What Sri Sri said today:

‘Only when your mind is free from feverishness, can His will be done’

Bangalore (India), May 28:
Q. What is the purpose of life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is a very precious question. One who knows will not give you an answer, and the one who answers, does not know. However, if you want to reach that answer, think about this: When you die, two questions will be asked.
· How much knowledge have you gained?
· How much love have you given? How much have you loved Planet Earth and people?

Q. What is our duty as citizens during non-election times? We know so much of rigging has happened during the elections. What do we do now?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We have to play the role of a responsible citizen. You must speak up when you see some wrong happening.
The second thing is that there are good people in every party. Don’t say all good people are in one party and all bad people are in the other. It is not the party, but the people that matter - if they are criminals and are doing wrong, they should not be given a ticket.
So don’t think one party is better - it is people who make a difference.

Q. Why does the Divine love us?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is good to ask this question. When we demand love, we destroy love. When we feel that we have been loved by people in abundance, then we will see that we have also grown in abundance.

Q. If I realize today that I had made a mistake in the past, what should I do about it?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whatever you have done in the past is over. Don’t worry about it now. You are innocent in the present moment. Have faith in the innocence of the present moment.
There is an old belief – ‘If you bathe in the Ganges and chant God’s name, then all your sins will be washed away’. This means that you need to be in the present moment. However, don’t keep repeating the same mistake!

Q. Do our prayers reach the Divine? Many times they don’t get fulfilled. Why?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Sometimes, aren’t you happy that all your desires don’t get fulfilled? Your wants keep changing. When your mind is not steady, your desires keep changing. You want something today, and tomorrow you desire something else. See how many desires come up in your mind. If all of them are fulfilled, you would be miserable.

Q. What is the difference between my will and God’s will?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When every will is His, every mind is His, then where is your existence? Everything is God’s will. The moment you differentiate between mine and His, there are two.
When your mind is clear, then sit and think. Only when your mind is free from feverishness, can His will be done.

Q. In whichever field we go, there is always someone who is better than us – this creates an inferiority complex. How do we cope with it?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t look at others. Always look at yourself and stop comparing. If you compare then there is no end. At every level, this can go on. We should only compare with our own self. What was I two years ago, and what am I now?

Q. Should one follow the heart or the head?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A combination of both.

Q. Does God exist?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Only God exists. But to realize that takes energy, time and commitment.

Q. Can love be selfish and, if it is selfish then is it love?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Self is love.

Q. Is winning in elections also karma?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sometimes, people win by wrong means, and think that they are enjoying the fruits of their actions. Whatever work is done by wrong means, the result will become momentary. Satyameva jayate- in the end truth will only triumph. If adharma (unrighteousness) has an upper hand for some time, we have to have patience. Fight with skill – not by burning buses, or vehicles. Fight adharma with awareness, not in the sway of emotions.

Those who have won in the elections should be humble. They should not insult the ones who have lost. The ones who have lost should not lose their self-esteem. Read the Bhagvad Gita. The Gita says that winning and losing is the same. This is just a game. In life sometimes you win, other times you lose.
Don’t become sad if you lose. If you lost, so what! What’s the use of getting dejected? If someone has used wrong means to win, you must speak up, do whatever is possible by law, go to the higher authorities. Surrender your wins and losses to the Divine.
However, remember every position has been given to you for service only. Both are opportunities to do service. Remember, Mahatma Gandhi was not the head of the nation but he was called ‘The Father of the nation.’
There is no such thing as big seva (service) or small seva. The fruits of both are the same. Do service as much as you are capable of. Put all your energy into it. Whatever service you do within your capabilities will bear good result. The feeling, the intention behind every seva is important.

Q. How to control HIV?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The awareness campaigns have already brought HIV under some control. Education is the only way you can stop it. Medical education as well as spiritual education has to be emphasized. Pranayama, breathing exercises, learning about the breath and meditation can arrest promiscuous tendencies to a great extent.

Q. What is more important - faith in ourselves or faith in others?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both are necessary. However, add one more. That is, faith in God.

(From the office of HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bangalore, India)

© The Art of Living Foundation

‘The observer has an impact on the observed’

Bangalore (India), May 25: H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was the key note speaker at the centenary celebrations of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.
“Are you feeling at home?” asked Sri Sri right at the onset. He then shared: “Our ancient scriptures have always said that true learning happens in a relaxed environment where an exchange of ideas takes place through enquiry and questioning.”
A Q n A session followed in the relaxed atmosphere of the auditorium. Excerpts:

Q. Is life governed by free-will or destiny?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Life is a combination of both. There are some things which are beyond your control. That is your destiny. Then there are things where you have a choice. That is free-will. If it’s raining outside, it’s your destiny as you have no control over the weather. However, to be wet or remain dry is your free-will.
Past is your destiny, future is your free-will. And be happy in the present. A foolish person looks at the past as free-will with regret, future as destiny and is miserable in the present.

Q. What is true love?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you have a doubt, it is true love. We always doubt the positives. We doubt our capabilities. We doubt our happiness but are 100 percent sure of our depression. We doubt a person’s honesty and doubt the existence of higher power. So what is true love? Time will tell you.
Love is what we are made up of. All negative emotions are off springs of true love.
Love without wisdom makes life miserable…love with wisdom is bliss.

Q. How can we attain that wisdom?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By adopting an attitude of enquiring.

