Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - Celebrating Life with Silence
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
Q: What are Chakras? How can we cleanse the Chakras?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Chakras are the nerve centres seen in our body. There are 1,72,000 Nadis (channels of metaphysical energy or life-force) in our body, and there are various nerve centres for these 1,72,000 Nadis. The human body actually has 109 nerve centres, but among those, nine centres are important, and even in those nine, seven centres (Chakras) are of primary importance. And when energy (kundalini) or consciousness flows through these nerve centres, there are different emotions, feelings or sensations that one experiences.
Muladhara Chakra: The base of spine or the sacrum is the location of the first centre called the Muladhara Chakra. When the Muladhara Chakra is activated, what happen? One experiences enthusiasm in life. When it is dormant, then one experiences dullness and inertia. One does not feel interested in anything. This is the first Chakra.
Swadishthana Chakra: The same energy moves upwards to the second Chakra which is located behind the genitals and it manifests as procreation or creation – meaning in the form of any creative activity or as sex drive.
When you are obsessed with sex, then you do not do anything creative. You forget about creativity entirely. When you are engaged in any creative activity, then lust does not trouble you. People who are obsessed with sex are not very creative. When the same energy manifests itself as creativity, then sex moves to the background. So here the energy could manifest as a creative or procreative tendency. You need not label the energy as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. That is just how it is.
The human body actually has 109 nerve centres, but among those, nine centres are important, and even in those nine, seven centres (Chakras) are of primary importance.
See, it is the same energy (Kundalini) that is moving through the nerve centres. Kundameans ‘pot’ in Sanskrit. The body is like a pot, and the energy in this body is called the Kundalini. In the earlier days, this subtle energy was portrayed as a coiled serpent, and was also called as ‘Snake Power’. This does not mean you should go searching for a snake inside your body. Nor do you need to look for a lotus. No, these are actually subtle sensations in the body when the consciousness manifests at certain points.
Manipur Chakra: The same energy moves upwards to the navel region and manifests in four forms or feelings. What are they? They are jealousy, generosity, joy, and greed. When people feel jealous they feel some sensation in the stomach region. Isn’t it so? You must have seen Santa Claus, the Laughing Buddha, or a Seth Ji (a wealthy businessman) – they all have a big stomach. So - jealousy, generosity, joy, and greed are the four flavours of consciousness that manifest in the third Chakra.
The base of the spine is associated with the Earth element. The second Chakra is associated with the Water element. The third Chakra is associated with the Fire element. But it is the same Kundalini energy that is manifesting itself in these different nodes. Here the energy is represented by a four-petal flower.
Anahata Chakra: From the navel region, the energy moves upwards to the heart region. Here, from a four-petal flower, the energy is represented by a three-petal flower. What do the three petals signify? They represent fear, love and hatred.
When people feel hatred or fear or love, the sensation is felt in the heart region. When someone’s heart is broken, it means that the love has become sour and turned into hatred. Love, fear and hatred are all the same.
When there is love, there is no fear. When there is fear, there is no love. At any point of time, only one of the three emotions takes the front position while the other two go in the background. It is not that they disappear entirely. People who feel fear also have love. When love is predominant, then there is no fear or hatred. When hatred takes the front seat, then love and fear are gone to the back. This is what happens to people. When they are so full of hatred, they have no fear at all and they have no love at all.
Vishuddhi Chakra: When the same energy moves to the throat Chakra, what is the sensation you experience? You feelgratefulness, and you have a sensation in the throat region when you experience grief. When you are grieving, your throat chokes. And when you feel very grateful, then also your throat chokes.
Ajna Chakra: When the consciousness moves to the centre of the forehead, it manifests as anger, awareness or alertness. Knowledge and awareness are depicted by the sixth Chakra. The same point is also the seat of anger, and is also said to be the region of the mystical Third Eye. You must have read or heard the story of how Lord Shiva opened His ‘Third Eye’ and burnt Lord Kamadeva into ashes.
This Third Eye is the seat of anger as well as the seat of knowledge and awakened wisdom.
When the consciousness moves to the centre of the forehead, it manifests as anger,awareness or alertness. Knowledge and awareness are depicted by the sixth Chakra.
