‘Have faith that only the right thing will happen to you’

What H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said today:

Budapest, (Hungary), June 23, 2009:
Excerpts from a public address:

Music unites all our hearts. Like music is the rhythm of the sound, the harmony in the sound, life also has to move in harmony. When all the different aspects of life are harmonized, life becomes music. Otherwise, it is noise!

All that is needed to make life harmonious, palatable, blissful – is called the Art of Living.
In a guitar, all the six strings have to be tuned; a drum needs to be tuned. Similarly, the various aspects of life have to be tuned. Our relationship with our Self, the people in our family, in the work-place, in society – all these need to be tuned.

The nurturing of the physical, social and spiritual aspects is called the Art of Living.
To be complete, be in peace with our Self, to be able to smile from the heart – we need to do certain things.

There are four sources of energy – food, sleep, breath, and meditation.
Breathing is very important; without breath, there is no value for our bodies. Yet neither at school, nor at home, have we been taught the importance of breathing. If we can understand the power of the breath, we can have a say over our thoughts, our feelings. We can control anger, negative moods. A few minutes of deep meditation gives so much energy.

You are made up of a substance called love. Like the body is made up of amino acids etc, the spirit is made up of love. Yet we have done very little to understand this. Everyone wants to love, and be loved, but we have not attended to the inner core of love. The power of love is so deep. It can heal people spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

The Art of Living is about enhancing that inner space of love in our life, and life around us; and that is meditation.

If you meditate in one place, it creates positive situations around you. Meditation is so much needed in the world today, it is the need of the hour. It brings peace to us, and changes the vibration in the environment.

When you leave this evening program, leave all your worries with me, as your gift to me. Go back home with a big smile. That is my mission, to bring a smile on every face, a smile that does not fade. Whenever you have worries, just post them to me! Have faith that only the right thing will happen to you. Trust in yourself and in God. Remove all negativities. The mind can go towards the negative. This is where the Sudarshan Kriya* helps; it turns the negative into the positive. It turns hatred into love, anger into awareness.

Sudarshan Kriya* - A powerful breath pattern devised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today:

Q. What is more important: what the Guru thinks about the disciple or what the disciple thinks about the Guru?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Guru does not think at all. The Guru also wants the disciple to stop thinking. What will you get by thinking? Whatever we think in the state of ignorance is always wrong.

Q. Lord Krishna has spoken about surrender to the only One. What is surrender and how do we surrender?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Firstly, surrender to only one. Everything is, anyways, only one. Understand that everything is only one and then surrender. When we try to surrender to too many, surrender does not happen. You can travel in only one boat at a time. You cannot travel is many boats at the same time. That is why Lord Krishna said, ‘I am only One and surrender to me.’

Q. Is knowledge born out of meditation or is meditation born out of knowledge?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The knowledge which is born out of meditation is authentic knowledge. Even astrologers and astronomers experience good meditation. They think about stars, galaxies and about quantum physics and they go into deep meditation. From knowledge, meditation is born. Both – knowledge and meditation - give birth to bhakti (devotion). If you do meditation, a fountain of devotion flows in your heart. Bhakti also rises in the heart of the knowledgeable person. They all are one. They seem to be different only from the surface.

Q. First, there was silence. Then an impulse came and manifested as word. Please tell us the mechanism by which yesterday’s impulse becomes today’s thought.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have you all heard about Anadi and Anant? That which has no beginning, nor an end. Nobody knows when it started. It is present from millions of years. If we don’t know how it started, how can we know when it will end? Children often ask, ‘What is above this sky? How far does the sky go? We want to go above this sky.’ They speak this in ignorance. They say that this sky is a curtain and we want to see beyond it. Sky is ananta. It has no end.

Q. When we don’t have to do anything in meditations, then why are there so many different types of meditations?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The mind is fixed in different type of habits, thoughts and feelings. That’s why Maharshi Patanjali* has given so many techniques for samadhi. Maharshi Patanjali says you can attain it by meditating on God or breathing in different ways. Gorakhnath (a 11th century yogi) has given about 108 techniques for meditation. In our country, since centuries, different techniques have been used for meditation. People have different habits, thinking patterns and feelings - that is why we have meditations with different ideas. So that people can experience meditation, through one technique or another.

Q. What should be done with people who talk very nicely but act in the exact opposite manner?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Anukampa, understand that they are doing it helplessly or in ignorance. And by behaving in this manner, they are inviting trouble for themselves.

Q. What is your suggestion for those who want to concur the world through a sharp intellect?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you sharpen your intellect but don’t think that you can drink through the eyes. You can only see through the eyes. You cannot drink thought the nose or ears. Similarly, you can know of the Divine and satisfy your intellect. However, if understood through the intellect that there is no God, then you will not get the experience. Can you listen to music though the eyes?
Like every sense organ has its own function, God can only be known through the heart. What is beyond intelligence is only Divine. However sharpen your intellect to become silent, sharp and talented.

