Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rest your mind & intellect in the Divine energy

Vipaksh baadhane pratipaksh bhaavanaam
Our scriptures provide three main philosophies:
Nyaay (Logic)

After that we have Yoga.
Nyaay: What we learn, we understand and analyze how correct it is - Analyzing the difference between what we hear and what we infer. This way of finding out the truth is Nyaay.
In the Vaisheshika method, the object and its characteristics are analyzed. If sugar is not sweet, would you still call it sugar? Objects have characteristics. In this way, place and time are also considered as objects because of their characteristics. Time affects the mind and intellect. Our mind feels and perceives differently in the morning than it does in the evening.
The placement of planets also affects the mind. Sometimes faith arises in the mind, sometimes hatred envelopes the mind. It is natural for different waves of emotions to rise in the mind.
I am separate from all this, I am Atma. Contemplating on this is the sign of intelligence.
Once you have considered the changing objects, rest your mind in that which never changes. This is Sankhya Yoga. What is Bhakti? Resting your mind and intellect in Divine energy. This is all that you need to do.
When your faith is shaky, cure it by taking blessings from elders. Do yoga.
Friendliness, compassion and ignoring. To calm the mind, be friendly and compassionate, and finally ignore if needed. Ignore the imperfection and keep your mind calm. Hating somebody is like drinking poison. And more so, never hate wise people! Patanjali says, “Awaken the opposite emotion.” This is sadhana. If anger arises, awaken compassion, and a new chemical process will be initiated. ‘Vipaksh baadhane pratipaksh bhavanaam.’
This is why we remember the Guru - the chemical process changes immediately, and enthusiasm, joy and non-attachment arises naturally. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let the light in my life and wisdom around me always be there

Bangalore, India, Oct. 21:
This fortnight is the period of the Divine and we do puja every day. Today is the concluding day and also Sharad Poornima/full moon. Each poornima (full moon) is associated with a very significant event in history.
Buddha Poornima, the full moon day in the month of Vaishakh (usually falls in April or May) is connected to the birth, enlightenment and attainment of Mahasamadhi by Gautama Buddha. The next Poornima is dedicated to Rishi Vyasa. Sage Vyasa was the master of both the realms – material as well as spiritual. He knew the ways of the world, and that of the spirit as well. Veda Vyasa organized the entire knowledge, and there was no knowledge about which he didn’t know. Guru Poornima is the day on which all the Masters of all the Traditions are venerated. The last full moon is dedicated to Anant or infinity. Celebrating infinity – no boundaries – no beginning or end.
This month’s full moon is called Sharad Poornima. The brightest and without any blemish, it is supposed to stay longer too, the full moon of Celebration. It is said that Divine dance happened on the day between Lord Krishna and the Gopies – symbolic of grateful devotees. It is said that Lord Krishna danced with all the Gopis under this moon so many thousands of years ago. Sharad Poornima is known for dance and celebration. It is the time when devotees feel the presence of the Divine in their life. This moon is also dedicated to beauty. The sky is clear and the largest moon shines brightly. Our mind and the moon are connected. When the moon is full, the mind is also full. The energy on the day is very high and celebration will keep it up. But this energy needs to be channelized.
With every full moon, we find an excuse to celebrate - Celebration with the spiritual flavor.
The period of last fifteen days was a Divine period. We do all poojas and yagyas. What is pooja? Reciprocating what Divinity is doing to us. God makes Sun and Moon go around us, showers flowers, rain and fruits. Imitation of that Divine expression is called pooja. Pooja is the most natural way of showing one’s gratitude.
We conclude this beautiful period doing pooja with a playful heart and keeping this intention, “Let the light in my life, the enthusiasm and wisdom around me always be there. I take the light of life into me. I accept wisdom and love.”
Divinity is everywhere like the air. Yet you feel the air near the fan. Similarly, Divinity is everywhere but you feel it more near the fan. Knowledge, yagya and Guru are like the fan. Near these you feel the presence of Divinity.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Consider your life as sacred

India (Bangalore), Sept. 19:
Jeevana jeeva jagat nashwara
Nothing stays forever. Good as well as bad times go away. Be happy, reminding yourself of this again and again. Our life as it is, is Sadhana. True sadhana is relaxing, deep relaxation. What do you want to know? Everything is destructible here. Everything is changing – your body, your intellect. Everything will dissolve. 30 years have passed like a moment*. Time is running so fast. If you feel there is something which is not changing, that is your consciousness. Let us settle there, which is not changing.
Make use of this time in the best manner.
Consider your life as sadhana, sacred. When you put efforts, you get some benefits. Your body is strengthened, your mind is strengthened to some extent, and you gain skillfulness to some extent. For example, you get skilled in sitar, computer or exercising with some effort. But these are limited benefits as compared to the ones that you can have with true relaxation.
Sadhana happens when all the efforts are dropped. When you are totally relaxed, you experience true bliss. You cannot gain love with effort. True relaxation gives you happiness, kindles human values in you, sharpens your intellect, and makes you creative and skillful.
Relaxation does not mean inert rest or being lethargic. Why to do yogasanas in the morning? Relaxation can only happen after putting some effort, when laziness in you disappears. The desire should be to be free from laziness.
The cycle of desires and sleep, we keep on oscillating between rajogun and tamogun. This is bondage. Satogun dawns with genuine relaxation and knowledge. The summary of the whole Ashtavakra Geeta is to be able to joyfully relax while being awake – satvik relaxation. That relaxation is true relaxation. In that relaxation all the attachments and bondages lose their grip. So, consider your life as sadhana.
Lord Shiva is called Mahakaal. Maha is grand and kaal is time. Lord Shiva is the field of energy that dissolves in it the effect of time. Time follows some rule. It has its own rhythm. Sometimes, something desirable happens and at some other times, something undesirable. Time continues to teach us that opposite values are complementary.
* 2011 will be 30 years since the inception of The Art of Living

