Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anger should be used as a tool, and you should not be a tool of anger

Continued from the last post...
Q: For a beginner like me, how do I understand what self is?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Everything in the world changes. Our experiences change, our understanding changes, our intellect changes, we think differently at different times, thoughts are changing, and also our emotions keep changing. How do you know that everything is changing? There must be something that is not changing. Without the existence of something that is not changing you cannot even know things are changing. So you infer. E.g. when there is a smoke you say, ‘there must be fire’. You just see the smoke and you infer that there must be fire somewhere. Similarly, you cannot directly experience that which is not changing, then how do you do it? Through inference.
The ancient people said there are three ways of knowing - Pratyaksha, Anumana, Agama.
There are three proofs, one is Pratyaksha - you see direct. Second is anumana - you infer, e.g. you see the smoke and you know there must be fire, right! So when you see that everything is changing, and you know that you can experience change only through something that is not changing, through some reference point, then you infer -‘There is something that is not changing in us and that is called ‘SELF’, your soul, your spirit, whatever you call it’!
So we went from body to finer - Body, Breath, Mind, Intellect, Memory and then ego. Finer than all this, is the ‘SELF’. What the ‘SELF’ is? Finding that out is called spirituality… is meditation! And what this ‘SELF’ is made up of? It is…!
Q: Some schools of thought disapprove the existence of the Self or the cosmic consciousness. What do you say about this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You cannot say self does not exist. Anybody who claims self doesn’t exist, how did he know that? Who knows it? Who is saying it? Huh?! If I say I don’t believe in anything, at least I must believe in these words of mine. I can only say, ‘I don’t believe in anything except these words that I am saying’. You know the most foolish statement on the planet could be someone saying, ‘I don’t believe in anything’. At least the person who is saying this should believe in himself!
Do you see what am I saying? Are you getting it?
If I say I don’t trust anything then I must also say that I don’t trust the words that I am saying to you right now. This sentence - ‘I don’t trust anything’ is false because you at least trust the sentence you are saying, otherwise why would you even say that sentence? So, nobody can authentically say that he/she doesn’t trust anything. If he says, either he is crazy or he is enlightened! (Bubbles of laughter)
The words that we say, ‘everything is changing’ are very relative. All that you see, you touch or you feel comes under the purview of the five senses. That is why we say everything is changing, but there is something that doesn’t change. If, once, we have a foot in that something that doesn’t change, nothing can shake you! That is awakening! What is Awakening? something in me that doesn’t change, I don’t change. Just a glimpse of this spirit or the being within you, and there will be no fear at all in life. Everything is in abundance, mind becomes calm, stable, creative, intelligent, intuitive, and all these abilities just spring up from within, and that is what happens when you just sit, meditate and let go of everything. Let go.And even if for a few seconds the mind becomes still and it is in touch with that non-changing you; DONE! Then the purpose of life is done!
So every human body-mind complex is like a wave in the ocean, then you realize that this whole universe is all life everywhere. Our bodies are like shells floating in the ocean. Ocean of life is holding so many bodies. So life is not just in the body but body is in the life.
If it is too much and you don’t get it now, just put it somewhere in the back of the mind, someday you will understand, okay! It could be just a concept, that’s why what we do with anything that’s a concept? We put it in the back burner, in the back shelf; we just go with our experience. See, with our experience, we mature more and more and more… yeah! Good!
Q: You told us about experiencing the self, when was your first real experience on experiencing the SELF? We would love to know.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When was my first experience on that? I don’t know!
It was there in the childhood, then I grew up and then it became clearer later on. I don’t know but may be when I was seventeen or eighteen.
Q: How do we know that we are working on our life’s purpose and we are not doing somebody else’s job?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Okay! How do we know we are doing our life’s job? What is that we have come here to do?
See whether you are happy and making people happy around you. Are you doing whatever you can do for people around you? Are you sharing your love and gaining knowledge? Whatever knowledge you have, can you share that with people? You have to ask these questions and you know, sometimes we shouldn’t doubt ourselves too much; sometime self doubt arises – ‘Am I doing this right?’ Just be spontaneous. In every action, there is something good and there is something wrong. There is no action that is totally perfect. The field of action has some imperfection, maybe one percent or two percent. So there could be imperfection in every action.
Similarly every word that is spoken could be imperfect. But what could be perfect is our intention, our feeling. Do you see what I am saying? You have no ill intention towards anybody, and that is done. You know, I have never uttered any insulting word from my mouth all these years. At the most the word that has come out of my tongue is ‘stupid’. When I get really angry, I raise my voice and say ‘You stupid!’, but I have never cursed anybody and that is how I am made. I can’t take credit for it because I didn’t make any effort. I didn’t go to any course or school and try to make myself not to curse people, or not to blame anybody. To yell, shout or get upset is not in my nature at all. And all these bad words simply don’t come up.
Q: Should one never get angry?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t think you should all be without anger all the time. You should use anger as a tool when it is necessary. I tried to do it but I was not too successful. Often sometimes I try to show anger but it doesn’t work because very soon I start laughing and everybody else will start laughing along, also people don’t believe me getting angry. But sometimes anger is good. You know, especially in a world when there is corruption, when there is injustice and when there are all sorts of people who do all sorts of wrong things, who take advantage of you in all situations, it is necessary that you raise your eyebrows or sometime show anger, it would be good. But see that you show anger and it doesn’t affect you or get into your heart and make you upset. Look, that doesn’t happen in a day and that is where all these practices can be of help. Yeah, I’m not saying be like a vegetable all the time or like a mentally retarded person, smiling or not getting upset at all, you should get angry when things don’t go well, right! But don’t ever let that anger ferment in your mind and turn into hatred. It could be momentary.
You know what is a healthy anger?
When you draw a line on the surface of water, how long does it stay for? Only that much time anger should stay, then it is healthy anger. If your anger stays only for that much time and when you have a control over it then it is healthy and you are okay. You can get angry but anger should not get you. What happens usually, anger comes and gets you, and then we are in trouble. Knowledge and wisdom is the reverse of it. Got it! You can use the knife but the knife doesn’t use you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Precious knowledge on one's levels of existence

 26 August 2010
Q: Basically I don’t really know how to say it, it’s a question I have been asking myself for a very long time and it might seem a bit awkward but as I look at the whole universe and see everything is interrelated, I really wonder how the human kind is really useful in the system and are we of any use while we are here?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very good question! What is the purpose of life, why are we here? And you know you should give a pat on your back. If this question has come into your life that means your intellect is mature. There are millions of people who live their whole life without even asking this question, ‘what is the purpose of life? Why am I here?’ They simply eat, drink, watch television, make love or fight, and die. They have no idea; they don’t even stop for a minute and think what life is? Who am I? What do I want? What can I do and how can I be useful? None of these questions even cross anybody’s mind; if it has come into you that mean you have begun living. Your life has started the right journey and this journey is what you call spirituality - to find out exactly what is the purpose of life. What do I want? Who am I? Before you can ask what you want, first you should know who you are. What is life? There are two important aspects to this question, one is the science and another is spirituality. You know what THIS IS through science, and through spirituality you know ‘WHAT AM I?’
‘ME’ and ‘THIS’; ‘THIS’ you understand through science, ‘ME’ you understand through spirituality.
What is this ‘I’? To know the ‘I’ first you understand ‘THIS’. What is ‘THIS’?
Oh ‘This is world’, ‘This is body', and ‘how did this body come into existence?’
It came as a baby weighing only four or five kilos. Then the baby took all the material from this earth and becomes fifty kilos. So what is in this body, how this body has come up?
Q: You talked about the body. I want to know what the connection is between the body and the five elements.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Earth, water, fire, air, ether - the five elements. If any one of this element is missing, this body cannot stay or sustain. Isn’t it? Earth element - food, water element, then you need fire element or heat. Without heat, this body cannot survive. Then is air – impossible for body to exist without it, and space or ether. The five elements have been the cause or reason for the body’s existence and what happens to this body? It has come out of the five elements and will go back to the five elements, this is science.
There are five elements in the dead body also. So what is the difference between a living and a dead body? In a living body, there is life and what is this life?
When the question begins then you see oh, ‘PRANA’ - there is life force, and then you go deeper into the study of ‘PRANA’ and you see there is something more than ‘PRANA’.
What is that, that is the mind! Oh, then what is the mind? How many types of mind are there? How many functions of the mind are there? This curiosity takes you to the 'Art of Living'.
Q: Can you please talk in a little detail about these levels of existence you have talked about?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Mind, intellect, memory and ego are four functions of the mind or mind has these four aspects.
So what is mind? Are you listening? If your eyes are open and your ears are of course open, sound anyways goes into your ears but if your mind is elsewhere, can you listen to me? No! Isn’t it? So this mind is that through which you perceive, you feel, correct! That, which goes out through the five senses and experiences, is mind.
Okay! so if you experience through mind then what is intellect? As you experience you say, ‘oh, this is good, this is not good, I want this, I don’t want that’. You know intellect is the judging or discriminating aspect. As I am speaking now, your mind is saying, ‘well, I don’t like it’ or ‘I believe it’ or ‘I don’t believe it’, you are going into a dialogue, this is intellect; and then memory, that which stores all this information. So sometimes you feel, when you experience something, ‘oh! I have experienced this before’. When you enjoy apple pie, not for the first time, you say ‘oh I have enjoyed this before, I had this pie before’. So memory is recognizing the experiences and storing it in the memory and then ego.
Ego is – ‘I am something, I am intelligent, I am stupid, I like this, I don’t like that, I am rich, I am very poor, I am ugly or I am beautiful, I am something, I am’, that is ego. When you understand all this then you feel is this the thing? No! After understanding ego also, there is something left, what is this? That is the self.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bangalore Ashram will be closed for general visitors on 29, 30 sept & 1st Oct

