You know we are made up of both matter and spirit. Our body is made up of carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, etc., and spirit is made up of pure energy; love, compassion, magnetism – this is all nature of energy. In ancient times they called it using two words: prakriti that is nature, and then purusha, which means the energy; two things, consciousness and matter. But then, one step further you go then they said, ‘There is no two, this is all one.’ Energy and matter are not two different things. Mind and body are not two different things, they are all one.
But consciousness works in four ways; there are four functions of one consciousness: like one person, when he goes to the office he is an officer, when he goes to the market he is a buyer or a seller, and the same person, when he is in the classroom he is a student. Right? And at home he is a father or a husband or a son or something. He plays different roles. Similarly, this one consciousness, it plays four important roles.
One of the roles is mind. Are you all here? Listening? If you are here but your mind is elsewhere, you can’t listen. Your ears are open, but if your mind is elsewhere, you can’t listen. Are you looking at me? If you are here, your mind is elsewhere, even if your eyes are looking at me, you are not looking at me. So mind is that aspect of consciousness through which the senses perceives and experiences. This is in all living creatures.
Even in a cockroach, the mind is also in the antenna. They have the long antenna through which they sense. They can feel from that. As I said earlier, the mind is not inside the body, the body is inside the mind. Like the flame is all around the wick. Isn’t it? The body is like the wick of a candle, mind is like the flame. Sometimes through Kirlian and other photography you can even see the aura. So mind is all around the body and inside the body. Yet mind is the perception, through the ears, through the eyes, through touch, through smell; then we call that mind.
And then the same consciousness, after grasping this, it labels it – this is good, this is not good, it is beautiful, it is ugly, this is right, this is wrong. This is intellect – a very important function of consciousness.
One of the very sacred
mantras in the ancient times
is called the Gayatri Mantra,
it says, ‘Let this intellect
be inspired by something which
is beyond the intellect – the
Divinity.’ That means let pure
thoughts come, proper judgment
come through my intellect, let
intuition develop in me, so that
anything I do becomes perfect.
One is perception and another is understanding - that is intellect: judging, discriminating, understanding.
Are you saying ‘Yes’ now? That is intellect. Are you saying, ‘No, I don’t agree’?
Doesn’t matter, you can say, ‘I don’t agree’, but if you know that you are saying that, that is intellect and it is the second most important function.
Human beings have the most advanced intellect. This is a gift.
One of the very sacred mantras in the ancient times is called the Gayatri Mantra, it says, ‘Let this intellect be inspired by something which is beyond the intellect – the Divinity.’ That is the prayer, ‘Let my intellect be inspired by the Divine.’ That means let pure thoughts come, proper judgment come through my intellect, let intuition develop in me, so that anything I do becomes perfect.
It is the intellect that becomes a block; it is the intellect that creates doubt; that gives you wrong ideas, and covers the intuition.
Suppose you have a good intuition and you say you want to meet some person in Sweden, and you say, ‘Okay I am going to meet that person.’
You have a good intention but the intellect comes and says, ‘No, it may not be possible. We will not be able to do it.’ So your intellect clouds the intuition and puts its mind. And then that is when we make mistakes.
You think this person is not good, or that person is good. All this judgment need not be what the reality is, if the intellect is disconnected from the intuition or inner consciousness. That is called Chitta, the consciousness.
So, mind, intellect, and then comes memory. Our mind is stuck in memories most of the time. Anything nice you see, you remember something what you have seen in the past. Anything ugly you see, you remember something ugly in the past. So mind getting locked into memory, or if your memory dominates, this is what happens. Memory is important. This is the third function.
Then is ego – I Am, the fourth function.
These are four different functions of one consciousness. But yet it is beyond all these four. That is why it is called Mahat; which means ‘The Great’. So if you could transcend the ego, then that something in you which is not changing, which is everywhere but nowhere; you experience that and you become Mahat. You become Mahatma.
Have you heard of Mahatma Gandhi? Mahatma is a title given to Gandhi by the people.
Every saint is called Mahatma, means he has transcended the ego. He has gone from mind, intellect, memory, ego, and one step beyond that, the Mahat; means, he feels at home with everybody. That is enlightenment – when you feel absolutely at home with everyone; there is no other for you. You become like a child again and live in the moment. Nothing hurts you; everything is part of you, magnanimity and total peace. You don’t only say the body is mine but that ‘I’ is everywhere. This is only an expression.
