and the ability to let go and turn inward when we are unhappy. We need to ask for this, ’Give me the strength to let go and turn inward when I am unhappy.’
And learning to let go of the world when we are still here, in it, enjoying it, is wisdom.

Once an elderly lady in one satsang asked a question, ‘Why did God make this world so miserable?’
The answer was, ‘Yes, he has made it like that for you. Even when it is so miserable you don’t let go of it and turn towards God. Otherwise you will never turn inward.’

The purpose of life is not to be miserable and not make others miserable. If you make this one thing clear in the mind then what is the purpose will automatically come. Do maximum good to maximum number of people.

Q: Dear Guruji, what is the meaning of the Shiva Linga?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Lingam means an identification, a symbol through which you can identify what the truth is, what the reality is. What is not visible but yet can be identified by one thing that is Lingam. When a baby is born, how do you know whether the baby is a male or female? Only through one part of the body can you identify whether this baby is a boy or a girl. Otherwise babies look alike until a certain age. But one part tells you what the future is. And that is the reason the genital is also called Lingam.
Linga means gender. Streelinga means feminine gender and Pulinga means masculine gender. Gender means that by which you identify that which is not yet fully expressed. This is literal meaning of Lingam.
So Shiva Linga means the Divinity is not yet expressed. It is the Divine that is inexpressible actually; beyond expression; identifying that which is not yet expressed. Knowing something which is beyond with a symbol, that is what it is.
This ancient language is so powerful. Just keep a stone anywhere and it becomes a Lingam, which means, through the stone I am thinking of something which is not yet expressed.
Q: Is living a life as a celibate the middle path? How do we get to know of God’s expression in its totality without the feminine-masculine principle?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, you are made up of both, feminine and masculine. Both aspects are in you. Now, celibacy is not the only way. It is not a practice. Celibacy is something that happens, when you know that you are not the body. And the genders masculine and feminine are only to the body, it is not for the consciousness. The consciousness is beyond.
Now, when you realize this consciousness is beyond then you go beyond the gross pleasure. Otherwise we have been trying to know male and female in so many lifetimes being a cat, dog, horse, and whatever animal, and human beings as well. So if you just want to know that then keep knowing it. For how long will you want to know? At some point of time you will say, ‘Enough is enough. I want to just go inside.’ That is when the mind turns inward.
So you should not negate everything and go; but when the energy in you rises up then you want a joy that is free from feverishness and excitement. And that is what it is.
That is why it is said, a minute of Samadhi is equivalent to 1000 units of sex. How much joy you get in one unit of sex, a thousand units of sex is one Samadhi. And that one minute of Samadhi is equivalent to a billion years of rest.
So, do you want that? Then you have to go beyond these regular things. See, you have to give up something to get something.
If you want to really enjoy a nice good meal, you have to give up eating junk food all day. If you are stuffing yourself with a bag of potato chips from the morning, you can’t enjoy your lunch because you won’t have the appetite for it, right? When you are hungry, then you are able to enjoy a good meal.
Q: There are a few people in my life who I want to forgive. Many times I decide to forgive and forget, but all of a sudden I go into the past and start disliking them again. What should I do? I want to be free.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do it right away.
They just did what they had to do, they had no choice. Don’t think of them as free individuals who could go with their choice. They were programmed like that; and the programmed chip is inside. They just work like that, poor thing. Just be compassionate for them. They were compelled to do what they did to you. That is it, finished!
Q: I am torn between spirituality and sex. I feel a sense of guilt mixing both. I am married and have a good relationship with my wife
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are married you have that dharma; that is your duty.
So when you are married then you have to grow together with your spouse and help them to grow.
Have you read Yoga Vasistha? There is a story of Lila in it. Read Yoga Vasistha.

Celibacy is not a practice. It is something that happens when you know that you are not the body. The genders masculine and feminine are only to the body, it is not for the consciousness. The consciousness is beyond.

