‘Uplift the other, this should be your commitment’

Bad Antogast, German ashram, Dec. 25:

Q. Can a relationship enhance or suppress your spiritual growth?

Sri Sri: Yes, both can happen. If your partner is also on the path and understands you, it can enhance you both. If one is in doubt, the partner will help you to get over the doubt. If one is not doing the practice, the other one will pull them to do the practice and give them encouragement. Make them move on the spiritual path, so that much help comes from that. I have seen many couples - when one is going astray from the path, the other will pull them back onto the path. Because of the sake of the wife or husband, they continue being on the path, on the knowledge, on the spiritual path. This I have seen happening in many, many families. Though, on the contrary, if both go in different directions and if one of them is not really on the path, it can be a hindrance for the other. It can be, though not necessarily.

Q. What is the secret to having a strong will power? Please tell me as I have so many bad habits that I would like to change about myself.

Sri Sri: Now, three things can help you to get over bad habits. 1. Love- If you love somebody or something, then promise them for their sake that you will continue the good habits. 2. Fear - When there is a fear that this bad habit is going to bring great problems to me, then you will get out of it. 3. Greed - If someone tells you that by leaving this bad habit, you will get a million dollars, you would not do that (the bad habit), you want a million dollars in your pocket. If someone tells you, don’t drink or smoke for the next one week, then you will be entitled to one million dollars. Will you smoke, will you drink? No ways! If someone tells you that you will get 10 million dollars or 10 million euros if you don’t smoke for one month or 30 days, they will say, ‘Why only 30 days? I will not smoke for 35 days. I am sure of the number of days, as I want to be sure. Not 29 days. Some months are only 30, some are 31, so let me do for the maximum of 35 days’. Because you know, when you value some thing much more than the habit and you know that you are going to get that, then the habit will drop out of it. So through love, fear or greed you will stop doing it. You know, promiscuity has reduced to a great extent because of the fear of AIDS. After the dreadful disease of AIDS started appearing, then promiscuity came down to a great extent. So similarly, commitment to a higher cause can help you get over small little attractions.

Q. Whenever I come in the ashram, it feels like I am in love with everyone here, but when you go outside, it is hard to maintain this feeling. When people are not open, they embrace the feeling of love . It is hard to feel love for them. Why is it so, how to love everyone?

Sri Sri: You know, you feel love but don’t get attached to it ok, and don’t try to feel love for others. Love is a gift. If it is there , it is there, if it is not there, it is not there You cannot force yourself to love somebody. Can you impose? If you do it, it will be contrary to what is. You just be relaxed and go deep in the knowledge and suddenly one day, you will find that all are part of me and everybody is same. Then love is not a verb, it’s not an action. You don’t have to love somebody, you are love, you will understand that love is a noun. You are simply there as a sparkling love. And that’s it. Yes, obviously, it’s not the give-and-take love of which you are talking about. You love somebody and they gave you something. Here people radiate that peace so it is easy. They know all the basic course points of acceptance and not to be football and all these things. Definitely, it is much easier here and our job is to make the world like this so that anywhere in the world, it becomes much easier. All over the world, people say, ‘Art of Living people have a smile on the faces’. There is a certain radiance, a certain confidence, a certain smile which is unparalleled. People comment on that all the time.

Q. Dear Guruji, why do we cry in your presence?

Sri Sri: When the heart opens, tears flow. It’s quite natural .When heart opens and these are not bitter or salty tears, they are sweet tears. These are tears of love, of gratitude. So let it be. Don’t try to stop it or don’t try to enhance it, just let it be.

Q. How do I know that I am in a right relationship or the person is right for me? Or I am right for the other? Many thanks.

Sri Sri: Listen to one thing now, you are right for the other person when you can adjust. Relationship means adjustment, it is giving. You give what you can to the other person and wait for them to give back to you. If you are demanding from the others, the relationship is not going to last long. Demand destroys the love. Demand and blame destroys relationships. So, you should only know how to praise others and uplift a situation instead of blaming, finding fault. Uplift the other, this should be your commitment . Then you are the right person for anybody, and everybody will love you when you don’t hurt them intentionally. This is the first point. Number one. Second, you are open to correction and changes, you have the patience to listen to criticism. Three things, I am counting. You have patience to take in criticism. Fourth, you know the other persons’ point of view, or where the shoe pinches, you know. You should see the other person beyond their words and their actions. You know, when someone is working for 8 to 10 hours, when they come back home, they are very tired. If he is a businessman and when the stock markets fall, he is so upset and he comes home to find solace. So you should see the circumstance, situations, how the spouse is and allow them the space to express their genuine feelings of frustrations, anger whatever.

You know, there is only one option when a person is angry or is frustrated. The whole world expects them to keep the frustration to themselves, no one wants to share their frustration, but when they come home it is with their spouse. They explode and express and show all their frustration. At that time, the spouse should be there like a midwife - allow them to deliver. When someone is in labor pain, and if you say, ‘Don’t deliver, keep it, keep it, keep the baby inside.’ What can they do? How long can they keep it inside? Somewhere they have to explode. When they come with their stress, the spouse should allow them to express. Say, ‘Ok, download it. Download. Let go of all your stresses, ok whatever you want to blame, blame. You want to beat me or beat yourself, do it’. Then, you know, keep that type of space for them to un-stress and download. What you can say is ‘Let go of all that you have carried all the day, all the stress of the stock market or whatever else.’ If a person commits a mistake in the work place or injustice is done to him or her, they come back and they want some place to offload it. Offload is the right word I think, offload all that thing and one must keep that space for them to offload. Understand why there are upset, why they are unhappy - then your relationship will work. But if you expect them not to tell anything, be nice to you all the 24 hours, seven days a week and 365 days and find fault with them all the time.

Pricking them that ‘You are useless, you are hopeless, you are this, that...’ Poor lady or man! What will they do? They find that they have no support. Nobody is helping them to grow, helping them, uplifting them and then they get depressed. Right? So first, we will see. Greater is the person who has greater capacity to absorb, accommodate, adjust with anybody. If you can adjust with anybody, that much greater you are, you know and the degree can come less, less, less. If you know your acceptability is only 10 percent, then you are thoroughly miserable if it zero percent. There is no way you can grow in your life. Wisdom is to have this patience, grow from zero to one hundred percent.  

Q. I don’t understand why we are here, why are we here for such a short time? Why do we have to grow old and weak? How do I stop wanting and needing others’ approval and love?

Sri Sri: This is a good question - why am I here, what do I do? Keep asking. When you keep asking these questions, either you go crazy or you become wise. I wish you become the latter, become much wiser, ok? Don’t tell me crazy people are very wise. It’s the other way round - wise people are sometime crazy too.

Q. Dearest Guruji, I am so fortunate to be on a path like this with you. I want more people to get this experience and be more happy by living in the knowledge and practicing the technique. But some people are not willing to be approached nor understand when I would like to share. So how to speed this to the people who are in need? Maybe their time has just not come.

Sri Sri: No, no don’t think their time has not come. You keep doing your work. You keep telling, you don’t have to push everybody but gently you have to facilitate people to get into the knowledge. Yes, this is necessary.

“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ Sri Sri Ravishankar

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Devotion is the zenith of Love

Bangalore ashram, Dec. 14, 2009:
A lady shared a beautiful experience today in satsang. She had lost her son at the age of 14 yrs in an accident 10 months ago. Her son had done the ‘Art Excel course’ a few months before he passed away. The boy’s last words before he passed away were “don’t cry, nothing is going to happen to me Amma (mother), don’t cry”.
As the lady recounted her son’s last words, she said - “Thank you so much Guruji, for giving these children such wonderful knowledge that makes them so strong.”
Q: Guruji, I read somewhere that after death, if you end up in hell, then you are fried in a pan. I felt afraid after reading that. Please explain.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t worry. When you are established in the Self while you are here(in this planet), only then no fear is left. That was a way adopted by our ancestors for making people follow the right path and do good karma. It was said you will suffer a lot after death if you do wrong deeds to set people on the right path. If you follow the wrong path, then wrong karma will follow.
To some extent, this karma can be changed. If you can’t change karma at all, than there is no use in doing Sadhana. Do your Sadhana and meditation.