See, on television, you watch a channel, or you are watching BBC. Though you are watching BBC in that little box, is BBC in that box only? No, the BBC channel, that vibration, that wavelength, is all over the room, it is everywhere. Even if you switch off the television, still BBC waves are there all over. But the television makes it manifested and expresses it very well.
Similarly, our bodies are just television boxes. Are you with me?
Your body is a television set. Your consciousness is that wavelength. So, it is like, you are BBC, she is CNN, and that person is FOX, and the other is Entertainment Channel. Each one of you has your own frequency, but that does not mean that we are stuck only here. This is just a receiving set or transmitting set. But the waves are all over. Are you getting what I am saying? So our consciousness is all over.
As I said yesterday, there is pure science and there is applied science. We need to have both. They complement each other. Pure science is knowing this one consciousness - ‘I am that’, and relaxing, reposing - that is meditation and that is yoga. Reuniting with your Self is Yoga. It is not uniting with something which is not you. It is just curling back in to your Self - reuniting. Completing the circle is yoga.
You were all yogis as children. Every child is a yogi. We did all the yoga postures, we lived in the present moment and our mind was fresh and alive as a child. We felt so connected and at home, so full of love. And then somewhere down the line, we started going outward, outward, and outward.
In one of the Upanishads, the Rishi says, ‘God made a big blunder by making the senses go only outward. Our senses only go outward. But once in a while, there are some brave people who turn the senses inward and find the real truth.’ And that is yoga, he says.
And that is so true! Our mind is made to go outward. But sometimes you need to turn it inside.
Now more and more people are learning and become more intelligent. They know how to turn inward and find peace inside and not out there.
So every child is a yogi and we are born yogis. Somewhere we have lost that innocence. To get back to that, we do all these exercises, meditation, to find that simplicity again and that innocence that we are.
Now, there are so many ways to achieve that, so many ways. I will not go into details now.
What would affect a beginner, of course, is environment – it is good to be in a better, peaceful environment. And it is better to watch out on food as well, food also has an influence on the mind.
Ayurveda is a great science which says what type of food suits what type of people. What is your Vata, Pitta and Kapha and what type of food is good for you. There is a whole science about it.
The Jain tradition has also done a lot of research on food. But it is endless. If you go into detail, then you can’t do anything but only care for your food. So, I would say, we shouldn’t do it in extreme. We should be very balanced. On one hand there are people who don’t care about what they eat, and they simply stuff everything into their belly and suffer. On the other end, there are people who pick and choose all the time, all the time picking, ‘Oh this is sugar, I can’t eat this and I can’t eat that,’ and day and night they are only worried about their food. That is also not good because your body has infinite flexibility and adaptability. So if you think that some food is never good for you and you never eat that, then that is how your body will function. It will lose its flexibility.
Similarly, if you use a lot of supplements all the time that is also no good! Supplements are good to use sometimes. You know, people bring me so many supplements. If you see my box, there are so many supplements, but I am a bad user of supplements. I don’t use it every day. Sometime I take this and sometimes I take that supplement.
People say, enzymes are good, minerals are good. Yes, they are good but I feel that we should not take too many supplements. Supplements are necessary because today the way food is being grown has become very different. It is not the way food was originally grown.
I have read somewhere that today the bananas only have one twelfth of the nutrition it had in the early 19th century. So even though all these vegetables and fruits are grown more and appear very big, the nutritional content is very low. They are not organic, because soil is being depleted.
See the new seed of wheat that we all eat does not have as much folic acid as it used to have in the old wheat. In India, a doctor in Punjab had done research. He checked some of the old wheat, the original wheat and he said that it has so much folic acid. And today, people are suffering from heart problems and all these other problems because they don’t have enough folic acid in the food they eat. So supplements are necessary. But again, clinging on to it, worrying about it too much is not good. Our brain, our system can generate many things on its own.
How do you experience the
bliss of that Supreme Power,
or the substratum of universe?
By being quiet and turning
your mind inward. By practice,
bliss comes to the surface.
So food has an impact, but your consciousness is even more powerful than food.
Q: Guruji, what is the Supreme Power of this universe? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Supreme Power is the simplest power.