Sahasrara Chakra: When the Consciousness moves to the top of the head, then one experiences only bliss. There is nothing else. You no longer feel any duality, any sense of conflict or separation. You feel totally connected and one with everything. You feel so blissful.
See this flow the other way around. When there is no joy in our life, then we come a step below and experience anger. From anger springs hatred and aversion. This further leads to a sense of fear. Fear as it grows gives rise to jealousy and envy, which in turn gives rise to lust, feverishness and obsession. And lust and obsession bring us into the trap of inertia and negativity. This is the downward flow of the same consciousness or Kundalini energy. It is called Adhogati(retrogression or degeneration). The opposite of this is Urdhvagati (upward rise or progression). What is the pattern of Urdhvagati? You experience enthusiasm, then creativity blossoms, there is generosity and contentment, which in turn give rise to love. Love takes you to gratitude, which helps to bring awareness and wisdom (Prajna) and ultimately leading you to Bliss.
This upward or downward flow of energy keeps on happening very naturally and spontaneously in life all the time.
Every Chakra is connected with a specific element or principle in creation. For example, the Muladhara Chakra is connected with the Earth element. The Swadishthana Chakra is connected with the Water element. The maximum amount of water resides around the Swadishthana Chakra. The Manipur Chakra is connected with the Fire element. The digestive fire here helps in digestion.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna has said, “Aham Vaishvanaro bhutva praaninam deham ashritaah. Prana-Apana-samayuktah paachami annam chatur-vidham.” Lord Krishna says, “I am manifest as the hunger in the bellies of all living beings. I am the digestive fire that helps to digest all food which is consumed”.
The Heart Chakra is connected with the Air element. Where is the greatest proportion or presence of air in the body? It is present in the lungs, in the chest region. Next we move upwards to the Vishuddhi Chakra. This Chakra is connected with the Space element. Moving upwards into the Ajna Chakra, the consciousness manifests as wisdom and awareness. Ultimately the energy moves to the top of the head into the Sahasrara Chakra. Even scientists today accept and agree to this fact.
These seven Chakras or seven nerve centres are connected with different glands in the body. In scientific terms you can say thyroid gland, or the adrenalin glands, pituitary gland, pineal gland, etc. Science also agrees how these glands are responsible for experiencing various emotions. This is something our ancient Rishis knew since thousands of years ago. They mentioned all this in the scriptures.
When the Consciousness moves to the top of the head, then one experiences only bliss. There is nothing else. You feel totally connected and one with everything. You feel so blissful.
They depicted each of the seven Chakras in the forms of a lotus or different petal flowers. Why is this so? This is because when you go deeper in meditation, the consciousness becomes very subtle, and your mind becomes fresh like a flower. It becomes fresh, alive and soft. In such a delicate state of consciousness, you experience the rise of energy in the system.
Lightness is connected with subtlety. Grossness is connected with inertia and negative sensations; negative feelings. When you are negative, when you are rude or rough in your behavior, there is a certain inertia, a certain heaviness in the system. When you feel all the positive sensations, you feel a sense of lightness. When the energy moves upwards, then from inertia it transforms into enthusiasm, then creativity. From creativity wells up joy. When you are happy, you are naturally generous. Then the energy moves up further into the heart chakra where you only feel love for everybody around you. When you feel so much love, you feel so much gratitude and from gratitude comes alertness. It brings total awareness, and this awareness leads you to bliss.
But do not misunderstand this and try searching for some snake or some kind of flowers. People make so much effort to find something that they try to imagine something or the other to achieve this, and they go crazy in doing so. You should not do all that. For God’s sake, do not try awakening your Kundalini by force. It is a natural phenomenon.
You can meditate only when your Kundalini is awakened. Whenever you meditate, you find that scintillating energy flowing all over your being. That is what Kundalini is. When you do the Sudarshan Kriya, every cell becomes awake and alive. The awakening of energy happens very naturally. We should go through the natural manner only. Do not try all this by force, otherwise you lose sleep.
If someone approaches you and tells you, “I will help you awaken your Kundalini Shakti” , simply thank them with respect and move away. See, when a banana ripens on its own without any outward force, then it is naturally sweet. Isn’t it? If someone forcefully tries to ripen the banana, then it no longer remains fit for eating. Got it? So if someone tries to awaken the Kundalini Shakti by force, there are high chances that one may lose their mental balance. Only those who have years and years of practice of Yoga and deep knowledge about this are able to really practice these techniques properly without any side effects.
