Since God, who resides in us is capable of doing anything, then are we also capable of doing anything? If so, then how does destiny and Divine will fit in?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It fits in very well. When your thoughts are in alignment with the Divinity, then you call it free will. When your thoughts are aligned in a direction opposite to that of the Divinity, you call it destiny. Got it?
If you have not read the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, then you should read it. In that, this is the first thing that I have spoken about. It is about the five modulations of the mind. May be I shall speak on this sometime later. It is very important.
The five modulations are: Pramana (proof). We want proof for everything. We want proof of love, of truth, of someone’s honesty, of God. We want to prove everything.
The second modulation is Viparyaya (incorrect conclusions or wrong understanding). Viparyaya means the mind making up its own universe, which is very different from what actually is in reality. In the Yoga Sutras, it is said, ‘Viparyayaha mithya jnaanam atad rupa pratishtham.’ (Yoga Sutras, Ch.1, V.8)
Do you know, 30 years back, people used to use this word called ‘Viparyasa’ which means, that what you thought, was not what was actually happening in reality. It meant, you were having a wrong understanding of reality. Today, those words have gone into a basket and people have forgotten about them.
So Viparyaya means seeing the unreal as real, and the real as unreal. It means seeing that which is temporary, transient and perishable as permanent and imperishable.
It is like, sometimes others think something about you, but those people are gone, and that thought is gone as well, but you have held on to that thought in your mind and you are miserable. Got it? This is Viparyaya.
A simple example could be: you are going into someone’s house and they do not see you entering. There is a gust of wind, or maybe they see a lizard entering the house, so they shut the door, but you think that they have banged the door on your face.
It was simply a coincidence of your going towards the door and them banging the door shut. You thought they saw you coming because you saw them, and they shut the door. These are some simple examples of Viparyaya.
You sit and think, ‘Others are thinking badly about me’. But in fact if you ask them, they will tell you, ‘I never thought about you. I was busy with my own work’. Where do people have the time to think about you?
The third is Vikalpa (fantasy or imagination). It again means the mind thinking or galloping on that which is not there at all.
The next one is Nidra meaning sleep, and the last one is Smriti (memory), meaning dwelling upon something in the memory, or thinking all the time about something that happened in the past.
How is ignorance of God still God? If violence, stress, ignorance, hatred, etc., are also forms of God, then why do we need to move away from them towards peace? Why do we move towards some part of God, and away from some other part of God?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
As a human being, it is natural to do so. Suppose there is a piece of bread and a bundle of hay kept before you. If you are a cow you will move towards the hay. If you are human, you will move towards the bread. It is as natural as that. But the cow is also God, the hay is also God, the bread is also God and you are also God. It is just the way things are.
Fire moves upwards, water flows downwards, but both are God. As fire, it moves up; as water the same thing moves down. This is the nature of things.
You are made up of both Prakriti(the Divine energy and intelligence that governs the existence and functioning of the Creation) and Purusha (the Universal Self that pervades all of Creation). Now this takes us to another topic altogether. So there are certain qualities (Gunas) such as Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, and you act according to these qualities.
If you have more of Tamoguna, you will move towards violence. If you have more of Sattva, you will move towards harmony. If you have more Rajoguna, you will struggle with activity; in between the other two states, so there might be a little peace and a little violence. That is just how things are.
Since we are ‘Om’ (the primordial sound of Creation), does ‘Om’ refer to the sound vibration, or the principle that ‘Om’ represents, or the effect of ‘Om’ after the vibration ceases? In other words, since ‘Om’ creates peace; so it is that peace that we are, or are we the creation (result) of that peace?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
All that is said, and all that is unsaid, is all ‘Om’. All that is clear and all that is confused (unclear) is also ‘Om’. Is it clear now, or is it still confusing? It is still all ‘Om’ (laughter).
Anything that you say or you don’t say is all ‘Om’. Whether it is vibration or no vibration, beginning or end, it is all ‘Om’.
So ‘Om’ is the beginning, the end and also the middle of all that is. And all that is beyond time – past, present and future – is also ‘Om’. This is what is said, and that is what is really true also. That is why for anything good, we say ‘Om’. And the elderly sages would chant ‘Om’ even when there is pain or some sort of ache in the body.
This reminds me of the story of an elderly sadhu (an ascetic or sage). I think I have narrated this story somewhere, perhaps in the commentary on the Ashtavakra Gita.
This happened in the early nineties or mid-eighties when our Ashram was very small.
I had given my room to an elderly Swami to stay, but he refused. He was around 85 years of age, but he never once fell sick in his life. He was very confident that he would be able to stay in the open.
Now it was December and there was a chill in the air. Yet he wanted to sleep outside out of his own choice. So he did, and in the morning we heard loud noises of chanting ‘Om, Om’ from him. We thought why he was saying ‘Om’ so many times. He was probably meditating or doing some japa (chanting). But the chanting continued for a long time. So we all went there and saw that he was frozen! His shoulders and legs were frozen from the cold and he could not move his body. His back was frozen stiff, and the only thing we could hear was the repeated chanting of ‘Om’.
So there is this generation of people who will say ‘Om’ for everything, and they will say it in different tones as per the emotion. A very sharp and loud ‘Om’ meant that Swamiji was angry, while a pleasant sounding ‘Om’ meant that he was calm and happy. So in those times, it was a sort of greeting that was exchanged, come what may. Even if they experienced pain, they would chant ‘Om’.
‘Om’ is not limited to Hindu Swamis alone. It is chanted in Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism and Shintoism. This is because all these religions have the practice of meditation and during deep meditation, they only heard this sound. So whether they are Jains, or Sikhs, or the Lao-Tzus (followers of Taoism), they chant Om and also practice one hand clapping. I feel that the word ‘Amen’ (So be it) is the distortion of the sound ‘Om’. Like in Islam, they say ‘Ameen’ (So be it), I suppose it is the same.
Gurudev, can you elaborate more about Space and the Brahman?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
That from which our words and the mind retrieve (their source and essence); that which the words and the mind fail to capture – that is the Brahman.
I have always explained this by comparing it to the taste of a dumb person. When a dumb person eats something, how can he express how it was? He is dumb, but he has tasted something. How can he express it? In the same way, the words and the mind cannot reach the Brahman. You can describe space to some extent, but even words fail to describe the Brahman, for it is untouched by words and beyond description.
Can you speak about how different parts of the body are connected to the subtle Devas?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Each part of the body is connected to a particular Deva.
They say, ‘Prajanane Brahma tishtatu’, meaning Lord Brahma resides in the genitals (the seat of procreation in the body).
Then, it is said, ‘Padayo Vishnu tishtatu’, meaning Lord Vishnu is present in the feet.
Like that, we say, ‘Hastayo Hara tishtatu’, Hara (a form of Lord Shiva) is present in the hands. ‘Karneyo Ashvino tishtatu’, means that the twin Ashvin Kumars (Vedic gods symbolizing the rising and setting sun, associated with bringing treasures and medicines to man) are present in the two ears. The Ashvin Kumaras are gods responsible for medicinal gifts and the science of Ayurveda. They are said to have propounded the science of Ayurveda. Similarly, our eyes are connected with the Sun god.
The forehead is said to be the seat of Rudra (one of the many forms of Lord Shiva).
Lord Rama is said to be present in the naval region, the seat of Agni (here, referring to the digestive fire). Rudra and Shiva are two forms of the same god (Shiva), but Rudra is said to be present in the forehead, while Lord Shiva resides in the heart.
So like that, each part of the human body is associated with a particular god.
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