Wisdom can only blossom in a homely atmosphere, where we are informal and at home with each other. Do you all feel at home with each other right now?
Why not we all just take a moment to greet the person next to us, behind us and in front of us? A formal atmosphere is not very congenial for wisdom. You need to be informal with each other for a heart-to-heart talk, and that is what wisdom is. It is not head-to-head.
Now keep everything aside
and just look at your own life.
What is that you want from
your life? Have you ever sat
and thought about it, ‘What do I want in my life? ' And,
‘Who am I? ’
Someone told us something
and we learnt that. We have studied and gotten educated, but ‘Who am I? What do I want?’ These questions seldom come to our mind.
In a head-to-head communication there can be many arguments. But from heart-to-heart there is only one language - One World Family.
Now keep everything aside and just look at your own life.
What is that you want from your life? Have you ever sat and thought about it, ‘What do I want in my life?'
We seldom get time to do that. And, ‘Who am I?’ – That too we do not think about.
Someone told us something and we learnt that. We have studied and gotten educated, but ‘Who am I? What do I want?’ These questions seldom come to our mind.
If you see your life of 60, 70 or 80 years, do you know how you spend those 80 years?
You spend 40 years of your life sleeping. You spend about eight years of your life in bathrooms and toilets, and about the same numbers of years are spent in eating.
10 to 15 years are spent in traffic, in making journeys, and in working. Hardly two to three years of our life are spent in what we call a ‘happy’ life. Is it not?
And is it not that which you want – Happiness?
All the scriptures of the world, from the ancient times to the recent times; they all talk about great happiness. Is it not? Because the scriptures know that men and women want happiness.
Happiness is not a commodity that you can buy somewhere. It is present where you are, right here and right now. And the way to find that happiness is meditation.
Meditation improves our health, our state of mind and brings more happiness.
Whatever we are seeking here and there, is right here, within us.
My purpose of coming here is to tell you that whatever you are looking for is deep within you, and that Light, that Spirit loves you so much. So do not worry.
Give me all your worries. I have come to carry them away. Drop all the worries here, be happy, and spread happiness.
Shouldn't this be our goal in Life?
What should be our goal?
Shake everyone up and tell them, ‘Hey! Wake up! Laugh and Smile.’
You should make people happy.
You know, when we have, then also we are unhappy, and when we don't have, then also we are unhappy.
I want to tell you a story.
An Indian-African immigrant from Kenya was in London; this was a long time ago when I went there. This gentleman came up to me and said, ‘Gurudev, I wish to own a BMW car. Please bless me’.
I said, ‘Okay, God willing you will get it.’
Six months later he came and met me. He was happy and he said, ‘Gurudev, I got it (the car). But the streets of Birmingham are so small that I find it so inconvenient to park it here and there without it getting a scratch on it. What to do?’
You know, in Birmingham the streets are smaller than they are here.
Few months later, he said, ‘Gurudev, it is becoming a difficult thing for me to have this car. Now I am miserable. I want to sell this car off but there is no buyer’.
You didn’t have it and you were unhappy. Now you have it and you are unhappy.
There is something seriously wrong with the way we look at life. This is where we have to have that wisdom, to turn it around and see that happiness is not related to what we have or what we don’t have. It is simply our state of mind.
Happiness is not related to what
we have or what we don’t have.
It is simply our state of mind.
Happiness is not a commodity
that you can buy somewhere.
It is present where you are,
right here and right now. And
the way to find that happiness
is meditation. Meditation
improves our health, our state of
mind and brings more happiness.
Do you know, 30% of Europe is depressed.
This figure is from the census of the last decade, now it is even more. And a small country like Bhutan is known for its happiness. Even Bangladesh has got more happy people.
I don’t know where South Africa comes in this list, but I have a hope that all of you here today will take this determination to be happy and spread happiness.
Is this a good idea? (Audience nod in agreement saying, 'Yes')
A violence-free society, disease-free body, stress-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory and a sorrow-free soul are the birth-right of every human being.
(Gurudev briefly looks outside and listens to the loud music coming from outside the venue)
Distractions are there to see how keen you are to catch the wisdom.
In Sanskrit there is a saying, ‘Shreyansi Bahu Vighnani’, which means, if there is something very precious then there are many obstacles or distractions that come with it (from the Uddhava Gita. This quote is part of Lord Krishna’s discourse to his devotee Uddhava).
If there are a lot of distractions that come for something, then it must be very precious.
If you want to do something wrong, there will be no obstructions for that. But if you want to do something good or pick up something precious, many distractions may come.
This world is made up of five elements. This is what the scientists today have said, and this is what the Rishis (wise enlightened seers) also said in the ancient days.
The five elements are – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. That is why it is called Prapancha in Sanskrit. Panch means five, and Prapancha means a specific combination of five elements, of which this Universe is made of.