Unfortunately, today people do not follow this sanctity. Someone or the other learns a few techniques from here and there and they start teaching it to others. They try to awaken the energy by these techniques but it does not help; rather it creates more problems. Someone loses their mind, they become deranged; or they are unable to sleep. Such people are no longer able to function properly in society. We should not do such things at all. It is like how the fuse blows up inside a bulb (due to excess and unchecked surge of energy).
When you go deep in meditation, the consciousness in you becomes very subtle, and your mind becomes fresh like a flower.
Today morning itself, a lady approached me and told her story. She had visited some sage or some mystic who told her to do certain things. When she did all that, she experienced a lot of difficulty and it became very horrible for her. She experienced great discomfort. She told me, “Gurudev, I am not able to go to the temple and my body is not in my control”. It should be the opposite way around. Even the involuntary system comes into our control when you do Sadhana. When you do wrong Sadhana without proper authenticity, or by just reading books and other materials, then even the voluntary and involuntary system get messed up. So, you should be careful about this. The key word is proper guidance and effortlessness.
The energy should be awakened very naturally and effortlessly. When energy rises naturally and through the proper technique, one experiences so much enthusiasm, joy, total belongingness. All these are signs of a true awakening of the Shakti (energy). It anyway happens spontaneously when you do the Sudarshan Kriya. Do you not feel as if every particle of your body has become so infused and full of energy? This is what the awakening of Kundalini is. There is no serpent or lotus flower as such within our system, so do not go looking or imagining such things foolishly.
The lotus flower is only depicted as an example, as a means of symbolism. In the olden times, one of the names of the Lord used to be Kamala-Nayana : means having eyes like a blossomed lotus. Now just imagine what it would be like if someone really grew two lotuses in the place where the eyes are. Everyone else would get scared and run away from them. See, this is just a symbolic example. In the same way, the energy has been symbolically compared to a serpent.
In the mythological stories, it is said that the Mother Earth rests upon the hoods of the serpent Shesha Naag. What does this actually mean? What does the Shesha Naag mean? It symbolizes the centripetal force and the centrifugal force. Our Earth is supported by two kinds of forces. These forces do not act in a linear direction. These forces act in a circular fashion. A snake also never travels in a straight line. A snake also coils in a near-about circular manner as it moves forward. The movement of the serpent is propelled by centripetal and centrifugal forces.
The Shesha Naag symbolizes the two forces that the Earth is supported by. It does not literally mean that the Earth is resting upon the hood of some giant serpent. No, it is not so at all.
India has recently completed the trip to Mars using the Mangalyaan space vehicle. There are so many artificial satellites around the Earth today. So there is no scientific evidence in favour of the Earth resting upon the hood of a giant serpent. This is a symbolic story. The Shesha Naag here is not some actual living being, it is actually a giant supportive force or power. No one today can refute the fact about these two kind of forces: the Centripetal and Centrifugal forces exist. It is these two forces that sustain the Earth in its revolution around the Sun. This same truth was expressed in the ancient days by our wise ancestors using such symbolism, and through the example of the Shesha Naag. This is a really important and unique aspect of our scriptures, and our heritage.
In the same way, when we say that there is a lotus flower within us, it means that when the mind blossoms and becomes soft and supple, when the mind becomes refined, only then can we experience the subtle consciousness in us. When the mind is stuck in inertia, then we cannot experience any energy or power in us. That is why our scriptures advocate the practice of Mittaahara – meaning exercising balance and restraint in eating food. They advocate proper rest for the body. Then the body becomes tuned and conducive to experiencing this subtle phenomenon.
Today, we have with us Maharaj Ji from the Nimbaarka Sampradaya from Vrindavana. He is the Mahanta (spiritual leader or pontiff) of the Nimbaarka Sampradaya and they have their own Ashram at the Vishraama Ghaat.
This thought came to me in the morning about the Vishraama Ghaat. The Vishraama Ghaat is the place where Lord Krishna took rest after slaying the evil king Kamsa. Just see how much deep knowledge is there in the way this place has been named. Kamsa represents ego, arrogance. One can find Vishraama (deep rest) only when the Ego is overcome. Otherwise ego does not let you rest in peace. Lord Krishna took rest after slaying the Ego (Kamsa).
