Q: After a lot of struggle I found you as my Master. In my next birth, I don't want to get lost and then get picked up by a Master. Is there a way out? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a lot to worry about right now. Why are you postponing things for the next lifetime? Right now, here, you have a chance. Become free, become happy and serve, yes!
We will see about the next life later.
If you look at it in one way,
there is no fulfilment in
devotion, and if you look at
it in another way, nothing in
this world can bring you as
much fulfilment as devotion
can bring you.
Q: Dear Guruji, why do I cry in satsangs and in some of The Art of Living Courses? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you cry? I think you should laugh, isn’t it? Smile!
There is a shloka (verse) in the Upanishad which says, ’Bidhyanti hridaya granthi, Chidyanthe sarva samshayaha. Ksheenatechaasya karmani, Yasmin driste paraavare.’ – (Mandukya Upanishad)
When you see the Beloved, the knots in your heart open and tears come. All doubts and questions vanish from the mind, and all bad karmas vanish. This is what has been said in the Upanishads.
So you don’t know why you are crying, it is because some knot in the heart is getting loosened up; getting opened – this is one thing. And there is s nothing wrong, when the heart blossoms tears come and emotions well up. Gratitude and love are also associated with tears, not only misery. These are called sweet tears.
It is said in the Bhakti Sutras – The angels long for those drops of tears that come out of love. So you are very fortunate to have such tears.
Now if some of you are not getting tears, don’t think that, ‘Oh! I am not fortunate, I can’t cry.’ No, nothing like that! Only if you get tears you are evolved – nothing like that. It is just the makeup of some people. For some there is more emotion, a wider experience of hollow and empty in the mind. Some feel more waves of emotions taking over.
These are different experiences. And at different times people get these different experiences. Not everybody needs to get those.
And that is not a particular sign of any higher evolution. It is one of the signs, but not the only sign.
Q: Guruji, can you please talk about Ahimsa (non-violence)? Also, how can a vegetarian answer a non-vegetarian when he say, ’You vegetarians also kill plants and plants feel pain and scream too!’ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, ask those non-vegetarians, if they have a puppy at home would they put the puppy on the dining table? No, they won’t! Nobody will.
See, our human physiology is made to consume a vegetarian diet. There are a number of research works on this. You go onto Google and search, ‘Why should I be vegetarian?’ You will get a number of different answers on this. You will find all the answers in Google.
Ahimsa is the intention.
The state of mind in which you go and destroy something is Hinsaa (violence or killing). Ahimsa is when the mind is totally non-violent, it does not want to destroy or kill anything. That is Ahimsa.
There was a Rishi (wise sage) called Kanad. He would not cut the crops; he would go and pick up the seeds from the field. So Kanad Maharishi also said that one needs to understand the substances. Padaarth Gyananad Mokshaha – if you can understand the substances by which the world is made, you feel the liberation.
With plants you are only plucking the fruits, you are plucking the vegetables. Lesser harm is what is appreciated.
Q: Dear Guruji, why is the Vishalakshi Mantap designed like a lotus flower? Is it because you like the lotus flower? What is the meaning of Vishalakshi and Sumeru? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is nice, isn’t it? (Laughter).
You can come up with a hundred different reasons. We just decided to do something like this, and it looks nice, that is it!
If I had it shaped like a hibiscus, you would have asked me the same question! Why hibiscus? So there is no need to justify why this flower and that flower. I don’t want to make any other flower get upset or angry. (Laughter). Vishal means broad, Akshi means eyes; so it means broad vision. So, when everybody goes in there, their vision gets broadened and they start seeing things in a bigger way. Isn’t it? (Audience respond with clapping).
That is what meditation does – broadens your vision and deepens your roots.
We put so much attention
on what is happening rather
than on what we are doing.
Put attention on what you are
doing and leave whatever is
happening to nature. Nature
will take you through whatever
Q: Guruji, I used to experience a lot of devotion, but it seems to have diminished with time. After listening to your talks on the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, I realized that it is not my nature. Could you please tell me how I can feel the same devotion again? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Devotion is always there, but sometimes the clouds come in. Faith goes down and up with time. But if it goes down don’t think that it is going to be down there forever. It will go up again.