Dear ones,

In the view of Art of Living national teacher's refresher meet (TRM) at Bangalore ashram, ONLY on September 29, 30 & October1st Ashram will be closed for general visitors.
Housing & Satsang will be restricted ONLY for the course participants & TRM participants.

Request, you to kindly spread the message in your followups, satsangs & information centres.

Thank you

Jai Gurudev

There is hope for every soul, for every human being, to live unconditional love

Faith and Doubt
Faith brings totality in you. It pulls together all the loose ends of your consciousness. It integrates your whole personality. Doubt scatters you. Doubt destroys you.
Worries Washed Away
You can do this as an experiment: when you are very worried or tense, just sit by a flowing river or gushing water and just keep looking at the water. You know, within few moments you feel as though like a magnetic pull, that your mind is being pulled in the direction of the flow of water...and in a short while all that anguish, delusion, whatever you had, [with] the flowing water it all flows away. You become fresh.
Influencing All Levels
When you meditate, you are not just bringing a harmony within yourself, but you are influencing the subtle layers of creation, the subtle bodies of all the different levels of existence in the creation.
The Human Body
There is hope for every soul, for every human being, to live unconditional love. That is why human body is so precious---because in this body you have the ability to erase all the unwanted negative impressions.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I know it is bad and yet I do it. Why do I do it? And how to get rid of this?

Q: I know it is bad and yet I do it. Why do I do it? And how to get rid of this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know it is bad and you still do it. Why do you do it, are you asking me? That is ok. You should wish that circumstances would change and know that opposite values are complementary. That gives you the strength. And, know that things change.
There are only two reasons why you don’t follow knowledge or wisdom:
First: Bad habits. Old habits don’t leave you so fast.
Second: Your temptation of doing wrong gives some pleasure. For example, you know that eating too much of ice cream would increase your sugar level as your doctor has warned you, but your temptation says, 'No, I should eat that. Just one more day let me eat it.' You do it because it gives you pleasure.
It is ok, you can violate the laws as long as you are ready to take the consequences. Eating after 8 pm is not good, you know? But if you still do, then keep awake in the night, keep burping and keep suffering with indigestion! If it is ok with you, then do it.
So, only these two things stop you from following the knowledge.
Like, you know that smoking is bad for health but you still smoke. Smoking is not giving you any great pleasure but to drop it has become so difficult because it has got ingrained as a bad habit in you.
Now, habits can be overcome only through three things:
One is out of greed. Say, someone tells you that you will get one million dollars if you don’t smoke for one whole month then you will say, 'Why one month, I will not smoke for 35 days. Five extra days to make sure the counting is right.' Greed can stop you from habits that you don’t like.
The other is fear. If someone says you will get these different types of cancer if you smoke, then you won’t touch it.
Third is the promise to a loved one. If you made a promise to a loved one then also you won’t do it. The love for them will will stop you from smoking.
So, I prefer the last one to the other two.
Or, in the end you will realize by yourself, 'Oh! It is painful. It is misery that I am buying by continuing with this habit.' So, one day when you realize this, then it will drop the habit itself.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Excerpts of Sri Sri’s interview in KPMG magazine

Q: What is the greatest value of diversity?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “We no longer live in an isolated world. Our knowledge and communication are expanding, while our world is shrinking. Therefore, to survive, businesses cannot be territorial. We have no other choice than to honor diversity. It is now a necessity, not an option. It is in our nature, and it is a sign of intelligence and evolution when we feel that all the cultures, all the civilizations, all the different schools of philosophy, all belong to us. Unfortunately, prejudice based on ignorance is the greatest impediment to embracing diversity. For example, 25 years ago when we spoke about yoga, breathing and meditation in Europe, it was regarded as an oddity over here. There was so much prejudice towards Eastern influences. But now people realize that yoga is beneficial to their health, and they are accepting it. Similarly today, there is prejudice in some Islamic countries towards yoga and meditation. All these prejudice must be eradicated.
Q: Shouldn’t diversity within companies involve more than discussing the percentage of women at the top?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “In many places, the first discrepancy and discrimination one sees is gender-based. Gender is the most visible; the most obvious today. So, gender and religion, followed by nationality or cultural differences, these all should be sidelined. However, I am not saying that you have to force yourself to find a person who is from a particular category, when they may not be as talented. That is also wrong. Talent must come first, and diversity should be secondary. In the name of diversity, we bring in people who are not capable or qualified to do the job. The business suffers as a result. So the diversity value should not come as a rule imposed on someone but it should come from within oneself. It should come from the transformation of our outlook rather than an imposition of a rule or government regulations”.
Q: What is the starting point for leaders?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “I believe the starting point for leaders is the boardroom; the office. To create an atmosphere of celebration, you need the right attitude and you have to bring in that attitude. This may require some form of teamwork, others need to instill it. An atmosphere of celebration, of trust, cooperation and a sense of belonging, all have to come. I have no doubt that there is a willingness among people to refresh themselves, they just need to have it put in front of them in an effective, viable way. They need to be given the opportunity. A business won’t last if it focuses only on productivity and net result. The company ultimately suffers because the creativity, the strength and the sense of belonging will ebb away. Similarly, the 'command and control’ system-the military system-no longer works. Only inspiration and motivation are effective tools. For that, one can apply some of the ancient principle from different parts of the world in the workplace, to make the work more enjoyable.”
Q: Will the business world be organized differently in 20 to 30 years from now?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “We have already stated. In the past, the business world ran on economic pressure, because people had no other means. But today, the global market is so open and the choices are many and varied. People are more aware than it was a few years ago, so now they want to move around. If not here, they will find job advancement; it has turned the business view completely upside-down. Before, it was regionally oriented because you had to do a job and availability was limited”.
Q: How can the workplace be improved?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “One of our programme components is entitled ‘Let out the steam and get into the team’ - that is our slogan. In other words, take off your management shoes and sit with others in your company. Sit and talk to them and share your point of view. This type of interaction is an education. It empowers people and facilitates cooperation. We combine this with breathing techniques and exercises, where participants independently eradicate feelings of stress and take a fresh look at the situation. For any business, you need intuition-and successful business is directly proportional to the intuition of the boss. Greater intuition translates into greater business success, if your intuition is wrong, you cannot be successful. Our programme is aimed at lessening the stress and enhancing intuition-this also brings out creativity and
enthusiasm in the workplace. In today’s hectic world, people are often exhausted, and there is so much illness. Mental ill health costs the European Union an estimated 3 to 4% of its GDP, and this cost runs into hundreds of billions of euros. According to the World Health Organization, mental ill health accounts for 20% of the burden of disease in Europe, and mental health problems, including depression, affect one in four individuals at some time in their life. These techniques, taught in the course, of lifestyle change can help people enormously to overcome their illness”.
Q: Is it possible for business people to integrate ethics with their daily work?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “The reason why unethical things are happening in business is because there is fear within individuals and that fear needs to be addressed by these spiritual practices. Thus, when you fear less; when you want to be trustworthy; when you want to be committed and adhere to the values, you would never commit acts of wrong doing that have the potential to affect the lives of thousands and millions of people. That is why business needs to embrace corporate social responsibility (CSR). It is not just an intellectual thing, it is something that has to come from the heart of every human being”.
“Programme such as ours are designed to facilitate that process. We host ‘business and ethics’ conferences with successful business people who have completed the corporate programme. They come to share their
experience on how to be successful and ethical. This inspires other business people to follow in their footsteps. Yet, often people think that if you want to be successful, you cannot be honest, but this is
not the case. It is a bubble of illusion. However, balance is required; you cannot embrace CSR while allowing your company to sink. Equally, you can’t gain at the expense of your employees, who suffer and eventually leave the company. Both strategies rock the boat. You have to achieve perfect balance. You
have to look at your gains and how much you care about the people in the company, as well as how much you dedicate to CSR”.
Q: Your organization has touched more than 30 million people in 25 years, yet you have undergone tremendous growth. How did you achieve and organize that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “I never organized anything; I just let it grow organically. I was not a stumbling block. The organization is run by volunteers and we have leaders. I lend my name to the projects, and
everyone else does the work! On a serious note, the product that we offer is very useful to people,
and we organize a wide range of activities. Our intuition works and any project we take on is a success. We now operate in 151 countries, with 41 main centers, and many local city centers. We also have 100
fee-paying schools and 108 tuition-free schools for the poorest people”.
“The prerequisites for such an organic growth are patience, perseverance and clear intention! This includes clarity of purpose, flexibility to accommodate errors and a long-term vision with good intentions. For any business to grow organically, the leaders must also put a check on any feverishness and not indulge in blame games. This means that they must learn! Learn from the past, have a vision for the future and sustain enthusiasm. They must also have a sense of respect for all, performers and non-performers”.
Q: In order for people to feel better, is it a simple case of breathing, meditation and embracing intuition?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “Correct!. We are not taught at school or at home how to manage negative emotions, like feeling unhappy, sad, jealous or angry. This knowledge has not been provided. But if you are
taught how to manage your anger and your own emotions using your own breath, then it does a lot of good. Acquiring that knowledge is possible with the help of breathing and meditation.
I have been in Buddhist and Hindu traditions for centuries, in China, Japan and India, through breathing and meditation. But the difference between our techniques and these old techniques is that ours suit
modern-day people who have less time. This technique is so handy, useful and accessible in today’s modern society”.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Life should be lived lightly, easily, with no stiffness, no walls, unassuming, free and at home with everybody