Q: How much freedom is to be given or restrictions are to be put on teenagers?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have forgotten because you have crossed that stage and you don’t remember what turmoil they are going through.  There are so many hormonal changes taking place in their body. Shake hands with them and gently guide them through this.
Teenage feverishness is only for few years. Not only physical but mental and emotional turbulence is so high in them. After the age of three, children begin to experience all these emotions like jealousy, possessiveness and these continue till teenage. Some people don’t come out of teenage at all. Mental turbulence is huge for them.
Teenage is a tough time. It needs great patience to deal with teenage children.  So with great patience, like a friend and philosopher, give them some space and at the same time put your foot down and say ‘No’. Don’t be too loose at that time.

Q: Guruji, what is the difference between devotion and love?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Devotion is the zenith of Love. ‘Saa tvasmin panama prema rupa’ - Embodiment of supreme love for the divine is devotion. You can’t posses God. In routine love affairs, you love someone and you expect the same in return. You can’t claim a right on God. Love for that infinite consciousness is devotion.

Sage Narad says, Yoga chitta vritti nirodha’ meaning ‘Yoga means silencing the tendencies of your mind.’ ‘Tadha drustu swarupe avastanam’ which means ‘Yoga is the skill of being established in the Seer from the scene’ - To go within and be established in the seer. With this notion, meditation starts to happen. Then Samadhi follows. Your mind is totally calm. For a moment you experience that complete nothingness, emptiness.

Q: What is the meaning of ‘Pradakshina’ (circumambulation)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: ‘Pradakshina’ means going around. ‘Dakshina’ means that which is done with skill. The English word ‘dexterous’ has come from the Sanskrit word ‘Daksha’.  ‘Dexterous’ means skillful. ‘Pradakshina’ means ‘in a very special way, being skillful’, a very skillful movement, that which is gained with skill, merit which you have gained skillfully. ‘Pra’ is to go around. ‘Pradakshina’ is qualifying by going around skillfully.

There are three layers when you go inside a temple according to the temple architecture. The first layer is herbal gardens, full of trees and plants. The direction in which the tree is to be planted comes under temple architecture. All plantations are done according to the directions and wind flow. There are medicinal herbs, flowers and trees in this outer layer and when you pass through this layer, you breathe in those herbal fragrances that cure emotional and physical problems, and body imbalances. It used to be around one kilometer long and while passing through it, your whole body circulation is improved. Essential fragrances and oils needed by the body are absorbed especially those of the Ashvat (peepal) tree. It is the only tree which emits oxygen all the 24 hours. All other trees emit oxygen half the time and carbon dioxide rest of the time. The tree helps a person to overcome many problems, especially infertility.

‘Pradakshina’ is not done for the sake of the divine or some other purpose but for health benefits.
Then there is a second circle in which statues of many men and women are kept. One was asked, in earlier days, to sit and meditate there for a while.

This way first circle makes you physically fit, vatta-pitta-kapha balances happens by inhaling the air. The second circle frees your mind from all fantasies. Then finally you move on to central part - ‘sanctum sanctorum’ - where you sit with your eyes closed and experience the nothingness.

Q: I don’t know what is good for me and what is bad?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Drop that which gives you short term happiness and long term suffering. Just keep this in the back of your mind.

“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”
~ Sri Sri Ravishankar

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For Global Spirituality

Life is a fine balance between the emotions & the intellect

Bangalore ashram, Dec. 12:
Q: Guruji, many times you have clarified that the Master is the presence and not the physical entity but when I see you I get so mesmerized with your appearance, your actions. Please tell me what to do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Simply realize that you appreciate what you have. You are also beautiful. Inside each one of us there is beauty. We all have all these virtues inside us. Some virtues are manifested and some will soon manifest.

Q: Guruji, do you have any unfulfilled desires?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: (After a little pause) Yes, I want to see millions of people smiling and all these conflicts in the world to end. There should be no war. WAR itself means ‘Worst Act of Reason’. People who are involved in war give reasons to justify their actions but it is actually the worst act of reason. There is so much domestic violence in the world today. All this must stop. This can happen when people become more compassionate and understanding.

Q: To break the cycle of birth and death we have to attain mukti/liberation, then why do enlightened masters reincarnate?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With one goal - to help those who are in need and on the other hand just to play.

Q: Is it ok to pray for a peaceful end to the life of a person with Parkinson’s syndrome?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whenever someone suffers, the people around him or her are the ones who suffer more than the person. The family of a mentally retarded child suffers much more than the child himself. That child is in a different paradigm of mind. Nature gives the strength to endure the suffering and walk through with strength. An animal is given only that heavy a tail, which it can wag. Just imagine a rat having the tail of an elephant. Nature is very intelligent. It only gives you that problem which you can handle.

 Q: Guruji, I read somewhere that chanting OM is not good for women. Please elaborate.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Maybe some man has written that book! (laughter) Perhaps they are afraid that women may become more powerful, intelligent, independent and stronger than men. All this is not true. In the Middle Ages, some people spread this message with the selfish motive of keeping the knowledge only to themselves.

Q: Can charity grant liberation?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Charity purifies wealth. Ghee/clarified butter purifies food. Knowledge purifies the intellect. Bhajan purifies the mind & Service purifies the action.

Q: What is the difference between self–respect and ego? If someone says harsh words to you, it hurts. Is that ego or self-respect?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Nobody can take away your self–respect. If it pinches you then that is due to ego or your foolishness. When someone is harsh to you, it is ok to be hurt but then you should also know how to rise above that. It is because of knowledge that we can come out of that feeling of hurt.

Q: If everything is pre-decided, then what is the need for karma/ action?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We cannot live without karma. All is pre-decided for an animal but not for a human. Some things are pre-decided and some are not. If everything was pre-decided, why would we be doing bhajans here? It would be no different than being an animal then. Humans have responsibilities to fulfill and humans take on responsibility. An animal has neither any responsibility nor any demand. Humans have freedom as well as an intellect.

Q: What is difference between accepting people as they are and labeling them as they are?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You tell me the answer. If you really want an answer then sit and think about it. If in your mind this question has arisen, the answer will also come. You have some notion of acceptance in your mind and some other notion of labeling. That’s why you are using two different words. You won’t ask the difference between ‘Kela’ (banana in Hindi) and ‘Banana’. When we ask the difference we already know what that difference is. You already know in your mind and a little introspection will give you the answer.

Q: I see some images during meditation. Is that ok?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no need to pay attention to that. It is just an experience. In Sudarshan Kriya or meditation you may hear something, see some images or visions but all these come and go. It is a form of stress release.

Q: In one of your books you have said religion is like the banana peel and spirituality is the fruit inside. Does that mean one who is spiritual has nothing to do with religion?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Religion is inevitable. You have a religion since birth. Your name only conveys the religion to which you belong. Your name, marriage all this is part of religion. You can’t deny it. Spirituality unites all religions. That is the core value of all religions.

Q: If a relationship is not going smoothly, what to do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I am not an expert to answer this. (Laughter) One thing I can tell you is that you should leave a certain margin in a relationship. The strength of a relationship lies in the ability to accommodate rough patches. How well you handle it gives you skills. Otherwise how do you get to know how accommodating, understanding and considerate you are? These virtues come up only when you have rough patches. See the situation as an opportunity on how to adapt, how to be accommodating, understanding and considerate. You should give a shot to excel in exhibiting your character rather then changing the other person.

