Transcript of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's address at “Indian Priests’ Congress” -Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health, Velanganni on February 9, 2010.
This conference was attended by 1000 Roman Catholic priests across India.
Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthihi
Sri Sri : What a joy to speak to the lovers’of God! I am a child going to blabber in front of scholars. Let us discuss.
Lovers know the language of the heart - we are all lovers of God who want to unite with the spirit of the world. We all want to serve, see divinity in people around.
Three things are important for this:
- Context (of life)
We have all the three. Apart from how to unite and connect, we have to know how to face challenges in life. When faith is shaken, how to rekindle it. To know faith, we have to know doubt. Doubt is something about positive. We never doubt the negative. We doubt whether we are really happy, but never doubt our misery. God is the most positive thing in the universe! Doubt about God is doubt in Self. How to get over this?
The Upanishads tell about the experience of divinity in four stages for the seekers:
- Saameepya: feeling the proximity of the Divine
- Sannidhya: feeling the Presence
- Saaroopya: doing what the Divine is doing; imitating the Divine
- Saayoojya: Merging with the Divine.
Another challenge is to arrive at the inner peace and calmness. Mind vacillates between the past and the future. How to bring the mind to the present? Using our own breath, we can calm the mind, reunite with the spirit. Simple breathing techniques can remove negative emotions and we can experience freedom within. Mind can right away go into prayer easily, effortlessly.
We all are made of a substance called Love. If God has made man in His own image, and God is love; then why all the negative emotions? How to meet these challenges?
Wisdom, spiritual wisdom help overcome these hurdles. We are all committed to service - service to God, service to humanity. Still if something is missing, something is broken; then breathing, meditation can connect us to our inner self. Meditation is Wordless Prayer. Words are there and not there at the same time! The ability to connect to everybody; “There is no Other” is the Mantra of Love! All is part of One.
As lovers of God, our relationship is only one. All in One. One in All. This is Prayer. We don’t lack anything. There is abundance. For the one step we take, the Divine takes ten.
Let us open the floor for questions.
Q:I get some experiences of fellow suffering/happiness. But how to go beyond my individuality and identity and get a deeper experience?
Sri Sri: Do not leave that passion for God. Whatever experience we are getting is due to His Grace; not through our efforts. If you are able to love everybody, it is a blessing! We have to be grateful. The more grateful we are, the more we get. What do you say?
Q:Three questions: (a)how to sustain prayer, when the faith seems lost (dark night of the soul)? (b)Is it possible to reach God without religion, through spirituality? (c)Why is it that you never speak anything about casteism?
Sri Sri: I will answer the last question first! Please go through my book “Heritage of Dalits”. If you see the thousand Rishis of ancient India, 90% of them were “Dalits” - Vyasa, Valmiki and so on. The Upanishads tell that “all are born Soodra and become Dwija by action”. I unequivocally condemn casteism. There is no caste for the spirit. When we want to see a good doctor, we don’t ask his caste. When we want to see a good lawyer, we don’t ask his caste. It is of use only in politics! I don’t know politics. I speak from heart to heart. I love to be with people of God like you! For the second question, I never tell to drop religion. Do not forget the essence of religion is spirituality. Do you feel that connectivity, calmness inside. We know that during Tsunami, the Basilica housed people of all religions, temples and mosques housed people of all religions. Their only aim was rehabilitation of people. Terrorism arises because some people feel their way is the only way to God and others do not have the right to follow their way. For the dark night of the soul, Rishi Patanjali describes nine obstacles in the path of the seeker. These include Diseases, Doubt, Dullness, Inertia, Disinterestedness, Unsustainability and so on. All these can be overcome by practice of yoga.
Q:Even when we are doing good, lot of discouraging situations arise. Can you give some suggestions to get over these?
Sri Sri: When nothing is of help, Prayer helps! A genuine “help me God!” Any challenge is a chance to reaffirm our commitment.
Q:What is the significance of pilgrimage in Hinduism? What is your experience of any pilgrimage?
Sri Sri: Best pilgrimage is Inward Journey! A pilgrimage is an opportunity for people to come together and pray together. As you know, praying together generates more energy, you know, a synergy. But don’t think God is only in pilgrim centres! God is omnipresent and omniscient. Ancient Rishis meditated in some places and put all that energy in some idol there. The scriptures talk about God as having no name and no form. There was freedom to worship God in any form or any name. Wisdom from anywhere was acknowledged.
Q:As a religious leader, what is your opinion about the anti-Christian violence (with a pattern and agenda especially since early 90’s) for political gains?
Sri Sri : I see violence in a bigger context. I am concerned about all violence. Violence in the red corridor (Maoist). Even domestic violence. I am also concerned about the increasing suicidal tendency in the country. Suicide is violence against the self. When mind is stressed, it leads to violence. Depression leads to suicide. We have to work together. We have to bring back the human values. Education about human values. The world is undergoing an identity crisis! A reversal of identity is needed. First of all, our identity is that we are all Divine. Then we are human beings, then our gender, religion, country and so on. We have to educate the society about the ONE divinity. When that shift happens, we can relate to anybody, whatever be our ideology. Fear will be eliminated. Inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help. What is troubling him? He could have been a victim of ignorance or brain washing or violence. This education is the only way to bring peace around us, to make this world a beautiful place to live in. Thank you.