Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Self is the ocean and mind is a wave

23 May 2010,
Bangalore Ashram, India
Q: I feel happy and peaceful here. My heart is really contented. All negativity comes when I go out. I encounter all problems like corruption and bribery. How to face these problems? How to maintain the same positivity when I go from here?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You forget a strength in you – Prayer and power of your Sankalpa (positive intention). You keep doing practices and your things are taken care of. Don’t ask for small things in your prayers. Ask for big things – Let government be good and stable, Let this knowledge reach out to many more people. It is up to you to make a divine society. You can start a collective moment. There are many good people and a very few people who cause disturbance, but their influence looks like they are many. You come together and you will find what difference you can make.
Q: How to overcome self pity?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The moment you recognize, you stop it. That is it. If you are asking for someone else, then only they can come out of it. Only meditation can help. Do advance course.
Q: Many people have started preaching their own practices like Sudarshan Kriya. What to do about it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Many people have started their own things. These kind of wrong practices don’t work in the long run. Don’t worry about all of them. People try, get headache and then they come here.
The spiritual practices like Sudarshan Kriya are not only at physical level. It is the divine grace which works.
One can do 21 days teacher training, and spread this knowledge everywhere after becoming a teacher.
Q: How to transform negative energies into positive energies?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is what we all have to do, and that is what we are doing. Let us get more and more youth together and change this atmosphere in society.
Q: Is memory a blessing or curse?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Forgetting bad things is a blessing. Forgetting good things can be a curse.
Q: What is the best thing to do after one recognizes one's mistake?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Recognizing your mistake and going forward is good. There is no point in hiding or justifying. Save the mind. When the mind is established, you can’t do mistakes even if you want. With the knowledge of the self, all negative emotions like fear, anger and sorrow disappear.
Q: How to achieve excellence while following the middle path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It will happen. Your intention is enough. Main thing is Sadhna(Practices and self effort), next is awareness, and third is - no feverishness.
Q: What is difference between self and mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Self is the ocean and mind is a wave.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The one who does work of God, works for the good of society, is also taken care of by the God

Bangalore Ashram, India
22 May 2010
Q: What is your definition of Happiness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Happiness is the direction in which life tends to flow.
Q: What would be your best memory of happiness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Happiness is when you want nothing, and you want to give. Where the wanting and desires end, and the sharing begins, happiness is exactly there. Memory is not happiness. When you are happy, you forget everything. It is when happiness is gone that you dwell in its memory. In the world, people are either dreaming of happiness or remembering happiness. That is either being in the past or the future. But happiness is that which is in the present. And it is your very nature.
Q: I feel contented when I am alone. But mind stucks to the outside events and people while interacting with others. Is there any way that I can experience the serene solitude even when I am with people?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are at the right place. We will see in sometime how it is possible. (Ashtavakra Talk continued the session)
Q: Sometimes I feel tired of doing service. I feel like stopping then. I also feel frustrated then. Guruji, Why does this happen, and what should I do when I face this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When your body and mind are tired, you should relax then. Don’t get stuck with the thoughts of doing service at that time. Relax and meditate.
Q: What is sin and virtue?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sin is that which inflicts pain on yourself and also on others. Virtuous action is that which brings peace and happiness to you and also to others.
Q: It is said that Lord Krishna was embodied with all sixteen arts, Lord Rama with twelve, and Hanuman with fourteen. If it is like this, then how can we call Lord Rama as incarnation of God?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A devotee is higher than the God. This has been said to sing the glory of devotees. In reality, both Guru and disciple are God. To sing the glory of a devotee and to raise the level of a devotee, God himself bends. It is like a father carrying his son on his shoulder, higher than him. If Hanuman was not stronger than Sri Rama, then how would he have helped Sri Rama. It is like the one who is stronger than me can carry my suitcase.
Sri Rama also needed help from Hanuman. Same way, God also wants your help. So, we should do work to uplift society. The one who does work of God, works for the good of society, is also taken care of by the God. Working for the God, for the good of society, is an indication of divinity blossoming in you. So, Hanumanji helped Sri Rama, but he never got into the state of ego or arrogance that he’s helping Sri Rama. He knew that such thoughts are only illusionary and he had got that luck to work for Sri Rama. So, he worked under Sri Rama all his life while doing all Sri Rama’s work.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mature joy is that you get when you give something

Excerpts of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's talk in Hamburg, Germany
You know, why are children all over the world so attractive? Because their presence is so pure! Their presence, their vibration is so positive and clean. As we grow older, we forget how to make our vibrations more positive. In our presence, in our vibration, there is stress, tension and worries. Ya? And that is where these breathing exercises, Sudarshan kriya, pranayama, meditation help –– All these help to uplift our spirit. Make us feel very positive.
We all are entitled to a violence free society, disease free body, confusion free mind, prejudice free intellect, trauma free memory, and sorrow free soul.
We need to wake up. When we are deeply relaxed, we suddenly realize that we are connected to this entire universe. We are part of this universe. You know, I feel at home wherever I go in the world. I am at home with everybody in the planet. I am sure everyone has this ability. Every child does it. And we have to invoke or awaken the childlike innocence in our hearts. To do this, we get doubts in our mind first of all. Mind says, “Is it possible?” Yes, it is possible. And then the doubt is, “Whether I can do it? May be I cannot do it. May be it’s not for me.” I would say, you should think of the impossible. You know if we dream of the impossible, one day we will make it possible. Ya?
You know, when I first came to Hamburg in 80s, we were doing meditation camp there with about 200 people. And I said, ‘Let us all put an intention out there – East and West Germany should become one. We don’t want these borders, fear and tension here. Let us put this intention.’ At the end of that session, I said, ‘You will see within a couple of years, it will become one. Within two years East and West will be one.’ At that time Dr Aber Hart, Carl, Fetra, Riketta were all there. They said, ‘It is not possible.’ Everyone thought, “Oh Guruji is from India. He doesn’t know what the situation is. This is an impossible thing to do.” But I said, ‘It is going to happen before two years.” And that intention manifested itself. So, we need to put our intention. When our hearts are pure and in a calm state of mind, we put an intention and put attention on it, it will manifest. Nature has provided such a technology in our brain, in our consciousness. The ancient Rishis in India, they called it sankalpa-siddhi. That means fructifying an intention, manifesting an intention. How is it possible? Only when the mind is absolutely still, calm and serene, intention gets fructified. And we all have this ability. But we have not learnt how to calm the mind. Though this knowledge was known to ancient people, they used to keep it as a secret. It was not given to everybody in the world. They used to wait for a capable and qualified student to come and learn. I felt that this should be given to everybody, because this will make everyone positive. I believe, ‘Anything that is useful for people should not be the property of one community or one nation. It should belong to the whole world.’
You know, the ‘World Health Organization’ has declared that 30 percent of Europe is suffering from depression. And they said, the second biggest killer in the next decade of the world will be depression. In the next ten years, this will go up to 50 percent with the stock markets crashing, value of money going down, uncertainty in every field… There is so much anxiety and uncertainty. People don’t know how to handle the mind! That is why this knowledge is so essential. With this knowledge of meditation, breathing and mind, one can keep oneself happy all the time. Come what may! Isn’t it so?
When do you need the strength? You need strength when everything is falling apart around you. That strength comes attending to your own breath, your own mind. It’s so useful, I tell you! When people start learning about their own breath, they feel such a transformation, feel so blissful, feel that we all have a responsibility.