Q: Guruji, up to what extent should one sustain a relationship? How much can one bend?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You can’t bend too much if the other person is turning violent, taking advantage of you. Then you have to stand up and state clearly. Deal with all of this using your intellect and not your emotions. Conflict is always emotional. Resolution is intellectual. Emotional conflict can’t be dealt with emotions. Similarly an intellectual argument cannot be dealt with the intellect. The emotional side of it has to be considered. If you observe carefully there is a stream of emotions behind an intellectual argument. Life is a fine balance between the emotions and the intellect. When to use what, is the real wisdom. And how do you gain that wisdom? The answer is meditation, meditation and meditation.

Q: Tell us something about ‘nadi shodan’ (alternate nostril) pranayama.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are 1,82,000 nadis/ energy channels in our body. When we breathe, these are activated and that is why we are alive. When we breathe through the left nostril, certain nadis are functioning and others function when we breathe through the right nostril. So when we alternate the breath through the nostrils, certain changes happen in the body and in our system. Our system gets purified. Fresh energy moves in the system and the stress is eliminated. The left nostril activates the functioning of the right brain and vice versa. So when we alternate our breathing, all the brain waves get synchronized. Biochemical changes happen in the body. The Endocrine glands function better and any imbalance in body is rooted out. There are many benefits of pranayama.

Q: Guruji newspapers today are filled with so much vague news here and there. Can’t we have one full page on environment?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you write articles? I want all those who have good writing skills to sit together and have some collection. We will implement this. The Ashram agricultural department is very successful in controlling pollution and purifying sewage water. We are using some ancient techniques, which have been forgotten. It is surprising to see the results that these techniques have brought about. Sewage water is completely purified, ready to drink and the sewage is turned into manure. Using this method we can clean all sewage plants in all villages across India without chemicals. The Agricultural Department also took a project in Nasik where vegetation was grown using seawater. So all this is possible.

“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
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Sanyas is getting established in the Self

Bangalore ashram, Dec. 11:
Q: Out of two options available to do Seva or to be in Satsang with you, I chose Satsang but now my consciousness is pricking me. What should one chose?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you have a responsibility to do seva, then you come to satsang so that when you are tired of doing seva, you can energize yourself.

Q: I am academically good but not successful in my career. I am not able to support my family financially. I feel I am unworthy. Please help.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Breath it out if you feel you are unworthy. Meditate and don’t be hard on yourself.

Q: What is dispassion? Do you have to be a sanyasi to experience dispassion?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Dispassion starts happening naturally. When you grow up, your mind doesn’t get stuck to small things like you were so much attached to lollypop when you were small, yet when you reached school or college that attachment naturally dropped. Similarly, with toys or even friends. When you grow up, you still have friends but you rise above that entanglement. Similar is the case with mother and child. Naturally entanglement starts leaving you. If dispassion doesn’t happen then you experience sorrow. We get into the cycle of sorrow thinking – ‘Oh, I did so much. I did so much for my kids and see what they are doing now.’ What responsibility I was supposed to do, I have fulfilled. There is no restriction on others’, your children’s feelings. We can’t ask anybody to express feelings forcefully. Feelings naturally arise in anybody’s heart whatever those feelings are. Feelings don’t ask for permission before arising. But if you live in knowledge then negative feelings are almost negligible. Also positive feelings exist not as craving but love.
People say knowledgeable is one who kills one’s feelings. No, it’s not like that. Sadbhav, saintly feelings continue to exist. Lord Krishna also said in the Bhagwad Geeta ‘One who is not tied to me - the Consciousness, Higher Self - neither has intellect nor feelings. Without feelings and intellect, there is no question of peace or happiness. 
Transforming craving and aversion into love is dispassion.
Lord Shankaracharya also said there is no happiness in world which can’t be received through dispassion. Dispassion doesn’t mean going to forests. It has
been so wrongly interpreted. Bliss and happiness are there in dispassion.
Like the lotus resides in water but still remains free from getting wet, in the same way while living in society one is not to let society enter one’s mind. Birds fly above you that’s ok, but don’t let them build a nest in your head.
Sanyas (an ascetic) is getting established in the Self. One who is unshaken by anything is a sanyasi. Sanyas is 100 percent dispassion and 100 percent bliss and has no demand. It’s very good if sanyas happens after the fourth ashram, the vanaprasth ashram. So much satisfaction in the mind that ‘Nobody is my own’ and ‘Nobody is the other’, or ‘Everybody is my very own’, or even ‘this body is not mine’ is the state of sanyas. Total happiness in mind is sanyas. Leaving clothes and going to forests is not sanyas.

Q: Should we follow the character and play of Gods?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a story in each character. One should follow the character of God like Sri Rama’s character but the play of Lord Krishna is not
to be followed. Play of God is not comprehensible.
Do as what Sri Rama did but do as what Sri Krishna said and not did. If you follow Lord Krishna’s play and do all that He did, you will end up in a jail, then you reach your birth place. (Audience laughs) When you listen to Lord’s play, your heart becomes joyful. Everything is Lord’s play only.

Q: They say cats are fiercer than tiger. I am relating this to women. Women nowadays are not open to accept men’s opinion. I am concerned about the male species.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You mean we should start men empowering seminar. (Laughter). Perhaps!!

Q: What can be done for peace between Israel and Palestine?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We all have to work for it. When all of us work together to bring people together, to forget the past and make people live in the present, we will have the bond tied very soon. The Art of Living has already started quite a few programs in Palestine. But if only the government spends one percent of the military budget on educating people, in inter-faith and inter-cultural celebrations and attend to building this gap, all these conflicts will be resolved. NGOs can do limited work.
Perhaps the narrow vision of politicians is making them thrive on conflicts. Unless our politicians become spiritual like Mahatama Gandhi, our world doesn’t have a bright future.

Q: Guruji, how to handle the shattered mind of a person after the untimely death of a closed one?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A shattered mind will give them strength because the departed soul will give power. You know, we should stop pitying people as well as ourselves. No self pity or pitying others should be there. You only have to know that nature gives you power. The Divine is with you and is giving you power to withstand pain.

Q: Do you see any golden age coming up?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In the world, good is going up. There is always dawn happening somewhere in the world and there is dawn 24 hours on this planet. There is always dusk happening somewhere in the world and there is dusk 24 hours on this planet.

Q: Guruji, please comment on this: act don’t react.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is very simple. When you react, what happens? You regret afterwards. Reaction happens through an emotional upsurge. When someone says something you don’t like, your emotions swell up. Anything you do in an emotionally disturbed state, you repent afterward. When emotions are on peak, the intellect goes in background.
Your actions are from the intellect and your reactions are from emotions.

Q: I feel more connected to people here in Art of Living but I feel a disconnect from people in my office or even at home. I feel weak that way.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you think you are weak? Wake up and see you have all the strength. You should do the DSN (Divya Samaj ka Nirman- one of the Art of Living programs which helps an individual to move beyond one’s barriers and limitations.). There is no outside, no other at all. The Art of Living teaches you that the whole world is your family.
The ashram is your home, of course people are rosy here but everywhere you can’t expect the same atmosphere. You may have to face hard criticism in the office. You have reach meditation to people. But what is the first principle of Art of Living? Accept people and situations as they are. If you don’t learn the very first principle, you can’t say you are doing the Art of Living.

Q: Once you said you exist in more than one places at a time. Please elaborate that.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is one element in each one of us. There is one Divinity in everyone.

Q: What karma gives you liberation from the cycle of birth and death?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are at the right place.

Q: Guruji, if souls are immortal does that mean there are finite number of souls on the planet?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have you seen that signboard for advertisements? So many lights are there on it but not all are lit at one time. At some time some patterns of lights are there on board and at some other time some other patterns. Same is with the souls. It all depends on what souls are exhibited at one time.

Q: Out of meditation and prayer which is preferable?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation is a better form of prayer. In prayer you are asking for something. Meditation is saying, ‘I am ready to listen’. Just imagine if somebody only keeps on asking and is not ready to listen to you. Don’t you get frustrated? In the same way, God also gets frustrated but when you sit for meditation, and ready to listen to him, He bestows all the favors to you.

