Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ego is getting stuck with any one identity

1 May 2010
Canadian Ashram
Q: What are your thoughts on the ‘Modern theory of evolution’? If it is true, then at what stage do souls come? What happened to souls before that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Modern theories are evolving. They think that things have to begin somewhere. I would call it as linear understanding. But there is a spherical thinking, that is lacking here. In the Orient, there is sperical thinking. In the Occident, there is only linear thinking. According to that , everybody had to be born, there had to be one Adam and Eve, and all are their children. That means everybody is sibling of each other. Then how could one be married to anybody? This is what is called the original sin. Because that way marriage itself is a sin. If God could create one Adam and one Eve, then why couldn’t he create ten such. And then why would God create such an apple, fruit of wisdom, if He was to ask them not to eat that? These things need to be understood. Our understanding is very limited. We need to think spherical. In spherical thinking, there was not only one being who was created in the beginning, but everything simultaneously came into existence. The whole world came into existence simultaneously. What would you say if I ask you about the beginning point of a tennis ball? Every point in the tennis ball is the first point, and the last point as well. Ancient people had this spherical thinking, and that is why they said, “The world is Anadi and Anant(Beginingless and endless )”. The souls are beginingless and endless. And the cause of the existence of the universe, that is the divinity, is beginingless and endless. All three are one. This is the theory of Advaita that everything is made up of one. This is the theory of relativity. This is what the String theory and the modern scientists say. Einstein was startled when he read Bhagwad Geeta.
All is made up of the same consciousness. In animal cookies, all animals like elephants, giraffes, Zebra, Cat are made up of the same size. Children think that they are eating different animals but the maker knows that all is made up of the same. Objects in the universe, living or non – living, moving or non – moving, are made up of the same. This is what is said in scriptures like Upanishads and ‘Guru Granth Sahib’(Sikh holi scripture). Sikhism has one of the best greetings in the world – Satsriakal. Sat is truth, Sri is wealth, and Akal is beyond time. So when you greet saying Satsriakal, it means, ‘May you understand the true wealth, the timeless spirit that you are. Everyday you greet each other and remind that you are the timeless eternity, infinity and true wealth. What are you looking for here and there? Isn’t that great?
Q: If everything is changing and transient, then what is the point in doing anything?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is the point in asking this question? What is the point of understanding? You do because you can’t but do something in this world. So, even that is the part of the change. ‘Everything is changing’ – this is for an understanding. You have to keep doing, and if you do things that brings you peace, and which will take you towards evolution, it is like swimming along the current. And if you do something against the evolution, it is like swimming against the current.
Q: What can I do to come out of the guilt and self judgement? I feel so bad when I do things even though I know in my heart that what I have done is the best for me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: More advance courses.
Q: I don’t know what the aim of my life is? I lost my parents long ago, and I see them in dreams everyday. Sometimes I see you. What does that mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is ok. Dream is another dimension where all these things exist, all the experiences come. So, when you wake up, be fully in the waking state.
Q: How does the end of this pencil erases? (Laughter from audience)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is what every pencil is supposed to do. Life is that way. If every pencil i.e. every human being can erase whatever the mind writes, you become hollow and empty. If you can erase everything – Right-Wrong, good-bad, you become hollow and empty.
Q: I am going through a hard time in life. My wife cheated on me but now wants to be back. What to do? I don’t have much trust anymore, but I find it hard to breakup. I am confused and worried about the future. Can the love develop again?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ya, certainly. Have a broad mindset. Suppose you were in that state. You made a mistake and you repented it, and you want your wife to forgive you. How would you feel if she doesn’t and hold on to it. How would you feel? Same way a mistake has happened through her. Some mistakes happen through you and some through her. Forget about it. Live in the present moment. Give her a chance. Move on to the future. But if it keeps happening too many times, then you can take a decision. If it is once or twice, you should give her a fair chance. If it happens more than three times, then you put your foot. I have no experience in this field. I can’t give any better advice on this. So, this could be a suggestion. I don’t know in what way has she cheated you, but it may not be so intentional. Our ‘Art of Living’s’ policy is not to see intention behind others’ mistakes. Once, twice, thrice as much as your capacity is there, you keep forgiving. But then when it comes upto your neck, you say, “No more”.
There was a king who was all the time hurling abuses at Lord Krishna, when Lord Krishna was here on the planet. This Jarasandha was insulting him, and spreading wrong rumours about him. Lord Krishna forgave him not once, twice but 100 times. His patience was 100 times. But then Lord Krishna said, “I have forgiven you 100 times. I am not going to stop now. I want to finish off you now. I have given you enough room, you didn’t change. The only way is you to be punished”. So, it depends upon our capabilities. Jesus also said to forgive. See how much patience you have. How much can you take to forgive? Not just your wife but everybody for that matter.
Q: Can you please describe me what ego is? How can one resolve ego? How do ego and love go together, or don’t they?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ego is a sense of seperateness, a sense of identity. There are three ways to see ego.
1. Ego is identity. I am this. This is one ego.
2. Ego is also I am not this.
3. Ego is also I am seperate from others.
How to dissolve this ego?
Either you expand your ego. I am this, I am that, I am that too. For instance, one ego is that you think you are an officer. But if you are stuck with only being an officer, and you come home and be officer to your kids and wife, you create a problem. Suppose you are a major or colonel in the military, and if you behave with your family in the same role, then you are stuck in your ego of being an army officer. Your one identity is that you are a colonel, but you are a father/mother with your children, you are a husband/wife with your spouse, you are a son/daughter with your parents and so many. When you balance all these identities in your life giving equal importance to all these, that is the way you dissolve your ego. Ego is getting stuck with any one identity. From that limited identity to identify with the unlimited divinity is the path of expanding, or you can call it dissolving identity. So you move from me to Aham Brahaman, I am somebody to becoming I am nobody, and I am nobody to I am everybody. Now this looks very philosophical. You can’t go to your office and say that you are nobody, nor can you say at your home that you are everybody. It is not going to work. So, I would say that the simple way to counter your ego is to be natural. Ego makes you feel uncomfortable, unnatural and seperate. Egolessness,or expanded ego or transformed ego is being at home, being natural with everyone in every circumstances. Rather, it is being like a child. I would say just be like a child.
One last thing I would like to say about ego is that if you find you have any ego, then don’t try to dissolve it. You can keep it in your pocket. Don’t meddle with it, and don’t bother about it. Let it be there. Ok?
Q: How can I safely detoxify my body?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Pranayama, proper diet, raw food, juice, vegetables, and relaxation.
Q: Which decisions are to be taken from heart, and which are to be taken from head?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are to do business, you do it with your head. When you are to do service, you do it from your heart.
More from the same knowledge session will be included in the next post.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Everytime you get confused, know that you are growing.