The same also goes for our body. Our body has 60% water element. The heat in the body represents the Fire element. The physical body itself symbolizes the Earth element, and the empty space represents the Space element. So these five elements make up our whole body, and everything in this Universe.
So we will do a short meditation, and after meditation, we will have a small Yagya.
Yagya means uniting the principles of the Universe.
This universe has got millions of rays coming into it. The macrocosm and the microcosm are connected. Every little butterfly here fluttering its wings has an impact on the clouds. Have you heard about this?
A butterfly in the Amazon forest can have an effect on the entire forest, and on the clouds in China.
If one monkey does something, it has an effect on several other monkeys. Have you heard about this in Africa?
We call it the ‘Big Five’ in Africa; the land of the ‘Big Five’ (a term used in African hunting which refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot – Lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, Leopard and Rhinoceros).
Each animal brings with it a certain vibration; a cosmic electromagnetic vibration with it on Earth. They channel this from the Universe to the Earth.
Every animal brings a particular vibration to planet Earth. And that is why every animal is very important.
The ancient Rishis in the Vedic times knew about this. A particular bird, even a particular type of seed has a particular vibration associated with it. So everything is connected from one to another. Like in our body, though we are born of one cell, that cell has 33 different chromosomes. And those different chromosomes in the DNA of the cell are responsible for forming different parts of our body.
This Universe has got so many different types of vibrations that come from its different parts.
Most of all we need to have that
inner contentment. If we have
inner contentment, we gain a
unique ability to bless others.
Not only will we be able to fulfil
our own desires, but we will also
be able to fulfil the wishes of
others. The human spirit can
possess that gift if it gets into a
state of contentment.
So the macrocosm and the microcosm are united in a very unique manner. That is what the ancient people said. So when we go from Ether to Air to Fire to Water and then to Earth element; this is how the Creation has happened.
Therefore they designed Yagyas (to mimic and represent this process in a reversed direction – by offerings of sacred herbs (Earth element) and offerings of ghee (Water element) into the sacrificial fire (Fire element, in presence of the Air element), from where the vibrations are transmitted into space (Space element)) .
Yagyas are designed to bring peace.
What is the purpose of a Yagya? The first is Swasti – good health; then prosperity, peace of mind, happiness, a sense of togetherness with everybody, and to remove negativity from the atmosphere.
Every time you are negative, you transmit those negative vibrations of anger, jealousy, greed, frustration, and hatred. Yagyas are meant to neutralize and nullify all of them. That is why this time I thought that I should take this to South Africa as well.
I heard of the recent unfortunate incident in Africa where so many minors passed away. So, to bring happiness, peace and prosperity to all the population we will do a small Yagya by means of Vedic chanting and by offerings specific herbs, as it was done in the ancient times thousands of years ago. So you will witness that as well.
It is like a short Pooja in which we pray to the One Almighty to give us peace, prosperity, happiness, contentment, a sense of togetherness, a sense of belongingness and care for each other.
Most of all we need that inner contentment. You know, if we have inner contentment, we gain a unique ability to bless others.
Not only will we be able to fulfill our own desires, but we will also be able to fulfill the wishes of others. The human spirit can possess that gift if it gets into a state of contentment.
So we will do a short Yagya in which they will chant the ancient mantras which are 10,000 years old. During the chanting, we just close our eyes, listen and bathe in it chants.
(Gurudev guides everyone into meditation).
Q: Jai Gurudev! Thank you for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Please tell me, how do I know if I am on the correct path in life and that I am fulfilling my purpose here?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is something called Gut Feeling. Something deep inside you tells you, ‘This is right', and when you choose it, you really feel good about it.
I tell you, doubts usually come to you when you choose the right thing.
Doubt is always about something positive. Have you noticed this? We always doubt the honesty of a person; we never doubt the dishonesty of a person.
We ask our dear one, ‘Do you really love me?’
If someone tells you, ‘I love you’, you say, ‘Really?’
But if someone says, 'I am angry at you', you never say, ‘Really?’
Similarly, we always doubt our capabilities but we never doubt our incapability.
When someone asks you if you are happy, you say, ‘Well, I am not sure.' But you have never said the same when you are depressed. You are so sure of your depression.
You are so sure of negativeness, but you always question the positive things in life.
So doubt also indicates that there must be something good.
Just look within you, how many
negative points you have, and
how many positive points you
have? How can you improve,
this is what you need to think,
and what you can do.
How others should improve –
for now, leave it to them.
Q: How do we get salvation in this life time, and how do we get rid of negative people that live with us? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I said to leave all your problems here, but do not leave your family members who are troubling you! (Laughter)
Once it so happened, I said the same thing in the Ashram, ‘Leave all your problems here.' One lady said, ‘My mother-in-law is my biggest problem, so can I leave her here?'
I said, ‘Let me ask your mother-in-law, she will say the same thing about you.'