August 15 2010, Malaysia
Q: I have a very nice family, a lovely and caring husband and three lovely daughters, no financial problem, but on and off I have disturbed moods and emotions without reason! Is this problem inherited from my father as he is a major depression patient? And my grandfather committed suicide long long ago; my father hated my grandfather so much!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, everything changes! Every cell in your body changes in one year and when you are on the spiritual path, this is accelerated. However the past has been, you simply dump it, drop it, okay!
Yeah, people didn’t know how to handle their mind in those days, but now you know, okay!
The concept, ‘Because of my hereditary problem I am having this mood swing’ will not let your mind be free.
It can all change and it is changing. With the practice of pranayama, you must have already noticed a change. It will continue to improve. Few more advanced courses and little more meditation will also help.
Q: I take a lot of allopathic medicines for body aches, but still I suffer pain here and there in the body.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We don’t take care of our body, we don’t do enough exercise. We eat all this food with so many chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and all that… all those pesticides get into the body and they cause all this pain, once you detoxify yourself, you will see how this pain will go.
Q: Dear Guruji, I like a person C and E. The problem is I do not know whom to choose. C loves me a lot where as I find it a challenge to love E. So whom should I chose?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: you know what I say in all these cases, choice is yours, blessing is mine!
If I make a choice for you, then anytime you will have any fight with that person , you will say, “I did not choose you. Its only because of Guruji that I married you”. Then not only you but I will also be in trouble! So, the best thing is you choose, okay and know that you will choose only the best. Whomsoever you choose will be the best for you. The other one which you have not chosen is never going to be best for you. This much I assure you.
Q: How do I let go of the past?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We must always see the past as destiny, future as free will and live happily in the present moment. We do the other way round, what we do? We think the past was free will and the future is all destiny, and you remain in the present inactive and miserable, this is what foolish people do. What do intelligent people do? The intelligent people see the past as it is gone, done, finished and that was meant to be, it was destiny. Something good has happened and you have learnt something, and something bad has happened and you have learnt. Both ways you have learnt, so past is destiny. We can create future now, our spirit has the capacity to see what we want. Future is free will, we are happy and one with everybody in the present. We should find every reason to be happy but what we do, we do the other way round, we find every reason to be unhappy.
Yeah of course challenges come in life, pleasant things happen; unpleasant things happen so what, huh!
Q: I am feeling bliss that I have come to know of the ‘Art of Living’. I am a Buddhist; can I become an ‘Art of Living’ teacher?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, sure! Definitely. You truly understand and live what Buddha has said.
Q: Dear Guruji, I am in this course (advanced course) but this time around I slept through all the meditations. May I ask what is wrong with me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah, not only you but others also notice that you are sound asleep. It’s okay. You know when your body is so tired, you must have been up late night and so much of stress might have accumulated. If you fall asleep never mind, that is why the program is for four days.
First reason could be that your body could be very tired, second the food must be very tasty and you must be eating a little more than required, and if you take yogurt and a little heavy food in the afternoon, sometimes then you will fall asleep. So, you can reduce the food, just one spoon less, two spoons less. Eat a little less food; drink more juice or vegetables or fruits. Third is if you lack oxygen, if you have not done some little exercise or take a walk, brisk walk or a little jogging in the morning then also this may happen. One or two rounds of bhastrika also help.
Q: Course will be perfect without translation, when can we stop?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Okay now listen, this is your concept. Just imagine if you were on the other side and I would speak only Chinese, don’t speak any English, and there would be no translation, then what would you do? ‘Oh, please let me have translation’. Don’t keep the concept in mind, ‘oh translation is bothering me’. No it does not matter, let it be there. Listen to it like music.
You know people who cannot read Chinese, we find it so beautiful when we go to Hong-Kong, because all these Chinese letters look like decoration. All the sign boards look like decoration, some rangoli or some designs. The entire Hong-Kong is decorated with design boards everywhere. It does not bother but if you know the language, you will be reading all the boards and it will be bothering you more. When you don’t know, it looks so nice.
Q: How we all can make this world the best place to stay and when?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I am happy that you have this thought and you are in the right place. Let us all join together, we will do some nice things.
Q: What is love, and how to find peace?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have spoken about all this in the Narada Bhakti Sutras. Different types of love and what is love? Listen to those tapes.
Q: Dear Guruji, I desperately need one good job and visa for some country, please help me!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah, you pray, you do meditation. Whatever you ask for, you are getting it, right! How many of you are getting whatever you desire? You wish and you are getting, your work is getting done. How many of your wishes are coming true? (many raise hands)
Q: I want to go to India with my family members.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah you’re welcome to come. We will organize, I think in the stadium also many people wanted to come to India the other day. If it’s a long big group then it will be fun. Some good travel agent here, any travel agent here? Then we will make arrangements and sometime all must come, it’s just very close from here, just four hours.
Q: How to improve memory and be more creative and imaginative?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How to improve memory? I will tell you next year, let me see whether you remember the question!
You do have good memory; If you think you don’t have, little more pranayama, and there are some ayurvedic things for memory, you can take Brahmi and Shankapushpi, these herbs are good for memory.
Q: How to overcome the air in my stomach and deal with constipation as it makes my emotions go bad, really bad, especially during working hour?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Food, food, food, change your food habits. Is there an Ayurvedic doctor here or Chinese doctor? They can suggest some herb, in Ayurveda, there is something called Triphala. So every night you take two-three tablets of Triphala which cleanses the body and constipation will go, hah! That is a very general medicine, harmless. Do we have Ayurveda here? Let’s work towards getting these herbs, they are very useful.
Q: When two kids like to fight with each other, what should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just join them! See that they don’t have sharp things in their hands. Children should fight, they fight and they come back again and they hug each other, they love each other, they can’t be without each other. But it is the adults, it takes them months, years and sometimes even lifetimes to shake hands. Kids are not like that, they fight a moment and next moment they are hand in hand with each other, better you don’t get involved in their matters. Children live in the moment, kids live in the moment, so they fight now and they forget now and this is the beauty.
Q: How to become a teacher of the ‘Art of Living’?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah, in the end of the course, there will be a list and whoever wants to become a teacher should give his/her name. If you want to become a teacher, you can.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Love with wisdom leads you to bliss

