The art of embracing everyone is in the Indian DNA
March 18, 2012
Mahasatsang at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Faith is very important in life. There are three kinds of faith or three levels of faith: First is faith in oneself, i.e., self-confidence. Second is the faith that there are good people in the society, faith in the rules of the society. And the third and the most important kind of faith which seems difficult, but it is very easy, is the Faith in the Divine power.
That Divine power is there in all of us. It is not like it was there at some time and today it is not there that is not so; that at one time it was present in prophets, saints, mahaatmas, avataars (incarnation) but is not there now, no! It is still there, it is present now – within us there is a light (noor).
This is my only reason to come here - to remind all of you of that divine light which is in all of us, all the time, and no matter how much our parents love us, its love and connection with us is one hundred-fold stronger. I have come here to just awaken this faith in you. And I am ready to sign any bond paper for this, if you ask me to.
Sit peacefully for a while. For some time, separate your mind from the thoughts, from the world and its affairs and look within – a light will appear – wow!!
You will feel – This is what I was in search of, all my life. It was this that everyone spoke of, sang about and believed in, and it is within me!
You will feel goose bumps all over your body knowing this truth – The lord of the universe who is so adorable, is sitting inside me. This experience will come. That is it! After that no power in this world can take away the smile from your face. Such joy will emerge from within you that everything else then seems childish. All these fights in the name of caste and religion will seem like a play!
So, even if an iota of this third kind of faith arises in us, our life takes a major turnaround. We don’t feel anything lacking, everyone belongs to us. I have traveled across 152 countries so far but I never felt like a stranger anywhere. Neither did people there look at me as a stranger and nor did I look at them as someone different from me. The whole world belongs to one Lord, so how can we see each other as strangers when we belong to each other? This happens naturally and easily.
It has been thirty years since it was started. You go to the last city of the North Pole where the Sun does not rise for two months, even there you will find people who have learnt the Sudarshan Kriya. Even in the South Pole and everywhere in the world, people have learnt the simple technique to calm their mind through breath.
No matter what you believe in, or what religion you follow, or scripture you read and become knowledgeable; but one thing you must not forget, that we are all human, and we are very precious. This is what I have spoken about in the Art of Living.
So three kinds of faith, which are – firstly, in oneself, self-confidence; an individual who says, ‘I don’t believe in anything,’ he makes this statement with confidence in his self.
Only someone who believes his own words can say this. One who does not have self-confidence cannot even move a single step. Today, we have to instill self-confidence in poor people. This is the only way to eradicate poverty. ‘I can do something’, this attitude should be there in the people, not, ‘Others should always keep giving me’, no!
Self-confidence firstly; secondly, in this world, there are good people – not a few, many! But the silence of the good people is why the world is getting ruined. There are plenty of good people. One should have faith in the goodness of people.
See, what do we usually doubt? Doubt is on honesty, not on dishonesty. If an honest person becomes dishonest even once, we tend to believe his dishonesty and doubt his honesty.
If someone says, ’I love you’, you would ask, ‘Really?’ But if someone says, ‘I hate you’, you will immediately believe them. Doubt is always on truth and goodness. That is why we always doubt God because it is the Truth. So in society we should have faith in those people who are noble, otherwise, one goes into depression. ‘Everyone is a thief, no one is okay, no one is good’ – if you believe this, you will be scared, and unable to walk even one step ahead.
On trust rests the entire social frame work. The telephone company gives you a connection with the faith that you will pay the money. You are given electricity with the understanding that at the end of the month you will pay the bill. You will see that all the arrangements are based on trust. You help someone win the election with the faith that he will deliver justice to you. The whole life is only a wave of trust. This is the second type of faith.
I already spoke about the third. There is one entity, and it cares for us very much. Now see when we were children – I am still a child! Even now I feel that I am a child; I never grew up – but when we were children, whenever there was any trouble, what did we do? We would run crying to our mother; then as we got a little older, we would run crying to our father. So when there was any suffering, we would give it either to mother or father and become empty. We would come and sit on mother’s lap, stop crying and start smiling, and forget all the sorrows. As we grew older, during school and college, when we could not say anything to our mother or father, we would go to our teacher or Guru, we would go to them, speak our mind, and make our minds lighter. Today, we have forgotten this process. After this is God on whom we have faith, we go there and surrender our sorrow and become empty.
So this arrangement that has been there in ancient society that you surrender your suffering to your mother, father, mentor, Divine or God, and become empty and peaceful, and keep smiling, is the end goal of all religions, all! Spirituality means this only. Spirituality means what? It doesn’t mean just sitting in a corner and doing something; spirituality means belongingness; expansion of belongingness.