This is the nature of the mind because the mind goes up and down, and it projects love and faith as if to be going up and down. And it is related to Prana (life force energy). If the Prana is high, then faith is high. If the Prana is low, then the mind will say, ‘Oh, what is this? Am I at the right place? Am I doing the right thing?’ A million doubts come to the mind.
So, when you are anchored to the centre core of your being, when you are so well anchored to the knowledge, only then that stability comes. That is why the saints in the past have prayed, ‘Dear Lord, give me Achal Shraddha; unshakable faith.’
So many saints have sung and have asked for Achal Shraddha, Atoot Bhakti (uninterrupted devotion), unbroken love.
This is all that we can ask for because even that is a gift! When you have love and devotion see what a transformation happens in life. And when they breakdown, see what happens – a sort of inertia sets in. A feeling of hopelessness comes and life appears to be meaningless. It looks like every door is shut and everywhere one finds darkness. It is called as The Dark Night of the Soul in the Christian tradition. The soul has to pass through such a dark night.
But I would say it doesn’t have to pass through it if you are a Yogi (a seeker on the spiritual path).
In the Yoga Sutras, I have spoken about the Nine Obstacles on the Path of Yoga. And how you can overcome them? Ekatattva abhyaasa – when you are adhering to one principle then you are able to sail through these obstacles; or what are appearing to be obstacles.
Q: Dear Guruji, when I feel intense love or devotion I lose my awareness. When I am aware I lose the intensity of devotion. How do I retain both, intensity and awareness? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think you have too much free time to think and see what is happening. Just get busy, do Karma Yoga (the path of action). When you are engaged in seva, you don’t sit and think ‘Oh, how am I feeling? How am I not feeling?’ Feelings are all part of life, just move on with it!
We have 1,72,000 nadis in the body. Sometimes the knowledge nadi opens up; sometimes the music nadi opens up. Different nadis open up and you experience different things. So, don’t be so obsessed with your feelings. Got it?
Who cares how you feel? Everyone is looking forward to what you do. How you can contribute to this Planet Earth? What good can I do – focus on that. Don’t focus or concentrate on that which is happening. Focus on what you can do and what you have to do.
Many times, we don’t concentrate on what we have to do but we sit and ponder over that which is happening. We put so much attention on what is happening rather than on what we are doing. Put attention on what you are doing and leave whatever is happening to Nature. Nature will take you through whatever is happening.
I tell you, whether it is thoughts or emotions, it is not an isolated incidence. It is a global phenomenon. Suppose you go to a place where there is an Independence Day celebration, or some National Day Celebration and everybody is in a charged mood, singing patriotic songs, you suddenly start feeling so patriotic. How many of you have experienced this? (Many raise their hands)
Tears start coming from your eyes.
Similarly if you are watching a show where some victim is talking about their story on how a politician has victimized so many people; suddenly you feel angry. How many of you have had this experience? (Many raise their hands)
You got so angry. Everybody suddenly feels a sort of patriotism, it wells up within you.
The movie directors and producers know how to invoke these emotions in you, and what music fits in there. They will put the right kind of music that you will start crying or laughing. You know, feelings are associated with music, and emotions can be evoked.
How do these big riots happen? Emotions are invoked. And the unstable ones just jump into it. People with no awareness jump into it and just do it. They just indulge in it.
Ahimsa is when the mind
is totally non-violent, it does
not want to destroy or kill
anything. That is Ahimsa.
Today, I got a report that in Assam there are riots happening and nearly 2,00,000 people are in camps. They had to run away from their homes. 500 villages were affected. But three villages were not affected, in the midst of this. Do you know why? Those three villages had a very strong Art of Living presence!
Savita and Ashish Bhutani (devotees working towards relief and upliftment in villages in Assam) are here. Savita was mentioning the name of the village as well.