Q: Psychologists and mostly western thinkers say one should strive to find one’s own purpose and live it. Does each soul have a unique purpose in this life, outside of attaining enlightenment that is?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Each soul is doing some work here on this planet.
You can choose whatever work you want to do, whatever career you want to take. But there is a common thing that psychologists forget. What is that common thing?
Shared values, human values, happiness. These days they have started talking about it.
‘Are you happy?’ This is something we need to ask.
If you are not, then turn inward to find the happiness. Don’t look for it somewhere outside. Once you turned inward, everything starts opening up.
So the purpose of life is not to be miserable and not make others miserable. If you make this one thing clear in the mind then what is the purpose will automatically come.
Do maximum good to maximum number of people. Wherever you are, be the one who is wanted there.
Have you given your 100%? Are you that type of personality where people want to have you back in their team? Are you a team player? If not, then we have to tune ourselves to be team players. When we smoothen these rough edges in our life then the purpose in life becomes very clear.
Do you know why you want a purpose? It is because that brings you satisfaction.
What is the point of doing a purposeful thing? It is because it brings satisfaction. You do something which is not purposeful and it does not bring you satisfaction. So, wanting to have a purpose or no purpose is centered on attaining satisfaction.
If you attain satisfaction, every little thing you do will become very useful.
When you say, ‘I want a purpose’, you are the center of it and you are always thinking what you will gain from this. But when you are satisfied, your whole life becomes useful.
And if being useful is the purpose of your life, then be it, and that is it. Got it? You feel very satisfied when you are being useful. This is something that people have to keep in mind, to be useful. And when you say I want to be useful, then wherever you are whatever you do, automatically you will find yourself to be very useful.
Q: Is it possible to attain self-realization even if I am stuck in a dysfunctional marriage? My spouse’s negativity and anger floods my system. Do I still have a chance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, yes, yes, yes! Thank your spouse. You can grow very well and you can become really solid. They are negative and you are positive, in spite of whatever they accuse you of you keep smiling. You have all the chances.
Q: According to the textbooks of University of Toronto it says that a woman has to reincarnate in the body of man to attain enlightenment. The text book says that this is written in the Vedas.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Totally wrong! Immediately write to them a letter telling them this is wrong. It is not said like that anywhere in the Vedas. Let them give me a quotation. It is simply not true.
Yes, it is what is called the Smritis, but the Smritis are not the Vedas, they were written by different Kings of different times. In the ancient times, different Kings of different kingdoms wrote the rules and regulations for the society. One of those is Manu Smriti, in which he has written only one thing, that women are not fit for freedom because she needs protection by the father, and then by the husband, and later on by the son. All through her life she needs protection, so she is not fit for freedom.
But this is only in the Smritis, which means it is only a King’s opinion. Nowhere in the Vedas is it said that women cannot attain enlightenment. There are women saints! Gargi and Maitri, they are enlightened ones.
Tell them to read Yoga Vasishta. Lessons of the Vedas are in the Yoga Vasistha. It is a woman who attained enlightenment first, Chudala. And then another woman called Leela.
Leela and Chudala, these are the women who have attained enlightenment first, and then had their husbands attain through them. We should ask them to change their text.
Q: Dearest Guruji, I am not interested in spirituality or attaining enlightenment. I am only interested in you! How can I attain you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are saying the same thing in a different manner that is all. I am spirituality and you can’t separate spirituality or enlightenment from me. That is impossible.
In the ancient texts it’s called Dravya Guna Sambandha, the relation between a substance and its quality. It is through the quality only that you identify a substance.
Sugar powder and salt powder they both look like, it is only through the taste that you know whether it is sugar or salt; through the sweetness or the saltiness.
I know many times many women in their blissful state or in their worried state put salt in the pudding. Honestly tell me, how many of you have done this before? (Many raise their hands)
It is milk pudding and it tastes very salty.
So, it is the quality in a substance that makes that substance. They are related very closely.
Q: I want to lose my mind, what do I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just sit here when the hollow and empty meditation is happening and the mind automatically dissolves. Your wanting to lose it is the problem. Just be! However the mind is let it be. If it is full of garbage say, ‘Okay, let it be.’
All the garbage in your head is organic compost, let it be. You’re trying to get rid of it is a biggest problem. It is a big work, so for God’s sake, don’t do such work. Mind has been given by God, let it be. This is the sutra – Let it be.