And where belongingness ends, that is where corruption begins. No one can be corrupt towards their own people. So eliminating corruption with law alone, I do not believe, is possible. Law is extremely necessary, a strict law is definitely needed, but along with it, there should be a sense of belongingness in the public. ‘All belong to me.’ A wave of belongingness should rise.
This has been the specialty of India – we knew the unique art of accepting and embracing everyone. Somewhere in the middle we lost it. Even today it is there in the villages.
I often say, we have a lot to learn in this world. This whole world is our family; there is much to learn. From the Japanese people what do we have to learn, do you know? Teamwork. Teamwork needs to be learnt. They do such great teamwork, it is very powerful!
Similarly, from German people we have to learn precision. Anything they do, you will not be able to find one fault in it. In their machinery, you will not be able to find one oversight – there is such precision. Time means, they will come on time.
Once I had a program in Germany. The program was at 7 PM, so I arrived 10 minutes early. Since I arrived early, in the huge auditorium, there was no one, it was empty! The person who had invited me, I said to him, ‘Oh, there is no one? This is my first experience that I am coming and no one is here.’
So he said, ‘Guruji, there are 7 minutes left for the program to start.’ Just one minute to seven, the auditorium filled up completely! Everyone occupied their seats and settled in. Precision we have to learn from them, the German people. Time means time; they are true to their word.
And, what do we have to learn from the British? Etiquette, decency and civility; they are extremely civilized people. No pushing or shoving, they walk easily. Civility needs to be learnt from them.
And do you know what needs to be learnt from the American people? Marketing skills. On a new moon night, they will manage to sell the moon! Such marketing skill they have!
Where there is nothing, they make up something and sell it; marketing skill of Americans.
Similarly, if anything needs to be learnt from Indians, it is humaneness and belongingness. Go to any village - if they have one glass lassi (yoghurt drink), they will give half to you, and drink the other half. This feeling, this sense of belongingness, you will find in India, in every village. This is what one can learn from being Indian. Honoring the elders, this is a distinguishing feature of India.
Abroad what happens is, the elders are thrown out. Occasionally, they may send them a card; on father’s day or mother’s day a card will go out. Honoring the elders – this is our culture.
In all the religions, in Hindus also, in Muslims also, in Sikhs also, in Christians also, in all, there is this tradition, ‘Honor the elders.’
There is a scientific secret behind this, do you know?
If there is a wedding in the house, you seek the blessings of the senior-most person. Isn’t it? There is a scientific truth in it; do you know what the truth is?
Have you ever wondered who can give blessings? One who doesn’t need anything for himself - that person can give blessings to others. The older the person, the more contented he is. He has finished all his worldly responsibilities, achieved all his desires and now he is content. So now he is eligible to bless others.
This does not mean that you should not become content until you become old, I am not saying that. When even at a young age you become content, within you a unique power awakens, and not just your own work – the divine takes care of your work, anyway – but God gives you the power to fulfill the desires of others as well. So if you give someone blessings, 100% it is bound to happen, that matter will definitely be taken care of.
So your mind should be happy, content, there should be no conflicts in the mind, there should be no anger – just all this should not be there, it is a small matter.
Shall I tell you, in 55 years, till today, I have not uttered even a single bad word! Till today, a curse has never come out of me; it is not in my nature. When you stop speaking harsh words, you get strength inside you to bless others.
Ideally, with increasing age, contentment should come into our life. But often, it is not visible nowadays. Till their last breath, the elderly people hold on to their keys. They don’t give them to the children. They die leaving money in the bank, and the children keep fighting over it.
This should be changed. The younger generation should be encouraged to come forward.
I am very happy that a youth became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, and the public is full of hope. I am just returning from my trip through 16 districts and there is so much poverty in the villages. The people are hoping that something will change in the country, in the state. People are hoping that everyone will get justice, people of all castes, all religions will receive justice – with this hope people are waiting. I am confident that our youthful ministerial committee will fulfill this - this is the way I feel. I pray and bless that they take Uttar Pradesh further ahead. There has been growth, but there is quite a distance to go.
Corruption should be eliminated, violence should be removed - in society there should not be violence in any form or manner, violence against women should be stopped – the bottom line of all these is stress. If you eliminate stress, and there is peace in the individual’s mind and his heart begins to blossom, then the ills of society will begin to disappear. That is all I have to say.
So you understand how you can take blessings and give blessings? When you are contented!