Continued from the last post.
Q: A lot of spirituality text talks about controlling our mind and channelising our thoughts. But practically for most of us that’s a difficult job to do. Request you to give us practical tips on this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ya, that’s exactly what we are going to do now. Meditation. You will know then how we will deal with the thoughts.
Q: How does one drop a tendency to judge people? How do you drop judgment? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh!(laughs) it can stop by itself. Once you know you are judging, you only come out of it. See, you cannot do anything about the past. The moment you become aware I was judging, I was judgemental, you are already out of it. You simply see, when you turn back and see how many times you had judgements about people, and they all proved to be wrong more or less, most of them. So with your own experience, you grow into wisdom. It cannot be induced from outside. You have to have this from inside. You have to look back and see how was it. What did I do?
Q: You talked about the village. What changed them? What was done in that village practically?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation, breathing, just educating them and singing together. Everyone comes together in the evening and starts singing, everyday. Once a week they have this preeti bhoj when everybody eats together. An inspirational programme called Youth Leadership Training programme gave them the inspiration.
Q: Can we try one in Gurgaon villages?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We can, definitely.
Q: Can I be a part of that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Definitely. Most welcome. 
Q: Will you sing with us today?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, we will do meditation of course.
Q: An India specific question - Can business and ethics in contemporary India be reconciled?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, this notion that ‘only by doing wrong things you can prosper’ is wrong. It is not true. You see there are so many businesses in this country where they are flourishing doing ethical business. But they have to be highlighted. Many people don’t know. The small businesses don’t understand that some of the big businesses are doing totally ethical work like the Tatas, Infosys or Wipro...they are all doing totally ethical business to the core. They are not cheating or doing things which are not ethical. We have to highlight this to the public. That work needs to be done. There are so many small business people who are so value based. Unfortunately they don’t make news. Only Satyam made news (laughter). It is so interesting to see that media captures those news more than the good ones. 
Q: People in India are getting more and more inspired to do ethical business and take on responsibility for the society. Can you talk about this? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think this is also true in US, everywhere. Today in the globalized world, how we can turn back to the ethics? In European parliament, every year ‘Art of living’ conducts a seminar – ‘Corporate culture and spirituality’. Business people from around the world come. And those who are doing ethical business present how they are doing, what all corporate responsibility they have undertaken, and how we can inculcate spirituality in the business. This happens every year somewhere in October or November.
Q: could you please comment a little bit on your concept of love. Love for parents, sex, children, your surroundings, friends etc.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I tell you, are made up of love. You are made up of a substance called love. Your spirit is all love. And there are various types of love. Parental love, love of the siblings. Then love for the children, love for the spouse. They are little flavors. Different, but underneath that, I don’t see love as only an emotion, it is our very existence. Because all the atoms in your body love each other and that’s why you are a human being. That’s why there is a boss. You know the moment the love that is the bond, binding force between the atoms is gone, our body disintegrates. So, I see love more as the very existence not just as an emotion. I would say Love with wisdom leads you to bliss. Love without wisdom or with ignorance leads you to jealousy, greed, anger, frustration and everything else. All these negative emotions are just an offspring of love. See you can’t be jealous of somebody if there is no love. Right? Greed is because you love certain things more than people, that is called greed. You love somebody more than you should and that is called possessiveness. And you love perfection so much that you can’t stand imperfection, and you show it as anger. Right? Love needs to be harnessed with a little wisdom. 
There are around 20 CD's on Bhakti sutra - The aphorisms of love. You can just go into that. I have discussed different types of love and how they all affect our lives. 
Q: We have a small group of youth belonging to a church. We have social work going on. We find our youth group lacks leaders. We find we lack leaders among youth. Nobody is coming forward to take responsibility. So what is your idea about how a leader should be and what could be done to take the youth forward towards leadership? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First of all, I feel that leaders should create leaders. And also leaders should not be imposing, they should be in the background, and they should be caring and compassionate. Why someone is not doing some service activity? Maybe they are stressed, they are tensed. So, if you are unhappy yourself, you won’t be motivated to do something for someone else. So, first you have to find the peace. 
That’s why I would say smile and then serve. If there is no smile in your service, it will be short-lived. You may do it 2-3 days, 5 days and then you can’t do anymore because you don’t have energy. So, that inner peace and a sense of belonging in people. When that dawns in you then you can’t but serve. Service becomes your natural..your second nature. 
Q: What do you find a source of inspiration?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I see every child is inspiring.
Q: What is the meaning of life? If we see in jungles, we see predators eating other animals. Birth and death seems so mechanical. No big meaning, whereas our pursuit of humanity is focused on stretching life and living longer. Is it really necessary? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ya, animals don’t violate their nature. They don’t violate the laws of nature. Their life is all programmed. They don’t have freedom. But human beings do have that freedom. It is because you have the intelligence that you have the freedom to violate. That’s what makes us different from animals. Isn’t it? And so we have the ability to know more than what animals can grasp or comprehend. We know about the whole universe, we know about galaxies, the milky ways, we know about the atoms, we know about acrocosm. This ability to know, ability to create, ability to change is all embedded in our system. That is what is called as Viveka, the sense of discretion. 
Q: In one's spiritual pursuit, if he goes after form, is it possible that in the long run he might learn that he went on the wrong track and miss the formless? For example in meditation, if one goes for mantra based meditation or form based meditation, is it possible that he might get the essence which might come through Vipassana or something else? He may waste his time or spend more time reaching there. 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, there are all possibilities. It is not that people who go in through form never attain. We have instances of millions of people. Thousands of saints in this country, who went through form to formless. If you see Tulsi Ramayana, what Tulsidas says..he wouldn’t have written that without experience. 'Rama niranjan, arupa,' he said all that. First he sees Rama as an individual person. But then he saw that the spirit behind Rama is formless. Same way Saint Francis of Assissi, he went through form and he became formless. Meera went into form and got to the formless. Guru Nanak Dev. We have many many examples in this country that when there is true seeking, you will never go wrong. That’s my contention. Because nature will guide you. Because, see the Intelligence, the Cosmic Being is such, it doesn’t let you down. So, it guides 
you into the right path. I don’t think it would be a waste of time or it is wrong. But you have to do that with proper viveka, wisdom.So, should we do a short meditation now. How many of you think meditation is concentration? Nobody thinks it's concentration? That’s very good. So, you’ve passed the first thing. Often people think meditation is concentration, focusing the mind or controlling the thoughts. It is not. Meditation is deep relaxation. OK. 
Three things are important for meditation. First is that for the next 10 minutes, we will be mediating. You have to know that we want nothing for the next ten minutes. 
Is it ok with everyone of you? Can you say I want nothing for the next 10 minutes. No you don’t have to say it loud (laughter). See, if you say, 'Oh! I have to drink a cup of water, I’m thirsty,' then your mind is stuck. Next 10 minutes I want nothing. Shall we take all our mobiles and press the red button. This is an essential 
ritual for meditation. So, you’ll all be here for next 10mins. You can’t get up in the middle and go and disturb others. So, first thing is I want nothing for next 10 minutes. 
Second important thing that we need to do is ‘I do nothing’. We will say Om 3 times. Om is vibration. Om means love, unconditional love that is eternal. We’ll say Om 3 times. All the eastern religions, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism - they all have taken Om as sound that they’ve heard in the meditation. So, it is very much connected with yoga. So we say 3 times Om. 
Third is ‘I am nothing’. If you think you are very intelligent forget about it, you can’t meditate. If you think you are a fool then also, impossible. If you think you are very rich, remember that quote in Bible? Rich men cannot pass..What is it? So, if you think you are rich, no way you will have meditation. If you think you are very poor then also no. If you think you are a sinner, impossible to meditate. If you think you are the holiest person then also no meditation. So, what you should be. I am nothing. I want nothing. I do nothing. I am nothing. Can we take these 3 things? I’m not very intelligent nor I’m stupid person. I am neither rich nor poor. Not sinner nor holy saint. So, I am nothing. Nobody. OK. So we will have these 3 ideas. We don’t have to go on repeating these in our mind. Just an idea. Right? Idea is like that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Certain questions should be made as a path

