Friday, January 29, 2016

My Birthday Gift

Wed, 05/13/2015 Bangalore, India
If an occasion can inspire so many people to do so much seva, and bring so much joy, I don't mind cutting a cake four times a year.
I am glad I was not born on February 29th, as it comes only once in four years.
Any occasion or any excuse is good enough to celebrate life. The whole essence is to celebrate life. There is an ancient saying, 'Anandad dhy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante', which mean, the entire creation is filled with bliss; everything is born out of bliss, sustained by bliss and the final goal of life is also bliss. So any excuse to celebrate is good enough, as it brings joy and bliss to our life.
What you need to remember at all times is Mein Tera (I am yours). And tell everyone the same thing, 'I am yours; I belong to you'. Whoever you meet, say this to them, 'I belong to you'. Then you will see that everyone in the world will feel like your own.
So keep smiling and keeping spreading the happiness. This is a sign of intelligence! The intelligent ones always spread happiness and joy, and all of us here are intelligent, isn't it? Yes!
Audience: 'Gurudev, I love you'.
You have no choice. We are all one. All these artificial barriers we have created among ourselves is just an illusion. If you go a little deeper, you will see that we are all one. There is only one consciousness, and we are all made up of this. Everything has come out of this, and everything dissolves into this. This is the essence of life.
This time a lot of work has happened, and may it continue. But what is more important is that you all must be happy. And keep your attention inward, that is why it is said, 'Antar Mukhi Sada Sukhi'.
The one who keep his attention on himself, is the one who moves ahead.
How many have birthdays today?
All in the audience raise their hands (roars of laughter)!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Time For Peace

Fri, 04/24/2015 Paris, France
(Below is a continuation of the post Inter-faith And Inter-Cultural Harmony)
There are four sources of energy:
1. Food. In ancient India, if someone is behaving funny, people will ask, ‘What did you feed him?’ or ‘What did you eat?’ Instead of asking, ‘Why are you behaving like this?’ This is true in some way. Attending to food is the first source of energy.
2. Sleep. Any sane person, if you do not let him sleep for two days, he will not be normal. There will be a drastic change in his or her behavior. So sleep or proper rest is important.
3. Breath is the third source of energy. A few minutes of breathing, and some yoga can energize the body and the mind, and uplift the spirit.
4. A happy mind, a comfortable mind is much more calm and collected. A few minutes of meditation makes the mind happy and comfortable.
So, these are the four sources of energy. People know of the first two to some extent, though they may not have paid much attention to it. The other two need to be known or told to people. They should be part of our education system.
Now, there is one more aspect that needs our attention. When it comes to interfaith, inter-religious or intercultural dialogue in the world, I would say that there are ten major religions in the world and 600 and so branches of all the religion. If our children know a little bit about all these other religions and they grow up seeing all these are part of one divinity, don’t you think the world will be such a better place? It is not through elimination that we can make a better world. It is through assimilation that we can make a better world.
I once heard a nice story from a Catholic priest. He told me that God needed some ideas. When Ireland was burning, he did not know how to settle it. So he asked a Catholic priest, ‘What should we do?’
The priest said, ‘Oh, it is very easy, remove all Protestants from Ireland and Ireland will be peaceful’.
God did not find it a very good idea, so he came to a Protestant priest and asked, ‘What do you say? What idea do you want to give?’
He said, ‘Oh, it is very simple, remove all Catholics from Ireland'.
Then God said, ‘Let me go to a Jewish rabbi.’
He went to a Jewish rabbi and said, ‘Tell me, what is the solution?’ and he said, ‘Remove both of them from there, then Ireland will be peaceful’.
God became very upset, he said, ‘What should we do now?’
Of course, he then put good thoughts in the minds of people to come together.
So the process of elimination should stop. Whatever is the belief system that is prevalent in the world (except if it is a superstitious thing which is harmful for society) have got their own beauty and their own uniqueness. We need to celebrate the multicultural, multi-religious events more and more.
Every child, if he learns a little bit about all these ten different religions, even a couple of pages from each one, then they will know that we live in a very diverse world, and we should honor, love and appreciate these differences. If children grow up with this tendency, I think we can put an end to terrorism, which is taking over the world today. Don’t you think so? This has been my dream from long time.
I would like the UNESCO to take up this one subject of multi-religious education to the whole population of the world, so that every kid learns a little bit about all the traditions in the world and appreciates and celebrates them.
Similarly, we should have more multicultural festivals. In India, we have this ancient saying 'Vasudeva Kutumbakam', which means the world is one family. When you are well-educated, when your heart is larger, the world becomes your family. Technology has shrunk this globe into a village. Distance is no longer a matter of concern. I think it is the humanness and human values that should be the spirit of human education, and that alone is what can make this world into a family.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Inter-faith And Inter-Cultural Harmony