Q. I don’t want to be reborn as a human being because there are so many cruel people. Please tell me what I should do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a Sanskrit saying which says, “My salutations to the cruel people first, then the good people”. This is because the cruel set an example on how we should not be. They harm themselves but give us a lesson. Secondly, if there are only good people in the world then their value will decrease. Have you seen the statue of Lord Natraj (dancing form of Lord Shiva)? Below his feet, there is a rakshasha (devil). Bad people are there in the world, but they should be below the feet of the good people.
You should think about how you can turn these bad people into good ones. You know, nobody is bad or cruel by birth. They are what they are due to two reasons: firstly, either they are suffering in life. Secondly, they are acting in ignorance. If you remove their suffering or ignorance, they will become good human beings.

Q. What should I do to come in God’s most wanted or the top 10 list of people?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The desire to be in the top ten along with seva is good enough to keep you on the right path. This is healthy competition. We should have such competition.

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
* Maharshi Patanjali compiled the Yoga Sutras (ancient scriptures on Yoga) around the 3rd-4th century BC

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today

Q: While doing seva, sometimes I get attached to name and fame. What should I do?

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are centered, established in the knowledge, when you meditate, this situation does not arise. When your attachment shifts from the work at hand to name and fame, it is time to go within.

Be ready to face any challenges that society throws at you. It is said that gold shines more brilliantly, the more it is beaten. When you squeeze sugarcane, it gives you sweetness. Sandalwood, when ground, gives fragrance. Stay in your nature even while under pressure. Every situation that comes to us is for our upliftment.

Q: How to develop mastery over hunger and sleep?

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Rise above them naturally; not by force. Hunger and sleep are the dharma of the body. Don’t enforce limitations upon yourself. Integrate knowledge into your life. Study the Bhagvad Gita.

Q: What is the difference between the Spiritual Master and the Divine?

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no difference between the Master, the Self and the Divine. The Master can be seen, that is all. The Master is not the individual, He is the light, the consciousness.

Q: What is the importance of a name?

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, you need something by which people can call you! One name is the name our parents gave to us at the time of birth. We are deeply connected to this name. To be completely free, the last attachment that we let go is that of our name. Connect and attach yourself to the name (the mantra that you receive from the Master). The mantra establishes you in the witness consciousness. Of the mantras, the highest is the 'ajapa jap', the mantra which resonates effortlessly and spontaneously in our consciousness. It is not a doing but a happening. That is So Ham. It resonates eternally. When we experience this with awareness, it becomes meditation.

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar)

What Sri Sri said today

‘Highest expression of puja is meditation’

Bangalore, India, June 14:
Q. I’ve heard your talk on the Ashtavakra Gita (the conversation between Sage Ashtavakra and King Janaka on the knowledge of the Supreme Self). When King Janaka explains Aho! In wonderment, what was the reason? How can I achieve the same state of wonderment?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When Ashtavakra imparted the knowledge to King Janaka, wonder arose in him. Aho! He wondered, ‘How did I not recognize this truth for so long!’

Once he realized this truth, he said, ‘Salutations to myself!’ Namo mahyam! The transforming experience that ‘I am the paramatma, the Divine consciousness' came to him.
The knowledge dawned that there is no difference between myself and the Divine consciousness which is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
Leaving behind the limited mind and being established in the infinite consciousness is the Ashtavakra Gita.
We search for the Divine everywhere except within us. The process of puja or worship is to lead us from the external world to within. The highest expression of puja is meditation. In puja, we use and honor the five elements which form the basis of this creation and we honor ourselves as well.
When we do achamanam or offering of oblations, we offer water to kesava, the Divine within us. Each process in the puja leads us within.
When you go to sleep at night, think that the Divine is within me, ‘Salutations to the Divine in my heart!’ Meditate upon this, and then go to sleep. Then see how the quality of your sleep is!

There is no difference between the Guru, the Self and the Divine. Antarmukhi sada sukhi - He who perceives the Divinity within, whose mind is turned inward, is always happy.

The Divine consciousness is not limited like the body but is present everywhere like the space.
Honoring this divine consciousness is the Ashtavakra Gita.

Q. Between karma and bhagya (good fortune or luck), which is more important?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are in front of the television, do you listen to the voice first or watch the screen? They happen simultaneously, isn’t it? In the same way, both karma (action) and bhagya(good fortune) are important. When we perform appropriate actions, then we become bhagya or fortunate. When we have good fortune, then our actions are fruitful.

Q. Everyone comes to you with their problems. Do you have any problems of your own?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have no troubles. That is why I can take away yours. If the doctor is sick, then can he heal you? Since I have no problems, you have come to me.

(Sri Sri points to a large crowd of jawans (soldiers) who came for satsang and applauds their commitment to the nation. He tells the audience:)

When we eat our food everyday, we must remember with gratitude the farmer who has worked for it. Anna Dhata Sukhi Bhava is a traditional blessing that wishes happiness to the giver of food. We should bless the soldiers who guard our borders at the cost of their own lives. They are the wealth of our nation. They should be happy and their families should be happy. Our blessings will surely reach them.

