Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - Celebrating Life with Silence
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
When the Sun, Moon and Earth are in one line, there is a different cosmic energy pattern that happens. This time is very good for meditation and chanting.
The mind is connected with the moon, the body is connected with the Earth and the Sun is connected with both. The time when all three come in alignment is good for spiritual practices. It is not a good time to eat, or indulge in pleasures. It is a good time to conserve energy. So, from the ancient times it is said that you should not eat during the eclipse, and you should meditate.
What is fear?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Every seed has a membrane around it. That shell is there to protect the seed, but when you soak the seed in water, at some point the membrane breaks and the sprout come out of it. In the same way, fear is a mechanism around the life to protect it; at the same time, there is a way to go out of it.
If you see, very young kids, they don’t have fear when the mother is taking care of them. But when a kid starts walking on its own, then he looks around here and there very carefully. So, fear comes around that time, and it disappears when the mind or the intellect get mature. A mature intellect has no fear.
(A member of the audience asked a question which was inaudible)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
In meditation there is no ego; there are no boundaries. Boundaries come when the spirit attaches itself to a desire, and then ego comes up to protect that. It’s all the play of ego, desire and intellect.
Three things obscure our spirit:
These three things cover the spirit and then you start feeling suffocated. Your intellect creates judgements – that person is like that, this person is like that, I like this person, I don’t like that person. Ego, intellect and desire are the three things that can make you miserable. But if your intentions are pure, if your intellect is broad and your ego is vast then the opposite happens; these three things bring you more joy in life.
See, you are doing some good work and ten people criticize you. What happens? It hurts your ego. It is the nature of people to talk. You don’t need to get upset if some people talk something against you. And if there is something good in what someone is saying, then take it and thank them. If there is nothing good, then know that they are just saying it out of jealousy, and it is their problem.
If someone is saying something for your good, you should only thank them. They have the guts to say that. If they are saying it out of ignorance, then educate them and ignore. The third option is to have compassion.
When the intellect is pure it sees beyond words. When the intellect is impure it sees conspiracy theories. It builds up a universe of conspiracies. The same is with the ego, when the ego is pure, then everyone becomes part of your ego. You are natural and you feel at home with everyone. When the ego is impure, then you think, ‘I don’t want to talk to them’, or ‘I don’t want to be subservient’, or ‘Why should I listen’. If you feel, ‘People are looking down on me’, that is your own ego. Do you see what I am saying?
Come on, wake up! The world has ignorant people, you can’t expect everyone to be enlightened.
Today, I met a gentleman who was called a cheat by the whole of Europe, and people were wondering, why is Gurudev meeting this person who is such a big cheat. A doctor is necessary when there is a disease. Knowledge is essential when there is a problem. And you cannot separate the honest people in society into one corner. They have to live with people who are dishonest and change them. We have to create an impact in society, and not run away. You can’t just have a group of compassionate people put away in a room. In society, all types of people will be there and we need to be strong enough to influence them and not get influenced by them.
Just before I started The Art of Living, I met this 108 years old man. He was a Pandit and has written around 700 books. He was a great astrologer. I was around 21 at that time, and he told me one thing. He said, “For any organization you need 12 people – four good, four mediocre and four hopeless people. This forms a good organization. The four hopeless people will bring out all the good qualities and the strength in the four good people. And the mediocre will learn their lessons from both side”.
I sometimes think to myself, ‘What wise advice he gave me, even before I thought of starting an organization’. In fact, I never wanted to start an organization. I was very happy; I am happy now also. At that time, I had my little suitcase, and I would travel from place to place, talk to people and give some knowledge. This is how I started and then the organization started happening on its own.
Don’t look into the behavior of others around you. If it is not inspiring, don’t look at it. If it is inspiring then definitely take, as they must be one of the four good people. If you are focused on the four hopeless then you will want to run away, you will want to blame others and yourself, and all this negativity will chase you like a shadow. And the farther you go from light, the shadow becomes much bigger and then you fight with your own shadow. When does your shadow get bigger? It is when you are away from the light, and when you are no facing the light. That is when your shadow is bigger than you.
The four good will never run away, they are like solid pillars. The four mediocre will try to run away because they are focused on the hopeless people. There was a saint who would give an example of a rose and say that a person is coming to you with a rose but because your eyes are on the thorns which are beneath the rose, you think they are coming to hit you with the thorns. If your sight is focused on the rose, the thorns will not bother you. You will see how you can put your hands in-between the thorns and hold the rose – that is the skill that you will get. If you have a little intelligence, then you will know how to hold and enjoy the rose and not be bothered about the thorns.