Monday, October 25, 2010

Postcard from Mongolia

Mongolia, Sept. 16:

"You know when you plant a tree, a sapling; you need to keep watering it till it grows stronger. Right? 

The same is true for your experience of these two-three weeks of joy*. 
If that has to keep growing, you have to keep doing these practices."

* Referring to an advanced Art of Living course

Sunday, October 24, 2010

When you are free from stress, you have a sense of belongingness and understanding’

Russia, Sept. 10:
Q: I feel very shy while interacting with people. What is the remedy for the same?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, when you have a sense of belongingness, shyness disappears.
Q: What is the fastest way to feel belongingness and unity?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are free from stress, you have a sense of belongingness and understanding. This is what happens when people undergo The Art of Living program. It happens so naturally.
Q: Should yoga become an integrated subject in school, especially if training/practicing can help our students to achieve something higher?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, certainly. In several countries, they have already made yoga compulsory in schools.
Q: Do you follow any religion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, I am a born Hindu. I continue to be a Hindu, but the programs we teach are very secular. People of any religion can practice it.
Q: Please tell us what does ‘one word family’ mean to you and what should we do to make this family happy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What family means to me? The whole world is one family for me. You know, I feel absolutely at home wherever I am. I never have a feeling of being in a country or land that is not mine. I never felt strange anywhere. My concept is to see the whole world as one family; of course family is a very important institution, it is the foundation of a society.
Q: What shall we do to always be happy, because as I know your concept is to relax and attain happiness by that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What to do to always be happy? First, drop the feverishness to hold onto ALWAYS and you will find yourself happy. And then, if some moments of unpleasantness creep into life, accept that also.
Q: You have a very big dream in bringing world peace. If, in our lives, we meet people who follow orthodox and rigid ideas and are ready to die and harm other people, how should we deal with it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We need to deal with such people with patience and we have to educate them, it’s not an easy task. First, we should begin from prisons. When one amongst them joins us in spreading peace, it is much easier.
Q: Do you have any special courses or programs to help the people working honestly in mass media to reduce the stress?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. You know, this program that we teach is very useful in reducing stress, irrespective of whether you are in a media company or in the corporate sector or in aviation. Stress is a common factor in any work place and this will definitely help people get out of stress. Mainly, what we need to see in the world today is a violence-free society, a disease-free body, a confusion-free mind, an inhibition-free intellect and trauma-free memory. You know, we nurture so many types of inhibitions; if ten compliments are given to you and only one insult is given, your mind locks onto the one insult. So we need to bring a change to that - a trauma-free memory and a sorrow-free soul. This is the birth right of every individual and this is what these practices bring to you.
Q: In today’s world, people really think of survival. How to deal with it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is a natural concept where survival is the first thing. It is a natural instinct but when self-confidence and vision is infused, survival will naturally be included in it, without any kind of fear. I have spoken about this in our books - Celebrating Silence and Celebrating Love. You can read these books when you have a question. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