Q. How can love move science?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When love for science is intense, it is already moving the world.
The ultimate aim of a researcher is not to earn a livelihood. If the main aim of a researcher is to earn a livelihood, it is not a best quality research. It has to lead to a soul-search. Research is to know. The joy of knowing is itself the goal. Getting recognition is immaterial.

Q. How do you know what level of spirituality you are at?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It depends on how often your buttons can be pushed. If you have no buttons to be pushed then you are very strong.

Q. Who am ‘I’? And what ‘that’ is? Can these two questions coexist?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Of course. Yes. The theory of relativity has already accepted this. The observer has an impact on the observed. This was taught some thousands of years ago. But people kept it a secret. This is where we missed out.

Q. What is true happiness?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Know the reason of your unhappiness. If you remove it, then there will be happiness. Meditate. Just do the Sudarshan Kriya and you will find out.

Q. Why do thoughts come and where do they originate from? Why do the thoughts rule us?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Where do the thoughts come from? From the mind, or the body? Close your eyes and think about it. That itself becomes a meditation. Then you will reach the point or space within you from where all the thoughts come. And that is fantastic.

Q. Some people have positive thoughts, while some have negative thoughts. How does one control this?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By keeping a stress-free mind. If you have a stress-free mind, your thoughts will be positive.

Q. How do you know all these things?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Life is a journey from an angry “I don’t know” to a beautiful “I don’t know!”

Q. What is wrong and what is right?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Which gives you short term pleasure and long term misery is wrong and vice-versa.

Q. Why do other people’s feelings inflict us?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because you are not a single individual but a part of a single collective consciousness.

Q. In spite of having so many great saints why is there so much of communal violence, cascades, conflicts. What is the problem with India? Are we going wrong somewhere?
Sri Sri Ravishankar: People who have been involved in these activities have never been in touch with any of these spiritual leaders.

Q. Why don’t you suggest government to include spiritual knowledge at the level of class 10th, at least in India?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have been telling it. Now, you all should give voice too.

Q. How to forgive and let go of things?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you see a culprit from a broader perspective, forgiveness becomes natural.

Q. What do you consider success?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A smile that nobody will take away from you - that is the greatest achievement.

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today:

‘In a free mind, there is always heaven’

Bangalore (India), May 28:

Q. Why are we attracted to objects we should not be attached to, even though we know this is unhealthy?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We don't understand this aspect well enough. We still feel there is some joy in those objects, and this misleads us.

Q. Should we believe in superstition?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Once you know that it is superstition, then how can you believe it? If your brain and reasoning says it is illogical and not good, then what is the point of it? You should move away from it.

Q. What is pooja? You said that giving a big smile in the morning is pooja. Is it ok to smile instead of washing the idol and offering it incense and flowers?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely, there is no need to wash the idol and decorate it, and in the night you needn’t put it to sleep.

Just do sadhana and feel the Divinity within yourself.
However this doesn't mean that you stop doing pooja on special occasions. Doing meditation is important, but on special days, make sure you do pooja.

If you don't do this, then children won't get the sanskaar (culture) of prayer. Children should feel the sense of belongingness with God. If you don’t do that, then the first thing they will do in the morning is to turn on the television. This is because there is no memory of God. You should have God’s pictures in the house. After seeing God's pictures, children light incense, and offer flowers.
Life is a celebration, sit, pray, light lamps and incense and do kirtan (singing in a group). This is important.

Read some mantras, say, “Om Namo Bhagvate”, “Om Namo Narayanaya”, “Om Namah Shivaya”, then the prana shakti (life energy) in the environment will get awaken.

Q. At my workplace, I have to listen to seniors who tell me to commit morally wrong acts. I am in a dilemma whether to follow them or not. If I follow them, I cheat myself. If I don’t, I am afraid of offending them.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should work with skill and intelligence. You should pray: “Let this man not force me to do any such acts.” Then your prayer will be answered.

Q. Should we follow the advice we get in dreams?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are five sources for dreams:
1. Your dreams may come from your desires
2. Your dreams may come from your fears
3. Your dreams may be delusions
4. Your dreams may be premonitions of future events
5. Your dreams may be a result of the place you are sleeping in
We experience different things in our dreams. Usually, our dreams are a mixture of the above. Our dreams are of things from the past, future, and of various types.
Don't analyze your dreams too much. If a dream comes, let it come, and just go ahead with your life.

Q. What should be done to end the cycle of karmas?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By seva, sadhana, and satsang.

Q. I am a college student. After following spiritual practices, all the excitement in me seems to have been spent. Now I am only calm. Am I making a mistake?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely not. Though you are calm, you are also enthusiastic, and happy. Isn’t it? Then it’s fine.

Q. Nowadays, youth marry without their parent's consent. They do this blindly, without thinking. Is this acceptable?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your question already has the answer. Nobody will tell someone to do anything blindly or without thinking.
As a parent, look at the matter from the children’s point of view. First, examine your reason for refusal. If the reason is good, then it's fine. But if you refuse because of differences in economic status or differences in caste, then it’s a different thing.
Parents can give guidance to children. Explain to them not to take a hasty step, acting on a whirlpool of emotions.

Q. Why don’t Muslims believe in yoga? How can we teach them the Art of living?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sure, we should teach them yoga as well. We conduct programs in many Islamic countries, such as Iraq and Pakistan.
There are even Hindu people who resist yoga and spiritual practices. There are temples that don’t allow yoga camps to be conducted.
So also in Islam. The few people who resist yoga change their perspective when they understand yoga. When people learn yoga, and understand the benefits, they won’t stop it.
This resistance is due to lack of knowledge and information.

