(People from around the world joined the Guru Purnima celebrations with Gurudev at The Art of Living Ashram in Montreal, Canada, on July 22. What started with a short pooja, offering gratitude to the lineage of Masters, continued with some reminisces of senior Art of Living teachers.
Perhaps the most awaited moment was when Sri Sri shared the message of the day.
This tradition has been going on for over 3 decades. His words were heard by people who joined in through the live webcast. We present the transcript from Sri Sri's talk.)
Aum Namah Pranavarthaya Shuddha Gnana Eka Amurtaye Nirmalaya Prashantaya Sri Dakshinamurtaye Namah.
(Salutations to Sri Dakshinamurthy, who is ever pure and calm, the embodiment of pure knowledge, and who is but the indicative meaning of the Aum, the Supreme.)
Once upon a time a Guru was sitting in the congregation and many people came and took his blessings. He was silent most of the time but when people came and asked him something, he said, ‘Oh, you’re very lucky!’
In life to get time itself is a big luck. Getting time to reflect on oneself, on the divine, on the truth, on ‘Who I am’, is a big luck.
So a student came to Gurudev and said, ‘I failed in my exam’.
Gurudev said, ‘You’re very lucky!’
The next person said, ‘Gurudev, I lost my job’, and the Guru said, ‘You’re very lucky!’
The third person came and said, ‘None of my friends are talking to me, everybody has become my enemy’, and Gurudev said, ‘You’re very lucky!’
Another gentleman came and said, 'My wife left me', and the Guru said, ‘You’re very lucky!’ So, everyone kept saying their problems and each time Gurudev said, ‘You’re very lucky!’
And strangely, something would suddenly happen to them and they would all feel happy and walk away.
Then one gentleman came and said, ‘Gurudev I am so lucky, I have you in my life. I am so grateful’, and Gurudev got annoyed and gave him one slap!
This man with all tears in his eyes and gratitude started dancing.
There was an onlooker who was sitting there and he got so confused! He said, ‘I can’t believe what I am seeing. Someone who says I am so grateful gets a slap, and all those who cry to him, he tells them that they are very lucky!’ He couldn’t understand.
Usually they don’t have the guts to ask the Guru so they ask the other devotees there, ‘Tell me what is happening. You have been here for so long. I can’t make out this Guru’s behavior. It’s completely illogical.’
As usual devotees have their own interpretation. So, one of the most senior most devotee said, ‘Yes, it is perfect what he has said'.
I remember a very senior gentlemen narrated an incident to me at the Bangalore Ashram. He said that in 1942 there was only one surgeon in Bangalore and this surgeon had failed his MBBS seven times!
In those days, whenever people had appendicitis operation, the doctors would cut a particular vein because of which some of the patient would die. They did not know which vein they were cutting. So this gentleman (who failed seven times) discovered that and became very well known and very respected. Later on he also got an international honor. But he had failed seven times in MBBS!
So if someone has failed in an exam, they study more.
In every step of life, when you lose something you become so miserable, but every misery wakes you up.
If you just study once, by hook or by crook you pass the exam and that’s it, you forget it! But if you have failed, you become proficient in that. If you failed in mathematics then you really memorize the whole thing.
So every time someone fails an exam it is good because then he becomes a better doctor, or a better engineer! (laughs) It means he has to put in more effort to study the same topics.
So the senior devotee said, 'Gurudev said to the student that he is very lucky because he is now studying more'.
For the gentleman who said, ‘I lost my job’, the senior devotee said, 'Yes Gurudev said the right thing. When you are in a job you don’t think about yourself. Now that you have lost your job you have the time to sit back and think who you are and what you want. You have some time to think about your life! People who have a job they always complain that they don’t have time. Now, you have time!'
In life to get time itself is a big luck. Getting time to reflect on oneself, on the divine, on the truth, on ‘Who I am’ itself is a big luck.
The other gentleman whose wife ran away, he said, ‘You’re very lucky!’ So far he was living so insensitively. He did not bother to see what his wife needs.
When someone goes away, then you realize their value. Then you think about your mistakes. You become aware of the things you could have done better.
So he is very lucky to become sensitive to women’s issues.