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today

‘Divine is my very own’

Bangalore, (India), June 13:
Q.: After experiencing happiness and laughter in life, what else does a person need to ask for?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is meaningless to ask, ‘What should I desire?’ Desires arise by themselves based on the need of the hour. To desire a desire is impossible.
Desires are not bad. However, we need to see that the desires are not in opposition to viveka (the power to discriminate between truth and untruth, dharma (righteousness) and adharma etc).
In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna says, ‘I am those desires that uphold dharma.’

Viveka gives you the awareness to save yourself (from desires that do not uphold dharma). It is necessary to awaken viveka within us. Do not try to suppress desires, awaken viveka in you. Through viveka, there is a transformation in the quality of desires that arise in us.

Q.: How can I decide which actions will give me happiness?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Those actions which may seem to bring short term unhappiness yet bring long term happiness are good. Those that seem to bring short term benefits but bring long term misery are bad.

Q.: Where did you get the inspiration to create such a beautiful place?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When the mind is pleasant, so is the world. Wherever in the world, people come together to meditate in our courses, they say that they feel like they are in heaven. Also, places where people come together to meditate acquire significance.
Wherever you are, you can create a heaven around you!

Q.: When I met you recently at the end of my first advanced meditation program that I took, here in the ashram. I didn’t feel that I was meeting you for the first time.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is how it is! Our connection to Divine love is ancient! Whenever I meet you I never feel that it is the first time. I have known you from Lifetimes. The heart searches for the old. That’s why it is said that friendships are old. The mind searches for something new - latest trends, what is new today?
Both are required.
The joy of being established is the self is nit nutan, eternal and new.

Q.: Is dispassion connected to upbringing or past impressions?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Vairagya or dispassion is associated with viveka or the power of discrimination. When we were small children, we wanted to have cotton candy or lollipops and toys. As we grew up, these desires dropped by themselves. We became dispassionate about toys but got attached to something else. In course of time, desires drop effortlessly. When we move ahead with awareness then our attachments drop even faster, and with love. It doesn’t mean that you throw everything out of your house! There is no desire to procure anything. Irrespective of the desire being fulfilled, there is no feverishness or attachment.

Q.: Despite having everything , what does the mind want to procure? Why is it restless?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is a blessing if you are not content with small material things! The longing for the divine is the divine himself! One who is without longing has no juice in his life, no knowledge and no celebration.

Q.: Who am I? Who is the Master?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’ Until you find the answer to this, there is no way to even begin to understand the Master.

Q.: Why don’t we remember our past lifetimes?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You will. Go deep in meditation. When you meditate, it is possible to see your past lifetimes. In a way, it is good that you do not remember until you are established in the knowledge. Otherwise you will be caught up in wanting to know how much you earned in your previous lives, where you saved it, who is enjoying it and how you can still get it! Knowledge of your past lifetimes will be revealed to you only when your consciousness is established in the present moment.

Q.: What is the difference between ego and self-esteem?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No one can take away your self esteem from you. Ego cannot be sustained and so it troubles you. When there is satva (pure energy) and wisdom, ego does not trouble you. Ego needs the presence of the other. Self esteem does not.

Q.: How do we experience fullness?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is it that you lack? Recognize this first. Because of this lack you feel sad. When you feel sad and helpless, then you pray. Offer your limitations, instead of only offering money in places of worship. The Divine is ready to accept all your weaknesses or limitations.

That Divinity which is complete, resides in you. The Divine is eternal, omniscient and omnipotent. Knowing that you are a part on that Divinity, how can you feel limited or incomplete?

Know that you are complete with the help of knowledge, devotion and rightful actions.
Even if you do not know, have faith that you are complete. You do not have to achieve it.
There is air around us. We have to know it or believe it. But we don't have to achieve it because it is already there! Similarly, without the Divine, we do not exist.

How is the Divine? What does He do? These are meaningless questions.
The Divine is there. The Divine is my very own. I am a part of the Divine. Know this.

It is easier to start with the feeling that the Divine is your very own and in time you will know that you are part of the Divine.

Q. How can people from different communities come together?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Satsang increases awareness and a sense of belongingness. So many of us are here together but we are not asking each other about our caste or religion, are we? We are sitting here together as one family!

Q. How can we resolve the problem of increasing rates of crime and poverty?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A shift from secularism to spiritualism is the solution to crime. This spiritual education must be given to children. Removing greed from the heart is the solution to poverty.
Everyone must take responsibility and think ‘What can I do?’

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today

‘The aim of mankind is to reach towards happiness and joy’
Mumbai (India), June 11:
The mind can be slippery. Yet, faith should not be slippery. Life is about faith, though sometimes it becomes shaky. Whenever you have been in trouble, haven’t you received help? You will keep receiving it.

You all are like flowers which will never die, never wither. Today there is not a single person who does not have sweetness in his heart. Even if you visit a prison, there are people who have sweetness in their hearts. This joy and happiness that we have received, should be reached to others. The aim of mankind is to reach towards happiness and joy. From joy, two things are born in you: a smile and a desire to serve.

There are two kinds of devotees. Have you observed a cat and a monkey? When a monkey walks, its child will cling to it. The monkey is not bothered about its child because the child follows the mother. Whereas a kitten does not follow its mother. The mother has to keep an eye on the child, and takes it in its mouth wherever she goes. Are you a cat or a monkey? Do you cling to the Divine or let the Divine carry you?