European Business Group (EBG)
Venue: Imperial Hotel, New Delhi
Date: August 10, 2010

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Let me give my own introduction. Shall I do that? I’m a child who refuses to grow up. (Laughter) That’s one line introduction of myself. And I’ve seen that all of us, every human being has that child-likeness within us but it is buried under the debris of the past or concerns about the future. Our job or the job of anyone who is wishing good for the society is to remove this debris and allow this beautiful gift that nature has embedded in us to blossom, the simplicity, the naturalness, the human values of compassion and friendliness. These don’t have to be cultivated. These are there in us, and only need to be nurtured and brought to light again. And I would call this as spirituality. See we are all made up of both matter and spirit. Matter - amino acids, carbohydrates, protein etc. Spirit is love, compassion, sense of belonging, all inclusive feeling, a broad vision about oneself, ones life, and the world. This is what comprises of spirit and anything that uplifts spirit and the spiritual values, I would call that spirituality. What do you say? Ya. It is not some ritual or some belief system. It is much beyond that. It is the essence of good human being. In fact, there is not a single human being who does not want happiness, love or compassion in his/her life. In that sense everyone is spiritual whether they recognize it or not. So, coming to this evening’s session with me, I would like you to ask questions. You know, there is a saying in ancient India - The first sign of intelligence is not to speak at all. (Laughter) And suppose if you have lost the first sign then the second sign of intelligence is not to speak when a question is not asked. (Laughter) So, all our scriptures here in this land begin with a question.  Whether you take Bhagwad Geeta, you take Purana, or the Ramayana. Any scripture you see, any ancient text, Someone puts forward a question and then someone else answers. It could be a dialogue between a master and his disciple, husband and wife, between a group of seekers and a wise man. It has always begun in question/answer form. How do you like? 

Q: How would you make Indian political leadership honest?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know a question has got a single answer. But certain questions should not be answered. It should be made as a path. A road can be tread many a times. Like this question, we will have to ask again and again in various circumstances. Why someone is not honest? Basically, it is lack of sense of belonging. You know what; corruption begins outside the purview of sense of belonging. No one can be corrupt with their own family, and if you extend it a little bit, to the near and dear ones. They’re not corrupt with their friend circle, but when they put a boundary beyond that friend circle, when one thinks that only these people belong to me, then the people are no longer mine. Then the corruption begins. We have to educate people to expand a sense of belonging. Second aspect of corruption is insecurity. People who don’t have friends try to find the security in money. Gosh, they don’t know money is not going to bring them security. It’s the company of right people who will bring more security in their life. You know if you go and ask a school boy or a girl how many friends he/she has, they will count on their fingers - 2,3,4,5. And I ask them, “hey, look you are spending 5 - 8 hours every day in a classroom of 50 - 100 kids, and you can’t be friendly with everybody? And how are you going to live your life when you come out of the schools and colleges with the billion people, 6 billion people in the world? So, the basic quality of being friendly is sort of foreign, sort of alien to our kids. Then what happens? Insecurity creeps in. And to manage this insecurity, the only idea one gets is ok I should have more money. So, then by somehow you amass money, be corrupt. So, first of all we have to spiritualize the politics, socialize the business and secularize the religions. If we can do these three things, society will be a better place to live in.

Every leader should see beyond his/her community and people. They should have a vision for the entire human race. You know, the Hindu priest, he should not only pray for Hindus. He should pray for every human being. Similarly a Muslim or Christian priest, he should feel for the entire humanity then we have achieved the purpose of religion. 

So, I would say secularize the religion, socialize the business. If every business undertakes corporate social responsibility of investing 1, 2, 3, 10 or whatever 10 percent of their profit in developing rural areas, I tell you this planet will have no hunger, will have no disease, will have no illiteracy. Because governments alone cannot do this, it is a social partnership with the NGOs and business organizations. They can do much more. So, socialize the business, bring social corporate responsibility and then spiritualize the politics. Now politicians, they had such integrity in the time of Mahatma Gandhi, they were respected highly. 

Today the situation is completely opposite. You know, I had to address a big gathering in Chennai, and two ministers were also supposed to come and speak at the gathering. There were thousands of people. For some reason, the ministers got stuck and they couldn’t come for the meeting. When the MC announced that the two ministers are unable to come, the crowd went jubilant (Laughter). For the first time I saw that people were clapping that they didn’t come (Laughs). 

You Know, we need to spiritualize the politics. Politicians should care for people. I just want to share with you a particular story with my grandfather. You know, when my grandfather met Mahatma Gandhi, he went and stayed with him in sevagram for 20 years. My grandmother gave 10.5 kilos of gold. My grandmother was a beautiful lady. Those days the women used to don a lot of gold, dipped from head to toe is all gold. Except the mangalsutra and a set of bangles, she willingly gave all her gold and she said, “I will take care of the kids, you go and serve for the country”. So he went and stayed in Mahatma Gandhi ashram. 

You know, that sense of contributing and giving, taking pride in giving is missing today. If that comes up, there will be a big difference. Pride in giving, pride in non-violence are two things which are missing in today’s education. If you see movies, one who is aggressive and loses his temper, is shown as hero. One who is calm, accepts everything and turns other cheek around, they are not considered heroes. This value shift has to happen. I’m just now coming from America where in Chicago we had a program for school district children. 

That was the most notorious school, 268 crimes happened in the previous year. And when we introduced meditations, simple pranayama and simple values like making one new friend every day, and stand up and be compassionate, the crime incident rate this year dropped down to 60 from 268. They were amazed and the school district councilors came to thank me. 50 top officials of education said the techniques that we have introduced have brought real transformation. Otherwise, people there don’t feel safe, you don’t know what will happen there tomorrow, whether the child will come back with all the limbs intact. We need to bring this back. Sense of belonging, sense of caring and sharing, and pride in giving.

Q: From the ‘Art of Living’ to the Art of giving, we hear that in arguably lesser spiritual society, people are giving more and more. We just heard what’s going on in the US where many billionaires can’t recall the number, giving away at least 50% of their wealth for the betterment of society. So that concept, that nature of giving, “more spiritual society” has still not seeped in. How do you reconcile that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I would say America is very spiritual. There is 500% increase in spiritual interest in past 10 yrs. If you go to California, there is a lot of awareness about spirituality, especially eastern spirituality. In India, there has been this tradition of giving from long back. All the hospitals are built by business families. Every dharamshalas, it was called dharamshala, talabs or the ponds are made by the business houses. Temples are built by business houses. Not by the government, but business houses. If at all Indian spirituality is sustaining, it is being sustained by the business rather than the state throughout the country. Yes, there has been a decline in giving in the past few years. It is lack of spirituality. Maybe they are going down in spiritual values. 

Maybe in some places, they are becoming more religious than spiritual. That could be a reason also. But still even today if you go to villages, the amount of caring and sharing the people have is amazing. You go to any village, they may have just 1 glass of lassi but they will share half with you. They do value these values of sharing. It’s in the villages but is disappearing from the urban areas as you say. And it has to be brought back.

Q: I have one classical question. When we put lots of passion in our work, we develop attachment to the result. But same attachment and clinging of result gives stress when we do not achieve it, and happiness when we achieve it. Going by my limited understanding of Bhagwad Geeta, they say do your work with dispassion. But if we do that we see that results can go haywire. How do we resolve this? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ya, I think it’s little bit different understanding of Geeta. Actually the understanding of Geeta should be, ‘you work hard, you put your 100%, you look for the goals, you look to achieve the goals. But at the same time you should have that faith, that confidence and relax’. 