Q. When we insult others, is it true that their karma decreases? What should we do if someone blames us for no reason?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If someone blames us without reason, what can we do? Try explaining to them, and then forget about it.

Q. What is knowledge for? To earn money or social good? What should we do if someone uses knowledge to earn more money?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is wrong. If knowledge is used to earn money, it will give not benefits, either to the receiver or to the giver.

Q. What is Paramatma? Who are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (Hindu Gods)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just like a rainbow, where all the colors merge to form a single white light, the Paramatma (Supreme Consciousness) is white and all the forms of Gods are the various colors.
This world is full of names and forms. Fruits, flowers all have a name and form. Our ancestors realized this, and said that there were 1008 names and forms, all belonging to the One who had no name.

Q. You have told us that there is no heaven or hell. But in our ancient texts there are pictures of hell where people are suffering.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: True. Heaven or hell is the state of mind. If the mind is in difficulty then hell is right here. If Sanskaar is absent, then hell is right here.
For a mukt (free) mind, there is always bliss, it is always heaven.

Q. What is mumukshtatvam?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Mumukshtatvam is asking God for mukti (freedom). When you tell God that you have done everything, met people, talked to people, eaten enough, gone to enough parties, and now you want to be free, that is mumukshtatvam.

Q. What is right? A truth that brings tears or a lie that brings a smile?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a saying:
Satyam bruyaat, priyam bruyaat,
Na bruyaat satyam apriyam
Na priyam cha nanrutam bruyaat
‘Speak the truth, speak pleasantly,
do not speak unpleasant truths
nor speak pleasant lies.’
This is sanatana dharma . If someone is blind, don’t say “Hey blind fellow come here!” This is not pleasant, though it may be the truth. Don't say unpleasant truths and pleasant lies.

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today:

‘Consciousness blossoms without form and with relaxation’

Bangalore (India), May 25:
Q.: How and when will the worldwide terrorism end? How can we contribute?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Terrorism can only be ended by satsang. More and more people should do satsang and work together. Satsang can change the ones who are influenced by terrorism.
Only strength cannot combat terrorism. Mindsets have to change. That is important. For that, all of you must come together as a unit and work.

Q.: How can one become strong without losing sensitivity?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That needs skill. And that skill comes to you by silence.
Through silence, our internal abilities come forth. Everyone should meditate for some time regularly.

Q.: Today, the youth only think of themselves. Are family and society no longer important?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The parents must also be only thinking of themselves, that’s why the kids are the same. If parents think of others, then even the kids will think of others.
This is Sanskaar (culture), which is passed down from parents to children.

Q.: Can I carry this bliss with me forever?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Establish God in your body, and then you will experience Divinity. While doing Puja, (when you say keshavaya svaha etc... ) know that Keshav, Madhav (Forms of the Divine) are in the body – and that you accept this offering for them. Meditate, and sit quietly. You may offer flowers, if you have, but it is not necessary.
It is important that the mind is clean, and calm, and completely immersed in the puja.

Q.: Have I found the Divine, or did the Divine find me?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both are the same thing. Why do a post mortem?
There are two types of followers: The first type is those who follow the shastras. They are like the baby monkey. The baby monkey plays for a while but clings onto the mother wherever she goes. The mother walks on; it is the kid's responsibility to come back to the mother.
The second type is the devotees: They are like the kitten. The mother carries the kitten around in its mouth. The kitten does not have to worry about where it is and how to move.
Whatever the type, it is enough that the mother and child are together. It is the security that is important.

Q.: Even after surrendering mistakes, why does the mind feel upset?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because you did not surrender completely!
Every moment, realize that there is a new person in you. Don’t think of the past.

Q.: Is it necessary to match horoscopes for a good marriage?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Check if the horoscopes are correct or not. Sometimes they are manipulated to suit someone’s needs. If you like someone in all other aspects, and everything seems okay, then it’s fine, you should go ahead and marry the person.

Q.: Do re-births happen?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, if you want them to. If you are free, if you have mukti, then you have the choice to come back or not; you are not forced to come back.

Q.: If I think badly of others, will something bad happen to me? Or will my positive thinking work for me?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t get entangled in these thoughts. Just be simple, easy, and relaxed.
If you don’t have a complicated mind, you won’t have bad thoughts. Just observe the mind and relax.

Q.: How do we handle family members who are not on the spiritual path?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With skill. Do more seva (service) and praise your family. If they are harsh on you, you should praise them all the more. Change the questions and distresses into wonder, and continue doing your work. Then they will come and tell you that you have changed their life.
There is a saint from Karnataka who said, “Only with speech can there be laughter and mischief. Conflicts also arise because of speech. For the world, your speech is your wealth.”
That is why; one should learn how to talk.
Just like those who know what should be eaten at what time will never fall ill; those who know how to speak will never fight.

Q.: I’m always worried about the future and afraid of the unknown.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Leave your fears behind here!
Look at the past – you always had these fears, yet wasn’t life good?
Learn from the past, be in the present and hope for the future.

Q.: When love is our essence, why do we seek love from others?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Perhaps you don’t know that love is your essence – that’s why! If you knew, you wouldn’t ask.

Q.: How do we deal with corrupt people who do illegal things?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With skill, patience, and courage.

Q.: When we know that we are doing something wrong, we are unable to stop ourselves? What should we do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Feel the pinch of your wrong action – it will keep pinching you and one day, you will stop.
When you feel sadness over your weaknesses, then you will be able to overcome them.