You know there are two types of joy. One type of joy is that you get while getting something. As a child you always wanted to get something. Getting something used to make you happy. You know, we wanted to get toffees, toys, visit different places..But the mature joy is that you get when you give something. When you share, you feel happy. When you see a good movie, you force everybody, ‘It’s a very good movie. You must see it.’ You tell everybody. The movie-maker is not giving you any commission. But you just feel good because you have seen a good movie and you want your loved ones to experience the same. This joy of sharing is much superior and the world is forgetting that joy of sharing, especially youngsters. Isn’t it? We have to bring it…just make them aware of it, that’s all. Everyone has this tendency. They simply have to be encouraged.
You know, I remember an incident. My father used to tell me that my grandmother gave ten and a half kilo of gold that she had to my grandfather to give it to Mahatma Gandhi, and my grandfather stayed with Mahatma Gandhi for 20 years. You know, Indian women love gold a lot. So, usually they receive gold as gift in marriage and every function. My grandmother was a very beautiful woman. She had received a lot of gold. She had ten and half kilo gold at that time. Imagine how much it was! Except one chain, she gave away everything to Mahatma Gandhi when he started the freedom movement in India. You know, nobody compels you to give, but your giving brings certain amount of satisfaction.
I say two things that you have to have in life. One is smile more, serve as much as you can and not to worry.
Q: What is the link between ego and self confidence?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ego is feeling uncomfortable in the presence of someone else. Self confidence is, feeling at home. Ya? Being natural is antidote to ego, and being natural is so complementary to confidence. It goes with confidence and is inseparable from confidence. When you are confident, you are natural. If you are natural, you are confident.
Q: Is money a prior requirement in order to feel happy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no doubt that you need some money for your day to day survival. But, money cannot buy you happiness. It’s knowledge or wisdom that brings you happiness.
Q: How come you manage to smile in all the circumstances?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, this is our brand mark. Our logo is smile. If you see somebody and they are not smiling, and they say they have done ‘Art of Living’, don’t believe them. I am sure, all those who are here, who have truly done it will agree with me.
Q: What is role of service in order to have inner contentment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, we should have a goal in life. My goal is to bring happiness to more and more people. If we sit and keep thinking of ourselves all the time, we’ll be depressed. We should see, ‘How can I be of service? How can I be of use to others?’ This thought is very useful. Very, very, very useful. Ya?
So, ‘Art of Living’ provides a platform for everyone to come together and do some service. You know, when United Nations announced, ‘Stand up and take action’ - they wanted tree planting; ‘Art of Living’ volunteers have planted 55 million trees around the globe.
We all can jointly do some service activity. Reduce violence, reduce stress, create a sense of belongingness, and spread the positive vibration of love and peace. Shall we all do this together? Is everyone committed to do this? (A resonating yes from the audience.)
Q: What is the base of Advaita(Non-duality)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Advaita is quantum physics. Quantum physics says that this is all atoms or this is all wave function, vibration (referring to the space and things around). That’s exactly what Advaita says. So, the whole universe is made up of one substance. Me, you, she, he…everybody and everything is made up of one substance. And the nature of that substance is bliss. This is what Advaita is.
Just a glimpse of that experience gives you so much strength and stability, that nothing can shake you; nobody can take the smile from you.
Q: Where do you get courage from?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: From Advaita - Knowing that there is something in you that is not changing. A little experience of silence, calmness and meditation will give you enormous courage from within.
Q: ‘Art of Living’ is doing a great job. But with 30 percent of population in depression, and this figure being expected to reach 50 percent in the coming decade, do you still see a hope for mankind? Do we still have hope?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, and we all have to work for it. You know, when we started in India, it was a small program. We had no resources and manpower. But we had a vision – We have to reach many people in the world. So, in these 30 years we have reached millions of people. So, it is possible.
You know, the cell phone has reached the whole world. If cell phone could reach the whole world, do you think wisdom and compassion cannot reach the whole world? We must make an effort. Ok?
Q: I have lost my trust, how can I regain it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t make an effort to regain it. Listen to your heart. Trust can never be lost. Doubt as much as possible, but truth always stands up to the doubt. Truth is so strong that doubt cannot destroy it. So, it is good to doubt. And the trust which moves through the doubt and stands, that is true trust.
How many of you here have not visited India yet? How many of you would like to come to India? Oh, very good. You know, we will organize a group from here. You have a home there in India. All of you come for a week, ten days, 15 days…whatever is possible. You can all come to India, and have a glimpse of all the service activity.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The secret lies in our breath

Excerpts from a public talk in Berlin, German
Q: Is it possible to become like a child again and to rekindle that positive vibration around us?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is possible. The secret lies in our own breath. Through breathing exercises, certain breathing techniques and some practice of meditation, we can rekindle positive vibrations within and around us.
Are you aware that sometimes for no reasons you feel like talking to some people and, sometimes for no reason you want to avoid some people? I am sure everyone has this experience!
We convey more through our presence than through our words. If we are uptight, angry or stressed, then we become repulsive. Now, the question is how do these negative vibrations come in our aura? We are storing all these negative things that we have seen and heard in our aura.
Q: Is world peace possible?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: World peace comes with individual peace. If individuals become peaceful, communities become peaceful. Then the leaders of the world will also become peaceful, and we can have world peace. When people have broad vision for the whole world, world peace is a possibility. We need to spiritualize the politics, socialize the business and secularize the religion.
Q: What are the points to keep in mind in order to have a successful relation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First for women: Never step on your man's ego. You should always pump and encourage his ego. You know, the whole world may say that your husband has no brains, but you should not say that! You should tell your husband that he has the best brains in the world, and just because of the fact that he doesn't use it, doesn't mean that he doesn't have it! You should always tell him that he is the best man. Always pump the ego of a man .If you call him a vegetable, I tell you he will become one.
Now one advice for men: Never step on the emotions of a woman. You know, she may sometimes complaint about her family, about her brother, or her father, or her mother. You should not agree with that. If you do, then she will take a U turn. Never insult her family. Don’t stop her to go for shopping, or going to a spiritual or religious program. If she wants to go for shopping, give her your credit card.
Now for both: Never ask for proof of someone's love for you. Don't ask each other, “Do you really love me? You don't love me these days just like old days”. You know, it is such a big load for someone to prove their love for others. If someone asks you to prove your love, you would say "Oh my God! How do I prove that to this person?” Do everything with some style and some smile.
Q:How can we bring human, nature and animals in harmony for our future generation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We should stop polluting our planet. Say no to plastic, Use as little plastic as possible. Recycle..Use recycled things. Use chemical free shampoos and soaps as far as possible. Go organic, I would recommend everyone to become vegetarian. You know, if we pay attention on the consumption that takes place to produce one non-vegetarian meal, feeding the animal etc.., it is equivalent to 400 vegetarian meals. So, I recommend everyone to turn vegetarian. Environmentalists say that if even 10 percent of the population turns vegetarian, we will not have the problem of this green house effect.
Q: Do you know about vipasana meditation? What do you think about it? Is it compatible with sudrashan kriya?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Yes, it is compatible. Vipasana is observing the sensation in the body - pleasant or unpleasant. That is good. But it takes a longer time to feel that sensation. You will find much easy with Sudarshan Kriya. Whatever meditation technique you are doing, you can go deep into it with Sudarshan Kriya.
Q: How do I evoke my self esteem?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With sudrashan kriya. Two-three part 2 courses are very essential.
Q: What to do with cancer?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Continue doing pranayama, breathing exercises, meditation, vegetarian food and yoga.
