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

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

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

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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

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

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

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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‘Do something useful to everybody & if you do that, then everything else is taken care of’

Chennai, Nov. 26: The Mahasatsang had the characteristic elements of an Art of Living celebration: Gaan (music), Gyaan (knowledge) and Dhyaan (meditation). A team of highly talented musicians played a series of fusion pieces integrating Western rock and Indian classical music, after which Sri Sri spoke and guided everyone into meditation.
“The 3Ms are very important for any occasion - Music, Meditation and Meals
“Truth is that which you cannot avoid nor confront
Love is that which you cannot hide nor express totally
Beauty is that which you cannot possess nor reject.”
Sri Sri then led the thousands, who had gathered for the Mahasatsang, into a meditation.
Later, there was a series of questions from the audience:

Q. Where is the mind and where is it in the body?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Who or what is asking this question and what is going to listen to the answer. Intellect is that which registers the answer yet it is the mind which is looking for the answer.

Q. How to conquer the five senses? Can you explain in one sentence?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you have sunlight and a candle, then the candle becomes insignificant. Likewise, other things become insignificant.

Q. When do we know that we are made up of love?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Love cannot be known or understood. It can be felt only. The child doesn’t ask his mother – ‘What is your qualification, what do you do? Who are your friends? Tell me, then I'll love you’. Just like our body is made up of carbohydrates and amino acids, we are made up of this substance called love. Anger, greed, jealousy are all just distortions of love.

Q. How to control terrorism?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The whole world and all religions are debating on terrorism and how to control it. I tell you - Spirituality and spiritual knowledge have the power to reduce terrorism and fanaticism.

Q. Is astrology a science?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely astrology is a science yet that doesn’t mean all astrologers are scientists. (Laughs)

Q. Allopathy has no cure for cancer or tuberculosis. Can Ayurveda or Siddha cure them?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Most definitely. You know, the Siddha system is only available in Tamil Nadu. Ayurveda is available all over India.

Q. Will the world be destroyed in 2012? Is that true?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: People used to say this in 1999 - that world will be destroyed before the Millennium. In fact, in Canada people stocked up six months worth of groceries (laughs).
There will be a positive spiritual shift that will happen. You know, people are meditating in Terra Del Fiago (near South Pole) and in Norway (near North Pole) and chanting Om Nama Shivaya, becoming vegetarians and taking up Indian traditions.

Q. Guruji, we have two requests for you. Why don’t you come more often to Chennai and start an ashram here?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Tomorrow we are going to get a meditation hall started here. You all should come here and meditate.

Q. Why don’t we start an exclusive Art of living TV channel to spread the knowledge of the Art of living?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why should it be restricted only to one channel? It should be on all channels (laughs). However if you want to start one, you have my encouragement. The channel should not just be meditation or music alone. It should be spiritual knowledge with knowledge on what’s happening in world.

One final thing – Whenever you have any worries, you can just post or courier them to me. Do something useful to everybody and if you do that, then everything else is taken care of.

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

~H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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‘Love is that which cannot be expressed or hidden fully’

Bangalore ashram, Nov. 22:

“If you keep trying to express it, then it will become just a sound and the feelings are lost. Saying “I love you” everyday and every time, it eventually turns into, “I can’t stand you!” Too much expression spoils things. If you don’t express at all, that is also not good. There needs to be moderation. Just like a seed – it does not germinate if you scatter it on the surface nor if you bury it too deep. It needs to be sown at just the right depth. In the same way, moderation is necessary.

Q. What is the importance of lemon in aura cleansing?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have you see lemon juice under the microscope? It looks like the rays of the sun. When you see vitamin C under the microscope, it looks like a sunflower. Some substances like salt, lemon, chilies etc, have the potential to remove negativity. In the west, bathing in the ocean for rejuvenation and improving health is popular. The burdens, the worries in the mind, harmful influences are reduced in this way. Faith also works here. Even when you take regular medicines, if you don’t have faith in the doctor or the medication, it may not help you at all.

Q. How does one achieve strength (Shakti) and devotion (Bhakti)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With rest - you achieve devotion. When you put in effort along with rest you get power or strength. Effort and prayer, both, go together. Either is incomplete without the other. For completion of any task both are required.
Normally women only pray and men only put in effort but both should do both.

Q. I don’t know whether I should give importance to family or to my career.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have to look out for your career. Your parents will be happy when you have a career. If you have no job and you sit at home, will they be happy? No! Then they (family and career) have both come together.

Q.I have never been successful in life. I consider myself to be a load on my parents’ shoulders.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Drop your laziness and don’t be too choosy. Whatever work you get, take it up and do it. Do not think it is beneath your dignity. Do not think you are not successful. Every work is attached with honor and dignity.

