Q: Gurudev, You have mentioned that present moment is infinite. It is both vast and deep. Can you please shed light on the vastness and depth of the present moment? Is it that lot of things are happening at the same time is what is meant by the vastness of the present moment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, that is what it is. Just like the sky. We often say – ‘The sky is the limit’, is it not so? What does it mean? It means the sky is limitless. The ocean has a bottom but the sky does not have a top. It has no end. It is endless and beginning-less. That is how our consciousness is, and that is how the present moment is also. It is so deep that to be still and established in the present moment is liberation. So forget about past and stop worrying about future. Once you have faith about your future, then you do not worry about it.
Do you know when do you worry about the future?
You worry when there is no faith or confidence about it. When you have faith that your car will be there outside (in the parking lot), that is why you are sitting here without worry. Isn’t it? If you have fear that somebody will tow your car away then though you are sitting here, but your mind will go on worrying about your car outside. Having faith frees you from worrying about the future. And forgiving and forgetting your past will free you from (the regrets of the) past. When does our past overwhelm us? When we do not forgive people or ourselves for whatever happened in the past, then the past becomes a heavy burden on us, and we stay stuck in the past. When we are fully in present moment, only then do we go deep within. That is meditation. God and world are not two separate or different entities; they are one. Have you seen those 3-D pictures or holograms, where on one side you see Nehru ji on other side if you move it a little you can see Mahatma Gandhi? That is how God and the world are, just like a 3-D hologram.
What do you mean by this “world”? What you see is Carbohydrates, Proteins and amino acids etc., isn’t it? (Laughter) That is what everything is ultimately made up of. But these are hollow and empty. It is the mind which is restless and goes up and down at times. Lights of different colours are glowing within each person. In some the lamp of anger is glowing, in some it is the lamp of jealousy etc. Just like the Diwali or Christmas lights which change their colour too from time to time, just like how the top of the Vishalakshi Mantap changes its colours when the lights come on in the evening. Everything is composed of particles at the fundamental level.
I was invited to CERN, Switzerland where they conduct research about particles and recently discovered the ‘God’ particle (referring to the discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle as the smallest indivisible particle and unit of matter). I met the scientists who work there. It was all very interesting. They all had a glow on their faces, like they are living in the present moment. One of them said,’ I joined here as an intern while I was studying Particle Physics. I researched for forty years only to find out that particle I was researching on does not exist!’ It is only because of the observer that matter is perceived to consist of particles. If we (as observers) are not there, then it too would not exist. I gave them the book on Yoga Vashishtha (a sacred scripture which elaborates the path of liberation through the dialogue between Sage Vashishtha and Lord Rama), and another one named ‘Creation’ written by our devotees Dr. D.K. Hari and Mrs. Hema Hari. They were very similar. When I asked them why was titled as the God particle and how they discovered it, they told me a very beautiful thing, They said, ‘Gurudev, we initially thought to call this particle as the ‘God of all particles’, because it is the fundamental particle from which everything else is made up. But then the media said that such a title would be inappropriate and we should change it to ‘God particle’. So that is how the name happened’.
What these scientists have said is so similar to what has been written and described in our Vedas way back in the ancient days. The Vedas say world has been in existence since 19 billion years. The scientists also come very close to this same figure. They say that the creation is 18 billion years old and humans have been in existence since 12 billion years. Our Vedic Panchangams (a tool for calculating time and the positions of stars and planets in Vedic astrology) too come to the same conclusion. I feel that people at every point in time had some sort of knowledge about this. Then over time these sciences disappeared and were lost to the world. Back in those days all these sciences were taught and discussed at the Indian universities.
We had Vedic universities like Takshashila University (now in modern day Pakistan). Actually the science of Ayurveda was born in what is now Pakistan. There was so much deep research about herbs and medicinal plants back in the Middle Ages. There was an area of forests which used to be called as Naimisharanya. It was discovered in what is now the state of Madhya Pradesh and was written long ago. But as a science it was practically taught in the Takshashila University. Many great Ayurveda doctors, practitioners and architects all came from the Takshashila University once upon a time. So the ancient and the modern approaches are very similar. We have to take both together in life. Our life is like a tree. The roots are old but the leaves are new. So we have to take both the ancient wisdom and modern sciences together with us.
Our heart craves for the old and familiar, but the mind always craves for something new. Our mind craves for new things and latest trends. You never say what was the ‘old’ fashion, you always call something fashionable as new, isn’t it. For our friends, we always say that it is a very old friendship. In fact when people fall in love they say it is a continuation of the love from their past lives. Not just from one life, but from several lifetimes. This is because the heart takes pride in what is old and the mind takes interest in whatever is new. Both are needed in life.