Also, for those who are on the path, remember to relax.

Again, there are two types of devotees.
Those who are just starting on the path are like those who are running to catch the train and those who have already begun are those who are already sitting inside the train. People who are just starting are worried about their ability to catch the train; they have to catch a taxi from home, rush to the platform on time, find the right platform, and then find the correct coach, and then get on the train. Until they get on the train, they cannot rest.

If those who are on the train already run from one compartment to the other, will they reach their destination sooner? What is the use of running inside the compartment?

After getting into the compartment, put your luggage down and relax. And then you will get to your destination.
(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)

What Sri Sri said today

‘Through sadhana, we can regain the energy and strength’

Bangalore (India), June 9:
Q. Many people want to volunteer. What should we remember while training volunteers? What should I keep in mind as a volunteer for my own growth and for spreading knowledge?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: As a sevak (volunteer), you should remember that even if you get stones in return for seva, it’s fine.
If someone scolds you or curses you, you remain unfazed. Don’t make yourself sad or anyone else sad.
Remember this - you need nothing in return for seva - not even a ‘thanks’. Do not say: ‘I have never needed anything else, only a few words of gratitude’ - you shouldn’t expect even that. If you do seva without expecting anything, then that is bliss. If you expect people to praise you or thank you, then the quality of seva goes down.

Seva should walk hand in hand with sadhana (spiritual practices). If one is absent, you will not gain anything from the other. From sadhana you get strength to do seva, and from seva you get depth in sadhana.

But remember that sadhana is your first priority! You should make time to do sadhana, you should be smart in managing time. There is no end to work, there is always work everyday. So make time for sadhana.

Make it a rule - if you don’t do sadhana, you won’t eat the next meal. Promise yourself that you won't eat till you have finished sadhana. Then it becomes a routine. When doing sadhana, say: “Let me do a couple more bhastrika breaths* , a few more minutes of meditation...” If you make your own rules like this, then there is no limit to the strength you will gain.

By working, your energy and strength gets spent. Through sadhana, we can regain the energy and strength.

Another tip for volunteers: you should be emphathetic to people. When we are doing sadhana or seva, we shouldn't be too proud or too angry. If a volunteer is not sweet in his behavior to people and is always angry, then he won't be able to inspire anyone. Our behavior, our actions, our talk, everything should be inspirational.

Another tip: work should be delegated, and delegate work with trust. Many people don't know how to do this. They try to do everything themselves. If you do everything yourself, keep all the keys and try to control everything, then it won't work.
If you want to ride a horse, you can’t hold the bridle too loose or too tight. So also you should shoulder responsibility, but at the same time delegate work. This is an important point for a volunteer.

Remember to do sadhana and meditation while doing seva, and go ahead!

Q. Which is better: satvic guna (calmness, meditation) or triguna ateet (beyond the three gunas {roughly translated as energies})?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you do not have satvic guna, you cannot be triguna ateet.
You have to move from tamogun (inertia), to rajogun (that energy which is not used productively in activity and which becomes restlessness) and from rajogun to satogun.
From satogun, you will know mukti (freedom).
However, don’t get attached to satogun. You use soap to wash the dirt off your body. Do you allow the soap to remain on your body?
There’s a saying which says, drown your good deeds in a well. Otherwise, you become attached to them, and doing good deeds will make you arrogant.

When you are not attached to even mukti, then you will be triguna ateet.
There is a quote in Sanskrit:
‘Samam pashyanti sarvatra
up mam pashyati sarvatah’

Krishna says, ‘See equality in everything. The one who sees me in everything and sees everything in me, I won't be apart from him and he won't be different from me.’

* a type of breathing technique
(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today

‘We have to take everything and move forward’

Delhi (India), June 10:

Q.: Whenever I have problems, I have called upon God for help. But God never comes to support me. Why doesn’t God love me?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is impossible that you have a problem and you haven’t found a solution. You should only remember that when you have a problem, God is with you. Not only in the times when you have problems. Even when you don’t have problems, God is with you.

Q.: I am bullied by friends I don’t know why. If I hit back it becomes worse. And if I keep quiet then I’m considered weak.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When there is no question, then what is the need of the answer? Drop your questions, your doubts.

You all are extraordinary. Just bear one thing in mind, that you take interest in knowledge. Read a bit of knowledge. Everyone must read the Bhagvad-Gita, the Guru Granth Sahib and the Yog Vasishta. Read one-two pages of the Yog Vasishta everyday. Like you watch television everyday? In this manner, make it a habit to read a few pages of knowledge. When you wake up in the morning, read a knowledge book.

Just as water that doesn’t flow, stagnates, the mind needs to gain knowledge from books from time to time so that it doesn’t stagnate. If the mind is not polished with knowledge, it will not shine. So get a little bit of knowledge everyday.

Be in knowledge. Have fun. Knowledge, singing and meditation. Have these three aspects in mind. Spend some time to gain knowledge in the morning.Read two-three pages everyday. Read the Bhagvad-Gita, Yog Vasishta. And in the evening, sing some bhajans. Enjoy it thoroughly. Sit for some time in meditation. In satsang, it is important to sit for a while in meditation.