One can find deep rest only when the Ego is overcome.
We always say that all distortion and negativity drop off when we take deep rest. Deep rest can bring an end to the ego. Maharaj Ji resides and rests in the Vishraama Ghaat where his Ashram is also located. We can receive so much depth and knowledge even from the very trivial things in life. This is what happens when we are in awareness. When there is awareness, then we receive knowledge and wisdom from everywhere. The entire Earth gives us knowledge.
There is a story I have heard about Swami Ramteerth Ji. One day, he was walking along somewhere. A mother who had named her son as ‘Ram’ was trying to wake him up by saying, “O Ram, wake up! wake up! It is late in the day to sleep. wake up!” These words fell upon the ears of Swami Ramteerth Ji as he was walking by the house. He felt that the Mother Divine Herself was calling out to him and conveying this message to him. He was immersed in his own thoughts as he was walking along. In that moment when he heard these words, all those thoughts came to a sudden stop. He became so deeply alert that he went into meditation that very moment.
This is happening in your life too. It is not that it was something special that happened to Swami Ramteerth Ji only. When we become Sukshma-grahi (able to grasp the subtle or intricate details), then we effortlessly are able to grasp and receive messages and knowledge from everywhere. Our mind is able to receive all this very effortlessly and intuitively.
When you meditate regularly, this experience happens very spontaneously. You do not need to struggle and make too much efforts for this to happen.
At the same time, do not sit for meditation and think, “Gurudev had said that such knowledge would come into my experience effortlessly. What is it that I am grasping now? What is it that I am grasping now?”
Do not get stuck like that, or you may start having some illusions or hallucinations which may not be true – this is called Bhrantidarshana. You may get deluded and misled.
One should be very aware and alert in life; become Sukshma-grahi - be able to grasp the intricate and subtler aspects of life.
Once, when I was visiting France, an old couple decided to accompany me to a function. The husband may have been 80 years old then and the wife was 81 years old. But she did not appear to be as old as 81 years. On the day of my departure, they were waving me goodbye as I was just about to enter the departure gate at the airport. Suddenly, the wife held out her ring finger to me and asked, “Is this necessary?” I instantly replied back saying, “It is not necessary”.
What I meant was that when you have received so much love and joy in life, what is the use of a stone (referring to the gemstone of the ring). I left Paris and flew to New York. The next day, I got a call from the husband and he told me, “O Gurudev! I am troubled. Did you allow my wife to divorce me?”
I said, “No, not at all. I would never give such advice”. Then I asked him to call his wife to the phone. She said “Gurudev, just before you left, had I not asked you showing my wedding ring that whether this is necessary or not?”
I was so surprised. See, you think something but sometimes end up conveying or understanding something completely different altogether. I was in a great hurry that moment when she suddenly asked the question.
What I had meant was that, when the couple had lived a full and happy life together, and their marriage was anyway going well, then wearing a ring after so many years was not as important as having a happy married life well into the old age. I never meant that she should divorce her husband. But she misunderstood what I said and decided to divorce her husband! (Laughter) And on top of it, she said that Gurudev has advised her to do so. I tell you, the games our mind plays on us is very strange and mysterious.
Please do not misunderstand or take away a wrong message when I say you should become Sukshma-grahi. Do not start building up wrong notions like, “Oh, once the coconuts start falling from the trees, I will change schools or join a new college” etc. Come on! Coconuts will keep falling every day. Do not misunderstand or get into wrong meanings. The essence here is that you should be very aware and alert in life; become Sukshma-grahi -- be able to grasp the intricate and subtler aspects of life. And remember that it happens very naturally. You do not have to put in too much effort for this. Now I have said not to put in too much effort, but a little effort and sincerity is definitely required, not too much.
I recently had an interaction with one gentleman from the Muslim brotherhood, in America. He is a 27-year-old young man. Would you like to hear the interaction, and see what he says?
(An audio clip is played of an interaction between Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and this gentleman)
Gentleman: I have been incarcerated, going back and forth from jail for doing many things. Crime was my best outlet. I just wanted to live, and regardless of whatever I had to do to live, I was willing to do so.
