Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
Tomorrow is Shivaratri, the celebration of the Transcendental Truth or reality; the only reality. Shivaratri is a celebration of the truth that is ultimate bliss (Satchidananda); the substratum of the whole creation, and also the essence of everything that exists.
Shiva Tattva is the essence of all that is unmanifest and manifest in this creation. As we relax and meditate upon the Shiva Tattva, we realize that true bliss and joy which is our real nature.Just accept everything around you, that is the essence.
Small things upset you from time to time and your mind gets caught up. Just drop all these and recognize that everything is part of a divine process.
Small things upset you from time to time, and your mind gets caught in cravings and aversions. On Shivaratri, just drop all these and recognize that everything is Lord Shiva and reside in Lord Shiva. We are all a part of Lord Shiva’s divine procession.
You must have heard that there are all types of beings and creatures in Lord Shiva’s entourage – the Siddhas (perfected beings), wise sages, intelligent beings and even fools! (Laughter) Everyone is a part of Lord Shiva’s family. Each one of us is a part of Lord Shiva’s grand entourage. When you have this deep realization, then all of life becomes a celebration.
Life is also like that. In life we see all types of people – some are completely foolish, some are very wise. We see a wide range of behavior patterns, tendencies and emotions. Everything ultimately is a part of the Universal Spirit, a part of the One Reality. So just accept and take everything along. That is the message of Shivaratri. Do not get stuck anywhere, just keep moving ahead in life with this total acceptance – of oneself and of one’s surroundings.
Many times we become choosy of what we accept. Sometimes we accept the situation but we do not accept ourselves. Or we accept ourselves the way we are but we do not accept the other people around us. Neither of these alone can lead you to a sense of completion or fullness. You have to look into both (acceptance towards oneself and acceptance towards the situation) – that is, you should accept whatever is inside and whatever is outside. So just let things be. This is the way to go inward.
Accept whatever is inside and outside of you. This is the way to go inward. So just let things be.
What stops you from experiencing that deep inner peace or silence? Our mind thinking that 'This should be like this' or 'This is not how it should be'.
Or we think that 'People should be like this and not like that', etc. That is what blocks our mind from settling in silence. When you keep thinking in this manner, your mind is still at the periphery, and this keeps you from retrieving the mind to the center. For the mind to be able to go to its source, the mantra is let it be!
Then you are able to go to the center. Once you are at the center, then whatever sankalpa you take starts to manifest, and things start happening.
Gurudev, can you please tell me the exact purpose of shraddha (faith or devotion)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Shraddha means loving the unknown. You know, you either love or do not love that which you already know about. Right? But if there is something you do not know, then you do not hate it, and you also have a choice to love it or not. Loving something which you have no idea about is called shraddha. Shraddha brings you knowledge. It is very subtle. You have to catch this else it slips from your understanding. There is something that is unknown, and you love it. Andbecause of your love, you slowly start knowing it. Do you see what I am saying? Let us take a small example. Say there is some small ceremony or ritual being done, like how in the morning today we had the Rudrabhishekam. You do not know what it is, some mantras are being chanted and there is a Yajna happening, yet you simply love it and sit for it. Then you feel something, you experience certain vibrations arising during the pooja. How many of you have experienced this? (Many in the audience raise their hands) Similarly, you do not know what meditation is, but you start liking it and do it, and then you start knowing it. You feel, 'Oh wow, meditation is so good'.
So shraddha gives you more understanding, and more knowledge.
If there is a resistance in you, then that is a lack of shraddha. It means that even before knowing something, you have a resistance to it. It is like putting a wall, thinking, 'I shall sit separately. I do not want to know this'. Then you cannot know it at all. When you say, 'I do not like it', then you also cannot know it. But when you think, 'Oh! There is something new, I love this', then loving the unknown is what is called shraddha.
It is not even important that you understand it totally, yet its benefits surely come to you.
Gurudev, on what basis can I call myself as spiritual? Is the meaning of spirituality to go beyond the senses?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I tell you, you just declare that you are spiritual. There is no problem, and nobody will challenge you. Nobody can, for everyone is made up of spirit. It is the spirit in you which is speaking, which understands, which is perceiving and communicating, etc. Everything is being done by the Spirit. Honoring this is spirituality.
Do you have some love and some peace within you? Do you have any of the human values within you? Then you are spiritual for sure. And if you are meditating, then you are doubly qualified to call yourself spiritual. You can say that you are a Ph.D. in spirituality (laughter).
Dear Gurudev, when you come before me, then all the highest knowledge like that mentioned in the Ashtavakra Gita, Upanishads, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, etc., all falls apart. Dispassion crashes into pieces and I become clueless. Why does this happen to me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Good, you are lucky! (Laughter) People long for that to happen. Knowledge is like a detergent, it is there to purify you. After applying it, you must also wash it off. You do not say, 'I have bought an expensive soap which I have applied to my skin and I am not going to wash it off'. You do not keep expensive toothpaste in your mouth the whole time. Right?
So, the purpose of knowledge is to get rid of ignorance. It is like detergent. You have to wash it off too. Then you become hollow and empty. Then you become Nirankaar – it means you become lighter. Otherwise the burden of knowledge can bog you down.
With knowledge you become more simple and natural. The purpose of knowledge is not to make you arrogant, but to make you more humble. It is to make you lighter, instead of thinking 'I know it all'.
The purpose of knowledge is to lead you from a frustrated 'I don’t know', to a simple and innocent 'I don’t know'. It is to take you from an ugly 'I don’t know', to a beautiful 'I don’t know'.
Gurudev, you said that during shivaratri, the divine comes closest to this planet. Please elaborate.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, it is not like that. The whole planet is the Divine. What I had said was that on Shivaratri, the Shiva Tattva touches the Earth, meaning the Shiva Tattva becomes so alive, and one is able to experience it much more strongly.
There can be so much misinterpretation to knowledge like this. Imagine what might happen after 500 years. People may not recognize the Art of Living then! (Laughter) Luckily, due to technology we can save and store all this, so that later we can correct or challenge someone saying, 'No, that is not how it was mentioned'.