Diwali is a festival where you remind yourself of the importance of knowledge in life. When there is knowledge, there is no darkness. And when do you need knowledge? You need knowledge at the darkest time of life. When you are blissful and everything is okay, then who cares for knowledge. But when you have to face challenges, that is when you need knowledge, and that is when people don’t tend to look at knowledge. So, lighting a lamp is simply a symbol is invoking the knowledge and the wisdom within you.
When there is knowledge, there is no darkness. And when do you need knowledge? You need knowledge at the darkest time of life.
The second aspect of Diwali is distributing sweets. Sweetness in your words, in your behavior and in your relationship with others around you is the best sweet, and not the one with sugar. If you eat too much sugar, then you have exercise to burn all those calories. So, distributing sweets is to create and pleasant communicative atmosphere around us.
The third aspect of Diwali is fire crackers. Here, I would like to tell all of you, please do not pollute the atmosphere by doing it too much. We should always avoid noise pollution, air pollution and other types of pollution.
In ancient days, they would light a few fire crackers so that you can feel the explosion inside you as well. From explosion newness is born. Usually when something explodes, newness comes out of it. Usually we say, if some things are bothering your mind, you say, “Oh my head is going to explode”, isn’t it? This indicates pressure. So, when something bursts you feel a catharsis inside of you, and some pressure is lifted off from your system, and you enjoy this. That is why I am not saying that you should not burn fire crackers at all, but keep in mind how you can cause minimum damage to the environment. Especially the birds and animals, they get so scared. If you are near a zoo or a bird sanctuary, then I would suggest that you be very careful. Your festivity should not cause fear to the animals around.
You know, in cities, the dogs get so scared because there are fire crackers all over. People who have dogs lock them up in their homes, and the dogs really howl the whole time. So, minimum use of fire crackers is recommendable.
Now coming to some deeper wisdom!
Do you know what is the root cause of anger? When do you get angry? When a lie is said to you! Suppose you have to encounter a lie, what will happen to you? When someone lies to you, what happens to you? You get angry!
You want something to happen or you have a desire, and it is fulfilled, then you don’t get angry, you get happy. But when what you want does not happen, then that what you desired or wanted becomes a lie (because it is not the truth in your present reality). So, all the anger that you experience in life is because of ‘lies’ or untruth.
Now, what if I tell you, everything in your life, and your life itself is a lie. Everything is a lie, even I am a lie. Just for one minute think that – Everything is a lie; the world around you is a lie, the spiritual path is a lie, your sadhana is a bigger lie, your Guru is a lie, everything that you do is a lie, YOU ARE A BUNDLE OF LIES.
All your life you are searching for the truth, but with truth comes anger.
What are you going to do now? Why are you quiet? What is happening now?
All your life you are searching for truth, but with truth comes anger as well – that is what is Satyagraha. You insist for truth, now wake up and see, everything is a lie, what is there to insist? YOU ARE A BUNDLE OF LIES.
Tell me what is happening to you now, right this moment?
Audience: We are shocked!
How many of you are shocked? (Some in the audience raise their hands). Just a few of you are shocked? How many of you enjoying? How many of you felt a relief?
Audience: We realize that anger itself is a lie.
When everything is a lie, when there is nothing to hold on to, then where is your anger? Who will you get angry at when everything is a lie? If one of two people were wrong, then it is okay, but I am telling you that everything and everyone is a lie.
I want you to watch what is happening within you this moment. Do you have an explosion happening within you? See what is happening within you!
Audience: Feeling free! Feeling happy! Feel like dancing! Laughing for no reason.
Oh, but when I am saying that ‘Everything is a life’, how can you laugh? Otherwise, if you find out that someone has spoken lies, you get very angry, then now why is it that you feel like laughing. This is deep wisdom – when you realize that this whole world is an illusion, it is all lies. It appears to be, but it is not there – it is all a lie. When you realize this, then what comes out of you? Laughter! You feel freedom. This is real wisdom!
Somewhere you keep holding onto your search for truth - drop it. The moment you drop it, you recognize that everything is a lie.
Only reading wisdom does not help. Somewhere you keep holding on to your search for truth – drop it. The moment you drop it, you can recognize that everything is a lie. Then where is anger or disappointment? Where is run for success? Where is the competition and comparison? Are you going to compare one lie with another lie and see which is a bigger lie? Come on, wake up! All that you have been holding onto, all that which has been binding you to a limited existence and limited awareness suddenly vanishes – when? When you realize what I am saying now (that this world is an illusion.)
I am telling you, your seeking is a lie; everything is a lie. You asking a question is an even bigger lie, and the answer is also a lie.
Audience: We are so confused (laughter)
If you are laughing and saying that you are confused, that means that confusion seems to have worked. If you are really confused then you will not laugh, isn’t it? Can you laugh when you are depressed?