Gurudev Sri Sri: That is natural and understandable. Since you were going through a lot of fear and insecurity, naturally you will take to defending yourself. And that is what you were doing, right!
Gentleman: Yes, but at that time, I didn’t understand that one can meditate and deal with any situation. I never knew that. And as part of the Muslim Brotherhood of America, you are taught to be radical.
Gurudev Sri Sri: So, you were taught that those who do not believe in the same belief system as your own, were not good people. That is what you were taught?
Gentleman: Yes. In actuality, we are taught to harm individuals. We are taught that people who believe differently than what we believe are the enemy. We are taught to do drugs and bring harm to individuals and to bring destruction to those who are not like us and who do not believe in what we believe.
Now that I have actually come here and learnt different breathing exercises, and learnt how to meditate and eat the right food, I am seeking for the right knowledge and wisdom. Being here, learning these techniques has made me a believer. I am now a believer!
We have met many such youth, who with a little bit of meditation and breathing exercises, could change their way of thinking -- from violence and seeing the other as the enemy, to thinking we are all part of a one world family. We are different but we are part of one human race. That sense of belongingness gets created. And all that it requires is a little bit of education.
I have an appeal to all the governments of the world -- You spend money on defense, and it is necessary for you to do so. With a fraction of what you spend on Defense, why not invest in Peace Education as well? Educating people in going deep within and discovering who they are, keeping aside their religious beliefs. You can be a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, you can follow whatever is your religion, that’s okay, but apart from that, there is something that can help you to become peaceful, graceful and happy from deep within. Why not we educate them on these techniques; on the common shared values of all cultures of the world, i.e., peace and happiness?
Why don’t we teach them to accept and acknowledge diversity? You can’t just make the whole world homogeneous. It has to be heterogeneous. We need to celebrate diversity. We need to honor all the cultures and every language of the world.
Even within a country like Germany, Bavaria has its own culture and if you go to Schwäbisch Gmünd, it has its own culture. If you go to North Kiel, in that area, it has its own typical culture.
Same with France. North is not the same as South. You go to Bordeaux; it is very different from the South of France. While the differences should exist, harmony needs to be brought upon and India can help in this regard because it has lived for centuries with harmony in diversity. So these are some things I felt we can exchange.
Another thing I would like to tell you about is the ancient system of Ayurveda (Ancient Hindu System of Medicine). This is another aspect that India has to offer to the world. France can think of connecting with India for its Ayurveda traditions and medicine. Economically also, it would be very useful because it will bring down medical bills drastically, while also help the health of the society.
Ayurveda treats many ailments with the use of natural herbs, time tested for 5000 years in India. The Prime Minister of India has created a separate Department for the Ayurvedic System of Medicine. It is being documented today for many illnesses including cancer treatments. So I would welcome the French medical experts to come and do a study on this. France can have a hospital in India, and we can do lots of experiments. The Ayurveda System of Medicine can be tried and tested in the modern way of documenting it, proving it, and then making it available to the general population. This would be of immense benefit to the people of France.
Ayurveda and Yoga, these are the two soft powers! When we see the world as a one world family, we need to share what we have amongst each other. Of course, croissants (a buttery, flaky bread in the shape of a crescent. A staple of French Bakeries) are becoming more and more popular in India.
Q: Who are your main sources of inspiration?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Inspiration is always from within. When you have the commitment to do something in life, something in the world, give something to the world back, you can draw inspiration from everything and from everybody around you. You cannot decide, I want to be inspired by so and so. Inspiration is almost a spontaneous thing that happens to you. You see a child playing and something happens within you. You feel inspired. You see someone doing some good work and you want to do that.
I feel that when you are free from stress, everything can inspire you. But if you are clogged with stress, even the best of wisdom does not really enter into you.
(As a part of Namasté France festival, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar delivered a lecture to the members of the French Parliament at the India embassy. Below is the transcript of What Sri Sri Said…)
Good Evening everyone. I am glad to be at the residence of our Indian ambassador who has passionately spoken about you know, the concept of India. I am also privileged to be here along with our Minister of State for Defence.