Q: What is Kundalini shakti?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We talk about it in the advance course. There are seven chakras in the body. When energy finds its way through these seven chakras, different emotions rise. When energy fully expresses itself through these seven chakras, then such perfection is attained that your desire gets fulfilled even before it arises.

Q: I dropped alcohol after Art of Living course. If I meet my old friends who still engage in these sorts of habits will they extract my positive energy?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t worry. As long as you remain firm in knowledge, and Sadhana - you can help them come out of all sorts of negative habits.

“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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Blame is what you call that criticism which you cannot accept.

Q: When will India be fully progressed and how?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When youth like you start thinking about what you can do.
Q: Guruji, if someone criticizes me and it is right, it is ok. But if it is not true, I am not able to handle that criticism and I lose my balance. Please guide.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Blame is what you call that criticism which you cannot accept. How do you deal with blame? With patience, it needs enormous patience and faith that truth will triumph always, things will get better.
Q: I find lot of changes in me at subtle level but people around me don’t.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You see changes in yourself that is good enough. Others’ can’t because they are caught in their own mind. With patience express yourself better. Many times our actions are not aligned with our feelings. Outward action may be rough but you may not feel rough inside. Your feelings have changed but your actions and expressions have not changed. In most cases that is what happens. Then you need to change your expression a little.
Q: How can one be both friendly and centered?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you don’t expect anything from your friends then you will be centered. You know, when you are friendly some sort of expectation is there, you enjoy being friendly. Stop enjoying being friendly. But be friendly because it’s your very nature. Then you will be centered.
Q: Women leadership in villages
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Women leadership in villages is a skill. The transformation won’t happen overnight. Gradually transformation will happen and it is important that you continue to work for that.
Q: How to educate those people who have developed a dislike towards Spirituality?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Are you single or married? (Laughter). If you are single then you don’t have that problem (More laughter).
If your spouse is against your being on the spiritual path, then you have to apply an indirect solution. Through the close friend of your spouse you can reach out to your spouse and when it comes from them, your spouse will listen.
For others, you keep educating them. Share the knowledge with them. In English there is a saying ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ but in our case it is lack of familiarity which breeds contempt because they don’t know. So educate them.
Also Maoist and leftist indoctrination has turned many people against spirituality. Within Nepal also so many people are against spirituality. Out of 600 districts in India 212 are not touched by the Art of Living. Once we reach out, a total turn around happens. There was an incident when a Maoist guerilla came to attack one of our teachers in a Satsang (song & celebration) in a village in Jharkhand. They came and saw people singing so happily that they also joined in. later on they insisted that the teacher have a Satsang for them as well.
The story of Angulimaala from Buddha’s life is not just history or a mythology. It is happening now, here, today. Where all legislations and money doesn’t work, what works is Love.
Q: Is there death to Atman?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you turn off Television do you see waves or not? You don’t see it but waves are still there. The same way life is always there. Jeeva atman is eternal. Whether seen or unseen, manifest or un-manifest is a different question.
Q: How do we decide whom to praise?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is good to praise fools but for the intelligent there is no need to praise. He will work either way.
Q: Maharashtra assembly fight, Bangladesh, Pakistan…My heart weeps looking at all this. I feel afraid at times.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you look at all this you feel pain in your heart. The pain should be there. When the pain is there you take a step. Otherwise you keep sitting until your own home is on fire.
Observe how Mahatma Gandhi gave a direction in those days. This way you will also get ideas in your mind on how to move ahead. All should sacrifice a little. Whatever we can we will all do. You feel afraid at times, that’s ok. It happens at times only isn’t it? Do meditation, Pranayama and you will be out of it.
Q: How does one get rid of guilt and repentance?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you come here you have entered a new life. That old person has died – it is a new life, new human being. You want to carry the burden of that old stone with you still? In ancient days there was a tradition. When someone came to the Guru, their name was changed reminding them that they now have a fresh new life.
Q: What should a child do to become an ideal citizen?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Keep your eyes and ears open. Know your roots. Deepen your roots and broaden your vision.
Q: Environment issue
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Environment is a really serious issue. You should all plant trees, use less refrigeration, and turn to vegetarianism. You know, scientists today say if the whole world stops butchering the entire green house effect issue will be resolved. One slaughter is equivalent to the cutting of 500 trees for it releases that much methane. The amount of feed used for one animal can be used to feed 400 people. GO VEG: Stay healthy and save the planet. It is as simple as that.
Q: How do I enter politics? Is it only for the rich or those with a political background?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is not the case. It’s all about people. People come first. Become a good social worker, people will automatically vote for you. First you must work among the people. I know somebody who worked a lot for the betterment of villages and people of villages not only voted for him but also gave him Rs10 per person for the elections.
Q: Is feeling helpless is sign of weakness or strength?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Feeling helpless is obviously a sign of weakness but if with that helplessness prayer arises in you then an unknown, unseen, irrefutable strength comes to you. But you can’t force yourself to feel helpless or to pray. It comes automatically.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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‘Your body belongs to this world & the world will take care of it, You belong to the Divine & the Divine will take care of you’

Bangalore Ashram, Dec. 9, 2009: One who is inert has no needs and no responsibilities. Also one who is completely enlightened has no needs and responsibilities. In between these two, everyone has some needs and some responsibilities.
How do you fulfill your needs and how do you fulfill your responsibilities is the question.
If you focus on what your responsibility is, your needs will be taken care of.
But when your needs are many and you focus only on your needs and not on responsibility then that is the path to inertness, sadness. When you don’t take responsibility, you remain unhappy, keep grumbling and complaining.
If you take responsibility and your needs are less everything comes to you - enthusiasm, happiness, creativity. A time comes in our lives when we let go of all our needs and responsibilities. But to get to that state we have to go step by step.
Now the question arises: what about if one is hungry? Then, one has to eat. If one is thirsty, one has to drink. These are all physical needs.
Your body belongs to this society/ this world and the world/society will take care of it.
You belong to the Divine and the Divine will take care of you.
In fact the Divine is taking care of you. Make this distinction that you are separate from your body. As soon as you do this you will see that you are separate from your body, you belong to the Divine. Your smile becomes a permanent feature.
Then, Sri Sri invited questions from audience.
Q: How to enhance receptivity?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you are listening but the mind is still somewhere else then there is no receptivity.
When your mind is clogged with too many ambitions, it does not listen properly if the subject is not linked with your ambition. Even if it is related, it goes on a day dreaming trip. It listens to one sentence and it goes on a trip. For e.g. if someone has an ambition to become a Chief Minister and he is told that you have all possibility of becoming a chief minister the mind immediately goes on a day dreaming trip. So simply listen, just listen.
Also if your mind is stuck with so many thoughts then also the perception is low.
Another reason for alertness of the mind to reduce is vata de-arrangement or kapha imbalance.
When the mind is bombarded with sensory stimuli then also it is not receptive. Have you observed after watching a three-hour movie if someone tells you something you say, ‘Tell me later on.’
To enhance receptivity what to do?
Silence, Pranayama, proper food, less ambitions in the mind will all help. If you like a topic/ subjects then you tend to be receptive towards it. Teenagers often face a difficult phase in life when they have to choose a subject - Math, Computer Engineering etc and if someone is good in all of these subjects then it creates even more trouble.
Q: Who surrenders to whom in total surrender?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is you, yourself surrendering to yourself. Then you realize there is no other.
Q: If we have to choose between happiness or enlightenment, what should we choose?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Enlightenment is the biggest happiness. Why to go after small happiness when the biggest is there?
It is not easy to believe in God. God is there: if you experience this then the mind calms down. Then you find only God is there and I don’t exist.
Inn ankhon mein ankh mila ke dekho to sahi, pyar dikhta hai ki nahi,
Ek kadam bada ke dekho to sahi, rasta milta hai ki nahi,
Hath batake dekho to sahi, kaam hota hai ki nahi,
Ek baar muskarake dekho to sahi, duniya apnati hai ke nahin,
Ek baar naam le ke dekho to sahi, jeevan safal hota hai ke nahi.