God is truth, beauty and love

Continued from previous post...
Q: What is the visualization of God in ancient India?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In ancient India, they described God as beauty. A disciple once asked what God is. The Master replied – Truth, beauty and love. That is God. Is God sitting in heaven giving a little finger? No, it is only in the painting. God is truth, beauty and love. It is that field and energy present in the entire creation. When can you appreciate beauty? And what doesn’t allow you to appreciate? When mind is bombarded with worry, anger, hate and tension, you can’t even smile from your heart.
Though you are sitting in a ballet, but you can’t appreciate if you are angry. You can only appreciate when you are in the present moment.
Q. What is the future of St. Petersburg?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is in your hands.
Q: What do you say on the rumors of destruction of the world in the year 2012?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I want to tell you a story. In 1999, when I was in North America, there was a rumor that everything will shut down in 2000. People sold homes and stored food for six months - Milk powder, dry vegetables etc. Oh my God! Then also I told that there would be no disaster and everything would be as usual. Now again, I am assuring you that it is only in the movie. The world will continue. In fact, transformation will be there from greedy materialism to humanism. Children will be more aware of spirituality. There is a bright future for the world. Don’t think of any disaster. A disaster is already happening. This is because we have exploited the planet. We have put so many dynamites to take minerals, and hence earthquakes have become dominant. The weather! Russia never had such hot temperatures. So we have to care for the planet Earth. Plant trees and do all that is needed to reduce human greed. What do you think?
Q: How do I feel more energetic repeating the same old routine everyday?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First look into the mirror and give a big smile to yourself. Ok? Then do breathing technique, little bit of yoga and meditation. Give some time to yourself everyday and you will be more energetic and beautiful.
Q: How to make someone dear to you understand that something is useful for them and they must go for it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Keep pursuing gently and have patience, they will all understand. First you should have the conviction that this is good for them, and they will get it. How to get a thought or a desire manifested is very simple. First intention and keep attention on it and then manifestation will follow.
Q. You travel so much…
Sri Sri:I feel at home with everyone and everywhere. I don’t find anyone a stranger. I often say that I am a child who refuses to grow up.
Q: I am running after a dream since long. How to get that fulfilled?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Be practical in taking care of your daily needs and see what the reality is at that point. You have a dream and you want to achieve something. But that dream or idea may not match the reality that is right now. So understand the present reality and match it with your dream. This is what everybody has to do.
See, suppose you are teaching mathematics to a student. First you should know the present state of the child’s mind. If the child can’t count two plus two is four, there is no point in teaching the multiplication table. Do you see the practicality now?
Q: How are science and spirituality related?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Science and spirituality were never in conflict; in fact they are very complimentary. In India, it is always said, ‘Before you try to understand the nature of your spirit, you should understand the five elements of creation Earth, water, fire, air and ether’. So once you understand the five elements then you understand intellect, ego and self. All is the nature of the spirit. Spirituality is knowing who am I, the subject analysis. Objective analysis is science, and they go together. Scientists were always encouraged.
Q: People around the world need these stress relieving techniques. How can we contribute?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is why I keep traveling. So, we have to keep practicing, have to sit in groups and do some pranayama and some meditation. We have to renew our energy time to time. When you eat, your stomach becomes empty again, it is quite natural. Like that when you are happy and joyful, sometime when being so busy and engaged in so many activities, you seem to collect all that dust and your energy seems to go down. Then it is the time to recharge again. So we will meditate now for few minutes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Get back to beauty and power that is within

Russia, Sept. 5:
When we become like children, then we realize that we have greater power. It is within each and everyone. Realizing this, is most beautiful. Beauty is not in clothes. It is in the inner quality. Appearance is beautiful, but if anger, jealously or greed finds a place, then it reflects in the personality, and all the beauty is lost.
How to get back to that beauty that we are born with? Go anywhere, to the North, South, West or East, one finds every child beautiful. Children radiate joy and love. As we become adults, we learn skills and gain abilities but we somewhere miss maintaining the inner beauty, that spark of love in our life. Can we maintain those powerful skills and yet retain that beauty we were born with? I would say yes, that is what The Art of Living is all about - Making life a celebration; dream about a stress-free, violence-free society, disease-free body, confusion-free mind and sorrow-free soul. Tell me who doesn’t want all this? It is possible. In the last 30 years of The Art of Living, we have seen that everybody needs love in every corner of this planet. And that is what we spread.
Talking about this Russian tour, I feel absolutely at home. Nice people here. I want this sweetness to be maintained. But we see it is disappearing in the younger generation.
There is more stress accumulating in youth, and we need to see that our younger generation is free from stress and depression. The World Health Organization says that 30 percent of Europe is suffering from depression! Let us all take commitment that we will not let it happen. We want to see a happy world. I want every tear to be turned into a smile. That is why all this yoga, pranayama and kriya are so important to relieve this stress. In the ballet, we observe the whole body can balance on the toes. One leg in the air and one firm on the ground makes the dance. A solid material and spiritual foundation makes a dance. Spiritual experience is having one foot in the air and the other firm. That balance is power. We find ourselves in trouble when we lose this balance.
The ancient spirituality always united people of all cultures and religions. Don’t you think this is what we need today? In the name of religion, so many wars and terrorism are coming into picture. One solution is that everyone gets back to spirituality. Get back to beauty and power that is within. We communicate much more through our presence than the words. I have said all that I want to say.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Skepticism is perfectly alright, but not cynicism

Germany, Aug. 30:
Q: We have individualized ourselves too much, and have created separations around us. We have forgotten our human behavior of being awakened. How can we get back to that oneness? There are so many ways. How is this way unique and different?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is very simple and all you need to do is to attend to the seven levels of our existence – body, breath, mind, intellect, memory, ego and then the Self.
I have spoken extensively about love in the Narada Bhakti Sutras, about awareness and consciousness in the Ashtavakra Geeta, and about mindfulness in the Patanjali Yogasutras.