There is only one thing that is worth relying on and that is the being, the truth, the consciousness, and that is what everything is.
Q: How to deal with negative, controlling, political people? In short our bosses.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With 3 things, skill, patience, and positivity. This should work. If this doesn’t work, then team up, this is the easiest thing most people do. Team up against somebody and very easily it can work. But success is not guaranteed there. For success, skill, patience and positivity, all these are needed. And if you ask me, prayer, that is the best.
As I said yesterday, everything is just made up of one substance. If you just have that intention, let this man change today, and when you go with that intention you will see, he will behave completely different.
See, in this world many times your friends behave like enemies, hasn’t this happened to you? Someone whom you do everything for they behave like enemies, and sometimes those whom you considered enemies they come to your rescue. This is a fact in history. Turn the pages of history and you will find that in every continent, in every country, in every village such things have been happening in the past. So, there is only one thing that is worth relying on and that is the being, the truth, the consciousness, and that is what everything is.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

You don't need to learn anything

May 08, 2012
Montreal, Canada
In ancient times, the Kings used to support those who would sit in Samadhi. Their job was to just sit in Samadhi for a few hours every day and create those beautiful vibrations all around. They were called Purohits – those who do good things, beneficial things for the society, for the town. They would chant everyday and sit in Samadhi and create an atmosphere of vibrant positivity. But then later on people forgot all this and now it is completely gone. When can you go into such Samadhi? When you are not craving for anything; when there are no wants left, then Samadhi happens.
Q: Dearest Guruji, this precious tradition of knowledge that we are in, what is the root of it? And how long are we going to continue?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Root of it I don’t know. It is from thousands and thousands of years. It is not five, six, seven or ten thousand, no! It from thousands of years; we don’t know. Nobody knows. Maybe as old as the consciousness.
Q: If I am Brahman, if I am the eternal presence, if I am totally free from inside, if I am the pure consciousness, why is it that I am not able to know that or experience that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because your mind is outside. You want this, you want that, you want comfort, you want relationships, you want 101 things and your mind is in it. How will you go inside? How will you experience that? So when you are free from wanting and when you say, ‘I want nothing, I am satisfied’, then you go inward.
There are two situations when you say I want nothing. One is when you are frustrated, ’I want nothing! I give up.’ That state doesn’t work. When you say, ‘I give up, I can’t handle it anymore.’ That frustrated state will not help.
When you say, ‘Oh I am so total, complete, I want nothing.’ That state of being happy and wanting nothing can turn the mind inward. This is a catch 22 situation because when you turn inward, only then you say, ‘I want nothing.’ But unless you say, ‘I want nothing’, you can’t go inward. (Sri Sri laughs)
This you have to figure out, I don’t know how you will make it. I am giving you so many gimmicks, so many techniques, do this, do that, do that and do that, but I don’t know how you will do it. (Sri Sri laughs)
You have to get yourself in that position of being happy and saying, ‘I want nothing. I am full, I am satisfied.’ Then the mind soaks in bliss.

All these recreational drugs, they just destroys your body. It will temporarily give you a little high state that just takes you off from the mundane to a seemingly subtle feeling. People who use all this, look at their faces, there is no joy, no vibrancy, no radiance and they have no aura.