Q.: Why are we on earth? Is it to remove our karma or for something else?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Give love, gain knowledge and remove karma – that is the purpose of life!

Q.: What is the significance of success in life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Success means strength, an unshakable smile that nobody can take away, and courage that does not diminish.
Success does not mean having a big bank balance. There are some very rich people, who don’t have strength of character. They don’t have any sense of belongingness, of love
They are unable to appreciate the subtleness of life.
Consciousness blossoms without form and with relaxation.

Q.: How to deal with attachment on the spiritual path?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are aware of the attachment, then your behavior will naturally become balanced.

Q.: Sometimes there are dilemmas in life. What to do then?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The problems should be taken as an opportunity to be prayerful, and in gratitude.

Q. What is trust?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Trust is like breath.
Just like you can’t live without breath, you also cannot live without trust.
There are three types of trust:
Self – confidence
Faith in society
Faith in God
If any one trust is absent, then life is incomplete.

Q. What is the difference between Guru, God and the soul?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Guru is knowledge, Guru is love. Guru is light,
There is no difference between Guru, God and the Soul.

(From the Office of HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bangalore, India)

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri Said today:

Truth will always triumph

Bangalore, India, May 24:

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: All of us want to be happy and have the willingness to do something to be happy. What is the way for this?
What is the formula?
You should always think, "I don't need anything from anyone.", because attachment causes misery.

When you are happy, take a sankalpa that -
1. You don't need anything from anyone
2. You should be of use to everybody, and
3. No one can make you unhappy.

After we do something for someone, we expect thanks or gratitude from them. This expectation makes us even more miserable if they don't say thanks! We think that they are not grateful enough.
No, we don’t need anything from anyone. We should keep that sankalpa in mind. Then we can be content, and we can do whatever is possible from our end.

Q. What should we do if others take undue advantage of us?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don't let them take undue advantage! When you are fully aware, people cannot take undue advantage of you. If you go to sleep or are unaware, then the distinction between your pocket and theirs will be blurred, and they may put their hands in your pocket!
You keep doing what you want. Then no one can humiliate you. If you give room for it, only then it becomes possible. People hold on to small things and then say they are humiliated. If some guests come to your home, and you forget to offer them some tea, they will get humiliated that you didn't respect them enough by not offering them tea.
But you know that you did not mean any disrespect. You see, it is the same situation, but people view it differently.
We should see the opposing view as well. We need to be broadminded, and look at our fellow human beings as equals.

Q. My wife was not cooperative and we had a fight. I stepped outside briefly, but by the time I got back, she hung herself and committed suicide. Now I feel guilty, that I could have stopped her somehow. How can I overcome this grief?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whatever happened, don't sit and brood over it. Each moment is the start of a new life.
Whatever happened, had to happen, don't sit and think I could have done this or that, it is of no use.
Leave your burden, clear the mind, and move on.

Q. The state of society nowadays is very bad. There is suppression due to casteism and a large economic divide, and for a number of reasons, one feels lonely. How does one gather strength and gain self confidence during these times?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you feel lonely here? (Audience says "No!")
That's it! We have satsangs here and everywhere, so you should feel like a member of a "sangha" (group).
You are not alone in your fight for justice and pursuit of peace or happiness.
Truth will always triumph.

Q. What is death? What happens after death?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First, find out what is life and what happens when we are alive!

Q. What is the meaning of karma?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is my karma to listen to your question, and asking the question is your karma, and whether you get an answer or not is your karma.
Every impression, thought and action is karma.

Q. We do sadhana regularly, yet we face difficulties. Why?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is only when you face difficulties that you ask 'Why do I face difficulties?', you never ask 'Why am I happy?' when you are happy!
When we face difficulties, sadhana gives us the strength to face it, to overcome it.
Things have changed and will change. Have faith.

Q: How does one find one's true calling?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How do you know when you are hungry? How do you feel pain? It's obvious, isn't it?
Your true calling will also be equally obvious; it will be like a pain in your leg.
(Audience: "But it is so confusing to make a career choice!")
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Choice is always between bad and worse. So just accept it and make a decision!

Q. I am a student of media, and I am always asked why the media doesn't report the truth. What is the truth? Does it exist?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Only truth has existence. Everything else is maya (Illusion)!

( From the Office of HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bangalore, India)

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri Said Today

‘Recognize the cause of the barrier – and be free from it’
Bangalore (India) May 23, 2009:
Q. People say that life has both joy, and sorrow in equal proportions, but after experiencing the Divine, I have only joy. Is this the calm before the storm?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, not at all. All your sorrows have been dealt with in your past lives. In this life, you can be happy.
Do seva (service) when you are happy, and make sacrifices when you are sad. Remember the Divine in your happy moments too. Most people only remember the Divine when they are sorrowful
Seva mein jo sumiran kare, dukh kahe ko hove.” (The one who remembers the Divine in Seva, where is the sorrow for such a one?)
Yoga saves you from experiencing sorrow. This is its purpose. Yoga is not only about practicing asanas, it is also pranayama, meditation, satsang, and seva. So keep practicing pranayama, meditation, and do seva.

Q. It is said that everyone meets their life partner at the right time. Why are parents so worried about their children’s marriage? What can be done to reduce this worry?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The habit of worry is difficult to shake off. First people are worried about getting married, then about having kids, then about the children’s admission, then they have to perform well academically, then they should get a job... so if worry becomes a habit, then a person will keep worrying.
Parents should be told to stop worrying. You must also keep trying to find a soulmate. Don’t sit and wait for God to send you your soulmate!