See, atom is everywhere, right? The whole universe is covered by atoms. Everything is made up of atoms. But an atomic power station is different. In the same way, the Supreme Power is the simplest, most easily available, cheapest commodity – you can’t even call it commodity; it is the basis of all of existence. It is not up there somewhere. It is like space, like the field. If you ask me where is the magnetic field of the Earth? It is everywhere!
It is even more subtle than the magnetic field which is present everywhere, all the time, and with the same intensity. It is not that the supreme power is somewhere there.
Instead of calling it Supreme Power, we should say, the Basic Power, the existence. That is what the ancient people called it – Existence. ‘Sat’ - that which Is, and ‘Chitta’, which is conscious and is blissful.
How do you experience the bliss of that Supreme Power, or the substratum of universe? By being quiet and turning your mind inward. By practice, bliss comes to the surface.
Q: Guruji, do the Moon, Stars, and other heavenly bodies affect the mind? If yes then how?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. Do you know the Moon affects the ocean? On Full Moon Day the waves are higher. The Moon affects water – this we all know. Our body is made up of water. Nearly 60% of our body is made up of water, and it has saline content, like the ocean. So your body is a miniature capsule of sea water. You are a sachet.
If the fluids are drained out of your body, you will shrink. You are a sachet of sea water – somewhere red, somewhere blue, somewhere different colors, all inside one packet. So your body is 60% water.
So the Moon has influence on the body. Anything that influences the body influences the mind as well. So mind is affected by the Moon. That is why people who go crazy are called lunatics. The word itself says lunatics. Similarly other heavenly bodies also have an impact on the system.
See, energy field is so interesting.
If you look inside a transistor radio, there are some wires put in a diagram on a piece of metal, and see what a big change it brings! Isn’t it?
Have you seen the chip inside a cell phone? It has a particular diagram. If the cell phone chip is different, it goes to a different number. Every little diagram brings down certain electronic energy, certain vibrations. In the same way, our body is an electronic circuit and has so much to do with the whole cosmos. Everything in the cosmos is inter-connected and inter-related.
The ancient people knew this. It is so amazing how they connected the microcosm with the macrocosm. Sun is connected with the eyes. Mind is connected with the Moon. Mars is connected with the liver. Planet Saturn is connected with the teeth.
So, different parts of the body are connected with different wavelengths or frequencies of the planet.
And what are they connected to? They are connected with a particular grain, a color and a bird, or a creature as well.
Like Mars is connected with your liver, it is connected with sheep, and it is connected with chickpeas. Chickpeas, Mars, sheep, goat, and the liver are all connected.
So they found a connection between all these elements; macrocosm to microcosm. It is interesting science; absolutely interesting, fascinating. You have to go deep into that research.
Similarly, Saturn is connected with sesame seeds; it is connected with crows and with your teeth. It is interesting! I tell you, very interesting!
You might have heard about the butterfly effect. A butterfly fluttering its wings in the rain forest in South America has an influence on the clouds in China! How one butterfly’s movement makes a difference in the clouds in China. Very interesting!
That is why in Sanskrit there is a saying, ‘Yat pinde tat bramhaande’, which means whatever is in the universe is all present in a capsule form. Your body is a miniature universe because it is connected with everything that is there. You are not an island. You are connected to the society, and not just society, to the whole globe!
Without you wanting to be connected, you are already connected. You are connected with every single individual on the planet, whether you realize it, acknowledge it or not – it doesn’t matter. You are already connected.
Q: Guruji, can you please explain the concept of Avidya and Maya? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Maya means all that can be measured. The English word measure comes from the Sanskrit word Maya. ‘Miyate anaya iti maya’ Miyate means to be measured. Everything that can be measured is Maya. The five elements can be measured: earth, water, fire, air, ether. They all can be measured. So the world which is made up of the five elements is all Maya, because they all can be measured.
What cannot be measured? Compassion, love cannot be measured. You can’t say, ‘This person has three ounces of love, and that person has five ounces of love.’
Truth cannot be measured, beauty cannot be measured. You can’t say, ‘This lady has five units of beauty and that lady has three units of beauty.’ Beauty is immeasurable. Love, beauty, compassion, truth, integrity, honesty; all these qualities of the spirit are immeasurable. So, they are not Maya. They are Maheshvara – nature of the Self. Maya also means all that is changing and that which can be measured; and measurements change. Everything in the world is subject to change.
So one meaning of Maya is, everything in the world is changing, and everything in the world can be measured, this is another meaning.