You know, this morning I was speaking at the Parliament when something came to my mind - if you are moving in the periphery without knowing what exit you should take, you can keep going forever because the journey is continuous. You need to exit sometime somewhere. I thought, the human race is in a similar situation. We keep going round and round in circles of violence and stress, with an aimless purpose of life, not knowing where we are heading. When we just take a little time to reflect on what is it that we want, where are we heading towards - one thing becomes very clear, and that is, we all want happiness. Isn’t this so? Anything anybody does is to have happiness, either for oneself, for the community, for the country, or for the world.
I recently read a survey which said, 30% of the teachers in Europe are depressed. If teachers are depressed, what would they transmit to the kids in the classrooms? You only give what you have. If the teacher is joyful, they transfer the joy. If teachers are depressed, they can only give what they have. So in this scenario, the exit point I would say is to look towards those techniques which are proven to help mankind from centuries.
India is a land of tremendous potential; at the same time, it also faces many challenges. It has 600 dialects, 24 languages and a population that is three times the population of America with one-third the land mass of America. The challenges are many, but what has kept the smile on people’s face is something that is worth noticing. Even if you go to the poorest of slums, you will find people dancing with a smile. So we can share with the world something that we have had from centuries, and that is Harmony in Diversity -- Accommodating the viewpoints of others and keep the spirit high to face any challenges.
We can share with the world something that we have had from centuries, and that is Harmony in Diversity. Accommodating the viewpoints of others and keep the spirit high to face any challenges.
I know Paris was under attack a few months back, maybe it’s already a year now. Brazil and Mumbai also went through such attacks. We had almost one terror attack every month in the year 2008. So in all these situations, what we need is resilience and confidence. We need something that can help us overcome trauma and keep our faith in humanity and human values. This is the Gandhian principle of non-violence.
As has been said, Mahatma Gandhi brought non-violence into our lives, though the concept was there for a long time. In Yoga, Ahimsa is one of the first rules. You need to abide by Ahimsa (non-violence) to practice yoga.
Now is it practical to have non-violence when there is so much violence happening all around us? When there are people who are senseless, who do not come to terms with anything that is humane. These are some of the very serious questions that we are posed with. But in my experience, I would say, yes. We can share something that we all have deep within us, and that is the human values.
Now there are practical tools and techniques which India can share with the world. One of them is Yoga. 35 years ago, when I would travel in Europe talking about Yoga, people would think that Yoga is only for those who are somewhere out there, normal people do not do Yoga. Yoga was through to be only for Sadhus with long hair and ash smeared all over their body. Weird people did Yoga. Over the years, this prejudice has reduced considerably and the understanding has come that Yoga means wellness – a healthy body and a healthy mind.
For this, we have to thank all those hundreds of Yoga teachers who have persistently kept spreading this wisdom to society.
Now, what can India do for the world? Of course, India can benefit from the modern defense technology that France has to offer. But India can offer the defense of soft power -- of mediation and of Yoga, which can transform the mind-sets of people. All around Paris, you will find many young people who are without jobs, and who are frustrated, angry and agitated. It is almost like we have created a volcano all around us (referring to the pent up emotions of the people). I am very sure that we can change this scenario of the youth of Paris by giving them a taste of inner peace, and a taste of what they can accomplish by being more creative and by getting rid of the stress and anger about the other that they harbor in their hearts and minds. I am confident that we can do this.
India can offer the defense of soft power -- of mediation and of Yoga, which can transform the mind-sets of people.
We have started with a couple of pilot projects with the youth. I am sure you will be thrilled to see the experiences of these youths. Many of them have shared how they have been transformed with these simple breathing techniques, and with meditation, and how they have become more peaceful human beings.
See, peace and prosperity go hand in hand. When there is no peace, there is no prosperity.
Having said this, I would also like to share my experience with the FARC. We have seven million people in Columbia who have been victims of violence, and around two million people who have lost lives. Our volunteers have been working with many of these victims providing them with trauma relief. The government of Columbia decided to award me with the highest civilian award. When I went to receive the award, I had a formal meeting with the president, which was a normal protocol. This five-minute meeting ended up becoming a 50-minute meeting. The president was very concerned about the situation in Columbia, and he said, “This peace process is going nowhere. What appears to be the next course of action is military action”.
I could understand his pain. If he goes with military action, almost 40,000 lives would be lost.
He said, “I am very worried about this situation, but I don’t find any way out”.