Q. How do we increase family values?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: India has not yet lost family values, and it is our responsibility to maintain them.
To increase family values at home, make it a rule to eat together regularly. If not daily, then at least once a week. Sit and have a meal together; if not dinner, then at least breakfast. At these times make it a rule: unless each and every member of the family is present, no one eats. You should all eat together. Then there will be a change in the atmosphere at home.
Even in villages, all friends should meet and eat together.
When I was a child, Pitaji (Sri Sri’s father) would invite everyone to eat together once a month. Everyone would get some dish from home and there would be so much food! The atmosphere would be great.
Similarly, at least once in two-three months, have a preeti bhog (family feast). Don’t make it a party: make it a pot luck. Someone should plan – decide the dishes between yourselves. Then there will be a good atmosphere in the family and the society.

Q. The food in the Ashram is great. We can feel the love of the Divine in each bite. Now how can I go home?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I thought you already came home! This is your home. Wherever you go, that is your office. You get rest at home, work at office. If you are tired from work, then you come here to rest.
In society and work, be a partner,
at home be a helper.

Q. The Divine has given me everything. What can I offer as a gift to the Divine?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Keep this question with yourself – from time to time, the Divine will take the appropriate gift from you.
Whenever you feel upset, hatred, anger, or any negative emotion, give it to the Divine, and be happy.
Spread the knowledge, and happiness to other people. The happiness, faith, and devotion you have, whether it is a spark or a flame, should spread to other people so that they experience the same joy, and happiness in their lives.

Q.: Can our sadhana (spiritual practices) change the karma of others?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes!

Q.: How can Indian youth contribute to the world?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Human values. Indian youth can bring human values to the world. India has a very charming personality, and this should be projected properly.

Sometimes, our culture is depicted so badly in the media. If we degrade ourselves, and make other people laugh, we are happy about it. This weak nature has to be removed. WE should decide what our values are. We should keep our self-respect. We should decide what we like, and what we don’t like. We should not depend on others to judge us.
Of course, it’s fine that people appreciate us. But just because someone appreciates us, we are happy. We should have more self respect, and we should believe in ourselves.

Q. Why is there suffering in love?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Without knowledge, there is suffering in love too. Despite knowledge, if there is suffering, then accept it. That is the nature of love.

Q. When we work in a team, should we invest our time in improving people or improving the results?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both! A little here, and a little there.

Q. I want to commit my life to serving society. But my parents are insecure about this. How can I make them understand?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good! Explain to them, convince them. But if you’re in the middle of education, complete it before you come here. Don’t leave it halfway.

Q.: The person who invented the English alphabet made a mistake: they kept ‘I’ and ‘U’ apart!
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They tried to keep ‘I’ and ‘U’ far apart– but could not succeed. It’s only on paper. Actually, we are very close. Do you think anyone has the power to keep you and me away? Why do you give someone that power? No way!

Q. Today is my second day of silence. My mind is a devil’s workshop, it keeps having thoughts endlessly!
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sing, observe nature, and observe your thoughts. Look at nature as though you are looking at it for the first time – look at the trees, and look at the birds.
When you observe these things, your mind becomes calmer. Observe your thoughts. Silence makes you observe. As you observe, your thoughts will reduce.
The thoughts were always there, but only in silence can you observe them!

Q. In a relationship, if one doesn’t keep their commitments, what should the other do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Forgive them! Forgive them once, twice, thrice, four times. Then bark. If that doesn’t work, walk out.

Q. What is the secret to your fashion statement?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In style, and fashion, no statement is required. No statement is made in fashion. Fashion is just appearance. But anything you do, do it with style!

Q. Enlightened masters and astrologers often predict the future. Does it mean that the future is fixed already?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If nature were a dead phenomenon, you could predict it, the way a machine is always predictable. But it is alive, so you can’t predict its behavior.
If a car is moving, you can predict where it is going (right, left, or straight). But can you predict the movements of a cat? Can we predict which way it will turn, and where it will sit? It is the same with the mind.
Nature is not dead, it is alive. Yet, enlightened people can predict, but only to some extent.
That is called “maya” and the world is called the “maya of the mayavi” – it is the will of God, will of nature. God is also mischievous: if we plan to do something He often plans to do something else.
Nature is a lively, dynamic existence: “sat chit anand”. Because it is pure consciousness, chaitanya, it cannot be predicted 100 percent.

Q. What role does karma play if everything is predetermined by God?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is Karma that is being predicted. It is possible to change that as well. This is called ‘upaya’ (solution).
Astrologers say do upaya, but the best upaya is seva, and sadhana. Chant ‘Ohm Namah Shivaya’. Do it all the time - it is like an armor, a shield.

Q. I am unable to give my 100 percent, despite all my efforts.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar It’s okay, give your 99 percent. If you can’t do that either, then give your 90 percent. That is also okay.

Q. When do we get Moksha?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have you travelled by bus on a long journey? Have you then been required to answer nature’s call? Did the bus stop? When you got down and relieved yourself, how did it feel?
If you sat down in the same position for a long time, then got up and walked, how did it feel?
When you feel you are free of shackles and barriers, and you feel light and happy, that is Moksha.
Even if someone abuses you, and you say, “You curse so well!” then that is Moksha.
Recognize the cause of the barrier – and be free from it.