Practice meditation. Become a seeker. Walk the path of the seeker. You will get the best of everything the world has to offer. It is important that those on the path of knowledge consider themselves fortunate. They, in turn, should give this good fortune to as many people as possible. We shouldn’t limit the happiness to ourselves: we should extend and help everyone have a taste of the same.

So remember: singing, knowledge and meditation. Did you turn the pages of a book today or not? Did the water flow or not? Yes? Just as flowing water remains clean, when you turn the pages of a book of knowledge, your mind remains clean and pure. And meditate everyday for a little while. Do Sadhana. And remember that when you become a seeker, you will lack nothing. When you walk on this path, there will be no lacking in your life. And whenever you are in trouble, you are not alone. The Divine is with you.

Don’t scatter yourself too much. Be centred and collected. And walk with ease. You don’t have to put too much effort. Yes? See how easily we can collect flowers. Similarly, there is nothing difficult.
There is bliss in chaos. Bliss and chaos go together at home! We have to take everything and move forward.
(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri Said Today

‘Paths can be different, yet the truth is only One’

Bangalore, (India), June 8:

Q: We sing bhajans, kirtans, and hymns to praise the Divine. Why does the Divine like praise, just like our seniors?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You praise God, not for God, but for yourself. Those who do puja, don’t do it for God, but for themselves. If you praise someone, it’s not for their happiness, you do it for your own happiness.
Parents usually praise their 2 or 3-year-old children, however the child doesn’t understand a word of their praise. So why do they praise? To uplift themselves! Not because they expect something from the child.
This is the difference between praise and prayer. Stuti (repetition of God’s name) is that which raises our chetana (consciousness). We do stuti to raise our own consciousness, not to make God happy.

Q: People of other religions criticize Hindus for doing idol worship. What do you think?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The religions, which deny idol worship, propagate some sort of idol worship themselves.
When I visited Iraq, I travelled to Najaf, and Karbala and saw an installation of gold and silver, with sacred cloth on the samadhi. People do mannat (pray) to fulfill their wishes. This is like idol worship.

The same with Kaaba. People perform seven circumambulations around it, and kiss it. This is also idol worship.
Of course, it doesn’t have ears, eyes, and a nose, yet it is the same thing.
If some people don’t worship an idol, they worship books, or a picture, and offer flowers, and decorate it.
Irrespective of whether you worship a stone or a picture or an idol, it is a representation, a symbol of God.
What is a symbol? It is something that touches a chord in you.
Puja is an act of honoring. Honoring symbols is puja.

In India, our ancestors believed that one develops a bond with a face. You make a connection. It is because of this connection that they promoted idol worship.

Idol worship is only one of the forms proposed by our ancestors.
They said start with an idol. More important than an idol, is yantra (an energy diagram).
Even more important than yantra is mantra.
They said that mantra is mukti (freedom). Mantra is chetana (consciousness).

There is a shloka (phrase) in Sanskrit, which says:
For a farmer, water is God,
For the intellectual, the brain is God,
For a child, an idol is God,
For the wise man, the Soul is God.

When do people perform Ganesha puja? It is believed that the energy of Ganapati comes into the idol for a few days.
So people do pran prathista (evoking the soul) in the idol.
People pray to Lord Ganesha to say: ‘You always stay in my heart. Come into the idol, so that I can play with you.’
After performing the puja, people again pray to Lord Ganesha to return to their hearts.
The idol is then immersed in water (visarjan).

This is a festival. It adds celebration and color to your life. Sometimes it is not fully understood, and people become too caught up with rituals. That too is wrong.

That is why it is important to sit for puja in a meditative state.

When you sing bhajans in satsang, you don’t visualize the God. You sing and your mind becomes empty. Thus, chetana (consciousness) grows.

Jains started idol worship, then Buddhism followed. Sanatana Dharma adopted this very quickly. It was also adopted by Christianity. To criticize idol worship is foolishness. It is important to understand it.

Yet people should not be superstitious about idol worship.

This also doesn’t mean you can skip idol worship altogether. You board a bus and get down, but the place you got on and the place you got down are different. You don’t think: “I have to get down from the bus anyway, so why should I get on it?”
This is foolishness, (a kutark mindset).

When you sit to worship, be in a meditative state. In meditation, you unite with the sky.
Then through words and mantras, offer wind, fire, then water. With that kalash of water (a pot of water decorated with mango leaves at its mouth and a coconut), waves in creation are evoked. It is said that there is no life in an idol if it is not evoked through mantras and made strong with devotion.

Our ancestors have given us this great method as a way to unite people, spread love and wisdom.

In Sabari Malai (Mount Sabari) in Kerala, Lord Aiyappa is worshipped. There is a mosque on the way, dedicated to a Sufi saint. Everyone circumambulates the mosque and then proceeds to the Aiyappa temple. People believe that the Sufi saint was a good friend of Lord Aiyappa.

This is how India is united.

Guru Nanak (central figure in Sikhism) made a Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book of the Sikhs) in simple language. The Guru Granth is the gist of knowledge from all other religions. Many religious texts were written in Sanskrit, which few people could understand. The Guru Granth was written in simple language so that the knowledge could reach the masses.