Satsang Montreal Ashram
Evening Knowledge Session,
April 30, 2010

Q: Guruji, I often get confused. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: ConFused – Fusion with the consciousness and cosmos. Everytime you get confused, know that you are growing.
Q: I understand that everything is going to change. It gives me so much relief. But if everything is going to change, then why am I here? What is it that we need to do? I cannot continue without the answer to this question.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The question or the idea that ‘everything is changing’ has done its job. It has created the spirit of enquiry. What am I here for? What is it that I am to do? What is the purpose of life? These questions are important to arise. These scratch the brain and opens a new avenue for you. Don’t be in a hurry to get the answer. Everything is impermanent that means everything is changing, and vice versa. For everything to be changing, there must be something that is not changing. Realizing it and living it is all life about. That is the reference point. So wonder about these questions. This will take away all the unnecesaary things like worrying about trivial issues. It helps you not to be jealous or greedy or angry.
Q: What is love and truth? How do I decide to continue a relationship or not?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a strange relationship between love and truth? If there is a competition between love and truth, it is the love that will win. It is the fear of losing love that makes someone tell lies to the most loved ones. They are afraid of losing their love if they tell the truth. So which is powerful? Love is powerful. And it should be that way. What is love? If you have not known, there is no way you will know. Even a single creature on this planet cannot say that it doesn’t know love. Because that is our second experience. Our first experience was pain. The first nine months were easy, we were fed for 9 months in a comfortable warm environment. Then suddenly you have to come through a narrow passage which was so painful, with your head getting stuck. It was very painful experience. They cry because of this pain. A baby makes so many funny gestures and faces the first few days, because they did such a great job of getting out like moving a mountain. After the pain, they look into the mother’s face and catch the love of the mother. They realize that they are love, and know that there is nothing but love. By the age of three they start to forget. That is when the intellect starts to form, asking 101 questions. They keep asking questions. Half the time they don’t even listen to the answers. So what is truth? This is the most mature question. You can know love but you cannot tell the truth. Truth is that which is unaffected by time. With this definition, all that you see is not truth, isn’t it? This building is not the truth. It didn’t exist in the past and it may not exit in the future. Same for the body. It was not there in the past and will not be there in future. Everything that is changing is not true. That which is true is not affected by time. Truth is that that existed, that exists and that will exist. The spirit of inquiry into what is that which is not affected by time, leads you to one substance that doesn’t change at all.
Q: I consulted a non ’Art of Living’ doctor, and the doctor says that tomatoes, potatoes, bell pepper and eggplant are deadly night shades, and should not be eaten. Does Sri Sri Ayurveda also prescribe this school of thought. I really love these vegetables. What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t worry, you can have them. It is said usually but don’t just eat only those vegetables. Mix with beans, greens and lentils. You can have them but not in excess. Everything in excess is harmful. Just don’t eat them too much, and don’t make them a daily routine. Our system is strong. It can counter the ill affects of lower prana.
Q: This is the first time you are reading my question. I get sad sometimes because I feel guys do not like me. No one has asked me out on a date or wants a relationship with me, and I do want to be in a loving relationship.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I have no experience. Are you sure that no one has asked you out? Sometimes people are shy and you are too. When you feel worthless, then that type of vibration comes up. But you are worth more. Beauty is in your confidence and smile, the peace you have is real beauty. You feel confident and connected to the universe and cosmos, then see how things change.
Q: I have become aware of people who want to take control of our food and water supply, putting a great burden on it. What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The ’Art of Living’ is putting a lot of attention on this. In India some people wanted to produce genetically modified plants. This has been banned in France and other countries. The ’Art of Living’ stood firmly together and opposed it, and the government had to stop it. You cannot do it alone, you have to stand against it as a mass movement, and bring justice to the human planet. The greed of a few people gets into their heads. We are not against scientific experiments, but without proper testing and making sure that it does not have any side effects, and producing it on a mass scale for commercial purpose is not acceptable. For example, genetically modified cotton yielded three times more crops in the first year, and twice as many crops in the 2nd year. However, it completely wiped out the crop in the third year and many farmers committed suicide. The ’Art of Living’ worked to give farmers hope and helped them see the value of their lives. The cattle ,which ate the genetically modified cotton, died, and the virus emitted by these crops attacked the trees. The whole area became a desert. The company earned huge profits. This is called economic violence. There are many forms of terrorism. Economic terrorism is that where greed of a few people make other people suffer, they make a mess of the economic system, and devastate so many families.
Q: You are amazing. Just a few minutes with you and all my worries are gone. Thank you for everything. How do you fit with Jesus and his message?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: His message was love, to be like a child. The ’Art of Living’ is also about the same. Jesus said to serve people, and the’Art of Living’ is about service. It fits in 100 percent. It may not fit with the methodology of the church, but it definitely fits with the ideals of Jesus. Jesus never said, ”you are a sinner”. In the old times, when people were crude, the church used guilt and fear in its methodology, which is perhaps not suitable for this age. For today’s age we are sophisticated and friendly, we do not have to carry guilt and sadness. We fit 100 percent with Jesus’ philosophy. The first priority is not to blame others or yourself. If you do, you will never be able to settle your mind, you will want to run away from people, and you’ll run away from yourself as well. Stop blaming yourself and others too.
Q: Why is it so difficult to let go and surrender the past, what should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t do anything. Just live in the past. It’s not easy to live in the past. Accept it. Encounter it. You are in the right place. Surrendering the past is not trying to run away from it. Alright, move on. Embrace the past with both arms. It is ok to have had the experiences. Don’t be afraid of it. You can handle it. It won’t go if you are tying to avoid it or being averse to it. Somebody is making a book that describes the five levels of surrender. How do you define surrender? Surrender has been misused so many times. First type of surrender comes into play when there is failure. When you are defeated, or you are miserable, you let go. Letting go, when life is a burden or mainly associated with defeat, is one type of surrender. Another type of surrender, which happens out of love, like a mother’s love for a child. Nothing else is important to her. If it is a choice between her own pleasure and that of the child, she will choose the child’s pleasure. In a love relationship between husband and wife, they feel completely at ease, fearless, with no concerns. A mother is so attached to the child; She willingly gives up small inconveniences or pleasures because she loves the child so dearly. Third type of surender mostly happens with knowledge. There is nothing anyways. It happens when you surrender to God. Fourth type is knowing that it is an illusion. Thinking that you have to give up something which you do not have is an illusion. This is the surrender of wisdom, it is just a sense of ease, knowing it all belongs to the one. This very state of surrender leads to the same place - the small mind opening to the big Self.
Q: Is there a practice that one can follow that does not cause suffering? Is there a joyful methodology?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Waking up to the reality. Knowing of this ’I’ can lead to a state of devotion, of love. It is spontaneous. There is no need of surrender because it is already there. It does not have to mean a painful part of the ego. It is knowing that everything belongs to the divine, the thorn as well as the roses belong to the divine. What happens when you surrender? A permanent peace dawns in you, a smile that no one can take away from you. You wonder that there was such an illusion. You smile and realize that there is nothing to give away. Suppose you fill a pot from the lake, and you are carrying that pot of water. Then you pour it back into the lake. What can you tell the person when he/she thinks that he/she is pouring the water back into the lake? It brings back a feeling of connectedness, and annihilates the sense of separation which causes pain and suffering. Sense of connectedness always brings peace and joy. So with this self knowledge, practice of meditation, singing, becoming one with the sound of satsang, you become one and merge into one consciousness. Satsang is everyone sharing together the consciousness and energy, everyone is sharing the sound. In Satsang, the mind gets united, all minds get united with the cosmic energy. It brings more benefit in singing when your awareness is focused, and you have one pointed attention.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Only in moments of true confidence do you recognize true success.

April 26th
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Q: Why do good people suffer?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Everyone has something good in them and everyone has something foolish in them. And it is because of the foolishness that you suffer.
Q: How do you define success in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Only in moments of true confidence do you recognize true success.
Q: How do you balance confidence with humility?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Confidence and arrogance do not go together. With true confidence, you are relaxed, you feel at home and you make others feel at home. When you are arrogant, you try to show people that you are better than them. There are two types of teachers. The first type makes you feel small or inadequate so that you learn to feel large or adequate. The second type of teachers will tell you that you are great, you wake up; you can do a lot. Both are essential in different circumstances.
Q: How do I get over my fear of losing a loved one?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Through meditation.
Q: How do I get over addictions?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Love, fear and greed. If you have an alcohol and cigarette addiction, and I tell you that you will get one million dollars if you don’t smoke for one month, you will stop. Won’t you? Greed can check your bad habit. If you promise someone love, even then they will get over addictions. There is a Catholic tradition as well as in India, that of confession. You confess and say, ”This is my habit, how can I change it?” Third is fear. If I say, you will die in a month if you do this, you will not do it. Fear can stop an addiction. I prefer love over other two.
Q: If love is all around us, why do we seek far and wide to find it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because you don’t know it. Once you know it, you won’t search.
Q: Praying for peace does not seem to work. Is there a more practical way to achieve peace?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Praying for peace does work! In 2004, there was a war between India and Pakistan. The chief of the Indian army called me and asked me to pray for the soldiers. We prayed for both the sides. The war did not happen at all. Action, education and prayer are all necessary for peace.
Q: How to find forgiveness within myself?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why struggle to forgive? Hold onto it for this lifetime and the next lifetime. You do not need to do anything which is difficult. Forgiveness is easy. Inside every criminal there is someone crying for forgiveness. Someone who does injustice never had the opportunity to grow spiritually. Spiritual education is so essential to bring about the human qualities.
Q: It seems people are more sad than happy. How is there a God?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Read “Celebrating Silence” and “Celebrating Love.” God is the Generator, Operator and Destroyer. Some people have a wrong understanding of God. Our understanding of God is that he is omnipotent, waits for you to make a mistake and then gets angry. But no, God has given you intelligence and the discriminative power. This is established in the laws of nature. Animals do not violate the laws of nature, they do not have indigestion. Forests do not make mistakes unless man meddles with it. In which everything has come up, exists and dissolves – That is God. God is space. That space which you experience in meditation.
Q: What is your biggest wish? What can I do to get closer to your heart?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are already close to my heart. I want more children to be educated in spirituality, to create a violence- free and stress- free society. We need to globalize wisdom. There are one thousand of us here. If we each sponsor a child, we would do a great service. Do service. Donate 2% of your income. It would be of immense benefit to you and them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sidhi or Perfection

DAR Constitution Hall,
Washington DC,April 25 2010 

In the ‘Art of Living’, we never wait to implement a plan. We start working and everything needed comes by itself. This is Sidhi or Perfection - whatever is needed and whenever it is needed, that should come. Again meditation and pranayama comes into picture here. It makes you such that you don’t feel lack of anything. We need to get back to this stage. What is the use of having a wonderful air-conditioned room, money to buy sweets and all the luxries if you have insomnia or diabetes along with? So we need to create that positive energy around us. This doesn’t happen through worrying and keep thinking. I would like to tell you about two ways of doing work. One is doing something because you want something. Another is doing something as an expression of joy, you do it since you have something. Doing work as an expression of joy or expecting joy makes all the difference. Today a mass population is suffering from depression in the world. The statistics say that it is going to be 50 percent in the coming decade. It is so disheartening to see this for half of the world population! We need to change that. Taking Prosaic is not the solution. It is meditation and Yoga.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Harmony in sound is music; Harmony in movement is dance; Harmony in mind is meditation; Harmony in life is celebration