Q: If the courses and techniques are for the benefit of humanity, why is it so expensive?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is very minimal. It is not much expensive. There are expenses involved in renting a place for so many days, a teacher to come. We hardly save 10 to 15 percent on course. Sometimes it is little higher. It goes to a very good cause of charity. Of course, we teach free of cost in prisons, refugee camps and in villages where people can’t afford. If anybody thinks that they can't afford, you simply talk to the teacher. They will take you in and accommodate you.
Q: How much am I suppose to work?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, it is up to you.
Q: What can you say about 2012?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don't worry. Nothing is going to happen. Things will be as usual. In fact more and more people will become spiritual.
Q: I feel very strong in your presence and it feels good. I am very grateful to have you in my life.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good good. Knowledge, meditation and relaxation will give you cool heart, and soothe your heart!
Q: Is genetically modified food really dangerous?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The scientists, who are not employed by these companies, will tell you. The scientists who are not employee of these seed companies can give you the right opinion.
Q: How do you forgive someone who has hurt you deep yet shows no guilt or regret?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I want to tell you that most of the questions have been answered in the books – Celebrating Silence or Celebrating Love.
Q: When we are sad, what does god feel?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: God says "Oh my god! How foolish this person is!" There is so much beauty around in the world, and you are thinking so small and getting sad .Look at the reality of the world, enquire for the secret of the universe and the sorrow diminishes.
Q: How can I motivate myself?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Only three things can motivate you or inspire you - love, fear, greed! But I don’t agree with fear or greed, I believe in love!
Q: What about the dark hidden forces which corrupt politics, military, intelligence agencies etc.?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, I always believe that truth always triumphs. Truth will always win. I would say that you also have this confidence.
Q: Why are there so many religions and communities? Why is the evil so strong?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Evil is not strong. You are giving it strength. It appears as if evil is strong, but it is not. The greatest power on the Earth is love. Love can melt any evil. It is due to lack of love and wisdom that evil exists. The moment love and wisdom comes into play, evil disappears. Like when the sun comes, the dew disappears. We have seen this. You know, when we give some wisdom and love to the extremists like terrorists, there was total change in those people. Some 300,000 prisoners, so called criminals, have done the ‘Art of living’ part 1 course, and their life has so much changed.
Q: Can you please tell how does one get rid of doubt?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:You know, doubt is always about something that is positive. You always doubt the honesty of a person, and never doubt the dishonesty of a person. When someone tells you, "I love you", you ask really? When someone tells you, “I hate you”, you never ask them really. Isn’t it? You are not sure about your happiness. When someone asks about our happiness, we say, "Well, I am not sure." But we are so sure of our depression. We never doubt our weakness, we always doubt our capabilities. If you observe, all good things like love, happiness, honesty, and sincerity are being doubted. So, any doubt must be good.
Q: Why are there so many catastrophes in Poland, China and Iceland?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because we are misusing this planet. We are mining this Earth so much, we are putting so many dynamites, and we are testing so many nuclear bombs. So, the Earth starts shaking. We have to honor mountains, rivers, trees. If we don't exploit this planet, then there will be less and less natural calamities.
Q: How the transformation of the world will happen?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If we all work towards it. More and more spirituality, meditation, singing, and world will become a better place.
Q: Do I need a guru?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you need an answer? If you need an answer that means you need someone who have to give you the answer, and that anyone who gives the answer automatically becomes a Guru.
Guru means the one who gives the answer. The English word guide comes from the original sanskrit word guru.
You need a guide for everything, for learning guitar, music, or any field you take. Similarly, Guru is one who can guide you into meditation, wisdom, and knowledge.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our presence conveys more than our words

May 2010,
Excerpts from Sri Sri’s talk while addressing Indian Embassy. In order to discuss about true contentment, we need to be in a cordial and informal atmosphere. Do you all agree with this? It is important that we feel at home. A formal atmosphere is not congenial to discuss something that is so close to your heart. Why not we take a couple of minutes to greet people around us? You know, why do we feel very dry in life? Because we live in a very formal world. Our greetings are so formal, our Sorry is formal. So, we live in a word which is just words without feelings and presence behind it. Suppose you go as a guest to somebody’s house and they are just formally greeting you. Do you feel satisfied? You know, if you go into the huts of people in Indian villages. There is greeting that comes from the innocence of their hearts. It touches your heart. Otherwise, most of the pleasantries we exchange are like the words of an Air hostess saying, “Have a nice day”. They don’t mean it. Today, we have forgotten to be authentic. Why have we built walls between us? Sometimes I wonder people are so formal even with their own children. We have built solid boundaries around us. Isn’t it so? We speak and convey more through our presence than through our words. I often say that a dog is a better communicator than human beings. It cannot speak your language but it conveys the sense of belongingness through its actions and behavior. It breaks all the barriers to express its love. It does not mind jumping on you even if you are wearing new dress. It invades your boundaries and expresses itself. True contentment can come when we are in touch with our core being, our selves. And what helps in that to happen is releasing the stress.
Q: You have been involved in this. How do you propose or manage to reconcile between enemies?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Many times those who appear to be enemies are not actually enemies. I would give you an example of what we did in Iraq. We gave some meditation and Sudarshan Kriya to the troubled youth there. There was such a huge transformation in them. The youth minister sent 50 youth leaders to the ‘Art of Living’ international centre in Bangalore to be trained as ambassadors of peace. It was challenging to begin with, but there was amazing transformation in them in a period of one month. The same boys went back and started to teach thousands of people how to be calm. You know, we are not taught how to manage negative emotions neither at home nor at school. You get angry, upset, greedy or depressed, but we are not taught how to manage our mind.
I am not saying that we have solutions to resolve all the conflicts in the worlds tomorrow itself. It is not practical. But what has given us hope is, after experiencing meditation, there is enormous change in the same people who appear to be aggressive or enemies.
In 2001, there was a difficult situation in Kashmir. But things have changed now. We can make effort drop by drop. In Jahanabad also our efforts have given good results. All this has given me enthusiasm to go in all conflict zones and do more work. Though, it is a big challenge.
When some people think that only they will go to heaven and others to hell, they create hell for others. We need to educate them with a broader mindset. So, every child should know little bit about all the world’s wisdom. We have globalized things like potato chips but we haven’t globalized wisdom, and education on peace and non-violence. When people are stressed, they either become violent and aggressive or suicidal tendencies arise in them. The solution for depression, suicidal tendencies, social and domestic violence is to teach them how to calm their mind. It is very important to teach them how they can get rid of negative emotions, stress, and all those unwanted emotions. How can we heal them? That healing touch is essential.
Q: Can you please talk about Trauma care?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is what happened after Tsunami. All these fishermen were afraid even to go near the sea. They were begging to be taken away to some hill. All their life what they did was fishing. Simple pranayama and a few minutes of meditation brought them out of trauma in matter of three days. The same people asked for boats to go back to sea on the very third day. So, trauma can be released. Same was observed in after 9/11 incident and Katrina. There are many volunteers who are devoted to bring peace in such areas.
Q: What role has a woman to play in bringing transformation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Woman has great role to play. Women can influence many men around them – father, brother, children, spouse. They have more power and more influence. In Indian mythology all the powerful portfolios like defense ministry, finance and education are with women. What else do you want? In India we believe man and woman are equal partners. There is concept of Ardhnarishver – God is neither male nor female. Divine is half male and half female. Everyone is like that. Nobody is full male or full female. There are genes of both mother and father within each one of us. So, we must respect women. Women should take more lead in the society. And I think that women can be better peace maker, and then less conflict, greed and corruption will be there in the world. Corruption can only happen outside the boundary of belongingness. Heart can never be corrupt. It is mind which goes corrupt. Heart always longs for old and mind for new. Isn’t it so? You want more and more in mind but the heart says,” I am happy”. Heart wants to give and mind wants to take. She should keep that quality while developing leadership and taking more social responsibility.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sri Sri on HIS birthday, German Ashram

The greatest fortune in human life is to be able to say that ‘I want nothing and I am here for you’.