When these eyes meet yours, will you not catch a glimpse of love?
Take just one step forward, will you not find the entire way?
Extend your hand, will you not find the work is done?
Smile just once; will the world not make you its own?
Take the name even once; will your life not be fulfilled?

Q: How to come out of a judgmental mind?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you know you are judgmental you are already out of it.
Q: How is self-dependence different from dispassion?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How are these two terms related? (laughter). Total self-dependence is not possible. There is mutual dependence. You depend on a tailor for your clothes. A farmer is responsible for growing crops so you depend on him. If you fall ill you are taken to a doctor so you depend on a doctor also. You depend on your teachers for education. There is some extent of dependency in everything. Life is like this. But we also have to take a step ahead. Until we become useful to others, restlessness and sorrow continue to be there.
What is dependency? One day your maid doesn’t turn up and you don’t clean up your house - then that is dependency. Whatever you can do, continue to do.
It is important that your self-dependency doesn’t turn out to be self-pride. “I won’t take anybody’s help ever and be all by myself”.
You are a responsible citizen, you have the responsibility of your family but your responsibility is only what you can do. What you cannot do is not your responsibility. If you are not a doctor then your responsibility is to call a doctor if needed and not to treat.
Whatever we can do and whatever we can do easily, that is our responsibility.
When the mind and intellect are expanded, you take on bigger responsibilities and when you take on more responsibility, more power comes to you. Nature grants you that.
Have you heard the story of ‘Prabhupaad’? At the age of 75, his Guru asked him to spread the name of Lord Krishna. At that age, he went to the US. He stayed on a ship for over a month. He lived in such difficult situations, in very cold surroundings, in somebody’s basement but that conviction was so strong in him that 1,000 people started to do Kirtan/Satsang (devotional singing) and chanting the Lord’s name. When one’s sankalpa/ intention is so strong, age doesn’t matter. Otherwise 25-30 year old youth say, ‘The system is not good, nothing happens.’ Ok, then keep sitting at home. Have that conviction I can rise above any situation and I will rise above any circumstances.
Q: Guruji, I dreamt about you and it felt as if you were really there. Were you really there in my dream?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This could also be a dream. Are you sure this is not a dream? (laughter). Whenever something nice happens, it appears to be a dream.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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‘Unless you know the principle of the universe, you cannot know the Self’

Bangalore ashram, Dec. 8, 2009:
Today’s satsang was a beautiful glimpse into the secrets of the universe which is beginning-less and endless.
It began by celebrating Acharya Ratnanda’s (Guruji’s father) 86th birthday. He spoke a few words filled with love and enthusiasm to the several hundred currently training to become Art of Living teachers.
Pitaji: Today I am very proud and humble: proud to be seated next to a mahatma (an elevated soul) and humble because I am one of his millions of followers. All my life, I have said, “Life is for Living.” Today I know, “Life is for living ONLY.”
L.I.F.E – L is love, I is integrity, F is fellowship – a sense of belongingness with the whole world and E is enlightenment. For me, My Master is the cause, the reason and the result of enlightenment.
To progress in life, be young. Be receptive. Even a child can teach you.
We can be and should be young because we are following a young Master!
As the audience applauded, Pitaji’s birthday cake was cut. Then Sri Sri spoke:
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “There are four levels of speech – para, pashyanti, madhyama, vaikari.
The language we speak is vaikari. It is the most manifest form of speech. Chatvari vak parimita padani – there are four levels of speech and the intelligence knows all forms. Human beings speak only the fourth level. Subtler than vaikari, is madhyama. Even before you say it, the thought form is cognized. When you catch it at that level, it is madhyama. Pashyanti is cognitive. There is no need for spoken words. Para is the untold, un-manifest knowledge that is beyond.
The whole universe is spherical. It was never born nor will it ever die. It is anadi, beginningless, and anantha – endless. Then what is the job of Brahma, the creator? They say there are many, many Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in every yuga (age). In time and space this keeps happening. So what is the source of this creation? Parame vyoman – beyond the akasha (space). Knowledge lies beyond the akasha. Knowledge lies beyond the five elements.
Richo akashare parame vyoman
Vedas which were cognized are not vaikari. This cognition is beyond the space. All the Divine impulses are established in that field which is all permeating.
What is akasha? Akasha is described as vyoma, vyapti – it means all-permeating, all-pervading. What is it that is beyond akasha? It is unimaginable to think of something that is beyond space. Only a scientist can understand this. Everything is contained in akasha, all the four elements are in akasha. The most gross is earth, then water, fire, air and space. Air is finer, subtler than fire. Space is the subtlest. Then it is air-fire-water and earth. What is it that is beyond even akasha? That is the mind, intellect, ego and the Mahatattva. This is tattva gyan – knowing the principle of the universe. Unless you know the principle of the universe, you cannot know the Self. When you go beyond the akasha, it is an experiential field. The whole realm begins beyond the akasha.
The ancient seers have spoken about the Dravya guna sambandha or relationship between the substance and its quality. There is a very interesting debate if we can separate the quality from the substance. The whole philosophy is very interesting and the conclusion was that you cannot separate the quality from the substance. Can the sweetness in sugar be separated from sugar? Will it remain sugar still? Can heat and light be separated from fire? Will it still be fire after that?
What brings the quality into the substance? What comes first – the quality or the substance? There are many questions like this. The subtler you go is the paramevyoman. yasmin devaadhi vishwe nishedu. -All the devis and devtas reside there, in that space. Yattanaveda yati vaanaveda - What is the use of knowing the vedic hymns and mantras without knowing the parame vyoman, without understanding the principles of the universe?
Swarupa is the quality of that space. It cannot be fully translated in English. Swarupa is that consciousness. From the Swarupa happens the Sputa or explosion from which Svarita, creation flows and Sakaara – manifests with name and form. All the millions of beings in the creation were formed from the Swarupa.”
After this most astonishing revelation about the creation of the universe, was a presentation by Archana Sharma a Particle Physicist from CERN, Geneva, Switzerland who shared a few glimpses of their efforts to identify the god particle with the help of the LHC (large Hydron Collidor). Sri Sri has often said, “Spirituality begins where Science ends.” In today’s satsang we had the opportunity to hear about that which is beyond space, beyond expression and the attempt of science to know the unknowable.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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Wise ones celebrate diversity, fools fight over it

