‘Only meditation can give you wisdom and strength’

What H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said today:

India (Art of Living International Center, Bangalore), July 30:

Q. How can I increase my faith in anything? Does faith grow with time? Is it the same for everyone?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You cannot increase your faith. Either you have it or you don’t. The more you try to increase your faith, it will only be a struggle. It doesn’t ‘get increased’. So whenever you feel you have less faith that itself indicates you have faith.
And when you realize that, it means it is returned back. The doubt has ended.
In the Samaveda (an ancient Indian scripture), a hymn says. “I am building the bridge from not having faith to having the faith.”
‘I didn’t have the faith’, this idea comes when faith has started coming back, from lack of faith to faith. These two banks can’t come together, they can’t be one and the bridge is what you are.
When the prana (life energy) is high, then faith is more. When the prana is low, the faith is less.

Q. How can I be emotionally strong?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By using your intellect a little more! Bring back the balance and see life from a broader perspective. Your emotions, either very pleasant or unpleasant are attached to the past. So when you see the world with a broader vision and don’t get stuck with past events, people or experience, you will be strong. Getting emotionally upset over something somebody said is limited vision. There are millions of people, millions of things happening in the world.
In the Bhagwad Geeta, Lord Krishna shows Arjuna the Cosmic Vision and Time swallowing everything. First, Arjuna got scared, then all his fear vanished. There was nothing to hang on to. That’s why Lord Krishna says, “I am here, don't worry, don't be afraid”
This way, all the emotional worries, and mess that one is in, one comes out of. Only meditation can give you wisdom and strength.

Q. In general, it is seen that those who have money don’t have a generous heart and those who have a generous heart don’t have money. Is there a fight between the Goddess of money and love?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, you can have both! Money is not some currency kept in bank. It is the satisfaction that one has. If you feel you are rich, you are. I have seen people with bigger lakhs (millions) have lacks!

Q. How to develop a sense of humor?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By being relaxed. Have an attitude where nothing matters - only then humor arises. When things matter a lot, then your mind is tensed, you are goal-oriented. There is a part of you to which nothing matters. You are a combination of the nothing matters to everything matters. Have both! If everything matter, then there is no humor. If nothing matters then too, there is no humor. Don’t try to impress somebody. You will be fail miserably. When comedians try to make someone laugh - it appears unintelligent and foolish, childish humor. Those who are intelligent and mature, humor is natural to them.

Q. What is the difference between Guru and Avtaar?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Avtaar simply means descended. Guru means guide. The word, ‘Guide' comes from the Sanskrit word meaning Guru. Giver and great also have their roots in Guru.
Why do you want to know the difference! How does it matter! You gave meaning to words, attach whatever meaning you want. A word can have different meanings in different languages. Also, there are different intentions and different connotations.

Q. How do we know that the decisions we make in academics, careers and relations are the right ones?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See the results!

Q. What to do, when someone blames and hurts me intentionally?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Pity them. Have compassion and pity for them.

Q. How is God from your eyes?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just like me and you.

Q. Can your devotees who are in business, face the challenges of business with truth?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, with complete honesty, intelligence, and yukti (tact). A businessman can lie as much as there is salt in food. If one lies too much, then one suffers in equal measure.
For instance, you may say that my product is the best in the world when you know it is not. That much is alright. That is why our ancestors in India kept businessman in the third division.
Saints do not have the right to lie. They cannot. The king or administrator has some right and so does the businessman.

Q. Can principals of spirituality be spread only by organizations that have money and volunteers?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, every organization can spread spiritual values like Dharma (right conduct), Niti (principals), Niyam (rules), Karuna (compassion), Manaviyta (humanity). Spirituality is humanism, any organization that does not have humanity is not worth being called an organization. There is no need of money or people. For instance, a crowd does not eat, people in the crowd eat. Similarly spirituality is for each one.

Q. Which thing makes you the most happy?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If I say a thing makes me happy, then there is no bigger fool than me. It’s like listening all night to Ramayana and asking if Sita was Ram's first cousin. No thing can make you happy. You are bliss personified, joy personified.
Do everything with happiness. Even if you want to slap someone, do it with joy not anger!

Q. Please give us a message.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: All this is a message. One who is awake gets a message from anything. One who is lost in jadta (gross), that person will not receive a message from anything. When you are awake, every leaf, every bird, every person is a messenger of God. This whole creation is a message. And if you are asleep, then even if amrit (Divine nectar) rains, it falls on deaf ears.

Q. How to do mantra jaap (mantra recitation) with bhav (feelings) and with what intention one must chant Om Namah Shivaya?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is best to do jaap with bhav. Otherwise keep on doing it, the bhav will arise. Do it for sometime and not the whole day, just like we take a bath once or twice a day. We don’t remain in water like fishes. When you feel tired, recite mantra, gain tranquility and energy.
Mantra means that which wins over the mind. Once you cross the bridge, you have to let go of it. Once you are happy, then let go of the mantra.

(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar)

© The Art of Living Foundation

‘You are connected with nature’

What H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankarsaid today:

India (Art of Living International Center, Bangalore), July 27:

Q. Can you speak about prana (vital energy) and apana (down breath)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Where the in-breath ends and where the out-breath begins is apana.

Where the out-breath ends and where the in-breath begins is prana.

By putting your attention on that turning point, the mind becomes quiet.