May 13th 2010
The greatest fortune in human life is to be able to say that ‘I want nothing,I am here for you’. I have been having this luck from a long time, from the very beginning. And I wish more and more people to have this fortune to say ‘I want nothing and I am here for you’. Just imagine how a family would be in which every member could say this. It is already there, but hidden underneath somewhere. When the head of a nation or a company says that ‘I want nothing and I am here for the nation/employees of the company, the nation/company automatically prospers. Is there any chance that the head would suffer when the nation/company prospers? No way! Your needs will automatically be taken care of. But if our attention is only on our needs, we are restricting ourselves, our scope and our abilities. We should have that confidence that our needs will be taken care of. There is no need to even think of that.
It does not mean imposing on yourself that you want nothing when you need something. ‘I want nothing’ comes from a state of fulfillment and not that of denial. Fulfillment comes through spiritual knowledge. When you focus on the highest, you see that your needs are taken care of before they arise. The consumerism which is eating the society today can only be checked by inner fulfillment, by quenching that inner quest for the human kind, being, the self, spiritual energy or the inner joy. You can call it whatever. We are very glad today that the ‘Art of Living’ is bringing together all the beautiful pearls, the cultures of the world, together, and stringing them in a beautiful garland. We are the string, the center of the garland. Center of every culture is love, whether it is Mongolian, Saudi Arabia, South America, Indian, German, Scotland or any other culture. The very core of humanity is love. That is what the ‘Art of Living’ is all about. More and more people in world should gain this ability to say ‘I want nothing and I am here for you’.
May 13 in Hindi is ‘Mai tera’ which means ‘I am all yours’. So, May 13 should not happen once a year, but every day and every minute should be May 13.
‘I want nothing and I am all yours’ - We don’t have to make it a wish, because wish again means wanting something. If at all we have to make a wish, it should be “May more and more people in the world have this fortune to sat that ‘I want nothing and I am here for you’ ”. When everyone comes from that space of love, this planet will become a heaven. If everyone is trying to grab something from others, then it is already in a state which you see today.
We are making progress on the path to make this world a heaven, and it is so beautiful to see that. So, we celebrate everyday in our life like this. There is love, action, fun and celebration in this knowledge. Everything comes with this knowledge.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The whole knowledge is practical yet ethereal, spiritual in approach.

Canadian Ashram,
2nd May 2010.
Q: Dear guruji, This might sound like a silly question, but I don’t understand money at all. Can you explain it to me? How important is it? Thank you for having me here.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is said in the Vedic literature, Dharma is righteousness. Then comes artha, which means- the means, money. And then Kama, desire. And then liberation, moksha. So, Dharmasya moolam artha. That is, righteousness is based on prosperity. If everybody is prosperous, nobody will steal anything. The root of dharma or righteousness is prosperity, is money. So, it is all linked. Money is important, but money is only the means. It is not everything.
Never link money with happiness. Even the poorest people are happy, if you see. In fact they are more happy. But money can create a false notion of security to you: You think if you have money, you have everything. The idea of money is for comfort. Isn’t it? Why do you want money? For comfort. But money can give you only one type of comfort.
There are three types of comfort: Physical comfort, emotional and mental comfort, and spiritual comfort - the inner comfort. Whereas money provides only one type of comfort, it doesn’t give emotional and spiritual comfort. It is essential. Like, we all eat to live. But if we live only to eat (laughs), then something is very wrong with us. Basically wrong.
Scriptures and ancient people beautifully describe how to make best use of money. You make five equal portions of the money. You use one portion for yourself, you save twenty percent, you use another twenty percent for your family, and immediate needs, and you make use of one portion for the society .One is called Aapad dhan. It is for emergency, for any need in the future. And there is another school of thought which says you spend 10 percent on charity, you save 30 percent, and you use 60 percent the way you want.
I would say, you don’t need to spend even 10 percent on charity. Keep aside at least 2% or 3% of your income. If you don’t do charity at all, your money will be spent on court cases and on hospitals. You keep aside 2 – 10 percent for the world. Then the greed will not happen in our mind. Greed kills the person and then kills his business also.
But ambition is ok. You should have ambition. You should aspire to create more wealth. Creating more wealth is not a bad thing at all. So, that balanced attitude for money must be there. Money should not be everything in life. It should be to sustain, and to give you physical comfort. And it’s only spirituality that is absolute comfort. When you are connected with the divinity, mental and spiritual comfort is there, you don’t even think about money. Things come automatically. Next year, this ashram will have completed 20 years. Before we had this ashram in North America, we used to hire places here and there. So many people used to come, and we needed our own kitchen for vegetarian food. It was difficult to have advanced courses in hotels here and there.Then I said that the next time I come, we should have a place where we can keep the atmosphere pure, where only meditation happens and where the vibrations of the place become more saatvik, more congenial and more in harmony with nature. Then some of our devotees went around and looked at places, but we didn’t have that much money.
First we put up some tents, and all the tents flew away. It rained. They had a kitchen here and wooden things. Everyone started doing a little bit here and there, and the place became beautiful. So, the whole place come up in some time. This is what is called siddhi. Siddhi means you get what is needed. In India, there is a proverb which says you really wished for nuts and it came to you when you lost all the teeth (laughs). You were praying for nuts, ‘Oh, I need nuts, I need nuts, I need nuts.’ And then when you got nuts, all the teeth were gone! That’s no use. You are praying for husband or wife, and they appeared when you are 75! It makes no sense!
We never ever worry for how things will be done! This is what is siddhi. When the spiritual power is there, spiritual energy is there, everything happens effortlessly. Move with faith and confidence. At the same time, don’t live too much in the air. Be a little practical also. Till you get to that level of spiritual inner dependence, you have to have the reasoning. Reasonably, you should be aware of how you should manage funds.
So, it’s like dance. How dance will happen? When one foot is on the ground, and one is up. If both legs are buried in the mud, can you dance? And if both feet are in the air, then also you cannot dance. You’ll fall. So, dance happens when there is one foot on the ground, and one up in the air. This is what is whole knowledge – practical yet ethereal, spiritual in approach. But I have seen some people who are too ethereal. They don’t do any work but they simply sit, ‘I want 20 million dollars, I want 100 million dollars.’ They don’t even think about small numbers. (laughs) They Pray for it every day. Nothing is going to happen that way also. Know that balance.
Q. Dearest guruji, sometimes I feel that I have not got over a death in my immediate family , and it prevents me from moving forward in my own relationships, and starting my own family. I’d want to move on but sometimes I feel I’m my own worst enemy. Please help me guruji. I am waiting patiently for you to read, and answer my question.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You meditate, you do bhajan. These vibrations reach them also. You be peaceful and peaceful vibrations from you go across to the other side. That is why spirituality is called ’Sadhana’ in Sanskrit, which means the real wealth, the real currency that can go even here and there (laughs). The other dollar currency cannot be used on the other side. That’s why we say when you do satsang, sing and meditate, these positive vibrations reach them. And then, these emotions when they come up just observe them, watch them. They will come, evaporate and disappear. Don’t make a big issue about it. Move on.
