‘Nature is a dance of Divinity’ Bangalore (India), April 15 (Wednesday), 8:30 pm: Different parts of India and the world were represented in the Vishalakshi Mantap Hall at the Art of Living Centre this evening. The 2,000-strong audience, truly, epitomised the ancient Indian ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (a One World Family).
Excerpts from the Q&A:
Q: You said yesterday that Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram is beauty. I feel I am neither innocent nor truthful. What do I do to become Sundaram? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just look into the mirror. You are beautiful. Become a little more hollow and empty. We don’t have to do something to develop virtues. All virtues are present in everybody. Virtues are already present, only vices need to be dropped. Vices are the outer crust. With sadhana, seva and satsang, they get dropped. You already have the formula.
Q: Is everything done by the Divine and we simply have to go along? Or is everything done so that we feel the desire to act? I’m confused. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Highest knowledge comes only after confusion. What is confusion? Confusion is when a belief system breaks down. You’re in a shell and then suddenly things are not the way they are. Then a new horizon is seen. An old concept vanishes, giving room to a new possibility. Before Krishna gave the highest knowledge to Arjuna, he confused him thoroughly. In the fourth chapter of the Bhagvad Gita, Arjuna asks Krishna: ‘Why are you confusing me with so many things? Directly tell me the right thing.’ Confusion always precedes knowledge.
Q: Are the souls of animals and human beings the same? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, yes! What difference does it make? Do you want to become an animal again? You have gone through all that. A human DNA chain contains the DNA of all the species. From a human DNA, you can make a mosquito or an elephant. But from an elephant’s DNA, you cannot make a human being. Nature is mysterious, that’s why it is so interesting.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration to start the Art of Living? Who taught you? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Nobody taught me the principles of the Art of Living like accepting people as they are and present moment is inevitable.
Q: I’m going to start a job next month. I’m afraid that I won’t have enough time to continue with my volunteering activities. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Even people here (at the Art of Living International Centre) are busy, day and night. Work as much as your system allows you to. Don’t overwork. Work and rest; spirituality and our daily life: find the right combination for these aspects of life. Anytime you feel tired, you can come here. We’re making temples of knowledge everywhere – in every city in India. In fact, in the state of Kerala temples of knowledge are being constructed at a distance of half an hour. Anytime one can go and meditate. It’s like your cell phone. It is charged for sometime and then you take it around. That is the difference between the cell phone and landline. You’re like a cell phone. Charge yourself.
Q: How can god bless us as we are already a part of divinity? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you object to everything, then there are no words to express anything. You can go on negating every pleasantry and gesture of the other person. Asking for blessings is to remind God to wake up. In India, we have suprabatams – prayers which are sung to God in the morning. It’s to say: ‘God, morning has come. Come on, wake up, and do your duty – bless everybody!’ A devotee has many ways to express his feelings. You can adore the divine in different forms. That is the speciality of this country. There are nine types of devotion - Navadha bhakti. You can fight with God, play with him. Poets have written many devotional songs. In all these human modes of emotions, people have related with God. Not out of fear or guilt but out of playfulness, out of vatsalya (affection). Devotees have even sung songs that address God as a naughty child: ‘Come on, listen to me!’ It is an interesting way of relating to the divine. You don’t keep God somewhere up in heaven. It is in and around you – from a child to an elderly person, from a dog, cat to a crow and a tree. The Divinity is present in the whole of creation. Devotional songs have also been sung on trees! The roots are attributed to being Shiva: strong, silent and unseen. The trunk is strong and attributed to being Vishnu and shoots are attributed to Brahma. The entire trinity in a tree! A tree is guru tatva. Even all the devtas (Divine beings) are said to be present in a cow. In crows, birds….The whole of nature is seen as a manifestation, as a dance of Divinity. There is no bifurcation between life and Divinity. Life is an amalgamation of Divinity and material life. It’s very interesting! A prayer is simply wanting to relate. Everyone has the freedom to relate to Divinity in whatever form they want to. Remember three things: World, Life, Divinity. These are Anadhi (beginingless) and Ananta (endless). Creation goes on everywhere, there is dissolution too. Everyday there is creation. Everyday cells are being created in your body and cells die too. Your body is a funeral home and a maternity home too! They are not even in different parts of the body. It’s mind boggling.
Q: How do we follow non-violence when the youth are being killed by the LeT, Maoists and Naxalites? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is a matter of great concern that violence has taken over 300 of 600 districts in this country. It is a serious concern. This is because we have brushed aside all spiritual things. We have been educating people in a system that does not inculcate human values and spirituality. All of you must insist that spirituality takes a front seat in everything. Around 150 saints were born in Tamil Nadu (an Indian state). They have all written many songs, spiritual treatises and books. The education system in Tamil Nadu has removed all this spiritual knowledge from these books. As a result, today, people don’t even know that they are groping in a rootless system. A similar situation is seen in Hyderabad. There were so many saints who would sing the Vedanta – the highest knowledge. All the literature has been bundled aside. Even in our school – we rarely read about Kabir, Gorakhnath, Meerabai. We read about other things. If spiritual education is encouraged then Naxalism and Jehadi terrorism will all go away.
Q: Is it wrong to give advice to teenaged children? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Give advice – with lots of love. There is a proverb which says that after a child becomes a teenager, become a friend. Prapte tu Shodhashe varshe, Putram mitram, Vada charet. This is nothing new in this proverb– people have said this for thousands of years.