Q. Where is that point?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Are you breathing? You are aware of that? Find out then…

Q. What does Om Namah Shivaya mean?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Na mah shi va ya, these five symbolise the five elements in creation – earth, water, fire, air, and ether. The whole universe is made up of these five elements in different combinations and permutations.

Om represents the life force. It has many meanings - universal energy, love, peace, totality. The life energy in all elements is represented by this mantra - Om Namah Shivaya. It is so powerful! It builds the energy in your system and clears the environment.

Q. What does Vishalakshi mean?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Vishala means broad, Akshi means vision. That which gives you broad vision is Vishalakshi.

Q. Can you speak about the significance of the solar eclipse?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : You know, everything affects everything else in the world. A small homeopathic tablet affects a human body of 80 or 90kg. Even a few seconds of exposure to x-rays on your body is enough to make a picture. Unseen rays can make an impact on your life and breath, on the body.

When the sun, moon and earth come in one line, then it has an impact on the cosmic energy, the gravitation and fluids especially. The moon has an impact on water. More than 70 percent of our body is made up of water. A cosmic phenomenon has an impact on the body as well.
Our ancient seers have studied this phenomenon very deeply. They describe how rays of a particular planet are connected to particular grains on the earth. Bengal gram (chickpea) and Mars have similar vibrations. Moong dal (split bean) and Mercury have similar vibrations. Sesame seeds and Saturn have similar vibrations.
Every planet has an influence on the grains, animals and particular parts of the human body. One cell multiplies into hair, nails, liver, kidneys, tissues…all are different parts of the body. One of the Rishis (saints) have said the body has 330 million types of gene patterns. In the system, it is inbuilt.

You are connected with nature.
In the Artic region, the sun doesn’t rise for six months! People get depressed with no sunrise. Similarly, people go crazy when there is no sunset for months on end. At 1’o’ clock in the night, the sun shines brightly like it is the afternoon. In Sweden, when I asked them, “What time the sun rise?”, they said, “January 20th” .
No sun for 2 months! It definitely has an impact on the mind and the body.
Where there is more sun, rice grows, where there is little sun, rice doesn’t grow. Rice is always connected to the sun. Objects in the universe appear to be different but they all are linked.
In our body, the eyes are connected to the sun. The nose is represented by Jupiter, forehead to Mercury, cheeks to Venus, and teeth to Saturn. Emotions are also similarly connected. Every part of the body is a part of the cosmos as well. It is an amazing science, there is amazing knowledge. The deeper you go into it, the more it unfolds.

Q. How should one choose a career?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Choose a career which pays you well. Don’t think a career will give you job satisfaction. For job satisfaction, you must do seva (service). For earning money choose a career. If you are doing seva you will have no dearth. Whatever is needed will come to you when you need it.

Q. How do deal with someone who hurts me and makes the same mistake again and again?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To forgive does not mean that you allow yourself to be made a fool again and again. Deal with the situation with compassion.

Q. How does the world look from your eyes?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : It looks like my own. However it is, it belongs to me.
In the Bhagvad Geeta, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, “This creation is permeated by the Divine consciousness. It belongs to Me. Crossing-over this cycle (of birth and death) is not so easy. It can be done only through Me.”

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

© The Art of Living Foundation

'We have to take meditation and wisdom everywhere'

What H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said today:

India, (The Art of Living International Center), July 26:

Q. Dear Guruji, the rains have still not come! What can we do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditate and chant Om Namah Shivaya. Rains will come.

Q. Why do you want to help everybody?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Will you ask the sun, why do you shine? If you ask a tree why do you flower, what will it say? It is simply its nature. I only do what is in my nature. Helping others, manushyatva(humanity) is our swabhav (nature). We have to move from a lack consciousness (abhav) and the influences of external factors (prabhav) to our swabhav (nature).

Q. What mistake can’t be forgiven?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: One who does not forgive, he is mistaken.

Q. I am full of doubts and inhibitions right from the beginning. How can I be free from this?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Somewhere in the middle sankocha (inhibition) has come. It will go. Don’t think that it is there from the beginning. Doubts have arisen perhaps when you were eight or nine years old. Continue your practice and you will see that your inhibitions will drop.

Q. Even trees and plants are smiling here in the ashram! Please help me get rid of my anger!
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have you done the course? No? Do the course yourself!

Q. Shanti(peace), sukha(joy), santosh(satisfaction), priti(love), vishwas(faith) - I have everything. What should I do now?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Then what is it that you want! Go work now! Go to the villages, become teachers and start spreading this knowledge.

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar then says: I want to share something interesting with you all.
Our ancestors have deeply studied our environment. They have included all the animals - dog , donkey, elephant etc - in Divinity. Each animal is associated with a devta (angel). Each animal has a certain vibration – a specific energy field. This field of energy corresponds to the angel who rides the animal. For example, the Devi (Divine Mother) is depicted as riding a tiger. The energy field of the Devi is felt in the vibrations emanating from the tiger.

Human beings have a specific energy field too. The field of energy is called bio – energy. The cosmic energy is absorbed by the various species and transformed into this bio- energy field. The ecological balance is lost when any one species and its corresponding energy field is affected or depleted.
When the frog population is affected, rains are less. The chanting of the Vedic mantras creates the vibrations that are necessary to create harmony and restore the balance.
A girl shares her experience of a miraculous change in her.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no dearth for miracles, it is there in abundance. Only you have to have the confidence and the faith.
The teacher’s training participants from the Middle Eastern countries including Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Morroco, Pakistan and Palestine gathered on stage to sing a song. All those gathered for the satsang clapped along keeping time with the rhythm of the Arabic song.
One man, introducing himself to be a Muslim Indian, asks Sri Sri, “It is so beautiful to see an Arabic song being sung amidst so many Hindus and everyone clapping together. How can we make this happen everywhere?”
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You all have to work for it. We are a one world family – spread this message to every corner. The sense of belongingness should develop.
Narrow-mindedness or a limited perception is what creates terrorism. We have to broaden our vision. We have to take meditation and wisdom everywhere. Terrorism is in the mind. Through meditation, the mind can be transformed. Only meditation can bring this change.