So, all the three villages got together and did not allow any violence to happen in those villages. They did not allow anybody to burn anyone’s home. The entire village was safeguarded because they all had the idea that we are a One World Family.
Muslims, Christians, Hindus, all stood together and did not let the Muslims torture Hindus or Hindus torture Muslims. They did not allow violence to happen from any side.
Come on Savita; tell us the names of the villages. (Savita recounts the names of the three villages in Assam).
Savita speaks, ’In one particular village all the three communities are there – Bodo, Assamese and Muslims. Even then, all of them came together and took a stand to ensure that there will be no violence in any of the villages. It was all because to the presence of The Art of Living, as many had done the Part 1 and YLTP courses. So these three villages had no violence and nobody was killed. Although neighboring villages in the vicinity of one to two kilometres of these villages were completely burnt to the ground. But these three villages were completely safe because of The Art of Living”.
Very good, very good! Jai Gurudev.
Do you see how important it is for us to spread this knowledge? How many of you think it is very important for us to spread this, that too in areas that are very fragile?
Where peace is fragile, we must step in and do something!
Q: Jai Gurudev, I want to contest in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. There are still two more years to the elections. In these two years, what work must I do on the field to win? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very good. First choose the field and the area and then do a lot of work there. Conduct courses and bring up more volunteers there. Set up a Pre-TTC volunteer training workshop there. Bring everyone together and make them realize how they can contribute towards building a spiritual society, i.e., a law abiding and corruption free society.
Do this for sure.
Q: Guruji, they say that one cannot attain heaven without dying. Is it necessary to die to attain Moksha (liberation)? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Who said so? If while living you could not experience heaven then how will you experience it after death? Even after death you will not experience it.
If while living you could not learn to smile, to be happy and joyful, then what will you learn after death? No chance! Who said so?
In no scripture is it said that only after dying you will experience heaven; absolutely wrong. Then why have you come here? You have come here to finish your Karmas so that you can experience heaven right here.
Saints in the past have prayed,
‘Dear Lord, give me Achal Shraddha; unshakable faith.’
So many saints have sung and
have asked for Atoot Bhakti,
unbroken love. This is all that
we can ask for because even
this is a gift! When you have
love and devotion, see what a
transformation happens in life.
Q: Guruji, Devotion and Surrender are said to be signs of intelligence. But both Devotion and Surrender are beyond the intellect. Then how can they be its identifying features? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, truth is not of one type alone. Truth has many facets. So you can both prove and disprove any principle. Take any principle; you can prove it as both, correct and incorrect also. Both are possible, okay!
Think about it! If you feel it is right then take it or else leave it. Discuss this with your own intellect. When you do so, you will find that from one side it will appear to be right, and from the other side it will appear to be wrong.
Q: Guruji, how does one become totally surrendered to God (Saranagati)? Please explain in detail. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wake up and see that nothing is yours; nothing that you have belongs to you, then you become totally surrendered (Saranagati).
Or, see all that you have received, even when you were not deserving of it then also you become totally surrendered (Saranagati).
Thinking that, ‘I did not deserve so much, yet I have received so much’, makes you totally surrendered, and gratefulness automatically wells up in you.
Q: Guruji, even after meeting you I do not feel satisfied. I still desire to meet you, again and again. How do I fill myself up with you so completely that I never have the desire to meet you again? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh! I don’t know how you can do this. Till today I have been seeing this happen with everyone; it is a sign of devotion.
If you look at it in one way, there is no fulfillment in devotion, and if you look at it in another way, nothing in this world can bring you as much fulfillment as devotion can bring you.
There is no end to it, because devotion itself means a love that never diminishes.
So, it is a thirst that is never quenched and it is a love that never ends!
Q: Dear Guruji, when there is One consciousness alone that exists, now and ever since we know, then how was Man created from it and why? There must be some reason. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh! It (consciousness) got bored of being by itself, all alone! So it thought, ‘I will become many.’ That One consciousness had this thought and everything came into existence.
Now whether this is right or wrong, you decide!