Q. Dear guruji, I am profoundly grateful for the beautiful knowledge that you bring to us. I am very curious to know from where these insights come from. When I meditate, I sometimes become calmer and more effective afterwards, but the secrets of the universe do not reveal themselves. Instead I seem to be either stuck in the same dramas or in some kind of self-hypnosis. The path is good for me. I am certain. But I feel so impatient. I found your words about the divine and nature to be the nectar for which I am hungry. Can you please elaborate on that theme. I used to feel a stronger connection with nature. I feel like a bit of a robot these days. Did I fall from grace or something?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, no. I think you have too much time in hand. You sit and think too much about yourself. Get busy. You know, the more good work you do, you create positive atmosphere and vibes around you. And when you create positive vibes, that helps you go deep inside. It is necessary to care for others and share with others. Do it in whatever manner you can. Involve in some projects. Do some meditation. Don’t sit and worry, ‘Oh, what experience I had today, what I will have tomorrow?’ No. They will come and they will go! You are more than all those experiences put together. For a seeker, what you do for any experience that comes, you simply have to say Hi and Bye. One hand you say Hi, and the other hand you say Bye. Don’t forget to say bye after saying Hi. And don’t forget to say Hi, and only saying bye. Then you are in trouble. If you are only trying to say bye-bye, then you are trying to resist them. If you say only Hi, then you are trying to hold on to them. That is why you are given two hands, you know! Hi and Bye. (Gestures hi and bye with hands.) All these experiences come and go, no big deal.
Q. Dear guruji, Last night you said that, ‘If you don’t do all that you can do, then your consciousness will prick you. I know I am capable of a lot, but sometimes it feels like such hard work. I always do my best, and always serve. How do I keep service from feeling like a burden?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, do only as much as you can. Sometimes you take commitment. At that moment, it appears too much. But that will be over. Finish that commitment. And don’t think about it. You know, It becomes a burden if you think, ‘Oh, how much I worked’. You recuperate everyday. So, you should never count how much service you did. It will be very small as compared to what we have consumed!
Q. My best comes out when I am pushed against a wall. It becomes a matter of do or die. That’s the time when I have laser sharp focus, composure, drive and motivation to fulfill all my desires and intentions. But when I’m happy, comfortable and joyful, I can’t seem to have that same composure and drive to motivate myself. How do I change that pattern?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Then ask someone to push you against the wall (laughs). There are no walls here. If you’re not married, get married. Tell your spouse to do it for you. Listen, if you think that your best will come out only if you are in danger and when pushed against a wall, then you have put such an intention in your mind, and that is what is going to happen all the way. You know, you can do it even when you are happy, when you are joyful, when you are free. So, when you have recognized that this is your pattern, it is your responsibility. Nothing else can help you, only you can help yourself. You can say, ‘Now, today I am happy, I am going to do it!’
Q. Dearest guruji, this is the first time I am seeing so much of your blessed glory. Can you tell me how to learn to love myself and respect myself so that I can become a good mother. I inflict harm on my body because I don’t feel worthy. What should I do? Your answer would be most appreciated. Jai Gurudev.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First of all, don’t think you don’t love yourself. Who says this? Even a person who commits suicide loves himself too much, that’s why he commits suicide. Such a person doesn’t want pain, can’t tolerate pain. So, when people who can’t bear some little pain or suffering, and want only happiness, they commit suicide. They love themselves too much. They don’t love others. If the person who is committing suicide loves his mother or daughter or wife or husband or his near and dear one, how would he/she commit suicide? If one care for others, he/she would never commit suicide.They should know if they hang themselves, they will bring problem to his/her fellow beings making them miserable and sad. So, one commits suicide because of loving oneself too much.So, never doubt your love for yourself. Who says you don’t love yourself? It’s impossible, because you are love. It’s only misplaced. Somewhere you don’t get it right. And you are in the right place. As of now, not a single mother is born on this planet who is bad. As a mother, don’t think that you are a bad mother. Impossible! So, just relax and move on with your work. Don’t analyze too much about what happened because there is always imperfection in any action we do. This is an important thing to know. No action, whatever, on this planet earth is perfect. Every action has a dot of imperfection in it. But we should keep acting. Even the worst act has got a good dot in it, whereas the best action has got one flaw in it. It’s either 98 percent good and 2 percent bad or 2 percent good and 98 percent bad. This is what happens in all the actions. So don’t focus so much on the flaws in an action. Keep acting, as long as it is 98 percent good. Ya?
Q. Dearest Guruji, what is ambition and what is greed? What is the line differentiating both? With love and pranams…
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Greed is when nothing matters to you - no people matter to you. Only money matters, only you matter, that is greed. Greed is beyond your capability, beyond what you deserve. Even at the cost of suffering for others or yourself, you want to have it.You aspire and you want it by hook or crook, that is greed. Ambition is you have set a goal, you want to achieve it. That is ok.
Q. Dear Guruji, I noticed that I am unconsciously always comparing myself with others. Tell me how to stop it please?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you are unconsciously stopping it, it will unconsciously stop also. Why do you consciously want to stop? Let it be. Got it? Your trying to stop it consciously becomes a problem. You get stuck. So just relax. Just relax and continue more meditation, more Advanced and Silence programmes. These will de-programme you from that thing.
Q. Dear guruji, how do I achieve balance and moderation? When I live my life 100 percent, I get passionate and attached to the events. When I live dispassionately, I become somewhat slow. Also, how to feel connected? I still feel the void and longing. Nothing seems to be an answer for these.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That’s very good. You are fortunate. When you feel the longing, you are really getting on the path. Very good. Don’t worry about it.
Q. Jai gurudev. Would you please explain about 2011? We are worried.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you remember, many people were so afraid and paranoid in 1999. In 1999, it was said that computers were going to crash. They were asking, ‘What do we do? We are not going to get food’. People started storing milk and food-grains in their basements! I think I was in Halifax at that time and people there asked me the same question, and they were also storing food! They said we have stored milk powder for three months, grains and stuff. I said, ”nothing is going to happen. There is going to be business as usual”. And I am telling you now, we will see 2010, 2013.. It will be business as usual. Only thing is people will be more and more spiritual. Have you noticed how young children, the Yes+ kids were asking questions? I think the older generation would be surprised to see how spiritual the younger generation is becoming. You know what questions you got in 40’s or 50’s, What is the meaning of life?, these kids are getting at the age of 15 now . I am asking this question to those of you who are above 50. Did you ever get this question at that age? The kids today are so much spiritual! As the time comes, you will see that more and more kids become more aware. They are not so much about showoff or buying things like you used to feel. The younger generation is completely off the clothes or jewellery or showoff. Of course, they have little bit more craze about gadgets and the cars. But even that is not as much as you would expect the things to be. Right? You find such difference in people! See in the beginning days of video games every body was so much on those video games. All those violent ones. But as times passed, it’s fading out. I feel that it is fading away. Isn’t it? It’ll happen. More people will be more inclined towards spirituality.
Q. Guruji, I did the Eternity Process and I saw many things from past lives. I experienced a lot of devotion and I even saw you. How much of it is true? Am I just making stuff up?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t have to doubt it. As I said, these experiences are a mixture. One is from your consciousness and your deep experiences. Sometimes it could also be through your fantasy. So, sometimes fantasy gets into it. Then the experience comes up. You know, it’s usually mixture of it. Even if 20 percent of fantasy is mixed with 80 percent of reality, you don’t need to think or do anything. It’s an experience. Take it as it has come and move on. You are much more than all the experiences. You are much more than all the identities and the roles that you play. That is the Self-knowledge. That is the real spiritual knowledge. This is the Upanishadik knowledge.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Misuse of power is immaturity

Question: How do you let go of someone you love?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You must know that love is your nature. Love doesn’t mean possessiveness. Love is not “Oh I love you so much, don’t go anywhere. Sit next to me all the time.” That is not love.