See, challenges are there in life. Challenges come, people with different mindsets come, but when you expand your vision and see your life from a broader perspective, you will let go of all these small little issues that seem to be so significant to you right now. You have to broaden your vision.
If you find some people are negative, keep them at a distance that is number one.
The second thing is, know that they will not be like that forever. With time, they will change. And the third option is to think, ‘Okay, let them be. They are going to bring out better skills from within me.' They bring out greater skills of communication, skills of being positive in your foothold.
The last thing is to leave it to the Almighty. Leave it to Divinity to resolve.
We sing this in Mahatma Gandhiji’s favourite song, ‘Ishwar Allah Tero Naam, Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwaan’ - Let everyone’s mind and intellect be pure and be channelled in the right direction.
This is what is in the Gayatri Mantra also, ‘Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat' - Let the Divine inspire my intellect. Let my intellect not come up with the small and silly little ideas, and thoughts. Let this intellect reflect the will of God, of the Almighty.
The Gayatri Mantra is one of the most beautiful mantras that human society has ever gotten which also says the same thing: Let the Divine will reflect in my will and thoughts; intellect. Let my intellect be aligned with the Divinity.
Q: If a loved one passes on, the common adage to those losing the loved one is, ‘He/she is always there with you.' Is that really true? Is that loved one who has passed away really there with you and is guiding you in life? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why don’t you leave them some free time? They have had enough in this world and they have gone. Let them take some rest and do something else that they want to do. Let them have some fun. Why should they be guiding you all the time? (Laughter)
What is there to guide? It is like sitting in a train. You are going to get down when the train stops. The goal is fixed. Everybody is going to die one day. When you die you will see the other dimension as well. So don’t worry.
If you are happy and peaceful, your peace transcends this world and reaches the other shore as well. If you are full of love and devotion, a portion of it, a ray of it reaches them as well and they feel happy.
When you do some good service, that service brings merit and the merit also helps those who have passed away onto the other side.
Q: Jai Gurudev! I would like you to talk on youth and spirituality. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We are made up of both matter and spirit.
Our body is made up of carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, etc., and our spirit is made up of generosity, love, compassion, energy, expansion, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, intelligence, sensitivity; all these qualities.
Any acts that nurtures these inner qualities (beauty, love, etc.), they are Spirituality. Meditation, singing, chanting, serving, etc., are all part of spirituality. And it is this spirituality that keeps the youthfulness in you. It brings you energy.
You know, right now I am coming straight from India on a 15 hours flight. I just arrived, changed my clothes and in half-an-hour I had to rush here. Do I look jet-lagged and tired? (Audience respond saying ‘No’)
Someone asked me, ‘Gurudev, if we take a flight to Cape Town, we feel so jet-lagged. Don’t you feel jet-lagged?’
I said, ‘When the mind is fresh and when the mind is connected to the Source, there is always freshness.’
Youthfulness is that connection to the source and youthfulness is the ability to connect with everybody. And only Spirituality can bring this in the youth.
Challenges are there in life.
Challenges come, people with
different mindsets come, but
when you expand your vision
and see your life from a broader
perspective, you will let go of
all the small little issues that
seem to be so significant to you
right now. You have to broaden
Q: A person who is very close to me continuously lies and cheats. It is like second nature to him. And the lies are expressed with a straight face.
Why do people do this and what will become of them? Please help, I want to put my mind at rest.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should remember that God loves fun.
If everybody would have been like you, you all would be like the Ford Company. The world is not a Ford company, producing only one type of car. Even they change the model every year. God loves fun and He puts all kinds of people around you.
Just look within you, how many negative points you have, and how many positive points you have?
How you can improve, this is what you need to think and what you can do. How others should improve – for now, leave it to them.
If you can, educate them, but do so with compassion.
Or take them to one of the Art of Living teachers nearby. The teacher can help them change. And if you are too compassionate, pray that his life becomes better, and that he becomes more honest.
But as I said earlier, all specimens are needed on this planet. They make the world more colourful. Got it?
They push certain buttons in you and evoke certain emotions in you, and see how you act or react to it.
Q: You are awesome! How does one eliminate procrastination? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I will give this answer next year (Laughter).
Just imagine, you have given a tailor a garment to stitch for Diwali, or maybe your wedding. Now you go a week before your wedding to the tailor, hoping it will all be ready, and the tailor procrastinates and tells you, ‘I will give the dress six months later', how would you like it? What will be your state of mind?
Let us say, you are in need of a doctor because your tooth is aching, and your doctor tells you, ‘Come after three months and I will see if something can be done or not’, what would you do?
You do not want your doctor to procrastinate, or your tailor to procrastinate, and any of your essential services to procrastinate. You want every one of them to be spot on and deliver the service in the designated time.
Even for the questions you ask, you want the right answers right away! Correct?! But you want to procrastinate? Come on, wake up! Wake up now!