Now we have even forgotten that and started making subdivisions. Paths can be different, yet the truth is only One. That has to be recognized. Otherwise, there are fights and misunderstandings.

Q: Why are parents neglected by their own children? Brothers are being murdered by their own brothers.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Parents are being neglected because they didn’t spend enough time with their children, and didn’t imbibe spiritual education in them. They made the children too materialistic and selfish. This is because you gave them food, clothes and a roof over their heads but not knowledge.

Q: Why does God hide from us?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you knew that you would win/lose in a tennis match, then would you play at all? If you knew that you would win in a cricket match, would you put a sincere effort into the match?
When will there be sincerity? Only when some things are hidden.

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said Today

‘As long as you are attached to material things, you won't find God’

Bangalore (India), June 7:

Q. What is the purpose of satsang?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The purpose of satsang is laya yoga. When everyone sings with one heart, and sound, then your heart becomes immersed in the sound. It then becomes ‘laya yoga’ - getting absorbed in the sound. If you become a spectator and just watch, it becomes difficult. You should also sing, then only the energy in you, the chaitanya will grow.

Q. What to do to get peace of mind?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation.

There are two types of sadhaks (devotees).
1) One who is yet to get onto the path. They have to work hard, (parishrama).
2) One who has already on the path. They have to rest, (vishraama)

Those who are just starting on the path are like those who are running to catch the train and those who have already begun are those who are already sitting inside the train. People who are just starting are worried about their ability to catch the train; they have to catch a taxi from home, rush to the platform on time, find the right platform, and then find the correct coach, and then get on the train. Until they get on the train, they cannot rest.

If those who are on the train already run from one compartment to the other, will they reach their destination sooner? What is the use of running inside the compartment?
After getting into the compartment, put your luggage down and relax. And then you will get to your destination. You can take rest. You have the satisfaction that you are already on the path, that the guru is the engine driver who will take you to the destination, and you only need to relax.
Think about this, and make a decision about what kind of sadhak you are.

Q. Is God present or not?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good, keep this question in your mind. However, if you know that God is present, then your life will change.
As long as you are attached to material things, you won't find God.
When you are tired of things here, when you have had enough, then you will find God. Then you will find maturity.

Q. Do we need a Guru to realize God?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you need an answer to the question, then it indicates that you need a Guru.
Anyone who answers becomes a Guru.
There are 2 occasions when you have no questions.
1. You are so dumb that you have no questions
2. Or you are so full and satisfied that you have no questions.

Q. How should one pray to god?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By doing service, pranayama, and meditation.

Q. How do we handle politics in everyday situations?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It's good - it will bring out more talents in you.
If things are easy, your skills won't develop. So it is good.

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri Said Today

‘You move with confidence. You will be unfazed. That is valor’

Bangalore (India), June 6:
Q. Since coming into the Art of Living, I am aware of more ups and downs in my life. Am I experiencing the karma of past lifetimes on the fast track or is it like this?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What happens when you meditate? The contrast between the ups and downs in life is greater. On a white cloth, even a small dust particle is clearly seen. Similarly, when the mind becomes more pure, even small jealousy or anger is an irritant. It is unbearable and you have to get rid of it quickly. This is but quite natural.
At the same time, you get the inner strength to endure situations.

Q. After I started with my spiritual practices, I, no longer, have the killer instinct to compete. Am I a misfit in the corporate world?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t be harsh on yourself. Running around between tasks, will not bring achievement. Just relax. For that you need inner strength.

Q. Will the Sudarshan kriya*, help to remove substance abuse?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely. It needs some support system, some perseverance. There should be friends, and family to remind the person to stick to the practices. That is why our de-addiction programs are residential. If people who need help stay for 10-15 days and follow the routine, then the recovery is faster.

Q. When will I get freedom?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First understand what freedom is. Drop whatever burden you feel in the mind. Quieten the mind.
The mind will say: ‘I want this’, ‘I want that’ - drop everything.
Have the sankalpa: I am happy, contented and don’t need anything.
When you are free, bliss follows you.
If you are chasing 20 desires, there is no freedom.

Q. Do you love me?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Does anyone ask water – do you flow?
Do you ask the mountain – do you stand?
Do you ask the sun - do you shine?
Do you ask clouds – do you give rain?
Then how can you ask – do you love me?
Love IS and love is not an emotion. It is our very being.

Don’t ask anyone if they love you – only fools ask this.
Even if someone is angry, he is demonstrating love.
Emotions like anger, jealousy, and greed are because of love.

Love is our nature.
If someone is sleeping, do you ask the person are you sleeping?
If you do, then you have already woken them up!

Q. I have marital trouble. How do I solve it?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: From your end, don’t think that you are distant from him. Whatever he says, accept it.
Try to understand him.
Put your 100 percent – it will work.
What does a mother do, when a child cries? She pacifies him, the child quietens, and then will cry again after a while.
Like you pacify a child, pacify your husband. Sometimes there are misunderstandings.
In ancient days, Rishis (saints) would bless women by saying - become a mother to 10 children and may the eleventh child be your husband. This is to say – love your husband as a child.

