What Sri Sri said today
The Door To Heaven
May 16, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Nusa Dua, Bali
This universe is so beautiful. There are so many types of flowers, fruits, trees, animals, human beings; such variety has been created so that you can be happy. But the human mind is such that it does not allow you to be happy. Even in the best of places, the mind goes on with the memory of something that happened in the past; this is what is so amazing.
The mind is the biggest mystery. Your own mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy. The mind is responsible for our happiness as well as misery. When the mind is in the present moment, everything appears to be beautiful. However, when the mind is a mess; even in the best of places, it can find a thousand reasons to be miserable.
Change your whole attitude
from, ‘What I can take from
the world; how much
pleasure I can get’, to, ‘How
much more can I contribute
to the world; how much I
can be of use to the world.’
Do you see the difference?
There are five modulations of the mind:
First, the mind wants proof for everything. How can you get proof for everything? Impossible! Second, the mind does not understand things the way they actually are, but thinks something else. You thought something; a little later found out it was not actually like that; a little later, concepts break down. This is called Viparyaya.
Third, the mind has its own imagination; when nothing of the sort actually exists.
Fourth, the mind falls asleep. If it is not thinking of anything, then it falls asleep.
Fifth, the mind is stuck in the memory of the past, or worried about the future.
These five modulations prevent one from being alive in the present moment and enjoying it.
Yoga brings the shift; it helps you to sail over the modulations of the mind. How is this possible?
First, is to know that you are going to leave everything here and go. You are not going to take anything with you when you leave this world. The cause of misery is holding onto things; mine, mine, mine!
I want to share an incident, which I have talked about many times.
Once I was in Canada, an elderly lady, in her sixties, came knocking at the house where I was staying. She came at around 11.30 pm or 12 am, and she insisted that she see me right away. When I came down to meet her, she gave me a cheque for $100 for the schools children’s project. I asked her what the hurry was; she could have given it to me the next day. She replied, ‘Gurudev, I can trust anyone, but not my mind.’
She lived an hour away, and returned to give me the cheque after going almost three-quarter of the way. She said, ‘When this thought came to my mind, I thought I have to do it right away because tomorrow my mind might change. I may not want to give anything at all tomorrow. Or it may reduce to just $10.’
Then, she told me a story, in the middle of the night.
Once, there was a businessman who was drowning in the river. He called out to a fisherman in a boat. He told the fisherman, ‘Please save me somehow, if you save me, I will give you my entire wealth.’ The fisherman took him in his boat without saying anything.
As soon as he got into the boat, the businessman said ‘Look, I can’t give you my entire wealth, but I will give you half of it. I don’t want anything, but my wife and kids will not let me give the entire sum; I have to leave something for them too.’
The fisherman just smiled, he did not say anything.
As the boat was reaching the shore, the businessman again said, ‘Look, if I give you half, what will I do? I have given the other half to my wife and kids. I can give you a quarter, maybe’.
Then as the boat came nearer to the shore, the sum kept reducing further. As soon as they came to the shore, the businessman gave the fisherman $5.
The fisherman said, ‘What, you are worth only $5?’
The businessman said, ‘How much does it take to bring me from there to here? It costs only $3; I have given you more than it’s worth.’
The mind changes! When you want to do a good thing, you should do it immediately, otherwise the mind changes.
We postpone doing good things, but we do anything bad right away.
If we postpone expressing our anger by one week or even one day or two days, then you won’t even need to express it. You want to call someone and yell at them, you just need to postpone it by two hours. Then the intensity goes down.
That is what the lady said, ‘This is the reason I came right away. I don’t hesitate to spend so much on myself, my jewelry, my food and my pleasure; but when I have to do something good, then the hesitation comes.’ That should not happen!
It is only what we share, that goes with us from this planet. The mind has a very important role to play in bondage and freedom.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, it is said that there are three doors to hell. The first door is anger. How to control anger? Postpone expressing it. The second door to hell is greed. The third door is being obsessive; lust. The mind is obsessed with lust and doesn’t care for others; that creates huge problems.
If we postpone expressing
our anger by one week or
even one or two days, then
you won’t even need to
express it. You want to call
someone and yell at them,
you just need to postpone it
by two hours. Then the
intensity goes down.
What are the doors to heaven?
The door to heaven is a broad mind that digests everything from the past, a mind that is broad enough to digest mistakes made by others. Not keeping it in our minds and chewing on it. This is called Vairagya or dispassion. Digesting the past; however it was.
Being like an elephant. Do you know elephants eat the leaves, the bark, the fruit; they eat absolutely anything from coconut leaves to bamboo to bananas. The banana is so soft, the bamboo is so hard, yet they eat and digest it all.
Similarly, in life, there are many pleasant things and unpleasant things, good people, bad people. (In my life, there are no bad people. There are only good people, who sometimes behave badly.) Thus, whatever has happened, happened, digest it all. Digesting the past brings happiness and relief in the present.
We should become strong, like an elephant; digest everything; the soft fruit and the hard bark, i.e., digest everything of the past and move on. That is called dispassion.
What happiness will dispassion not bring you? All types of happiness come to you in dispassion.
People can have two types of attitudes:
One, where we are all the time thinking, ‘What about me’, or ‘What is the use of this for me!’ Two, where we are thinking, ‘How I can be useful to the world’.
So, change the whole attitude from, ‘What I can take from the world; how much pleasure I can get’, to, ‘How much more can I contribute to the world; how much I can be of use to the world.’ Do you see the difference?
It is from being self-centered to selflessness. So, when we take the second stance, our own worries will simply disappear and abundance will flow.
Seeing Perfection In The Not-So-Perfect
May 13, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Today we have launched the project of the Kumudvathi River.
The Volunteer For A Better India (VBI), have done a wonderful job in rejuvenating a river which had dried out, and which was a source of water for Bangalore city. Now once this is rejuvenated, 60% of water shortage in Bangalore city will be resolved. And 300 villages will be benefited by this.
Already, 20 lakes have been rejuvenated, and all the work has been done by volunteers. I congratulate all the volunteers who spent those seven to eight hours, each week, in the last three months, working hard with their heart and soul to make this happen.
See, that is what is needed – Passion, to bring a change. We need to have passion to bring the most needed change in all spheres of life.
Today, we have also launched Sri Sri Organics, so that the farmers who were not getting the right prices for their organic produce, don’t have to worry. They simply have to contact our agriculture department, and we will help them. We will also educate them on how to grow organic food, and also provide opportunities for their projects to reach the general population. This is also very important.
Then, light a home project, which is being done by our SSRDP (Sri Sri Rural Development Program) team to light those homes which did not have any electricity. 4000 homes have been lit, just in the last couple of months. This is a very big achievement. 4000 homes that had no electricity, now have solar light; green energy. Many of these homes are in places where there are no roads, and now these people have electricity. This is so nice.
This morning, when I woke up, a thought came to my mind, that it is not difficult to see the Divine in the enlightened, or in the good people. But it is a challenge to see the Divine in the foolish, stupid and the wicked.
In the stupid and wicked people, it is very difficult to see the Divine. And it is these people that bother our mind. When you sit for meditation, what bothers you? It is the wicked person or the stupid person that bothers you.
Just see that even they are the manifestation of the Divine, then the mind shifts to another level of consciousness. Your consciousness shifts to another level wherein you see that oneness, that one Divinity in everybody and in everything. This enables us to go deep within.
Instead what do we do? When we have to act, we think, ‘Even if this is not okay, anyways everything is as per God’s will only’. When we think like this, then we lose the passion and the enthusiasm to work. That is a wrong attitude.
When you want to go inward (meditate), that is when we need to have this attitude that, everything is okay. When you want to act, then you must use your intellect; use your wisdom. See what needed to be attended to; what is right, what is wrong and how you can make things better.
If we can know the distinction between these two, we will raise to a very different level of awareness, in which that inner strength will flow uninterruptedly in our lives.
Being In Knowledge Is Real Worship
May 12, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
(Over a thousand village deities gathered from all over Karnataka at the newly built Guru Paduka Vanam at the Art of Living International Campus at Bangalore on 12th May. The oval shaped amphitheater with a water body at the center completely full of decorated deities was an ethereal sight to behold, especially when all thousand of them were offered arati at the same time. The entire atmosphere was festive and full of celebration with sounds of drums, cymbals, conches and ringing bells. Explaining about the significance of the event, below is the transcript of Sri Sri’s address)
Two types of shaktis (energies) are protecting the world. One is the Daivi Shakti (Energy of the Devas) and the other is the Asuri Shakti (Energy of the Asuras). The conflict between the positive forces and the negative forces always goes on. When the positive forces win, there is contentment, comfort and happiness in the world. When the negative forces win, there are problems and violence.
Finally, it is always the positive forces that win, but negative forces keep surfacing from time to time.
Today different Grama Devatas (local village deities) from 1008 villages have arrived here. Some of the village chiefs were saying that their Gram Devatas have not moved out of their village for more than 60 to 65 years. This is the first time they have come out of the village, over here.
So people from different villages have brought their revered Gram Devata.
When we are peaceful and
contented with ourselves,
that is Naivaidya (offering
of food to the Divine).
When we feel love for
everybody, then this is
Pushpanjali (offering of
flowers) to the Divine.
When the mind is filled
with the light of knowledge,
then that is the real worship
of the Divine.
Our ancestors had invoked a Grama Devata in every village.
When do you call an idol as a Devata? When a Siddha (a spiritually perfected or realized person), by the chanting of mantras invokes the Divine Prana (life-force) into the idol, then the idol becomes a Devata.
There are Devatas (Divine forces) that protect each place or region (Kshetra), hence they are called Kshetra Paala. All people have deep respect and faith in the Devata, and worship it for their wellbeing.
There is a word in Sanskrit, ‘Nilimpa-parishad’ (meaning a council of the Gods).
Just like we have the parliament and the state assemblies, in the same way even the Gods have their own Parishad (council).
So this council of Devatas (demi-gods) are assembled here today to take part in the celebrations. We have brought the Devatas from all the places.
The elders have said, ‘Sthana pradhanam na tu bala pradhanam’.
God is in the pillars of the temple too, but we worship the Divine only in the Sanctum Sanctorum. It is not enough if there is strength, a position is also required. We give the Devatas a position. Only if the Grama Devatas are satisfied, things can progress.
If Grama Devatas have to be satisfied, there has to be unity amongst the people. Everyone has to be well and there should be prosperity. If there is sadness and hatred in the minds of the people, then the Grama Devatas feel a lot of pain.
To make the Grama Devatas happy, a celebration should be organized. Everyone in the village should get together, forget the past and thank God for all that has been given to them.
We celebrate this day by setting aside all differences of caste, creed and religion, and remind ourselves that we are all governed by one Divinity which looks after us. This is the significance of Grama Devata in every village.
When a person believes that he is surrendered to the Divine, he performs all his duties with the loyalty and gratitude of a servant, and not as an owner (meaning without ego or a sense of doer-ship).
There are two types of people in the society: one type is those who think, ‘I am nothing but a servant of the Divine’. The other type are those who think, ‘I am everything’.
If there is any problem in any village or city, it is only due to ego. Ego ruins any good work. So, in order to soften this ego, it becomes necessary to place all faith in the deity.
Here, by ego I mean Dur-ahamkaar (the bad and misleading ego). The Grama Devatas are established so that there is no arrogance or no Asuri Pravriti (demonic tendencies) among the people. When the people respect and worship the deity with full faith, they speak the truth and also follow a path of righteousness.
Do you know, earlier when there were no courts of law, people would present themselves in front of the Grama Devata? Whatever disputes people had among themselves would be resolved in the presence of the deity. So the Grama Devatas acted like a judge to resolve disputes, pardon crimes, and to ensure that everybody in the region abides by the law.
The affairs of the region would be run through the Devata.
Today also whenever anybody takes an oath before taking office, he does so in the name of God only. When a person becomes a minister, he takes an oath in the name of God before being sworn into office. This is done to remember and accept the presence of the Divine in everything. So, the Grama Devatas were established to remind and help people experience the presence of the Divine.
This did not mean that God was confined to an idol. It was only to remind people of the presence of the Divine in all that they did and wanted to achieve.
So today, we have this good opportunity, where the deities from so many villages have assembled here for the celebrations.
When all the Devatas get together, it is a Yagya. A big Yagya has happened here today. All the Devatas have come here and blessed you. Daivi Shaktis (positive forces) are in every atom. Awakening such shaktis through meditation, satsang and pooja (worship) is Yagya.
So we have been doing Gnana (knowledge) yagya, Dhyana (meditation) yagya, Japa (chanting) yagya and Keertana (singing the glory of God) yagya.
This culture is only in India and needs to be preserved and developed. Do not let it wither away. We have to ensure that the Grama Devata celebration happens in every village.
Celebrate this day by setting
aside all differences of caste,
creed and religion, and let us
remind ourselves that we are
all governed by one Divinity,
which looks after us.
This is the significance of
Gram Devata in every village.
Always remember God, be useful to others and be happy.
‘Daivadheenam Jagat sarvam’, the world is governed by God.
‘Mantradheenam tu Daivatam’, Devatas are governed by Mantras.
Those who have perfected the mantras become equal to the Devatas. That is why chanting and meditation have been given a lot of importance. By practicing mantras and offering prayers to Devatas, one gets comforts and wealth. Whatever we have obtained, we must share it with others. This is the essence of Dharma, i.e., worship the Daivi Shakti, and pray that society is free from Asuri Shakti.
In other countries, they say, ‘We will go and fight the negative forces’. In India, we say, ‘We will remove the Asuri Shakti (negative forces) using Daivi Shakti (positive forces)’. We need to ensure that the positive forces are strong. And how is that done? Through worship, celebration and Yagya.
Enjoying the celebrations today, is one thing. But you should also realize that all the Devatas (here, referring to different forms of one Divinity) reside within you. It is said that 33 crore Devatas reside in every cell of our body.
When we are peaceful and contented with ourselves, when the mind is pleasant, that is Naivaidya (offering of food to the Divine).
When the mind is filled with the light of knowledge, then that is the worship of the Divine.
When you feel love for everybody, then this is Pushpanjali (offering of flowers) to the Divine.
So what is the Pushpanjali to the Devatas? It is the blossoming of love towards everyone. What is Aarti (the act of rotating a lamp before the deity)? It is when the lamp of knowledge lights up in your heart; when the awareness dawns in you that, ‘I am not the body, I am pure Consciousness. I am neither born nor will I die. I am eternal. I am Sanatan (eternal and unchanging)’. Being in this knowledge is the real Aarti of the Divine.
So, in this way, you should worship all the 33 crore deities present within you by doing such a pooja within yourself. This is the higher knowledge that we must know.
The Means To Abundance
May 08, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
I am going to give you a challenge. Are you ready to take up a challenge?
Say ‘Ka’ without saying ‘Aa’. Can you do that? You can’t do it. You cannot say ‘Ka’ without saying ‘Aa’.
Okay, let us try ‘Ga’, or ‘Cha’, without ‘Aa’. Can you do it? No!
This is how the consonants and vowels are arranged in Sanskrit language.
AA II UU RiRi LiLi E Ai O Au Am Ah – these are vowels. The consonants are, Ka Kha Ga Gha Na, Ca Cha Ja Jha Na, Ta Tha Da Dha Na, Ta Tha Da Dha Na, Pa Pha Ba Bha Ma.
You cannot say the consonants without a vowel. Got it?
When you say ‘Ki’, ‘E’ has to be there.
This is so scientifically arranged, that is why Sanskrit is called Deva Bhasha; the language of the Gods, because it is aligned with nature.
When you say ‘Aa’, it is creation, everything opens. When you say ‘Uu’ it continues, and when you say ‘Mm’ it closes.
How is a sound generated? This has been explained very beautifully by one of the Rishis. When the self, conjoining itself with the intellect, again joins hands with the mind. That enhances the heat or energy in the body, and that energy moves the air through the voice box, and sound is generated.
So how does sound get generated, this is so beautifully and scientifically said.