Melbourne, December 4, 2009:
Below are excerpts of an interaction between Sri Sri and youth from Australia
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is an ancient saying: the first sign of intelligence is not to open your mouth! Having lost that opportunity, then you should not say anything unless you are asked a question.
I would like to open the floor, and ask you to ask anything - then we will take the thread from there.
Q. Why are there differences between religions?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Religion has three components: symbols, customs and traditions, and values. As far as values are concerned, there is no difference, because all talk about oneness. Customs and symbols are all very different; they have to be, this is what makes the world beautiful, because God doesn’t like uniforms! Nature has been created with such diversity- so many flowers, animals, people. Diversity is the language of God. In India, God can have any number of names and forms, and they all point to one Divinity.
So in one sense, there is difference, and in another sense there is unity.
Wise ones celebrate diversity, fools fight over it.
Q: What are the three most important values?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You want to limit it to three?!
A sense of belongingness with the whole world. You have to take this stand, feel that you are part of the whole world and all are part of you.
Commitment to whatever you take up, and an integrity inside of you which says you are going to see your commitments through.
The third value is living in the present moment, not holding onto the past and getting into trouble in your own mind. Do you know how many problems we can create for others when we hold onto the past?
Q: How does a youth handle the ups and downs of life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I am a youth myself! Life is a mixture of everything: failure & success - they complement each other. If you fail, then you know the value of success, it is a stepping stone.
You need to move forward: ask yourself, what did I learn from the past, and then what is my vision for the future? This will keep you going. For this, you need presence of mind, and for this, you need to get rid of stress.
You are the player, not the pawn. If you are a pawn, someone else is moving you, and you have no control. You have to be the player, empower yourself, and that’s how these Art of Living programs can help you.
Q: How do you detach yourself from the past, after learning whatever lessons it has to offer?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Lessons are an automatic phenomena, what you have experienced is the past. Living in the past means cribbing about the past. Life has much more to offer you.
Q: What’s the role of pain and suffering in life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is optional
Q: I find the past very painful.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The past should be viewed as destiny. If you think you had a choice in the past, the present will be spoiled because you regret the past. Continued regret about the past creates a lot of toxins in the body, the future is not bright.
Past is destiny, done. And future is your freedom. In our teachings, we have karma and purushata - what you need to do. See the past as destiny, the future as free will, and live in the present moment.
Or make the past as free will, the future as destiny, and crib in the present moment! (Audience laughs)
Q: How to practice compassion and impartiality?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are unbiased in your mind, compassion simply flows. When you have belongingness with everyone, irrespective of their class, economic background, intellect, if you can connect, then compassion flows.
You could be anybody - Chinese, African - put yourself in different shoes, playing different roles, then suddenly you find that you are stuck as being somebody, and then you will see it is much more universal.
Q. How to be selfless?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is the purpose of selfishness? Wanting to be happy.
How can you be happy when your own family is not happy?
For you to be happy, you need the people around you to be happy. If your happiness includes everyone else, then you can be selfish! Be selfish, but expand your selfishness as much as you can! Don’t go to extremes - just see your capacity to expand your family.
Imagine if your neighbor behaves very selfishly. Would you like to be around him, does it solve anything? He plays loud music, then you play loud music. It will not bring calm. You expect consideration, cooperation, but how can you expect someone to deliver to you what you do not want to deliver to them.
Q: How do I do charity?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Three quarters can be given to your children, and one quarter to the child next door. Your first duty is to feed your children. As they say, there is enough for the need of the world today, but not enough for one’s greed.
Our centre in Bangalore is surrounded by villages. Unless the villages are kept clean, we cannot keep the centre clean and pure. So I said we need to build individual toilets for each family, and help to clean up the villages. Our center administration said we are always short of rooms in our center, we should build rooms in our centre rather than spend resources on cleaning the surrounding villages. And I said, the number of rooms will never be enough, the number of people visiting our center is always growing. We cannot wait for our needs to be fulfilled, and then one day start working in the village.
You cannot wait until all the needs of your family are met, and then do service. It has to be simultaneous.
Q: Can the common man attain spirituality?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Only the common man can attain spirituality! If someone thinks they are very special, they cannot!
Q: What are the three main things which have led to the success of the Art of Living?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sincerity of purpose, inclusive attitude (all inclusiveness, no one is outside of us, sense of belongingness), and God’s grace!
Q: What was your purpose in beginning this organization?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To see a smile on every face. I couldn’t stand tears running down anyone’s face.
Q: The decisions which world leaders make have a great impact on us while the work that we do on an individual basis impacts only other individuals...
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First, you should not think that politicians are a special species, they are one among us. Many times, they feel helpless. They want to change the society, turn around the economy, but find themselves helpless. Any sane politician wants to have violence out of society, but they feel their hands are tied. It has to come from society. You may think the other is powerful, in fact it’s a collective effort of everyone that make the society move - and NGOs, religious leaders, faith-based organizations, play an important part in bringing inspiration, inner strength.
The four pillars of society - politics, business, civil society and faith-based organizations - have to work in unison. The World Economic Forum has recognized the need for everyone to come together, so has the UN, and that is why they have made a caucus for religious leaders. A role has to be played by everyone, and we have to play in rhythm.
We need to spiritualize politics, to lessen corruption. We need to secularize religion, to lessen extremism and terrorism. Many think only they are going to heaven - I tell, you they make life for everyone a hell!
This is what spirituality is about - when you see the whole world as part of you, and you as part of everybody. There is that sense of sacrifice. Gandhi is a perfect example of being spiritual in politics. He was deeply spiritual, believed in truth and non-violence.
Finally, we need to socialize business, take up CSR (corporate social responsibility).
With these things, society will find a new level of understanding.
Q: Bomb dropped in Hiroshima, etc... All the major atrocities result from decisions made by politicians...
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Politicians need to be spiritual. When you have compassion and caring you would not do that. Gandhi would never have done such things. Sometimes people are blind to any reason, but they would not turn to extreme measures unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
There is a saying in Sanskrit - first with peace, then with forgiveness, then with compassion. If nothing works, finally, take the stick.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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“The world has witnessed so much chaos, now let’s focus on one conductor – GOD. Focus on one aspect, but play your instrument”

Excerpts from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s opening address at the Parliament of World Religions 2009 at Melbourne, Australia on December 3, 2009

The purpose of religion is to bring enlightenment to the individual, and happiness in society, and to move from limited individual identity, to universality and communion with the Divine. When at a time these ideals are far from reality, congregations such as these where people of all faiths gather together, have great responsibility to ponder on the pressing issues. It is a necessity for survival of our planet. Faith and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) are a powerful tool of transformation in society. Though we have moved away from the blemish of medieval conflicts to a more tolerant and co-operative society, FBOs have the responsibility to make a happy society.

Even if part of the planet thinks they are going to heaven, and the others are going to go to hell, they will create a hell for everyone.

We need multicultural and multi-religious education to reach every nook and corner of the planet.

Violence is appalling today, whether it is domestic violence or societal violence – we see it in every newspaper column, and a sort of pride is being attached to violence. In school classrooms, violent children are considered heroes.

When we were growing up, we grew up with stories about Mahatma Gandhi, about ahimsa, non-violence. If someone lost their temper, people thought they needed to see a psychologist, that there was something wrong. Today, even with our heroes in movies, there is a culture of glorifying violence, which we need to turn around - and that responsibility is on us, the faith-based community.

There are two types of violence in the world today – religious violence, which we are all aware of, but also leftist violence. In India, Naxals control 212 of the country’s 604 districts.

Spirituality needs to reach these areas, but we all have to do this work. Even in Columbia, South America, they are also affected by violence. FBOs have to play a role.

As I listened to the symphony this evening, I looked at these beautiful singers and artists, all playing their own tune, but all looking at the conductor.

All religious leaders have to take on this role. We cannot lose sight of that one Divinity, which has created this beautiful diversity. Otherwise we won’t have a symphony, we will have a chaos.

The world has witnessed so much chaos, now let’s focus on one conductor – GOD – Generator, Operator and Destroyer. Focus on one aspect, but play your instrument. There is no threat to any tradition, to any culture, if we are all uplifted in human values, in communion of One, which is in the heart of each and every one of us.

I am reminded of the Kumbh Mela, which has been going on for thousands of years. When I was at the last Kumbh Mela, I saw something amazing. 30 million people congregate there, and yet there is no crime, no violence, no stealing. Imagine that people can have this faith.

Once at the Kumbh Mela, it was very cold in the night, it was January. We went out to distribute some blankets. We saw a young boy, who had just crossed his 20s – he was wearing some shorts, underclothes, and we offered him a blanket. He said, “I don’t need it, I can manage, but under the bridge there are many elderly women, they need it more than me. Please give it to them.”

That sense of belongingness with each other, helping each other - only FBOs can bring this feeling on this planet.

Once again, I congratulate all of you for venturing on this noble work of reforming society and uniting with the ever-present being within all of us.

We need to ponder on issues relating to the environment, children, agriculture. The word “Parliament” is really scary! Rather, I would call this a family reunion, because there is more conflict in parliament. A reunion of all faith-based organizations to deal with the problem of depression.