You know to achieve anything you need 3 type of confidence. First is confidence in yourself, Then you have no anxiety. It’s very easy for me to handle this issue. I can do this. Second is confidence in the society around, people around. If you know that your team is good and they will achieve it, or if you have faith in the system that the system is continual and justice will be done to you. You know, if you have done well then you will definitely get well. 

But if you don’t have trust or faith in the system, if it’s very corrupt then you will not pass it. So, we have to have faith and trust in system. Third is trust in a power which is compassionate, higher power, the higher self, and this faith that it will always do best to people. These 3 types of trust can take us out of anxiety. For this, I would say take out few minutes for yourself. Relax and Look back. How many times in the past you got stressed? You got some failures? You went through some failures and you achieved something. So, in the same way, now also you will achieve. That gives you that inner strength which is more needed at the time. 

I would say it’s like the cell phone. You know, for a cell phone you need to have the sim card. Correct? And you need the battery to be charged and you should be close to a tower. (Laughter) Should be within the range. If any of this is missing then you can go on dialing, say hello and nothing, there’ll be no response 

Q: How do you fan the fire of spirituality and not allow it to be inundated by day to day life. You don’t want to abdicate your responsibilities. What do you suggest, simple steps you as an enlightened person to keep spirituality alive in us. What I understood the way u expressed was very beautiful, to spread happiness, to be simple at the same time keep giving.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I would give you 3 suggestions. One is spend 10-15 mins with yourself. What is it that you want? What is life all about? 50- 60 yrs ago, where I was and where I will be 50 years later? What is my origin? What is my definition? Just don’t look for an immediate answer. Even questioning yourself – ‘what is life all about?’ uplifts the spirit. This is what I would call as knowledge. Dwelling sometime with knowledge, you can read books like Yoga Vashista, Ashtavakra or even Geeta. Just few lines or any other uplifting knowledge books. And then 10-15 minutes of meditation. We will do a short meditation now. 10-15 minutes of meditation will give so much energy that it can refresh the brain, Refresh the spirit and energize the body. Fantastic! And the third thing is do some act of kindness, don’t have to be in the routine. Take some time out. Do some Random acts of kindness. Spend some time with music or art. These 3 things can bring you a lot of fulfillment and keep you away from stress.

You would’ve seen in the last month, a month ago, there was a program in News 24 channel about a village Kathiawad in Maharashtra, near Nanded. One of our teachers went there. He stayed there for 3 months in the village. Transformed the entire village. 700 families.  In this village, everyone removed the locks from the door. And they have a shop without a shopkeeper. People go and put the money in a box and take whatever goods they want to take. And the village is so self sufficient. The entire village went organic. All the farmers went organic. Everyday they come together and sing, they removed all the caste boards. Here now in the country, they are contemplating about reintroducing caste census. In this village first thing is they removed all the caste boards, Dalit, Kshatriya, Brahmin. All the caste boards were removed. Govt of India also gave them an award. It is a crime free village. This was the most notorious village which had so many cases. Today in 3 years time this village has stood up to be most self sufficient. Everybody has water. Roads are there. Every home has a toilet. And they have smokeless chullahs. Most honest village. This village inspired 118 villages to follow. 

Not one person smokes or drinks in the village. Everybody abandoned the tobacco, tambaku, alcohol and drugs. So it gave a new energy and enthusiasm to all our teachers and workers. It is possible what Mahatma Gandhi had dreamt - Ram rajya. Where there is no dacoity, no crime. Today it is possible. 

You can see in the youtube. They have done a beautiful program about that. I wish we can do many such, if all different corporate could take 10 villages each. It doesn’t cost much. It is just a matter of educating people on hygiene, educating them to keep their homes clean. Every home got painted in pink. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The demand of Love kills love

PENANG, Malaysia
AUG 14 2010

Q: I joined the ‘Art of Living’ in the beginning of this year and my health improved. I feel much better doing the exercises. I was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and treated myself with good results.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know what they have found through research is that we have 300 genes in the body, we have 300 DNA genes in the body which are responsible for heart problem, cancer, diabetes and all this, and when we do Sudarshan Kriya and pranayama, this suppresses those genes from being active.
The scientists have come out with this. Just before coming here, I went through an article that somebody has sent. In a hospital in New York, they have asked to chant ‘OM’. They’ll make you chant ‘OM’, make you relax and do some meditation before they treat anybody for heart problem.
Q: The global warming issue is so serious now days, disasters happen everywhere. As a resident in this planet what should we do? I feel sad when I see people suffer, what can I do more?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We have to create awareness. Join the ‘Art of Living’ band wagon, we are everyday going and planting more trees, creating awareness about plastics, creating awareness in people. To check global warming, more and more people need to turn vegetarian. You know, what they say is even if 10 percent of the population turns vegetarian, 10 percent more; the issue of global warming will be completely gone. The methane that is produced in the slaughter houses is so much responsible for global warming. With the price and the energy spend to produce one pound of meat, you can feed four hundred people. So more and more people should turn vegetarians, and that will bring change in the environment.
Q: What is the secret to keep a healthy relationship?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 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.

Monday, September 20, 2010

There is a way to get body, mind and breath in the rhythm connecting to the source of life deep within.

August 13 2010, Malaysia

Question: We came to know that you are coming to Malaysia after 11 years? What made you come now to Malaysia?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The love and affection of the people from Malaysia who have been coming to India all these years…and I had promised them that I will come this year and I had to keep my Promise.
Question: Do you find any changes here in Malaysia now since you are coming after 11 years?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Lots of changes…infrastructural development…rest I have to find out, I have just arrived last night. I can’t form an opinion overnight, I have just arrived. Today I will be meeting people and we are having a meeting of all the teachers from all over south east Asia in Penang tomorrow, we have a workshop with all the teachers for four days and also a Silence Retreat meditation programme. Of course, lots of people from Malaysia have been regular visitors to our headquarters in Bangalore, India. I keep seeing them everywhere else in Europe, in America etc and they will always ask me “when are you coming to KL, when are you coming to Malaysia?’’, so this time I could squeeze in!
Question: You always travel all over the world. How do you see the changes happening in the world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know world means changes. There are some changes for good and there is deterioration as well. If you see , the human values have deteriorated, stress is increasing on one side, pollution and environmental problems, families are breaking up into smaller families, more insecurity in financial sector, crash in the world market has affected people a lot….At the same time, there are lot of positive developments as well. People have become much more sensitive towards environment, compassion has increased, people are coming out and helping in the times of disaster. So, you should see both happening and what is needed is to aid the positive aspects in the society and to reduce stress – these breathing exercises are necessary to do this and brings a sense of belongingness among people of various communities and age groups.
Question: Guruji, as reporters we are going through lot of stress. We have to collect news and report and write articles. Other than doing meditation, which consumes time, what else can we do to relieve the stress that we get in front of computers and in front of our boss?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Few deep breaths! You can’t say that you don’t have time to take breaths! Take deep breaths and know that you have the capacity to handle the crisis or situation that you are in now, have confidence that ‘’I can handle any tough situation, I can handle any stress, I have the capacity’’, then faith in yourself comes up.
Question: How do you relieve yourself? Because you are very busy all the time….
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I don’t allow the stress to come in at all!! To relieve the stress, first you have to take the stress in, right? I filter it out right there.
Question: How do you do that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It comes by practice and by having a broader vision that things are going to be resolved in a very positive manner. See, we have very little time and we have lots of things to do. How can we do all this with low energy? So, we have to increase our energy, be efficient in our work and good time management. For all this, we teach this course called the ‘Art of Living’. It helps in all these three dimensions. It adds more time to your life-Quality time- and increases your energy level and improves intuition.
Question: You are so busy travelling all over the world. How do you stay healthy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I just don’t worry! I don’t worry at all. And when you are in a field of high energy, everybody is happy and, when you are connected to the source of energy within, then you can manage a tough routine.
Question: Do you have some special diet and do you exercise?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I do exercise for 20 minutes and follow a vegetarian diet.
Question: Why do you have so many followers? Are they following you because you are a master?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, that you have to ask them! They may all have different reasons to say, I can’t speak for them. One thing that I see is when people are so happy and grateful, they come to express their gratefulness. Transformation that is happening in the world is so much. Millions of people are getting transformed in their personal life, social life and professional life. And we have these courses happening all over the world in schools, in prisons and in corporate sector as well. And in the poor sections of society, we give them education and self confidence to be more self reliant.
Question: You mentioned the word ‘’transformation’’. Does this transformation happen because they follow you or it happens just by them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I am good in taking credit!
I think everybody has that potential; they just need that little clue to be guided. That is why I formed different courses. We have the courses for the children so that they can become stress free. Recently, we had a conference in Chicago where educators had come and they were sharing what had happened just in 6 months of introducing the courses in the district schools. And one of them in one of the toughest inner city school said that where children drop out and crime rate was very high to the extent of 268 crimes, it come down drastically to 60 in six months! From 268 to 60, that itself is an eye opener that children or youths can be given education in non violent way of communication or non violent way of behavior.
Question: Human beings live in a state where everything is not under our control. It is not possible to relax or meditate or even take deep breaths. Is there any other way to handle things smoothly?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a saying “You can’t learn archery in the war field”. You have to learn archery before you get into that position. So, at that moment when you are stressed, you can’t do, but you have to do something before so that you don’t go to that level at all, you don’t get stressed. You can’t learn a new tune on the stage, though I don’t believe in this, this is a saying, actually nothing is impossible. I would say change in the way you behave, change in the food habits, and change in the way you perceive things in life, your communication ability, your ability to withstand criticism and take criticism… Generally, the outlook towards life itself makes a difference. Your getting connected to the universal spirit, how much you are connected to the universal spirit, that much more is your ability to function.