Okay I would like to say one more thing. You make a list tonight. Make a list – what are your needs, and what responsibilities are you taking in society and in your life? A list of your responsibilities and a list of your needs. If your responsibilities are more, and needs less, your life will be peaceful. If your needs are many, and your responsibilities are less, then your life will head towards sorrow. And one who has no personal needs, but takes full responsibility for the society, he is a leader, a social worker, and he is deserving of entering politics – one who does not need anything for himself, but wants for everyone. ‘I take responsibility for everyone’, this service-oriented mindset.
We never pay attention to this; once we should sit and pay attention to this.
I am not saying everyone should become saints; one cannot say, ‘I don’t need anything.’ It is okay, whatever you need you make a list – ask, whatever you ask for you will get, but increase your responsibilities as well. You used to take responsibility of yourself, of your family, of your community, your society – now expand it further, increase it more. You will see how much happiness you will get from it. This is necessary.
And last of all, many people are not able to understand what Art of Living is – what is The Art of Living? ‘Tell us something about this’ – this is going on in the minds of some of the people.
There are five elements in The Art of Living, only five things.
In life happiness comes, sorrow comes, to manage the mind in happiness and sorrow, maintaining equanimity is the very first lesson, the first element. Is this necessary or not? We need to manage our minds – whether in happiness or in sorrow, we need to manage the mind. First thing!
Contradictory things happen – sometimes defeat, sometimes victory; sometimes gain, sometimes loss; sometimes happiness, sometimes sorrow. These come and go, but if man breaks down within, if his mind falls completely, then he will not be able to do anything. The art of managing the mind is the very first lesson.
Second lesson of the Art of Living is, whatever an individual is like, accept him or her the way he or she is. We want that everyone should be like us. How is it possible? The mother-in-law wants that the daughter-in-law be like her. ‘Whatever I say is correct, and she should accept it.’
The father believes that the son should act exactly like him.
Conflict begins in homes, in society because of this. So I say, accept people as they are. Give them time to grow. At their own pace they move forward. This is the second lesson.
Third is, do not worry what another person is thinking about you. In this world, every individual has his own way of thinking, his own opinion. Whatever he wants let him think about you. You need not worry. What another person is thinking about you, thinking of that you are becoming sad. How many people become sad this way, looking at others’ opinions? It is useless, a waste of time, a waste of life. Life is very precious. That is why, I will say, do not be a football of others. This is the third thing.
The fourth thing is when we make a mistake, we say, ‘A mistake happened. What can I do?’ But if anyone else does it, we say, ‘He did it deliberately.’ We view others’ mistakes as having been committed knowingly. Do not do this, forgive. Do not think that when the other person apologizes, then I will forgive. Whether they apologize or not you forgive on your behalf so that your mind becomes free. You will manage to stay happy, you will feel light. Otherwise, whomever your hate is directed to, that person will occupy your mind day and night. You will become like them. That is why I say, forgive, pardon, whether anyone apologizes or not – you at least save your mind. Forgiveness – this is a very big thing, a very important thing. If you want to be happy, forgiveness is one thing we will have to bring into our life.
The great sage Ashtavakra says, ‘If you want liberation, you have to practice compassion, forgiveness, sincerity and contentment; consider these as the nectar of life.’
Can you do it now? All those people towards whom you feel hatred, animosity, can you forgive them now? It takes only one minute! Can you do it? How many can do it?
See how happy we become, the mind becomes so joyful. If you feel it is difficult to forgive, I can give you another option. When a Guru comes to your city, what is your duty? To give Dakshina (donation).
So I would like to ask for two things in the form of Dakshina – one is whoever you hate, give that hatred to me in Dakshina. You share sweets with them and mend your relationship. And the second thing is, if there are any concerns bothering your mind give those concerns also to me in the form of Dakshina. Give me your worries. I want only these two things from you as Dakshina. You keep smiling in life, move forward, get involved in service work and serve everyone. That is God’s worship.
What constitutes worship of God? No matter how, awaken joy in everyone’s heart, awaken contentment – this is the greatest form of worship to God. What a beautiful thing our ancestors said!
And the fifth thing, the fifth element of Art of Living is, living in the present. Now! Now! Now!
The past no matter how it was has gone by, doing its post-mortem, grieving over it, is not going to give you anything. Do not spend time on the past. We waste seventy to eighty percent of our time in analyzing things that are past, ‘Why did it happen, how did it happen?’
Regretting the time that has gone by is foolishness. Intelligence is in learning a lesson from the past and in the present moving forward joyfully.
This is the Art of Living.
Now you might say, ‘Guruji, this is nice to hear, but appears difficult to apply in life.’
Then I will say, ‘Do Sudarshan Kriya, pranayama, and see how easily this will manifest in life.’
Today people from all over the world are doing this, and such a big transformation has come into their lives.
