When you turn the candle upside down, still the flame always goes up. In life also, so many incidences will come where your enthusiasm is put down; your spirit goes down. At that time remember ‘I am like the candle and I will come out of this. Nothing whatsoever can stop my spirit and enthusiasm.’
Move on like that. Life force should always go up. That is why in Hindu and Buddhist tradition, whenever someone visits, Aarti is done on them. A lamp is lit and taken around them saying, ‘Be like the flame and let your life always keep moving higher, around the Divinity and knowledge’. Then they apply a little kumkum (vermillion) on the forehead saying, ‘Let the knowledge be with you all the time.’
The best gift is wisdom. Other things will come and go.
Q: We have around thirty more years of life and it is just going to go by in a flash. Till the time we are here, life has to have some purpose to it. I have to do something that makes me feel fulfilled. I haven’t found that yet and I am still searching.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely! You will find that.
Now when you meditated, did you find that inner peace? This is what is essential.
We need to be established in that inner stillness and peace and do whatever good to people around us. Some seva activity we should take up.
Q: Dearest beloved Guruji, please tell us more about 2012. What qualities does one need to possess in order to enter the new earth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The earth will disappear only in American movies, not in reality. All that you need to know is this is a new era, wherein people will become more spiritual and they will become more humane. Greed, jealousy, crime will all come down. People will become more caring and spiritual. This is what is going to happen.
In the Chinese calendar, this is the year of the Dragon and it is considered to be very auspicious. In the Hindu calendar, it is the year of Nanda which means bliss. It will be a very good year. And you don’t need to enter it, you are already there.
Q: How do we distinguish between duties and expectations?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Duty is what your heart tells you, when you feel ‘This is what I have to do.’ Expectation is what others want you to do. Have a balance between the two. Sometimes you can fulfill the expectations of others, but your duties are what you need to be more concerned about.
Q: I practice pranayama and kriya for about forty minutes every day and take it as a way or an attempt to silence myself to go deeper within, and also tune in to you. May I ask, what more should I do to advance deeper?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Once in four to six months, it is good to do an Advance Course. That can enrich your meditation. At least twice a year do the silence program. Like you service your car, servicing your body, mind and spirit with three days of silence, meditation, yogasanas, makes you fresh and happy.
Q: Can people diagnosed with bipolar condition do Sudarshan Kriya or the Silence Course?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I don’t advice them to attend the Silence Course, but they can attend the Basic Course and do everything except Sudarshan Kriya. Simple meditation, pranayam and some yoga is very good for them. They should do Sri Sri Yoga.
Q: If we desire to achieve something in our career or life, what should we do? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Put your effort and ask for blessing.
With blessings, you can get many things. Both are necessary, blessings and effort. Blessings come to those who make some effort as well. This is like the sun coming and your window being open. If you want the sun to come into your home, you need to open the curtains. But in the middle of the night, you open the curtain and ask for the sun to come in, it won’t come. You need to wait.
Q: When you fail in all your ventures and still try to show the world that you are happy with your artificial smile, what to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Never think that you fail in everything. You failed basically because your thought process failed. Thought process fails because of over ambition. When you are too feverish or too ambitious, then right thoughts don’t cross your mind. Negativity also does not bring that intuitive thought. So when you meditate, then your thoughts become positive and more intuitive. There is a proverb in Sanskrit which says that success comes because of the sattva and the harmony inside you, not because of the amenities or weapons you have.
At least don’t lose your smile. By losing your smile, you will become a double failure. One failure has happened, never mind. At least don’t lose the smile which is your nature.
Q: For youngsters like me between age of twenty and thirty, how do we put spirituality into practice while ensuring we work and strive towards our material goal.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They are not contrary. Don’t think they contradict each other.
You can do business ethically. You can work in your workplace being very honest and you can still go on. With intelligence and skill, you should just march on in your life.
When the Asian continent was at the peak of spirituality, it also prospered very high. India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, all these areas in 1200 AD accounted for one third of the world’s GDP. That was the time when spirituality was its peak. Several travelers from India and Macaulay have written around two hundred years ago, ‘I have travelled the length and breadth of India and Asia and I have not seen even one beggar, one poor man or one sick person.’
So when spirituality was at its peak, people also had a very good standard of living.
Q: What is the link between consciousness and prana? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They are linked like the body and the mind. They are different yet they are linked. Body, mind, prana, the breath and consciousness can be categorized as five different layers.
Q: What is the significance of Atma Ram borne in our body which is also called as the seat of consciousness and is a miniature form of the person?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How many of you know the meaning of word ‘Ram’? English word ‘Rays’ comes from a Sanskrit word called ‘Rashmi’. ‘Ra’ means light, the rays. ‘Ma’ means me. Ram means the light in one’s heart.