© The Art of Living Foundation

Spirituality is what gives depth to life

Bad Antogast, (Germany), July 23:
Q: Guruji, will there be a positive change in the civilization; no wars and hunger and poor people? Is it possible to create a world of peace, harmony and friendship? Is it possible in our lifetime?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, we should have this vision; we should start working towards it.
All these problems are there in the world to wake us up. If there were no problems, we would sleep, we would be very selfish, we would not do anything about it. These problems are there for us to wake up and do something about it.

Q: My friends expect me to drive them with my car, but then they drink. They look at me differently. I don’t understand why.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s very difficult to understand people’s minds. So, you better give up. They themselves don’t understand their mind, so how can you understand their mind? Do you understand your own mind?
The most unreliable thing in your life is your own mind. One minute, it likes something, another minute it likes something else. So, your mind goes all over the place. So, you cannot rely on your own mind. Once you know this, you will laugh, you will smile. Never mind: why should I control someone else’s mind when my mind itself is not under my control? Isn’t it?
Our mind is a multi-channeled television. You know, there are so many channels: the horror channel, history channel, discovery channel, news channel and then there is a cartoon channel. All is happening!
A poet from Karnataka (a state in South India) wrote a very nice couplet about the mind. He said: The mind is like a forest, with so many animals in it. There are nightingales that sing very sweetly and there are crows, and there are tigers, lions and there are mosquitoes. The same way, your mind is a forest.
It’s amazing, just to watch what our mind says. Nobody’s mind is in their control, we shouldn’t expect everyone to behave like an enlightened person. Unfortunately, that is what we do. We want everyone to be perfect.
The world always considers you, sees you, much better than what you are. And even the people don’t see you the way you are, or the way you are not. Never mind, why do you have to bother about it?

Q: Please can you let us have your thoughts on the ‘ascension of mother earth’ and if the world is likely to be different after December 2012?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Many of you ask this question about 2012. This year there is a 999 (9th September 2009) that is coming up.
The world is already changing and it will change. Change is a constant thing on this planet, everything changes, people change. The year 2012 is good because people will change towards spirituality. After the economic meltdown, people have realized that running after material things is not the ultimate aim of life. We need to eat, but we shouldn’t have eating disorders. Eating itself is not the purpose of life, but we need to eat. That awareness is coming and it’s going to make a big difference.
There will be changes and you will be the pioneers of that change. When you are meditating and teaching people about spirituality, more and more people will appreciate this knowledge and their lives will change. And it’s going to be good, don’t have to worry about it.

Q: What is the most important gift you are blessing me and the world with?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you go to the pharmacist and ask him: ‘Give me the best medicine’, what will he say? ‘I have the best medicine, but for what disease?’ Isn’t it?
Similarly, this knowledge gives you everything that you need. You have a headache, you have the best medicine. You have a leg ache, you have the best medicine. You have an ear ache, a heart ache, the best medicine is available to you.
When you are determined to be useful to people, useful in anyway, you don’t have to ask: just be useful. Do whatever is needed whenever, and you will be useful for that purpose.
I would always say that this knowledge in the Art of Living is like an ocean. If someone wants to just walk by it, take fresh air, they are welcome. Someone wants to swim in the ocean, they are welcome. Some others will take salt out of the ocean, yes. Some others want to dig deep and take oil, you are most welcome. Someone goes for fishing; take a few fishes, fine. Some others go and find all that precious stones, gems, it’s your choice.
All is available here and what you make out of it, how you use it, is entirely up to you.

Q: Dear Guruji, I come here, I listen to you, then I read all your books, tapes, videos and DVDs. I seek the knowledge. I want to be a better person, but when I most need it, I lose temper. I explode in anger. It seems that the knowledge vanishes from me, from my mind, my intellect. What to do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First of all, know that you are already the best person. Don’t try to better yourself, you are good. Ok?
Now, the second thing is about losing the temper. It has been an old habit for you. Did you notice that when you lose your temper now, you come out of the anger faster? Earlier, you used to lose your temper and it would take months for you to come out of that anger. Sometimes years, isn’t it?
How many of you feel like that? Now when you lose your temper, you come right back. For someone who just looks at you, they think you have not changed. But in your heart of hearts, ask yourself: Haven’t you changed? You have definitely changed, definitely.
So, more meditation, more advanced courses, all this will definitely help. Regular meditation is important. Change takes time. Let it take. But don’t get disappointed: ‘Oh, I still lose my temper; I’m still not a better person.’ You shouldn’t blame yourself. Then, there is no possibility of faster progress or growth.

Q: Guruji, how do I differentiate between being flexible and manipulative? Is there an intention behind it?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, intention and your selfish desire is what can make you manipulative. But, if you are content, you are free and you have a goal to achieve, then it is adaptation, not manipulation.