From the Part 1 course to the Part 2 courses, it is a beautiful step-by-step journey, and you can get to that experience. Not only what you read in books, but it will be your own practical experience. The Yes!+ course for youth brings about amazing transformation.
Q: What advice would you give to a skeptical non-believer?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A very good beginning point. See that you don’t become cynical and frustrated. Skepticism is perfectly alright, but not cynicism. That drains your energy. One can be skeptical to begin one’s journey and I would very much appreciate and welcome that. Because you would have gone through skepticism, the faith will be strongly built.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Too much feverishness spoils your efforts

German Ashram,
June 29, 2010
Q: Sometimes I think I live in a world surrounded by formalities and exchanging superficial words. But the question is I feel that there is more to it, life cannot be just being nice and living in this cordial way but there is more because I worry that when I die, I wouldn’t even remember where to start again?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now I understand there is a longing, there is emptiness, and there is a craving for something higher. Right! And that gives that pain. So, that pain to attain something very fast is in a way good, but what is needed along with this is a little patience.
Q: Are you my Guru? But they said Gurus find their devotees!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : That you have to decide!
Yes, Gurus find their devotees, this is usually said. You know when was this said? In ancient days, when children would go to the Gurukul, the teacher would come and test the aptitude of all the children - this child is good in engineering, this child is good in music, this child will be good for this, for this, for this… Then the teachers would say, ‘Okay, you come and you do Veda, you study Ayurveda, you study music’; so teacher used to pick up. That was when parents would bring their children to the Gurukul and then the Guru would pick up which student would study what.
Once you are here in the knowledge, once you are on the path, your heart will tell you,” This is the place for me and I have to get here”, and that is when you accept someone as your teacher. Not that someone comes to you and says ‘I am your teacher, I am your Guru’. If so happens then don’t believe that, okay! Nobody can impose that; it should come from within. Your heart tells you that this is genuine, this is right, this is good. So once you accept someone as your Guru or teacher then this anguish disappears to a great extent, and know that you are not alone!
Q: What to do with the doubts that come in the mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, the doubt is always about something positive, if not then the doubt will not come at all. The doubt comes because something is right, something inside says yes this is good. So in the initial stages, that type of doubt comes. You move on and from your feeling you decide, oh this is my teacher, I respect and love, then that’s it! Understand what I am saying?!
Q: I feel afraid at times whether I will be enlightened. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Once you are on the train, you know that this train will reach. Suppose you are sitting in a car and this car is being driven to Karlsruhe, you don’t ask after every minute if you are going to Karlsruhe, no! You relax! You know the driver is going to take you to Karlsruhe. You won’t be dropped somewhere in the middle. That much of faith that comes from within you is there in you; otherwise, you would not even come here. The very fact that you have come here indicates that there is faith. Otherwise your heart would block you, but your heart says, ‘no, go there’. That means you are doing the right thing. So once you are here, you relax.
Relax and you will always find your life will move in the right direction. Not just here, life after this also, definitely, because the moment we die, the first person we meet is our Guru, our teacher, second person we meet is our mother and then the person whom we loved most. The three people we meet and then later on we meet everybody else. So there will be that assurance, you will be fine, you are moving ahead, so don’t worry.
Arjuna also had this doubt in the Bhagvad Gita, “what will happen to me? He was in the same pain, I may not succeed in these spiritual practices, I may not go anywhere, what will happen to my life, I will be neither enjoying anything here nor will I get the other world. I’ll get confused, I’ll go back into the same stuff in my world, Krishna what do I do then?”Krishna says “Nahi Kalyana Krit Kaschit Durgatim Taata Gachchati”. My dear you will never go down, you will never be miserable, I guarantee you this. You will never go down in life, and you will only go up. When you have done good things in your life, when you are on this path, in this knowledge, you will only progress forward and forward. You will only go up in life here and here after. He says ‘svalpa mapyasya dharmasya trayate’, a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of love, a little bit of dharma, little bit of it is good enough to take you away from fear. So relax. That is why it is said you need a teacher on the spiritual path, you need a Guru, and you need a personal feeling, connectedness from your side, not from the other side. Why? Because otherwise you have the anguish, uncertainty, fear, but once you have that feeling when you have the trust, ‘okay my Guru is there, he will guide me, he’ll take me on the right path then you are relaxed’. And there is that peace that dawn in your heart and mind. Even if you stumble a little bit here and there, doubts may come, but then they just vanish, they just come for a few hours, at the most for a couple of days, and then they disappear. So there is that assurance that you are not alone.
See how soon the tears are turning into a smile!
Q: Guruji, What is Bhakti (devotion)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Listen to Bhakti Sutras talk, I have spoken in that, yeah!
Q: Can you please talk about greed?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, there is greed inside us that we don’t recognize. One is when we want to accumulate so many things in life and the second greed is for experiences; oh I want to experience this and that, so many spiritual experiences. This greed is okay to a little extent, little bit but if it becomes too much then what happens, it makes you so unstable, makes you run around and not go deep enough. A little bit of greed to do seva is okay but too much greed to do seva, is no good! Do you understand what I am saying? So a little bit greed for knowledge is okay, but when you want to know more, you want to learn, you want to quickly attain the highest, that propels you but if it is too much then you know you are spoiling it, in the sense you are in too much of a hurry, do you see what I am saying?
What happens yesterday while cooking rice? What happened when you were in too much hurry? Rice remained uncooked. So it has to be put again and similarly, we should act dynamically, quickly, but not too much! That’s a little, little at a time. So you have to hurry to get to the railway station but once you got into the compartment, no more hurrying! Relax! Once you have boarded the train, don’t run inside the compartment with your luggage up and down, you’re not going to reach any earlier; then I would say relax, relax, relax. Don’t worry; you will reach at the right time, okay!