Fri, 04/24/2015 Paris, France
(Sri Sri addresses delegates on 'Inter-faith and Inter-Cultural Harmony' at the UNESCO Headquarters, Paris on April 24. Below is the transcripts of his address.)
I think three things are important in life: Education, Education, and Education. Education is what makes a big difference in anyone’s life. Now education should not be confused for collecting information. To me, education is developing holistic personalities.
We live in a diverse world. If God wanted the world to be without diversity, there would be just one type of fish, one type of flower, one type of fruit and vegetable. This universe, this world has so many varieties. It is a bouquet of flowers.
The fauna and flora of this beautiful universe give us the message that we live in a multi-verse, in a planet where there are differences, and these differences make life beautiful.
Somehow, I don’t like this word ‘tolerance’. Do you know why? It has a negative connotation to it. Usually we have world-over interfaith programs where we say, ‘We should have tolerance’. I think it is a word of bygone error. You tolerate something which you do not like. Now the time has come to appreciate and celebrate diversity, not tolerate it. This is something that we need to really look into. Our universe has so many varieties and we must appreciate it, enjoy it and celebrate it.
I usually tell people: 'We accept food from every part of the world, we accept music from every part of the world, we accept technology from every part of the world. We do not ask, 'Where was this technology discovered?’ But when it comes to wisdom, there seems to be some sort of resistance. We put up a wall and say, 'This is Jewish, or this is Hindu, or this is Buddhist.’ We bring in prejudice and we stay away from it'.
As long as this strain continues, the world cannot be a peaceful place. Even if a small part of the world thinks that only they have the key to heaven and everybody else is going to hell, they are bound to create hell for everyone else.
So here comes our collective responsibility to educate our people with a multi-cultural and multi-religious education. Thanks to the technology today of the internet, this has been made possible; but still there is a big number of people that remain ignorant, thinking that only they have the key to heaven.
So we can categorize the problem in the world into two major issues:


Today, there is racial prejudice, gender prejudice, religious prejudice, and class prejudice. Certain sections of society think that the rich people are always oppressors; rich countries are always oppressors. These prejudices have to be done away with, then only I would say that we have reached a level of education, and we are well-cultured and civilized people.


The other aspect of human life is stress. In such a busy society, in this busy world, we all have a lot to do; too much to do in fact, with too little time and energy. And this is the definition of stress. I would say that the formula of stress is: too much to do, too little time, and not enough energy.
See, everybody has only 24 hours of time. Whether it is a clerk or the Prime Minister, everyone has only 24 hours. So time is one factor that cannot be changed. When it comes to your tasks, for most you, it is almost impossible to reduce all that you need to do. So you are left with only one option, and that is, to increase your energy level.
To increase your energy level, there are techniques from different parts of the world from the ancient times which was more or less a highly guarded secret. These techniques were only given to royalty; the princes and the high caliber people who would in turn bring more development. But now we thought that these techniques of meditation, and the breathing techniques, should be open to everyone.
See, neither in school nor at home does anyone teach us how to get rid of stress. No one teaches us how to handle our emotions. It is normal to get upset, but to carry that emotion all through the day, or all through the week, and sometimes all through the month is not an intelligent thing to do. It is like, your garments got dirty and you do not know how to remove them, and so you keep walking around with the same garments throughout. So we need to teach people techniques to relieve stress. This I would call mental hygiene. We teach dental hygiene to our kids but we have not taught them mental hygiene – how not to carry hatred against anybody, and other negative emotions.
Mahatma Gandhi used to have eleven vows that he used to give people in his ashram. One of those vows was to have control over anger and to be compassionate and non-violent.
The importance of non-violence in life needs to be stressed. Don’t you think so? With our world becoming more and more violent, we are sort of getting immune to violence.
When I was growing up, if any student in the class got upset or threw any tantrum, everyone would look down upon that student, ‘Oh what is wrong with this guy? He has lost his balance’.

So on losing the balance or the equanimity of our mind, we were put to shame. Today, pride got itself attached with aggression, not with peace. We need to change this, we need to start attaching pride with compassion and non-violence, rather than with aggression and violence.
The next things that the breath also helps you do is to relieve stress. Stress is one cause of tension in the society which makes our communication break down; it affects our perception and our expression.
Our social dealings can be broadly classified as two things:
1. How you perceive, and
2. How you express yourself
Both our perception and expression gets affected with our stress levels.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Thorn Of Desire