I went to Iraq three times. There people said, ‘There is a red zone. We will not let you go there.’ The Iraq government gave me 12 security vehicles – 2 tanks, one in front and the other in the rear, and cars all around with armed gunmen. I said, ‘I have come here to meet the common public. I have not come to sit in this security cordon.’
I said to them, ‘I want to go to what you call the red zone.’
They said, ‘There is a big danger there. Don’t go there. We can’t give you permission to go there.’
I insisted. Sometimes insistence is also good. So I insisted that I have to go. Finally they said, ‘Okay, what to do? This guest has come and is insisting so much. Let him go.’ So I went. I met the Shia council there. I was welcomed very warmly. I met their tribal people, and I spoke to them. They said, ‘Guruji, this is your second home. Do not leave us. You stay here.’ With so much love they welcomed me.
8000 family persons had been expelled from a Shia village. Then I went to that Shia village with the Sunni Imam, and I had the two parties sit and talk to each other. I don’t know the language as everyone speaks Arabic. So I sat along with the translator and peace was reinstated, and a resolution was reached. People returned to that village. I said, ‘See, you both believe in the same Allah, the same prophet Muhammad, then why fight for a third person?’
Seven lakh women have been widowed there in Iraq. Anyone’s heart would melt just looking at them.
Then fifty boys came from Iraq and they were trained to be peace messengers in Bangalore. The Iraq government said, ‘Guruji, make these fifty boys messengers of peace. We know only Art of dying; we want to know what the Art of Living is. You teach us.’ Since then the conditions there have improved so much! Of course, what we did there was merely a drop, not much, just a drop. But even a drop sometimes does the work.
That is why I am saying, we have it here in our DNA, peace, friendliness – the art of embracing everyone is in the Indian DNA. We should give it more significance, maintain peace within our country and take it to other people also.
Eight years ago I came to Lucknow. After visiting Lucknow I had gone to Pakistan that very year. This year, I have come to Lucknow after having visited Pakistan. In Pakistan also, people gave me such a grand welcome. Three centers have been established there, and thousands of people have learnt pranayama, yogasanas, Sudarshan Kriya and have experienced relief and peace from it. I also had conversations with the luminaries and religious people there and they also welcomed me with a lot of love. I did not feel that I was visiting another country. It felt just like India - so much love and enthusiasm. People said, ‘Guruji, we belong to you. We are yours, and you are ours.’
This feeling is in-born to all of us, inherent to us. This does not mean that there should not be patriotism. Patriotism should be present within us. That is why, devotion to divinity and nation, go hand in hand.
So I would say, express your patriotism by taking on seva work. Lakhs of people are gathered here, - if we dedicate two hours one Sunday to clean Lucknow, do you know how Lucknow will shine the following day? All the dirt will be removed. It is not the work of the municipal corporation alone. We all can step out with brooms in hand. Will you do it?
Next Sunday morning, you will step out at 8:00AM and until 10:00AM everyone will clean their respective communities. Can you do it?
Keep your homes clean, keep your streets clean, and your alleyways clean. Inner cleanliness, and outer cleanliness – this is our duty and our responsibility. We should stand up against lack of cleanliness.
In the same way, we should stand up against shortage. All the unemployed youth can become entrepreneurs in the country. They can do a lot. A lot of businesses from our country are moving to China. Why? Somewhere we have lost our entrepreneurship. We think the government should give us employment. How can the government give jobs to everyone? You stand on your own feet.
I know for this training is needed. Our Art of Living Vyakti Vikas Kendra is ready to offer training to the youth. Training will be given to the youth.
See, in this country the kites that we fly, the statues of Lord Ganesha and other statues, are all being produced in China and brought here. So we can manufacture all these here.
In this country each town had its specialty. For example, the kurta of Lucknow is very famous; since ages, Banarasi sarees, Kashmiri shawls, Himachal apples, these are all very well known, so this specialty in every state should be promoted.
In China, the whole village manufactures only a single product. In one village only needles are made; in one village only buttons are made. This trend really boosts the economy of the country. We should also do this. Next, tourism is a very good thing. Many of India’s great sages, prophets were born right here in Uttar Pradesh. God knows why everyone picked Uttar Pradesh. Sri Ram and Sri Krishna were born here, and so many great luminaries were also born here. Kabir Dasji was also born here and Buddha lived here for a very long time. But all these religious sites are polluted and dirty. Effort should be made to clean these places and make them shine. Only a little attention can make it an international tourist destination.
And we should stand up against injustice. I already told that we should all stand up against corruption. Can we all raise our hands and promise that we will neither give bribes nor accept bribes.