There have been so many ideas and thoughts that have come to your mind, have many of them proven to be false? (Many is the audience agree). When you realize that everything that you think and speak is false, even if it is just for a second, then what happens to you? Look at that! Then we will speak on this sometime later.
Message from Iraq:
My Gurudev of peace, before I say Babashed's (the spiritual father for the Yazidis) message to you who is the spiritual leader of Yazidis, we thank you for welcoming us and for getting us here. You have collected us together from all the sectors, religions, and background of Iraq - the Sunnis, Shias, Christians, Yazidis and we are all united and together today. We will take the peace which you have given us to spread in our country.
Babashed's message: Peace and gratitude to all of you in India. You have gifted us with spirituality and we are here to learn from you. We are proud to be here and learn peace and patience from you.
Today, my city has been liberated. For more than two years and three months, the ISIS had been killing, torturing and treating all of us badly. We hope that all our Yazidis's girls who have been taken by ISIS come back to us. Thank you, Gurudev. Thank you, everyone. Thank you for helping and supporting us. Thank you for giving us all the support and peace so that we can live. Jai Gurudev!
(A member of the audience asked a question relating to a talk given by Gurudev on 29 October 2016 which was inaudible)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
What is a lie? Something which keeps changing is called a lie. If you said something yesterday, and today you say something else, then that is called a lie.
Now what is truth? Truth is that which is unaffected by time. Something which remains constant and unchanging through the three phases of time (past, present and future) is what is truth.
If you look around and see, everything is changing. The way you were yesterday, or ten years back, you are not the same today. In a year’s time, every cell in our body changes.
So, when I say ‘Everything is a lie’, it means everything is changing.
Now, when you understand that everything is changing, then there must be some reference point which doesn't change, through which you can know that everything is changing. And what is that reference point? That reference point is you.
If everything in you changes, then how can you say ‘I have changed’? If everything in you changes then you have become another person itself. So, you need some reference point for change to be observed, otherwise you can't even know change. There is something in you that is not changing, but what is this that is not changing is not very clear.
We usually say, ‘I went to this school 20 years back’, or, ‘I did this job 25 years back’, but who was that person? Even if you look at a picture of you taken around 20 years back, you will not find much resemblance. Your body, mind, intellect, thoughts, feelings, everything has changed. But certainly, there is something which has not changed because of which you can notice this change. That is why I say, first identify the changes that are happening within you. Once you identify these changes, then slowly you will be able to identify that what is not changing. And once you identify that which is not changing, then you will realize ‘This is what I am, this is what I have been searching for.’
How to face Rahu and Shani Mahadasha (astrological planetary positions that bring forth a very hard phase of time)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Don’t think that Rahu Dasha or Shani Dasha are bad. If you are on the spiritual path, and if you practice meditation, all these Dashas will do only good things to you.
People think the Shani Dasha is very bad. Shani Dasha pushes you towards the spiritual path. If you are stuck in small things, it relieves you from there and puts you on the spiritual path. If you are already in knowledge and wisdom, Shani Dasha doesn't do anything wrong.
In life, there are ups and down. Some good thing happens. Something which you don't like happens. But every incident is an opportunity for you to grow stronger. So, don't worry about Rahu Dasha or Shani Dasha.
Gurudev, when we chant a mantra continuously, will that mantra effect our body and life ?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Definitely! But we should not keep chanting continuously, this is not correct. Do you keep bathing continuously? When you chant the mantra for some time, your mind will become stronger. That is why it called mantra. We can do it for 20 - 30 min. If you keep doing it continuously, your intellect will become dull. We should not do it too much. If you stay a lot in water, you will become a fish (laughter). That is why it is referred as mantra-snaan (bath).
If someone keeps listening to music, his intellect will stop working. Similarly, someone who keeps doing math and never listens to music, his personality will also be unbalanced. These things are there to balance our left brain and right brain. We should look it from a scientific perspective. From a scientific perspective, we should listen to music for some time, we engage in some discussions for some time, and we should think for some time. Afterwards, you will experience an all-round development.
Sometimes our elder in our homes asks us to do wrong things. How should we say no to them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Respecting elders does not mean that if elders tell you to do something wrong or ask you to steal something, then you do it. You should say no to it. Just say sorry to them and tell them that you can’t do any such wrong tasks.
When you say, “I can't do it”, they will not force you. You should keep your energy in good work and not invest in wrong things. If you involve in a wrong doing, you will not be able to sleep peacefully.
When egos are there, they do clash. There is no way out. When there is wisdom, you will rise above any small-minded attitude, bickering and judgements.
You judge people all the time, and if you turn back and look at your own judgements, I tell you, 80 to 90% of the time, they will be wrong. Sometimes people send some messages and before the other person gets it, they retract it. How many of you have done that? You type a message to send to someone, and something tells you that this is not okay and so you retract it. How many of you do this? This shows how poor your judgements are.