This knowledge is not just for the heart or just for the head. It is a perfect combination of the head and the heart. That is the spiritual wisdom.
Also, if you observe the musical notes, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni, it all corresponds to the tune of particular animals. Sa corresponds to the tune of peacocks. Re to cows; Ga to goats; Pa to nightingales; Dha to horses and Ni to elephants. Though elephants are so big, their sound is very high pitched and very small.
So each animals’ sound is what the musical notes are – Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa.
In the same way, consonants are arranged with the animals. Ka and Cha, relates to the birds. Birds make only these two sounds, except parrots and mynah; when we train them they can speak the whole language.
Then comes Ta and Tha, these consonants relates to amphibians. The amphibians in the water and on land, like frogs and other animals, they say Ta and Tha.
Only mammals are in the last set of consonants, i.e., Pa Pha Ba Bha Ma. Goats, sheep, cows, they all make these sounds.
So the way the consonants are all arranged is so close to nature. Nobody made this, it is a gift; or downloaded. The Vedas are called Shrutis because no Rishi wrote it intellectually, so he did not take credit for it. He simply said, I went deep into meditation and I downloaded it; I heard it. So they are called Shrutis; that which was heard in deep meditation.Q: Gurudev, what is Anugraha? How and when can we receive it?
Sanskrit mantras are what was heard in deep meditation. This is what is said.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Anugraha means grace. Nothing is possible in life without anugraha.
When you receive a lot without making efforts for it, then it is said that you are blessed with anugraha. Do you understand what I am saying?
Usually you work hard at your job and then receive your salary. So you say, ‘I have earned my money’. But if someone gives you a gift, you do not say, ‘I have earned these gifts’.
Can something that is earned be called a gift? No. You receive gifts without any efforts.
So when you receive a great gift or an award that you feel you did not deserve, then that is called anugraha.
When we receive something that we are not deserving of, or which exceeds our capabilities, then that is what is called Grace. When we see that in our life, we have received far more than what we deserve or are capable of, then gratitude dawns in us. We become thankful, complaints disappear and abundance grows.
A person who is grateful never experiences lack of anything.
Who experiences a lack in life? One who thinks that ‘I am so capable yet I got nothing’.
Once there was a person who wanted to become the Prime Minister. He did not even have the capability to oversee a herd of donkeys, yet he wanted to become the Prime Minister. Now what do you say to such a person? His complaints will never reduce. He will be full of them.
Being grateful means all your complaints in life simply disappear.
When you have this feeling in your heart that you have always received more than what you asked for, or more than what you deserved, then deep gratitude arises in you. When there is gratitude, there will never be a lack of anything in life. For such a person, whatever he wishes for will keep getting fulfilled.
Now you might say that this is quite difficult. Yes, it is difficult. It is never easy to achieve something. But when you take one step towards this, you will find that it is very easy.Q: Gurudev, it is said that speech is of four types: Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. What is their significance in Sadhana (spiritual practices)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This conversation that we are having now is what Vaikhari is.
Human beings are capable of interacting only by using this Vaikhari mode of speech.
It is said, ‘Chatvaari vaak parimitaa padaani taani vidur braahmaanaa ye manishinaah. Guhaa trini nihitaa neaengayanti turiyam vaacho manushyaa vadanti.’ (Rigveda Samhita (1.164.45))
So human beings speak to each other using the fourth type of speech. The other three: Para, Madhyama and Pashyanti are used in communications which are at a much deeper level, where no language is used.
A state in which no language is used, yet the entire essence is understood completely is called the Para Vaani.
After death, when a person leaves his body, he also drops his ability to communicate using language. At that state, he simply observes all that happens, and by observation he gains knowledge. This is called Pashyanti (derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Pashya’ meaning to see or observe).
The Madhyama mode of speech is in-between the states of Para and Pashyanti.
Many times it happens that someone is speaking in a language that you do not know, yet you are able to understand what they are trying to say. Madhyama is such a state.
For example, when the child is in the mother’s womb, neither has the child seen the mother, and nor has the mother seen the child. Yet they understand each other completely. There is no exchange of language in that state, then too, communication happens that is beyond language. This is Madhyama.
That is why this entire creation is called as the Hiranyagarbha (meaning the Golden Egg or Golden Womb). We are all present inside this Cosmic Womb and do not know what exists outside it.
Just like how the mother knows the child within her womb but the child does not know the mother; in the same way God knows us yet we do not know Him. That is why He is referred to as Agyeya (that which is ever-present but is unknown). You can never know the Divine, but you can experience it. And how can you experience it? By reposing in yourself.
So Para Vaani is that speech in which no language is used, and it is also beyond feelings. In Pashyanti we communicate using our feelings also.
When we go into deeper levels of Consciousness, every sense organ of our body becomes capable of performing all functions. That means the functions of all the five senses happen through one organ.
So in such a state, by a single touch you are able to feel, see, taste and also gain complete knowledge about the object.
So every organ becomes capable of performing all the functions of the five senses (see, smell, taste, hear, and feel). So when the Panchendriya (five senses) dissolve and become one (sense organ), then that state is the state of Para-Chetna (pure Consciousness). That is the speech of Para Vaani.
That is why it is said, ‘Jaanat tum hi tum hi ho jaaye’ (when the knower, knowledge and the known all become One). That is why we say, one who is deeply devoted to the Lord becomes the Lord himself.
Similarly, one who has attained the knowledge of the Brahman becomes the Brahman. In such a state, the lover, the beloved and the love are not separate from one another. They all dissolve and become one. This is the state of Para Vaani.
When you think of language, then there has to be one who speaks and another who listens. Two are needed for this (meaning a sense of duality). This is where you need Vaikhari. Vaikhari means the diversity that is present all around you. That is why there are so many languages in the world, and not just one. But there is only one Para Vaani, and everything is contained in that.
In Para Vaani, even before a word is formed you have instantly understood the meaning. So words are not needed at all.
All this appears very technical to understand. So when you have a scientific outlook, then it is easy to understand. Q: Gurudev, neither Mirabai (a great female saint of India and a devotee of Lord Krishna) nor Sant Tukaram (a great saint from Maharashtra in India) had learnt classical music. Yet they are remembered even today for their bhajans (devotional songs). I also do not know how to sing. Please tell me if I will ever get a chance to express my devotion.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, of course! It is already done. Q: Gurudev, we have heard such beautiful knowledge from you over the years. But I am not able to implement it. What should I do?
A flower never asks or waits for a chance for its fragrance to spread. Where the flower is, its fragrance will spread, that is inevitable. So wherever there is love and devotion, it cannot be hidden from anyone.
See, love is something that cannot be hidden. You cannot hide love, nor can you express it fully. Every time we try to express our love, we feel we have not been able to express it fully, and this is the problem of every lover. No matter how much they try to express their love, they find it is incomplete.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are stuck in making efforts to implement the knowledge. Just relax. You do not need to do anything! Everything is happening by itself.
Why Don’t You Just Relax!
May 07, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Q: Please talk about surrender?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is it that you have to surrender? Anyway everything belongs to the Divine already. But when you think that something belongs to you, then I say, ‘Let go’.
When you are holding onto something so tight, that is when I say, ‘Hey, relax’. Relaxation is called surrender; it is nothing else.
If something is bothering you in your head, offering that botheration is surrender. It is just like offering aahuti (the act of making prayerful offerings to the sacred fire). So whatever bothers you or troubles you, offer that as aahuti to the Divine.
That which you cannot handle by yourself; that which has become a burden for you; that which you are tired of carrying on your head, just put it down and let go! That is what is meant by surrender.
Otherwise what is there to surrender? Your body belongs to God. Even your mind belongs to God. Everything belongs to God. But you think it belongs to you. So just let go, relax and smile. Letting go, relaxing and smiling is what the meaning of surrender is.
In Buddhism, it is said ‘Buddham Sharanam Gachhami’, which means whatever burdens you cannot handle by yourself, offer it to Lord Buddha, or offer it to God, or offer it to the Guru, or offer it to anyone who is dear to you. This is for you to feel that there is someone who belongs to you and is very dear to you, and you are very dear to them.
I will give you an example.
A child, when it knows that mother is at home, it feels so comfortable. The child will roam about here and there and play happily. But when the child does not see the mother, and mother has gone somewhere, then it starts looking for her and starts crying.
Though nowadays the children actually become happy when they find that mother is not around! (Laughter) Then they can do even more mischief. But this happens when the children grow a little older.
Small children often keep a watch to see whether mother is around, isn’t it so? One eye will be on the mother. This is because the child feels comforted to know, there is someone for me, who is sitting there.
Nowadays parents leave their children sitting in front of the television (to distract the children so that they do not bother the parents). This is very harmful. Children should not watch television because it is very taxing to their brain. Q: What is Prana? I only know that it is subtler than the breath. Has science discovered something in this field? Are there other dimensions of our life that science also agrees to?
Often parents put on some cartoon show on the TV and make their children watch. This is not good because it causes so many impressions to be formed on the child’s mind, that the child becomes so dull. Many children are not able to count, and develop disorders like the Attention Deficiency Syndrome. It is common in America today.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: : Yes.
I was recently reading this book called The Proof of Heaven, written by a neurologist. He writes about his experiences when he went into coma. He died clinically and had an out of body experience, and so he has written about his experience, and it is exactly what we have been saying.
He saw a big light and said that the name of this light is Om. He has no idea of Indian spirituality, but out of his own experience he said, it is known by a sound called Om. And it is so peaceful and so loving.
He describes exactly what the Gita says, ‘Urdhva-mulam adhah-sakham’. The roots are above and the branches are below (to signify that your origin is the Divinity; the consciousness. That is your roots).
He had this experience of going into the roots, and then going beyond the roots into the dark space, and then beyond the dark space into the Hiranyagarbha (the source of the creation of the Universe, or the manifested cosmos in Indian philosophy), what has been said in the Upanishads to be The Golden Egg; it is like a womb of shining gold.
People who have NDEs (Near Death Experiences), they have all experienced what has been said by people in this country for thousands of years. This is so interesting.
Also, the author is an atheist; he never believed in any religion or anything. He was a hard core scientist, and the book talks about how he found through his experience that the other world is so much more real than this one that we see.
This is what we have heard in all the Darshanas (Hindu philosophy is traditionally divided into six schools of thought, or Darshanas, which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures). It begins like that.
See, the knowledge that we gain through the five senses is inferior to the knowledge that we gain through the intellect. You see the sun setting and the sun rising, but the intellect knows that the sun is neither setting, nor rising.
So like this, knowledge of the senses is inferior to the knowledge of the intellect. But knowledge of something beyond the intellect; intuitive knowledge, knowledge from the pure consciousness is even superior to intellectual knowledge.
Intellectual knowledge can be proved and disproved, but a discovery which is beyond the intellectual calculation is something very different.Q: Dear Gurudev, in one of the knowledge sheets you have mentioned, the Guru is not a person but a presence. How do I see my Guru as a presence and not as a person?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Every human being, what are they, the body or the mind? If they are the body, then when the spirit is gone, why it is that no one cares for the body. It is the spirit that we value. Try to see the spirit as separate from the body.Q: What is subtle ego, and how does one overcome it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Subtle ego is when you have the feeling that ‘I have no ego’.
When you feel that ‘I am the most down-to-earth and humble person alive’, then that is the subtle ego.
See, if you find that there is some ego in you, never mind, just keep it in your pocket. If it is there, let it be there. It is alright. Why do you want to get rid of it?
If you try to get rid of the ego, then that will become another big problem for you. Because then you will say, ‘See, I have overcome my ego!’ Then that is the subtle ego.
You cannot overcome ego by destroying it. Just be natural. Ego dissolves in the naturalness of your being. Q: Gurudev, why do you suggest a Sharnagat (one who has surrendered everything and taken refuge in the Divine) to take a Sankalpa (firm resolve to take action)? How is this possible? We don’t need anything except you. Then why take a Sankalpa at all?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We never compel anyone to take up a Sankalpa. And you are never asked to take a Sankalpa for small things. Your small wishes and desires anyway get fulfilled, is it not? Q: Gurudev, you often say that ‘Sahaj miley avinashi’ (meaning: By being natural, one can effortlessly attain the Divine). Along with being natural, we also need a broad vision. How do we broaden our vision of life?
Everything does happen anyway. So when things are happening, instead of keeping small ambitions, you should aspire for something bigger. You should think for the nation and think of the betterment of the world. This is what it is.
Usually you just have small little desires for yourself. You should take up a bigger Sankalpa, one that is beneficial for everyone. This is what is said in the Sanatan Dharma (another name for Hinduism from the ancient days), ‘Tanme Manah Shiva Sankalpa Mastu’, which means, may my mind always have a Sankalpa that is beneficial for everyone.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have desire to know more, that itself is good enough.Q: Gurudev, is it necessary for two people to think alike to fall in love? Can there not be love along with differences of opinion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, you have something else on your mind, and you are asking something else. If I give you an answer, you will use that answer in some other way. I am not going to get caught into these traps. If you are clever, even I am clever.
I will share an incident with you.
Once I was at Paris airport and was passing through airport security. There were a lot of people seeing me off, some 200-300 people. Now this one lady came; she must have been in her late 60’s. She came to me and showed me a ring on her finger, and asked me, ‘Is this necessary?’
I just saw the ring with a stone on it and said, ‘No, it is not necessary’. And then I left for New York.
Two days later her husband called me and asked me, ‘Gurudev, did you ask my wife to divorce me?’
I said, ‘No’.
The man was around 70 years, and the two had been married for around 40 years. Both of them are devotees. He said, ‘Gurudev, I know you will never say that, but my wife has sent me divorce papers, because you have said that there is no need to be married’.
Then I asked him, ‘Let me talk to you wife.’
She said, ‘Gurudev, I showed you my wedding ring and asked you, ‘Is it necessary?’ You said ‘no’.
So after that incident, even I have become very clever and cautious of what I say! (Laughter)Q: Gurudev, you have given me more than what I deserve. I feel that whatever I do for you, it is nothing. It is my wish that you demand something from me.
I will not just say anything in answer to your question, otherwise your mind will start thinking all sorts of things. Like in the story, the woman wanted to divorce the husband, but asked me for my consent by showing me her ring.
Nowadays, people wear all kinds of stones. I tell you, you don’t have to believe so much in stones and all that. More powerful than any stone is your consciousness. Do not give so much important to stones. You are much more powerful than any stone.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you be happy and make everybody happy.
There is so much work you can do in this world. Spread knowledge, spread smiles and spread happiness. This knowledge is so beautiful and so relevant. See to it that this knowledge reaches many more people.
Human Life Is Very Precious
April 29, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Nusa Dua, Bali
Three things in life are very important: Passion, Dispassion and Compassion.
Passion is required in life. Only when you have passion, are you able to do any job, achieve anything. So we need to have passion. Dispassion is also needed, along with passion. Passion alone will not work. There are people who have a lot of passion but that tires them, wears them out very quickly. Sooner or later, they suffer from a burnout, and sometimes they get depressed. This is because they have a lot of passion, but they don’t get the desired result. Thus, with passion you need dispassion. It is like a safety-valve. It brings sanity and keeps you sane. It is like, breathing in is passion, and breathing out is dispassion.
There is something much
higher than these events,
these happenings, and this
life. There is something much
more mystical. Something
which is so much more real
than the so-called real world.
Accepting that gives life a
Compassion is also needed along with dispassion and passion. With dispassion you can get good sleep, with passion you can accomplish things better and with compassion, your personality will shine. We need to have compassion, dispassion and passion; the balance of all these is very vital in life.
Then, you need to know where you need to be compassionate, and how much. If your child is crying not to go to school, you can’t be compassionate there and say, ‘Oh I am too compassionate, let the child not go to school, let him stay at home’. No! If someone is doing wrong things, someone is into drugs and alcohol, spoiling their life, you can’t say, ‘Oh I am so compassionate towards them.’ Here, your compassion is in firmness. You need to be firm. So this is all about life; how we can interact.
Now, there is something much higher than these events, these happenings, and this life. There is something much more mystical. Something which is so much more real than the so-called real world. Accepting that gives life a bigger dimension. It lifts your eyes from the normal day-to-day routine worldly living, to a truth that is higher.
Just imagine, this Moon has been there for so many billions of years; the Earth has been there for 19 billion years, and how long have you been here? A short period of time. Think about it, maybe 50 years, 60 years, or 30 years? How long will you be here for? Another 30-40 years, that’s it! Finished! However, our mind says, ‘No! I have been here forever!’
Often you find that, even though you see children growing up, still you feel you are the same. How many of you have this experience? ‘Children are all grown up, yet, I am the same, I have not aged at all.’ This is true. There is something in you, which does not accept that you are born or you will die. In the spirit, in the mind, there is something deep inside you – the Self, which does not age, does not change at all, even though everything around you changes. And the Self was there even before this birth. This is not the only birth; we have been here many, many lifetimes.
Suppose someone remembers only one day at a time. The next day they forget what they were yesterday. Or imagine someone’s memory is so short that they only remember what they did from morning till night; they don’t remember anything from yesterday, or think that there will be a tomorrow. It is like those people who suffer from amnesia, who don’t remember anything. We are all in a similar state of mind. When someone is so fully drunk, they forget everything else. They don’t remember anything. Similarly, we don’t remember that we were here before, and we are going to be here again, and for thousands of years we will continue to exist. We need to look at this reality. Then life really assumes a broader dimension.
Here, in Bali, have you seen there are all these little temples? There is no idol inside the temple. Do you know why? Because it is for our ancestors. They keep a proper little seat for the ancestor’s spirit. There are temples for gods too. There are so many gods, they all come, sit there, bless you and take care of you. This is the belief here. Actually, it is not just a belief, it is a reality as well.
There are many levels of reality: First is the Light, the Supreme, the One God, not too many gods, only one, which is Paramathma. Below Paramathma, there are many different energies or angels, or gods and goddesses. Below these energies or angels or gods, there are various spirits. Below these spirits is the manifest world that we see. So, what we see is the manifest world; then there are subtle energies, which are good and bad; above that are gods, ancestors; and then there is the Paramathma or the Divine, or the God, or whatever you call it.
This world is layers of layers of layers of reality; of truth. So, when you leave this body, your spirit goes and stays in another realm for quite some time, till it gets another body to come back. This life, our human life, is very precious because from this life you can merge with the Light. In this life, you can express love. The human body is very, very precious.
Do you know what happens
when you meditate?
You are creating a rapport
with the other realms of
reality. When your mind is
still, when meditation is
happening, you are purifying
every cell of your own body,
and you are spreading positive
energy all around you.
As I said, you have all these little temples here? That is to indicate that the Divine is formless, but makes its presence felt here, which is why it is said, feeling the presence. Just like the memory. When you remember your mother, or father, or grand-father who have crossed over, they are always there, in your mind, right? Their presence can be felt, the memory can feel them; they are present in your memory. In the same way, different deities, angels or gods and goddesses exist for each part of our body. Every part of the body is ruled by a particular deity. As we remember them, the presence comes up; we feel the presence.
This belief exists in almost all the traditions of the world; from Mexico, South America to Mongolia. However, just belief will not work. Do you know what happens when you meditate? You are creating a rapport with the other realms of reality. When your mind is still, when meditation is happening, you are not only purifying every cell of your own body, but you are spreading positive energy all around you. Your meditation brings peace and joy to people who have already passed and gone to the other side, which is very, very important.
When you are silent, you are not putting things into the mind from the world; you are letting yourself free, cleansing the body, and cleansing the mind. During this time, some thoughts may bombard your mind. Some old things may just come and bother you. Never mind, don’t be scared. The fact you are sitting is good enough. Whatever happens is all for good. If old thoughts are coming and bothering you, never mind, they just come and they go. Nevertheless, keeping silent is very, very precious, not just for you, but also for the subtle creation. For the world also, because you are creating such positive vibrations every minute you are in silence, every minute you are meditating!
In addition, the full moon, the ocean and meditation, all go very well. The mind is agitated if it is involved in too much activity. Time to time, as you take yourself back from activity, then agitation disappears, meditation wells up.
Lift Up Your Eyes
April 29, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Nusa Dua, Bali
Q: Dear Gurudev, can you tell us about God’s mother and father? And how many brothers and sisters does God have?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My goodness! I will tell you who God’s mother and father are, if you tell me where a tennis ball begins.
My dear, you don’t call God something that is born or that dies. God is the Light, the Consciousness, which has no birth.
Three things in the universe are eternal.
One is the universe which has always been there. Second is the soul; the individual soul is eternal. Third, the Big Mind, or God, is always there, otherwise it won’t be called God.
If God was there only 2,000 years ago and it is not there now, then it is no God. Or if God is going to come in the future, it is no God. God is something which was there, is there, and will be there; that which is omnipresent. God is not a person. It is energy, it is the space.
In the Upanishads, there is a beautiful story.
A young boy of eight years asks his father, ‘Dad, what is God like?’
So, the father takes the boy by the hand outside the home, and he asks, ‘What was there in this place before the building was built?’
The boy said, ‘Empty space.’
The father asks, ‘And where does this building stand?’
The boy says, ‘In the space.’
‘And when the building is demolished, what will be here?’
The boy said, ‘Space'.
The father said, ‘So, space is something which is always there, right?’
The boy said, ‘Yes.’
The father said, ‘That is what God is like.’
God is like the space in which everything comes, in which everything stays, into which everything dissolves. That can never be destroyed. And it is always there. You have no escape. You cannot go away from God at all. Impossible!
The question then comes, ‘How can bad people be God, if God is all good? There are good people, and there are bad people, how can you call them all God?’
I want to give you another example, of a movie. How is a movie played?
It is played by a ray of light from behind the film, yes? Have you seen on the projector, how the reel is going on and there is light behind it? It is because of this light that the movie gets projected on the screen. So, it doesn’t matter what film it is, whether the hero comes or the villain comes, the light will be the same, isn’t it? The light is God, and the hero, villain, and whatever good or bad you see; all that is happening is just a phenomenon. It has nothing to do with the light. It is because of the light that you can even see them. Do you understand this?
So, if you really need to know what God and what nature is, you need to be a scientist. If you are a physicist, you can understand. If you understand Quantum Physics, you can understand spirituality, you can understand God better.
Now, if God is everywhere, is He here? Yes.
If God belongs to everyone, does He belong to you? Yes.
If God is everywhere, He is here also? He has always been there, so He is here now! He belongs to everybody, so He belongs to me.
He is the field of all possibilities; He is capable of everything, so He will fulfill whatever I need.
If you know these four points, that is good enough. You don’t need anything else.
So what is it you need to remember? Q: Dear Gurudev, what are your views on organ donation, gay marriages, blood donations and abortion?
God is omnipresent, so He is present here, now. He belongs to me, He is in me, and He is there to fulfill whatever I lack. That’s it!
In meditation, when the ‘I’ dissolves, knowledge dissolves. (Do you know whatever knowledge you are having is very limited? So, knowledge should dissolve. What happens in deep sleep? Knowledge dissolves.)
When knowledge dissolves, when the I consciousness dissolves, then what exists, only exists! That is what the real truth is, that is what Shiva is, and that is Bhairava.
Bhairava is where you become one with Shiva, with Shivoham, where I has dissolved, knowledge has dissolved, yet everything is there.
How do you get it? You can get it through passion, dispassion and compassion. Passion for sadhana, dispassion for everything else, and compassion towards yourself and others. Sometimes, we are compassionate to others and we are too hard on ourselves; that is also no good.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Organ donation is okay, you can do it; there is nothing wrong in it.
All these issues are very relative. You don’t need to label it as good, bad, I want it, and I don’t want it. Whatever choice you make, never mind, it is okay. However, you should not forget that life is much more than these smaller happenings, that is important. A few moments of something beyond the material world, even one percent belief in this, is good enough for you to rise above.
When you are in the water, in the ocean, all that you need is a rubber float; that is good enough. That is how you learn to swim, right? Similarly, a little bit of faith in something beyond is good enough.
In Sanskrit, there is a word called shraadh, means that which is with shraddha, with faith.
When someone has passed away, you remember them, you don’t doubt whether they were there or not. You know they were there with you, and they have gone. When they have gone, on the day you remember them, that is called shraaddha, means faith.
You have the faith that they are still there. And what do you do? You take a few sesame seeds, pour water onto it, and give them the message, ‘Be content, be content, be content. If you have any desires in your mind, it is all as small as a sesame seed, just drop it. I am here to fulfill your desires. You move on, be happy, and be content.’
This is what children tell their parents, who have passed on to the other side. It need not be children only; anybody, any friend, any relative can do that. It is a ceremony that is done here in Bali also; it is very prevalent.
In this ceremony, all the five senses are satisfied; there is food for taste, incense sticks for smell, singing for sound, and a lamp or light for sight. It is a way of expressing one’s gratefulness to people who have passed across to the other side. This is also done to make you remember that there is another world, there is another realm, and there is another plane of existence, not just this one. So, life gains a bigger dimension. Your eyes lift up. Q: Gurudev, I wonder what we have done in our past life that you are giving us so much in this life. Even before wishing, it is given. Thank you so much for everything.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very good. The more grateful we are, the more gifts come our way. How many of you have experienced this? Whatever you desire, it all comes true. You want something, and it all manifests. That’s it! What you want comes to you; that is the beauty on our path.
Sometimes, we should do some mischief also; not get too serious. This beautiful knowledge is so deep, yet it has to be taken playfully; means not too seriously. This is why it is called Leela, which means game or play, it is called the play of the Divine; Rama Leela, Krishna Leela.
So, the whole universe is a play and display of consciousness, play of God.
Life is also a game; it is a play, not a war or struggle. You should remember that. However, finally, the game will end and everybody will die. Everybody is going to die. Everybody will merge with the Light, one day or another; going round and round a few times.
So, life is both, deep and at the same time, fun, joy and playfulness. Q: Dear Gurudev, how do we know if we are caught up in a Mahabharata? How do we come out of it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is like asking, ‘How do I know when I am feeling cold?’ When you feel cold, you will feel the cold. So, when you are in the Mahabharata, which means you are in the midst of a big fight, it is so obvious, you lose your sleep.
In life, if you find there is a struggle, there is fight, and if it is for a good cause, just stand up and do it. If you feel it is not worth having a fight, it is not useful, then you should change your strategy; don’t be stuck, and move on.Q: At what point is life created? Is it at the time of birth or egg fertilization or at some stage in-between?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: All three are possible. A soul can come at the time of conception, or in the fifth month, and in some rare cases, at the time of birth also. Q: Dearest Gurudev, what types of life exist on other planets? Is their spiritual world the same as ours?
This is all called the secret of birth, and we are not supposed to speak on them. One of the five great secrets – the secret of birth, the secret of death, these are all not to be discussed too much. However, you can explore it; you can go deep in meditation to explore it.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, there are so many planets like our Earth. Actually, our old scriptures say that there are five of your same kind in the universe; in different worlds.
The Three Things That We Live For
April 24, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
We need to see life from a broader vision.
What we know as life, and this whole world, is through our senses. It is through seeing, hearing, touching, and understanding. The knowledge that we get through the five senses is of one level. There is another level which is higher than the knowledge that we get through the five sense, i.e., the knowledge which is through the intellect.
The knowledge from the intellect is superior to the knowledge through the senses.
We see the sun rising and the sun setting, but through the intellect we know that the sun is neither rising nor setting, it is the earth that rotates.
There is another knowledge which is even superior to the intellect. It is the intuitive knowledge. As human beings we all have the capability to tap into the intuitive knowledge, and that is spiritual knowledge. You go beyond time and space, and from there you see the reality. I think all of you have had this experience sometime or the other, whatever your intellect says, your gut feeling is different. Have you had this experience?
You had a strong intuition, but your logic said something different. Your intuition was completely different, and that is what happened. How many of you have had that experience? (Many raised their hands)
Everybody has this faculty but don't know how to use it.
It is like, you have a treasure box but you have locked it and you don't have the key, and do not know what to do with it. Also it is like having a computer and not knowing the password. Your phone is locked, and you don't know the keyword, you don’t know how to open it. Though we have the phone we are unable to use it because it is locked. Though we have the iPad, it doesn't open because it is locked and we have forgotten the keyword. It is the same in our life.
Our body has access to many dimensions of reality, and we have the ability to attain these levels, to fulfill the desires of others, only if we have the password. As simple as that, yet very profound.
Just one password and your computer opens. Once the computer opens, you have all the information. The connectedness to the universal energy; universal force, from within us is necessary. Once that connection happens, nothing whatsoever in the universe can bring down your smile, energy, enthusiasm, joy and your intellectual brilliance. This is why the spiritual techniques are there, to get you to the precious realms of your own life.
Just think, what is that you want in your life? You will get three answers. First and foremost, you will say, ‘Happiness.’
Why do you want to work? Why do you want to earn money? So that you can be comfortable, so that you can be happy.
Second is love. Suppose there is no love in your life, would you like to live on this planet? You won’t. Just imagine that nobody loves you on this planet, and you don't love anybody, then why do you have to be here?
So, happiness, love, and the third thing is knowledge.
These are the three things that everybody lives for, and they are of priority – love, happiness and knowledge.
Love is something that you cannot hide. If there is love in your heart, you can see it in your actions; it comes out in your expressions, on your face, and you can see it in the eyes.
You just look into anybody's eyes and you can see whether they are worried, tensed, angry or in love. You look into the eyes of a small baby, a puppy, a dog, they all express that love. There is one binding force in the whole universe in which all the atoms are bound, in which the trees are growing, animals are existing, wind is blowing, the earth is revolving, and that power is love.
Love cannot be hidden, at the same time you cannot express it fully. Nobody can express it totally, the more you express, you feel that something is lacking. You cannot express it hundred percent.
Then comes truth – you cannot avoid truth, one day you have to face it. Just by closing your eyes, the day does not turn into night and the night does not turn into day. Truth is there and you cannot avoid it. And you cannot define truth. It is so big that you cannot define it.
Similarly death; all of us are going to die one day. We are all going to get old, you can’t avoid it.
The third thing is beauty. Beauty cannot be renounced or possessed.
All the problems that happen in the world is because of this. We try to avoid the truth and we get into problems; we try to express love fully and we get into problems; we try to possess beauty and we get into in problems.
Can you renounce beauty? If you can renounce it, then it is not beauty.
Can you possess beauty? You cannot possess it.
So this is the essence of today’s wisdom. If you just keep this in mind, you will find that this helps you in your day-to-day life to a great extent.Q: I am presently a yoga teacher. My biggest problem is how to inspire people? People are not inspired. What is the best advice you could give a teacher to inspire people.
Truth cannot be avoided, nor defined. Beauty cannot be renounced, nor possessed. Love cannot be hidden, nor fully expressed. Think deeper into these points and more wisdom will blossom within you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ask them these three things: Do you want to be happy? Do you want to be healthy? Do you want to have more time in your day-to-day life? If yes, come do yoga.
You give me 10 minutes, I will give you two hours. If you do 10 minutes of yoga, you get energy which is equivalent to two hours or more.
One can sleep lesser and deeper, feel energetic, happier, and so much love for everybody with the practice of yoga. What more do you want?
First of all, remove this idea from your mind, ‘Oh, nobody is motivated, nobody comes’, you should not have this thought in your mind. You must know you have something that everybody wants and needs, and they will come.
In our mind if we think, ‘Oh, nobody is motivated, nobody wants to come’, then nobody comes. Every day new yoga centers are opening in Tokyo that means people want it.
Let Out The Steam, Get Into The Team
April 24, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
(Sri Sri interacted with entrepreneurs at a special seminar in Tokyo, encouraging the audience to embrace spirituality in corporate practices.Below is a transcript of What Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.)
I was visiting the Shinto shrine yesterday and on the door there were two lions, one had its mouth open and the other had its mouth closed. One says, ‘Aaa’, and the other says, ‘Mmmm’. One is the beginning and the other the end. This is the word Om.
In life, even the beginning needs to be like a lion, and the closing needs to be like a lion. There needs to be that strength, and lion indicates strength, integrity, loyalty, and all this is a part of trust.
If there is no trust within us then none of these qualities will spring forth in life.
Trust is the backbone of business. You may wonder, what does business have to do with spirituality? They are completely different realms, or rather, worlds. You can say spirituality is different and business is the completely opposite. Spiritual people often don’t like business. They simply condemn business, and business people don’t think spirituality is worth looking into. But life is incomplete without either one of them.
Business brings prosperity to the society. If there is no business, there will be no prosperity. When there is no prosperity, crime with take over the society. Where there is crime, there can’t be spirituality.
On the other hand, it is spirituality that helps prevent crime. Spirituality brings the integrity and honesty that is need for any business to prosper. So, they are complimentary.
In Indian mythology, we say, Narayan (embodiment of spirit) and Lakshmi (goddess of wealth). The goddess of wealth is always with the embodiment of spirit. Spirituality is bringing forth the inner trust, integrity, happiness, and compassion which represent the spirit. Enhancing these qualities, is what I call spirituality.
We can listen to such talks, read books, but how to practically bring it on the floor is the question. That is where simple techniques of relaxation, i.e., breathing techniques and meditation come in handy.
Usually we say, M&M; it is not the candy that you get in America, M&M is Meals and Meditation. We have introduced this to nearly 200 companies and the results are phenomenal. People, before their afternoon lunch, get together, sit and relax for 15–20 minutes and then share a meal. There is a sense of belongingness, a sense of caring.
Business is not just working with machines, it is working with human beings. The human touch is needed, and it can only come when there is heart-to-heart communication.
In developing countries, in many corporate meetings, you might notice that two people would be saying the same thing, but it appears as though they are fighting. In the end, they won’t come to any conclusion because everyone is talking together. This is only head-to-head communication. There needs to be head-to-heart, or heart-to-heart communication, and this can happen when people share a few moments of silence, of quietness, and a sense of belongingness.
It all started in 1999, when I sent a couple of my teachers to a big public enterprises in India, Bharat Heavy Electronics Limited (BHEL). There was a lot of disturbance amongst few sections of the company, and so we introduced them to meditation and some breathing techniques to bring them together.
We had a small program for the employees, especially for the difficult ones, whom the company could neither fire, nor keep, because their productivity was very low. There are some people like that in almost every company, where you can’t send them out, and neither do you find them useful. Some who are tough nuts to crack. So I often tell people, if you have some difficult people, send them to us.
So, we got a bunch of such people, and we sent one of our teachers there. He just posed some questions to them; one of the first questions was, ‘Suppose you become the Managing Director of the company, how would you run it? What would you do?’
Those who complain, seldom do any work. Mostly the people who complain don’t take responsibility. So when we started posing some questions, and tried shifting their attention to the other person’s perspective, a breakthrough started happening. This combined with a few minutes of meditation and deep relaxation, made a big difference.
These people, who would go home and yell at their family, and their children, suddenly started behaving very well with their families. Their families became happy, and in turn they became happy, and their productivity increased. We saw a shift in just four days. So the company asked us to conduct the program for more employees.
Today Harvard Business School, Microsoft, GE, they have all taken this program. The World Bank has also made it a part of their curriculum in many countries.
There is something that is deep in every individual. When that is kindled, the shift from trying to motivate somebody to being inspired comes along.
In any business setup you need to motivate people. The way we motivate people, is by giving them a salary raise, or a bonus, or good transport. But these motivations do not stay too long. It lasts only for a couple of months, and then it starts fading away. We need to inspire people. It makes a very big difference.
All this can happen when the trust we have in ourselves becomes stronger; trust in our ability. Then our social capacity automatically becomes stronger, and then success is guaranteed.
It is always good to do team work.
We have a slogan, ‘Let out the steam and get into the team!’ First you have to let out the steam. You can’t be in a team holding pent up emotions within you.
We can handle pent up emotions, if we learn how to handle our mind through our breath. This is very important.
In schools we teach dental hygiene, but not mental hygiene. Whether one is a professional or a business man, they need to know mental hygiene.Q: My work includes building maintenance. I have a few 100 people working for me as staff. This kind of work it is not appreciated by the society. So when the economy goes down, we can’t pay much to the employees. I try to motivate these people, other than money. However, there are some who keep complaining or are unhappy. How can I maintain peace and happiness?
Huge emotional loads weighs on many people, right from the young mind to senior citizens. Neither at school nor home, no one teaches us how to handle our mental or emotional pressure. This emotional cleansing, emotional hygiene, or feeling light hearted from within needs to be taught, and it can bring about a big transformation in society.
Then you will see a violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory and sorrow-free soul, and we can have a better, happier and prosperous society.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Money alone cannot bring success or happiness. You need to do something different. Teach people how they can handle their own negative emotions.
Our teachers are here and we can have a program for your employees, especially for those who are always negative. All we need is a couple of hours for three days. You will find a difference for sure.Q: There are many smart people in my company. Now when I introduce a spiritual course to these smart souls, I fear they would get awakened and may start feeling a dispassion for business, and the true meaning of life would attract them elsewhere.
I would like to bring this program to the corporate world. So what is the best way to introduce them to something like this without having this fear?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Actually, what The Art of Living gives in this course is something to develop their personalities. Their sharpness of intellect, calmness of their mind, and to bring an inspiration from within. That is what we focus on. So, you can be assured that they won’t run away, or become dispassionate. Q: Gurudev I need your guidance. I am a mother and a wife, and I run a small school. There are times when things go wrong entirely, and I can’t concentrate or be myself at my workplace. How do I manage that?
Millions of people have done this course, we have not seen anyone run away. Otherwise World Bank would not have taken this program as a part of their leadership seminars.
It all depends on how you present the inner calmness. I understand when you say your inner calmness or liberation is important, and people may tend to go to in that direction, but here, it is all about finding the inner creativity and peace, and to be able to manage any adverse situation with a smile.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is okay if it is only sometimes. But if it is often then we need to attend to it.
First of all, know that as an individual, you have the capacity to multi-task.
If you think, ‘Oh, I am a mother, I cannot be good at the office. It is not possible for me’; or, ‘I am an office goer, so I am not doing justice to my children’, these sorts of conflicts weighs very heavy on your emotions and your mind.
First you should know that you have the capacity to be a mother, a good wife, and a good officer or a good businesswomen. Resolve the conflict right at the root, instilling confidence in your capabilities.
The second is that, it is the quality of time and not the quantity of time that is important in whatever you are doing. You don’t have to spend 10 hours with your kids. Even one hour that you spend with your kids, if you are there with them a 100%, that makes them more satisfied.
The root cause of all this is stress. If you don’t relax and relieve stress, at least for a few minutes every day, whatever concepts you may have in your head, will be blown away by your emotions because our emotions are much stronger than our thoughts.
Many times we remain determined, but the surge of emotions, anger, frustration, desires, when they come, it just blows everything away.
The intellect, or all our concepts, are like the gatekeeper of the house. Emotions are like the owner of the house. When the owner of the house comes in, the gatekeeper has no-way to stop him. You just have to let him in. Q: Is ethics different for different countries, or is it universal?
We have to set right the emotions inside. That is where meditation, Sudarshan Kriya, pranayama, come very handy.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ethics are universal. Ethics is that which you want others to follow as well. For example, ethics are exactly those things which you expect from others who are working under you, or are working above you. You don’t want your boss to be unethical or those below you to be unethical towards you. Q: In India, what is ethics to them? Is it that once you become a politician, you lose your ethics?
When you expect a certain standard of behavior, an etiquette, integrity from people working around you, you too will not do the same things to someone else. This is common.
You don’t want your employee to lie to you. Do you like them to lie to you? No. You too follow this in your life. This is ethics. As simple as that.
Ethics is universal. There is no Japanese lie, Indian lie, or American lie. A lie is a lie. Integrity is integrity. In this sense, ethics is universal.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Politicians, especially in India, the situation today is very pathetic. From top to bottom corruption has ruined our country, and ethics is completely dead.
Is it possible to revive it? I say, ‘Yes’, because people at large are honest, loving, and have a lot of integrity. A large percentage of people in India still have integrity, and they all want the change.
I would give you one example. There was a two month Kumbh Mela (a mass Hindu pilgrimage) in Allahabad and 100 million people visited that place. There was no crime or stealing registered.
Just imagine, with 100,000 people for two months, there wasn’t a single crime. This shows that people love to be ethical and honest. They just need some leadership in that. There is lack of such leadership and we must admit that. There is lack of good governance.
You need to go to college if you want to be a good businessman, or an engineer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or for any profession, but for politicians, there are no qualifications. That is why we (The Art of Living) have started a college of good governance where we are training the village panchayats for 1-3 months, so that they can go back and exhibit good governance.
Change is needed whenever ethics gets eroded. Politicians needs to be spiritual like in Mahatma Gandhi’s time, then they will gain the respect. Q: In the Japanese society, there is a thought usually that women have less commitment than men, especially if they get married and have a family. What is the best way to go about empowering them here?
I would say, spiritualize politics and socialize business. Every business should have corporate social responsibility, and they should give something back to the society, and secularize religion.
Religious people become so fanatic, close minded and they cause terrorism, extremism and fanaticism in the world. Religious people shouldn’t only pray for those following their religion, but for humanity.
So, secularize religion, socialize business and spiritualize politics.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Women have a very important role. One is to keep the institution of family. She is the central focus of the family. Like Japan, India is also women centric.
Women play a very important role in keeping the family and culture intact. That does not mean women should not be empowered. Women need to be empowered. Women can multi-task. Women will do very well in politics and would be very good business leaders. They should come forward and not wait for men to give them the power.
Nobody is going to give you power because you already have it.
As an old English saying goes, behind every successful man, there is a woman. Women empowerment should be the tune of the music of today. One thing they could do is, in the legislation, they can reserve half of the seats for women; especially in the assemblies and parliament. Then because of reservation, men would make their women stand up for the votes and work from behind.Q: Your program and organization seems like a religious organization for people who don’t know you. How can I introduce this to my company people, without any feeling of religion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I understand, that is why me or Swamijis, don’t teach these courses. Our very appearance and whatever we say appears religious. The ones who teach this course are in suits.
The course is all about breathing. Breathing and yoga have its origin in the ancient Vedic philosophy, but it has no religious component. We have kept it so secular that people anywhere in the world, even people who follow other religions, can take benefit from this.
That is the beauty of The Art of Living. The religious component is completely separate. So, if there are Buddhist monks who want to do the course, and who want to learn about breathing, they are not going to learn it from someone who is in a suit and tie. For them, it would be me and Swamiji who would go.
So, in The Art of Living, we have made it so universal, that for each section of society, we speak in their respective language. We do not mix up one another. People should feel comfortable, whether they are Muslim or Christian, or whatever religion they follow, they can follow.
Learning some techniques on how to calm the mind, and how to make oneself more energetic, is very important. Then you can work for 20 hours a day and still keep a smile. This is very important. That is why for the benefit of people, we have made different programs, so that religious people may learn separately, common people may learn separately, and business people and politicians may learn separately.
For different language, there are different faculty to teach these courses.
There Is No Need To Keep Talking
April 23, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
We are a global family. I would like to create waves of happiness in Japan. You should all get together to bring glory to the youth of this country.
I always say, wherever I go in the world that we have to learn teamwork from Japan. By area Japan is a small country, but it is very prominent in the world. This is because of the quality of the work, and the commitment that the people and culture have.
It is the culture of this country which has made Japan a shining star amongst the different nations.
In a globalized world, the youth tend to lose their culture, they tend to move according to the western culture. I would say that we should maintain our original culture, and also have a broad outlook.
This morning, I went to the Shinto shrine. It was so beautiful to see the tradition, to see the ceremonies that they do. I was so impressed. It reminded me of the ancient Vedic tradition which is very similar. So we need to strengthen the roots and at the same time take the good from everywhere else in the world.
Japan has done this. It has maintained Shinto tradition, as well as developed Zen Buddhism when it came from India.
In the East we have never been fanatic. We are very open minded, yet very strongly rooted in our own culture.
My dream is to see the
whole world unite as one
family. I want to see a
smile on every face. I
want to see a smile on
everyone’s face. So shall we
all commit ourselves to
create waves of happiness?
I think Buddhism first came to Japan about 2000 years ago, in the seventh century, i.e., 1,300 years ago. Meditation is something which is common to people all over the world.
I was pleased to hear something about the 2 lions in the Shinto shrine. One says, ‘Aaa’, and the other says, ‘Mmmm’. One is the beginning and the other the end. That is the word Om.
Om is the most ancient sound. It is the primordial sound which is part of all Eastern cultures.
It is also there in a slightly different way in the Western cultures too, as, Amen, Aamin. Om is present in some form there too. It is a universal sound.
You know, my dream is to see the whole world unite as one family. I want to see a smile on every face.
I was told today that there are so many people jumping onto the tracks in the metro station. So much so, that they had to put up a barricade to prevent people from going near the tracks before the train arrives. It is a good idea, but it is not the best idea, as people can still jump if they want to jump.
So the best way to prevent people from jumping onto the tracks to kill themselves, is not just with barricades. But we need to make them go inwards and meditate. We have come up with very simple techniques for meditation which can help people to smile again. I want to see a smile on everyone’s face. So shall we all commit ourselves to create waves of happiness? (Audience applauds and says, ‘Yes’)
Let us bring a smile on everybody’s face. This is what we should do.
If we all work towards it collectively, we can bring a smile on everyone’s face. Money alone cannot do this. We have to be informal and connect with each other. That is necessary.
I would like everyone to come out of their apartments every Sunday for an hour, sit with each other, talk to each other, sing and share a snack for breakfast. This can make a difference.
Sing a couple of songs together, any songs you feel like. Do some group singing, sit together and meditate for 10-15 minutes, do some yoga or exercises together, share a meal together; we can do all these things in 45 minutes to an hour.
If this is done in every apartment building, a wave of happiness will be created. A sense of belongingness will be has developed. What do you say? Share a few good jokes!
We all have huge space inside of us. All intuition and creativity comes from that space.
Today is the birthday of a great saint from India, called Mahavir. He was a contemporary of Lord Buddha. Buddha Purinma, i.e., Buddha’s birthday is coming soon.
Lord Mahaveera stood for non-violence. He also said, ‘Anekantvada’, which means that there are so many possibilities. The world is full of possibilities. This is really needed today. If people understand this, there will be no terrorism in the world. There will be no fanaticsm.
Make your personality such
that nothing whatsoever can
throw you off balance,
disturb you or take your
smile away. If you make your
personality like that, you will
be welcomed everywhere in
the world. That is a sign of
I believe, Buddha and Mahavira were from the same town. They knew about each other, but they never met. Someone asked them, ‘Why don't you meet?’
They replied, ‘There is no need, as we are already connected.’
You know, in the state of enlightenment, even though the ways are different, the soul is the same. There is no distance.
There is another version in history that they met, but did not speak to each other at all. They just met and went their ways. Here too, it is said that there was no need for verbal communication. When heart meets heart and soul meets soul, there is no need to keep talking.
When hearts meet, there is no barrier. No language barrier, no words, nothing comes in between. When two people are in the head, they could be talking about the same thing, but it would appear like a fight.
I wish the students who are here a bright career, and a bright future. You all should become good politicians, good businessmen, good professionals, doctors and engineers.
The basis of all this (spiritual practices) is to broaden your vision and keep the happiness factor inside you. I want the youth to radiate such smiles and confidence that nobody can take away. There are many eminent people here to guide you.
I want to tell you something which I want you to keep with you. Make your personality such that nothing whatsoever can throw you off balance, disturb you or take your smile away. If you make your personality like that, you will be welcomed everywhere in the world. That is a sign of success.