Catch more in the next post...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You having desires is not the problem, but the problem is when desires have you

Continued from 1st September post…
Q: Dearest Guruji, what if someone offers me some other technique for self realization? Should I accept or reject?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, there are so many people trying to give so many techniques and if you take all of them, you will be in confusion, it will be a mess. Its better that you stick to one set of practices and go deep into that. If you don’t get any change or benefit at all from this technique, even after practicing for a good amount of time, then I would myself tell you that this doesn’t suit you and go to that. If you have got some benefit from this, I would tell you to stick to it and go deeper into it. That is very necessary. Even if you get ten percent benefit in any one path, you should continue for some time. It’s not the technique that is important, it is your attention, your dedication and your eagerness to grow that is good enough. Collecting techniques will not help you, yeah! To drop everything and relax will help. Your growth happens not by doing too many things but learning to undo or not do anything. Many people will ask you to do this or that, I would say RELAX. And you all know the three golden rules to Meditation.

For the next few minutes I want nothing, I do nothing and I am nothing.

This is the highest technique and any technique should lead you to this level of being nothing, removing all the labels we put on ourselves of the roles we play. If it doesn’t, then it’s no good a technique and it’s only a very mediocre, some preliminary beginning technique, may be just to bring some focus. If you understand this philosophy, ‘I want nothing, I do nothing, I am nothing’ rest is all done! Yeah, so simple and yet very profound… very profound!
Q: Dearest Guruji when would you give advice to drop or to change a commitment? Thank you so much.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you feel you can never achieve the commitment or when you feel the commitment is stifling you. When you feel the commitment you have undertaken was done in great ignorance and you are getting nowhere then you move out of that commitment, okay!
Q: How to make teenagers do the course?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This you should think, how to make teenagers do the course. You think and come up with some ideas. You allure them by skillfully telling them the benefits of the course. You can tell them, ‘Come, we will take you for a holiday somewhere’.
Q: How can I get rid of my sense of guilt?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you feel guilty, just chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. Do some Bhastrika, some Pranayama, Kriya. Doing ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ chanting one hundred and eight times also helps a lot. You chant one hundred and eight times, and then relax and meditate. See, new energy has come in you and you have become a new person. That person who did a mistake is gone, has packed off his suitcase and gone. Now inside you is a new person. Start believing in the innocence of the present moment. In the present moment, the YOU in you, the ‘energy in you’ is innocent, okay!
Q: How do I give more love to myself?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You want to give more love to yourself, IMPOSSIBLE. If an ocean says how can I give more water to myself, what can be said? If sugarcane says how can I give more sweetness to myself, what would you say? It is like sun saying how can it give more light to itself? It is impossible for you to give more love to yourself. In fact you love yourself too much, and that is the problem, you’re only thinking about yourself. Start thinking about everybody else, and give love to others. You are ‘love’ my dear, just relax and reduce your wants. Your wants and your desires are eating you up; you simply relax.
You should have wants. There is no problem if you have your desires, but don’t let the desires have you. I don’t mind you having desires at the initial stages. Later you find, before the desire arises in you, it gets fulfilled.
Q: Can spirituality save the world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is destroying this world? It’s the greed, jealousy, hatred, narrow mindedness, selfishness, and all these negative emotions and qualities which are destroying the world, right? Because of greed of few people, anger and hatred of few people, lack of awareness, lack of understanding or misunderstanding and narrow mindedness of a few people, the world is getting destroyed. How can these negative emotions be overcome? Is there a way? Yes, SPIRITUALITY. It is only spirituality which can turn hatred into love, anger into awareness and selfishness into compassion. It is only spirituality that can save the mind of the people, isn’t it so?!
Q: What’s a spiritual leader got to do with politics?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is politics? It is caring for people and what does a spiritual leader do? Care for people. Politicians rule over people, spiritual leaders serve and care for the people. Politics and spirituality are two different fields but they should go hand in hand. That’s why spiritual leaders were placed the highest in ancient India. Any king or emperor would go to the spiritual leader and take his advice. Emperors used to run the kingdom on the blessings and advice of the spiritual leaders. A spiritual leader should not get into politics but should guide the politics. That is necessary.
Q: Dear Guruji, when I feel too stressed and disturbed, I don’t get myself to do Kriya. How to overcome such deeps mourns?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I will give you some advice now. What is the guarantee you will be able to do it then also? Few weak moments have come in life in the past; don’t welcome them in the future as well. And if you cannot get across some weak moments, know that it has come in the past also and it has not helped you in any way. So we should not sit and expect weak moments to come to us first of all. Secondly, even if it comes, we will have the strength to overcome them at that moment. So be spontaneous, okay!
Q: Jai Gurudev! How to educate someone about vegetarianism? I have tried educating and have been ignored!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: More and more people are becoming aware of vegetarianism. Here, I heard last week that a major newspaper in Germany carried three full pages on the benefits of vegetarianism. Vegetarianism has many benefits. It helps your body’s digestion; it helps the environment as well. You know, even if ten percent of the people in the world become vegetarians, the green house gas effect problem is gone. We are done with it; we will have no more problems of global warming. That’s what the scientists say. So we need to promote more and more vegetarianism. People change a little slowly and we need to have patience, Okay!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yoga is for one who is in moderation