So I told him, “Why don’t I take a chance. Let me speak to the FARC. There is no harm in trying”.
So with his consent I went to Cuba. You know, the FARC Guerrilla are believers of the Marxist philosophy, and so with my attire and my name, they would have liked to keep me at a distance. But they were gracious enough to sit with me and talk to me. First they came to attend a public talk that I had at a university there. They found the talk interesting and different, and so they came and we had a conference with 18 of their commandos. It was a three-day deliberation that I had with them, and they even meditated with me.
I asked them, “What is it that you want? You want social justice? We are all for social justice. We are all working towards social justice. But the path that you have chosen of violence is what I do not approve. If you drop the path of violence and you are only for social justice, then we are with you. India, Europe and the whole world will be with you.” First they said, “You go and talk to the government and tell them to stop. They should do the cease-fire first. It will be hypocritical for us to announce non-violence as our strategy”.
To cut short the story, on the last day of the conference, they came and much to our surprise they announced unilateral cease-fire. They said, “We will adopt the Gandhian principle of non-violence but we will stick to our principles, policies and demands.”
In the beginning, neither the government not the press believed them. They thought it was just another gimmick. But I tell you, they stood their commitment, and on the 9th of July when I was in Switzerland, I had a telephonic conversation with them, and finally cease-fire happened from both sides.
So I strongly believe that there is humanness in every individual. If you touch the human being deep inside, anything is possible.
I don't expect an answer from you. Some questions are there just to connect, and some questions are to disconnect. If you want to disconnect from the whole world, then you ask, "Who am I?" "What am I doing here?" "What is this all about?" These questions disconnect you from everything else, and sometimes this is necessary.
Sometimes it's necessary to connect with everybody, and really care for everyone. Caring means asking ‘What can I do for you? How can I help you? How are you doing? Are you happy?’ These questions connect you to others.
Then there are a different set of questions that can make you miserable? “Why do I have to go through so much trouble?” “Why is this happening to me?” “Why does no one care about me?” These questions bring misery.
Then there are other questions for which you are seriously looking for some answers.
I was once at the metro station and I saw two people fighting. I was not afraid, I just went and stood in the middle of them and they stopped.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
That is it! I think we can all do this. In patanjali Yoga Sutra it is said, “If you are established in non-violence, in your company and in your presence, people also drop their violence. But this is a long-drawn out process. You have to practice for a long time and then you exuberate those vibrations.
Whatever we are doing here, by sitting and mediating, discussing knowledge, we are definitely creating positive vibrations and these vibrations spread into the city of Paris. When you enter into the center, do you feel positive vibrations? How many feel like that? (Many in the audience raise their hands). Everybody! That is very good. Maybe you should even ask the neighbors, they may be feeling very good. That's why almost in every area we should have a center which can be like a lighthouse of peace.
When you were mediating for Peace in Columbia, initially the FARC were resisting, and then something happened? What brought about this transformation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
That is meditation. We led them into short meditations for three days, and you know what they said, "We have heard of saints, but for the first time we are actually seeing a real one".
They also said, "You are the first one who understood us", and by the end of our visit, on the last day, they came with some stone and said, "Please touch this. Keep it in your room, put your energy and then give it to us”.
I said, “Once I touch it, it's enough, I don't need to keep it with me, you take it”. Then they said, “Please don't abandon us, consider us part of your movement. And please come back”.
Then they came to the press conference and said, “Yes, we adopt non-violence”.
See, it's easy for an atheist to get to know spirituality. The believers think they know spirituality, many times they don't. And, some people become very fanatic believers, who are not very open-minded.
I'll tell you about a bed-time story about Buddha. Lord Buddha never spoke about God because India was the land where everybody knew so much about spirituality, but mostly it was all in the head. So Lord Buddha used to announce the eleven questions that he would not answer. Eleven questions should not be asked, and even if someone asked him, he would not answer. God was one of the eleven questions.
He simply said that there is misery in life, but it is possible to get rid of misery because there is a cause for misery.
One guy came he said, "I believe in God, what do you say?" So Buddha said, "You believe in God, okay, good".
Another person said, "I don't believe in God, there is no God", and Buddha said, "Okay, good".
A third person came and he said, "Some people say there is God and some people say there is no God. I don't know but I want to know".