24th April 2010 
Sri Sri in US
Love is the mother of all negative emotions. All those who lose their temper are perfectionists. They want everything perfect, they simply love perfection. They have high Pitta (a characteristic of the body as per the ancient science of Ayurveda). They seek perfection in everything. Jealousy is because of love. You love somebody so jealousy arises. Greed is when you love objects more than people. Arrogance is when you love yourself too much. Arrogance is to love oneself in a distorted manner. Not even a single object on this planet wants not to be loved or be away from love. Yet we don’t want any of the pain or suffering that comes along with love. How can one achieve this? Only through cleansing and uplifting our spirit which is possible through spirituality. We are made up of both matter and spirit. Our body needs vitamins. If any nutrient is missing, then we have a deficiency. Similarly, we are made up of spirit. Spirit is beauty, truth, joy, happiness, love, and peace. For me, spirituality is that which enhances all these qualities and removes the boundaries. We can bring up our children and youth in this spiritual way. Nowadays violence in college campuses is common. This is unfortunate. If there is violence, then there is something fundamentally wrong. There was so much pride attached to non-violence and equanimity when I was growing up. Schools and colleges will have to bring about peace, happiness, celebration and joy. But if we are miserable, we cannot bring happiness to anybody. First we need to attend to our misery. It’s a catch 22. If you are not happy, you can’t do anything to make others happy. So how can you be happy? Unless you think from a broader perspective, you cannot be happy. There is a technique to get depressed. If you just sit and think about yourself all the time, “what about me, what about me?” you will get depressed. We need to engage ourselves in some service activities and spiritual practices that eliminate negative vibes and make our presence lighter, happier, more content and more intuitive. Intuition is essential. If you are a businessman, you need intuition to know which stocks to invest in. If you are poet or a literary person, you need intuition. If you are a doctor, you need intuition. Doctors don’t base the prescription just on observation. There is something else that also contributes to the prescription. All doctors here will agree with me. Intuition can come when we look deep inside. Without intuition and a spiritual connection, it is like using a cell phone without a sim card in it. We pray, but we are not connected at all. Then we wonder why our prayers are not answered. Because there is no spirituality and values inside, and hence no connectivity is there. This is how many people become atheists. An incident happens in their life, their prayers didn’t work, and they get illusioned. Each one of us has enormous potential. Your thoughts are very powerful; you can create what you want. It’s not like you can go to the moon tomorrow, but for that to happen the vision has to come first. The intuitive power has to come. First, believe that it is possible for you to live in a state of unconditional love, peace and tranquility. As a child you have lived in this state. As children we all have done it. We were bubbling with enthusiasm.
Sri Sri then led the audience through a meditation
Q: Is little bit of ego ok?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you recognize that you have ego, for God's sake don’t try to get rid of it. If you get rid of your ego, that itself will become the cause of a bigger ego trip. So if you find that there is ego, just keep it in your pocket. You know the only antidote for ego is being natural, or naturalness. Why do you want to get rid of your ego? Because it bothers you. More than others, your ego is bothering you. You are constrained, restrained and uncomfortable. You feel others don’t respect you or you are better than others. You compare yourself with others. So I would say, if you find that there is ego in you, let it be. We will not meddle with it. If it comes, let it come.
Q: We hear a lot about corruption these days in governments and other situations around the world. How can we do something to reduce corruption?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Corruption starts when the sense of belongingness ends. When we have a sense of belongingness, we can’t be corrupt. When we expand our sense of belongingness, corruption will disappear. Does this make sense? Corruption begins outside the boundary of belongingness.
Q. How does one stay happy every day?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, you need a reason to be unhappy. You don’t need a reason to be happy.
Q. When someone has an aversion towards you, and their presence makes you uncomfortable, how do we deal with that kind of situation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just bless them. When your mind is calm and serene, it becomes like a laser beam. Then you get the power to bless. There is a tradition in India and China. Whenever there is a wedding or any ceremony in the house, you go to the eldest in the family and take their blessings. There is a scientific reason behind this. As you grow older, you are supposed to become more serene and contended. A contented mind has the power to bless. If you are not content, you don’t have the energy to bless, and then how can you bless someone else? When you are grateful for what life has offered you, when you have contentment within you, then you gain that ability to bless people. So serenity and contentment gives you the ability to bless others. First you become centered. If they are averse to you, so what? You be happy and then bless them that they get rid of their hatred. Often we try to correct somebody because their actions disturb us. But if your intention is to correct them because what they are doing is harming them, they get corrected. Do you see what I am saying?
Q. I am 63+ years. Can a good art of living lead to a decent art of dying?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You forget that you are 65. Wake up, it’s not late. There is something deep inside you which has not aged. It is pure and dynamic. Don’t underestimate yourself. Don’t think that you are useless. I tell you, you can sit and meditate, and you can bless the world. Things will happen much differently then. I am with you. You are not alone. If anyone anytime feels lonely, depressed, unhappy or sad, just remember that you are not alone. You are not alone at all. Ok?
Q. Can you comment on the shifts happening in the coming years, around the year 2012. What will it be afterwards?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I want to assure you that we will be able to see 2013. Just remember all the chaos that happened in 1999. Some people started storing food for six months in their basements. Even then I said things would be as usual. Things will be as usual in 2012 also. Actually spirituality will become more fashionable in the coming years; people will become more spiritual. Everyone will understand more about the consciousness. Right here, there are so many layers of the universe and existence. More and more of it will come to light. People will understand; science will also discover.
Q: What to do when we start doubting ourselves or our relationships?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Doubt is always about something that is positive. You know, if someone tells you that they love you, you say, "Really?” Isn't it so? But you take it for granted when someone expresses their hatred towards you. If someone asks you, "Are you happy?" you say, "Well, I am not sure". We doubt all that is positive. We doubt in love. We doubt in the goodness of people. We doubt honesty. We never doubt dishonesty. Isn't it so? We doubt our capabilities. We never doubt our weaknesses. You never doubt your depression, but you always doubt your happiness. So a doubt is always about something that is positive.
Q: First, how can we be of service. Second, how can I be a good human being of the society?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are many ways. You can become a teacher or volunteer of the ‘Art of Living’. You can help in schools for rural children. Thousands of them are studying and thousands are waiting to get admission. You can participate in the ‘Dollar a Day’ project. One dollar a day can educate and provide medical, food and clothing for a child. We are 1000 people right here in this auditorium. If each one of us sponsors a child, 1000 more children will get access to education. These children are otherwise forced to work at a young age, and they get into violence without a value based education. If you want to take up any other projects, you are welcome. If you want to give your time, say six months or one year, you can go to places where you can bring peace to people. You are most welcome to come to India.
Q: Sometimes I don’t know whether I am doing the right thing. I lose courage. How do I handle such a situation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: At those moments, just relax. The right thing will happen to you.
Q: If each person on this earth would do one thing to make the world a better place, what would that one thing be?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why are you limiting to only one thing? We are all so different. Each one can serve in their own area of expertise. But if you really insist on one thing, I would say, "Smile more". Do some service and see how much you can stretch. That much you can serve more. And I tell you, the more you serve, the more you will receive.
Sri Sri then suggested that everyone read Celebrating Silence, Celebrating Love, or An Intimate Note to a Sincere Seeker for answers to all other Qs!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Technology has made the globe into a village and Spirituality will make it a family.

April 22nd
Wayzata Community Church,
Q: According to Vedanta we are all one. But we have different personalities and ideas. Can you explain?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Everything is made up of atoms. Like furniture is made of wood. The door, the bench, the table, the chair are all made of wood. Wood is in each of these things. But the roles are different. The door cannot be used as a chair, nor can a table be used as a door. Quantum Physics is based on the principle of Advaita (non duality).
Q: Sri Sri, in your presence I feel the darkness disappear, I feel light and happy. How do I retain this state of being?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditate, do service, be part of a service project. You will be close to me and retain this state of being that way.
Q: What advice do you have for parents handling teenagers?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The ‘Art of Living’ Foundation has wonderful programs like ‘Know Your Child’ Workshops which can help parents understand their children better.
Q: How does one live without expectations and still achieve great things in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have all that you need to blossom. Do Sudarshan Kriya, do meditation. In ‘Part 2/ Art of Silence’ program, participants experience blossoming of their talents and new skills start developing.
Q: I am a woman who is trapped in an abusive relationship, what can I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Firstly, get out of the victim consciousness. Nobody else can make you come out of it. There is a part of you that no one can touch. When we talk too much about our problems, we begin to enjoy talking about those. Truth and reconciliation is important.
Q: Sri Sri, if joy is our nature, why do we lose touch with our nature? Why are we distracted?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Spiritual voyage can give you the joy and keep you in touch with your nature.
Q: You are like Mahatma Gandhi? Did he inspire you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: While we were little children, we grew up listening to stories of Gandhi. We grew up with a pride of being non-violent. My teacher was a close associate of Gandhi. The stories of non-violence were a part of our upbringing. We could never think of hurting anyone. This value was a part of our life.
Q: What do you think of religious scandals? How can you avoid such scandals?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If somebody has made such a mistake, he/she should simply admit it. There are such people in every field who don’t speak the truth. Don’t blame the field for it. There are doctors who steal kidneys and sell it for a price. Some people are scared of being operated. But you cannot doubt all the doctors. Noble professions like medicine and education are becoming corrupt. There is a fine line between being cautious and being paranoid, and prejudice occurs when you cross the line.
Q: Any predictions when the world will be one?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you and I start working together. Technology has made the globe into a village.Spirituality will make it a family.
Sri Sri then invited people in the audience to visit India.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Service is doing what you can do without expecting anything in return