Q: I am beginning to realize who I am. Seemingly, I am the same as I always was, but with less tension and more clarity. Does self knowledge come at the specific time in a person’s life, and is there any special significance to this?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, self knowledge comes by its time. Sunlight will not enter the room just because you have opened the windows. Yet when there is sunlight, it won’t come in if the curtains are closed. For sunlight to come into this room, two things are needed.
1) Your effort to keep the curtains opened.
2) It should be the time for sunlight to come.

Q: How to deal with the fact that one didn’t get any support from the family. My mother was against her children. I try to find a way in life for twenty years and it doesn’t seem to be possible.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, your mother and father have been a doorway for you to enter onto this planet. So, you have come through the doorway. Thank the doorway, honor the doorway, but don’t go on putting all the blame on them. Don’t blame them. They had only that much knowledge, that much love. They gave that much. If you have more knowledge, more love, you give it to others. Why say: Why didn’t my mother love me? She had her own problems, she must be blocked with so much worry and tension. She was not as privileged as you are. You know, you are much more privileged, because you got this knowledge. You had a chance to know what true love is. Not everybody has this opportunity. Isn’t it? So, just have compassion for her. Suppose, if she also had same knowledge just like you, and has been so sensitive towards her children, she would have expressed it. If she lacks sensitivity, she couldn’t express love, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have it. So, have compassion for her.
You know, there are four attitudes:
· friendliness for people who are happy,
· compassion for those who are miserable,
· happiness for those who are doing good work
· indifference with those who are doing bad work, bad things in life.
With this attitude our mind is saved. The most important thing is to save your mind at all cost. Remember that. We hear all the slogans, save the environment, save water, food, earth, trees. Nobody talks about saving your mind.
Your mind is being bombarded by so many things around, so many stimuli, so many things from every side. And gets into a mess and keeps reeling.
Just wake up and see what is in life? It is nothing. What do you do? You take a paid job, you earn money all day, come home, spend money on weekends. That’s it. And have fights, love, then fight again, and then you die. Life is finished. And you don’t even get bored, because it is so boring. You don’t even realize it is so boring, because you haven’t seen anything better. If there is anything better and that is all you see, that is what you will do. There is nothing better in life to do, no goal, nothing.
You feel such pity, ‘Oh my God, what a waste of human life.’ This human body has been given to us, we have attained this body to know, to realize something stupendous, something much bigger, something deeper, something vast. If we are not introduced to the vast space within us, if we don’t know about it - what kind of a life is it then? It is a baseless life. There is no support, no base. Isn’t it?
Spirituality is what gives you depth, which gives depth to life, which makes life vast, which gives you direction, which can eliminate all the sorrow and suffering and bring you fulfillment and joy. Isn’t it?
You know, we must realize how fortunate we all are. We are very fortunate. What we have to be concerned about is about people being happy and that they get the knowledge and the depth in their lives.
Aggression is not our nature. We don’t do anything aggressively. We gently keep enlightening people as we walk along our own path. There are so many people who are longing for this knowledge.

‘Truth cannot be spoken’

What H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said:

Bad Antogast, (Germany) July 22: It is said, when you speak, you distort the truth. Truth cannot be spoken. Silence conveys a lot, even more than a speech. So, for a few minutes we sit in silence and see how all the questions just drop.

© The Art of Living Foundation

‘You are something beyond your positive and negative qualities’

What H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says today

Bad Antogast (Germany) July 21:

Q: Can I practice silence and meditation by myself at home? For how many days?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
: Yes, you can practice meditation. Silence might be difficult at home. Keep as much silence as you can, but there is no need really. You come here (ashram) and practice silence. Once in a while, you can do it for one day. You can say: ‘Ok, I will be in silence for one day per month’. Unless there is such a congenial atmosphere at home, it is not possible and then people will also get confused and will wonder what has happened to you.

Q: When I am so stressed, how can I get it out of my system?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are so stressed, you begin thinking: ‘Oh, I want to get this stress out of the system.’ This hurry in getting it out becomes an even bigger stress. It doesn’t go. You know, when you are stressed, just embrace the stress and relax.

Q: How can I get rid of my fear of failing? I can’t engage or start some project because of my fear of failure. How can I help myself? Thank you for all that you have done for me.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Accept: ‘Ok, I am going to fail. So what? I still want to do it.’ It's like a game you play, whether you win or lose, you play the game. Correct? If you are playing soccer, you just play, no matter if you win or lose, you just play. In the same way, don’t be afraid of failure. If you fail, never mind, still do it. Ok?
You need to take some risks in life.

Q: I want to love and accept myself but it seems difficult. Please, maybe you could really advise me on how to get through it. Thank you.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My dear, you are love, don’t try to love yourself.
Don’t say: ‘I want to love myself; I want to love myself…’

There is a movement here in the Europe. They get up at 3 o’clock in the morning, sit on their beds, look into the mirror and for two hours keep repeating: ‘I love myself, I love myself…’
A couple from this movement was in Switzerland at the same time that we had a course. A couple from our Art of Living course met them in a coffee shop. So, both couples started talking and shared about what they do. So, our Art of Living couple said: ‘You know, we simply love ourselves.’
The wife of that gentleman that does the process every morning said: ‘No, we get up at 3 am and for two hours we repeat: ‘I love myself; I love myself.’ So, the Art of Living couple said: ‘Why don’t you just do our course? It will make a difference.’ So they did the course and afterwards the wife said: ‘Oh, it is such a relief. Now, my husband doesn’t have to get up in the morning, and sit on the bed.’ She would get a headache while he kept doing this practice. She had become miserable. Finally, their relationship was at the edge of breaking. After the Art of Living course, they are now a happy couple.