German Ashram
August 27, 2010
Q: Dear Guruji, I would love to ask you why is the song ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ so special and intense and how does it help in situations like you explained this morning? I remember that last year we had a very rare combination of some bhajans and you advised us to sing this song there also. Thank you so much.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes! ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is one of the very powerful mantras. Mantras are those energizing sounds which help to uplift the consciousness, which help to uplift the subtle. So ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, these words are very important because ‘Na’, ‘Ma’, ‘Shi’, ‘Va’, ‘Ya’, these five letters represent the five elements Earth, water, fire, air and ether. ‘OM’ is the sound of the universe; ‘OM’ is the symbol of life force. ‘OM’ means peace and love, so when there is peace, love and harmony in all the five elements, there is bliss, there is joy. yeah! So, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ indicates the transcendental universal one consciousness and energizes that subtle aspect of the universe.
Q: Sometimes I feel I have no importance in this huge universe, among millions of people and other species. What is the point in living? Why should I not commit suicide?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You want to commit suicide? Never! It is the most unintelligent thing to do. Committing suicide is like saying I am feeling so cold and taking off your jacket. It is like saying I am feeling so hot and taking five blankets on you. My dear, problems are there in life but you are bigger than the problem. Remember you will always have enough to survive, you will always be protected. You are cared and loved by this universe; you have no right to take your life. You didn’t give birth to yourself; even those who have given birth to you do not have the right to take your life.
How can you even dare think that you could kill yourself, NO! The body belongs to the universe and the universe will take care of your body; your spirit belongs to divinity and divinity will take care of your spirit. Have this confidence and move on. Move through the difficult times. Who doesn’t have difficult times tell me? Who didn’t have difficult times in the past? Everybody gets some difficult time, the wise people smile and move through it, the foolish ones keep crying, yelling, shouting, being miserable and making others miserable. Never do that! Never ever, ever, ever think; that too having an exposure to this knowledge you should not think about suicide. If such feelings come, do Sudarshan Kriya and come and sit in an advanced course, okay! You will be fine!!
Q: My mind keeps having conversations with me, how can I deal with that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: At last you became aware of this; it was happening the entire time but now you have achieved the first step by becoming aware of it. That’s why in these courses you don’t have just knowledge, you have singing as well. Sing, dance and do all these techniques just like a child. As these techniques are taught, just keep doing them and you know in between there are moments the mind has become quiet. That’s why what you are doing now, this advanced course, and this silence program is so valuable, you know; it won’t happen in the very first sitting, I know all sorts of thoughts will come up. It’s like suppose you are cleaning this room after a long gap, there is so much dust and the dust will rise, similarly you have to continue doing advanced courses many times. Those of you who are doing the course for the second time, third time, fourth time, did you notice it is becoming quieter quickly. So it takes quite a while to gain mastery over the silence, right! So we have to keep doing, keep doing it and you will achieve that, no doubt.
Q: I have wasted so many years of my life. I want to do something good and to be successful now. My age is about sixty now, is it too late?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No! Nothing is ever too late, no not at all, don’t worry. Don’t regret the past. Even now it’s not late. Keep smiling; be happy hmm… you are on the right track, right path, and right place. Move on! There are so many things to be done and I need so much help. So many hands I need to do this big mission, right! Bringing the whole world as one family, so we all play a very important role, let’s all do it!
Q: Dear Guruji please help with your advice. My husband is obsessed with computer games. He can play all night. How can he get rid of this craving and how can I help in this situation? Thank you very much!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Computer games all night!
Do one thing if you can, lock him up in the room and tell him to play the whole day and not just at night. If he can lock himself in a room and play day and night, the whole day; three days later… the fourth day he will say good bye to the computer games.
Q: Dearest Guruji, I heard about some people they are preparing themselves for living without food unlike you and me. Is this practically possible?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are some people who are living without food but you know they don’t have so much strength, they don’t do much. If you want to be like a delicate doll sitting somewhere doing nothing, you don’t need to eat much, you don’t need to eat at all. Some people have practiced it for a long time. I know one gentleman who had come here to our ashram, said since the last thirty years he has not eaten anything. Fine, how long did it take you to practice that? He said seventeen years. Seventeen years just watching the sun, slowly, slowly reducing the food, one time comes you don’t need to eat anything; but he hasn’t accomplished or achieved anything other than doing this. So if you want to take that as your life’s mission - not to eat anything and practice that, well good! That you can do, no doubt. See for some people it has come to them naturally. Some people, nature has made their body, their system such that they don’t have to eat, when they are happy and in meditation naturally food intake goes down, but it should not be done as a practice. I am reminded of the two great beings in India who were contemporaries, one is Lord Buddha and the other is Lord Mahavira. Lord Mahavira did not eat at all, it is said he ate once in a year or three times a year or something like that. He didn’t feel the need to eat. He was a prince just like Gautama Buddha or Buddha. As a prince he went out to find the meaning of life, to find the self. He won’t eat for a long time. Very few times he ate, when someone brought food and offered him, he ate.
So Lord Buddha also tried this experiment; he also said okay I will also not eat and find out. Buddha forced on himself not to eat and his body became so weak and he could not even sit or walk or meditate, he became so dependant. At that time a lady came and brought him some rice pudding, he ate that and he got his prana back. Then Lord Buddha declared it is useless to fast too much! He said just by fasting you don’t get enlightened. Krishna has said very clearly in Bhagavad Gita; Lord Krishna has said Yoga is not for one who eats too much or for one who doesn’t eat at all. It is not for one who doesn’t do any activity or not for one who does too much activity, ‘Yuktahara Viharasya’. Similarly not for one who does not sleep at all or one who sleeps all the time. Yoga is for one who is in moderation and takes them out of misery, out of suffering, out of sorrow. Life is all about getting out of sorrow and how we can do this? ‘Yuktahara Viharasya Yukta Cheshtasya Karmasu Yukt Swapnavabodhasya, Yogo Bhavati Dukhha’. One who has moderation in eating, one who has moderation in activity, one who has moderation in sleep and rest, for that person, Yoga brings them to enlightenment. Yoga brings them to the state where they become free from misery.
Moderation means what? Three meals a day is moderation, two meals a day is moderation, one meal a day?...Moderation? What is moderation that you have to see!
When you are hungry then you eat, eat only as much as is required, little bit. Not stuffing yourself when you are not hungry and also not stuffing too much, just gently little bit, little bit as much as is necessary, and activity is necessary along with it. So when you don’t do activity and want to be in silence one or two or three days, okay then drop those days, take only water, some juice and then sit, you know; but you don’t need to do all that, you don’t need to do all those strenuous things at all.
The ‘Art of Living’ has given you such a nice package, such a nice path that suits today’s active life, that suits our body, that suits our environment, our social cultural environment that we are in.

