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.
See, what happens in life - you were like these beautiful children, happy, joyful, free and then when you grew up, in due course, what happened, from time to time, negative clouds came on you and you found that something or the other is not good, this or that person is not good, or you are not good. When you feel, 'I am not good' then nothing around you is good, and then you get into a muddle. Has this not happened to you? (Many in the audience raise their hands). And then your mind goes in circles. When this happens, so many toxins get generated in the body.
Remember that 70% of the body is water and these water molecules, these fluids in our body have memory.
In India, there has been this belief that water has memory, and today science has also proved it. Here in Stuttgart, an Institute has done research on water crystals. They asked different people to take water from one glass and found that the pattern of each of those drops were different. So if you touch water then it takes your memory and its pattern is different. Then, they put a flower in the water and took a drop and tested it. The water had the pattern of the flower. They then took different flowers, the pattern again changed. So, the conclusion was that the river Rhine is not the same from its origin to its end because throughout its course, it takes the memory of the whole path.
The Rhine water in Bazu is much different from the water as it goes north to Rotterdam and so on, as it is carrying the impressions. We already know this. In the poojas and yagnas, when the chanting is going on, the water is allowed to fall down like a stream on the crystal lingam and the water absorbs the chanting.
During Navaratri, in India, they do this to water in a pot - all the chants are directed to the pot, and this water stores all the vibrations of the chants. Similarly, when you are sitting and meditating or singing bhajans, the fluids in your body are absorbing those impressions. That is why you feel elevated and good. So, just imagine when someone is sitting and thinking negative all the time, what happens? A negative cloud is created around them. You have to pierce through that, throw it out and come up. That in itself is the sadhana. That is what happens in satsang.
Satsang is when you pierce the negative clouds and throw out the negativity that has come on you. Whatever the reason is completely irrelevant. How it has come is not relevant. Did you get it? It’s like the dust on the carpet. Instead of looking at the dust and clearing it, we are looking to see which window it has come from, so much so, that we get caught up with the window. So, instead of clearing the dust, we are looking we are caught up in looking at the window. Instead of clearing the negative clouds, we attribute it to some cause and get stuck in the cause. This only allows more negative thoughts to keep coming. So review, 'What is my life all about? Why am I here? What is it that I want to do?' Come back to the purpose, otherwise you get so caught up in small insignificant things, forgetting the real thing.
We have heard of people talking about celibacy as one of the requirements for spiritual progress. Please throw some light on that.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Celibacy helps to conserve energy. Spirituality is about uplifting the energy and pleasure depletes energy and leads you to inertia. This not only applies to celibacy but to the five senses also. When we overdo it, how exhausted one becomes. For example food - if you take little food you feel energetic and you can meditate, but if you eat too much, you do not feel energetic. You feel dull and feel like lying down. You feel a sort of inertia has overtaken you.
Similarly, sex can lead you to heavy inertia. Spirituality is against inertia of any sort, whether through food, or watching two movies consecutively, or TV.
Watching anything for too long can cause inertia in the brain. One never gets that bubbling enthusiasm of energy from over-indulging the senses. So, eating, touching, seeing or smelling, any of these done excessively can cause inertia and that is not congenial for spiritual advancement.
If you ask me, as a couple, if you should never have sex at all to move forward in the spiritual path, I say, that is not the case. It is not a hindrance when it is in moderation. In excess, it is a disaster. Suppression is also not needed. If you have that feeling and you are trying to suppress it, it is not natural and can create the same inertia.
As spiritual growth happens, celibacy is a spontaneous thing because you are already in a state of peace and you need not rub yourself against another body to get some experience. There is a natural outburst of energy inside of you and celibacy has happened. If you ask me personally, it is not something you practise with force, it is something that comes to you naturally and it happens to you. Either through age because as you progress in age, sex does not attract you as much as when you were a teenager. Or past life samskaras (impressions); if you have been a yogi in the past, it does not create the urge or taste in you. Or the third thing is, if you are moderating your intake of food, you are not indulgent, then also you can have a say over it.
Lust has created humungous problems in the world and many crimes have happened or are happening today because of uncontrolled lust. It has spoilt relationships between people also. One of the reasons for bitterness in the world is the lack of control over one self. With lack of spirituality, what happens? The intense joy or pleasure one experiences with your partner can turn bitter and cause much more heartbreak if there is no wisdom. This is what is happening all over, isn’t it? Someone has given you intense pleasure and if you have no wisdom, you will find them to be the cause of intense misery also. If you feel miserable, do not look at the cause, point at the one who has given you physical pleasure.
So, it is the wisdom that takes you away from misery. Observing the sensations within you, whether pain or pleasure brings a different view altogether about the entire phenomenon.
The world is full of information, some of it is useful, some of it is misleading. How can I keep away from superstitions and all kinds of misleading concepts and stay open for new discoveries?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I want to tell you something that was recently discovered. I was talking to one of the judges in the Supreme Court of India during a conference of judges, in Bangalore ashram. He drew my attention to a practise that everyone thought is superstition. What is that? In India, when women are in their menstrual cycle in India, those three days they are not allowed to enter the kitchen, nor are they allowed to touch any food. If that happens, others will not eat it. This appeared completely superstitious and I used to also think, "Why should she not touch the food?"
In Hungary, an experiment was done by a scientist. The scientist had a maid in the house taking care of his garden and watering the plants, Every month, for three days the flowers would wither away but come back on the fourth day. So, he asked her what did she do? She said that she did nothing. He later came to know that she was in her menstrual cycle during those three days. So, for two and half years he did research on this and found out that when women are in their menstrual cycle, their body emits menotoxins. I also heard that in the vineries in France, they do not allow women during their menstrual cycle to work as the wine turns sour. I heard it is a practice. I also read on the web that in bakeries, the dough does not rise when women in their menstrual cycle touch the bread. So flowers wither away, wine turns sour and bread does not rise.
Similarly, even seeds don’t sprout. So, these are the four visible effects of menotoxins.
There is another thing also, when a woman in her cycle holds a baby that is not hers, the child gets a stomach upset! Even the stool of the child goes green. This is amazing! So what I thought to be superstition for some time, now has a validity of its own. So, we cannot discard it unless the phenomenon is studied thoroughly.
So, why they say women in the menstrual cycle should not touch food, the first thing is they need rest, that is necessary. Even Sufis do not allow women in the mosque during their menstrual cycle because they took their customs from Hinduism. The Hindus do not allow. The world is full of information, you take what is needed. It is like a map of a country, but you are only interested in the road you need to go.
How to be in that space of wanting nothing because the ego always wants something?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Even wanting nothing is a want! Got it? Just relax. Just remember when you have finished eating and you are so full, then even if someone comes and asks if you need more, you say 'No'. Don’t you say that? Remember that state. There are times when you say, 'I want nothing'.
Ask all these kids here, what do they want, when they are not hungry, they will say, 'Nothing'.