Question: What brings about the misuse of power?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Misuse of power is immaturity. Someone who is not mature misuses power. Such power do not stay long because it’s not power at all. It is only an illusion of power.
Question: The Vedas say that God is one and true scholars call Him by many names. Today religions have moved away from this truth of inter-religious harmony. What can we do as individuals to bring that harmony back?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To bring harmony between the religions, we must uplift everyone to a spiritual level. Spirituality is the common thread. There was only one Jesus, but how many sects of Christianity are there? Seventy-two. There was only one Prophet Muhammed and how many schools of Islam are there? Five. There was only one Lord Buddha and how many types of Buddhism are there? Thirty-two. There was one Lord Mahadeva. How many sects of Jainism are there? Four. So many different schools of thought. Yet the six far Eastern religions had no conflict at all. There was never a conflict between Jainism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Taoism or Shintoism in the world. They always co-existed in harmony. The thing is, Middle Eastern religions have had conflict throughout history. Judaism, Christianity and Islam always had conflict. I was told of a particular incident in Japan. When President Nixon visited Japan for a conference, on one side of him was a Buddhist monk and on the other was a Shinto priest. He asked the Shinto priest, “what is the percentage of Shintoism in Japan?” The Shinto priest replied – 80 percent. He then turned to the Buddhist monk thinking there would be 20% Buddhists in Japan. He asked, “What is the percentage of Buddhists in Japan?”. The monk said 80 percent. President Nixon was so confused. He asked how it was possible. Both priests said that it was possible. You know, that type of harmony existed between religions in the Far East because nobody tried to convert anybody. Religious conversion was not an agenda. Uplifting human consciousness was the main goal. Giving the knowledge was the main goal. It was not about saying, ‘my way is the only way and follow it and go to Heaven, otherwise you will go to Hell’. People, who think that only they have the key to Heaven, create such Hell for everyone else. So, a grounded understanding of religious philosophy is essential. If every child knows little bit about all the philosophies of the world, nobody will grow up to be a terrorist. You know, Einstein said that the best book he ever read was the Gita. He said that it has contributed so much to his understanding of the world and about life. Einstein has read it several times.
The Matrix movie was based on Hindu scripture, Yoga Vashista. The main point was about the whole theme of consciousness. It is an excellent book describing the relationship between mind, consciousness and the universe around us.
Question: What does it mean to live completely in the present moment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Drop the wanting of this answer because the question is already in the past.
Question: How can one experience true love in a relationship?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I can give you three suggestions. One is for men, one for women and one for both. Women should never step on the ego of a man. Women should always boost the ego of a man. Even if the husband is a stupid, the wife should say, “You are the most brilliant man I have ever seen.” You should always praise him. He shouldn’t have to prove himself to you at home because the world requires him to prove himself. He should find peace at home. You should say, “You are the most brilliant man I have ever seen. Just the fact that you don’t use your brain doesn’t mean that you don’t have it. You are the most brilliant.” So, praise your man all the time.
Now there is one suggestion for men. Never step on the emotions of a woman. She may complain to you about her family but you should better not join the bandwagon. She may turn it around. She may take a U-Turn and say, “How dare you say such things about my family. What do you know about my family?” So if she is complaining, you just listen. She is paying lip service. If you say something and you hurt her, it is not worth it. When she wants to go for a religious service or a meditation program or retreat, don’t stop her. And when she wants to go for shopping, just give her your credit card. This will keep peace at home.
There is a suggestion for both men and women. The key to keeping peace at home is that you stop demanding love. You normally say, “Do you really love me? You don’t love me the same way. You have changed. You are different.” Asking people to prove their love for you is such a psychological burden. Just imagine yourself in their place. Imagine if someone demands from you to prove your love for them. What would you do? You’d say, “Oh my God, how long do I have to prove my love for this person?” One day, two days, three days, four days and then you feel like enough. This is what happens. There is a book called ‘Celebrating Love’ that you can read. There are many ideas about love in the book. We don’t know how to receive love unless we know how to give love. How can we express that love? Our expression is something that we keep looking for. So, don’t demand that others express their love. Instead, you should ask, “Why do you love me so much?” Especially on a day when you disagree or they are being nasty, you can say “why do you love me so much? I don’t deserve it!” Even for someone who is angry, you say, “you love me much more than I deserve”. Their attitude would change. Love would spring up in them. If you start demanding, you are destroying love.
Question: Survivors of war and disaster sometimes feel guilty about being alive when so many around them have died. What message do you have for these people?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Life is eternal. That’s it.
Question: What’s the fastest and easiest way to avoid stress and depression?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Inside every culprit there is a victim crying out for help. We need to heal the victim. We all have to try to do some work in this society. You know, we can create a violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, trauma-free memory and sorrow-free soul. This should be our mission.
Question: In your books, most of the examples come from the Hindu tradition of the Gita, not so much from the Koran and the Bible? Have you read the Koran, the Bible or any other religious books other than of your own religious tradition?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I am not a theologian. I speak from my experience. One of the scriptures that I usually quote from is of course the Gita. I also quote from the Bible. I am not averse to any religious scripture in the world. What I am averse to is fanaticism of any sort. You need to study every religion or scripture before you can come and talk about it. So, since I have not studied all of the disciplines like Bible and Quran, I must spend at least four to five years studying each before speaking about them. Yet the essence of all these scriptures are spiritual values which I think I can very easily find in my life. I can easily speak on the essence of the Bible. That is why I say unless you become like a child, you can’t get so far. This is true because every child has that freedom. The child inside you is alive. You are still that innocence. That is spirituality. It is when you meditate, when there is unity among diversity and oneness with the whole universe.
Question: Is it ever possible to be free from desires?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. Otherwise you could never sleep. If the desire haunts your head, you can’t sleep. You let go of the desire so you can sleep. At different times, different needs arise in your body and mind. So, you do not sit here and worry about what you are going to have for tomorrow’s dinner. You know that you have come here for a different purpose. An intention is different from the desire. An example of intention would be the thought that you want to go to New York, and you sit in the car and you drive. You go through Philadelphia and New Jersey. You take the turnpike or I-95 North until you get to New York. This is an intention. Desire is when you sit in the car and say, “I am going to New York, I am going to New York, I want to go to New York, I want to go to New York.” Continuously chanting like this may lead you ending up in the mental hospital. You won’t end up in New York. This is the difference with a sankalpa (an intention). An intention with attention and it will manifest. If the intention becomes a desire, it only brings grief whether it’s fulfilled or unfulfilled.
You know, in the 1960’s and 70’s we had the Hippie Movement. It was created out of abundance rather than lack. All of these people had everything in abundance. People who go to drug abuse or who are indulging in alcoholism are lacking in spiritual education or knowledge. They are seeking an experiential validation of their spirit. That is what leads to depression. There are large populations suffering from depression in the world today. According to statistics it will rise to as much as 50 percent in the coming decade, half the population will be depressed. We need to change this and Prozaic is not the solution. The solution is meditation and yoga.