To be continued in the next post...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Navaratri: A Journey to the Source

The festival of Navratri is celebrated with prayers and gaiety in the beginning of the Ashwin (autumn) and the beginning of Chatira (spring). This period is a time for self-referral and getting back to the Source. During this time of transformation, nature sheds the old and gets rejuvenated; animals hibernate and life emerges back afresh in the spring.
According to Vedic sciences, matter reverts to its original form to recreate itself again and again. The creation is cyclical, not linear; everything is recycled by nature - a continuous process of rejuvenation. The human mind, however, lags behind in this routine cycle of creation. Navratri is a festival for one to take the mind back to its Source.
The Mother Divine is recognized not just as the brilliance of intellect (buddhi), but also the confusion (bhranti); she is not just abundance (lakshmi), she is also hunger (shudha) and thirst (trishna). Realizing this aspect of the Mother Divine in the entire creation, leads one to a deep state of Samadhi. This gives an answer to the age-old theological struggle of the Occident. Through wisdom, devotion and nishkama karma, one can attain advaita siddhi or perfection in the non-dual consciousness.
Kali is the most horrific manifestation of Nature. Nature symbolizes beauty, yet it has a horrific form. Acknowledging the duality brings a total acceptance in the mind and puts the mind at ease.
Though Navratri is celebrated as the victory of good over evil, the actual fight is not between good and evil. From the Vedantic point of view, the victory is of the absolute reality over the apparent duality. In the words of Ashtavakra, it is the poor wave which tries to keep its identity separate from the ocean, but to no avail.
The three primordial gunas are considered as the feminine force of our magnificent universe. By worshiping the Mother Divine during Navratri, we harmonize the three gunas and elevate sattva in the atmosphere.
The inward journey nullifies our negative karmas. Navratri is a celebration of the spirit or prana which alone can destroy mahishasura (inertia), shumbha-nishumbha (pride and shame) and madhu-kaitabh (extreme forms of craving and aversion). They are completely opposites, yet complementary. Inertia, deeply ingrained negativities and obsessions (raktabeejasura), unreasonable logics (chanda-munda) and blurred vision (dhoomralochan) can be overcome only by raising the level of prana and shakti, the life-force energy.
The seeker gets back to the true Source through fasting, prayer, silence and meditation. Night is also called ratri because it brings rejuvenation. It gives relief at the three levels of our existence – physical, subtle and causal. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence purifies the speech and brings rest to the chattering mind, and meditation takes one deep into one's own being.
The nine days of Navratri are also an opportunity to rejoice in the three primordial qualities that make up the universe. Though our life is governed by the three gunas, we seldom recognize and reflect on them. The first three days of Navratri are attributed to tamo guna, the next three days to rajo guna and the last three days to sattva guna. Our consciousness sails through the tamo and rajo gunas and blossoms in the sattva guna of the last three days. Whenever sattva dominates in life, victory follows. The essence of this knowledge is honored by celebrating the tenth day as Vijaydashmi.
Though the microcosm is very well within the macrocosm, it’s perceived separateness is the cause of conflict. For a gyani (wise), the entire creation becomes alive and he recognizes life in everything in the same way children see life in everything. The Mother Divine or the Pure Consciousness itself pervades all the forms and has all the names. Recognizing the one Divinity in every form and every name is the celebration of Navratri. Hence, special pujas honoring all aspects of life and nature are performed during the last three days.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sri Sri’s message on non-violence day