You are love. Forget about loving yourself. You, anyways, love yourself. There is no need for you to go on repeating it. You should take certain things for granted. Like if you say: I am in Germany. You know you are, you don’t have to repeat it to yourself.

How do I know I am in Germany? And someone comes and tells you to repeat every day: ‘Oh, I am in Germany; I am in Germany…’ If you keep reminding yourself, then you would be taken to a mental hospital.
You know that you are in Germany.
Similarly, take it for granted that you love yourself. You love positive or negative qualities, however you are. You are beyond the qualities, you are not your positive or your negative qualities, you are something beyond both of them. When you acknowledge this, just know that this is it.
Some people say: ‘Oh, I don’t look beautiful.’ Who cares whether you look beautiful or not? Why are you bothered so much?

Q: My wish and will for my spiritual growth is not consistent. Sometimes it is not very strong? How to be more aware of myself; how to see more and stop the chattering in my head for longer periods?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just drop this more. I want to be more; I want to be more… Relax. Love for growth in the field of spirituality and mind is deep relaxation. All positive qualities are already within you. When you go deep in meditation, they unfold naturally. We can’t say: ‘I want this flower to blossom quickly. What do I do? Should I open the petal?’

If I want the flower to blossom, just allow, let it be. Pour some water; in time it will blossom.

Q: How can we make a change in the economic system when the capital and big corporations control the world today?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You think about it, let me also think about it. One thing is for sure, make people more human. When people become more human, business develops the human touch. When greed disappears from the field of economy and business, a better system will definitely evolve.

Q: Guruji, many times after satsang I find it difficult to sleep. Is there something that can help me to sleep?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, sometimes, the energy is high so you find it difficult to sleep. Tonight, try a cup of milk, maybe. Don’t drink tea before going to bed. Do you fall asleep in satsang? Find that out.

Q: I am a vegetarian, can I take non-vegetarian medicines?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What you are asking me is about the gelatin capsule. It is ok. Vegetarian capsule is preferable. At times, if the medicine is non-vegetarian, it’s ok. Don’t make a big fuss about it. If it is not available, then it is ok.

Q: I know you are talking about desires in the Part 2 course but still I don’t understand how one can move away from thoughts about something that you really want. If you force yourself to forget it, it comes strongly. If you allow the desire sometimes, it wins you. And what comes instead of the desire, if it flows away? Thank you.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just by thinking a lot, you are not going to achieve what you want. Suppose, you want something - you want to go to Munich and the whole night you are repeating: I want to go to Munich; I want to go to Munich… You will lose your sleep. Or when you are driving to Munich from Frankfurt and saying: Oh, I want to go to Munich…You will end up somewhere else, you will lose the way. Just by repeating, the desire is not going to be fulfilled. You need to let it go. Letting going is the art. And that is very, very important. That is what the meditation is about.

Q: I want to ask about beliefs and doubts.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Doubts are good to have. You should have a doubt: no doubt! Yet if doubt enters your heart and remains in your nature, it is a disease. It is called paranoia. If you doubt everything, including yourself, that is called lack of self confidence. If you doubt everyone around you, that is called paranoia. If you don’t doubt the existence of a natural or Divine power or some higher consciousness and Self, then you are called an atheist. So, an atheist doesn’t have doubts about the supernatural, he thinks there is nothing beyond what he knows. Nor, does he have any faith.

People with paranoia don’t believe anybody and they don’t trust themselves. That is another mental illness. So, a little bit of doubt is good, but if doubt becomes your nature, you will have neither success in the world, nor in spirituality. The whole world is on some degree of trust. Isn’t it? You keep the money in the bank, you trust the bank. And the electricity board gives you electricity, trusting that you are going to pay the bill. The telephone board gives you a telephone connection, trusting that you will pay the phone bill at the end of the month. If nobody trusts anybody, how will any business happen in the planet? Can it happen?

When you want to buy a house, you give the money to the seller even before buying the house. He takes the money and then gives you the house. If you tell him: ‘You first give me the house, only then will I give you the money’, he will say: ‘You first give the money, then I will give you the house. If you both say: ‘I don’t trust you’, then no transaction will happen. Right?
So, you know this person is going to give you a house, then you give him the money. And he knows you are going to pay the money, so he gives you the keys of the house.

The whole world runs on mutual trust. Isn’t it? And all your activity happens with self confidence, the trust in yourself. So, I would say, just know yourself. Nobody says: I don’t believe what I am saying. If I say: I don’t believe in anything’, at least I believe in that I say. I believe in myself saying that ‘I don’t believe in anything.’ Who is this ‘I’ that you believe? Know that I. That is what spirituality is.

Q: I pick up garbage for Seva and I see we produce a lot of garbage every day. We are throwing away society. What can we do in our everyday life to diminish the amount of garbage? We want to take care for the environment, for our planet, for our future generations.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, less waste is better. If you see the forest, you will realize that all the animals leave the forest very clean. There is an ecological balance. There is never a disaster in the forest. They keep the forest clean. You don’t find dead bodies of animals everywhere in the forest. Right? Nature takes care of them so well.

Similarly, we should also adopt more organic methods. All the organic dispose should be more organically composted. So, such garbage, which can be put in the compost, is not the problem. Our problem is plastic, which must go to recycling units.

