A Conversation With Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

7 Aug 2014

Editor’s Note from Eden Kozlowski: In 2009 Forbes ranked Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar number five when calculating the seven most powerful people in India. From my perspective... he is simply an amazing person whose mission is to propagate meditation and the happiness that blossoms from the practice. AND, I got to talk to him from my basement while my kids, cat and dog were all upstairs! Isn't life just magical?! AND, apologizing now to Sri Sri for cutting him off several times within the delicate pauses... ugg, but is what it is, right?

Eden Kozlowski: Hello everyone. This is Eden Kozlowski, and I am pleased to share with you His Holiness Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as we speak today on the topic of meditation and unshakable happiness. Gurudev, you are currently on tour in the States… how is your trip going?

Gurudev: Very good… very good. Yes. I was in the West and now in the East. We have wonderful programs.p>

Eden: I’m going to give a quick background on you and then go into some questions. From my perspective, Gurudev’s message is very simple… it is about bridging the gaps. The gaps that are created by our perceived differences stemming from pride, nationalism, religion which create war, famine, poverty and lack. So, these deep holes move us away from the concept that our differences are to be cherished as we are each so unique…. and, oddly enough in that uniqueness, discovering that we are also so much the same and connected. Connected in ways that the human mind has trouble grasping. However, in the quiet of meditation, we can find that calm and that deep understanding that… at the end of the day… we all want the same thing… peace and happiness. In a Huffington Post article titled Food for the Soul, Sri Sri calls it our “original nature.” 

So, this selfless servant reigns on a global stage as a spiritual teacher, humanitarian and commander and chief of peace.  He founded the Art of Living Foundation in 1981 which is a not-for-profit, educational and humanitarian (Non-Governmental Organization) focused on stress-management, community development and service initiatives. This organization functions globally in 151 countries. Gurudev, anything else you would like to add?

Gurudev: You have said it all. That’s it. There are a number of relief projects… and also environmental projects. We have taken a number of environment projects. Caring for the river and water and also, you know, planting of more trees…. And all this.

Eden: I’m going to start into my first question. I often have students who come my way searching for “bliss” through meditation. Or they are looking to escape or rise above their challenges or problems. I tell them that I focus on LIFE 101… how to be grounded as a human being living the ups and downs, ins and outs of life and doing it with equanimity. THAT is bliss. That is the unshakable happiness. Now, I find that this is a really hard concept for people to grasp as they are looking for “more.” So, how would you tell them that this is the “more”… that this is what they are seeking?

Gurudev: There are four different types of people, in fact, seekers. 

Such as those who are miserable; they want to get the freedom from the pain, suffering and misery. So when they do the meditation breathing, they find great relief. Either it could be an emotional scar due to a break up in relationship, job loss or loss of someone close to them. Or any physical pain or suffering/discomfort. So they do come, and they find solace.

Second are those people who are aspiring for some bigger things in life… who want to are improve their capabilities, increase their energy level. Those who want to improve their intuitive ability. And want to become more sharp in their awareness/mindfulness. These are the second type of people who come seeking. 

The third one is those who have a scientific mind. Who are interested in “who am I,” “what is consciousness,“ “what is mind,” “what is all this about.” You know? People with an inquisitive mind. They also take to meditation.

The fourth type of people, I would say, are those who are happy, and they want to share happiness but they don’t know how to share happiness. So they also come to learn meditation to share their happiness with everyone.

Eden: So… let me ask you, are you happy?

Gurudev: In fact that is exactly when you really need these practices. The inner strength is needed when you find the doors are shut in front of you. And, you find so much corruption and cunningness… cruelty all around you. That’s when you need inner strength to endure these challenges. That is exactly what the charity does. 

Walk alone… even if no one comes along. Because you have conviction. You know what to believe in. So you have to walk – walk the path. That’s exactly what these practices do for you. It gives you much needed inner strength and courage… and intuition. More over… that is very important, you know. We can never go wrong when we follow our intuition.

And, intuition and courage also are much needed in those moments of challenge. 

Eden: And, how do you stay with your courage? What does that feel like inside of you? If that makes sense.