Q. When do we lack presence of mind, and when does the learning process stop?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The learning process stops because you watch too much television. This reduces brain activity.
You should rest your mind from time to time, by closing our eyes.
Our mind is like a blackboard in a school. If the teachers don’t wipe it after using it, and other teachers keep on using the same blackboard, will it make sense to the students? Our mind is the same. We use it a hundred times but never clean it.
Pranayam, and meditation are useful for cleaning it. They will keep your mind fresh, and ready to learn.

Q. An artist is able to create a beautiful picture, but I am not. Why?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You too can make a beautiful picture! The first time you try, you may not, but at your tenth attempt, you will.
Everyone is the same here. Kings, peasants, saints, - all are equal. The intelligent, and the foolish are all the same.

Q. What is the difference between aradhana (prayer), and sadhana (meditation)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is called sadhana for yogis is aradhana for devotees. The only difference is in the language usage.

Q. Corrupt politicians are better off in life than simple, good people like us. Why?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If something good happens to them, it won’t last. For some time, they might believe that their deceit got them ahead, but it won’t last. “Satyameva Jayate” – truth always triumphs.

Q. I’ve heard that hell is a place where people are burnt. Could you explain further?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your own mind creates heaven, and hell. Don’t listen to preachers who tell you that you will be toasted, and fried. They are in total ignorance. They misquote the scriptures. There is no such hell. Don’t worry and be free!

Q. The days, I don’t do my spiritual practices, I ask God for forgiveness. Is it okay?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, yes. Do only as much as you can do. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: “Practice as much as possible, and if you can’t, then do my work. If you can’t do that, then feel that you are one with Me. Then drop the fruits of your actions, and relax.”

Q. What is the secret for a happy married life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If the husband and wife will focus on each other and police each other, they will clash. If they have a common goal, then they will be like parallel lines, they can be together and go on forever.

What Sri Sri said today:

‘There is no rest deeper than meditation’
Bangalore (India), May 22:
Today, India has a new government. There are two pieces of advice for the new government:
First, advice for those who won. They should think that ‘We won, people have trusted us. So, we should be humble.’ Increase humility. See those who lost with love. Sympathize with them. When a war is fought, it's a different situation: you fight. But when the war is over, the situation becomes different. Embrace the enemy. Start the process of healing wounds.
Now, advice for those who lost. When you lose, what you want doesn’t happen. Then many vikalpas (choices) arise.


These three vikalpas stop you from going on the right path, they cause harm to you.
The fourth vikalpa is that, ‘This is the Lord's wish.’ This way, we get over the bad feelings, and get on with productive work. Calm your mind, and engage yourself in something constructive. There is little progress if you go into depression. There is progress neither in the Self, nor in society.
The party that lost should think, ‘We tried our best, but what had to happen, happened.’
"Karmanye va dhikaraste ma faleshu kadachana" – Do your duty, without expecting the fruits of your actions. Accept whatever fruit you get - this surrender to the past is true surrender. True surrender to God is not offering fruits, and garlands. Surrendering the garbage of the past to God is real surrender. God transforms this garbage into flowers, and fruits.
So, don't be angry with the past, and don't go into depression. There is no point in hate, and no point in doing nothing. The sign of intelligence is to surrender and move ahead.
This happens in every country. There is war, victory and defeat.
The people who win should show more humility, and be more respectful. They should believe: ‘The other party lost in order to give us happiness.’ If they think like this, then they won't humiliate the happiness-giver, and will respect the defeated.
God knows whom to put where. Accept God's decision. This is how people should think. Victory, and defeat are part of life. Recognizing this pattern, and rising above it, is the sign of an evolved human being.

Q. When clothes get smaller, we recognize physical growth. How do we recognize spiritual growth?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very easily. It depends on how you go ahead in every situation, especially bad situations. Do you deal with the situation with courage, and peace? If so, then, that is sign of your spiritual development. The more you smile, and the more you are happy, the more you are spiritually developed.
Sometimes, in spite of doing a lot of sadhana, you get angry, and then you tend to think that you have not developed spiritually.
Don’t blame yourself. Even though you get angry, it is not the same as before. Earlier your anger would remain for long, now it subsides. To other people, you look the same but if you look within, the anger comes and goes away quickly. Earlier it used to take five years, now it takes five minutes to go away. This is our experience. That is why you should not blame yourself when you get any negative sentiments. Witness the feeling and let it go. With practice, the consciousness becomes stronger.
A plant has to be watered but when it grows into a tree, it is no longer necessary. Similarly, if the inner consciousness becomes stronger, all these vikaar (distortions) get erased.
Vishranti vikar mita (Deep rest removes negativity). That is why people are jailed. They are tired of doing bad deeds, so we let them take rest. When they rest, the negative thoughts get destroyed. There is no rest deeper than meditation.

Q. What subjects is God testing us on? If we know, then we can study accordingly.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: God does not test, he takes interviews. (Applause). Not even an interview - interior view. All subjects are relevant. Hence keep meditating.
I do not believe that God takes tests. Only an ignorant person tests. The One who knows, does not need to test. He knows the Past, Present and Future. People believe that God conducts tests so that they can get over it, it gives them courage.

Q. After how many years of sadhana do we get 100 % control over our feelings?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No emotions are bad. But if they stay for long, then it is bad.
Emotions should be like a line drawn on the surface of water. It is alright to be angry, but only for a few seconds or a few minutes. But, if it surpasses days and months, it is disastrous.