Q: I am so lazy that I always have a lot of things to complete. I never take the remote control in my hands. It’s never like how it should be. I am happy, but everything around me makes me lonely. When am I going to be fulfilled?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think you think a lot. Just sing, dance, meditate with your 100 percent. Anything that you do, put in your 100 percent. I will tell you a story.

Once, some tourists stayed at a motel in a village. When they were leaving, several from the group found that their things were missing. They complained to the village head who confidently declared that the thief was someone from the group of guests. “It’s not someone from the village,” he said.

A gentleman who lost everything, except the dress that he was wearing said: How can you be so sure? The village head replied: ‘If it were someone from our village, they would have taken the pants that you are wearing as well. You see, they do everything 100 percent. If they steal, they steal everything.’

So, when we do everything 100 percent, we feel satisfaction. Otherwise, if are a little bit here, a little bit there, we are definitely looking for something.
So sing, dance, meditate. Ok?

© The Art of Living Foundation

From the depth of your heart you are effortless, relaxed

Satsang, 20th July 2009, Bad Antogast

Q: Guruji, can you comment on the moon and sun and the eclipses that everyone is talking about?

H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, planets have an impact on us. Just as they have an impact on water, they impact us as well as our bodies have 70 percent of the water element. The mind, water, and planets are all intimately connected. The macro and micro cosmos are connected. The moon affects the mind, doesn’t it? That’s why people who go crazy are called lunatics. And during the full moon and new moon, people who are crazy become crazier.

Those who think they are not crazy, become crazier. Definitely, planets impact the mind, impact the intellect, and impact the body.
But if you are meditating, doing pranayamas and all these practices, singing, you enhance the good effect. It’s not that all the effects of the planets are bad. There are good effects as well as bad, both. Good benefits of the cosmos get enhanced. During the eclipse period, it is said you should not eat. Even two-three hours before the eclipse, you should not eat. During the eclipse, people say it is a good time to meditate and pray. It is considered a very auspicious time. It is said if you meditate during an eclipse, the impact is almost 100 times. A meditation during an eclipse is considered much more powerful than 100 days of meditation. So, the eclipse period is a good time for meditation.

Everything is in alignment, all the planets are in one row. The Sun, Moon and Earth align themselves. And that is a good time for the mind, body and spirit to align. And this happens every year. Three eclipse happen every year. Yet this year the eclipses are all happening one after another. This phenomenon is happening after a long time – it is the first time after World War II.

So, there could be bad or good impact also. Nature may go under a lot of turbulences and weather changes: more flooding and more rains. You see, this is winter-summer here. It is cold, it is unusual. At this time, we are supposed to be using fans, but the weather is changing. Similarly, people’s mind can go crazy, chatting. Domestic conflicts and conflicts between countries are possible.

Yet, there is nothing to be too alarmed or worried about. We go steadily and we grab this opportunity to enrich our spiritual growth.

You see, if it is in the middle of the night, you don’t have to wake up and sit and meditate. Solar eclipse must be before sunset and after sunrise. Chanting Om Namah Shivaya is considered very powerful, auspicious during the eclipse time. That’s called the Maha Mantra, the Great Mantra. And during eclipse time, the effect of the mantra is very, very powerful.

(H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankarthen addresses the people who are visiting the German ashram for the first time.)

You know, there is one rule in the ashram. Do you know the rule? You can bring all your problems and worries here, but you cannot take them back with you.

You know, life is such, some other problems come. If there is no problem, we create one.
That is human nature. If you have nothing to do, you start poking your nose in someone else’s business and create a problem. And you get entangled in it. It’s most amazing to watch the human mind. You don’t need any other entertainment. That is the greatest entertainment channel that you have. Your own mind. We are going to take a remote control in our own hands. Because we usually give the remote control of our minds to someone else or some situation. Now, we are not going to give it to someone else. We are going to keep our own mind in our own hands. So, we can watch this channel, enjoy it and shut it off.

How many problems we create! Many of them are imaginary. Some of them are super imposed and some of them we create. That’s very interesting.

So, one of the first rules of a good life is to stop blaming ourselves and stop blaming others. Either we blame ourselves, or we blame someone else and we get wound up. Things happen. Not all the pleasant things happen to everybody in their life. Unpleasant things happen, unwanted things happen. Pleasant things happen, wanted things happen.

So what you desire happens, what you don’t desire happens; all these things happen in life and one day we are finished. We are flat under the ground. Everything is over - that’s the final thing. Then someone puts a headstone. So and so, rest in peace here. You don’t have to wait till that day to rest in peace. Someone said: I went around the world looking for peace and I found it only under the ground. At least, they claim to be happy in peace, we don’t know whether they are peaceful down there or not.

At least they claim, maybe it’s a false claim, false notion of someone: You rest in peace, heavenly peace. No, heavenly peace is not on the headstones and not under the ground, it is when you accept, accommodate the opposites in our life. Then we say: It’s ok to have some problem, it is ok to have things that you don’t want to have happening. It happens anyway, it’s up to you how to handle, how to deal with it, and your courage to deal with it carries you forward in life. Isn’t it?

So, certain things don’t change, certain things change. We accept some changes, and we accept that certain things don’t change. We must wake up and see: I have the strength to march ahead. I am not going to be stuck. Invigorate the valor in you: come what may, I am going to walk through this fire. All these problems in my life will no longer be a problem.