Q. Guruji, there is lot of confusion in family because one member follows Art of living and another member follows some other spiritual path, pranic healing.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both just stick to your own path.

Q. During meditation, the mind wanders to so many places. Once you said, “Let the mind go wherever it wants to”. Does that mean me and my mind are two different entities? If yes, then what is the mind and who am I?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you try to keep hold of your mind, it runs here and there. When you become aware of the wandering mind, then you realize you are bigger than the mind. When you find you are not this mind, not this body, not anything else, whatever remains is the Self. Knowing your Self, recognize the Supreme Self. Then you find you are everything. You are the mind, the thoughts, you are the whole world. But that happens at the second level. When you know your Self, you know the Divine. Sarvam Kalvidam Brahma – Everything is One Divinity. Knowing this, become established in this knowledge.

Q. Guruji, you once said desires come and go. Those which need to be fulfilled stay and others simply vanish. But what about those desires which stay and are not fulfilled?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have patience and perseverance.

Q. Why am I so crazy to be here!!
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because I am also like that. Only a rich can make others also rich. Only a liberated one can bring freedom to others. Only a devotee can evoke devotion in others. A person in love with the Divine makes others also like that. Whatever is there within you that is what others receive and that is what you perceive in others.

Q. What is a soul mate?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First you meet your soul, then you can find out about soul mate.

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

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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Music and harmony cleanses the emotions, enriches the heart

Bangalore ashram, Nov. 17, 2009:

Everyday you should meditate. You brush your teeth, you have a bath to keep your body clean. Similarly, you should listen to a little bit of knowledge and meditate. Cleansing of the intellect happens through knowledge - that knowledge which tells you that everything is impermanent. Music and harmony cleanses the emotions and enriches the heart. By giving, the heart becomes pure. With knowledge and meditation, everything becomes pure.

Q. Guruji, when someone dies why do we say Ram naam satya hai {Ram (the divinity within) is the truth}?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When someone dies you realize that this is the truth. One day everyone is going to die. When you are alive you don’t realize the truth. You are caught up in unwanted things.

Truth is something which you cannot avoid.
Beauty is something which cannot be renounced.
Love is something which cannot be expressed.

These three things are more than enough to remember. It enough to digest.

Q. What does a yagya consist of?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In any yagya, there is dhyan (meditation), daan (giving), gyan (knowledge) and gaan(music)
Gaan nourishes the right brain. Gyan nourishes the left brain and dhyan nourishes both.
One grows due to yagya.

Q. Guruji what qualities should we look for when we choose our life partner?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, (smiling) I don’t have the experience! Ask those who have the experience. And you can take more help from the matrimony department!
You know why they say that marriages are made in heaven? It is because the choice is already made for you. You just have to take it and move on. You are free from choices. Move on with what you have on your plate.

You know the best thing is that you don’t focus on the drawbacks. Focus on the positive. In a relationship if both the people have their focus on spirituality then they will move ahead together like parallel lines move, without clashing, to infinity. The moment they will shift their focus and focus on each other, there will be clashes. So it is very important that both are on the spiritual path.

Q. Guruji, how was the Vishalakshi Mantap (the five-tiered, lotus-shaped meditation hall in the Bangalore ashram) made?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Manuji (a devotee) said, "Guruji, we must have a hall where people can meditate. So I made a drawing and it was made. Earlier, there was no hall. The Ashtavakra talk (Sri Sri’s commentary on the Ashtavakra Geeta) happened under a thatched roof, where rain water would be leaking.
Yet when we inaugurated the Vishalakshi Mantap, the hall was already too small! So many people had come. You know when people meditate together then the energy radiates in the world.

Q. Guruji, what is the secret of this place?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar(smiling): The secret is here (pointing to his heart).

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

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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‘For harmonious sustainable growth of a society, all different sections of society will have to work in rhythm, in harmony’

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(H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s addressed an august gathering on November 18, 2009 on the occasion of the Minister-President of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, (Germany) Mr. Gunther H Oettinger visiting the Art of Living International Center, Bangalore. He was accompanied by a government delegation comprising the Ministers of the State for Finance, Economics and other parliament members. The Honorable Minister for Large and Medium Industries, Karnataka, Mr. Murugesh Rudrappa Nirani and President of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Crasta were also present.)

Welcome to you all. It is wonderful to have you all from Germany - from the German home to the Indian home. You have a home here. You are most welcome to this country. Feel at home.

Our ancient philosophy in this country has been that of a one world family. We are part of one family, one big family where human values have to reign the most. Human Values are needed in business, in politics, in social life. In any field that you take, if there are human values, if there is a uniting force, if there is harmony, only then can society survive. It took 10 years for communism to crumble. It took less than 10 months for capitalism to crumble down. No “ism” will sustain if humanism is lacking. Greed of a few people caused the financial disaster that the world is facing today.