Q. People are being fired, and new jobs are hard to get. What should we keep in mind when choosing a new job?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t be too choosy. Just see how much you need to support a family. There are many choices, and there are many negative thoughts. Meditate, keep your mind calm, and then choose.
But not during meditation! Do it after meditation, otherwise meditation won’t happen. You will just keep thinking.

Q. We get good ideas during meditation, but we can’t write them down. What should we do to remember them later?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You must accept that the idea is there, inside your mind. It will come up when you need it. Accept that the idea is in a safe locker inside your mind. You can take it when you need it.

Q. How should one enhance intelligence and will power?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no way. Not in this life, not in ten lifetimes. You have assumed that you have no will power; even Brahma cannot give it to you.
Where is the lack of will power? You have it in abundance. Just believe this and use it slowly. And don’t spend it too fast.

Q. Does our past life karma decide who we meet in this life? In this life, are we meeting the people we knew in our past lives?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, perhaps.
You know your mind always wants something new and the heart look s for something old. That’s why fashion is a topic of the mind. You want the latest technology, and the latest fashion. But if you like someone, then you believe that you have known them forever. The heart always takes pride in the old. That is why love is always considered as something old, or ancient. You have been there forever. You never say, “This is a fresh love of mine today.” You say, “Old is gold.”
So heart, or emotions take pride in the ancient, and the old. The mind always takes pride in the new, the fresh, and the latest.

Q. If there were a flaw in the Divine, what would it be?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Nobody can find any flaws or perfection in the Divine.
Only when you see perfections, do you see flaws. However, the Divine has neither flaws nor perfections. The Divine is nobody. The whole evolution is going from somebody to nobody, and nobody to everybody. In a way, all flaws in the world are present in the Divine, because everybody belongs to the Divine.
Vices, and virtues are only viewpoints. For instance, Lord Krishna is an incarnation of God for Hindus. Yet Jains believe that Lord Krishna is in hell, because he was the cause of the war (Mahabharata). This is just a viewpoint. Sri Ram did not kill Ravana according to Jain tradition. They believe that Ravana was killed by someone else. They have to believe that Lord Ram is completely non-violent.
Many siddhantas (values) are present in us, that’s why we say saguna (with form), and nirguna (without form). In fact, our consciousness has no qualities, and no attributes. We are a combination of these two. When you become nobody from somebody, then negativity will simply leave you. It will no longer be a part of you.
The human system is like an atomic particle. The nucleus is positive, and the circumference is negative. As you go deep, there are no more electrons. This is exactly how every human being is. The scriptures say there is God in the heart of human beings. He manages the whole universe, not sitting somewhere in heaven, but in the heart of every human being. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna: ‘The Lord is in all beings, and is present in the space of the heart, my dear Arjuna.’

Q. How does one know exactly what one wants? Is it so confusing to know what one wants?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This question is very confusing. If we have some clarity in the question, then the answer will be clear. Answers to unclear questions create more confusion.

Q. God is in the details, but we should also have a broad outlook. How do we combine the two?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is happiness in detail. When the heart is heavy, and the head is like a stone, there is no place for subtlety or details. When the heart is light, then you experience love, and happiness. There is no subtlety in sorrow.
Being light is being dense, and being dense is also being light. When you go deep in meditation, you will experience both density, and subtlety. That is why so many processes are required to go deeper within you.
In surrender, we feel subtle. Love is subtle, and work is dense. After lunch, we experience heaviness. In the morning we feel fresh, and subtle.

Q. Can evil people meditate?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Anyone can meditate. When people meditate, they become good.
I don’t see anyone as bad. If they are bad, it is because they do not meditate, or they are badly hurt, or they are deprived of spiritual knowledge. That is why anyone is bad.
Q. What should we do if we find opposition from our parents towards our spiritual practices?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do well in your studies, and they will allow you. Maintain a balance. Don’t be bookworms, then you would have no experience of the real world. You could gain a doctorate but become practically good-for-nothing. You can’t even handle simple human relationships. You become completely cut off from interaction with people, and are unable to gel with others. You are unable to contribute to society. You should be good at academics but be social, spiritual, and emotional beings too. Connect with the world. Don’t be caged in a box somewhere. This is very important. That is why, add a little bit of seva(service), and spiritual practices to your subjects of interest. They will always complement you. This would make your parents understand.
Today a lady called me, and said: “My son meditates in the morning, and evening. What will happen when he gets married? What will his wife say?”

I told her that these concerns are to be discarded. The mother agrees that her boy has changed tremendously after meditation. She is worried about how his wife will accept this. This is a wrong concept – that one should not meditate, and that they should be ‘normal.’ Normal for them is really abnormal. We need to educate them.

Q. We believe that even a leaf falls due to God's will. If everything in this world happens due to God's will, then why does God give us unhappiness?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You always have the choice to do good or bad. The fruits of your deeds are good or bad according to the choice you make.
Don’t cry if you make a mistake. Just learn from it, and move ahead. But, don’t repeat the same mistake - that’s foolishness! At least be smart enough to make new mistakes.

( From the Office of HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bangalore, India)
© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today:

‘Good luck comes by good deeds, not by lucky charms’
Bangalore (India), May 21:
Excerpts of the question and answer session with Sri Sri:

Q. In every human being there is some hidden talent. I’m 22 years old, I haven’t realized my talent yet. How do I know what I am good at?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Best is that you acquire all skills. Whatever you excel at becomes your main skill. Other skills are added on. It’s okay to be Jack of all trades to begin with, then you get a taste of things, and whatever clicks, you go with that. Don’t sit and wait for some skill to pop up one day – like a mushroom. In fact, you should excel in every field. That’s what I aimed at. You should be good in cooking, cleaning, art, talking, writing – take interest in all fields, and then something will come out of it.