A problem appears too big because you think you cannot handle it. Then, look at those who have bigger problems, greater problems. When you see other people with bigger problems, yours will appear very small. The moment the problem appears very small, it is no longer a problem. You are able to solve it. So, serving people in trouble helps you to forget about your little problem, which is nothing. Then know that there is a Divine force that is carrying you on its shoulders, that is taking you on its wave.

So, that Divine Energy or Force will come to you to help. It will always protect you and take you forward. This is faith, giving up your problems to Divinity. What I cannot handle, let God handle this problem of mine. You relax, become effortless. Ok? From the depth of your heart you are effortless, relaxed, nothing to do.

When you are so tired, your body is tired, your mind is tired, your intellect is tired, you can’t even do anything, you don’t even want to meditate, you feel tired in every manner, exhausted. You just relax. That is what is called surrender. You walk and walk, almost to the extent you have exhausted all your energy and what do you do: you sit at the road side: That’s it, I cannot put one more step. You will be carried on, you will get the car to carry you, to take you.

Let go, be effortless. No more effort. I am not going to put in any more effort. And that is prayer, real prayer. After helplessness, you say: I can’t do anything, anymore. Tell the Divine: You take care, you help me. That’s it. And just relax. Give up. Isn’t that a very good idea?

That giving up happens only when you are exhausted, but if our mind says: No, I want to try, I want to do some more; then giving up is not sincere or 100 percent. Devotion or love dawns after all activities settle down. When you have done enough activity and you are exhausted, settle down. All the Karma is over, then Bhakti, r love or devotion dawns.

So, praise yourself, praise each other. There is a new life, new day, new minute, new moment. Begin a new moment. In the past, that’s why when a student would come to a teacher, or a Guru, he is given a new name. You know why? They say: Ok, that life is over. However ignorant your past has been, that is finished. Now you start a new life with a new name. You are new, fresh in every way. How many of you feel that you can’t relate to the person that you were before you did the basic course (the Art of Living Part I course)? You ask yourself, ‘Who was that person before the basic course?’ How many cannot relate to that? Yes, feel that you are a new person, a different person. You turn back and see, everybody can see, there has been progress in our lives. This is the sign of progress. That we look back and see: ‘Oh, 10 years ago who was there, and who is here now?’ Such a big difference. That is when we say: Jai Guru Dev. Jai Guru Dev means: victory to the bigness, to the big mind, the Divinity which is in the whole universe. That wins over, wisdom wins over the ignorance. Knowledge and wisdom wins over the ignorance.

Leave all your worries here, however the past has been, it doesn’t matter. That’s all gone. And now, today, you are innocent. From this moment, you should believe you are pure and you are innocent. If you have done some mistake in the past, it is due to ignorance, because you were not in knowledge. You didn’t know the knowledge, you were not in wisdom, so mistake happened. So, put all that aside.

You know, the snake sheds its old skin and then moves on with the new skin. Every year the deer sheds its old antlers. When mud or water sits on the animal, what do they do? They just shake it all off, and move on. And if there is some water on the body of the dog or cat, they just shake it all off. And we keep our mud throughout our whole lifetime. We carry all the garbage in the head throughout our lifetimes. Now, shake them all off here, rejuvenate yourself and move on.

© The Art of Living Foundation

Guru Purnima Special

What H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said today: July 7

The Guru principle is so vital in life. The first guru is Dakshinamurthy, the embodiment of infinity woven so skillfully in the finite that the finite and infinite co-exist. There is an element of the guru in every human being. That wisdom in each one has to be invoked and awakened.
When this element is awakened, misery in life disappears. It is the medicine for misery; the wealth of all knowledge.
Gurave sarva lokanaam – the Divine Consciousness is the leading light of the whole world-of all the worlds.
Bishaje bhava roginaam – It is the medicine for the ills of society, of life, of misery. It removes all misery.
Nidhaya sarva vidyanaam Sri Dakshinamurthaye namaha – I take refuge in this Consciousness which is in my heart!
The word guru is used today to mean expertise – like an expert in business management. Guru means enormous, the biggest. Of course, expertise is a part of it. There is perfection in everything. There is that depth.
In our consciousness, wisdom comes to life when the guru tattva comes to life. When we have no desires of our own, then the guru tattva dawns in our life. Do you ever wish to do something for someone without expecting anything from them? Then you have played the role of the guru. The mother is the first guru. Then there are the teachers – the veena teacher and so on. The Satguru gives you knowledge of the truth, the ultimate reality, spiritual knowledge.
On Guru Purnima, one must reflect, “Where was I before I got this knowledge? Where am I now?” When you see the contrast of where you were without this knowledge, then gratitude wells up.
This full moon is also called Vyasa Purnima. Vyasa categorized the entire lore of wisdom into the 4 vedas, the Upanishads, the upavedas, the 27 smritis, 27 upasmritis – a huge lore of knowledge pertaining to every aspect of life from ayurveda to architecture to alchemy to medicine. This full moon is named after him.
This day we remember the contribution of all those who have been on this planet for the wellbeing of the human race. We remember what they have done. We see the contrast (brought about by spiritual knowledge) in our lives and feel grateful.
How fortunate you are to perceive the infinity within you - in this finite framework of the body-mind complex. The body and mind are finite but the expression of the spirit is infinity.
For the Seeker, the New Year is from Guru Purnima to Guru Purnima. When it is half way for the rest of the world, we celebrate one whole year on the spiritual path. One year towards the Divine manifestation in our life. One year towards feeling the oneness and seeing the world through the eyes of the guru. That is the guiding star for us. Let me do that which a guru, a wise person would have done in this situation. A wise person would never react. He would respond. You will learn by putting yourself in that position (of the guru or wise person) again and again - by attempting infinite patience, immense intelligence, complete compassion and unblemished joy.
Nobody knows when the tradition started. Billions of years before, on this earth, so many sages and rishis have been there and so many in the future too. We thank all those in the past, present and the future for the continuation of wisdom on this dear planet. Without wisdom it is not living, only existing. Life begins with wisdom.
This Guru Purnima think about all the blessings that you have received and feel grateful. Everyone sing and let go and be immersed in the inner bliss.
© The Art of Living Foundation