And that what is not changing, and what cannot be measured is consciousness, the Self, Bramhan or the Universal Energy. Avidya means study of this change, measuring things.
There are two things: Vidya and Avidya. Vidya means study of consciousness and Avidya means study of the world; smaller things.
Q: Guruji, what is liberation? Why do people seek it, and from what are people seeking liberation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Suppose you are made to sit on a chair for 10 hours, and you are ordered, ‘You should not get up from the chair.’ You say, ‘Please, my legs have gone to sleep. Please can I wake them up?’ Will you say this or not? That is seeking liberation.
You just ask children the day their exams are over, ‘How do you feel?’ They come home, throw their books on the couch, and they sit on the couch and watch television. You say, ‘How do you feel?’
They say, ’Aah! Liberated! Done!’
Liberation means feeling, ‘I am done! I have done what I needed to do. Finished!’
Total satisfaction; total freedom; there is nothing more to be done, nothing to be compelled to do.
‘I have achieved what I want. Inside I feel free.’
Liberation is always attached with bondage. When there is bondage, then to get rid of bondage there is liberation.
We are born by our own mind, our own desires, our own cravings, our aversions. When cravings and aversions are gone then you feel that freedom from inside, that simplicity!
Everyone has experienced some degree of liberation in life, somewhere or other. But when it becomes a permanent reality in life, your whole energy changes, and nothing whatsoever will bother you. Nobody can take away your smile from you. Nobody can change you by any stimulant. Nobody can push any buttons. Do you see what I am saying?
There is no button left to be pushed. Otherwise, in life our buttons keep getting pushed by small little things. A little thing goes wrong and that is it!
Q: Guruji, my boyfriend is very jealous. I introduced him to the Art of breathing but then he got very jealous again. After one night he hit me, I went away and stopped talking to him for one month. Now he says, after doing Kriya everyday he has changed. He is here on the Art of Silence Course too. He seems changed. He wants me to give him another chance. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you should definitely give him a chance, and this course would have really made a difference. See there is goodness hidden in everybody. It is stress and ignorance that is covering that goodness. So, in this room with hollow and empty and all the meditations, we are uncovering the goodness for it to come up. It blossoms, it flowers.
Liberation means feeling, ‘I am done! I have done what I needed to do. Finished!’
Total satisfaction; total freedom; there is nothing more to be done, nothing to be compelled to do.
‘I have achieved what I want. Inside I feel free.’
Q: How to help my father learn how to handle his negative emotions. Also, how can I accept his chaos at work, since I work with him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is a tough job. Different generations have different styles of working. You have to have a lot of patience, and skill in communicating with him.
Sometimes the older generation, they don’t know how to delegate work. They believe so much in perfection that they want to do it all by themselves. That becomes an issue for the younger generation.
So do one thing, when he becomes negative, you just quietly slip away from there. Don’t argue. Argument does not work there at all. Even if you are right in whatever you are saying, he will not take it. He is holding on to his position and he will not let go.
It is tough, but skillfully you have to put your ideas forth. You need a lot of skill there. And silence is the mother of all skills.
See, you will ask me, ‘Why should I come and keep silence for three days Guruji. What is the point? Let me talk.’
When you are silent, you tap the source of skills and those skills come up in you.
Q: What is the secret behind manifestation?
When meditating, my head bends forward and sometimes my whole body bends forward, is it okay or should I resist and put myself straight again?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We sit straight and then we let go. In meditation if your head comes down, or your body bows down, never mind, it is okay, it is good.
Now, how do I manifest? When you put your intention, it definitely manifests. An intention, and a little bit of attention on it, then manifestation happens. This is called Sankalpa.
What it is that you want in your life? Make sure of it in your mind and put a gentle intention on it. Not crave or hold on to it. You have an intention and then just drop it and relax. It is will manifest.
There is a difference between intention and desire. Desire is clinging on to it.
Suppose you have to Gothenburg from here, if you keep saying, ‘I have to go to Gothenburg, I have to go, I have to go.’ When you drive with such feverishness you will not reach Gothenburg, you will reach somewhere else.
But if you just have an intention, I am going to Gothenburg and that is it; you drive, you stop here and there, you drive again, and you reach. This is intention. Desire is being constantly on it, and that only brings disappointment.
Q: Why are there such different feelings when you are near? I feel calm and restless at the same time, loving and jealous at the same time.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That’s it! Human life is a roller-coaster of emotions. All these emotions come.