Question: Any suggestions for people who suffer from allergies?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation, pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya will help. Also, there are two books all should pick up - Celebrating Silence and Celebrating Love. Last time I traveled to the U.S., I came through JFK. As I was passing through security, the man behind the X-ray machine in the next row came to me and showed me the book ‘Celebrating Silence’. He asked, “Are you this person?” I looked at it and said, “Looks like that”. He asked me to sign the book. I said that usually I only sign the customs form! I gave my signature and he told me, “Someone gave me this book on my birthday last December and since then my life has changed. I’ve just read one page here and there over time and it has made such a difference”. He has not done a meditation course or anything. So, it would be good if all read it. It is not any big philosophical text but just snippets of wisdom. ‘Celebrating Silence’ and ‘Celebrating Love’. Also you can put on a meditation CD to relax. After a while, you won’t need any extra support.
You have come now, so drop all your worries here. Give me all your worries, botherations and problems. I want you to go home knowing that you are not alone. You can heal and bless other people. I tell you, it’s not only Guruji who gives blessings and healing. Everyone has this power to heal and to bless. So, anyone of you who wants to do that, you have to do a little bit more meditation, pranayama, kriya and you will have the power to bless others. There are seven billion people on the planet. So, we each must come up with this ability to bless others.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sadhna is the real currency that you can use anywhere

DAR Constitution Hall
Washington, DC
What is stress? When there is too much to do with too little time, or we want a lot but we don’t have enough resources, this causes stress. Also if the resources are there but our ability is not, then also we get stressed. So, how can we manage stress and live more in the moment? With certain energy you can do this. When you meditate, you can increase your ability. When you meditate, you are able to get rid of stress. Eliminate stress by bringing more energy into the body.
Now love is our very nature. You know, I can stand and talk to you for hours about love. It doesn’t mean anything. We can read love through our lives, not through books. You can listen to someone speak on love, but if you have a puppy, the puppy goes mad jumping all over you the moment you come back home. This says much more than reading books all night about love. We can read through our presence and our own lives. Here, I will come to meditation and breath. By doing breathing exercises, we can make our lives so positive. Many of us have had the experience of going to meet somebody and wanting to avoid them. Some people you meet and you just don’t feel like talking to. You feel compelled to avoid them. WIth some Others you feel like conversing. People will have the same experience of you also. Without reason they may avoid you. You want to connect to a person but your stress has created such vibes around, that people are repelled. Here again you must do a bit of pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and yoga to increase the positive vibes around you.
There are so many stories to tell. A teacher was in Botswana and some four terrorists came there. They wanted to steal everything. They were so aggressive yet the teacher looked at them with such positive vibes and said, “hey, my friend what do you want? Some money? Ok, we’ll give you money.” The calmness and serenity in them shook the terrorists. Usually, what they have seen is people panicking. Here someone was looking at them with a human eye. They just took some money and left with it. They didn’t harm anyone. And I tell you, I have so many people emailing me such stories. There are stories of robbers having a change of heart. So, in a similar manner people who are antagonistic towards us can be positively affected if we ourselves live in a space of love and free from stress. I tell you, it is not too easy. It’s challenging but we need to move in that direction. We should first extend peace and compassion to others. Nature has put compassion at the very core of every human being. Love is the central point for each one of us. Stress is only at the periphery. Negativity is only the circumference. We should dream for a world which is free of violence and hatred. Let us all believe in that first of all. Otherwise, we become paranoid. When we become fearful, we lose our strength. The times when you are afraid are when you need more strength. Yet that is when you don’t have it. It is like forgetting your wallet at home and you are in a shopping mall. Suppose you are in the shopping mall and you don’t have a credit card or any money. What do you do? You will look at everything and come back with nothing. But each one of us has this power of love. We are in no debt. There is this amazing unconditional love but we have no access. We have not had access to that somehow. It’s like having your wealth at home without having the key to the almirah (the place where you store your treasures). You have lost the key but you say “oh, I have that there.”
So, we need to wake up to the power that we are made up of, that is love. Like our body is made up of amino acids, carbohydrates and protein, our spirit is made up of love. It is love that gets distorted and becomes all other negative emotions. Why do you get angry? Because you love perfection. When you love perfection, you can’t but get angry. Why are you jealous? Because you love somebody so much that you want them all for yourself. Jealousy is another distortion of love. Greed is your love for objects. You love things more than you love people. This is called greed. If you love your own glorification, it is arrogance. You love yourself more than anybody else. So, love gets distorted and manifests in all of these negative emotions. It is wisdom which can keep love pure. Love without knowledge or wisdom is misery. Love plus wisdom is happiness. It is as simple as that.
Just a few moments every day reflect on your own life. What am I? Who am I? What do I want? Where do I want to go in my life? You may not get an answer for any of these questions but certainly the question itself is very valuable to you. We can use them to sharpen our mind a little bit and connect with our spirit.
The term for spiritual practice,sadhana, is evolved from money. “Dhana” means money and “Sa” means true wealth. That is the real currency you can use anywhere. Money is important in life but keep money where it belongs to. Do not keep it in the head or in the heart. We often misplace money. We keep it in our head while our pockets are empty. Keep money in the pocket but don’t keep thinking about money. You know, how someone becomes rich? Someone becomes rich when they do something useful for society. How did the cell phone companies become rich? They made something which everybody needs. The newspapers make something that everybody needs. So, you too should do something which is useful for everyone. Then you will become richer. If you keep thinking about yourself all the time, you will only keep thinking. That’s it. If you selflessly serve and leave your needs to society, society will take care of you. You will not experience lack even for one day. Do service without worrying about money or your own needs. Society will take care of it, or by trusting in God. It comes to the same thing. You trust in God and ask whatever you need. Those things will always be taken care of when you have confidence and deep faith. And if you do something that is useful for people, you will automatically make money. If people need milk, you supply milk. If people need groceries, you supply groceries. Work on that which is most needed in society and your needs will be met.
Mahatma Gandhi believed in non-accumulation. In fact it is one of the principles of yoga. You don’t need to accumulate a lot if you are dedicated to service. We need to do something. Pick a goal and it will bring more meaning to your life. When you are working with an idea rather than money as your main goal, you will see that money will anyways come. In the 'Art of Living' we never take money factor into the plan. We just start a project and find that the money somehow comes. Whatever is needed, and when it is needed, it comes. You don’t need to have too much but you should not have any lack. Pranayama and meditation make your life such that there is no dearth of anything. You lack nothing. There is a proverb in India that says - you are aspiring for nuts but they come to you when you have lost all your teeth. What’s the point of getting nuts when you don’t even have teeth? You need to get something when you need it. Right? If you have money to buy sweets, a great air-conditioned room and wonderful home and bed, but you are an insomniac and have diabetes, then what is the point of that? So we must create that positive energy around ourselves. This cannot happen just by worrying and thinking.
Question: What is your inspiration?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are two ways of going about work. One is wanting to do something for which you can always find an inspiration. Another is since you already have something, so you want to do it as an expression of joy. It makes all the difference whether work is done as an expression of joy versus expecting some joy. So, I’m not expecting joy in doing something. Rather, I am doing everything as an expression of joy. Everything is happening spontaneously. People find it very hard to understand this. These people ask me, “What is your motivation?, What is it that you want by doing all of this?”. I say, "nothing. I want nothing". It’s a little hard to understand at that time. For instance, suppose you have seen a nice movie. So many people who saw Avatar told me, “Guruji, you must go.” By canvassing for a movie you enjoyed, you are not getting anything. You are not getting paid for canvassing for that movie. You go around telling everybody, “oh, that movie is so good, you should watch it.” What do you get by that? You just tell people because you enjoyed watching it, and you want to share that happiness with everybody. Infinite joy is what we’ve all been born with. I give joy by sharing myself with everybody. So, we need to bring this shift from the joy of receiving to the joy of giving.