Mon, 04/20/2015 Bad Antogast, Germany
Our body is an illusion, it doesn’t stay the same, it keeps changing. Our emotions also keep changing. So, in that sense, it is all an illusion.
Have you read my tweet about happiness? When you look at somebody`s face, if they don’t look happy, it is because there is a thorn of desire in their heart.
Your sadness is because of the thorn of desire in your heart. If you don`t take notice of it, it will turn into sarcasm, cynicism, frustration, and anger.
You need to pull it out and throw it, then you will feel uplifted and happy.
These are the four stages:
1. Sarcasm
2. Cynicism
3. Frustration, and
4. Anger
Many times we don`t notice why we are sarcastic, or cynical, or frustrated and angry. Why does this happen? It is because of this thorn of desire.
If you are angry, either you hurt yourself or you hurt others. If you get angry at others, you become sad and if you are angry at yourself, then also you become sad. In either case you become sad.
Many a times people don`t notice this at all. Even if one notices this, he doesn`t have the courage or willingness to remove it and throw it. If you manage to pull it out, you will find joy, enthusiasm, and contentment, and this is a siddhi (special ability).
This requires both self effort and grace. You need to put some self effort and then grace follows.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Empowered By Yoga

Tue, 04/21/2015 Brussels, Belgium
(Below is a continuation of the post The 'Yoga' Way)
I have never done yoga in my life? What is yoga? Is it a meditation? Is it different postures of the body? If that is so, what are the scientific linkages between those things and what happens inside which leads to such dynamic effects in the form of resolution of conflict and giving us peace of mind?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The 'Yoga' Way

Tue, 04/21/2015 Brussels, Belgium
(As a curtain raiser event to celebrate the International Day of Yoga on June 21, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was invited to speak on yoga and conduct a meditation session. The event titled "The Yoga Way" was organised by the Indian embassy in Brussels in cooperation with the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with India. Below is the transcript and video of Sri Sri's discourse at the event)
If there is a competitor for God in the world today, I would say that it is stress. Stress has become almost synonymous to God - it is so omnipresent! 
What really is stress?
Stress is too much to do, too little time, and no energy, Do you agree with me? In a short time, we have to do a lot, but there is no energy, and this causes stress.
How to get rid of stress?
* By reducing the workload - This does not appear to be a possibility these days.
* By increasing the time - This is which we cannot do. It is fixed, unless we go to another planet.
* By increasing the energy level within us - And this is the only option we are left with.
When we have enough energy and enthusiasm, we are able to handle any challenge.
One aspect of the yoga way is to provide us with tools and techniques to lead a stress-free life and a tension-free life. On the other hand, I would say, yoga is also the greatest wealth of humankind.
What is wealthWealth is that which brings us comfort. The purpose of wealth is to bring happiness and comfort, isn’t it? If wealth doesn't succeed in achieving this goal of bringing comfort to the human psyche, to human life, I would not call it wealth. And yoga is wealth, in the sense that it brings absolute comfort.
A violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory, and a sorrow-free soul is the birthright of every individual. Parliaments world over are striving to achieve this goal of human existence - happiness! We all want happiness, and yoga is the way for that much needed happiness factor in life.
Here again, we think yoga is some sort of exercise. In 80’s and 90’s when I would tour Europe, yoga was not easily accepted in the mainstream society. Yoga was considered to be some very hard exercises: like standing on the toes, or standing on one leg. The whole concept of yoga was very weird. It was the stuff that weird people do. Today, I am glad that there is an awakening and people have recognized the importance of yoga. The world over, yoga has become synonymous with relaxation, happiness, and a creative mind. Even big companies, in their advertisements put people sitting in a yoga position, or in a meditation pose to depict the inner peace one has. That is a very welcome move.
I would like to remind you, whether we like it or not, we are all born yogis.
You do not need a yoga teacher if you observe a baby anywhere in the world. From the age of 3 months to the age of 3 years, a baby does all the yoga postures. Their breathing, the way they sleep, the way they smile, everything is yoga. Babies are yoga teachers, they are yogis and that is how a baby is stress-free and happy.
A baby smiles 400 times in a day. The purpose of yoga is to put a smile on our face in spite of all the stress and tensions, or situations that we are put through in our day-to-day life.

Yoga provides us tools and techniques to lead a stress-free and a tension-free life.