It was an old paradigm that we were working in different compartments. The social sector was separate, politics was separate, business was separate, religious and spiritual sectors were separate. For harmonious sustainable growth of a society, all different sections of society will have to work in rhythm, in harmony, in cooperation. The ethical and moral values are the backbone of business. And business is the way to sustain the planet, free it from poverty and build confidence in society. I’m happy that the Indian and German business delegations are here. I would like you to talk and develop this ancient tradition we have been having between Germany, Europe and India.

We all are part of one family. A disease-free body, a violence- free society and a happy mind is a birth right of every individual, every human being and every society. Let us all work together to achieve a happy society. Thank you very much.

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

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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‘The form and name are not the truth, the Tattva is the truth’

Bangalore ashram, Nov. 15, 2009:

Q. Guruji, why is it that sometimes you answer certain questions and sometimes you don’t?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a right time and place for every answer. If questions are asked at the wrong time, then silence is the answer.

Q. What kind of siddhis (powers) are required to be able to know what is happening in other places?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: An ordinary person through spirituality can know what is happening all over. Mansik shakti (strength of mind) is enough. When you put your attention somewhere, you can know what is happening there. Practice and you will see it is easy.

Q. When we sit for meditation sometimes we are disturbed by other people. If we are humble, then they take advantage of it. How do deal with this situation?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just leave it; you will see it will settle on its own. If it goes beyond a limit, then you can also roar. A lion simply sits, doesn’t roar all the time. Inside you must be pleasant, outside you can roar. To roar you need inner strength.

Q. How do you recognize that somebody is your real guru and for you? How do you know if someone is a true disciple?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I don’t test anybody nor do I let anyone test me. If anyone will ask me, I will say, “No!” and move on! Divine really doesn’t test anybody. We think we are very good people and when difficulties arise we assume that the Divine is testing us. We don’t get into trouble because of our goodness: it is because of our foolishness. Some things are your karma. Some difficulties teach you lessons. Look back and see all those problems you have come out of. You will see that you have become stronger. This is what you should recognize.

Q. What is a sign of the dawning of wisdom?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Prasanna chitta (pleasant state of mind) is a sign. Friendliness, foresight, intuition, a mind in the present moment – these are signs of wisdom.

Q. What is the truth behind this Universe? Is everything an illusion?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This universe has come from one unchanging principle. Vedanta also says the same. Everything you see in creation is Maya- like dolls in a laser show, what you see is not the truth. The wave is not the truth, the water is the truth. The form and name are not the truth, the Tattva (the principle) is the truth. The pot is not true but the mud is the truth.

The same brahma tattva (Infinite, Supreme, eternal principle) is the tree, grass, stone and everything else in creation. Brahmatatvamasi bhavayatmane - All has come from that Brahman. This is the ultimate truth. Knowledge of the truth, that this creation has come from Brahman, comes through meditation - Sarvam kalvidam Brahma.

Q. How can one attain Siddhis (power)? How does it affect a person to strive for Siddhis?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A Sadhak or seeker will get many Siddhis on the path. However if you misuse them or start running behind them, you will be lost. Only when you are established, you can receive the true knowledge. One who knows never loses his equanimity.

The tradition of the Masters (parampara) is very important. If anyone moves away from the parampara, it may seem good for some time, but then it brings lot of misery. A sadhak should toe the line of the parampara. The sign of a devotee and seeker is to pick up the best and not try to find all the negative things about others. But if someone cheats, misuses the powers, they undergo the consequences. This should not deter from the path. You move on the path of knowledge.

Q. What is the ultimate goal of meditation?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A pleasant equanimous state of mind. A blissful life without sorrow.

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

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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© The Art of Living Foundation for Globalizing Spirituality

‘Have a pure heart then everything in creation is significant for you’

Bangalore Ashram, India, Nov. 14, 2009:
The third day of the Kannada advance course.

Q. I would like to bring some reformations and changes in my village. However, every time, I meet with so many obstacles and it is quite frustrating for me. What should I do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sanghe shakti kaliyuge. One or two people alone can't bring in a reform. A coming together is required. For that knowledge must dawn. So bring people to programs like this. Bring people together and do this work. What we do sometimes fails and if the failure repeats you can lose your courage. When we want to bring in reforms, even if we fail 10 times we should go ahead. We have to be so strong. Know that you will never be alone. Come together and work to increase awareness in society. Do satsangs. I will guide you constantly.

Q. When we meditate, why do we take our attention to different parts of the body when we have to go beyond the body level?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When we want to build a tall building, the foundation must be sufficiently deep. The string of the bow is stretched back further when the arrow has to go far. So to transcend the mind we bring our attention to our body, and then we realize we are beyond the body.

