QA with Sri Sri
Q: Question asked by Maharajji: All sages and scriptures have said that the greatest beneficence of human existence is the attainment of God, and God realization is the doorway to communion with the soul. Now the soul is already present and yet, in a sense unattained. So how can this impression be erased?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When the mind is outwardly focused, it cannot recognize the soul. It is not aware of its own existence. For instance, when we are looking around at others, we lose awareness of our own body. We are not aware that we are breathing when we are looking outside. Like when you sit in the cinema theatre, all you can see is what is happening on the screen. You have no idea where you are, whether you are tired or your body is healthy. In sleep we forget all our pains and sorrows, similarly when the mind is outwardly directed, it forgets itself and loses awareness (remembrance) of itself.
We tend to get absorbed in the scenery and forget about the Self.
Now when we sit down with our eyes closed, unable to see what is happening outside, and bring our attention to our self, our breath, then we become aware of the body. Do you know why the body hurts? Your body wants to draw your attention towards itself. When the head hurts, the most beautiful scenery is not appealing. The mind is drawn to the pain in the head or the leg. So pain has the ability to involuntarily pull the attention of the mind to the body. When we consciously bring our attention to the body, it is yoga nidra or meditation. Similarly, when the mind is entangled in the body, then there is no awareness of the soul. You have all experienced in meditation, awareness shifts from the body to thoughts, and finally when it is more inwardly drawn, there is awareness only of ‘I Am’, not where or who I am. From this I Amness to ‘Everything Is’ – is God. A step deeper in meditation lies this awareness that everything ‘Is’ – these trees, mountains, river, this body are no different from one another. I am not anything special - just the awareness of existence. So it is outward focus that leads to forgetfulness. It is not as though the head did not exist before the headache, it did. Similarly, to experience the soul one has to empty the mind of all impressions. This awareness is lost in the tendencies of the mind. That is why it is written in the Vedas to repeatedly practice meditation or erasure of all mental impressions. Just as we alternate between waking and sleeping, repeatedly erasing mental impressions through meditation establishes us in our Self. Those who sleep soundly are alert when awake. In a similar fashion, meditation helps maintain alertness in the waking state.
We feel inspired to work only when we find that something is not right; this is not right or that has not been done correctly. When we are involved in activity, we should feel that which is not okay and needs to be corrected. But when we are in meditation, we should feel that everything is fine.
A fool does the reverse. When he sits with his eyes closed, he focuses on all that is not right. In activity, he accepts and overlooks everything, the corruption, the inefficiency. Such a person is useful neither to the world nor to himself. That is why Lord Krishna has said in the Gita that knowing when to act and when not to act is the sign of saatvikta.
So in meditation relax with the thought that all is well. Anyway, for how long can you fix this world, sixty, seventy years? This world has been in existence since ages and will continue to exist. What will you do if a demon is born a couple of hundred years from now? Know that God is taking care of this world. With this thought one should sit in meditation, then Samadhi will happen, and bliss will arise. Once bliss is awakened, you cannot continue sitting in Samadhi like a stone. Since you have taken this human birth you have to engage in activity. When in activity, recognizing all that is not right awakens enthusiasm within us.
This entire world is God. Serving this divine world is itself Pooja. That is why it is said that this entire world is made up of rhythmic vibrations and from these vibrations ambrosia (Amrit) is produced. And what do we do in Sudarshan Kriya? Through the rhythmic breath we become aware of the rhythm of the soul (Self). It is only through these vibrations that bliss can be awakened. If you speak to modern scientists, they will admit that this world is nothing but vibrations.