Q. I always get confused in everything. Please tell me what to do.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Give a pat on your back. Whenever you get confused, it means an old pattern is breaking, and something new is happening. Listen, you can’t be confused in everything. You know you have to have dinner – are you confused about that? You know when you have to come for satsang.
Confusion is when you want more joy, and are not happy with what you have.
A bird in hand is worth two in a bush – be happy with what you have.
If confusion steps in a short while, it should be welcomed. But if it remains perpetually, take an attitude about it.

Q. What makes a person truly secure?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Faith in one’s abilities, and faith in the righteousness of the laws of nature. Have faith that you are supported by nature. And you will succeed. If you fail ten times, you will get success the eleventh time. You must have this faith. This comes by conviction, not any practice. You should say, ‘I will succeed, I refuse to accept failure.’

Q. I have lost someone very close to me. This troubles me. I want to know where he is?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: He is in a good place, a safe place, a place where all of us will be going. He got advance booking, and so earlier. Know that it’s a place which is everywhere. Our mind is alike electromagnetic waves. When you’re watching a channel, and change the channel, where did the previous one go? It didn’t go anywhere. It’s still there, but you are able to concentrate on only one.

Our body is like the television box, and the spirit is like the wave. When the body is gone, the waves will remain. Our access to a person who is close to you is when you meditate. The vibrations bring some coolness, and solace to the person on the other side also.

Q. Is leadership in the Art of Living based on seniority or spiritual evolvement?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is chaos and bliss here! Everyone is welcome to contribute to the organization’s growth, and grown himself. The Art of Living has one policy: we don’t reject anybody. We carry everyone along with us. That is a very tough job. There are hundreds of challenges.

The human mind is like the wild elephant – its makes all sorts of concepts, and ideals. People who don’t work have great ideals. When they start work, they realize that many ideals don’t work.
On the other side, there are people who have no ideals, and go with the chaos. Both approaches are wrong. If you drop ideals completely, organizations become hopeless. However if you don’t see practicality, and don’t have a foot on the ground, you cannot perform a dance. If your feet are buried in the ground, can you dance? If your legs are not on the ground, can you dance? You have to have a foot on the ground. Life is about balance.
Life is complex, and the world is full of complexities. Many complexities will arise. What you need to take care is not to get frustrated, and deal with them. We have to. Conflicts, and complexities are everywhere - in bureaucracies, political parties, social organizations, NGOs, schools, colleges, everywhere. Even in a house, there could be so many complex behavioral patterns. Yet, rejection is not the way, frustration won’t lead you anywhere. That is the skill you need to acquire. Skill will help you move through sleeping elephants. A saint from India once said: You have to walk through sleeping elephants. When wild elephants are awake, you can’t walk.
How do you get the skill? Silence is the mother of all skills. When you lack some skill, sit quietly for a moment. Then that part of the brain becomes active, that can give you intuition and ideas.
Silence is the mother of all skills, innovations, and inventions. A few moments of quietness. This is the first step. Take a step away from the situation. When you are in a situation, you cannot be a good judge – you have to step out of the situation for a minute and look at it. Through quietness: you will gain the skill right there!
We need to get out of the blame game. If anything goes wrong, you either blame others or yourself. This tendency is so deep in our psyche. Silence gives the skill to see the distance. This principle and philosophy has been developed in this country. However, it has been kept only with a few select people. That is why spirituality should be kept alive in every part of the world, so that everyone can gain skill with ease, and grace. This is the main advantage of meditation practices: it enables you to handle situations with ease and grace. A few moments of silence will bring up tremendous talents from within us.
However, if someone practices too much silence, then also they lose their skills.
Ati sarvatra varjayet – drop anything that is too much. Avoid extremes.

(A member from the audience says: If the bliss and happiness felt here (in the ashram) could spread all over the world, there would be no violence in the world.)
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely. That’s why you should come here, and spread the word, like sahasra sesha. Each one should inspire at least 1,000 people. Have the intention of bringing knowledge, joy, love, and happiness to the lives of 1,000 people. This is real merit.
Good luck does not come by lucky charms. It comes from good work. Good deed is to bring happiness into the lives of people. This is the best way. I have seen that. So bring this joy, solace, and happiness in people’s lives. When the hearts and minds of people get healed, their spirit blesses you. That becomes your real merit, good luck.

Q. Where are Shiva and Krishna (Hindu Gods)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Shiva, Krishna is in everyone of us. Krishna is a tatva – celebration, joy, love, mischief. Everything that is inside you, inside me.
In the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna says:

Yo mām paśyati sarvatra sarvam ca mayi paśyati
tasyāham na pranaśyami sa ca me na pranaśyati

Krishna says, “One who sees me in everything and one who sees everyone in me, I will never be out of sight for such a person.”

That what you all are going to do – dive into that inner space.
Shiva and Krishna are different aspects of the One jyoti (flame), one aspect.

Q. What is Art of Living doing in the Islamic world?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Islamic world is an integral part of the Art of Living family – we have projects in Iraq, Pakistan, and Turkey too. The responsibility is much more on all of you who are coming from the Islamic world to educate people in inter-disciplinary, inter-faith knowledge.
We must move from extremism, and fanaticism to the center – change the image of countries like Lebanon, and Afghanistan from being war zones to places of peace.
(From the office of HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bangalore, India)
© The Art of Living Foundation