So, I would give you number of things that you can do. Small techniques like head massage, eye exercise, taking proper food, taking a walk, sitting and observing sunset…maybe in KL, you don’t get to see the sunset because of tall buildings all around! Being with nature, playing with kids etc will also help. Unfortunately, we simply sit on the couch, watch television and keep popping all the junk food. This has taken a toll on the health of the society. We need to change our ways for a healthy society.
Question: What are things that make you enjoy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I enjoy when every tear turns into smile! And it happens all the time.
Question: We know that with love we can transform a bad person into a good person, bad habit into good habit. But, how can we use our love to transform gangsters and criminals?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh! We have number of examples. You know we are doing these courses inside the prisons. Inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help. So, if you heal the victim, the culprit disappears. We are doing this in a big way. In a multi ethnic society like in Malaysia, it is very essential to have a sense of belongingness with each other, everyone has to live in harmony. You cannot have harmony from outside, it has to come from deep within. That authentic belongingness come when we are out of stress and have a broader perspective of life.
Question: How does Sudarshan kriya help in curing illnesses?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know Sudarshan Kriya helps in preventing many illnesses. A professor who is working on genes in Oslo university,Norway says that there are 300 chromosomes which are responsible for hypertension, cancer etc. And Pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya suppress these 300 chromosomes. So, if one keeps practicing these techniques there is less and less chance for getting these illnesses.
Question: How can we use our love to transform nature? These days there are lots of natural disasters happening and can we do something to control them or prevent them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This will happen slowly. If you start loving trees and plant more trees, it will definitely have an impact. You know, mining is the biggest disaster that we have created. We put so many explosives under the ground and blast them. Earth is a living organism, it is not a dead object. So, if we put in its tummy and blast it, the earth starts shaking more and more, earth quake happens more and more. Mining is the biggest cause of natural disaster that we are creating. And second is cutting off the trees. There is so much attention about tree plantation or about going green, but, nobody is talking about the explosives that we are using for mining. This we have to see.
Question: How to strike a balance between development and preserving the planet?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How do you balance a bicycle? In the same way! In ancient India, there was this thing that if you have to cut a tree, you have to do a ceremony. In ceremony, you promise the tree that you will plant five of its kind and then only ask for permission to cut? It is almost like you are talking to the tree. People in tribal areas were all caring for environment a lot. They considered the mountains sacred, rivers sacred, trees sacred… The sacredness allows you to honor the nature, that allows you to protect and respect the nature respect. Native Americans used to consider the nature sacred, they would never put the mines and blast the earth.
Question: What is the difference between Yoga and Sudarshan kriya?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Unfortunately, Yoga is considered as just the physical exercises. It is just a beginning, physical exercise is just one part of it. But, then comes the breath and the mind. Tapping the inner source of energy is important. Yoga is never complete without meditation. Sudarshan kriya takes you to the deepest meditation where body, mind and breath comes in the rhythm connecting to the source of life deep within.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We need to wake up & see that planet is our home

Continued from the previous post...
Q: Dearest Guruji, I’m not strong enough to take a commitment for whole one year. What can I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Not strong enough? Take one day at a time. You are strong enough to take commitment for one day,that is enough. And each day you can continue doing it. Don’t think of one long year, “oh my God! One year I’ve to do something! Today I do, that’s good. Tomorrow I do, that’s good”.
Q: Dearest Guruji, I have prayed for your coming here this week. Thank you so much, I’m deeply grateful. I’d like you to talk about prayers
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Prayers happens when you feel utterly helpless or when you feel totally grateful. The third condition when prayer happens is when you are in wisdom. Then you see that the quality of the consciousness has expanded beyond its limitations and has risen to another plane, another dimension which is so fulfilling, so intuitive and so full of wisdom and love.
Q: Please tell about relationships and why they are often so difficult.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well! You should again start reading celebrating love. Why do you think relationship is difficult?
Q: I do not know how to express my feelings and emotions as I was trying to hide them; all the stress goes into myself. I do not know what to do with this. Is it very difficult to empty my mind even while meditating with your guidance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Hmm! If you get too many thoughts, there are certain reasons. One of the reasons, for getting too many thoughts, is when your bowel is not clear, when your stomach is upset, constipated. If your bowel movements are not ok then you get too many thoughts. If there is no proper blood circulation in the body, then also you get too many thoughts, yeah? So, yoga and pranayama will help. Proper food and diet will help. Show to Ayurvedic doctor, he will say if there is too much pitta in your system, then he will suggest the food that will also help.
Q: How to deal with and work with the people who have negative qualities like aggression, jealousy, instability and so on?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Skillfully. See that you don’t react to them but with compassion, see how you can work with them. Yeah? One thing is it can improve your skills. Second is it can improve your patience. You can gain patience. Third is it will make you realize that the person is not constantly jealous or angry. They also change! You will see and wonder on how people change.
Q: What is the connection between being like a child and taking a responsibility?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You take the responsibility, that’s another thing ; being like a child does not hinder your responsibility. In fact it helps you take a responsibility.
What is the difference between being like a child and being childish? In childishness, you don’t take responsibility! Being like a child you take responsibility, yet you are natural, be connected with every body, take feedbacks from every one, and not get upset about someone’s comment about you or a criticism. You know, we explode when someone makes a negative remark on us or someone criticizes us. So, we should stand up to the criticism, and take criticism freely. If it is useful, inculcate it. And if not, ignore it without losing your cool.
Q: How important is it that we act for planet? What can we do? How do we sustain?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We need to wake up and see that planet is our home and when you go higher, you don’t see borders. Borders are our understanding, our illusions. There really is no border. Sky knows no border, clouds know no border, wind knows no border. The elements of this earth have no borders. The planet is one home for every one. We are all one family. So, we need to think from a broader perspective. Which is the correct perspective? That the whole planet belongs to us. We cannot dump our nuclear waste into some other place. Any place in the earth will again come back to us! We cannot keep one place clean and pure in isolation. It is not possible. We have to care for the whole planet. We have to make the entire planet organic. When it comes to making food, growing food; you cannot say, “ok, I’ll grow organic food only in this part and rest other parts can be pollute with chemicals!” Because the air will carry! We have created so many types of viruses on this planet. Because we meddled with nature. We have destroyed many species on this planet because we have not taken good care of it and our food production has gone so low. That it’s going to be a very heavy thing on the coming generation, you know! I think every individual, every human being on the planet will have to take responsibility of not polluting the planet, of continuing sustainable development by planting more trees, preserving our lakes, preserving water. It is so important!