Boulder, CO
April 21, 2010 
Music unites us and meditation takes us very deep. It brings integrity in us. If you see the Indian Goddess of Learning (Saraswati), she sits on a rock. The rock is stable. It symbolizes that knowledge once learnt neither moves nor leaves. Whereas the Goddess of Wealth (Lakshmi) sits on a lotus flower. The rain comes and the flower sways with the flow of water. The Goddess of Learning sits on a rock. She has an instrument, a book and a rosary in her hands. The book symbolizes knowledge, the instrument symbolizes music and the rosary symbolizes meditation. These three aspects, wisdom, knowledge and music, must be brought into our life .
Q: How does the ’Art of Living’ relate to a person’s beliefs and practices?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You can have your own beliefs and practices because the ’Art of Living’ believes in diversity. One can follow one’s own religion and move on with spirituality.
Q: In trying times we find people are letting us down in government, business and religion. How do you think these leaders should be handled?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Compassion. Mahatma Gandhi created a brand of politicians who were widely respected. I say spiritualize politics, globalize wisdom and secularize religion. Everyone should know a little bit about every religion in the world. If everyone could learn a little about Buddhism, Hinduism, Sectism, Janism, Christianity, then the whole mosaic of religion would be available. That’s the only way we can understand each other and move on to spirituality. If every child knows a little bit about each religion, they would grow up with an acceptance of all religions.
Q: What is the most simple act of service that one can do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Service can be anything. The world does not expect you to do what you cannot do. Doing what you can do without expecting anything in return is service. There are two ways. Either we expect joy out of what we do or we do it with an expression of joy. This is the difference between a job and service.
Q: My heart and mind are often in conflict. Which should I follow?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Use each at different times. Do not do business with your heart. Do not do service with your mind.
Q: How do you know when to forgive someone?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When something starts to bother you too much.
Q: What’s your secret for having so much energy, such a big heart and so much compassion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Simplicity. When you are not being yourself, you get exhausted. When you try to impress someone or expect something from someone, you become burdened.
Q: I’m very afraid of flying. The fear controls me. What can I do to control my fear?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Observe the sensation. Fear is the opposite of love, yet fear can transform into love. You can also go through and move beyond all these cycles by taking the ‘Advance Meditation Course’ .
Q: How can I cope with the anger that comes with seeing so much injustice to so many people?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t just feel the anger. Take action. You don’t need to lose your balance of mind. Rather, you should respond. This is a skill. Be calm, and united in yoga. That is the message of the Bhagavad Gita.
Q: How realistic is it for a person to become enlightened in one lifetime?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t have to be very special. You can have it right now in this room.
Q: How can I most effectively support the cause of the world peace?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I will leave that question with you because there are so many ideas. Be of service. These questions do not have one single answer.
Q: Can you please speak on the nature of sexuality?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Preaching what you don’t know or what you don’t believe in is not the right thing. People who have experienced deep understanding do not place judgement. With spirituality you have to go to another level of experience. Honor sex but move onto a higher place.
Q: How can one have a successful relationhip?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now I am not an expert on relationships. I would advise one thing for men and one for women. Women should never step on the ego of a man. The whole world may call him stupid but you must always say that he’s the most intelligent person. You shouldn’t question his abilities. Tell him, “You are the most intelligent person. Just because you don’t use it, doesn’t mean you don’t have it.” If you keep calling him stupid, then he will become that. Don’t ask for proof of his love for you. Take it for granted that they love you. If someone has to prove their love for you every day, he will be exhausted! We shouldn’t express our love too much. Very often the problem is that we express our love too much. If you keep the seed hanging on the surface, you’ll never see the roots. But if you bury it deep inside, then also it doesn’t sprout. Keep the seed planted. That should be how you express your love. Keep the dignity of love.
Now one suggestion for men is to never step on the emotions of a woman. If she complains about her mother, sister, family and so on, never join the band wagon. You will see she will suddenly switch side and You will be the target! Don’t stop her If she wants to do some meditation, go to a place of worship, do some spiritual practices. If she wants to go for shopping, give her your credit card. You will have peace at home.
Q: Does one need to have a Guru or spiritual leader to seek enlightenment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are asking a question and you want an answer. You want medicine and anyone who gives you medicine becomes a doctor. The seeker wants an answer, wants someone to tell him, to guide him. If someone says, “I’m not a patient but I need medicine,” and someone says “I’m not a doctor but I’ll give you medicine,” what do you call both? Anyone can tell you what you want to hear but a little guidance does help. Someone should be there to give you assurance. When you learn swimming and the trainer says “Go ahead”, you get that confidence to go. Someone who has such confidence can become your guide.
Q: How do you cope with taking on the burdens of people all over the world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You must tell yourself that you are an instrument. You are a part of the universe. Let things come and go and they will be no burden to you. It is certainly possible and you also have that capability.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Globalizing wisdom is antidote to terrorism

Denver Center for the Performing Arts
Denver, Colorado
April 20, 2010

So often in our life we say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ to people without really meaning it. It's almost like air-hostess saying to you ‘have a nice day’ when you get off the plane. The air hostess greets you but does not mean it. The same words coming from someone dear to you carry different vibrations and presence. In fact we convey almost all thoughts through our presence and very little through words. A baby conveys the vibrations of love like nobody else. Your puppy at home expresses such love that no speaker can express. We are all endowed with this presence yet somewhere our presence has got muddled up. This is because we are stressed. Neither at home nor at school has anyone taught us how to cleanse our presence. If we are angry at home, we carry that angry vibration to the office. When we are upset at office that thing lingers in our system and comes back home with us. We're unable to let go and be like a child again. Now how do we get back to our source? How do we cleanse our presence? This is what meditation is all about. It's the movement from sound to silence.
Many believe meditation is concentration or a lot of effort. Meditation is not concentration. It is the opposite of concentration. If you want to drive anywhere, you need concentration. If you have to simply relax at home though, there needn’t be an effort. You don't need concentration. Meditation is deep relaxation and not concentration. So if thoughts come during meditation, we don't try to chase them. The more we chase them the more they come. If you want to get rid of a thought it won’t go easily. It will come back stronger. So we take another strategy. If bad thoughts come we give them a hug. We shake hands with them. Then they disappear. If good thoughts come we give them a hug, then they become quiet. Whatever thoughts are coming, we don't try to stop them. It's an effortless process.
There are three golden rules for meditation. The first is you say “I want nothing.” If you say “I need to drink water or change my position,” then meditation cannot happen. When you want nothing, then you also do nothing. The second golden rule is “I do nothing.” You only breathe. Do not make an effort to think “I want nothing” and “I do nothing” - Just an effortless attention. Then the last one is even more important, “I am nothing.” If you think you are very wise there is no way you can meditate. If you think you are very stupid then also meditation won’t happen. If you think you are rich, forget about it. If you think you are very poor, no way will you be able to meditate. So what are you? Nothing. “I am nothing. I want nothing. I do nothing.” After meditation you can again be something. It is your choice, but during meditation if you think you are somebody great or somebody hopeless, there is no way you can settle down to that deepest core of the being. To settle into that consciousness of which all of us are made up of, this must be our initial step for meditation. It is the journey from sound to silence.
Today we'll use the sound ‘Om’. ‘Om’ means eternal peace and unconditional love. So we will say this sound ‘Om’ three times and create the vibration of peace and love all around us. That is inner peace. When we have that inner peace, we have patience and our perception improves. Our observation and expression become better. Often we end up saying “nobody understands me.” We never say ,“I haven't expressed myself better.” Our expression improves with meditation. That's the magic of meditation.
There are people who would ask what does meditation do? It can bring about a violence-free society. Today is the 11th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. Both the victim and culprit need to know how to relax their minds. Neither at home nor at school does anyone teach how to get rid of negative emotions. They rise and you are stuck with them. The ‘World Health Organization’ predicts that the second biggest killer in this next decade will be depression. Cancer will be the biggest killer followed by depression. Meditation is essential to deal with this. The Pranayama, yoga, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation can bring such a transformation.
If every child learns a bit about every religion in the world, they won't become fanatics. They won't say, “oh, only I have the truth.” They will recognize that there is truth in everything. Otherwise something would be lost. This is what I call globalizing wisdom. Nokia in Finland makes telephones but those phones are being used by people all over the world. Similarly Danish cookies are known throughout the world. Though the sitar is from India, everyone listens to it. Yet when it comes to wisdom people shrink. That is the cause of terrorism in the world today. If even a small part of this globe is left thinking that only they possess the truth, the world is in trouble. We are not going to be in a safe place. There will be suicide bombers. So we need to globalize wisdom. We need to educate every child in a broad spectrum. Every child should know a little bit about the Upanishads. You know, great love is present in the Upanishads? It is unimaginable. There are great things in the teachings of Buddha. Everyone should know a little bit about Buddha and his teachings. Everyone should know a little bit about Daoism, about what Jesus and Muhammad have said etc. One can follow ones own religion but still have a broad mindset. If you're a Jew, you continue being a Jew without it stopping you from understanding the other wisdom and philosophies in the world. This would impact our lives in some way. We've globalized potato chips and Coke, but not wisdom. We need to do that. If even a fraction of what we spend on defense goes towards educating children about non-violence and peace, the world would be a different place.
Then Sri Sri led the audience through a meditation
Q: How can parents raise responsible children and make the experience joyful for both?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Teach them how to make one new friend each day. Don't give them all these violent video games to play with. There is an ‘Art of Living program’ for children - Art Excel '(All Round Training in Excellence). Children really enjoy the program as they learn through games. In Europe it is known as NAP, Non Aggression Program. Children who are very aggressive become happy and friendly. For parents we conduct a program called “Know Your Child.”
Q: What are those things a person needs to be committed to in order to grow as an individual?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First there should be commitment to the greater good of the society. I don't have to say that you have to be committed to your own greater good. You already are. If at all you want to take a commitment, make a commitment for the larger benefit of mankind, that one commitment is good. And that too is already there. When we are free from stress, we are naturally committed to the betterment of the society. There is still more work to be done in societies where violence is handed over from one generation to the next. They especially need education about non-violence.
Q: What are some habits that would promote success?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First you need to define success. Having a big bank balance and no sleep is not success. You may have lots of money but have diabetes, high blood pressure and all other health problems. That is not success. You may have lots of money but be filled with fear and anxiety, you may not have friends and that is not success. To me success is measured by your smile. How much of your life is filled with smiles and how much can you contribute to others? How much courage and confidence do you have in your own ability? You mustn’t be worried only about your own future. Money is needed in life but life is not all about money.
Q: What is your definition of love?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Love is that which cannot be defined. It can only be felt. It is that which we cannot understand.
Q: Why is it becoming increasingly important to save the planet earth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because we are increasingly exploiting the planet earth more than what it can recuperate from. As individuals we can each do something to help the planet. You can be part of some service project like planting more trees, creating awareness about not using plastic bags. You can meditate everyday and put your attention on these issues. When we have an intention and put our attention on that, it will start manifesting. We don't use the mind power that has been bestowed on us by nature. It is the greatest gift we have been given.
Q: How can senior management get the most out of their teams for maximum performance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Art of Living Foundation teaches the APEX course in corporate environments. It has been appreciated all over including the World Bank.
Q: We’re living in a time with a lot of talks about scandal and fraud even among spiritual teachers. How can we distinguish real spiritual teachers from frauds?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is becoming increasingly big in India and there are also stories like this in Europe. It is so disheartening. Yet I tell you, though sometimes a train gets derailed but we do not stop travelling by train. Planes crash but we don't stop flying. There are some people that slip or go in strange directions out of temptation or intention. It is unfortunate. I would say if a spiritual or religious leader does something wrong, he should get double the punishment as anyone. Not only has he committed the crime, but he has disrespected an entire school of thought or institution. Such leaders should come out on their own. Having made a mistake they should come forward and apologize. If they cover up, they should get three times the punishment. Being on a spiritual path and covering up wrong-doing indicates a lack of faith and sense of belongingness. In such a case you are harming your own soul and spirit.
This is nothing new. In the Ramayana(an ancient Indian scripture), Ravan was a famed saint and yet it was he who abducted Sita. Even in the medical field there are doctors who steal kidneys! You would have heard of people who bring distrust in every field. Let's not become prejudiced or take an opinion about it. We should move on. I'd rather be compassionate than condemning. Ok they have made a mistake, now let them come on the right path. Inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help. Even in the worst criminal, there’s a scar, wound and dissatisfaction. We have to heal that victim and then the culprit will disappear.
Question: How do we deal with extreme grief and loss?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Through meditation and Sudarshan Kriya, you will see how the grief gets vaporized.
Q: Is it really possible to be stress-free in this world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I am stress-free here in this world and so are many others. It is possible. You would have been like that as a child. I tell you, you can have this. You don’t have to wait till old age. I tell you it is possible now.
Q: Is violent action ever appropriate?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A conscious action taken to curb violence may appear to be violent itself. In fact it is not. However, I am not for capital punishment. I feel there is a chance to bring reformation in every body. Have compassion for the ones who do hurtful things and have no remorse. Have compassion for their lack of education and recognize that there is a victim inside the culprit.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lack of a sense of belongingness creates corruption. A lack of friendliness creates frauds