Why would a woman run away if you were attending to her welfare, to her emotional, mental and physical needs? There is something that you have done wrong. She made you aware that you have to be sensitive towards women. He understood this and so he was also happy.
So like this, in every step of life, when you lose something you become so miserable, but every misery wakes you up.
There are three levels of human consciousness.
The first is being inert. In Hindi we say ghora jarata; being insensitive. There is so much inertia in you that you don’t feel anything. From inertia when you start realizing that life is miserable, then viveka (discrimination) and vairagya (dispassion) dawns in you. When dispassion dawns in your life, you are the luckiest!
So if all your friends have left you, they’ve given you time to reflect on yourself; on who you are, what you are, what is the truth? So you’re very lucky!
In the Guru’s presence misery vanishes and life becomes bliss.ful . Life is bliss, life is a game, this understanding dawns.
The first step is to realize that everything is misery. Life is miserable. Life has sorrow. That’s when people become religious. This is a step.
The next step is to see life is all blissful! First you realize that it is all misery. Then, from it is all misery you move to the next step which is, ‘Where is the misery? Come on wake up!’ This is where the Guru comes into play. The Guru’s presence, or when the Guru Tattva dawns, the misery vanishes and becomes bliss. Total bliss! Life is bliss!
Life is a game, it is a leela (game)! This understanding comes.
Now why did the last person who said, ‘I am so grateful!’ get a slap?
The senior devotee said, 'Gurudev slapped him because he was centered in the I; ‘I am grateful’. When he gave him a slap he realized, live as though you don’t exist.'
Usually people exist and don’t live. To exist without life is ignorance. Living as though you don’t exist is enlightenment. That one slap woke him up.
The ‘I’, ‘I am miserable', 'I am happy’. Where is me? I am not there. Live as though you’re not there.
This was the message the last gentleman got and when he got that slap he was so happy!
What is there to be grateful about? Even to be grateful there needs to be two, and the Master said, ‘Hey, come on, wake up. You and me, two? There’s only one! There’s no you and there’s no I’.
There is only one brahman (divinity) that exists and this is all a drama, a leela (game). Enjoy! When you realize this, misery vanishes from life. Every challenge is an opportunity and every opportunity is a step towards the divinity. That’s the moral of the story.
One more story!
You have seen that all the fingers are different. No two fingers are the same.
So once, all the fingers got into an argument of who was the greatest of them all.
The thumb said, 'See, I am the greatest. I am the stoutest and whenever people win they only show me as a sign of victory. If they want to say, ‘Go ahead’, then also they show me as a signal, They do this because I am the greatest! I am the thickest. I am the real stuff! Even if someone is uneducated they use me and give their thumb impression'.
So the thumb said that he is the greatest!
The index finger said, ‘Come on! When people have to indicate, they indicate using me.’ Anyone who has wisdom, they show the path. So I am the one who gives direction to life. I am the greatest!
Then the middle finger said, ‘I think you all must be blind! Just hold anybody’s hand and see who stands tall? I am the tallest! Why do you unnecessarily argue? This is like arguing whether there is sun at noon’.
Then the ring finger said, ‘I can only laugh at all of you. Where do people put their jewels? Nobody gives jewels to the thumb. The rings are always adorned by the ring finger. I am the highest. World over people have recognized this and I am the greatest'.
The little finger simply kept laughing! All the other four fingers asked, ‘Hey, why are you laughing?’
It said, ‘When a dignitary comes, who is kept in front? (When the hands are folded together in Namaste or prayer, the little fingers are in front). When someone goes to a temple to pray, who is kept in front of God? The highest goes in front of God first! So I am the closest to God. Whoever is the closest to God, is the greatest! So, I am the greatest!'
So all fingers had their own way to say that they are the greatest.
So, recognize the greatness in you and recognize the greatness in others. Then there is no you and there is no others, and that is Namaste! That is fullness.
Buddha took you from inertia to realizing that there is misery, and from misery to the place of 'All is bliss', is the Vedanta (Philosophical traditions concerned with self-realization by which one understands the ultimate nature of reality (Brahman)). I am nothing (shunyata) and I am everything (purnata); meditation and celebration, they all go together! And today is the celebration of both meditation and celebration (fullness)!