Water scarcity is another big issue in the world. Millions of people are into starvation! So, we need to have a global picture and care for the whole planet. Of course, we need to care for our immediate home, our immediate neighbors, the place where we live in. This is most important! But at the same time, we should have the idea about the whole planet and the entire humanity being a family.
Q: Dear Guruji, is it possible to love and stay strong? Is it possible to love andstay reasonable? Is it possible to be in love and stay dispassionate? Is it possible to be in love and be free from jealousy and possession?
Sri Sri Ravi Shnakar: Definitely. It is possible to stay in such a state of love without any of these negative connotations with that – if there is wisdom. Love with wisdom is bliss. Love minus wisdom is what you have mentioned; all this jealousy, greed, all this paraphernalia.
Q: Dear Guruji, could you please give me an answer? Is the man I’m in love with since one year is the right one for me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well! You are in deep love with somebody, so that person must be right for now. But whether he continues to be right in future, no body can say. It depends on you! How you handle. You are in love with some body, but is he in love with you or not? First you find that out! If that man is also in love with you, then see how you both preserve your love with a dose of wisdom and how you carry on, how you conduct yourself – all these factors are there. Correct? It’s very easy to fall in love, but many don’t know how to maintain that. Someone falls in love with you and you don’t know how to receive and nurture that love. We loose other’s love for us too. So these skills, I have spoken about these skills in the knowledge facets, in Celebrating Love, you read it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

You should have desires, but the desires should not have you

Bad Antogast, Germany,
8 August,2010

Countries have caused so much damage. Bombs, tons & tons of bombs which have fallen in Iraq have caused so much damage to the health of the people. Asbestos, world over they have used asbestos that has caused damage. And the cell phones today! They say the cell phone & the wireless towers are causing so much radiation which is much higher than what human beings can tolerate. Birds have disappeared from cities. You know sparrows! Earlier there used to be sparrows. Even in Bangalore, there used to be sparrows in everybody’s homes. They used to come & build their nests in the vicinity. Today you won’t find one sparrow. Of course, in the Ashram so many types of birds come because they are away from the city and all these tall towers.

These radiations and our lifestyle cause so many health problems. We don’t exercise properly, that also adds to it. And the food! Pesticides, chemicals, hormones! Hormones are injected to animals, to food! So, several factors, several issues are there. You have no control over everything. You can control some things, at the same time know that your body has the strength or the immune system has the strength to fight it out & there will be nature’s support, you can get over them & ... & it will be done. And we have to go one day, there is no other way, that’s it. Thinking about it and becoming miserable is not wise. You all have to die one day whether healthy or sick. It’s not that only sick people die. Healthy people also die. That is for sure. So, some sickness comes & we handle it with care. Whatever we need to do, we do. But that’s it. Don’t keep thinking about it & talking about it every day. It makes your spirit go down! And you shouldn’t pity people, ‘oh! You poor thing! You have this problem, you have that problem!’ Come on! Spirit has no disease, no death, no problem & body always has something or the other. It gets some small sickness, sometimes a big sickness. And all that can be overcome. And it will be overcome! Body will fight it out. Yeah?

Q: I want to understand about desires & how we are meant to deal with them. I feel that I shouldn’t be in the desires yet I still want to achieve things or find myself attracted to another person. If we don’t have desires, where do motivations in life come from? Thank you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Fine, have desires. Who said no? You should have desires, but the desires should not have you. It is like the horse is in control of you, and you are not in control of the horse. If you are, then it’s a difficulty.
There is a story of Mulla Nasruddin. He was on the horse. And the horse was going round the same circles, same streets! So people asked him, “Mulla, where are you going?” He said, “I don’t know, ask the horse!” So, we are in similar situation most of the time in our lives. Our desires have us & they ruin us. Instead you should have desires, but you should be able to drop them any time you want to, and have them any time you want to! You should be able to get onto the horse when you want to & get out of the horse when you don’t want! Rather than you getting stuck in the horse, or horse throwing you down. Correct? That is more misery.
Q. After some ‘Art of Living’ Courses, I have felt so happy! I thought I would explode! After a while I realized that it was not only happiness, but also feverishness. Then I got depressed. It was like an emotional roller-coaster. How can I handle feverishness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have already become a witness to it. You have observed that you are on a roller-coaster. You observe these emotions are coming & going. Notice, before also it used to come but now it is less & less & less. Before you were not aware, at least now you are aware of it. Just persistence in this path, in this knowledge makes you stronger, hmm!
Q: Dear Guruji, It’s very hard to see my father in negativity. The more we, my brother, sister & I go into spirituality, the harder & worse it becomes for him. He thinks we have not achieved much in life. None of us have married. He craves for grand children which we understand. He suffers a lot & that makes it hard for me to see. God has given me all that I need & want. How can I help my parents?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well! Good Luck, blessings! We should do whatever we can do in our capacity. Sometimes even after doing all that, parents are miserable. We don’t know whether we should give them blessings, or we should help them. Spend quality time with them; don’t teach them all this time.
‘What they should be, what they should do, you should also be spiritual, look I’m spiritual’ - Don’t give such sermons to them. You know elderly people; they just need your company. When you are with them, just sing, play with them, crack jokes & bring or have food with them, talk something which is of interest to them. They are not interested in listening to wisdom from you, or learn any new techniques from you. Don’t behave like a teacher with your elderly parents. Here & there you can say a few words of wisdom, and see they are taking it or grasping it. Otherwise just being with them is good enough.
Q: Dear Guruji, it is easy for me to shut my mouth but it is difficult for me to shut my thoughts. How can I do it? Please help me.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t need to do anything. Everything is done here for you. Hiren is giving all the courses, he will lead you at different times to different types of meditations & processes & it’ll happen! That’s why you need to be here, if it’s a first Hollow & Empty - your Advance Course, you may find it a little difficult to begin with but then you know when you continue, you will definitely find it very useful.
Q: Where is the line between accepting things as they are & action to change them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no line. These are two sides of the same coin.
Q: Dear Guruji, as my Guru, you are the only one for me. I love you so deeply & follow you wherever you go. As a person I often feel so deep distance. I’m afraid sometimes. I don’t understand this. It’s not really a question but could you say something about it.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know we go through all different types of emotions. We like somebody & the same person we dislike. We trust somebody & same person we start doubting & so all these mixed emotions keep rising and falling in our mind. Don’t be scared. All these emotions make you strong somewhere deep inside. Somewhere you will come out as a very powerful human being. When you are aware that all these moving emotions are just a temporary phase, and that you are much bigger than this, you become strong and centered. Don’t get stuck in any of these emotions or make a concept in the mind.
Q: Dear Guruji, what can I do if I see that someone’s working too much & her body & emotions become sick of that. She is much older than me & I love & respect her too much. I become very sad when I see that I can’t do anything.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, whether people work or not work, they can get sick! There are lazy people on this planet who get sick. In fact, they get more sick! ‘Because their minds are idle, so their bodies get even more sicker! So you don’t have to connect these two things. Some people are so health conscious; still they get sick! So, sickness comes not because of one thing. There could be many factors. One is karma, some impressions of the past. Second is violation of laws of nature, and third is genetic or family history. Sometimes you don’t sleep in time, eat in time & make extra use of your body, do extra work; that is also one of the factors, of course!
Then the environment, whole planet’s environment. See, oil spill in the ocean in America, Gulf of Mexico has caused so much damage!
‘Whatever little I need from this world, let me take it, that’s enough for me. And what more I can give to the world that I should keep looking’ - This is the main secret of success! You go with this attitude – what more I can do for the planet & with how little I can sustain myself. I don’t say you should leave everything & live in poverty. No, no, no, you live in comfort with abundance. Whatever you need, you keep it, have it. Live with abundance, but the want of more and more in mind indicates poverty.
Q: Dearest Guruji, is it true that the teachers are more dear to you than others?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Not at all, if they have given any such idea to you, please do not believe it. Everyone is dear to me whether they are teacher or not teacher; whether someone is in the ‘Art of Living’ or not. It doesn’t matter. Everyone is dear to me. But if you are in the ‘Art of Living’; you get more out of me; that’s it.
Q: Dear Guruji, I have no words to explain how grateful I am for your care, protection, endless love, a life full of adventures and abundance, and your presence. I feel as if you are carrying me in your palms through out the life. Thanks, that you are love. I’m always here for you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very good. I really need every one of you. Each & every one of you is so precious that you all are holding the lamp, the light for the coming generations. You are like the pillars of wisdom & the world is sinking with stress, sinking with so much of violence and frustration. Each one of you is very precious contribution to keep it going, to sustain dharma, to sustain wisdom. So each one of you should know that you are precious & work towards life, work towards making the planet a better place.