A lady once came to me with her problems about her mother-in-law.
Have you ever thought about this? You have fought so much with your mother. Like you fight with your mother, you fight with your mum-in-law. Yet you get upset. Think of her like a mother.
Change your perspective. Knowledge will help you to live harmoniously.

Q. My husband is very arrogant. How do I reduce his arrogance?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ok, make your husband’s arrogance very strong. Say, ‘There is nobody like you.’
Keep increasing his arrogance.
Wherever there is arrogance, it will be taught a lesson.

Q. Someone hurt my eye last year. Why hasn’t the person got punished?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Those who wrong, will receive a punishment for sure.
However, if you enjoy his punishment, that is wrong.
You should pray, that he does not hurt anyone else. Let his mind become fine.
Don’t think that he should be hurt in return.

Q. If we use valor to handle a situation, elders feel we have forgotten our manners. How to handle the situation?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t justify your anger as valor. If you’re arrogant, and behave rudely, your behavior cannot be justified.
Valor is an inner phenomenon. It gives immense patience, perseverance and inner strength.
It does not mean screaming, and shouting. Screaming, and shouting means you are weak.
If you’re really strong, you will just smile.
You move with confidence. You will be unfazed. That is valor.

This is one side of the story. The other side is that whatever you do, someone will criticize you. You will be blamed if you act, and even if you don’t act. If you speak, or don’t speak.
You can’t keep pleasing everyone.
If your focus is on finding shortcomings, either in yourself or in others, you cannot raise higher.
Recognize that if someone gives a comment, reflect on it. If there is some truth, accept it.
If not, then thank them and move on.
Don’t ask them why. Just say: ‘I appreciate your perception’ and move on.

Q. You often say that seva brings merit which helps us to meditate better. Today, I did seva 100 percent so that I can meditate better. Is that ok?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We should not judge ourselves too much. If you go on judging yourself all the time, it is not going to help you.
At the same time, you cannot be blind to your behaviors, and tendencies. It has to be a gentle middle path. Either extremes can be detrimental.
There is a Sanskrit phrase which says that when you place a lamp on a short wall between two rooms, light will fall in both rooms. In the same way, keep a bit light on what is happening inside, and outside of you.

Q. Why do liars, sinful people progress more than honest people?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: People who practice unethical ways, cannot come up in life. This is the truth. It will not be sustained.
You have patience. Don’t think that all honest people are suffering. Suffering is not because of honesty, but because of foolishness.
You have to have smartness, intelligence, dynamism, and creativity alongwith honesty.

Sudarshan kriya* - a stress-elimination breath technique that is taught in Art of Living programs
(From the Office of His Holiness S Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation

Seva is Savior

The way to expand from individual to universal consciousness is to share others’ sorrow and joy. As you grow with time, your consciousness should also grow. When you expand in Knowledge over time, depression is not possible. Your innermost source is joy.

The way to overcome personal misery is to share universal misery! The way to expand personal joy is to share universal joy. Instead of thinking, ‘What about me? What can I gain from this world?’ Think, ‘What can I do for the world?’ When everyone comes from the point of contributing to society, you will have a Divine society.

We have to educate ourselves and culture our individual consciousness to expand with time in the Knowledge... from ‘What about me?’ to ‘What can I contribute?’

If you are not having good experiences in meditation, then do more seva – you will gain merit and your meditation will go deeper. When you bring some relief or freedom to someone through seva, good vibrations and blessings come to you.

Seva brings merit;
Merit allows you to go deeper in meditation;
Meditation brings back your smile.

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation


We attach meaning to words, and we distort them too. For example, the word brainwashing. Your brain, like your body, needs washing sometimes. You don’t want to walk around with a dirty brain, a dirty mind. What is wrong with the word brainwashing? It indicates a clean brain, a clean mind. But it is used in a derogatory manner.

And the word disillusioned. It is good when you become disillusioned. You are out of the illusion and have come to reality.

And purana. It means that which is new in the town, the most modern. But today it conveys the sense of being very old.

Meanings of words change in the course of time. The word enthused comes from the Greek which means God is with us. Then enthused came to mean crazy, and today the whole meaning of the word has changed again.

Don’t be stuck with words. Your worries are words. Your ideas are words.
Wisdom is beyond words. It is your very Being, the essence of all words. See and relate beyond words. Then there is no lie in your life.

If you manipulate words, it is a lie;
If you play on words, it is a joke;
If you rely on words, it is ignorance;If you transcend words, it is wisdom.

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation

Indebtedness or Abundance?

Question: God is all-abundant, totally full, and we are all connected to God. Then why are we in debt, except for some? Why do they have, and we don’t have?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Is it only money you lack? When you say you are indebted, that means you have received something! Otherwise how can you be indebted? Those who have received should feel indebted. Be thankful for having received. The more abundance you have, the more indebted you will feel. And when you feel indebted and grateful, more abundance comes to you.

Feel indebted. Feel grateful.
Then abundance grows.

Abundance and indebtedness coexist.
Someone in the group: An abundance of indebtedness!

