India, (Art of Living International Center, Bangalore) September 18 (eve of the nine-day festival of Navratri*)
There are two attitudes that we have to pay attention to. One is when we go inward, we say everything is Ok. Not a blade of grass moves without Divine intervention. God has kept us like this, so let it be so. Everything is Ok.
This is the attitude when you have to go inward (Nivriti).
When you have to come out and work (Pravritti), then you see perfection in even small details. Wherever you see imperfection, you have to pay attention on how you can correct it. Find out ways to improve on all the things.
So while acting, we see where we can improve and what we can change.
When we retire into meditation and say that everything is perfect, only then we can go in.
Usually when people close their eyes and go inward, they say, ‘This is not ok, that is not ok and find fault with everything’. They can neither meditate, nor be quiet. And in activity, people think that everything is fine the way it is, why do we have to do anything about it? Then, we are at a loss.
So when we are acting, we see what we can do and when we have to retire we say everything is Ok. This attitude will help you go deep in meditation.
I want nothing
I do nothing
I am nothing
These are basic principles of meditation. We have to pay attention to this thing.
So Navratri will start from tomorrow. These nine days are nine days of inner connection to the Divinity.
In these nine days, let us keep all our small, petty things, petty desires, requirements, our small small issues that bother us - all in one side and just say to Divine, 'Let thy will be done. I am yours, let thy will be done'.
With this conviction, when you move forward, doing your practices you will lack nothing. All that you need, will just come to you naturally, spontaneously.
So we move into our sadhana, our practices with a trust that we will be taken care of, we are being taken care of.
Navratri is a time when all those needs- physical, mental and spiritual, are taken care by the Divine. At the same time, help each other, help all those people who need your help. It is nine nights, it is very auspicious and it is uplifting to the spirit.
Yagyas (pujas) are done from thousands of years to bring peace, prosperity, to dissolve all the negative karmas and to uplift the human spirit. It has been practiced from a very long time.
It is best not to engage yourself in all other socializing, talking wordly things with people. Just be with yourself. If at all you speak, only speak some knowledge or bare essential things. It is better not to sit and gossip. But these few days its best to be in Divine knowledge.
Q. Once you said that by doing seva all our problems are solved. I have come here for seva, will my problems be solved?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely they will be solved. For all our problems to be solved, two things are needed: one, is our effort (purushartha) and the other is Grace (krupa). God is within us. We are the embodiment of absolute consciousness (chaitanya swaroop). There is nothing separate from us. It is within us, in our form. What we do outwardly, to do pooja, is to create an atmosphere. But the purpose of all this is to be bring the vision inwards to the self.
Q. Could you please explain why we pray to Shiva, even though Shiva is called the destructor?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Shiva is not just the destructor; Shiva means the transformer, the consciousness which is advaita, which is non-dual, the one consciousness, Mahadeva. The Shiva pooja- Rudrapooja is the most ancient yagya which unites all the five elements, through chanting and using the five elements. This ceremony is done to uplift the human consciousness.
Q. What is the goal of our life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is a question you should ponder on. What is it that you want? It is a very important question. Ponder on the answer - what is it that I need? Then all that is important in your life will stand and the unimportant will fall. Then what you think is important, within that (category) you prioritize again and again and again. And when you ponder on that and when nothing remains then you are the goal. Till then its good to keep doing this.
Q. I don’t know how to pray, I understand meditation but I don’t understand prayer. How does one pray?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation is the finest form of prayer. Prayer is ‘Oh God give me this, give me that’ or ‘Oh, I am so thankful to you because you gave me that or this’.
But meditation is just reposing and that is the best form of prayer. Prayer happens when you are utterly helpless or when you are very grateful. There are two situations in your life. Either you are so helpless, when you have no other way. Like if you are very thirsty and you need water, you say please give me some water. Please help.
Asking for help is one form of prayer.
Thanking is another form of prayer.
And the third is just reposing, being quiet.
The third is the most supreme type of prayer.
You can be grateful for all that you have had, that is a sort of prayer. You don’t have to use particular sentences or phrases or verses for it.
The yagyas that are being done here is not just some sort of prayer. It is a technique, a procedure. You don’t need to understand what those chantings mean. The chantings, the vibrations have an impact on our whole body, mind and the environment. That is the most important thing about yagyas. It is not asking God for this thing or that. It is just chanting those shlokas. Hearing the chantings is even more beneficial. You don’t need to chant with them. Simply listening to it, itself creates the vibrations in the consciousness.
Q. Where are Shiva and Shakti?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both Shiva and Shakti are within us. You sit as though you are sitting in an ocean of bliss, in the ocean of cosmic energy, Divine energy, Shiva energy, Shakti energy. That is what is meditation.
*Festival of nine nights in celebration of the all-pervasive Divinity in the form of Mother Divine
(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation