Q: Dear Gurudev, when we meditate we experience such bliss, how can that state continue with or without meditation? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With knowledge and with dispassion. When you see the whole world is a dream, the meditative state remains in activity also. But do not make a mood out of it; you should not do mood making. Live life naturally, as everyone else lives; simple, natural. Do not make a big mood out of it, yes!
And do not try to hang on to peace also. If we try to hold onto peace then there are more problems. Do not try to hang on to something, become empty. It is okay if disturbances step in sometimes, so what! Never mind. As long as you know this is the nature of the world.
Grace is causeless, unmerited
(Ahetu Ki Kripa); it is not
obtained through some merit
or cause. It is not that only after
doing something you will
receive grace, then that is not
Grace, that is business. Grace
is always there. Just become
aware of it and know that you
are being showered with Grace.
There is a beautiful couplet in Kannada which says, ‘What can you tell someone who builds a home on the sea shore and is scared of waves. What can you tell someone who has built a home in the forest and is scared of animals. What can you tell someone who built a house in the middle of the town and is afraid of noise.’
Right in the market place he has built a home and he is allergic to noise. What can you tell him? In the same way when we are in this planet, in this world, pleasant things happen and unpleasant things happen. People praise you and for no reason people blame you. You should simply take them on and move ahead.
Isn’t that a very good advice?
Today some people came and told me that such and such person is very rude, he is not good and he has such bad qualities. He loses his temper all the time. Why do you still keep him in the organization?
I told him, ‘No, I give a long rope. Suppose I leave him outside anywhere else in the world, he will do the same thing. You feel now he is disturbing you, but if you send him out of the organization then also he will continue to disturb you. At least here he has a chance to improve.’ Isn’t it?
So I have patience; I say okay, let them be here, let them grow. With patience I allow them to be.
Q: Dear Gurudev, the Bible states that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Does this mean a wealthy person is doomed to hell just for being wealthy? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No!
These words of different Saints and Prophets were given to different people at different times. Jesus says that I have not come to make peace; I have come to put mother against daughter and the son against father. That doesn’t mean he did not like families or he came to split families.
So, what is said is an example given so that people feel compassion. When there is poverty all around and someone is just enjoying too much without doing any kind of service; spending 100 percent of what he earns on himself or herself, then that person has a hard heart, like a rock. When someone is like a rock and there is no suppleness inside of them then heaven is far away. That is the essence of it.
Just now the thought came to me; we should send some 50 Lacs worth of medicine to Assam. We should buy 50 Lacs worth of some Ayurvedic medicines. So everyone contribute a little bit and we can give it to the people there. I am planning to visit Assam soon, so let us see.
As a first step they might need some medicines. We will all do something.
We are so many people, if we all give five hundred each then we can do quite a bit. We can send them medicines. And some Ayurvedic doctors should also go to Assam from here. We will send them to Assam.
Q: Dear Gurudev, the wise have said that if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek as well. I got slapped twice in this bargain. What to do, is it my ignorance? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You got slapped twice by the same person or a different person? That makes all the difference!
You know, you can keep turning your cheek to different people and they will only slap once, that does not show you of your intelligence. Got it!
You should see whether the person who slaps you on one side, if he is sensitive and cultured then you can show the other cheek, no doubt. But if the same person is insensitive, then not the third time, because you have only two cheeks. Got it!
The more grateful we become,
the more Grace we experience
in life. A mind that is
complaining all the time cannot
experience the Grace. So,
become grateful and thankful.
Q: Gurudev, what is austerity? How to become austere? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Living with minimum needs; reducing our needs.
I need this, I need that, I need that, no. Whatever is there, be satisfied with what you have.
You have a vehicle that is good enough. You do not have to say that you need the vehicle which is 50 Lacs or 15 Lacs or 20 Lacs, no! A simple good vehicle to go is good enough.
Good clothes to wear, good enough; good food to eat, that is good enough.
Austerity does not mean that you torture yourself. Eat only half of what you can, nothing like that. Austerity means simplicity, just bare minimum. What is the minimum that you need, being happy with that.
Q: Dear Gurudev, In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks about ‘Yogakshemam Vahamyaham’. What I get is from the Divine, but I fail to understand how the Divine can take away as well. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well keep wondering. The whole world is given to you and one day the whole world will be taken away from you. So this is a part of the creation.
It is not that there is some Divine sitting somewhere up there doing it. The whole world, the whole universe is a process. It is happening all the time.
Q: Dear Gurudev, how to get rid of doubting oneself, like our abilities, our capabilities and also faith in the master? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just increase the Prana that is it. When Prana goes down, self doubt arises. When self doubt arises naturally that doubt will be projected on the teacher and the master as well, and then on everybody, your friends and family. It gets projected on the whole world. So, more Prana, more vibrancy, more strength from inside, is proportionate to faith!
Q: Dear Gurudev, please throw light on what is Maya, and the different types of Maya. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are three types of Maya.
The first is Moh Maya. When one becomes too much attached to money or children such that it blinds them, it is called Moh Maya.
There are many people who go after money, money, money. They don’t care for their wife, children, mother, father, friends or any relationships. Only money is important. And for money they are ready to file law suits on whomever. They will file a case on their mother, prove her to be mentally unstable, prove their father to be mentally unstable and fight with everyone for money. Even go to the extent of killing someone – this is Moh Maya.
Similarly, there are some people who keep crying for their children. They just want their child to be with them the entire 24 hours; they do not even understand what is good for the child. Doing this they spoil the child’s life and they also remain sad throughout their life – this is Moh Maya.
What is it? That which does not bring you any great joy but the absence of which causes you suffering – that is Moh Maya.
Then there is Maha Maya. Maha Maya is born or derived from Nature. It clouds or veils us in such a way that we are not able to see anything clearly. We become stuck and bound in its inertia. We become devoid of feelings and emotions, like a stone.
Then there is Yoga Maya. There is Maya even in Yoga. This is very fascinating.
You must have recently seen the case of Nirmal Baba (a spiritual leader in India recently accused of trickery and illegal activities in the name of spirituality.)
He kept on blessing people, but people called him a fraud and a cheat. It is not like that. He is an innocent and good person, but he is caught up in Yoga Maya.
Sometimes, what happens is, through continuous practice of Yoga and Sadhana (spiritual practices) some shaktis (divine powers) get awakened within oneself. When this happens, then you are able to predict what is about to happen in the future. You get an intuition about future events and occurrences. Now, if you are not completely hollow and empty from within, if there are still some cravings and aversions inside you; then that interferes with your intuition. And then the intuition will not be 100% true. 50 to 60% of it will come true and then rest turns out to be false.
Do not try to hang on to peace.
If we try to hold onto peace
then there are more problems.
Do not try to hang on to
something, become empty. It
is okay if disturbances step in
sometimes, so what! Never
mind. As long as you know
this is the nature of the world.
Similarly, I know of a lady who also got caught up in Yoga Maya. She did intense sadhana for 25 to 30 years and attained some siddhis (divine powers). She started to feel the presence of Devi Mata (Mother Divine) and she would feel that Mother Divine is guiding her, telling her to do this and to do that.
So, this lady was with her husband and she felt Mother Divine telling her not to give her husband his medicines for diabetes. ‘He will get cured, you just keep giving him blessings’, this is what she heard. So she kept on giving blessings to her husband.
She would say to her husband, ‘Mother herself came to me and told me not to give you diabetes medicine.’
So she did not give him any medicines, and he turned blind. He lost his vision in both his eyes.
When she would speak to other people, they would feel very nice. Most of what she would say would also come true. But after this incident she got very disturbed and came to me, asking, ‘Gurudev, why did this happen to me? Why did my husband become blind?’
I said, ‘My dear, you are caught up in Yoga Maya’.
The same thing happened to Nirmal Baba.
See, some things you can understand, some things you cannot. One can of course bless people. When the Kundalini Shakti rises from within, you get the power to bless. And the blessings are good and beneficial to people. But when these blessings got diluted with inner cravings, like for good food, then these cravings interfered with his intuition. And the messages or blessings that were given to people were of the same nature. So this continued for a few days, but then soon it fell apart. He got trapped in Yoga Maya, and there was no one to tell him or explain it to him. He himself could not understand.
When one understands this, one does not get caught up or deluded by the siddhis, One remains centered within oneself and in the knowledge. Then blessings just starts to flow naturally.
We have so many blessers here. How many people are blessers here? Raise your hands!
Aren’t your blessings fruitful? (Blessers from the audience shout ‘Yes!’ )
See, even you can bless people.
When you are in devotion and are well established in your practices (or yoga) then you also get the power to bless people, and people get healed from their illnesses, their wishes and prayers also get fulfilled. Such a siddhi definitely comes with Yoga and spiritual practices.
But if we attach this with false beliefs and superstitions; like misguiding someone that they will be blessed only after feeding ten hungry people, or feeding bread to a dog, etc., then that is not right.
Grace is causeless, unmerited (Ahetu Ki Kripa); it is not obtained through some merit or cause. Grace is received without any conditions. It is not that only after doing something you will receive grace, then that is not Grace, that is business. You are blessed with Grace just like that - without any conditions whatsoever. Grace is always there. Just become aware of it and know that you are being showered with Grace.
The more grateful we become, the more we experience Grace in life. A mind that is complaining all the time cannot experience the Grace. Become grateful, become thankful.
And the more contented you become, the more Grace you experience in life.
Do not think there is some kind of ‘special’ Grace. Grace is always there, we only become aware of its value.
Grace is something that can go inside even a closed purse. You don’t need to open your purse to receive Grace. And if someone tells you that Grace will come to you only by opening your purse and giving money, then know that something is wrong for sure.
God always blesses you in abundance. You need not pay money from your purse to receive it. However, if such kind of misleading thoughts or feelings do arise in the mind, then it is called Yoga Maya. No one should be blamed for this.
Be satisfied with what you
have. You have a vehicle
that is good enough. You
do not have to say that you
need the vehicle which is 50
Lacs or 20 Lacs, no! A simple
good vehicle to go is good
enough. Good clothes to wear,
good enough; good food to
eat, that is good enough.
You should not even hold this against such spiritual seekers who might practice this. In their heart there is no malice as they bless everyone. But when the same leaders or seekers started to make money out of this, like a business; then their power to bless also diminished.
Do you understand this? Their right perception was lost.
So, whenever you bless someone, do not make a bargain out of it. You should give blessings freely in abundance, without taking money. However if some people do offer you money out of devotion after you bless them, accept it and put it to good use for a noble cause.
This (wrong practice of asking money for blessings) seems to have crept into every religion somehow. Some will ask you to donate a certain sum of money in return for blessings. This is not right. Grace comes to you without any conditions whatsoever.
Now you might ask why one has to pay money for an Art of Living Course. This might be the next question in someone’s mind. The reason is – Shiksha (education) or knowledge cannot be obtained without a dakshina (fee or offering in return for knowledge bestowed).
See, blessings are given for free. But when we have to learn something by becoming a student, then without offering a dakshina; that act becomes a Tamasik Yagna (an act borne out of inertia or negativity).
This (acquiring knowledge) is a Yagna – a holy and sacred ritual.
We are learning something here. Only by giving something can you receive the knowledge. The knowledge stays with us only when we offer a due fee or offering in return for it.
This point comes from the scriptures and sacred texts. Anyways, let us keep this aside for a while. What is the general experience today? When you sit in the class after paying the fees, then you are able to learn with sincerity and you put your attention. If we conduct classes for free, then people turn up for one or two days and then run away the third day. They do not give their full attention or concentration.
So for the benefit of a student, we take fees from this point of view. But if someone tells you that they will bless you only after receiving money from you, then you should stay away from such people. They are caught in Yoga Maya.
So the media and the people are all calling him (Nirmal Baba) a cheat and fraudster. He himself must be stunned, not knowing what has happened. The blessings which were working fine so far, what happened to it? How did the power suddenly diminish?
This is what happens on the path of Sadhana.
That is why it is said, ‘Shrotriyam Brahmanishtham’ (A Guru is supposed to be a shrotriya and a brahmanishtha. Shrotriya is one who has a thorough insight into the meaning of the scriptures and has the capacity to express it in the best form of language. Brahmanishtha is one who is established in the knowledge of Truth)
Until one becomes a Shrotriya and Brahmanishtha, such powers and games last only for a few days, after which it all comes to an end.
So this is simply a game of Yoga Maya.
Something similar happened here. A lady had come here and people who saw her started saying that she is the incarnation of the Mother Divine Herself! I just asked her to respectfully take her seat.
Yes, seeing all this does make one angry. It is natural to get angry at such things. But saying or doing anything in a fit of anger causes your energy to diminish.
You know, when these siddhis or powers manifest in a person, it takes them into a different world altogether, and at that time one has no connection with what is happening here. That is the time the mind plays its games.
So, it is not that they are bad and dishonest people.
Yes, there are some dishonest people as well, but there are also many people who are simply caught up in the trap of Yoga Maya.
So in Yoga Sadhana also, it is necessary to overcome Yoga Maya. Only then can one gain complete perfection and siddhis (divine powers). Till then perfection does not dawn in life.
If someone is insulting you then
you should move away from
there. If you keep listening to
bad words about yourself and
keep taking them in, it hurts
the spirit. The spirit inside you
gets pained and your energy
goes down. So, never listen to
anyone insulting you or saying
bad words to you.
When you are a seeker, if you see, seekers first attain the power to curse people. That is why it is said not to utter anything wrong against anyone. If some ill thought or anger for someone comes to your mind, immediately it brings some harm to them. Isn’t it?
How many people have had such an experience? You got angry with someone immediately they suffered a loss? Haven’t you had this experience? (Many in the audience raised their hands)
So do not wish bad for anyone. And bless everyone. Don’t be a miser in giving blessings.
Do not think, ‘Oh, if I give blessing someone, my power will diminish.’ Some people have this misconception as well. This is also Yoga Maya.
There are many types of Yoga Maya. Some people get upset and disturbed if someone touches them. They feel that the other person has drawn all their energy. Why do you get so afraid? We are immersed in a sea of consciousness. Yes, we must follow certain rules and discipline; that is important.
So Yoga Maya is the tendency to get caught up in small siddhis. When you go beyond it, you gain siddhis (divine powers) very naturally. And then you bless others, their wishes and desires are naturally fulfilled.
Q: What is the difference between ego, arrogance and self-respect? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no difference between ego and arrogance. ‘I am’ is ego.
‘Only I am good, no one else is good’, that is arrogance. There are different types of arrogance.
Self respect is something which you can never lose. Once you know about the self there is respect for the self and that is self respect.
If someone is insulting you then you should move away from there. If you keep listening to bad words about yourself and keep taking them in, it hurts the spirit. The spirit inside you gets pained and your energy goes down. So, never listen to anyone insulting you or saying bad words to you.
This is a new thing we learnt today!