Q. There are so many problems in the world. Isn’t it better if we have the power to know them wherever we are so that we can do something to help?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Aren’t you seeing enough on television? Why do you want to know about all the problems? Whether you know or not, meditation and Satsang will bring the transformation. Knowing is not a big deal. Where you put your attention, you will get knowledge about it. Yet once you have the power you will not want to use it. A scholar does not carry all his books on his head all the time. He refers only when necessary. Same way the consciousness knows, when necessary it knows.
Some karmas have to be experienced. The effects of some can be reduced through upayas (solutions).

Q. What is the significance of bowing down to the feet in India?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Only in India, so much significance has been given to the feet. The legs take you forward. Our energy can be transmitted through the hands and the feet. The energy or vibrations are absorbed by the head. This transmission can happen simply through sight as well. Even just being in the presence is enough to soak in the Divine energy.

Q. Guruji, you say that self blame is not good. But I feel sometimes it’s good as it brings perfection.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you feel you are becoming perfect by blaming then do it. Yet if you keep blaming yourself then that is not perfection. Also, make sure you don’t blame others! Don’t try to make others perfect.

All of us have divine qualities. When you try to raise these qualities of others and they don’t want it, then what is the use? It is like forcibly helping an old lady to cross the road when she doesn’t want to. Whatever work we want to do, do it with good intentions. Nobody’s curse can affect you if your heart is pure. If your heart is impure then surely it will have an influence.

Q. What is the significance of using salt for nazar utarna (a tradition in India where a handful of salt is taken around the person to remove the effects of the evil eye)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The defects in our aura can be cleared with salt. In the West, people take salt baths. Others’ feelings can affect our aura. Instead of worrying about the influence, just use the salt. Each substance has its own aura. People find it relaxing in the ocean side because of salt in the water. Through salt, the toxins in the body and mind are removed. Yet if you intake too much salt you will get blood pressure and if you sit everyday in salt water your skin will get affected. So do everything in moderation. Athi savatra varjayeth.

Q. What is the significance of the conch? It is used in every puja or celebration or big event.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In the olden days, people started wars by blowing the conch. Water from conch is used along with chanting associated mantras. There are definite vibrations for each object. The conch is a symbol of auspiciousness and prosperity. Shankhabasma (ashes of the conch) is very good for health. It brings strength in body.

In this creation every blade of the grass has importance. Bilva, parijata, neem - all have their significance. More than all this, you are very important. Your consciousness is important. You give importance to the external surroundings and fill your house with garbage, then it is of no use. So first have a pure heart then everything in creation is significant for you.

Q. Can you speak on the importance of vaastu?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Everything in creation has certain vibrations. This world is an ocean of vibrations. Every being has definite vibrations. The gods are all depicted as riding on different vahanas (animals as vehicles). This indicates the specific vibrations of the gods. Elephants attract, from the cosmos, the vibrations specific to Ganesha. Tigers, the Devi vibrations; peacocks attract the vibrations of Lord Subramanya. Yet don’t trouble yourself with all this. Just say Om Namah Shivaya. All the corrections in Vaastu will be taken care of.

Q. Does learning traditional music make us spiritual?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Music is called laya yoga. Bhakti is different. Music as music without devotion is not so useful. Only one part of your brain is developing. Total personality does not develop. Gyana (knowledge), gaana (music), dhyana (meditation) - all are required. Gyana nourishes the left brain. Gaana nourishes the right brain. Dhyana nourishes both sides. All three activities are essential.

Q. Why is human life considered the highest of all life forms?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because you can ask these questions and understand the answers. If you don’t ask or understand you are not better than any other animal or species.

Q. Despite meditating, I still get angry and tense. What should I do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Even now you get tensed, but it goes away right? Anger, tension - many people don’t even know they are like this! At least you know. On a white clean cloth - a small dust particle is also seen. When the mind is clear, little anger or tension is also seen. Slowly you will see nothing is affecting you. A few months or years of practice and you will see that nothing can touch you.

Q. What is your advice on the Fatwa against education for women?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is ignorance. Fatwa against women going to school is anti-progress.

Women should be given equal rights as men. That is the symbolism of Ardhanaareshvara- half Shiva and half Shakti. Women should not be treated like second class, third class or a servant.

Saying that you cannot sing Vandemataram because it praises the earth as a mother - people are not listening to such dictates anymore.

Women should be given all rights. They should be empowered and should have a say on everything. We should have one common law. Politicians keep dividing society to enjoy privileges, vote bank. They don't want education to reach the poor people so that they can rule over them. This is a rotten mind. We have to go ahead and educate the population. Illiteracy is the reason that wrong people enter politics.

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

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
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© The Art of Living Foundation for Globalizing Spirituality