Boise, Idaho, April 18: 
Question: Can you talk about how not to see intention behind others’ actions?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. I say don’t see intention behind others’ mistakes. When somebody does something wrong often we say they intentionally did this wrong to me. So when we see from a broader perspective, every culprit is also a victim. Inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help. They may be a victim of lack of education or lack of information, stress, narrow-mindedness. All these would cause someone to become a culprit. And we are simply looking at the culprit part of them. We don’t see that the person is also a victim.
Every child should study a little bit about different religions and cultures. If people knew just a little bit about what Jesus said, what the Upanishads say, what the Vedas say, what Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam say, there would not be a single terrorist in the world. Today’s terrorism is a result of Puritanism: i.e. when people say, “Only my religion is pure. I should keep away from other religious books or I should not be educated in those things. Only this is the way.” That type of religious indoctrination in children has given rise to Taliban sort of movements in the world. We have lost so many people to terrorism.
We have globalized Pepsi, Coke and potato chips but we have not globalized wisdom! It should be compulsory for every nation to give a multi-religious, multi-cultural education to all children. Then not one terrorist will be there in the world.
Question: How can we bring this knowledge, of breathing & meditation that is taught through the Art of Living programs, to low-income families and communities?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, the Art of Living Courses are around $200-$300. This is a very small amount and students and seniors, anyways, pay a reduced fee. There are expenses when courses are organized. The volunteers have to hire a hall, get supplies and pay rent. Nearly 60-70 percent of the course fee is spent on course expenses. Remaining funds go to support service projects in places like post-Katrina New Orleans.
Also, if you offer the course free, people don’t value it. People don’t take responsibility to sit and learn. You can’t do charity from an empty bowl. And there is no point in taking charity to do charity. So our teachers teach these courses for a fee.
Of course anyone who wants to donate to a charitable cause is most welcome, but our donations are only about 15 percent of our total income. Mostly, all our expenses are covered by course fees. And, in case someone says they cannot afford to pay the fee, we never stop them from attending the course. There is always 10-15 percent scholarship in every course. If some of you want to sponsor a course for street kids, we would definitely love to organize that. We have so it in many places across the world.
Question: What would you say to Osama Bin Laden if you were having breakfast with him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I would bring him in a plane to America and tell him, “Look there are so many beautiful people here in America, what are you doing?” At that moment I’m not sure exactly what I would say to him, but I am sure I would make an impact on him.
Question: How do we increase willpower?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation and breathing enhance the inner power. These practices get us in touch with ourselves. You know, willpower comes to you with three things.
First, when you love something then you follow through with it. The commitment is there.
Second, where there is some fear there is commitment. If someone says that if you don’t follow this diet you have to have an operation, then you will follow.
Third is greed. If someone tells you, “You do this for a month then you will get a million dollars,” I tell you, you will not miss a single day!
Either through greed or fear or love you follow your commitment. And I feel the last one is better than the other two.
Question: You spoke about education and how it can better the world. Where does God fit into this equation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t need to fit God in anywhere because He is everywhere! Please don’t try to find a place for Him. He is omnipresent. If you think you are going to find a place for Him, He will laugh at you. God is the sum of creation. God is that energy in which we all are. We cannot escape from that energy. God is not someone who is sitting up there in Heaven who punishes you when you do something wrong. He keeps quiet when you do a mistake and then comes with a stick. This idea of God may be there in books, yet to me, God is love. And love is permeating this whole creation in every way, everyone and everything. When you relax and take your mind inwards, you take this power. That is the basis of creation.
Question: If happiness is already inside us, what is the role of a spiritual teacher or teaching?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You want an answer for this question? You have answered your own question my dear! You want an answer. You want someone who answers. Anyone who answers this question for you becomes a teacher! If the question is not there, then no need of an answer. The moment you have come with a question, you are looking for an answer and anyone who gives the answer becomes a teacher. Right? Oh and you can say, “I have a question but I am not a student,” and a teacher can say, “I will give you an answer but I am not a teacher.” Then I would say both are not sincere. It’s like a doctor saying, “I give you medicine but I’m not a doctor, don’t call me a doctor.” It is like a patient saying, “I want medicine but I’m not a patient.”
Question: Can you talk to us about realizing our purpose in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is something everyone has to find for themselves. What is the purpose of our life? You can ask this question but don’t take an answer from anybody. One who knows will not give you an answer and anyone who tries to give you, does not know. That’s the criteria. The very question “What’s the purpose of life?” is very precious. It means a lot to you. If this question has arisen in your mind you can give a big pat to your back because this question can remove the cobwebs from your mind, your confusion. It can remove all those unnecessary things and put you on track again and again and again. There is no single answer. It is a path on which we need to travel. “Who am I, what do I want, what is the purpose of my life?” It will move you forward in life. So give a big pat on your back, “Oh I am so lucky this question came to my mind.” What’s the purpose of life? You know, many don’t even think about this question. They simply exist. They eat, sleep, watch television and then they die.
Question: What is the most important thing a person can do to realize God in their life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Smile and serve. Smile at yourself. Smile at your own mind and how it vacillates. Watch your mind and smile at your mind. Don’t be swayed by the mind but smile at it and serve the people around you in whatever capacity you can. You don’t have to do things that you cannot do. The world does not expect you to do that which you cannot do. See, if you are not a doctor, nobody expects you to give them medicine. Right? If you are not an engineer, nobody expects you to repair anything. The world expects from you that which you are able to do. And doing what we can is service. We need to do a little bit of service. Whatever we do, a portion of it should go back to society. Everyone should do this. My grandfather took all the gold that was in the house and gave it to Mahatma Gandhi. He sent his family to his in-laws house and stayed in Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram (seva gram) for twenty years serving Mahatma Gandhi. When we came to Bangalore, my grandfather introduced my father to Mahatma Gandhi. My father happened to have his gold chain on his neck. Mahatma Gandhi looked at it and asked “Is this necessary for you?” That gold chain, which was only fifteen grams, was all that was left. Immediately, my father said, “No, not necessary, you can take it. You are doing something for a big cause. You are doing the non-violence movement. This is for the country, for the nation, for the continent.” He immediately gave it to him.
When I was in school, pride was attached to simplicity, to equanimity. When you are equanimous, you are smiling and compassionate. The compassionate person was considered a hero. One who would never lose his temper was considered normal. Today, unfortunately, pride gets attached to aggression and violence. Every hero is very aggressive. So, if a college student is more macho and beats up everybody, he becomes a hero, a role model. This shift in role model is a problem all over the world. We need to bring back spirituality, the spirituality we all grew up with. Have an equanimous and balanced mind. Show compassion to everybody.
Question: How should we confront fraud and corruption?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Lack of a sense of belongingness creates corruption. A lack of friendliness creates frauds. If you have friends, you cannot commit fraud. If you don’t have friends, you feel afraid and then you become a fraud. You cheat others. Would anyone cheat someone whom you really think of as a friend? No. That sense of friendliness has to die away. So the show of friendliness is not true friendship. Isn’t it so? Will you ever cheat a sincere friend of yours? No way! You would give your life to save a friend, but not cheat them. When you don’t really feel the friendliness and sense of belongingness, it is then you will cheat others. So the fear in a person and the ambition to amass for oneself creates fraudulent people and attitudes. Corruption is again through fear. So, I would say we should spiritualize politics, socialize business and secularize religion.
Question: Do you really need to have purpose for life or can you just be happy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, you have made that as the purpose of your life. You have made being happy your purpose. Correct? You’ve already have a purpose.
Can you be happy if your family is not happy? Can you really be happy if your environment is not happy and people around you are not happy? You know when you expand your vision and awareness, you see that you are a part of everybody. If people around you are suffering you cannot simply shut your eyes and say, ‘I’ll be really happy’. The subtler you go, the more refined you are. The more sensitive you become, you feel for everyone in the world. Not just people, for trees, animals and plants as well. You begin to care for the environment.
Question: How do I learn not to be selfish? Can I learn to act without a lot of self-doubt?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are already not selfish! You are already out of it, my dear. Just know that you are not selfish. That’s it. Why? Because when you feel you are selfish, something irritates you, you don’t feel comfortable. You feel comfortable when you are at home and in your element. And that is already being generous. You can never cultivate virtues. You simply have them. You have to assume that you have them; then virtues will grow.
You know what is doubt? Doubt is always about something that is positive. Isn’t it? If someone tells you, ‘I love you so much’, you say, “Really?” Yet someone says, ‘I hate you’ and you don’t say this. We never doubt when someone says, ‘I dislike you.’ ‘I too dislike you’, immediately it comes. ‘If you dislike me, I hate you more!’ But if someone says, ‘I love you,’ we say, “Really?” We doubt someone’s integrity. We question someone’s honesty. We never question their dishonesty. We doubt our capabilities. We never doubt our incapabilities or weaknesses. We take our weaknesses as the gospel truth. Similarly when someone asks if we are happy, we say we are not sure! We are never sure about unhappiness but this is never said in regard to depression. If someone asks you if you you depressed, will you say, ‘Well, I am not sure I am depressed.’ No? So sure about your depression! We are certain.
We doubt love. We doubt someone’s honesty. We doubt sincerity. Someone may be sincere all their life and be insincere in one incident. We believe in that insincerity more than their sincerity. Isn’t it? It’s the nature of doubt. That’s why we doubt the existence of God also. God is all truth so we doubt. He may be there or not. When we know the nature of doubt and go through the doubt, something starts to wake up within you. That is what I would call trust.
Trust in yourself. Trust in people around you and the law of nature. This will keep you healthy. Otherwise paranoia takes over the mind. If you can’t believe anybody, you can’t believe your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your friends, your brother. You will find everybody is a cheat and out to get you. Everybody wants something from you. This sort of paranoia shrinks our personality. Peace and spirituality ,I say, are the AC. Just as this room is air-conditioned so that you can feel comfortable sitting here, the spirit and mind function similarly and absolute comfort is called spirituality. AC for the spirit!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spirituality in Politics, Corporate Social Responsibility in Business and Secularism in Religion will bring peace’