WHO has said that depression will soon be the second biggest killer in the world. Popping Prozac is not enough. It was so painful to hear from our sister from Afghanistan that a whole generation is suffering from depression. 92 percent of Palestine is depressed. 160 billion Euros is being spent on mental health care in the EU alone.

We need to get out of this vicious circle. Many have good cars, good jobs, but if depressed, it’s like dressing a corpse, putting make-up on a corpse.

We need to attend to the human values, and how we can elevate the spirit to move out of this deep depression and anxiety, and violence.

Let’s all brainstorm something concrete, to bring back to every nook and corner of this planet.

“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ Sri Sri

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'Whatever good traits you desire will automatically get kindled in you’

Bangalore ashram, Nov. 30:
Q: What is inspiration?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Inspiration is that which comes from within.
Q: I have started schools across the world. Please bless me.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very good. Make Sanskrit compulsory in your schools.A few days ago it was in the newspaper that three schools in the UK have made Sanskrit compulsory as a subject. After so much research it has been found that studying Sanskrit brings brilliance and once learnt, it is very easy to learn any other language. Studying the Devnagri script is very good for the brain.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Does anyone want to share his/her experience?
Experience1: Earlier I used to be afraid, I always wanted to do something for people but because of my fear I could not. The basic course has given me courage and confidence. I feel as if the world is conspiring to make me do that. Everybody is helping me. Thanks to the Art of Living for helping me.
Experience 2: I came here two days ago with a severe personal problem. I had a lot of anxiety. Suddenly since last night I feel calm and collected and feel the problem will be solved. Thank you Guruji.
Experience3: I did the Yes+ Course in August. Since then my whole life has changed. I was a drug addict and dropped the addiction. I am now smiling more and more everyday.
Experience 4: Guruji two years ago I used to wonder why people volunteer and do seva/service. It was a real wonder for me. But now when I am doing it, it is an even bigger wonder for me and I now know why people do that.
Q: How to overcome fear?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do seva/service.
Q: I like ‘Ramayana’ scripture a lot. I believe if one aspires to learn the Art of Living then Rama’s character is the best epitome, but even after reading and hearing so much about Sri Rama I am not able to inculcate these characteristics in me.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You read, listen to scriptures and you also have a wish that you are able to walk on his footprints. Why doesn’t this happen? This is the question that arises in you, right? Now that you are here, learning and living the Art of Living, all these traits will naturally start sprouting in you. Whatever good traits you desire will automatically get kindled in you.
Q: In an interview you mentioned that you are connected to Higher Consciousness? Guruji please tell us what actually is that Higher Consciousness?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is right here, right now. Inside us and outside us. it is everywhere. Don’t look for it somewhere in the sky, it is right here.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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‘Be at ease, in your nature’

Bangalore ashram, Nov. 29:

Q: Guruji, what should one do if one is going through an unfavorable time in their life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Time creates events. Surrender to that time - that Shiva tattva (principle of Shiva) and Mahakaal (grand Time).

Q: I have love for people but I don’t laugh when others laugh and I don’t cry when somebody dies.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t get into a dilemma. Be at ease, in your nature. Be the way you are.

Q: What do you do when you have free time?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whatever I do, I do in my free time only (laughs). I read all your letters that you have written to me. (zeal in the audience). Although I do all this, I do nothing.

Q: The Art of Living Silver Jubilee celebrations were a huge function. When will we have another huge function again?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes we will have one, in another five years.

Q: What is the secret of life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Life is a secret. If I tell you the secret it will no longer remain a secret (laughter). In this country we honor the secret. So we should do that. In the West, a secret is not revered.
Three schools in England have made Sanskrit a compulsory subject. After 20 years of research, they found out that when you speak Sanskrit your tongue rotates properly. Sanskrit is the best language for the development of the brain. It leads to overall development of the brain. We have been speaking Sanskrit in India since ages. Now when it is being uprooted from our own country, somebody else is embracing it.

“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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‘Meditation will help you to go ahead in spite of failures’

H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar inaugurated the MILK (Meditation and Inspiration Center for Living and Kindness) at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, India on November 26, 2009.
Later, students had an interactive session with Sri Sri.
Following are some of the excerpts:

While taking a look at the proposed plan of the meditation centre at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Sri Sri said, “Management is all about just going along with what exists. Not making something new but going along with what is there already.”
On Vishnu shakti
“Vishnu just rests on a snake, doesn’t have to do much. Brahma takes care of the rest. Brahma does the creation. Vishnu does the maintenance whereas managers do both creation and maintenance.”
Youth and a paradigm shift
“Youth have a great opportunity and can create a new world as the world is now looking for a paradigm shift. The world is currently facing some kind of stagnation. A new paradigm shift is needed and will emerge only from India.
Monetary prosperity is not actual prosperity. Inducing life, the spirit, spirit of enthusiasm – this is what India gave to the world.
Life is enthusiasm, life is love, life is compassion, life is creation and if these things die out in you then a corpse would just come out of you.”
Sri Sri laid emphasis on the need for innovation and creativity. He stressed on inculcating creative ideas rather than confining ourselves to managing what already exits.
One world family
“The whole world is a big family - Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. We never thought in those terms of being different. We believe in Viswamanav. We learnt teamwork from Japan, etiquette from the British, marketing from the Americans, technical skills from Germany and India gave human values to the world.
I’ll tell you an anecdote: “I asked all my devotees to do something creative as creativity is a reflection of the consciousness. Three months later, all came up with some great projects. One team came up with egg-less ice cream and started proving that their ice cream is the best in the world. Similarly, some other teams also started proving the same thing. One lady, who was very fragile, came with one project i.e. making handkerchiefs. She spoke about 17 points about how it is the best in the world. All points were logical. ”
“You see, marketing skills in the US are better than their products. We, in India, have great products but we lack marketing skills. “
There are 7 points that India can be proud of and that have not been explored yet.
Food: There are so many varieties of food in India. Tripura, a small place in India, has more than 200 varieties of food. North Indians don’t know the different kinds of South Indian dishes. Even South Indians don’t know the dishes from North India. We don’t market ourselves properly. We have the greatest varieties possible in the world, yet we don’t project ourselves.
Tourism: We have a great part of history which we don’t capitalize.
Music & Dance: There are so many types of dance and music which we haven’t even projected so far.
Dress & Jewelry: The Indian dress is appreciated the world over. We have no pride of what we wear. Places like Thailand and Indonesia are very proud of their dress and jewelry. We are not. We don’t feel good about ourselves. Low self-esteem is eating our attitude and culture.
Information Technology: This will take India to new heights.
Ayurveda: There are 280 kinds of flora and fauna available in India which is not available anywhere in the world. We don’t pay any attention to that. These are going to be the future medicine of 21st century.
Triphala: Foreigners have taken this formula and patented it. Similarly, things are happening all over the world.
Indian Spiritual Values: The yoga market is valued at $27 billion in the United States itself. 99% of local US people dominate this market. They started preparing materials for yoga which is a product of India and our gift to the world. People are invited to do mantra and chanting in some building in New York. All across India, in temples if someone is chanting, we don’t even bother to look at them.
Question & Answers:
Q. Do we have to be interdependent and do we need to look for interdependency?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t have to be interdependent. It is just that you need to realize it. The word ‘independent’ is obsolete. It is nature that we are interdependent on. We have one nature, one ocean, one air, one earth and everyone is dependent upon it. People are one! We are interdependent!
Q. Why do we meditate with our eyes closed though we have to live our life with our eyes open? Is it possible to do meditation with eyes open?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is the second step. The first step is to go where the mind is involved – once the eyes are closed, once the mind is centered – then you can go ahead with the other ways as well. There are different kinds of meditation like walking meditation. Your every action comes from a meditative state.
Q. Guruji, you said life is simple, yet why does it turn so complex? It is very difficult to make decisions. Why can’t we avoid things which are complicated?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Life is simple while people are complicated. Why can’t we avoid things which are complicated? We have too much time in life so we make things complicated.
Life is very simple and life is very complicated! Both exist depending on the circumstances and our perception at that point of time. Life is a combination of both.
Q. According to Raj Yoga, it is said that practicing meditation is meant for people who are reclusive and follow a strict and definite approach to reach salvation. Meditation is difficult for a person with much responsibilities. You said everyone should meditate. What are the implications of this on a normal person?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are different forms of Yoga. Raja Yoga is Royal Yoga. In some forms, they spend a lot of time in practice. Some forms are for people like the prince who has so many responsibilities such that they can do the practice in a short span of time. Meditation is useful for people in all walks of life.
Q. You have highlighted the importance of innovation and creativity, but with that comes a lot of risk and uncertainty. It’s only after numerous failures that a successful new technology or product is evolved. So how should one manage the failures that come as a by-product of striving for innovation? How to rise up after each failure and restart the journey to discover something new?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Failure is a part of the process. Meditation will help you to go ahead in spite of failures. Innovation without failure is possible if you are able to use your intuition perfectly. Both should act perfectly to achieve zero failure in innovation. If intuition is not in proportion then failure occurs more often.
Q. In the Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna says that one must not care about the result of his work. But if we do not think about the fruits that follow our hard work, then what will motivate us to do that hard work?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no control over the fruit of action. If the attention is only on the end result, then you can’t perform.
Let us take a runner - if he starts looking behind at who is running, and not looking at the path he needs to run on, then ultimately he will lose, no matter how good the runner may be. You have to follow your own track, to complete the run whether you lose or win. Lord Krishna is utterly practical in his advises. Lord Krishna tells Arjuna: This is complex, but these are the ways to do it.
Q. There are so many practices, so many paths. Which one should I choose?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yoga is everything together. Everything comes along with it.
Sudarshan Kriya will help. This suits today’s young minds that are very busy with schedules all around, and can’t work with too many conditions. In a short time, with deep experiences and no side effects.
Q. Is it good to practice religious practices? As of now, I am on the path of meditation and sometimes don’t feel like practicing them.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s a matter of culture. It creates an atmosphere with a sense of joy. There is nothing wrong in celebration, fire crackers etc. Traditional practices help and bring a sense of belongingness to family and children.
In the houses of Maoists, there are no pictures or lamps. When children grow up (in such an environment), they grow up with a lot of emptiness.
In Russia, there was no religion for 40 years. There was a destruction of cathedrals and they built a swimming pool on that. Now, after that catastrophe, they re-built the church. If people don’t practice religion, they start feeling the vacuum. And finally religion helps them understand this.
For spirituality – there is no need of religious practices.
Q. Guruji why is it that Sanskrit language that originated in India finds its second reference in Chicago? This is still the case.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are asking my question! We are giving away our ownership over Sanskrit..
You know Dr. B.R. Ambedkar asked that Sanskrit be made our national language.It was seconded by Nasiruddhin Ahmed.
Malayalam contains 80 % of Sanskrit, Telugu 70%, Kannada 70%, Tamil 30% and Hindi 80%. Even many words in foreign languages are similar to Sanskrit: Swasa – Sister, Duhita – Daughter. However, we have lost the link somewhere and failed to establish the reputation of Sanskrit. You know what rain is called in Italian? Piyorja! The Sanskrit word is parjanya. They are so similar in many aspects.
Q. There are some schools of thoughts that say that you must always be aware of what your competitors are doing. Because if you don’t see your competitors, you will be like a bridled horse. You will end up making the best calculator of the world when the world has moved to computers. So how do you reconcile the two schools of thoughts?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The challenge is to manage the two contradictions - that is the job of the youth.
One should be aware of the competitors. At the same time, one should have an eye of Arjuna. Be aware of what’s happening around you and one-pointedness towards the goal.
Over ambitiousness will not lead to anything.
Improve your intuitive ability, enthusiasm, relaxation.
It will give you everything that you need to.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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See your whole past as a dream & move on to the future

Bangalore ashram, Nov. 27:
Q. This is my 10th Advance course. But I am not able to get rid of my fear. I don’t know what to do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yogasana, do more yogasanas (practice of yoga postures). Yogasanas stretch your nervous system. The endocrine system gets strengthened.
Q. You tell us to accept people as they are. I accept people as they are but I get frustrated and irritated. Please tell some recipe for acceptance without getting irritated.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you feel anger inside, do you notice the sensation? Forget about the other person. It is the sensation which is giving you trouble. When you focus on the sensation, it gets dissolved. Why should you spoil your own nervous system? Why should you spoil your own beautiful body because someone said something. You know, 72 muscles are strained when you frown. Your body becomes a wreck.
Q. I get caught up in my problems. How do I come out of this?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you think your problem is big you are not looking at others’ problems. When you compare your problems with others, your problem starts looking small.
Q. What is the difference between being detached or in denial?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whenever you get so confused analyzing your own feelings, I tell you, just drop it. Many times you go to get counseling and you get even more confused. The counselor tells you, “Oh, in your childhood your mother didn’t take you to the fair so you are feeling that anger.” I would tell you, see your whole past as a dream and move on to the future.
Something pleasant happened. Something unpleasant happened. By picking your memory, you spoil your present moment as well. All the past is nothing but a memory. Some of its impact may continue but the event is not there. Wake up. Shake up.
You see these dogs, puppies and cats - how they shake themselves when they get dirty? They shake and move on. We should save our mind.
Q. Is it right if one’s parents do not appreciate the virtues of a child but compares demerits of the child with the good qualities of other children?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Once in a while it is ok. When the intention is that their child should learn, then it’s ok. But if it happens every time, then it is not ok.
Q. Can grace change destiny?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, only then is it grace.
Q. Guruji, I have anger and arrogance in me. In anger, I lose awareness. Please tell me some remedy.

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are angry at yourself, you get angry with others also.
When you are angry at others you get angry at yourself for getting angry.
This is like a pendulum. We have to stop this.
It’s ok if you get angry. Don’t get angry because you got angry. Sometimes you feel good, sometimes you feel bad. Life is like a jungle. Thorns are also there, flowers are also there, fruits, peacocks, deer, lions, tigers everything is there. Have a holistic approach.
Just be natural, easy and relax. Take things as they come and move forward. Don’t get stuck in a place. The mind plays so many tricks to keep you miserable. Sing, meditate, serve. Be part of service. We have to save our mind.
Q. Why does a simple situation look complicated later on?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: So what? Later, a complicated situation will start looking simplified. Every complication is a test of your skill. When you simplify the situation and get caught in doer-ship, you find it gets complicated again so that your arrogance is checked. When you feel that whatever happens is the will of the Divine, you are free from arrogance.
Q. Craving and ego are troubling me. What to do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Be natural. Take things as they come.
Q. Why do I fight with my wife though I love her?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When someone asked Mullah Naseeruddin why he fought with his wife so much, he replied, “Because I love her so much. I fight with someone and love someone else? That is not done! I do everything with one person.” Fights are also a part of life.
When you focus on each other too much, then fights happen. If you both have a common goal, to serve, to uplift the society, then fights don’t happen and love blossoms and there is plenty of work for every couple.
In the Indian marriage tradition, there is a ceremony called the saptapadi, the seven steps, which the couple has to take together. One of these steps (signifying vows) is that the couple work together for the upliftment of society.
Q. Guruji, I don’t write letters to you for I have full faith you would solve my problems anyway. Many people asked me to write a letter to you. But I still didn’t write letter to you. When I came here for the advance course many people were writing down their botherations in letters. Please tell me, should I write or not?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You move according to your way and let others move in their own way. It is not necessary that all paths should be the same.
Q. How to overcome low self-esteem?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Go and work in villages and slums, you will get your self-esteem back. Go and work for a week, ten days or even on a weekend. Teach some lessons to the children there and see how your self-esteem will come up.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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© The Art of Living Foundation for Globalizing Spirituality