Question: Are you frustrated with what has been happening on Wall Street?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wall Street has lost the trust of people, as have the government and the church. We need to bring spirituality, the type of spirituality that Mahatma Gandhi spoke about, into politics. We need to spiritualize politics, socialize business and secularize religion. Religious leaders need to worry more about people than their institutions. They should care for people more. At the same time politicians should think about the values that leaders like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and George Washington had. This country had Lincoln. He was a great visionary. There have been leaders who have given their whole lives in service to the people rather than out of a desire to achieve something. There is the Lincoln Memorial here, but it was not Lincoln who asked for it to be built. He stood for justice, equality and truth. That is real spirituality. I consider the founders of this nation and also the founders of India, South America and South Africa as people who had zeal. They were innately spiritual in their nature. This indicates how spirituality relates to politics. The backbone of business is trust. If lost, it cannot survive too long. So businesses should practice corporate social responsibility. We should care for one another. Otherwise, when we lose love for people, when we have no friends, we think money brings us happiness. It doesn’t.
Question: If God is omniscient, why do we praise Him or pray to Him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your praise is not for God’s sake. It is for your sake. You praise God, and that praising uplifts your own spirit. You imbibe all those good qualities in you. It’s not that God, when praised, becomes very happy and places those boons on you. You cannot bribe God like that. We pray to God. We do it in every religion. We seem to think that by praying we are appeasing God and by not praying we are annoying God. I don’t think so. Prayer is your innate call. You want something and you pray. Meditation is even better than prayer. The culmination of prayer must be meditation. Meditation is telling God, “I am here to listen to you. What do you want to tell me? Let thy will be done". That is meditation.
Question: Who is your inspiration?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are two books you can read to find an answer to this. One is 'Guru of Joy' and the other is 'Walking the Path'. I would say my inspiration is every child. I want to see everyone to be like a child. Of course, I must say my mother was a great force. She was always concerned that I had to do better. Anything I did, she would say that you had to do better. So, she was pushing me all the while.
Question: Despite so much research there’s not yet a cure for HIV. Is there any hope and what is your message to those afflicted with HIV?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Those who are living with HIV and AIDS must remember that we are all going to lose our body one way or another. Everybody is going to die. Now lift your eye above this body consciousness to know your spirit. Spirit has no disease. Spirit is beyond it. Keep your mind alive, energetic, loving and happy. People with disease die and people with no disease also die. Sometimes they die out of nowhere. Sometimes sick people live longer and many times healthy people suddenly die. All possibilities are there. So, know that you are more than the body. You are consciousness. You are light. Honor that light. Please don’t sit and brood over it. Look ahead and engage your life in educating others who are not informed about HIV. And instead of seeking solace, become a giver of solace to others.
Question: Is homosexuality evil?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I don’t think so. Eastern philosophy does not even say that it is evil because you are made up of both male and female DNA. In your DNA, you are half your mother and half your father. Both male and female aspects are in you. In some people the male is more dominant, though your physical body is female. Then you become lesbian. And if your female aspect becomes more dominant and you have a male body, these tendencies may come up at different times. So don’t label yourself as wrong or feel guilty. These tendencies come and go. Many people, who are straight, suddenly have these feelings, and then they are so shaken within themselves. Many people come and talk to me about this problem. Similarly, people who label themselves as gays or lesbians suddenly find their preferences changing. So, all this is fluid. Our tendencies and mind are fluid. I tell you, we should not blame ourselves at any cost. Self-blame is a sin. When you blame yourself, you can never settle down. When you haven’t settled down, you can never focus on anything.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Devi/Devtas/Deities are nothing but particular energies.

Q: Dearest Guruji, today, I learnt courage from you. I often thought that you were a scary and angry person. But I found so much peace in you. I am afraid what if I lose you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You can’t lose me, and I can’t lose you! Our mind projects our feelings on others. This is what happens most of the times. Sometimes people ask me if I am angry at them. They say that I didn’t smile at them or talk to them in crowd, and comprehend that I am angry at them. But why would I be angry at them? There are so many people in crowd. I smile at some, and pass a bigger smile to them who have a long face so that they also smile. But smiling at some doesn’t mean I am angry at others. Many times we project our own emotions on others, especially when we love someone. If you are angry or upset at others, you think that others are angry and upset at you. Here knowledge of the self is so important so that you can have a balanced perception. With the knowledge, you know what is happening inside you, and you know what is happening inside of others. That clarity of perception, observation and expression can only come through meditation.
Q: Dear Guruji, you talk about dispassion. Then what about passion? I think that people follow a career, business or profession just for money, and then money becomes their passion. Don’t you think that youth should follow their heart, passion and dreams?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should have a dream and passion. You should follow that, but not with the feverishness. If you want to go to Niagra falls, you go. Who said not to go? You make the necessary arrangements and visit the place. But if that deeply gets into your head , and you keep on thinking about it all the time, then you will end up landing somewhere else. With this feverishness, your mind loses clarity, and you don’t get right ideas or thoughts. Having passion and dispassion are complementary. Dispassion brings you centeredness, settles you down, and you become calm. When you have passion, and you are acting, it drives you to things that you want to have. Deep rest and dynamic activity are complementary. How can you be dynamically actice if you have not given deep rest to your mind and body? Someone who has never slept cannot feel energetic at all. Sameway, if you are not dispassionate, you cannot be passionate. You will only be feverish with desires and cravings in your mind, with no ability to act.
Q: I am a restless soul. I always want to take up the next thing, whether it be new job, new country, new place, new things. I don’t know what is it that I am searching for? Do you have any suggestions for me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your soul is restless! How do you know? Have you found your soul? (Jokingly) Your restlessness is because you want more. You want more joy, more and more. It is like Bulimia. You eat food but you are not satisfied. You take it out, and then you eat more food. Relax. You have to find peace. You need to hurry up till you are not on the spiritual path. Like you have to hurry up before catching the flight. But once you are on the plane, there is no fun if you run inside the plane with your baggage on your head! You are not going to reach any faster. Once you are on the path, you simply have to relax. It is also said in Bhagwad Geeta that ‘A yogi who is beginner has to work to earn karma’. But then you have to learn to relax. The more you relax, the faster you reach. If you take more time to relax, it takes long to reach. I know what are you searching for – your inner self - the source of all wealth, happiness and joy. And that is deep within you. Especially, when you meditate in a group of regular meditators, it has a different effect. Have you noticed that it had a different effect when you meditate today in the group, in this presence? (Affirmative yes from the audience). So it is much better to meditate in a group. You progress faster when you meditate with meditators. Then you realize that you have gained an ability to smile through and through, nothing really bothers you or touches you, nature loves you, and reverberates with you. I was having a discussion with one of the great scientists of the time. He was telling me about string theory. Every animal brings a particular type of energy, rythm or vibration on the planet Earth. Even if one animal is missing, the unverse will collapse. Suppose, if all the house flies gets extinguished from the planet, human beings will also dissappear. So, all the species of animals and birds are important for sustaining the universe. Ancient vedic people knew this. In ancient Indian methodologies, they have put different Gods and Goddesses on different animals. It is said that these angels or Gods/Goddesses ride on those animals, and come to the planet Earth. Mother Divine energy comes on lion. These are opposite values, but they bring in that type of energy to the ground. It is not that Mother Divine has to sit on lion and travel. But it means that cosmic consciousness brings that energy down to the planet Earth through that particular animal. Like crows are connected with ancestors and planet Saturn. Mars is connected with sheeps and goats. Each planet is connected with a particular animal, and each God/Goddess is connected with a particular energy. God/Goddess is nothing but a particular energy that descend to the Earth through that particular animal.