We create a huge cloud around what is not even close to truth, and it has happened to you so many times in the past. You hold grudges against people, you have concepts about people and you get yourself trapped into it. You must wake up from this. You know, if your time is good, your worst enemy behaves like a friend, and if your times are bad, your closest friend behaves like an enemy. So, your luck or time is totally responsible for your friends and enemies. Your karma is responsible for what you go through. So, you should take your mind away from judging others and bring it to yourself.
Often people who complain that others have a big ego, have a big ego themselves. Often those who complain others are rude, you will see somewhere inside, they are rude. You should reflect on yourself. See, you can’t correct others but others give you a chance to correct yourself.
Is it necessary to fast every week?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
We fast not to please the Divine, but to cleanse our body. You overwork your liver, stomach and pancreas so much. If there was a labor court for the body, all these organs would have complained against you in that court. We don’t allow them to rest at all. We drink and eat the whole day until night, and we overwork our system. They do need some rest and for that you need to fast.
God is not going to be pleased by your fasting. It is more to detox your own body. And why fasting is combined with prayer all over the world and in all religions, is because when you are fasting, you are detoxified and your prayer becomes authentic and deep. Your meditation happens best when your stomach is empty. Isn’t that your experience?
If you meditate on a full stomach, you will fall asleep. That is why it is said, you can say your prayers when you are fasting as your body is detoxified and your mind is rested and alert.
Just think of your own classrooms. In which period do you feel very alert? First few sessions, or just before lunch. If you have had a heavy breakfast the first session can be boring. And when do you feel heavy and dull? Right after lunch!
When I was in college, I also used to sit and sleep because I had had some nice food, and that too with yogurt. At that time, classes are like a burden. Nobody taught us in those days that food has an impact on our mind. Nobody taught us not to eat these particular things during the day.
Do you know what is the worst punishment? Give someone curd and rice, and don’t let them sleep. It is so
difficult. So, our fasting has an impact on our alertness, and our mind which is why in all the religions of the world, be it Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or Jainism, fasting has been followed. But it is only for the body not to please God.
When I read the books and listen to knowledge, I really want to implement it. But when the time comes to implement the knowledge, I am unable to do it. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Knowledge gets implemented automatically; it is spontaneous. It is there at the back of the mind. What is it that stops you from implementing knowledge is small temptations. Small temptations go with three things: Love, greed and fear.
Suppose you are drinking alcohol or doing something that is not right, then the fear of disease, or fear of losing your reputation, or fear of losing a loved one can stop you. Fear as well as procrastination can stop you.
The second thing that can stop you is greed. If someone tells you, “If you drink alcohol, you will lose 10 million”. Or if you are a smoker and someone tells you, “If you don’t smoke for 30 days, you will get a lottery for 1 crore rupees”, I tell you, you will not touch a cigarette. You will say, instead of 30 days, let me make it 33 days just to be on safe side.
The third this is love. If you promise a loved one, you will keep it up.
Gurudev, my best friend is always angry and irritated with me. What should I do so that she is always happy with me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Simply drop the ‘always’. Firstly, if your best friend is always angry, you will not even notice that she is angry. And this ‘always’, is a big issue. Accept her the way she is! And know that you don’t have to try to please everyone. If they are upset, accept that, be centered and strong and keep moving ahead.
Gurudev, I have not been doing my kriya for some time now and I feel I am taking you for granted. Please guide me. I am scared as I can’t afford to lose your love.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You know my love is unconditional, but I will tell you something. If you at least sit and meditate for some time, you are not doing it for me, you are doing it for your own good. Whatever you can do, you do. Take out a little bit of time for yourself. Tie up your sadhana with your daily routine.
Every day you have food, you don’t skip or miss any meals, right? Like that, do your pranayama and meditation. Even if you can’t do your pranayama, just sit and meditate. Have you noticed how you feel when you meditate and when you don’t meditate? There is so much heaviness when you don’t meditate, have you felt this?
How to express now when words itself are misinterpreted and I am not understood?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Don’t bother. If people misinterpret, it is their problem. You meditate and you improve your intuitive ability, then you will say the right words at the right time.
Gurudev, I would like to be amicable with everyone but there are some people who always treat me like their enemy.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Let them behave however they wish. Nothing in this world stays permanently anyway. People’s opinions keep changing all the time, and no emotions stays with the same intensity. Everything changes over a period of time. Let them be as they are.
You have seven billion people on this planet. If someone is holding a grudge against you, just let them be. Don’t rent out your upper chamber (referring to the mind) to anybody. Normally you rent it out to whoever you like the least, and they then start living there.