The benefits of yoga are multifold.
1. It has many health benefits
2. It changes the behavior of a personbecause behavior depends on the stress levels in a person. It creates a friendly disposition and a very pleasant atmosphere in people
3. More than words we convey a lot through our presence; our vibrations. Yoga helps to improve our vibes.
I would like to give an example:
When someone close to you says, 'Have a nice day', and when an airhostess greets you saying, 'Have a nice day!', just observe and see, you can notice a clear difference When the air hostess greets you saying, 'Have a nice day', she really does not mean it. But the same words, when it comes to you from a close friend, it carries certain vibes
4. Speaking in terms of Quantum Physics, we are all emitting vibes or wavelengths. When communication breaks down, we often say, 'Our wavelengths don't match'.
This is because our ability to communicate depends on our ability to receive communications from others. Here, yoga helps us to have that clear mind
5. Another issue that we face in society today is prejudice. All types of prejudice: prejudice of religion, race, gender, class, educational status, financial status, etc.
All these different types of prejudice have clogged the mind of men and that is how conflicts arise in society. Yoga helps us to reach out and resolve this conflict created by prejudice. Spontaneously and naturally, yoga makes our mind free from prejudice.
I would like to quote an incident that happened a few years ago in Ivory Coast. There was polarization between two villages, where the people of one village chased out the people from the other village. One of our volunteers went and talked to them, taught them some yoga and some meditation, and brought the people of both villages together. You can see from this experience, how the people could break that prejudice in their minds and shake hands with the people who were different. I think this is very much needed in the world today

Yoga empowers you to feel the way you want to feel at any time, instead of being a victim of your own feelings.

6. Now, coming to the aspect of developing skills within oneself. The propounder of yoga has said, ‘Yoga Karmasu Kaushalam’ (Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2.50).
Lord Krishna has said, ‘Yoga is skill in action’. Yoga is not just an exercise, it is how skillfully you can communicate, and how skillfully you can act in any given situation. This again, is yoga.
I do not think anyone here would say they do not want skill, or anyone here would say they do not want innovation. Innovation, intuition, skills, and better communication, all these are the main effects of yoga
Having said all of this, does yoga conflict with any of our belief systems? 
If I believe in a particular religion, or a particular philosophy, or if I follow a particular political line of thought, does that come in conflict with yoga?
I would say, not at all, as yoga always promotes harmony in diversity, it encourages diversity.The word ‘yoga’ itself means 'uniting' (uniting diverse aspects of existence, of life).
Whether you are a businessman, or a public figure, or a private individual, you want peace, you want to smile, you want to be happy, isn't it? This happiness can only happen when we look at the root cause of unhappiness, and unhappiness is because of lack of vision, stress, tension and worry.
Again, European Union, you have been talking quite a bit about GDH. I suppose from GDP we are moving towards Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH). Yoga is something that can aid that, it can be a very useful tool.
A large percentage of our population today is suffering from depression. Just popping a Prozac or anti-depressants will not help. We need something that is so natural, as natural as our breath, that we can use and elevate our spirit and feel that much needed happiness; that pursuit of happiness that everybody is after.
I just want to ask you, when you are happy, what is it that you feel? Have you noticed a sense of expansion within you? Suppose you are complemented, or you accomplished something you wanted to accomplish, you will find that there is something in you that is expanding. At the same time, when we face a failure or when someone insults you, what happens? There is something in you that shrinks. So, yoga is putting your attention on this something in you that seem to be expanding when you are happy, and crushing or contracting when you feel unhappy.

We all want happiness, and yoga is the way for that much needed happiness factor in life.

Often, we feel helpless about our negative emotions. Neither in school, nor at home does anyone teach us about how to handle our negative emotions. If you are upset, you remain upset, or wait for time to heal it. Yoga has a secret to turn around this state of mind. It empowers you to feel the way you want to feel at any time, instead of being a victim of your own feelings. It makes you so independent.
In our experience of teaching half a million people in prisons around the world, this is what we have found: every culprit says he is a victim of something. When we heal the victim in him, the culprit disappears. And something as simple as the breath can do this job for us. We just need to learn how to breathe in different rhythms, in different patterns, to eliminate those traumas, those strong impressions in the mind, the pain and suffering we have been carrying in our heart.
Patanjali, the profounder of yoga, in his Yoga Sutras, he enunciated the purpose of yoga. He said ‘Heyam Dukham Anagatham’. The purpose of yoga is to stop misery before it comes.
On many counts, this is very useful. When a conflict is boiling somewhere, ask people to breathe, sit together and communicate better, you will see that you can resolve the conflict right at the very root cause of it. Whether it is greed, jealousy, anger, hatred, or frustration, all these negative emotions can be healed or re-oriented through yoga, and this is my experience throughout the world.
Yoga also helps people to be more responsible, and to take more responsibility in their life. This is called Karma Yoga. A Karma Yogi is one who takes responsibility.
We all play many roles in our life. We have an option to play the role either as a yogi or as a non-yogi; one who is responsible or one who is not-so-responsible. You can have a responsible teacher, a responsible doctor, or a businessman who cares.
Caring, sharing, and responsibility are the characters that yoga simply nurtures inside of us. We all have this inside us. The entire population has this, but it needs nurturing. I would say yoga is one of the best tools to nurture an individual to take responsibility.