Dashratha means the ten chariots or the ten senses, which are the five senses of perception and five senses of action. So your body is a chariot of five organs of senses and five organs of perception.
Kaushalya means skillful. The body of ten chariots (eyes, ears, nose, etc.,) skillfully brought together the Self, the spirit deep within, beyond the senses, that is ‘Rama’.
So, Ramayana is happening in your body every day. Today happens to be Ram Navami (Rama’s birthday.)
Q: How does a child forgive her parents for certain behavior against her at a young age? What moral authority do the parents still possess?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, if they have done some mistake, they did it because they never had a better education, or a better opportunity. They did not know how to manage their own mind, their emotions, their body. So, it is unfortunate that they went through life like that.
So forgive them so that you will be at peace.
If they had the opportunity to be on a spiritual path or in knowledge, they would not have done what they did. So they did it out of their ignorance. Knowing this, you just forgive them so that your mind will be at peace.
Otherwise if you have grudge against someone all the time then your mind becomes so uptight and it creates toxins. If you are feeling negative, then toxins increase. These toxins cause so many illnesses, including cancer. So, we should always keep our mind free and that is why we forgive everyone so that we can be at peace.
Q: How can we keep a smile in front of all despite all the difficult challenges in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you feel like that, give it to me. I am with you.
Whenever you feel a challenge, remember me. Give me your challenges and know that you are not alone. You will sail through those difficulties that I guarantee you. Alone you may feel it is difficult.
Everyone smiles when everything is okay. The real achievement is your ability to smile when things go wrong. When everything falls apart and you still smile, then you are an Art of living member. You are well soaked in knowledge.
Q: How can I know you as tattva’? How can I live with you 24/7, experience you and love you? I do not want to miss this lifetime opportunity.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just relax! Love is not an action. You don’t try to love somebody. You just relax knowing that love is there.
Q: Why does someone get addicted or attracted to non healthy habits like smoking, drinking, etc.?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because you feel that you are going to get some pleasure out of it, that is why you get addicted to it. Meditation is a big help in removing you from addictions.
Q: What is the best way to forgive and forget? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Give it to me! Drop it.
Anybody that you cannot forgive or anything that is bothering you, I am here to take all that. The Guru is there to take all your problems and challenges away. So you can just push it here.
Q: Please talk on the origin of life. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When we think linearly, we think something should start somewhere and end somewhere. But we should think spherically.
Can you tell me where is the beginning point of a tennis ball? No! So when you can’t find the beginning point of a tennis ball, why do you try to find the beginning of this universe?
The mathematics is wrong. There are two types of thinking, one is spherical thinking and other is linear thinking.
The world has neither a beginning nor an end, this is spherical thinking and this is what the Vedic concept is. The Vedic understand is that three things are eternal: The universe, Divinity and Life. They have no beginning and no end, they just go in cycles.
This is the most interesting and most scientific understanding of the universe.
Q: Mid-life crisis. How to get interest in living after fifty plus? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just look at me.
I need you, come and be with me. We will go around the world and we can do a lot of work. I need more and more hands. If you are fifty plus, and have done everything in your life, settled your children, then come over. Even if you are not settled, take one month or two months off and travel.
We need more teachers. You can go and impart to others how to be centered and calm. Whatever little knowledge you have gained, you can impart to others. There is so much more to learn and you can go deeper, yes! I tell you, there will be an abundance of miracles, there is no dearth for it in The Art of Living.
Q: What do we do when we find life monotonous and boring? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Get busy!
Q: Guruji, how to forgive. Please tell us. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you find a person to be a culprit, then see then from a broader angle. The person is a culprit because he is a victim himself or herself. They don’t have knowledge, they are ignorant and they have scars and pain in their own heart. They are a victim and so they always inflict pain on others. They never came to know about knowledge. So have compassion for them.
When you see inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help, you will be able to forgive them.
You must go to visit the jails for this reason. Go and talk to the culprits there, you will really feel compassion for them. You will forgive all their sins that they have done. Poor people had nobody to guide them. No guidance and no love and so they did all the wrong things that they did.
Q: On one hand you mentioned that we are insignificant akin to dust. On the other hand, you said look back through out your life and see how you overcame challenges. See that there has been a guiding hand. The question is, if we are insignificant, why is there a guiding hand in the first place and if there is a guiding hand, is it fair to say that we are insignificant?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Till you know that there is a guiding hand you are really insignificant. But once, you know that there is a guiding hand and you are part of it, you become very significant.
Charcoal and diamond are made up of same material. Coal in itself is insignificant but when it becomes a diamond, it becomes very significant. Truth is always contradictory.