Gurudev:  If I was not happy. I would not be able to do what I am doing. {laughter} You can’t do charity from an empty bowl.

Eden: I watched one news clip where you were being directly criticized for being political, and I enjoyed watching you sit in the “hot seat” and talk calmly about your position, yet also I also watched you consciously breathe and smile. And… on the other side… I imagine in your humanitarian work that you are continually exposed to what we would call the ugly, sad and corrupt aspects of life. How do you utilize your practice and spirituality to see more than what seems to exist in front of your face and to be “happy” in these situations and to stand firm in who you are?

Gurudev: No. The one thing is. You should try not to stay with anything that you have. {laughter} If you try to hold on to happiness, it doesn’t stay. If you try to hold onto courage, forget about it… you are going to lose it. Sooner than later. 

So, all that you need to do is to feel at ease with yourself. With a strong conviction only good things will come out of it. Because our intentions are fueled – so the result will always be something cherishable… which is positive.

Eden: That is lovely. You have given us the Sudarshan Kriya – a breathing process where emotions correlate to the breath. Can you describe this further and how it relates to finding happiness?

Gurudev: You know, the whole universe is just rhythm. 

If you ask any physicist, they will say… this whole universe is nothing but light. There is a wisdom in nature and a rhythm in the body also. There is a biorhythm in everybody.

To operate a phone you have to put your thumb and the phone opens. It matches a particular biorhythm. Right?

So there is a wisdom in the body, and there is a wisdom in the breath also. This is what we have ignored. We have ignored the role of breath in our lives. And, breath is the link between our sensation in the body and emotions in the mind.

Using breath you are able to harness the emotions that are in the mind. Turn the negative into positive. And, the sensations in the body which is uncomfortable or painful sensations… to get over those unpleasant pains. 

So the Sudarshan Kriya is bringing harmony between all these rhythms. The inner most of our being… the prana, the bioenergy of our body. And universal rhythm.

In just three-four days you are able to learn how to harness your breath. Just takes five to 10 minutes only per day for you to feel energetic and uplifted.

Eden: That’s not much of a commitment is it?

Gurudev: Only to learn in the first few days… you need to learn with a teacher. With an instructor for two-three hours for four-five days. Then, that’s all it takes. And, later on you are on your own. And, if you need any follow-up or assistance or support group, that is also available. All over the US we have groups and teachers… there are many, many instructors who are just there to help people get their smile back.

Eden: Can anyone find happiness?

Gurudev: Absolutely! Absolutely! Everyone can smile.

Eden: This is the final question, so if there is anything else you want to add, please do. Are there events, classes or initiatives that you want to share? Or do you have a challenge you would like to offer to those who are listening to us today.

Gurudev: Yes. We all have to have a vision for ourselves and our society.  The vision we should keep, I feel, is a violent-free society where we find more smiles than frowns. Whether in metros or airports… where ever we walk… on the street. We would like to see more smiling faces rather than frowning and angry, upset faces, isn’t it?

If we all have that vision… if we all work towards that goal, of making society a better place. And, leave a better world to our children than what we have inherited. Then, we have done our duty.

So, I would encourage people to do the Happiness Program and spread happiness AND learn all the keys. There are many keys… many parts of wisdom that they can use or small techniques which would come in handy in moments of challenge. You need to know how to welcome/face the challenge.

So, all THAT is available with you. In your own consciousness. So, we can learn to operate our breath, our mind and our own realm of happiness. And we can spread that happiness all around.

This is what I would challenge people. You can go to our website, there are a number of programs happening that they can join and are most welcome to share it.

Eden: Wonderful. So for everyone… what Gurudev has said… to have a vision and have smiles upon our faces. Gurudev, thank you so much. 

Gurudev: Thank you.

Eden: Visit his website at SriSriRaviShankar.org or the Art of Living site at ArtOfLiving.org. For those of you in the States, you can “Find a Center” near you which can also be accessed on the Art of Living website to discover the teachings of Gurudev for yourself. I will be doing this soon potentially at the Boone, North Carolina location and will directly share with you my experiences. Until next time… thank you everyone. And, again Gurudev, thank you for your time today.

Gurudev: Thank you. Thank you.

Courtesy: ATH