Many of those sitting here have been reluctantly accepting bribes. I am telling you, for just one year, do not take bribes. Afterwards we will see how it is, a year later. After one year, I will come back and again deliver an oath. So today, take the oath that you will not take bribes. Without bribe you will deliver the work.
If you are hesitating because you don’t want to take it, but the one who wants to give comes and gives it from under the table, then what to do? I will say, that all the college YES+ youth that are sitting here, they will prepare a strip and come and stick it on your desk which says, ‘I do not accept bribes.’
All these youth will prepare this strip and paste it on your table, and you will not have to take the trouble. So when people see it, they will not give you bribe and you will not even need to speak up. So this work should be done. Okay? So we need to stand up against injustice.
Next, we need to renounce caste-discrimination. Our country has suffered a setback because of this. All our sages and saints, thousands of them belonged to all the different castes. We have had saints and sages from all castes, even lower castes, so we should give up caste-distinction. Just remember we only belong to one caste – humanity, okay? We should stand up against ignorance. There should be no superstition or ignorance; we should stand up against this.
Okay one more thing many people have asked, I would like to speak about. See, you all offer tarpana to your ancestors – til tarpana (ritualistic offering of sesame seeds in honour of those departed) you do, don’t you? Do you know why it is done? What is its significance?
Those who have departed and have transitioned to the other side, to them we say, ‘If there is any desire left in your mind, it is the equivalent of a sesame seed. Drop them and be contented. You go to the feet of the Lord, move forward. We will fulfil your desires.’ Saying this, the children take sesame in their hands and drop them with water. That is why it is called tarpana.
Three times they say, ‘Be content, mentally, spiritually, physically (adhibhautika), caused by fate (adhidaivik) – on all three levels may you find contentment’.
So the children counsel the ancestors, teach them the lesson, ‘You be content, be content.’ So when we become content while living, siddhis (perfection, spiritual abilities) manifest in our life. We become capable of blessing others.
So for a little while now, we shall meditate. When many people meditate in a group it is called yagya and you will definitely receive the reward of the yagya. So if there is any one desire, you will definitely get it.
Q: Guruji, what should be the supreme goal of life – goodness, prosperity, fame or something else?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You said ‘Supreme’ goal. The ‘Supreme’ should be the goal! All others are small goals. They are okay.
Q: Guruji, what is the difference between self-respect and arrogance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Arrogance pricks and causes suffering; self-respect – no one can take it away from us.
Q: Guruji, what is surrender? Is it not running away from situations?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No! In the situation after having done whatever needs to be done, what cannot be done, that is surrendered.
Q: Guruji, is marriage an obstacle to self-knowledge? Why did you not marry?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh! I haven’t even grown up! In self-knowledge marriage should not be an obstacle. Many people are enlightened; they are married and yet, are self-knowing.
Q: Guruji, if life is getting shattered in the process of sustaining relationships, should one save relationships or life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Saving both is intelligence.
Q: Guruji, these days the world is teeming with Gurus; how to figure out who is a real Guru?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh ho! How can I tell you? Ask your heart. Your heart will tell. Is this right or wrong?
Look within yourself. Don’t go outside. Don’t be greedy. Ask your heart. When you are a true seeker, you will only find a true Guru. You will definitely find a real Guru.
And in everyone there are some good qualities. Imbibe the good qualities. The rest which does not appeal to you, just leave it.
Q: Guruji, those whom we love, we are unable to make them understand our perspective. How do you know the thoughts in our mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is my personal secret! You also become a meditation teacher. You will also understand. Become an Art of Living teacher.
Q: Are science and spirituality mutually opposed? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely not opposed! ‘What is this world’ – is science; ‘who am I’ – is spirituality. They are complementary to each other. Where science ends, there spirituality begins. One is subjective, the other is objective, and taking along both together – this is the knowledge of the Gita. ‘Gyaan vigyana tripta atmaa.’
Okay, how many people have not read the Gita, raise your hands. Listen, do one thing. From today, read Gita at least once. There are 700 shlokas. You must read. It is the scripture of our nation. Just once, read it from beginning till end, read the Gita. There is so much knowledge in it.
Mahatma Gandhi used to read the Gita every day. Every day!
And a scientist like Einstein remarked, ‘Reading the Gita changed my perspective tremendously.’
Q: Guruji, we are unable to resolve the problems of daily life. How do you manage to resolve such huge problems with such ease? Tell us the secret.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This secret itself is the Art of Living. You do the camp, do meditation, and get involved in seva and satsang. Get engaged in seva work, you will see, you will also be able to accomplish big tasks. One should be joyful. There should be contentment in the mind, and for the country, one should be ready to serve the nation.