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You think you are indebted, but you really are not.
Yet it is better to feel totally indebted, because every bit of what you have doesn’t belong to you anyway, including your own body. When you are infinitely indebted for your body, for Knowledge, for things you have received, and for your own life, then you bask in the abundance of the Creator.

Someone in the group: I feel very indebted. Thank you!

(February 8, 1996 - Miami Beach, Florida)

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri said today

‘My life has never been the same’

Vilnius, (Lithuania), June 1: With the aim of globalizing spirituality, Sri Sri recently visited Lithuania. He emphasized human values and a broad-minded approach to find solutions to the global challenges of fanaticism and terrorism.
Besides a public address, Sri Sri interacted with residents of Vilnius everyday.
Excerpts from a brief interaction on June 1.

Gift of knowledge:
"This winter I was coming from Canada, through the security check, and the guard came running to me and asked, “Are you the man on the cover of this book?” (A friend had given him the book Celebrating Silence for his birthday). The man said to me, ‘After I started reading this book, my life has never been the same!’
It’s a good idea to gift a knowledge book. It can transform a person’s life!”

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar then narrated a story from Buddha’s life:
“When Buddha was teaching meditation, a lot of people came to learn. For 40 years, Buddha had traveled from city to city. Naturally, they wanted a permanent place for meditators and devotees. They found a garden, a beautiful place. The land belonged to a prince. A businessman told the prince that this place could bring peace to many people. However, the prince was not spiritual. He demanded an exorbitant price: “If you cover the land with gold coins, then I’ll let you buy it.” The businessman said: “Yes! If a piece of land can bring peace to so many people, then it’s worth it!” The businessman got his friends involved and together they bought the land from the prince. And for thousands of years, it was a place of spiritual peace for many people.
If a place absorbs all the good thoughts and vibrations of meditators, then the place changes.”
(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri Said Today

‘Education in human values of every religion will solve the problem of fanaticism’

Vilnius (Lithuania), May 31:
Q.: Why is love painful?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It's human nature to want to help others. And everybody wants love. Without love, life doesn’t seem worth living.
However love gets distorted, and turns into anger, greed, jealousy, hatred, possessiveness. Yet we all want love.

Q: What is crisis and how to handle anxiety?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Crisis is the mother of many inventions. A crisis makes us very creative. However the crisis should not go on too long, that is not good.
What can help anxiety is breathing techniques like pranayama which channelizes the life force energy in our body. We all float in a sea of prana (life-force energy). There is prana even in a stone.

Q. Is there any conflict between the Art of Living and any religion?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no conflict between the Art of Living and religion. The conflict is in the small mind. For example, the goal of Christianity is to spread peace and love, to pray and serve. The Bible says: "The Kingdom of Heaven is deep inside", and "God is Love", and "Have the innocence of a child and you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven". These are all things that you have all read, but not experienced.

Every child needs to know about every religion of the world. A big problem of the world is fanaticism. Education about the human values of every religion will solve this problem. Chinese food is eaten all around the world. Yet, by consuming Chinese food, do you become Chinese? If you listen to Beethoven, do you become German? Do you become Indian by listening to the sitar? Why can't we also have the common wisdom from all religions around the world?

Q: What is the difference between being like a child and being responsible?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Take responsibility but with child-like simplicity. This saves your mind and helps you to fulfill your duties more effectively, and saves the trauma of worry.

© The Art of Living Foundation

What Sri Sri Said Today

‘The more grateful we are, the more blessings come our way’
Vilnius, Lithuania, May 30, 2009:
“We are so fortunate to have this knowledge on how to uplift our lives. Look back at your life, to the person you were before you learned the Sudarshan Kriya*. The more grateful we are for whatever we have in our lives, the more blessings come our way.
Q. Is the future free will or destiny?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wisdom is to see the past as destiny, future as free will and be in the present moment.Seeing the future as destiny is foolishness and can make you lazy. The past is destiny because you can’t change the past.

Q. Why do the heart and mind want different things?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The heart wants something old, that which is familiar. The head wants something new. A balance is needed in the old and new: in the ancient knowledge and the latest science. The heart takes pride in old friends, but there is also interest in the latest trends.

Q. I worry a lot. How do I cope with it?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are four ways to combat worrying:
1. See your problem as small compared to other people. When a problem appears small, you are able to solve it. When a problem appears big, we don't even try to solve it.
Serving others who have bigger problems than ours makes it easier for us to solve our own problems.
2. Remember how you solved your past problems. It will bring strength and a smile to deal with problems. This invokes valor in you.
3. Have faith that whenever you are in trouble, you will always have a helping hand.
4. Remember that nature loves you, God loves you. You will overcome the problem.
Wherever there is a problem, all you need is prayerfulness, from a sincere heart.Think 'I can overcome’, and invoke the strength, the lion in you. And surrender to the Divine.

Q. How are we connected to the five elements?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wherever we go, we are all connected!
The earth and body connects us all.
Water connects everything. Air is everywhere. One can’t say, 'This is my air'.
And we are all connected in space.

*(A breathing technique taught in the Art of Living course.)
© The Art of Living Foundation