The consciousness is much better if people tune themselves to nature

Sweden, June 25: The universe is so mysterious. Everything is mysterious. We shouldn’t try to understand everything. Just leave the mystery. The whole knowledge is to move from an ugly ‘I don’t know, don’t ask me’ to a beautiful ‘Wow, I don’t know’.
This is very significant that we’re meditating at this time of the year. When you’re meditating, we’re doing so much good to society, to the world around. It generates and releases positive ions in the environment and it is the positive ions that effect thinking, mind, spirit and body, the environment in the universe. It is very important, very precious - not only for us, but also for the world around.
After World War II, this time again there is a triple eclipse this month – this means three eclipses in one month, one after another.
It’s a phenomenon in the world. It could be very good or very bad – either things could be very much better or go back to worst. This is the effect of the triple eclipse that is happening now. From now on to 2016, there will be many phenomena happening.
Singing bhajans, and meditation create a positive impact. It is very good for nature, and for the environment. 

Q. Is eating vegetarian food said to have better karma than eating meat? I’ve also heard that all things have consciousness. What should we do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are several angles to it. Karma means the latent impression in a substance and how your body matches.
Suppose a lion hunts a deer and eats the deer, the lion does not get the karma. A cat eats a mouse, the cat does not get the karma of the mouse. All these animals are designed to prey and eat. However, if you see the human physiology, it is more akin to herbivores. There is a substance called ptyalin in our saliva which is present only in the cow, elephant, horse, goat – in all the herbivorous animals. This indicates that that the human saliva is made for herbivorous animals.
Secondly, the human intestine is so long – six feet. This is not present in lion, tiger or dog but it is present in all herbivores. Human beings don’t have canine teeth. All herbivorous animals don’t have canine teeth. Only the carnivorous animals do.
If you look at these aspects, physiologically our system is more akin to vegetarianism. So in that sense, we say, when you eat a vegetarian diet, you don’t get the karma of it. If you eat anything that is not aligning with your body – like if an elephant eats an egg or if you feed a cow with meat, then the cow will get the karma.
What is karma? Karma is the impression which is against the nature that can produce some change in the consciousness. It can be harmful to the consciousness.
Similarly, when we are exposed to radiation, which we are not supposed to, we get diseases. That means, we acquire those karma. Karma means the strongest impressions on the nervous system which is not all the time necessarily desirable.
If you have drugs, you have drug karma and the karma of the drug on the nervous system is so huge that after sometime, you can’t stop the drug. Then your body craves for it. Your body distorts. You go through so much of pain and suffering. It needs lot of de-programming to come out of drug addiction. It is the same for alcohol.
Food is not that strong. Yet our system is made for herbivorous, especially, if you want to go to a more subtle level in your mind and in your consciousness.
All top scientists, many achievers are vegetarians. It naturally happens. Your system wants only that. That means they are in tune with nature. That’s all. It’s not that those who are not vegetarian are not good. No, they are as good as you are. But their consciousness is much better if they tune themselves to nature.
Someone from the audience: We’re organizing a peace march in a high school. Will you come?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I’ll be there in spirit. The spirit is much bigger. Body is small. The body is like a tiny stone, tied to a huge balloon.

Q. Could you please explain about karma?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Karma is the impression in the consciousness. The impression draws similar situations, events and actions. So karma has three things:
  • One is the latent karma. It is karma as an impression
  • Karma as an action, and
  • Karma as a result
You look at a banana. Looking at a banana is a karma. It is an action, and you want to eat it because you know that you have eaten it before. That is the impression of the banana. It is karma as an impression. Then you crave for it. That is a result of it. That’s also karma. Looking at it, wanting to have it, craving for it, and, in fact, really eating it is also karma.

Q.: If someone is very stressed, how do we explain the benefits about the Art of Living program?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just tell them, ‘Hey, I want you to do something, just sign here.’
They need a little push and encouragement. When stressed, logic does not work, the mind will not work, and clarity will not be there. Decisions are never correct in that state. So they just need some help.

Q: I have insomnia for many years. I am unable to do the things that I want to do.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is the difficulty. Too much dreaming, too much wanting to do, this has all caused the insomnia. I want nothing, I do nothing. – keep these two things in mind. You will fall asleep like a baby.
Someone from the audience: Thank you for the course! I feel so good with it.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I belong to you, you belong to me!

Q.: Should we meditate after Sudarshan kriya?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditate after kriya. Don’t get up immediately after Sudarshan kriya. Meditate for at least 10 -15 minutes. Learn Sahaj Samadhi meditation. Mantra meditation is good. Practice a guided meditation and just let go.

Q. Why is there disturbance in the world?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There will be some pockets of disturbances in the world. There could be some gap or interval between conflicts. It is our responsibility to increase the gap between conflicts and bring peace.

© The Art of Living Foundation