Los Angeles, April 16:
Below are the excerpts from Sri Sri’s talk at the Business, Ethics & Spirituality discussion sponsored by the University of Southern California.In the panel discussion, Sri Sri was joined by John Paul Dejoria, a first generation American-turned-enterpreneur, philanthropist, government officer and an integral part of the business community; and Rob Dyrek, a professional skateboarder, television star, filmmaker, enterpreneur and multi-faceted philanthropist.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A few years ago, it was not considered appropriate for someone spiritual to be in a business setting. Business and spirituality, or business and charity appeared to be poles apart. Essentially, business is to give less and take more. If a banana is worth ten cents, it will be sold for twelve. You take more and you give less in business. However, charity is to give more than you take.
The backbone of business is trust. If trust is broken, business cannot succeed. Greed kills the consciousness. That’s what we saw with the financial crisis. To prevent this, it is essential for companies like John Paul Mitchell Systems to grow. Paul Mitchell is an example that shows that an individual need not be unethical to be rich and successful.
Corruption is the greatest dilemma in the world. Africa has no money to feed its people, yet there are billions in the bank accounts of corrupt politicians. How can the world be so blind to countries where there is such suffering and famine? When we raised this issue in the European Parliament, the office holders said they would send the money back to the African people. Corruption only happens out of a sense of non-belongingness. No one can be corrupt towards the people they belong to. We need to bring a sense of belongingness to every individual. How can that happen? When the mind is stress-free. A stress-free mind is the source of love. We must foster a sense of belongingness that cuts across the prejudice of nationalities and religions. The Art of Living Foundation have such a wide range of programs, so that people can learn how to cultivate a sense of belongingness.
We need to care and share. There have been earthquakes in Haiti, China and elsewhere. Today, businesses are helping out. America is at the forefront in providing aid. You should really congratulate yourselves.
There is a story I want to share. There was an earthquake in Gujarat many years ago. Our volunteers went to work there. They met an elderly lady who had gone to the temple and on her return found that she had lost everyone in her family. She had lost her sons, daughter-in-law and husband. Her home had crumbled. She had only a little amount in her purse which she wanted to give as a donation. Our volunteers refused her donation and said that they had come to give and not take. She said, “Nature has taken everything away from me. Don’t take away my right to give as well. Please accept my contribution, it is my dharma.” Our volunteers had tears in their eyes. When you have and you share, it is not a big deal. When you don’t have and you share, then that is something.
Q: Please speak about wealth.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: As per the ancient scriptures, there are eight types of wealth. Wealth is not only money. Of course, bank balance is wealth, progeny is also a type of wealth, so is health. If you have the confidence that you can create wealth in any situation, even when the economy is not doing well, you will have courage. That courage and confidence is a wealth. The ability to make friends is a wealth. Knowledge is also wealth.
The goddess of wealth, Laxmi, is floating on the lotus. She moves with the wind. The Goddess of knowledge, Saraswati, is on a rock. A rock is stable. Once you have learnt knowledge, you have learnt it for life. Wealth is not an end in itself. It is the means to an end. Wealth, happiness and life are to be shared with all those around.
Today, many people have lost faith. When you lose faith, it takes you within. Every crisis is an opportunity. When all doors are shut and you have nowhere to go, that is when you go within.
Many hurdles and crises come, but you must keep your intention strong. You have to have vision. When you look around, people who break your trust will be few. Those whose values falter will be few. Though sometimes you may shake, but hold on to your vision and mission.
If you don’t want others to cheat you, why should you cheat others? Money is essential, yet you cannot sleep well having only money. Half our health is spent on getting wealth and then we spend half our wealth to get back the health.
Q: How do you define success?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Success is measured by the smiles you have had from the heart. It is the confidence you have to face challenges. When everything goes well you can easily smile. Success is when everything falls apart and yet you can smile. One who manages all challenges that life gives is successful.
Q: Can business be a force to promote peace between nations?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Three dimensions will bring peace. There should be spirituality in politics, corporate social responsibility in business and secularism in religion.
This is deeply ingrained in our minds. Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are examples of secularism in religion and spirituality in politics.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Upanishad means sitting close to the Master, not just physically, but also mentally

15 April 2010
Los Angeles, CA, USA

In Sanskrit, Upanishad means sitting close – sitting close to the Master, not just physically, but also mentally. It signifies the finite getting close to the infinite, the known reaching out to the unknown. The Upanishads are dialogues between the Master and student from ages ago. There are nearly 100 Upanishads available today out of which eleven are very important. The Master is the embodiment of wisdom and the student represents a spiritual seeker eager to come closer to wisdom.
There are so many levels of conflict in the universe. Despite these conflicts how does one get mentally close? First, we invoke peace. One can only come mentally close when there is peace. Where there is mistrust and doubt, there can be no transfer or exchange of knowledge. Thus, all of the Upanishads begin with a prayer for three types of peace: - “Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti” (Shanti is a sanskrit word meaning peace.)
“Let us have peace at the physical level, at the level of thoughts and emotions, and finally the innermost peace of the soul. Let the Divine protect us both and bestow wisdom upon us. Let us not hate one another, but let us come together in peace.”

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spirituality and science go together to bring fulfillment in life

Aukland, New Zealand
5 April 2010
Q: How do you deal with people who think they are right all the time?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They may be saying that but they realize when they have taken a wrong step. They cannot justify that they took a wrong turn but they know it. They don’t have courage to admit the wrong thing. So you be compassionate to those who say that they are right all the time.
Q: what is the purpose of life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: One who knows won’t tell you, and anybody who tells you doesn’t know. It is very important question. Keep it with yourself. You should keep yourself asking this question. This very question will clear the entire cobweb around you, and will keep you on track of what you want and where do you want to go.
Q: As there are no Maya dates in the calendar in the Mayar civilization after 2012, what is going to happen after that? Is there some danger to human civilization?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, the world is going to continue the way it is. It will even get better. There will be shift in the consciousness of people. There will be more compassion and human values, and all the consumerism will take a back seat. That’s what I think.
Q: Is spirituality really related to science?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, Spirituality is saying ‘who am I?’ and science is saying ‘What is this?’ Objective analysis is science and subjective understanding is spirituality. And they go hand in hand. In the East they were never in conflict with each other.
It is said in Bhagvat geeta -Gyan Vigyana triptatma which means you should satisfy yourself through both subjective and scientific knowledge. You will find fulfillment only when both science and spirituality go together.
Q: Who are you and what is your mission?
Sri Sri Ravi Shanakar: I will give this question back to you. And that is my mission - to put this question back to you. Who are you? When you ask yourself who you are, the journey has begun. The spiritual journey just begins with these two questions. Asking others is futile. You ask yourself ‘ who am I?’ and ‘what do I want to do in my life?’.
Q: My mind conflicts between spiritual world and material world. How to overcome this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: As such there is no conflict. You have to balance your life. Some breathing exercise and yoga would help you long way. Along with this some social work activity - what we call seva in India. We earn and then we spend on our selves. Isn’t it good to give at least 3 - 4% of our earning to those who are in need of it? There are 300 million children in the world who need education. You can also participate in the project. One day in a month, take a time of in a group, and go and help clean the environment. Strengthen the environmental programs and social service activities.
Q: What is causing so many people fall in depression?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If we keep thinking what about ourselves all the time, we will get depressed. You should see what you can do, and how you can contribute to the world.
We all have to work towards having a stress free, violence-free, drug and alcohol free, and healthy society.
Violence free society, disease free body, confusion free mind, inhibition free intellect, trauma free memory and sorrow free soul is the birth right of every individual, and that’s what I have been telling around the world. We are all one family; we all belong to one family.
Q: Is mediation concentrating on some point?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely not!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Meditation and breathing exercises cleanse our presence