“October 2 is remembered as a day of Non-Violence to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. Mahatma Gandhi is synonymous with non-violence and truth. In today's times, we see so much domestic violence, societal violence, tension and depression that it's appropriate to honor October 2 as Non-Violence Day. Every day should, in fact, be a non-violence day and that is the art of living. Every day should be a celebration and when there is celebration there is no violence."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sri Sri’s message after the Ayodhya verdict

I appeal to both the parties not to drive the issue to the Supreme Court. This judgement is fair enough. It has considered Muslim sentiments, it has kept the Hindu faith and sentiments. Crores of Hindus are also happy that the Ram Lalla idol remains where it is. This is the time for reconciliation and coming together. This is one more golden opportunity for both the communities to express their magnanimity, come together in a sense of co-operation and friendship. I appeal to all not to drag this matter further into court again and get into more bitterness. Let us not politicize this issue any further.

Watch video

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says that Ayodhya case verdict is a great opportunity for people to create a new united India. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation heals everything

Continued from the Last post..
Q: But how to have people to get out from their anger because sometimes it is so difficult to be with them because of their anger?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah, how to help people come out of anger? Only through WISDOM! Knowledge, wisdom and meditation.
Q: What if one of our levels of existence has been affected by shock or something, like memory, is it necessary to transcend and reach the self or how does that impact?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: >Meditation! Just exactly what you are doing - yoga, pranayama, meditation, it heals everything. See, we have given so much shock to our body, used it and misused it that it needs this kind of attention. Similarly, we have used and misused our breath, our mind and our intellect that our whole system has been in Topsy turvy, in turmoil and all this gets stored in the memory but remember they all can be easily handled through the practice of meditation. Once you go to the SELF, it heals the memory also. Once you are aware what you are worried about, a shock or an experience, you find you are so much bigger than any experience, and see, in the world how many millions of people are there and how many experiences they all have. Do you see what I am saying?
See what is happening now in Pakistan, flood, how people are traumatized. What happened in India in Leh Ladakh! Suddenly a cloud burst and everything is gone, people’s homes are gone, and see how the terrorists or the Taliban, and these other groups are terrorizing people. If you see the Time magazine’s cover page, it’s so horrifying. In Afghanistan, women, their noses are being cut by Taliban. With all these experiences in the world, people are still living alive. What are we worried about, we are worried about our little unpleasant experience. See, life has both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. Everybody gets a little unpleasant experience, but when you open your eyes, you see our unpleasant experience is nothing, it is minuscule when compared to the other things. So your problem is almost nothing when you look at the big problems in the world, yeah!
Q: Can I ask you something? I was also thinking about all that has happened in Pakistan and this was the region which was also most affected by terrorism. Is there any relation how the karma is of the people’s action and the nature’s response?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah, at this time it is not wise to say, ‘it is because of your bad karma you are suffering’. It is not a wise thing to say, people are suffering from natural calamity. That is why they always categorize three types of calamities affecting people.
Three categories, one is Adi Bhautik means natural calamities, nature’s response brings you into misery. And then Adi Daivik - a calamity that is manmade. You can say through one’s own wrong doings. And then the third calamity that comes in life Adhyatmik, What is it called in Christianity? Something like the dark age of the soul… what is it called? (Audience - The dark night of the soul). Yeah,that is you have everything but then depression sets in. You have money, all that you could have achieved in society you have achieved but you find there is darkness and you don’t know how to go in, how to cut the darkness. Your spirit is longing, missing something but it does not know what. There is type of inner vacuum. That inner vacuum where there is no joy, everything appears completely dead and meaningless.
This is called Taap Athreya. Taap means anguish, three types of anguish. Human life is faced with three types of anguish and how it can be overcome? Through Tapas!
Tapas means endurance, knowledge, wisdom, meditation, yoga, pranayama, all this comes under Tapas, from Tapas the three Taaps can be overcome, okay!
Q: Sometimes we feel disconnected with you how to overcome that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sometimes only na! So you got disconnected and then you feel the connection again, it will happen.
Q: Why do natural calamities occur only in specific areas?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why natural calamities occur only in specific areas, I have no idea! You have to ask mother earth but one thing I tell you we are misusing this planet so much. Every day we are putting so many dynamites under this earth and blasting it. Why will it not shake? Mining has become such a business, five to six companies around the world are doing mining and mining and mining… depleting this earth more than it can recuperate itself.