When emotions go up, they are positive and when they start coming down they are negative. But it is good that you realized that all of them are coming and going. You just be a witness.
Q: How to get ourselves to act more, instead of just planning and talking?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good, you are the leader, you lead. A leader wants to be in action, not just talk. So you get up and start leading. Get everybody going. Ask people to join the team.
If they don’t, then you walk alone.
This should be our policy – We ask everyone to come along and move along, but suppose nobody comes, never mind, you don’t give up, you walk alone. Then when you suddenly turn back and see so many will be walking with you.
Q: Can you please enlighten us with the concept of Karma. Where can we read more about this in depth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now Karma means what? You have heard so much about Karma.
The real meaning of is Karma is Action.
Action can be classified into three: The past, present and future.
The past actions are impressions, the future actions are also impressions and present actions is Karma which is giving you result now. Are you getting what I am saying?
So Karma means the impression of the past, which will draw similar situations in the future and that is the future Karma. And present action what you are doing is creating an impression in your mind and that is again called Karma.
If you take up the book, Intimate Note to a Sincere Seeker, the very first knowledge sheet I made was on Karma. How there are certain Karmas which we can change, certain impressions which you cannot change and which you have to experience.
I will give you a simple example. How many of you have the habit of drinking coffee first thing in the morning? How many of you get a headache when you don’t drink coffee? (Many raise their hands)
See, this is coffee Karma.
Because you have been drinking coffee, it has made certain impressions in the consciousness, and if one day you don’t drink coffee, you get a headache. That is coffee Karma.
So there are two ways out of this. One is you drink coffee and get rid of the headache. Or, you resist it. You say, ‘It is okay if it is paining, let it pain’, and you move through it. So for two or three days it may pain and then it will stop paining, because Karmas are always time bound.
Suppose you have Karma of an accident. It is only time bound. If you pass the time, then that action will go away. Like you have a headache from not drinking coffee in the morning, it pains for a few hours, then you drink water, you eat and you do something else and the headache vanishes. Do you get it? This is the perfect example we can use to talk about Karma.
Similarly in life, a particular time in the year you feel very restless, or anything you do, you are not happy. A particular time you feel very happy, whatever you are doing. Hasn’t this happened to you? If you observe, in a year’s cycle, maybe in February, or December or January, somewhere, in some time cycle, a particular week, or a month, or a fortnight, you feel down. And then you feel very high in a particular cycle, because mind, time and Karma, they are all connected.
So what to do at that time? They say, just knowing this itself will take you above it.
‘Oh, this is February, this month every year it has been happening to me. Anyway, let me pass over it. Let me do more meditation, satsangs and singing.’
Doing yoga, sitting in knowledge discussions, all this will change this energy. This is all above time and that is why Sadhana – which is called the real wealth – takes you above the space, time and Karma complex. That is why with Sadhana, Karma can be reduced, ill effects of time will be nullified and your spirit can be uplifted. That is why it is called Sadhana.
But the thing is that you don’t want to do it at that time! It is when you really need it that you don’t want to do it. It is so complicated.
It is like, someone is sick and that is when they don’t want to take medicine. Someone is feeling so cold and you are telling them, ‘Come on, this is a very good woolen jacket.’ And they say, ‘No, I don’t want to wear it, I am cold.’ Then what can you tell them?!
This is exactly how it is. When you really need it, our mind will resist. So our mind is our best friend and worst enemy. You don’t have any enemy outside, it is just here. So make good friend with your own mind, and that is what we are doing here, polishing it.
Sadhana – which is called the real wealth – takes you above the space, time and Karma complex. That is why with sadhana Karma can be reduced, ill effects of time will be nullified and your spirit can be uplifted.
Q: All that we do in The Art of Living, is the purpose of it to wake-up and get enlightenment, or just to feel better? Personally, I would like to wake-up.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Here, this is like an ocean, everything is available. If you just want to take a walk on the beach, you are welcome. If you want to go deep and find oil, that too is available.
This path is like an ocean, you can take salt, you can take oil, you can go for fishing, and you can go for a million things. Definitely, enlightenment is on the platter. And I am that happy you want to go for it. I want people to go for it, I very much like this idea that you want it; you are not here only for the sake of comfort. That is very good.
Come, we have a lot of things to do.