Aukland, New Zealand
5 April 2010
We can talk about love for one hour, but that doesn’t really translate even one glance of a child. We convey more through our presence than our words. Any sensitive person can make out if someone is greeting you through their heart or just trying to be nice. If our presence is stressed and muddled, then that is what we convey to others. Did you have this experience? You want to avoid certain people. It is the vibrations that a person carries which makes you feel so. We also give similar experience to others if there is stress and tension in our presence. Wisdom is cleansing our presence, not just our words. It makes you happy from within.
A baby smiles from every cell of the body. Baby radiates that love. Perhaps the saying ‘unless you become like a child, you can’t enter the kingdom of my father’ conveys this. Now it is a practical question - how is it possible in today’s complex world?
We can’t behave like a child while going to office, class room or a shopping mall.What you can do to cleanse your presence, is to make it more pleasant, positive but at the same time follow the protocol of society.
That’s where meditation and breathing exercises play the role.
This is what ‘Art of Living’ is.
We will do a short exercise. Turn to the person next to you and tell them that you do not trust them. Can you really do this if it is your spouse?
(Crowd was laughing after doing this exercise)
You said this to someone and you both started laughing. Could you have laughed on that otherwise also if it was not just an exercise? You could laugh because you took it easily. It was just an exercise. Life is like an exercise only. So why are we so bogged down over small petty things? The whole life is a short exercise. You grow up, go to school/college, get married, have kids…and you will die one day. Life is finished in a short span of time. But we become miserable and we make everyone around us miserable. Is this the way to live?
It is very hard to tell someone that I trust you and it is even harder to tell somebody that I don’t trust you. Did you realize that?
Now close your eyes for 30 seconds, and just imagine that everyone around you is telling you that they don’t trust you. How does it feel?
We don’t say it but we walk around in society carrying this thought, especially in urban areas. We create such an atmosphere of mistrust within us and around us. We have to get back to our human and spiritual values. Only then we can create a society which is safe. Today we see terrorism and violence amongst youths. Youth become violent and aggressive, or on the other hand they become depressed and suicidal. If you know any person with depression or undergoing suicidal tendency, immediately contact Art of Living center. Teacher will attend them and in 3 days they will get them out of suicidal tendency. I feel this is very important for youth because youths, esp. student communities are going through the suicidal tendencies in a big way. Also drugs and alcohol results into such a mental derangement, and gives rise to such thoughts.
(Excerpts from Question Answer session)
Q: What is the best way to handle religious conflicts?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Every child should know a little about all cultures and religions in the world. They will start to feel connection with all the cultures. Every child should know a little bit about all religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism. They will grow up with a broad mindset.
I feel at home wherever I go in the world. I feel connected, and everyone can do that because we all have that need to be connected. In fact you don’t have to make an effort, we are anyway connected.
I still remember an incident some 25 years ago, in Manchester, UK. A small girl came to me and asked: ‘Why cannot human beings connect with everyone else in the world?’ I told her this is because we are so stuck in our identities. It’s good to have identity but we have to grow beyond that.
Q: I find it difficult to like my wife. How can I make myself love her to have a fulfilling life together?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I cannot speak on that because I have no experience. But I have a suggestion for you.
Tip for women: Never step on the ego of your man. You should always pump the ego of a man. You should not put him under pressure to prove his love for you. The whole world demands a man to prove himself. At home he should come and simply relax. At many times men cannot express their love the way women may wish. You should ask him why he loves you so much even if he doesn’t, and then he will start loving you really. Don’t put him under pressure to prove his love for you. This is very important.
For men: Never step on the emotions of your wife. She may complain to you about her family, but if you join her, she will spin around. It is a very delicate area. Be politically correct. Don’t say a word about her family because it’s very dear to her. Also don’t stop her if she wants to go on pilgrimage, temple, meditation or a spiritual program. If she wants to go for shopping just give her your credit card. Then you will have peace at home.
Q: I find it difficult to forgive my sister who had been very abusive to me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Regarding the inability to forgive somebody, there are 6.5 billion people on this planet. Don’t forgive the 6.5 billon but just forgive this one person.
You know inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help. You must understand that they are victims of situation and circumstances. They didn’t have that knowledge. They were never exposed to higher knowledge so they made mistake. Just reading books and understanding doesn’t help to get out of violent tendencies. These have to be fixed through meditation, breathing exercises and yoga.
Prisoners say that ‘the Art of Living’ is responsible for their being in the prison. If the ‘Art of living’ had given them this knowledge earlier, they wouldn’t have landed in the prison. Their life would have been much different’.And I agree with them.
Q: It is quoted in every spiritual book that everything happens according to God’s wish. Then where does doing good or bad come from? If everything is decided by God only then what are we doing here, and what are our duties?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Everything has been decided for animals. But humans have been given the sense of discrimination. God gave the human beings freedom to chose, to chose between right and wrong. Right is something that gives you long term happiness, may be at the cost of short term sufferings. The wrong is something that gives you short term joy and long term sufferings. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Life is a journey where you turn question in to wonder

Aukland, New Zealand
5 April 2010

Life comes to us like a gift, a very charming gift, but we seldom open it.
It’s all about opening ourselves and being open. Life is a gift wrapped in golden paper which is waiting for each one of us to unwrap it.
So how are we all today?
We need to be in an informal atmosphere to know something about ourselves and some deep wisdom. Formal atmosphere is not conducive for knowledge. So why not take a moment to greet the person next to you, greet them and say whatever. Hi.. How are you..I belong to you…
Now I have a question for you. Did you really greet the person sitting next to you, or did you do it as a formality! Most of the time we exchange pleasantries, we really don’t mean it. Isn't it so? Most of our pleasantries and conversation to the people are on superficial level. It’s almost like air hostess telling you ‘have a nice day’!
The same words that come to you from your grandmother carry some energy, some vibrations, and some presence. Life becomes so dry and world become so un-charming if we relate ourselves with everybody around us with very superficial level of Hi or Hello all the time. In the coming decade the biggest challenge in the world will be mental depression. Belongingness can create better atmosphere and environment around us. It is on us to create that environment.
Feeling at home, wherever and with whomsoever you are, is what I would call true evolution of human beings. For that, we need to take a look within ourselves. Just a glance within ourselves to know what is it that is bothering us, and restraining our capacity to connect with everyone around us.
You know a baby smiles 400 times a day, a teenager only smiles 17 times, and an adult hardly smiles. We don’t smile from our hearts, what is wrong with us? It is the stress and the tension that we carry on. Can’t we all dream of a world which is free from stress and violence? Are you willing to dream with me this time? Can we have a stress free society and stress free ourselves? First we need to have a dream, a vision and then work towards realizing it.
(Rest of Sri Sri’s words before the beginning of question answer session will be in the next post)
Q: I see lots of people around me and I do not know why they have come here. Even I am sitting here and I have no clue why I am here. Is it because of some hollowness within me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is more of a wonder then a question. I leave that wonder with you. Life should be full of wonders and it’s good to wonder.
Every wonder is nothing but a question which is not looking for an answer. Life is a journey where you turn question in to wonder.
Q: Does spirituality necessarily lead to inner peace and happiness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Definitely spirituality is for peace. Peace, happiness, Joy and compassion - all these virtues are qualities of the spirit. There is not a single person on this planet who is not a spiritual seeker. You know why? Because everybody is seeking peace, love and happiness, and this is what spirit is.
In India we say Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Satyam - truth, Shivam - Divine, and Sundaram - beauty. The divine is beauty, and the divine is the truth. So wherever you see beauty, behind that there is a consciousness from which the whole universe is coming into existence.
Have you heard of String theory in physics? If you study quantum physics you will find as if you are studying Vedanta – an ancient wisdom. The two are exactly the same.
Q: What made God alive? When did you start believing in God? Have you seen God? What does God look like?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This same question was asked 10,000 years ago by a little boy of 8-9 years old to his father.
The boy to his father: What is God and how does God Look like?
His father takes him by hand and brings him out of his house, and asked him what was there at the place of their house before it was built.
The boy said ‘Space’.
Father: Where is the house built?
Boy: space.
Father: What will exist and what will remain when this house will demolish?
Boy: space.
Father: That is God.
God is not a person sitting somewhere. It is so depicted in paintings only. God is love, God is the space in which everything exists, from which everything has come into existence, and in which everything dissolves. God is the space, joy, and love, which is all pervading. The space around you is not the dead space. It is filled with energy and intelligence. That energy and intelligence is divinity. It is everywhere –your inside as well as your outside.
Most of the native cultures of the world have the same concept. They say God is in the mountains, in the rivers, in the flowers, in the trees, in the animals, and in the human beings. God is love. You can feel it but cannot see it. You can experience that enormous energy when you go deep in meditation.
Q: His Holiness, how can I concentrate in spite of my workload? At times, I get so upset and disturbed with customers’ complaints, esp. with those which are totally untrue.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Complaints are opinions. Listen to them carefully, and if there is something good in it then you can take that. If it is just a biased opinion, smile at them. That’s my policy. You can take something on board. I suggest you should take criticism with open mind, and also give criticism with open mind. You should never be shy about criticism.
What is great is, when you can smile at complaints. That means you have achieved something.
Q: Does man create wealth for security, or insecurity?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wealth is the means, but if it becomes a goal in itself, then it leads to insecurity.
Q: How can you learn to make clear and honest judgments? Why do enlightened beings still retain a personality after enlightenment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Personality is the one that people perceive. The whole journey of life is from being somebody to becoming nobody, and from being nobody to be a part of everybody. If someone is stuck with the idea of personality, there is less scope for them to grow.
Everything is changing. People change, their ideas change. Let us acknowledge this basic fact. So, if you have judged, then even your judgment can change.
Q: How does one develop intuitive powers while making a decision?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Intuitive power is like a gut feeling, and to get clear intuitive power you must mediate. Without meditation your intuition will be vague, it won’t be intuition at all.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Each one of us should take responsibility to create an uplifting atmosphere