Then Buddha said, "Oh okay, you come be here and we will discover".
So other disciples who were there got so confused because Buddha agreed with everybody. When they asked him, he said, "You know, the first two people who came had a fixed idea in their mind, they were not open. But the last one was open to knowing and he can reach enlightenment. It's hard for people with fixed ideas to get enlightened". So that's the story.
There are two things that make you dance in life:
1. Your desires
Desires make you dance all your life. When one desire of yours gets fulfilled, then you get another ten desires. This run to fulfil one desire after another keeps you going on the merry-go-round, or the misery-go-round (laughter). It keeps you on tenterhooks. If you just look into this dance that desires make you do in your life; you will be so amazed. And some desires are very subtle ones, they get into your heart and make you dance. That is how the world is.
Be in love and shake the world, do not get shaken. Love shakes not just the world, but the universe.
Then there is another type of dance, that which comes out of joy and love. Deep love makes you dance. The dance that comes out of love does not make you tired. It is desire that makes you tired, and desires can be endless. When desires get fulfilled, more desires come, and also faith grows. When desires don’t get fulfilled, then faith gets shaken. But in love – you shake the world, you don’t get shaken. In fact, love shakes not just the world but the universe. Even the Gods and Angels stand up in the presence of love. That is why after the Chandi Homa you are supposed to dance. In many places, after people perform a yagna they make an effort to dance, but the dance looks very serious. Many times, if people don’t know how to dance, they hire professionals to come and dance. But the dance that people do over here is the real thing. How spontaneously you get that impulse to get on your feet; and then something makes you whirl around – that something is sattva; that is the positive energy, that is the truth. Here, everything is done so authentically, that the dance happens so naturally. It’s a spontaneous natural phenomenon.
You have come here and you have gotten everything that you want, so now, just be and radiate. When you just be, contentment and peace automatically gets radiated through you.
One more thing I would like to tell you. Many times, when we are very happy, we tend to lose our sensitivity, especially towards the people around us. This we must not do. Even when you’re very happy and joyful, maintain your awareness and sensitivity, this is a sign of intelligence.
Today we honoured and worshipped all the gods and goddesses during the Puja. You know, all the gods reside within us, and festivals are an opportunity for us to experience and express this truth. For example, a peacock always has beautiful feathers but does not display them all the time. It keeps them closed. When it rains, only then the peacock opens and displays its beautiful feathers. In the same way, our Consciousness is infused and full of Divinity. Navratri is the time to recognize, honour and adore that Divinity that resides within us. This is the special essence of Navratri. When there is a shower of mantras and bhajans during Navratri, the peacock of our Consciousness rejoices and displays all the brilliant colours of the Divinity that are within us. It is a unique moment and scene to behold by itself.
We need to keep going deeper in knowledge and also inspire others to come to this knowledge.
In some of the mantras, it is said – Where are the gods? The gods are everywhere. The gods are there even in the lamps that we light. The gods are present in the Satsang, they are present in every member who is in the Satsang. Why is this so? It is because those who sit and attend Satsang are pure at heart. They drop all their craving and aversion and simply sit with joy and ecstasy in Satsang. In such a pure and joyful state, the gods within us naturally manifest and express themselves.
Tomorrow we have the Rishi Homa to honour all the enlightened Masters, Rishis and wise sages of the past, present and future. These three go together: the Devas (demigods and goddesses), the Rishis (wise sages) and Chhanda (metre of a verse; here meaning pure vibration). Chhanda here means the entire world as a vibration; it refers to the entire material world and all its phenomena, which are nothing more than vibrations.
We have honoured and worshipped the Devi Tattva (the primordial all-pervading energy in Creation) through the Homas till today. Tomorrow we will honour the Rishi Tattva (Knowledge as the sacred divine principle expressed through the wise Masters and sages) by the Rishi Homa. There are so many people who still do not have access to this wonderful knowledge. Isn’t it so? Doesn’t their life appear so dry and meaningless without it? They really do not know what they are missing in life. This knowledge is so deep, so astonishing. We need to keep going deeper in knowledge and also inspire others to come to this knowledge. Meditate and teach others to meditate. More and more people should become teachers. Those who have already become teachers should go deeper in knowledge.