Q: You have said I am with you. Does that mean you know all my thoughts, actions, hopes and fears? Are you literally within me, every day, at night, at home, at my job and everywhere, all the time? If so it is comforting to know, and I better start watching my thoughts and actions.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you want to know all the trade secrets? I won’t tell you all that.
Yes, sometimes you are looking and sometimes you close your eyes.
Q: Many native traditions conduct ceremonies including eating or drinking specific herbs and plants to elicit higher states of consciousness. Is there an equivalent in Vedanta? And is this practice harmful or beneficial?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, Ayurveda is a science, it definitely has many mantra aushadhis; some herbs do induce a state of calmness. But dependency on them again is bondage, so Vedanta discards it.
Ayurveda and Yoga, both definitely talk about herbs which can make you very calm and go deep, but most of these herbs, these drugs, that people use are harmful to the system. More harmful than the good that it does.
All these recreational drugs, absolutely not! It just destroys your body. It will temporarily give you a little high state that just takes you off from the mundane to a seemingly subtle feeling. But I have never tried it, never ever.
So this is what people say, but I don’t recommend it because I see people who use all this; smoke Marijuana or Afeem (Opium) and all that. Look at their face, there is no joy, no vibrancy, no radiance and they have no aura. So it never triggered any interest in me.
If you go to a Kumbh Mela, you will find a lot of sadhus who smoke Hookah, Charas, Opium, but looking at their faces it is far from anything you would call spiritual. They are completely oblivious of everything else in the world. They are in their own world. None of the signs of enlightenment you can see in them. So this is unfortunate.
Yes, in the past, this has been used only as a therapy. See, if somebody was too obsessed with sex, or somebody was too obsessed with greed, or jealousy, or some sort of delusion, then in the past they would have given them just a little bit to turn their mind off from whatever trouble they were in, but they never used it so much. The same with tantric sex as well, it was given only to someone who was obsessed with sex too much. Do you see what I am saying?
Somebody has some hormonal imbalance in the body and they can’t think of anything but sex, the whole day and night, for those people they said this is all like walking on the razors edge. So a well experienced Guru would initiate them and give them just for that. Only for a short period of time, not forever but for 3 months, 6 months or 1 year, something like that, so that the things would balance in the system. This is one particular section that they used to teach; but that whole tradition is lost now.
Q: I have so often wondered when will there ever be deep and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Let us hope that it should come within our lifetime.
Recently one of our Art of Living teachers from Israel did a commendable job. She raised some funds and brought some Palestinian ladies and some Israeli ladies who really hated each other to the German Ashram. She put them there, and they couldn’t run away anywhere. She then made them interact with each other. In the beginning they were ready to kill each other, they argued, and hated each other, and then the whole thing turned around and became so positive. And this was covered as a big story in all the newspapers in Germany. Televisions covered this story and said, ‘If one lady, one teacher of The Art of Living could bring so many women from both communities together, then there is a lot of hope.’
It is a question of bringing people closer.
Q: If man has to ask for one thing in life, what should he ask for?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why should he ask only for one thing? He should ask for as many things as he wants. When he is thirsty he should ask for water, if he is going to do bhastrika before that he should ask for tissue paper. He should ask for food when he is hungry. Why should you limit his asking to only one thing?
I tell you, this world is multitude with so many things in this world. Why would God create only one thing and leave you there? Just imagine, if there is only one vegetable that you could ask for in your life, which one would you ask for? Okra? Eat okra all your life? Or bananas? And go bananas all your life!
Why should you? Ask and it shall be given. And whenever, whatever is needed, that time you ask and move on. And when you are filled with everything, then say, ‘I want nothing, I am happy.’
The wants have to fall off. You can’t renounce them like that. You are thirsty and you say, ‘No, I don’t want water’, you can’t do that. You are thirsty then you need water at that time.
Unfortunately, there is this Jain tradition which I don’t approve of. They leave the body without having food. They fast for many days, it is almost like suicide.
So the saint lies on the bed and says, ’Water, water, water’, because it is an inner urge, and people around him say, ‘The words of the saint are true. There you will get a lot of water.’ And they don’t give him any water. So there, upstairs you will get, don’t ask for it, never mind, die without water.
He would instruct them, ‘Don’t give me water even if I shout for it.’
I tell you, it is torture.
It has become much less today but still people do that. This is very wrong I tell you. Mahaveer never said that you have to fast without water and die like this. But there is a particular tradition where they try to do this. Even among Hindus, some people torture themselves. A very small sect of people they have all these practices of torturing themselves. These are not at all approved of. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna very clearly says, ‘These people are torturing themselves, they do not know of me inside them. I am there right there sitting inside them. They don’t see me, they don’t recognize me.’
These are tamasic practices, they try to torture themselves. ‘Karsayanta sarira stharin bhuta grama acetasah mam, Caivantah sarira stham tan viddhy asura niscayan’
So there is a middle path. On one side egotistic people try to torture themselves, and on another side there are those who are so obsessed with the comfort of the body.
You are sitting; okay your legs are aching, never mind, let it ache. You won’t die with a few little aches and pains here and there. Let it ache, with that determination if you sit, you will see the pain disappears.
When you do yoga, it definitely pains. Your body stretches here and stretches there, and it pains here and there, but if you continue the pain disappears. It is the same if you go to the gym and do your exercise. Next day your body aches everywhere, isn’t it? But you don’t leave it, you just continue and then the pain disappears. You do one or two sessions and all the aches and pains go away.
So, on one side there are people who torture themselves because of their ego, on the other side there are those who are obsessed with the comfort of the body. Both are lost; they both can’t make it.