The Art of Living is there to help you and guide you, to bring up such a personality. We have a number of very good workshops for youth and also for older people.
There Is Something Higher Than The Physical Laws
April 19, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
There is an epic story about King Dasharatha, who had three wives, but no children. He and one of his wives, Kaushalya, did a yagya called Ashwamedha, after which they got four sons.
Medha means purification (ceremony); ashwa means today, now; that which was not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today.
Dasharatha means one who can run ten chariots at a time. Kaushalya means one who is very skillful. So, when Dasharatha and Kaushalya came together, and did the Ashwamedha yagya, which means purifying the present moment, that is when Rama was born. This is the spiritual significance of Sri Rama’s birth.
You don’t need to get stuck
in material belief only. Material
laws are there, physical laws
there, but there is something
higher than the physical laws.
understanding of mind over
this is what we
need to attend to.
faith and your
strength. All that
we need to
do is to keep our heart
Your body is Dasharatha, the ten chariots, which include the five organs of senses and the five organs of actions. The five organs of senses are eyes, ears, nose, tongue, taste. The five organs of actions or karmendriya enable us to interact with the material objects of the world; these organs are hands, feet, rectum, genitals, and mouth. The five organs of senses and the five organs of actions take the mind into ten different directions, and make life go in ten different directions.
The words - rays, radiance; all these come from the Sanskrit root word Ra , which means to shine, radiance, brilliance, and light. Ma means within me; in my heart. So, Rama means the light in my heart. When the mind with some skill in this body, gets into the present moment, and purifies the mind and the heart, then, Rama, which means the light in our heart, shines.
Four things come out of you when Ashwamedha is done.
Rama, which means the light in our heart shines; Lakshmana, means awareness, mindfulness; Bharata, means talent; and Shatrughna, means one who has no enemies.
Ashwa has two meanings; one of them is horse, and medha means purifying. So, what is the horse? Your senses. When your senses are purified, then what comes up is the Divine light in your heart (Rama), and awareness (Lakshmana). Then, you have no enemies (Shatrugnan), and all the talent (Bharath) come to you. (Ravana means ego.)
Three types of thoughts or blames bother you.
First, you have so much talent, but you are unable to use it or bring it out, you feel that you are not being used; that causes frustration in you.
Second, you think you know, but nobody understands you. This is another point of contention where you feel miserable.
Third, you feel you are lost, you should have done better, or differently; then you blame the past, oneself and everybody else around.
These three types of blames or thoughts bother you; they can pull your energy down. There could be a million reasons for you to feel down on the planet. Anything can pull you down, because things are not happening the way you want them to happen.
Using knowledge, just sail over it all, forget about it, it doesn’t matter, so what! So many people use their talents, they all died, and they all have been forgotten!
Who sits and watches Michelangelo’s paintings every day? Once you watch it, then it is forgotten. Beethoven was such a talented musician. Do you think people are sitting every day and listening to it? People listen, and then they forget.
Here, nothing is permanent; in this world, everything is changing. From the changing world, lift your eyes towards the unchanging. Otherwise, we get stuck to righteousness, ‘I am right and I want to stick to it.’
When you think you are right, often you think others are wrong. Then you feel angry. If you feel the others are right, often you think you are wrong. Then you feel guilty, sad and miserable.
In both cases, you lose balance.
The mind vacillates between this duality (of being right or wrong). To get out of this duality is the whole purpose of life; that is called moksha. Moksha means to rise above this duality; so swallow these bitter pills in life, they do come, incidents occur.
In Rudram (a Hindu hymn dedicated to Rudra (an epithet of Shiva, taken from the Yajurveda), this is said so beautifully. It is said that in this world, there are all types of people. There are people who betray, people who are not faithful, people who don’t keep up to their words, people who are intelligent yet not up to the mark, people who are so dumb, and all types of people are present on the planet. Sometimes your own mind, forget about others, your own mind goes up and down. So, what to do in these times? Ashwamedha is to be done, purifying the present moment.
Medha also has many meanings, it also means intellect. Ashwamedha also means bringing the intellect in the present moment.
Shwa means yesterday or tomorrow. Ashwa means not yesterday, nor tomorrow, that means it is eternal and the present moment.
When medha, your intellect is so deep in the present moment, nothing can shake it. What can shake your intellect is only the past. If you can snap yourself out of the past every moment, you are free, that is liberation. You are liberated because you have snapped out of the past.
Ashwamedha is when one’s intellect is in the present moment. Another meaning for ashwamedha is purifying. By being in the present moment, purifying the spirit, the senses, the body-mind complex; going deep in the spirit.
Don’t take life for granted!
Every moment there is a
miracle happening; every
moment, there is grace;
and there is something new.
In the ancient days, one of the practices in a yagya; a very elaborate ceremony, was to tie a horse with some flags and jewels, and let it free. The horse would roam around, and wherever it went, that part of land was conquered by the king. Suppose the horse went into another kingdom, then that part of the kingdom went to the king who had done the Ashwamedha yagya. That is the story about Ashwamedha.
Through Ashwamedha yagya, king Dasharatha begot the sons.
The three names of the queens are also very interesting. (The Ramayana is not just a story which happened some time; it has a philosophical, spiritual significance too.)
The first wife’s name is Kaushalya, which means skill. In Hindi, you say ‘Kushalatha’, meaning skillful.
The second wife’s name is Sumitra, which means good friend. There could be many friends, but not all are good friends. Many times, friends drag you in the wrong direction; take you in the wrong way. Sumitra is one who takes you in the right direction.
The third wife’s name is Kaikeyi, one who sacrifices herself and brings benevolence. Kaikeyi is one who stands by your side, although she appears differently; but deep within, she does benevolence, with a cover. It is like a doctor who gives you a bitter medicine, or a vaccination. As soon as the children see him, they start yelling and crying, but the vaccination does good to them. Similarly, Kaikeyi who apparently, outwardly, is not pleasant, but inwardly, does that which is good for you.
So, these are the three wives of Dasharatha.
You can go on analyzing the Ramayana from a spiritual perspective. It gives you some knowledge, some idea about the spiritual significance, which is so eternal. These stories are made so that everyone - children, elders, the common man, whosoever reads it, gets something from it, some philosophy of life. From a spiritual perspective, if you see, there is deep truth in it.
The Rama-Dhyaan (meditation) was so dear to Mahatma Gandhi. He once said. ‘You take everything away from me, I can survive, but if you take Rama away from me, I cannot survive.’ When Gandhiji was assassinated, the last words that came out of his mouth, were ’Hey Rama.’ He did not blame anybody, yell or shout or cry, he simply said, ‘Hey Rama!’ (Rama is also associated with the navel center.)
I would like to tell you one more story tonight, from the Ramayana. Actually, they are two stories coupled in one story.
When Sri Rama was building the bridge to Sri Lanka, a lot of monkeys were helping him build it. So the monkeys were picking up stones, writing on the back of the stones Sri Rama and putting it in the water. When they put the stones in the water, they would float.
Again, this has a spiritual significance. When the name of the Lord is with you, you will not sink in society, you will float through the ocean of misery; you won’t sink in the world of misery.
All the monkeys were writing Sri Rama, and all their stones were floating. When Sri Rama saw this, he was so surprised. He thought, ‘What? These stones are floating!’ He wanted to try it himself. So he took a stone, wrote Sri Rama and put it in the water. The stone sank! Sri Rama was surprised.
One monkey was sitting somewhere and watching. Sri Rama went where he thought nobody was watching (whenever we think nobody is watching, there is somebody who is watching). So, one monkey who was watching, he started laughing. Sri Rama was a little embarrassed. The laughing monkey said to Sri Rama, ‘Those who you throw away from your hands, how they will float? They will only sink!’
This is to say that the devotees are so much more powerful than the Lord himself; devotees can do so much more than the Lord himself. This is the lesson from the story.
While this was happening, a little squirrel was also moving around. It was taking little pebbles, and putting them in the water. Some laughed at the little squirrel, saying, ‘How can a squirrel be a contributor?’
The squirrel said, ‘I am contributing for my own joy. I am also a part of this huge thing that Sri Rama is doing, and I am so proud of it.’
Even today in India, we call it the ‘Squirrel’s Contribution’; it is a sign of humility. Even when we do a little bit, it doesn’t make a big significance; but being part of something big, saying, ‘I have also done something’, gives that inner satisfaction.
So, the squirrel also started contributing by throwing little stones in the water.
The lesson from this story is that devotees are more powerful than Rama himself. This means that when your heart is filled with love, and compassion, you are so powerful. Never underestimate yourself.
There is a similar incident that happened last October in The Art of Living. Do you know about the cell phone story?
I was going to a particular village, where 2,000 youth had been doing lot of work for several years. While going to the village, I told the person who was travelling with me, to take three new cell phones.
When I went there, I asked, ‘How many of you lost your cell phones?’
Only three people stood up. They were working in villages, where cell phones are very expensive for them. The cost of the phone was the equivalent of maybe one or two months of their salary or more, and so they were so pained. So, I gave these three people new cell phones. Of course, it was just a coincidence!
Nothing is permanent in this
world, everything is changing.
From the changing world, lift
your eyes towards the
One boy then stood up and he came to the stage and said he wanted to share something. He was in an advanced course and his wife was at home, and he had to talk to her. There was no battery on his phone and he had forgotten the charger at home. So he put the phone in front of my picture and asked, ‘Gurudev, let the phone be charged.'
The next morning, when he woke up, the phone was fully charged.
This boy showed me his phone and said, ‘Look, for one and a half years I have thrown away my charger, and now I only keep my phone in front of your picture and it gets charged.’
He threw his charger away!
I said, ‘My goodness, I need a charger for my phone! I can’t charge my phone by keeping it in my hand, or near my picture!’
That innocent village worker said that it has been a year and a half since he threw away his charger; he showed everyone his cell phone which was fully charged.
I thought this is a very exciting story. I came and shared it with around 150 internationals in the Bangalore Ashram. There were people from Russia and Europe.
With a lot of excitement I said, ‘Look, the power of a devotee is so much. The love is so much.’ They said that it has happened to them as well, as though it is not a big deal!
People from Scandinavia, Sweden, Russia, they all said, ‘It happened to me also!’
Miracles are in abundance! I think everyone has had some miracle or the other. We don’t look for it, they just happen.
Let me tell you about another incident.
There is a committee for eradication of superstition in Maharashtra. And this Committee is headed by a President, who goes from village to village propagating, ‘All the Sadhus, Gurus are all fraud, don’t believe in them. Don’t believe in any of those things.’
The Committee President’s son had attended the program where the village boy told everyone about his phone being charged without a charger.
So last February, the Committee President was very upset since his calculator broke down; it cost around Rs.30000. His son then said, ‘Papa, why don’t you keep it near Gurudev’s picture? Then let us pray.’
He kept it for two days, and nothing happened. The father said, ‘Look, I told you! All this is nonsense, nothing happened.’ However, the son said, ‘Papa, it is not like that. You keep it and ask for it. Ask, and it shall be given. Ask! You did not ask with faith.’
The father said, ‘Okay!’
Since the son told him, he asked. The next morning, the calculator became alright!
Now, the father says, ‘What do I do now? I am the president of this organization and such a thing has happened with me!’ He was so perplexed!
The lesson from this incident is, don’t take life for granted!
You can’t take anything for granted. Every moment there is a miracle happening; every moment, there is grace; and there is something new.
Even if something appears to be not so good for the moment, in the long run, something good happens out of it.
You don’t need to get stuck in material belief only. Material laws are there, physical laws are there, but there is something higher than the physical laws. There is something higher than the obviously seen physical creation of names and forms. The understanding of consciousness; mind over matter, and consciousness over physical reality; this is what we need to attend to.
So, don’t underestimate your love, your faith and your strength. All that we need to do is to keep our heart clean.
An Insight Into The Science Of Yoga
April 18, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
(Sri Sri addressed over 200 medical professionals through The Symposium for the Medical Fraternity of Calgary, at the Libin Theater, Health Sciences Center.
The health providers in attendance came from a wide variety of health professions; doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, internal medicine specialists, naturopathy, homeopathy, as well as some working with veterans, medical students and residents.
Below is a transcript of what Sri Sri said.)
You must have heard a lot about meditation and pranayama. Do you know, this ancient science has been there in India for the last 5,000 years to 8,000 years? This science combined with Ayurveda (the herbal science prominent in the East), has been responsible for taking care of the health and wellbeing of generations of people.
Millions of people have benefited by this ancient science, but unfortunately, there has been no scientific documentation, as such. So we have started taking a step in this direction. Our foundation, The Art of Living, is making a small effort in documenting the benefits experienced by people. Until now, what was missing was this documentation.
In fact, the Government of India is now putting together an Ayurveda Research Wing as well.
We have a Medical College based on Ayurveda, which has been running for five years successfully. And we have also started an Ayurveda Hospital in Bangalore, at our campus, which is one of the best Ayurvedic hospitals in Asia. I would like to invite all of you to visit the hospital and also our Ayurveda Medical College.
There are a number of different research studies that has been happening at our college. We are treating Varicose Veins and Piles with a near 100% success rate. Only 0.1% of people have had a recurrence of piles after the operation, which is done using the ancient Shara techniques. It would be nice if we could have a dialogue to exchange views between Allopathic and Ayurvedic medicine researchers and practitioners. I think it would benefit the world population.
Coming back to meditation and pranayama, you have already heard a lot from the research experts. I am a lay person. But one thing I would like to say is, if you observe a baby, from the time it is born to the age of three, it does all the yoga postures. You only need keen observation to recognize this, not a yoga instructor.
When a baby is born, it is born in a particular mudra, which is called Aadi mudra (thumb tucked into palm and other fingers wrapped into a fist) in the science of yogic texts.
When babies sleep, if you notice, they sleep with their hands in Chin mudra (tip of thumb and fore finger touching and other fingers are extended), and Chinmayee mudra (tip of thumb and fore finger touching and other fingers are rolled in touching the palm).
They also do the Merudanda mudra (thumb pointing up and other fingers rolled in) when they suck their thumb.
A mudra (hand posture) stimulates certain parts of the brain and certain parts of the body. So babies do all these different mudras.
If you notice, whenever someone feels cold, the first natural tendency is to hide the thumbs under the arm-pits, to keep the thumbs warm. Actually, in yoga, the thumbs are very important. It is said, if you keep the thumb warm, the whole body is kept warm.
In yoga, it is also said that the tips of our fingers are energy points. Similarly, our ears are also energy points. In Ayurveda, these are called Marma points; the secrets points of energy in the body. When these points are stimulated, they release energy into the system. This is the tradition of Ayurveda.
Coming back to observing children, if you notice they also do the Cobra pose, where they lie down on their stomach and lift up their neck. Then they do the Boat pose, where they lie on their backs with their hands and legs off the ground.
They do almost all the yoga poses before the age of three. We simply need to observe them. Also, the way children breathe is different; they breathe from the belly.
Every emotion has a corresponding rhythm in the breath. You may have observed that when you are happy, your breath moves in a different rhythm as compared with when you are unhappy. The temperature, speed, length and the volume of your breath is different. (This is even taught in theater classes; how to express different emotions by changing the breath.) So, our emotions are linked to the breath and to some parts of the body.
In The Art of Living Advanced Meditation courses, we teach about Chakras, energy centers in the body.Q: Are you saying we should all do yoga and not any other form of exercise such as aerobics or walking on the treadmill?
In Yoga, it is said that these energy centers have specific qualities and specific rhythms, and they are connected to certain elements. So working with chakras bring a lot of benefit.
In the whole body, there are 108 chakras, of which 12 are very important, and seven of those are even more important. By placing our attention on these centers, we stimulate and relax these centers in the Advanced Meditation Program.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I’m not saying that you should only do yoga. I am saying that yoga is a natural phenomenon, which occurs in creation all over the world. We all have done it as children. As you grow up, you may need aerobics; and if you eat too much, you may need to get on a treadmill to burn those calories.Q: What is the relationship between meditation and God? I have read about the Advaita philosophies.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you think God is truth, beauty and love; yes, they are connected. Q: Is meditation the most effective way of harmonizing that relationship?
If God is the summum-bonum (highest good) of the whole creation, if the entire creation is made up of one thing, that one energy can be called God. It is what everything is made up of and it is connected to everything.
There is not one thing in the world that is not connected to God.
However, if you think God is a person sitting up there, somewhere, trying to give you a finger so you can catch hold of him, and then he goes away; that sort of God has nothing to do with what we are talking about.
If you see God as an energy, as a presence, as love, (love is the nearest emotion the human mind can comprehend), as that huge field of energy, then yes, there is no escape from it for anyone. We are all in it and will be in it. We were in it; and even if we are not there, it will be there.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Any technique will have to lead you to meditation.
There is only one way to quench your thirst, i.e., by liquids. Only liquids can quench your thirst, right? It can be any liquid, but it has to be liquid, right? So, meditation is a state which is not waking, sleeping or dreaming; it is the fourth state, where your body is restful, and mind is alert.
Prayer and meditation are very close. In prayer, you are thanking or asking for something; whereas, from a layman’s point of view, in meditation, one is ready to listen. So, you could call meditation a higher form of prayer.
Meditation is a state of the mind; it is not just a process. It is also the final product.Q: Should we always meditate in sitting posture or can it be done in any other posture?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The sitting posture is better to meditate. You could lie down and do it too, but the risk is that you may fall asleep. You may think you are in meditation, but actually you could be in deep slumber.Q: How can one make meditation a regular practice?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have made a number of meditation CDs. You could use these CDs for a couple of days or weeks to begin with, and get into the habit of meditation. Once you get into practicing it regularly, you won’t need a CD, you will be able to do it by yourself. All you need is a little bit of practice of meditating, of letting go. It is all about letting go.Q: Is there an advantage that Art of Living techniques have versus Transcendental Meditation (TM) or other techniques?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I am not a good salesman! I don’t know how to tell you how to compare techniques. There are a number of meditation techniques; you should choose whatever suits you best.
Some techniques, like Buddhist mediation techniques – Vipassana, long silent meditation courses, require several hours of practice for long periods of time.
The advantage that The Art of Living techniques have, from what I have heard from people, is that it is not as time-consuming. You get results very quickly, because you are changing the rhythm of the breath. The technique is highly suitable for people who are very busy in their lives. It is like a power nap. It quickly gives you the experience of a deep meditation.
Even TM brings you that inner calm and peace. People who have done TM also, find it even more beneficial when they do Sudarshan Kriya and the breathing techniques. They find it very complementary to their practice, and it helps them go deeper in their meditation.
In The Art of Living techniques, there is not much effort involved. It suits the modern day lifestyle. Some yogic practices need a much disciplined lifestyle; you have to wake up and meditate at 5 in the morning, have proper food (there is a whole guideline about food, rest and meditation time). The Art of Living technique has very few restrictions, making it easier for people with busy life-styles in urban cities. They also find it easy to practice them.Q: How would you compare the Art of Living techniques with Paramahansa Yogananda’s Kriya Yoga?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, that technique has more meditation on different chakras.Q: From what you are saying, meditation is a state of mind. How do I know if I have been in that state of mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is similar to having a good nap. You know when you have had a good nap, right? And when you have had food, you know you have had food. It is as obvious as that. You feel so relaxed from within; it is hard to explain. You feel very good and pleasant. There is a sense of pleasantness that comes from within, and one is totally at ease.Q: I try really hard, but I can't seem to get rid of negative thoughts?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is the problem. When negative thoughts come, don’t chase them. If you chase them, then they come back with a big army. Just shake hands with them, say, ‘Come on, sit with me.’ Then they will disappear.Q: Is levitation something abstract or is it something that actually happens? What are the benefits of levitation?
These are the reasons we need to learn to meditate. When we meditate, we learn how to handle negative thoughts; or any thoughts for that matter.
How to distinguish meditation from sleep or day dreaming? These are the things covered in the three day Art of Living Meditation program.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To be honest, I have not seen anyone floating. Definitely, there can be jerks in the body, and the body can jump off the ground. It can happen after a little longer practice of meditation. You suddenly feel the body is very light. This happens in every meditation.Q: Does the body need sleep? Can sleep be substituted with meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your body needs certain amount of sleep. If you have deprived the body of sleep, it will take it. After certain amount of sleep, meditation becomes deeper. First, you have to fulfill the body of deprived sleep. Profit is only counted after the debt is cleared!Q: Can meditation make people non-violent? Can it help people who are incarcerated?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We have been doing our program in prisons around the world. If you can take some time to visit the website and read the experience of the prisoners, you will see the impact it has had on them. Nearly 400,000 prisoners around the world have done the program, and their negative mindset has completely changed from a criminal mindset to a compassionate mindset.
We have also been doing this program in schools; where there are challenged children and many incidences of violence, it has helped there too. In a Chicago school district where there were 260 incidences of violence, after the program was taught to all the children, it came down to 62 incidents, within a short period of time. So, the impact is very clear. It is obvious that meditation can make people non-violent, from within.Q: Can people with epilepsy do pranayamas?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I would be a little careful with pranayama for epileptic patients, though it has benefitted many of them. First, we ask people if they have any history of epilepsy. If so, then they are asked to go slow, start with some simple pranayama and breathing exercises before leading them into the regular ones.
As far as simple meditation is concerned, it is like relaxation, it does not do any harm. However, you need more stamina to do the Advanced Meditation. It involves stimulating different energy centers or Chakras.
I have not come across anybody who has done our programs and become psychotic. However, there are possibilities, if they are already bi-polar or schizophrenic. Thus, we tell them to avoid doing the Advanced Course programs. We ask them to stick to the basics; simple meditation, yoga asanas and simple pranayama. That should be alright.
We ask people not to overdo the practices. Since people feel so good doing them, they find it so enjoyable and stimulating; sometimes, they tend to overdo it. They may start meditating for 6 hours to 8 hours. This is where the problem occurs; which is why you need proper training, and a good trainer to guide you to do it within limits. We need to do only as much as is prescribed. Overdoing anything is no good. It is like consuming a lot of vitamins at one time. It throws one off balance. Q: What is the difference between meditation and realization? Is meditation a process towards realization?
It is absolutely safe to meditate for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or up to an hour. Then, people become a little spacey, or lose touch with reality. Such sort of things can happen to people if they overdo it.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, meditation is a process, and self-realization is the effect. See, you are asking me a question and I am answering you. You are hearing the answer, and you are nodding, saying, ‘Yes’, on the inside. That is realization.Q: Why does India have so much of contrasts?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: India is full of contrasts. We have snow-mountains and deserts. Similarly, we have extremes in life. We have very calm minds and you also find completely agitated minds too. India is a mixture of sand and sugar; you have to be like an ant; humble to pick the sugar.
I would like to share the latest development from our R&D department. I would like someone to come up. Tell me how much poison does it take to destroy the human body of 80-90 kilos? A drop of poison can destroy the body right?
Our R&D department has come up with some distilled water of some Ayurvedic herbs, one of which is called Amrutha belli (nectar). This boosts the immune system in the body. It is called Shakthi drops.
The Tata Memorial Cancer hospital in Mumbai is now doing research on Shakthi drops, and will be publishing a paper by the end of the year. They have found that in 48 hours, these drops have been able to reduce the cancer cells by 40% in the body. This has helped so many people going through chemotherapy, without feeling the side effects. It is able to reduce the mass of the cancer cells in the body, and has helped people with many things, such as reducing pain.Q: How can one improve the presence of the mind? One has such long hours and so much travel these days.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Some breathing techniques, pranayama, and meditation would help you improve your presence of mind. Doing pranayama in the morning and evening keeps you really fresh. I work for about 19 hours every day, and I keep travelling quite a lot, also. Do I look tired? It definitely helps!Q: How you would like to see Allopathic medicine and professionals in that field collaborate with Ayurvedic professionals?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Government of India has setup an institution called Ayush, which is working towards this collaboration. Of course, if we have a tie-up between the two disciplines of medicine, there is a lot that can be done. The world will be greatly benefitted
Humiliation - A Blessing In Disguise
April 17, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Q: How do I get rid of my ego, which is so strong?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh, for heaven’s sake, don’t do that! Don’t try to get rid of your ego.
If you find that your ego is your biggest problem; keep it in your pocket, or in the purse. Let it be.
If your ego is bothering you, allow yourself to be humiliated thoroughly. Will you do that? That is it!
The biggest problem is that you don’t want to be humiliated. Get humiliated, and you will see that the ego disappears.
In life, if anyone anywhere humiliates you, know that it is only a plan to soften you. It is a blessing; you should walk away or through the situation with a smile.
To begin with, you may feel very uncomfortable, but there will be a shift in you, with which you will be so amazed. Then, nobody will ever be able to take the smile, the love and the compassion from within you.
We should never be shy of humiliation, or of being criticized. If criticism comes, take it.
Do you know, many times we hold our hands so tight; this is what I am, this is mine, mine, mine! And the moment someone criticizes us, we withdraw. We are so paranoid about the criticism of others. These are the weakest people, I tell you.
If someone criticizes you, welcome it! If there is something in it, take it. They are taking the risk of losing your friendship, and giving you a comment, or criticism.
You should know that people are there to help you in the world. Don’t see people as enemies. The foolish will look at the world as filled with enemies and hostile people. The wise will look at the world as filled with friends, and think that people are there to help.
From a wise persons’ angle, see that anyone who criticizes you is doing something good to you. They are showing you your mistake, taking the risk of losing their friendship with you.
Otherwise, the common man would just say, ‘Okay, why should we lose the friendship of such and such a person? Just say good things, and bye. There is no need to point out your weaknesses.’
So, whenever someone criticizes you, listen to it. If the criticism has some substance, take it. If it is coming out of jealously, be compassionate towards them. That is their problem; they are working out their own jealously. They are pouring out their frustration on you. And in some sense, you are just helping them to empty their mind of frustration.
If they are saying it out of compassion, out of friendship and love, then you take it in that sense. So, you should be able to give constructive criticism from a happy calm mind, and be able to take criticism from the same mind. This will transform your ego.Q: Gurudev, can you please talk on dispassion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, our senses are naturally outgoing. The natural tendency, when you wake up from sleep is, the eyes want to see, the ears want to hear, the nose wants to smell, the skin wants to touch, and the tongue wants to taste. So, the natural tendency of the senses is to go outwards, and enjoy the whole creation. But the ability of the senses to enjoy is limited.
Today we went to the park and the scenery was beautiful, but for how long are you going to watch the beautiful scenery?
The desire to enjoy through the senses first comes in the mind, but the capacity of the senses to enjoy is limited.
Suppose you love pudding, or apple-pie; how much can you eat? One piece, two pieces, three servings? By the time you have the third serving, the same thing that was giving you pleasure, becomes painful. This is because our ability to enjoy is limited to our senses.
Often one finds this imbalance – of the mind wanting more but the senses not having the capacity to enjoy.
There can be three situations:
1. Things are not available; the mind wants to have food but it is not available
2. Food is available but there is no desire in the mind to enjoy it
3. There is desire in the mind, food is also available, but the senses are not capable of enjoying it
Do you see these three situations?
A gentleman came to me and said, ‘Gurudev, I am 50 years old and I am looking for a relationship, but I am not finding the right person.’
I said, ‘Wait, and look for another 20 years!’
If you are so choosy about it, and keep looking for something, then when you get it also, you don’t enjoy it. Why? This is because your mind is not there. There is an imbalance between the things that are available, the attitude in the mind, and the ability of the senses; all these have to match. Only then are you able to enjoy anything in the planet.
The feverishness in the mind, the availability of the goods, and the strength of the senses, they all often don’t match.
Now suppose everything is available. You are hungry, you want to have food, and you can enjoy it, but even that is momentary. It stays for a few moments and then again, you are back to square one. This is how things are! And what does it cause? Frustration!
A desire fulfilled causes frustration, a desire unfulfilled also causes frustration. What do we need to do? What is the answer?
The answer is to look inside. Go to the source of happiness, from where joy comes.
When you go to the source of happiness, the senses are strengthened, contentment comes to the mind, and things become available the way you want them. All three happen when the senses are turned inwards, and that inward turning of senses is called dispassion.
We need three things in life, Dispassion, Passion and Compassion.
Often, we think dispassion is being so dull, boring, and uninteresting; that is how these so-called dispassionate people are, lifeless. No, that is not dispassion. To me, dispassion is that which is full of life, full of enthusiasm.
There is an old saying in Sanskrit, ‘What pleasure, what joy is there that dispassion will not bring to you?’
This means that dispassion will bring to you all the joy that you would ever want in life.
You need passion. Your breathing in is passion, your breathing out is dispassion, and in between is compassion. Q: What do you do when the one you love is in love with someone else?
If you have only passion, you get burnt out and frustrated. People who have too much passion, they do things and get burnt out. Do you know why? It is because they are holding onto it. They put their heart and soul into it. They put so much strain, and still they don’t get anything in their hands. That is a sorry state of affairs.
This can change with dispassion, and that is why dispassion will make a big difference.
So, passion when you work, dispassion when you turn inward, and compassion all the time, is the key.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Know that it is a test for your love to be unconditional. They are giving you an opportunity to be unconditionally in love.
You can use it for your benefit to become stronger and grow in love, or you can get upset, angry, frustrated and jealous. Q: Please discuss the fifth to thirteenth dimension, and the relation of quantum physics and spirituality.
What would you prefer? To grow in jealousy and get all those jealous feelings inside of you; feel bad, upset and spoil your vibrations, or to be happy for someone else, wish the best for the person you love!
I know the second option is difficult, but the first is not easy either. It is even more difficult to bear the jealousy and walk around with it, isn’t it? Think about it.
Anyways, life is short. Everything is going to finish one day. Think about it, you will have more peace.
Whenever anything disturbs you, you feel injustice, uncomfortable, or you feel you can’t sleep or can’t handle it, remember it is all going to end! Everything is going to finish, and you will be gone from here. You will be able to sleep well. Again, this is dispassion.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Vedanta is pure Quantum Physics.
What Vedanta says, or the knowledge from the Vedas say is, the entire creation is made up of only one thing, there is no two. And that is exactly what Quantum Physics says, everything is a wave function. Thus, what appears to be different, it only appears to be different, but in reality, it is all only one.
One of the top physicists of the world today spoke at the Bangalore ashram. He said, ‘I studied matter for 40 years, only to discover that it does not exist. It is not there!’
He used to say, ‘When I speak, people think I am speaking some ancient philosophy, which is correct, because all this is nothing! This is what spiritual knowledge says, that everything is nothing, and nothing is everything.’ Q: Gurudev, can you tell us more about Rishi Kapila? Very little is known about him.
Your meditation is an appointment with nothing!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Rishi Kapila lived in California. That is how the name California has come. Kapilaranea is the Vedic name of California.
At one point of time, Vedic knowledge was prevalent in all of South America and North America. In the scriptures, it is said, the time difference between Kapilaranea and India is 12 hours. When it is day there, it will be night here, and vice-versa; that exactly fits California, which is called Kapilaranea.
Kapila was the son of a lady called Devahuti. Today’s Detroit has some connection with Devahuti, and that is where Detroit gets its name from – Devahuti.
Devahuti’s son, Kapilaranea, lived in California. He was the previous incarnation of Lord Krishna. He is the founder of the philosophy called Sankhya Darshana.
Sankhya means counting the different elements and principles that the whole universe is made up of, i.e., Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Mind, Intellect, etc. Like that, 24 different tatvas or principles are present in his philosophy, which is why it is called Sankhya Yoga.
He speaks about how consciousness and matter are different, and the relationship between consciousness and matter is discussed in detail.
The second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita also is called Sankhya Yoga, where Lord Krishna speaks about how the mind and the spirit are different from matter, and self is immortal. This knowledge of self is given.Q: Why do cultures clash? Why does humanity disappear? Can you please throw some light?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is a good question. Today there was a bomb blast in Bangalore and Boston. This is intolerance; the culture of non-violence is missing. That is why we all have to do our work. Don’t you think so? Shall we all together do some work?
In India also, unfortunately, the politicians have spoilt this situation. Instead of providing general education to people, they encourage communal-based educational institutions, which only nurture such extremism. It is so unfortunate.
This kind of religious extremism has to end, otherwise the world will not be a safe place.
Respect every religion, honor everybody. You don’t have to say that only my way is the way to God, everyone else is going to hell, only I go to heaven.
These kind of people create hell for everybody else. These are the people who think they are doing service to God by eliminating the not-religious. This is so unfortunate.
Children need to be educated. Otherwise, they grow up thinking only this is the truth, that everybody else are non-believers, and they don’t have right to exist. This type of mindset is dangerous.
How many of you think this is the problem? We need to change this mindset, bring in a broad spectrum of understanding, and we all have to work for it.
As we are speaking, there is a program happening in Iraq. The Health Minister and Sports Ministers came, inaugurated our course in Iraq that the youth organized. Q: The beginning of a task or a relationship is always fantastic; sustaining it is difficult. I tend to detach myself from the person or the situation right when it is about to end. How do I sustain my energy throughout?
Today, they did the second Sudarshan Kriya, and there has been a complete transformation in their understanding. These youth now want to reach out to the public, make them undergo yoga, meditation, and Sudarshan Kriya. This is very good news. We have to do this; we have to reach out to more people.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Drop that whole past, wake up now! Don’t label yourself, ‘Oh, I am weak, I cannot do this, I could not do that.’ That was all the past! Q: I was told when a Guru sees a person, he doesn’t see the person, and instead he sees their aura, is this true?
Accept that you don’t know what you are, or who you are. You don’t know how much energy you have; you don’t know what you can do, and that’s it! You will see a new wave of energy gush through you, and your whole attitude, your behavior, your perception and your expression, all will change.
You must simply remove all the labels that you have, voluntarily or involuntarily, put on yourself. Got it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I’d like you to keep guessing.
Firmness, Softness & Love
April 13, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Today is Vaisakhi (a festival celebrated across India especially in the Punjab region by the Sikh community); It is celebrated as the day of the Khalsa in Punjab. Today is the day when the Khalsa clan was started by Guru Gobind Singh to protect dharma, destroy evil, and uplift human values.
Guru Gobind Singh’s message is so relevant today.
He said, ‘You should be dynamic, and still be soft in the heart. You should be inwardly spiritual. Be a Sant Sepahi, a saint and a soldier, together.’
He meant, you have to stand up against injustice. You cannot just be a saint and say, ‘Okay, whatever has happened, let it happen!’ You should stand against injustice, and simultaneously, be compassionate within you, like a saint.
It was Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, who established this rare combination of firmness and softness.
When Guru Gobind Singh left this world, he said, ‘After me, the next Guru is the book, Granth. All the knowledge is kept in this Granth. This is the Guru; your guiding light.’
Thus, in all the Gurudwaras (places of worship of the Sikh) you will find the Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Scripture.
The wisdom that these scriptures bring out to humanity is invaluable. The story of sixteen different saints and their teachings are compiled in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Sikhism had ten Gurus. The story of all the ten Gurus of the Sikh tradition is so heartwarming and uplifting. It is one of sacrifice. The gurus sacrificed everything they had for the sake of protection of the good, the innocent, and the righteous. People were given the cream of knowledge in simple, understandable words.
There is a beautiful story about Guru Nanak Dev, the first guru.
When his parents would ask him to go and sell things, he would do so. However, as he would start counting from one, he would get stuck at 13, as tera (in Hindi) means yours. So, even while doing work, his mind was never in work, it was always immersed in the Divine. Guru Nanak said, ‘I am yours, I am yours, I am yours.’
Guru Nanak’s life was filled with pure love, wisdom, and valor.
There is a beautiful greeting in the Sikh tradition, ‘Sat Sri Akal’. It is one of the best greetings in the world. Sa means Truth, Sri means Wealth, and Akal means Eternal, i.e., Truth is the real wealth, which is really eternal.
The eternal transcendental Divinity is the truth, and that is the real wealth.
So, all of you have gained the real wealth here, by meditating, getting into that inner space. That is truth. That is Sat Sri Akal.
Many people simply say, ‘Sat Sri Akal’, without knowing the meaning of it. It is one of the best greetings, as it reminds you when you meet anybody, that truth is the real eternal wealth.
The greeting that you exchange is all about spirituality, eternal knowledge; reminding yourself of the true wealth. Isn’t that so beautiful?
Jo Bole So Nihal! Sat Sri Akal: One who says it, (Sat Sri Akal) they will exalt.
Nihal means Exaltation; you will get uplifted. Saying, ‘Sat Sri Akal’; not only does it fill you with valor, but it also fills you with the spirit of eternal being.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna said, ‘Oḿ ity ekākṣaraḿ brahma vyāharan mām anusmaran yaḥ prayāti tyajan dehaḿ sa yāti paramāḿ gatim’(Chapter 8, Verse 13). The Brahman, the all prevailing Divinity, is called Om.
In the Guru Granth Sahib, it is said, ‘Ek Onkar Sat Naam’, there is only one Om, which is the true name for infinity.
Om is the eternal sound that exists in the depth of one’s consciousness. If you go to the ocean and listen carefully to the waves, you will find the same sound, Om. If you go on top of a mountain and listen to the wind blowing, you will hear the sound Om. Before this birth, we were all in Om. After this birth, after we all die, we will merge into that cosmic sound, Om. Even now, in the depth of creation, that sound still resonates.
So, in Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism, in all these religions, Omkar (Om chanting) is given so much prominence.
I feel Amen (in Christianity) and Amin (in Islam) is also another form of Om only. So, Om is this one word for the eternal, diverse consciousness.
Today is also celebrated as a New Year in Bengal, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.Q: Dear Gurudev, my husband loves me a lot, and still he does not miss a single opportunity to count my negative qualities. My enthusiasm goes down. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should behave differently. Give him a surprise.
If he counts your negative qualities, you shower a lot of love, affection, and praises on him!
Tell him, ‘Wow, you said it absolutely right! This is what I wanted to hear!’
Don’t react the same way all the time. You have a choice of acting the way you want to act, isn’t it?
Someday when he brings you flowers and compliments you, frown at him and say, ‘Why did you do this?’ When he scolds you, feel happy about it.
Remember one thing, you are responsible for your happiness. Come what may, whoever says whatsoever, you protect your mind, and keep yourself happy. You be determined, ‘I am not going to let my happiness be taken away by anybody! Even if God comes and yells at me, I will tell God, ‘Thank you, this is your gift to me.’’
Make this determination today.
Today is Vaisakhi. It is a gift to you. What is the gift? Come what may, I will not let my mind slip down in the maya; in this ever-changing relative world. I am responsible for my happiness. I will not let anybody bring down my happiness.
You go with this determination and see what happens. Anyway, this place is there for you to come back, again and again and again.
When clothes get dirty, we give it for washing, or dry-cleaning. This (ashram) is a good washing machine, it cleans everything.Q: I want to be in love, but there seems to be a conflict between love and knowledge. How to integrate the two? With all my love!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have done it already! If you don’t have love for knowledge, why would you ask for it? And if you know it, how is it possible that you can’t be in love? Knowing brings love in you, and love in turn, creates that interest to know more.Q: What are the five koshas? What is their spiritual significance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Kosha means sheath, covering.
The first sheath is the environment. If the atmosphere is filled with poisonous gas, can your body exist? No! Because there is air, your body can exist. So, the environment is your first body. Annarasamaya kosha, anna means food, and rasa means juicy. The outer environment is juicy; it attracts your eyes, captures your nose by fragrance, and enthralls you with sound. All this is rasa, means juicy. The environment is full of juice and food. They are also food for the body; for example, sight is food for eyes.
So, our environment, annarasamaya kosha, is the first kosha. Some people think it is the physical body, but I think it is the environment that is the first kosha.
The second sheath is the physical body, Pranamaya kosha.
The third sheath is Manomaya kosha, which is the mind, thoughts, and emotions.
The fourth sheath is Vignyanmaya kosha, which is subtler than the mind, the intuitive feelings. It is something that is beyond thought, beyond reason. There is a body inside you, from where all innovation and creativity comes from. It is from the Vignyanmaya kosha that every discovery, innovation, new art, poems, come from, and not from the Manomaya kosha.
The fifth sheath is Anandamaya kosha, the blissful body. Actually, the blissful body is much bigger than the physical body, which is why whenever you are happy you feel a sense of expansion. Isn’t it? When you are unhappy, what do you feel? You feel like you are being crushed.Q: Gurudev, please explain the relevance of covering the head in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is a tradition that has been prevailing from a long time. Q: Dear Gurudev, if God and the Divine are not objects of perception, then what are you?
There are five things that go with the Sikh tradition, uncut hair (covered in a turban), a comb, a dagger, a bracelet, and a specific style of clothes. These are all the five symbols of Sikh tradition. They should be respected because the Guru has asked you to do these things, to make an identity for you.
In those days, every family gave one boy, most probably, their first son, to the Guru, and the Guru trained them all. This is what happened to everybody’s son. So, they were all trained to act like soldiers, as well as go inwards. To pray and to act, and to protect the dharma.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You find that out. To know who I am, first you have to find out who you are. Start from where you are. If you know yourself, then you will know me. You can’t know me if you don’t know yourself.Q: Dear Gurudev, how do we help people accept their sickness, or the sickness of their close ones, or family members?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t do anything about it; just be there with peace in your mind. Through words you cannot bring comfort to people who are sick, nor can you make them accept their sickness. However, your positive vibrations can change the atmosphere.Q: Dear Gurudev, why do people seem to love your feet so much? Is it a cultural thing?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it is a cultural thing.
In Japan, they bend half to greet people. In India, they bend fully and touch the feet.
It is said that radiation, energy, comes from the feet. That is the old belief system, which is why they do it. Sometimes, that makes it very difficult for me to walk.
Once as I was walking in a crowd, two people caught my feet from the back. I was in the diving pose, in vedavadrasan, my hands hanging in space. Luckily, I didn’t fall, otherwise they would have found a Guru walking with crutches.
See, I balance myself in every situation. It happens quite often, as it is a cultural thing.Q: My dearest Gurudev, how can I be more like you? What tips can you give me to grow more into my true nature?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just turn back and see how much you have grown. Look back and see, what the state of your mind was before you took the Basic Course. Can you relate to that person who never did meditation and who you are now? Notice that big difference! This is good enough for you to move forward. And with a smile, relax, repose in yourself, and be dynamic. That is it. Keep doing seva, sadhna, and satsang.Q: Dear Gurudev, for the past 9 months, I have been feeling spiritually disconnected. There is no interest, no practice, no seva, and no longing. This has become quite painful. Any advice?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Such things can happen to people, this is called the Dark night of the soul. Suddenly, you lose interest in spirituality, or anything that is good. Your mind goes into things which are really not evolutionary, or may get into a destructive mode. Q: Dear Gurudev, how do I attract abundance in my life?
Such things can occur once in 12 years or 30 years. If it comes once in 12 years, it stays for a year, and if it comes once in 30 years, it stays for nearly 2.5 years.
The best way to overcome this is to hang on to your sadhana, and chant Om Namah Shivaya. It is the best chant to sail through such unpleasant vibrations or mindsets.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you don’t crave for abundance, it comes to you. If you’re hankering for it, saying, ‘Oh, I want abundance’, then it remains far away. Just relax! Know that what you need, you will get.
There is a saying in Sanskrit on how to make abundance comes to you. It says, ‘Udyoginam purushasimham upaiti Lakshmi.’
Udyoginam means putting 100% effort. Purushasimham upaiti Lakshmi, means having the confidence and centeredness, like a lion.
See, a lion does not run around like a chicken; have you seen how a lion sits? You should have that centeredness and confidence. The one thing a lion does not do is, put effort; it is not hardworking.
Udyoginam purushasimham upaiti Lakshmi. If you are hardworking and centered, when you are in touch with your inner spiritual strength, then Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, will simply come to you. Q: Gurudev when will all the negative thoughts go away?
So, abundance comes when you are centered, confident, in touch with your inner spiritual strength, and hardworking, rather smart working.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They won’t go away, they will stay! What are you going to do? You have to live with them! There is no chance to get rid of them. The best thing to do is to make friends with them, shake hands with them, and make them sit next to you.
If they are on your lap, tell them, ‘Please sit next to me, not on my head or my lap. It is too heavy, too long.’
There is no chance to get rid of them. What do you do?
The Three Doors To Hell
April 12, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Q: Dear Gurudev, how can I be grateful for a person, for all his help and care. How to say to him that I want to follow my own path, without hurting him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do it skillfully. Now don’t ask me, what is the skill?
Remember this one verse, it is very useful, Three doors to hell.
There are three doors to hell – Lust, Greed and Anger. If greed takes over, it is going to put you in hell. That is why, chuck the greed.
The same is with anger and lust. If you are too lustful, you become so blind towards the feelings of others, that you violate their space. Lust will also pull you in hell.
So, greed, lust and anger, if three things are not in your control, they take control over you, and you are going in hell. If they are under your control, then you are safe.
Is that clear?
In your own life, see whether these three things have overpowered you. Then it has made you miserable. Q: Gurudev, you have said that if one thinks too much about the people they hate, then they start to become like them. I am constantly thinking of people I dislike and taking on their qualities. How do I keep from doing this?
Hell means what? Misery; makes you totally unhappy. But if you have a say over them, you become powerful and it brings you more happiness.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, let me tell you that without dispassion there is no progress in life. If you want to progress in life, you must have dispassion.
Dispassion brings freedom to your mind. Dispassion keeps you in the present moment.
Dispassion brings that smile on your face; it brings that energy and enthusiasm in you.
What are you hanging on to? You hate somebody? What for?
The world will definitely have such people, all the time. Tell me one time on this planet, in history, where there were no wicked people? Or there were no people who troubled others? Such people have always been there, and the world will continue to have such people.
Now, if you want to keep them in your world, what can we do? It is you who is making this happen by keeping them in your head. An unfortunate incident happened, it happened, you should move on. Don’t sit and chew on it.
Dispassion is letting go of the past, and knowing that everything is going to end one day, everybody is going to die; them and you are going to die, so at least keep your mind free.
Know that these are all different roles being played. Sometimes, it is like a horror movie, what to do? That doesn’t mean you be inactive when there is horror happening. When there is a robbery happening, rape happening, or something bad happening in society, you should stand up to stop it.
When will you get the strength to do this? When you have dispassion in your mind. Then you can stand up, otherwise you will do such an act, by which you will start suffering. You will become a culprit yourself.
A culprit cannot be eliminated by another culprit. You try to eliminate the culprit and you become another culprit.
A victim cannot be eliminated by another victim. If you are a victim of your own rage, and anger, how can you help another victim? And if you become a culprit to eliminate culprits, you will find yourself in the prison.
This is what has happened to so many people. So many people who land up in prison, are so righteous. They say, ‘I did this because that person did this thing to me.’ No! An eye for eye, a tooth for tooth is not going to make anything better. It will make the whole world blind. We must wake up with dispassion and work towards a better society; work towards a society free from violence, and a society which is more spiritual.
Just like how you have made the entire society literate. Everybody knows how to read and write. They can read the sign boards. There is not a single person in Canada who does not know how to read the sign boards. Are there any? No.
At least they can read the sign boards, they may not be scholars in anything. They know how to read, and how to write. I want spirituality to become like that.
We should behave right, and be kind to people. We should work towards this direction. It may not happen 100%, all people will not become like that, but at least a major part of society will change for the good, and that is good enough. Q: I give generously to my loved ones. But often I find myself taking care of others, before taking care of myself, and then I have regret and resentment. How do I give in a healthier way?
Again I am saying, we can dream of such a society, but for it to become real, it will take time. A society where there is no crime at all is a far-fetched reality; it takes time, but we must at least move in that direction.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, you seem to have too much free time. Why you think so much? You want to give, then give and forget about it!
There is a saying in Hindi, ‘Neki kar aur dariya mein daal’, which means, do good deeds and then drop them in the ocean. Don’t care about them.
If you think, ‘I have done, I have done’, what have you done? You cannot give anything to anyone that is not due to them. It is impossible. Even if you want to give, and it is not time for that person to take it, he will not be able to take it. So you give, and then forget about it. Q: Dear Gurudev, please share with us some of the secrets from the Upanishads.
Just be spontaneous, you don’t have to think too much about it.
There is no need to feel guilty when you have a need, just go buy it. That is it.
You cannot satisfy everybody’s desires all the time, but whatever you can do, you must do. Then you cannot say, ‘No, I don’t want to do.’ Then that pricks you.
If there is something that you truly need, and you cannot give others, that will not prick you. When does it prick you? When you can and you don’t do it.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The secret to the Upanishad is, you are Om.
Your true name is Om. Whatever name you have, is given by your parents in this lifetime, but what were you before this lifetime? What was your name? Om. And what will be your name in the future, once you leave the body? Om.
So everything has come out of Om, that one universal sound that is resonating in the consciousness all the time, and you are all born out of that sound, and we remain in it. Even now, it is there all the time.
When you drop this body, don’t think you will carry your name with you. Your name will go with this form. But the light that you are, the consciousness you are, has only one name, and that is, Om.
That is what is said in the prayer, ‘Ek Onkar (God is One), Satnam (His name is True), Karta-Purakh (He is the Creator), Nirbhau (He is without fear), Nirvair (He is inimical to none), Akal-murat (He never dies), Ajuni Saibhang (He is beyond birth and death), Gurprasaad (He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru), Jap (Repeat his name), Aad Sach (He is True, even before anything was created), Jugaad Sach (He has ever been True), Hai Bhi Sach (He is True now), Nanak Hose Bhi Sach (He will be True in the future)’. There is only one Omkar, the doer, and that is the Creator from the ancient times, in which everything gets created.
Nirbhai means, it is without fear, without duality; there is no two there. It is unblemished, it is totally pure.
Aad Sach, Jugaad Sach, Hai Bhi Sach, it is all truth; it is the true thing. Our origin is from that truth. Adi means, your origin; from where everything has come, or everything has gathered.
Our source is true, our goal is true, and this is the true name, ‘Ek Onkar, Satnam…’
This is the essence of Upanishads, and this is what the Upanishad says.
‘Shivam shantam advaitum chatutrum manyante, sa atma, sa vigyayaha.’
(That reality which is Shivam, infinite silence; which is Shantam, infinite peace; which is Advaitam, the undivided, is said to be Chaturtham, the fourth. It is beyond the three states of consciousness; waking, dreaming and sleeping, The fourth is the Self, and that Self (sa Atma), is that to be known (sa vigyeyah))
What is worth knowing is the fourth state, which is neither the waking, nor dreaming, nor sleeping, but the fourth state, which is at the basis of the whole creation. That should be known; attended to.Q: Dear Gurudev, my mother says that God is in our hearts, and if anything is wrong, all I have to do, is look inside and pray. But what about the thousands of children who pray and still don’t survive?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, that is part of nature. There are more secrets to it. Q: My mom keeps nagging me, what do I do?
How a baby is born, and why it stays only for a short period of time, is a highly guarded secret. You will understand them one day.
Many times, after the baby is born, the love between the husband and wife disappears. Not all the time, but sometimes. This is because the soul attracts the two people. They may have no compatibility, but the soul has made such a compelling attraction that they come together, they get married and have a baby, and as soon as the baby is born, that is it, all the bonds between them vanish.
Have you seen this happening in the society? This is because that soul has brought those two people together. It got its work done, and that is it. This happens, and it is very interesting.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, that’s her job. She is just checking how strong you are, how patient you are. Mums usually help you to have more patience. Either you do that to your mum, or your mum does that to you. Either you test the patience of your mother or the mother tests your patience. You take turns actually!Q: Gurudev, my parents are old and still have arguments and fights after being married for 50+ years. Will they ever change?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Come on, they are having fun in their life, why do you want to stop it? Without arguments and fights life will be so boring; no spice. They enjoy a spicy dinner, let them have it. Why you want to make it bland? If it gets too hot, pour a little ghee; put some butter in between.
It happens, what to do?
Someone asked a gentlemen, ‘Why do you fight with your wife so much?’
He said, ‘What do you mean? I love her, so I fight with her. Who else do I fight with’, and that is correct. Sometimes it happens.Q: Dearest Gurudev, I want to spread this knowledge to many, but I’m extremely nervous when I have to talk to my friends about it. How do I overcome this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is your fear? They may make fun of you? Okay, enjoy that, let them make fun of you, so what? If you are prepared to be made fun of, and want to be, then that will make you snap out of this hesitation that you are feeling. Q: Dear Gurudev, even though I read knowledge, do my spiritual practices and service, still my mind sometimes gets stuck on worldly objects like smart phones, clothes, etc. Please bless me to get rid of all this.
Just do it once and see what happens.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is okay. It takes time. If you are a little bit sticky, you need a little more heat to be stirred. You know, when we make the halwa (India pudding), the sweet first sticks, but as you keep stirring it on the fire, then it doesn’t stick anymore.Q: Dear Gurudev, I have a deep desire to come and live in the ashram for the rest of my life. I would like to commit myself to full time service in the Ashram. My wife has agreed to do the same. Please advise us.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, come. Q: Dear Gurudev, what is the indication that we are moving towards the Self?
Those of you want to be full time here, or in Boone, are welcome. But if you have too many needs, then it is difficult. If your needs are very simple, then ashram life is very good.
If you have simple living and high thinking, then ashram life is good. If you have high living, and simple thinking, then ashram may be difficult for you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You need not move towards the Self, the Self is already there, everywhere. There is something in you that is unfazed, that stays solid; that is the Self.Q: Dear Gurudev, I am finding it difficult to maintain a vegetarian diet for long periods of time. Even though I eat vegetarian protein, I find it is not enough. I still crave protein from meat, and when I eat it, I feel better. I would like to be a steadfast vegetarian because I’m firmly on the path of non-violence. Do you have any advice for me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is only in your mind, that you need protein.
You know, horses have so much power, they have so much protein and they are vegetarian. Elephant are vegetarian. What power elephants have! You can’t even imagine. Bulls are vegetarian.
We say horse power. Power is always measured by horse. Horses just eats grass and green grams. Vegetarian food has a lot of protein. It is just in our mind, in our psyche, but nothing like that. Eat nuts and pulses, they all have protein. You don’t need to be vegan, you can eat dairy; it is okay. Cheese and milk, they have all the protein. You can have wheat grass juice, or Spirulina. Here in North America it is all very common.
A larger number of population in North America are becoming vegetarians. So take out from your head, that you need this. You don’t really need it. Your body is made for a vegetarian diet. You have a substance called Tallinn in your saliva. It is only present in the herbivorous animals. You don’t find that in lions, wolves, or tigers.
Herbivorous animals have long intestines, you too have a long intestine. Lions don’t have that, dogs don’t have that.
Your body shows that. Every sign of human physiology is made for a vegetarian diet. You don’t have the type of teeth which carnivorous animals have. You have the same type of teeth like monkeys, your immediate ancestors, cows, elephants. I am not talking about the tusk, the teeth inside the mouth of the elephant is like ours.
This is a wrong understanding in the mind, that because I stopped eating meat, I’m feeling weak, no! It is just a notion in the mind. Q: Dear Gurudev, can we practice and follow other paths along with Sudarshan Kriya, like the Kriya Yoga of Parmahansa Yogananda?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just do one thing, it will be good enough.
When you do too many things, it becomes a big confusion. I have seen people who go and do too many things and their energy goes totally haywire. It is not necessary.
If you have been doing it in the past, well, after doing Sudarshan Kriya, you can sit for meditation. If something happens it happens, it is okay. If those mantras come, never mind, but if you put effort and do, or learn more, then it can create a lot of confusion.
The Different Levels Of Reality
April 11, 2013 (Below is the transcript of Satsang with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.You can watch the Live webcast of future satsangs)
Q: Dear Gurudev, if consciousness is one, then are we as we think we are. Can one experience anyone else’s body, or experience? Can one transfer their soul or dislodge and lodge at will?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you see how many bulbs are there in this room? Are these bulbs different? Yes, they are all different bulbs, but the electricity that runs through them, is it different? No.
So, on one level it is all different, and at another level, all are the same. Like that, there are many levels of understanding, and many levels of reality. There are as many levels of reality as there are levels of understanding. You should not mix them all up.
There is a story of Adi Shankara.
Once, Adi Shankara was sharing, ‘This whole world, that is everything, is nothing.’ So, he was saying, ‘This is all nothing.’ Like the modern day scientists say, ‘All this matter is nothing because it is all just waves.’
As he was saying, ‘Everything is nothing’, just then a mad elephant started running towards him. So Shankara ran to take cover.
Then someone said, ‘Oh, that elephant is nothing. Why are you running?’
Shankara then said, ‘The elephant is nothing and my running is also nothing.’
So don’t confuse the reality.
Someone dreamt of a tiger and in a half asleep state, he started looking for his gun to shoot the tiger. But next to him was his wife. She shook him and said, ‘I am your wife, not the tiger!’ He had to wake up and see. Q: Dear Gurudev, sometimes I cry because of the inability to see who I am? This question has almost shut my life down. How can I be able to act from the place of knowing?
To shoot a dream tiger, you need a dream gun. You can’t shoot the dream tiger with a real gun. Correct? So there are different levels of reality and we need to understand each of them, and that enriches life.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You can’t make yourself an object of knowing. You are the knower.
A baby does not make the mother an object of knowledge, does he? As soon as a baby wakes up, it does not say, ‘Mummy, where did you come from? Which school did you go to? Who is your mother? Who is your father? What is your name?’ Q: Dear Gurudev, I am always afraid of displeasing God. I am unsure if my actions please God. How do I resolve this?
Does a baby ask anyone of these questions? No, baby just falls in love with the mother. He doesn’t care who the mother is, where she was born, or brought up, or what her name is. It does not make the mother an object of knowledge, or knowing.
A baby just falls in love with the mother. Same way you cannot make God an object of knowing. Or the Higher Self, an object of knowing. You can just be with that.
And you are in the right place for that. The meditation and these practices that you are doing, is really the answer to it. Just be at home.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t worry. I will advocate on your behalf. You relax. But don’t do anything that pricks your own conscience. Q: Gurudev, is there any advice on how a woman should prepare herself spiritually before and after the conception of her child?
Many times, your own conscience pricks you. It tells you, ‘No, you should not do this’, or, ‘Why do you have to do that?’
Do only what you feel comfortable with.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, you should simply remember that you are spiritual.
See, what are the qualities of God, or what is Divinity?
That which is there; that which is omnipresent. It is present everywhere. If it is not present in you, will it be God? What is the first characteristic of God? Omnipresence! So can God be present in some places, and not be present in some places? No!
Omnipresent means, present everywhere. And so it is present inside you; in you, yes!
One thing is settled, God is present in you.
The next quality is, He is eternal. He was there, he is there, and he will always be there. So, if God is present in the present moment, is He present now? Yes! He is present in you, and He is present now.
Then, He belongs to everyone. So does He belong to you? Yes, He belongs to you!
And He is capable.
Just taking these four points, and relaxing, that is what it is.
Many times, when we speak of God, we say He. But God is neither He nor She. So the ancient Rishis coined a word called Brahman. Brahman is neither He nor She, nor It, but everything. Q: Gurudev, at the Upanishads, you were talking about turning the intellect inwards in order to experience Brahman. Is this possible when there are desires? I still get tempted to choose what is nice, over what is right. What do I do? Love you.
You can call it He, She or It. That Brahman is present everywhere; ever so present in you, and present all the time. The Brahman belongs to everybody, belongs to you, and it is capable. This is good enough for you to think, and relax.
God is in me, God is present now, God belongs to me, and is capable.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I think you have too much time to examine yourself. Come on, get busy. Do some seva, do some good actions and be natural. Q: Dear Gurudev, I read that one needs to experience all 5 bodies in order to go beyond, or to get enlightenment. Why is this a scary thought? When I imagine myself expanding or when I actually experience it, I get scared?
I am not one of those who say, ‘Oh you should put some bitter things into everything that you eat, and why do you want to taste good food?’ No. If you prefer good food, you should have good food. But hankering for it, thinking about it all the time, is not good.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t worry, just relax. That is why you need a teacher in the spiritual realm, so that teacher is there, and says, ‘Don’t worry, I am here.’ Q: Gurudev, you said that there is life on other planets. When a soul is reborn, does it always go back to the same planet where its impressions are from, or can it get re-routed to another planet?
When you hear that from the teacher, ‘Don’t worry I’m here’, you get the confidence to move on.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: All is possible. Re-routing is very much possibleQ: We are all on the path towards enlightenment. If we do not achieve it this lifetime, do we pick up from where we left off?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, correct.Q: Dearest Sri Sri, I believe that we are eternal. But what does eternal mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, the Sun has been there since a long time, right? And it will continue to be there. So the Sun is eternal; Earth is eternal. Everything that surpasses time, is eternal. Q: Gurudev, please help me to figure out my calling.
Like, you are the same person yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You were the one who went to school, and you are the one who went to college. There is something in you that is continuing, but your body has changed. Body is not the same, every cell in your body is changing. Old cells go away, new cells get generated. But still there is something that is continuing inside, isn’t it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why are you sitting and waiting for more calling? Don’t start searching for the Sun at noon. You are already in the right place. This is your calling!
A global phenomenon is happening, where millions of people are turning from the material mind to a spiritual level. A revolution is happening around the world.
You know, last September when I was in South America, I went to Argentina. There is a prison there where 5,200 Argentinian inmates have done the course. Same with Brazil.
When I went to Rio, in the prison there, I found a room that read, ‘The Art of Living Center.’ Inside the prison, they have put my picture, Art of Living books, and tapes. This is where people come every day, and find inner peace. When I went there, they were all sobbing. They were crying. They were saying, ‘Our lives are totally transformed.’
There are good people there.
Same in Argentina, there was not one person with dry eyes. The judges from the city, from the Supreme Court, said they wanted to come and see the big revolution that has happened. They came along with me to see, and hear the experience of the prisoners. The same prisoners who were fighting, hitting each other had changed.
It was so difficult for the jailers to keep peace in the prison. Now that has totally changed.
Now, they all wear a badge and pledge for non-violence. They say, ‘We won’t fight; we are for peace.’
There is so much work to be done. Don’t sit and wait for an imaginary calling, that one day somebody will call you from inside. Calling is loud and clear, just join in. There is so much work here. Take up any of the service projects.
Recently, I went to one of the (Art of Living) schools in India, in the remote tribal areas. The parents of the children in that school have never seen a school. The children are first generation school-goers. When I went there, they were sitting at a computer, in a remote village. It was so heartwarming to see that change.
So much work is happening. We need more hands.
Why don’t you come here, to this ashram and bring people from time to time. Make use of it. It is not only when Gurudev comes that we should come. Make a groups of 10-15 people and bring them here for a weekend. Even if they have not done the course, never mind, they can still come. We can easily accommodate 200 people.
Bring them in batches, sit, talk some wisdom, do a small guided meditation, have good food, and take them back. Tell the kitchen in advance, they will make you 4-5 items minimum. Some good food, some singing, dancing, and then take them around.
See, there are many things you can do. So many people are getting depressed, and unhappy. Just locking themselves up in their rooms and being in the virtual world, only on the internet and television. Get them out from there. Ask them to come live your life.
‘Let us create a wave of happiness’, tell them that. Bring them around. Bring such celebration into the lives of other people.