Bali April 10
Q: I’m confused as to who I am, how can I be more and more natural? How can I be myself and develop a strong sense of self? Is it ok to be very different than other people?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Confusion is a very good temporary state. Do you know when do you get confused? When you grow! When a particular concept in your mind just falls apart, breaks apart. You thought you were somebody, and that concept breaks so then there is confusion. So, it is a sign of growth. Is it shocking? Good. If you want to know who you are, you are in the right place and it is all right to be confused. In fact, we are all different yet we try to imitate others. That is where there is a problem. Just recognize the difference and celebrate the differences. To be yourself, you are in the right place. It’s all right to be different, your difference need not conflict with that of other people. People who are rebellious want to be different to compete. You can be different. You could be different, you don’t need to exhibit yourself as different. Got it?
Q: Bali culture is connected to India, would you throw a little more light onto this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If go into the aboriginal culture all over the world you will find that they are all similar - in British Columbia, Australia, New Zealand, India etc. They all are similar to one another. They all honor the directions, the moon, the earth, the sun, the water, the mountains. They all honor creation. India and Bali are in Southeast Asia, and are of course connected. It’s good to find similarities, and celebrate differences.
Q: In Yoga, we feel so much love and togetherness. How do we take it out into the world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That thought I will leave with you. You find ways to do that.
Q: You always look so calm and collected, despite your busy schedule? How do you manage it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you know beauty lies in the beholder’s eyes? How are you able to see that everywhere? Consciousness is truth and beauty together.
Real beauty is when you’re centered, when your mind is with the truth. That is how every baby is beautiful – because they are centered.
Q: Sometimes we long for things and after getting them, we are still not content. Why?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is your good luck. If you become contented by getting things, you are not that lucky. I wish you get discontented with everything around so you realize you are contentment. Nothing can give you contentment because you are contentment. You have to sit quietly for a few minutes of an inward journey to bring you contentment; nothing else whatsoever can bring you that.
Q: What is the goal of spirituality? I enjoy the path but do not know the goal.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The goal is to bring a smile on your face that doesn’t wither away.
A smile that no one can take away.
A peace that simply expands and spreads to others.
A love that never diminishes or distorts.
That’s the power that you grow into.
It’s better that you don’t worry about the goal. You be in the moment, you will see you are on a conveyor belt or escalator. The steps take you where you have to go. You have to do nothing.
Q: Why can’t we go back in time to correct our sins?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Correct our sins? They have all gone away from you. Everyday is a new life, live as though you are a new person. My dear, that is why you are here. If you have to live in the past and brood over the past you don’t need to be here in the satsang. You have come here know that it is new.
Satsang is like a flowing river; not stale water, all the time fresh water.
Q: How to draw the line between not being a football of other’s opinion and also listening to them? Isn’t it also important to listen to other’s opinion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it’s like a riding on a bicycle.
Q: How do we stop depression?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Doing pranayama (stress elimination breath techniques) and yoga regularly. Stop thinking about yourself only, “Oh, what about me?” This is a technique to get depressed, if anyone wants to get depressed they should only have one question, “What about me?” Come on. Think about the world, about other people around you, what you can do for the world. You have a big picture around you about what you can do, then depression will run away from you. So two things:
1. Is to do your practices and
2. Is set up a goal for yourself, do something in the world that would be useful to many more.
Q: Why do we dream while sleeping in the night? How is it related to our life? Does a dream come true?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do we dream while sleeping? You want to dream while awake? (Laughter – looks at the moon, over the horizon). There are many people who do that. Even the ocean has become still to reflect the moon. Isn’t it so artistic, look at the moon and the cloud, it looks like somebody emerging out of the cloud.
There are five types of dreams.
The first type is your past experiences – so where you went to school, you went to college, or you were working in your office, or business.
The second type of dream expresses your innate desires. Suppose, if you wanted to drink cola and you didn’t drink it and you went to sleep, and in the sleep you are drinking cola. How many of you have had this experience? Whatever you wanted to do and you didn’t do. In the sleep you fulfilled those things. Your desires come to you as dreams.
And, the third type of dream is intuitive – whatever is going to happen in the future maybe six months later or a year can come to you in the form of a dream. Before the Tsunami happened, a few months before, some people dreamt of it. The waves rising six feet high. Many people had that experience. Even here in Indonesia many people had the experience of volcano erupting. So whatever is going to happen in the future, that can come to you as dream, this is the third type of dream.
The fourth type of dream is what? About the place you are in, suppose you go and sleep in Germany in a place or in somebody’s house and in the dream you hear all German words. In Russia, in the dream you hear and see Russian faces, in Russian language. It can happen in any place in the world. The fourth type of dream is related to the place you are sleeping and not to do with your own experiences.
And the fifth type of dream is a mixture of all of these. Some of it is the past, the present, the desires and the place you are in. Ninety percent of your dreams are this; that’s why there’s no clarity. Suddenly you are on a horse and the horse is inside a train, and the train is going in the water on a ship, then the ship is flying up in a sky. All sorts of weird things happen. That is why when people ask me to interpret my dreams, I say, “Take a cup of tea, and wake up.” Don’t worry about dreams, make a bundle and throw them in the ocean.
Q: I had an experience of being nobody and I was so happy, but then I started to take on some responsibility and started to feel like I was somebody again — different and special. The ego came up. How can I sustain being nobody at the same time as carry out responsibilities and playing the roles that I have to play?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Never mind. You do something and everyone adores you and says how good a human being you are.
See life from a bigger context. There are six and a half billion people on the planet and they all live for sometime and then everybody dies. People who praise and people who are also praised, both die. The whole universe comes to an end at some point, so renounce it all. So when you see your life from a bigger context, you will see you are everybody.
Q: How does television affect our minds? When I watch movies why do I feel that the Divine is at a distance, away from me? When I do sadhana, satsang and seva I feel connected. Why is there so much of a change of a feeling?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Never mind. You watch television but don’t watch too much. It has a strain on the brain. It’s very tiring. Anything too much is tiring.
Q: I want to progress spiritually really fast. How do I get on the fast track? I have lost so much time already.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you go on a train you should simply relax. If you keep running inside the train you are not going to reach any faster. Got it? Just imagine someone with a suitcase running fast in the train from one compartment to another compartment. My dear, it’s not going to make you reach any faster. To catch the train you have to run fast, once you are in the train, just relax.
Q: If we should not blame ourselves nor blame anyone else, whom can we blame? Is it ok to blame you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By all means. I’m ready. I can watch the fun, as much as you want. Do you have to blame? If you have to blame then get it out of your chest.
Q: My mind always travels to many things. I do have jealousy and hatred with my own people. I know it’s not right, how do I control the mind that takes me away and never leaves me good. Please help me Guruji, I hope that from today I will have good feelings and peace of mind. I want to be a different person, I’m sick and tired already.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think you have too much free time on your hands. Just get into doing something good for the world, some service projects, something. The mind is like that, sometimes up and sometimes down. You like something, next day you don’t like it. Who cares! If you’re caring for your emotions too much, you will be nowhere. One day you feel good, another day you don’t feel good. Again the same thing! So the mind goes up and down. Centeredness is knowing that you are much more than your mind, than your emotions, and mind plays tricks. Just imagine you are a mother and the mind is the baby. Sometimes the mother agrees with the baby, sometimes not. Sometimes the child cries and the mother will attend to the baby. At other times she will let it cry for a little while. Don’t be bothered by this all of the time. See how much harmony you can bring into others.
It’s our responsibility, each one of us should take responsibility to create an uplifting atmosphere, one of positivity. Once you are centered than you become a source of inspiration, a source of joy, a source of peace to everyone. So we have to think, “so what?” Not every time, everything goes according to what we want, so then we say “so what?” and if “so what” doesn’t help then “so humm” (the Sudarshan Kriya taught in the Art of Living courses) definitely helps. A combination of “so what” and “so hum” puts you on a higher platform.
Q: This morning, during meditation my head was falling forward innumerable times. Thoughts didn’t bother me during meditation but my head moving bothered me. Does this mean I was not meditating?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, no it’s fine. You know, when you are meditating sometimes the head will come down, or your body will rock. This is all normal. Different types of stresses when they get released all these different reactions can come up. That’s ok, nothing to worry about.