Who can? One who follows the middle path, that golden line. Is that clear?
So for meditation also, the one who fasts he will never get it, and the one who is over eating he will also never get it; nor the one who over sleeps, or those who torture themselves keeping awake all the time. Nor those who don’t do any activity and nor those who do not take out even a little time to meditate. None of the extremes will work. It has to be the middle path, middle path, middle path!

As a spirit you are perfect, as a body and mind complex,you are imperfect. So, if you keep examining yourself you will find imperfection in you. Offer your imperfections to the Divine.

Q: I am afraid that Earth is a testing and training ground. If this is so how do I know what lessons I need to learn or what skills I need to develop? I am tired. How many more lessons to go?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just forget about everything.
Who says you have to go through some exams? You don’t need to learn anything I tell you, become hollow and empty. Just drop everything before you drop dead. That’s the secret, and be happy!
There is no perfection in the world, I tell you. This world is full of imperfections, just accept it. You’ll be at peace. Did you get it?
And this body and mind belongs to the world. As a spirit you are perfect, as a body and mind complex, you are imperfect. So, if you keep examining yourself you will find imperfection in yourself, and if you keep examining the world you will find imperfection there too. And usually you move from this imperfection to that imperfection. Either you find the world is imperfect and you think you are perfect, or if you think you are imperfect, then you see everybody else is better than you and everyone is perfect, only you are imperfect and you start blaming yourself. So you get into this blame game of blaming either yourself or the world. This is the worst thing for a sadhak; stop doing that!
Offering your imperfections to the Divine say, ‘However I am I belong to you, and you are the Lord, you are the perfect one.’ So you give your imperfection to somebody.
‘Oh mother Divine, you are perfect, I offer myself to you.’
See if you are a soccer player, what do you do? A player offers his imperfections to the coach. You tell the coach that this is what you don’t know and these are your imperfection. Then coach takes over and says, ‘Okay, you don’t worry, I will tell you what to do.’
The same thing, you offer your imperfections to the Guru, ‘Guruji, however I am, my imperfections, I have offered to you’, and relax. It is the silence in you, the quietness in you which is the mother of all skills. It is the mother of perfection. Action is never the mother of perfection, action doesn’t bring in skills. What brings in skills is yoga. Do you know why you should do yoga? Why you should be quiet? Why you should meditate? That brings the perfects skills in you; it brings perfection and a better quality of enjoyment too – all these three benefits.
To enjoy this world also you need to go inward, you need yoga. Yoga brings skill in action, yoga brings out the perfection in you and yoga brings out the talents and skills in you, and also provides you better comforts and enjoyment.
Q: It is great having this silence course and learning about truth and life. When we go back to the real world all the stresses and negativity surround us again, how to tackle that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Actually this is the real world. You have to coin this separately.
This is the real world and when you go there, that is just your visiting place. That is your transit lounge and this is your home.
Do you know what Adi Shankaracharya said in Bhaja Govindam?
He said, ’Suramandiratarumoolanivaasah, Sayyaa bhootalamajinam vaasah, Sarvaparigraha bhogatyaagah, Kasya sukham na karoti viraagah. Bhaja govindam, Bhaja govindam.’
It is so beautiful, it says – my original abode is there, my true home is there, and here, I have come to visit, just to take a little rest.
So know that this is the real stuff and this is reality. You go back to the world and definitely there is some negativity that comes. That is how it is, and you are there to bring some positivity in it! Your job is to bring some positivity in that atmosphere, don’t get lost there; that is why you keep coming back and going back.
Why we are building all these ashrams? We could have just sat in one place. Why am I traveling around the world? You know this is my 18th or 19th stop in one month’s time. This is the 12th country I am visiting. Why do I go around; everywhere? I know we need to have places like this which are lighthouses, where people can come and find their inner peace. So that is why we are making centers everywhere and having satsangs everywhere. If there are none in your area then you start one!

You know, these are gas stations; you need gas stations because everywhere people run out of gas. Then their cars become immobile. So satsang groups are gas stations, go fill up, charge yourself. You can’t cry, ‘Oh I filled up my gas here and now it is all empty, what do I do?’ It is empty because that is nature; fill it again.
At the same time, you can’t live in the gas station. Got it? That is why I say even to people who are ashramites and who are staying at one place for too long, that they have to move around. I tell them to go travel around and share their knowledge. When they start sharing they will be happier. If they are in one place all the time then they sometimes get bored. There is an age when you cannot travel, and you are satisfied and fulfilled, then it is okay.