Celebrating 30 years of service

Rishikesh, India  
7 march 2010

Satsang and presence of saints added more colors to the festive atmosphere in Rishikesh. Interacting with all, Sri Sri talked about Antarnaad and how the musical event was recorded in Guinness book. Adding to the joy and happiness of devotees SriSri declared another celebration next year on completion of 30 years of ‘Art of Living’. Devotees enthusiastically expressed their wish to be a part of the celebration.

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

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For Global Spirituality

Both Science and Spirituality are needed to bring contentment to our soul

Rishikesh, India
6 march 2010, 

Q: After coming on the path I find it difficult to fulfill religious rituals. I don’t understand should we continue doing that or leave that. Please guide.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There is a couplet by Saint kabir:
karka manka chod kar,
Manka manka fer.
It is best to do meditation. But I don’t say one should completely abandon rituals. You perform some rituals on festivals. A little bit of rituals are good. But don’t be too much stuck with the rituals. E.g. if you had resolved to perform a ritual and due to some circumstances you were not able to fulfill that, then there is no need to think that God will be angry with you or you have acquired some sin. I give you guarantee. Maharishi Narada has also said ‘ God is total love’.
Devotion and surrender are greater than any ritual. A little bit ritual is necessary for two reasons. Children are introduced to religion and spirituality through the rituals. Secondly, performing rituals also purify the atmosphere at home. E.g. when all family members come together and do Pooja on Diwali, the atmosphere of our home changes. It is same when you offer Ardas in Gurudwara.
There is no need to be afraid of or feel guilty if you couldn’t keep up with the ritual due to any reason.

Q: Does past karmas affect our life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Both past and present karmas affect our life.

Q: How much difference is there between science and spirituality? Why do not scientists believe in spirituality?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Evolved scientists surely believe in spirituality. Those who are not yet fully evolved may not believe in spirituality. Scientists like Einstein had said that he had never seen or heard a book like Bhagwad Geeta. If you hear a quantum physicist talking, you will feel as if the text is being quoted from the scriptures only. ‘What is this?’ is science.’ Who am I?’ is spirituality. We need both science and spirituality to bring contentment to our soul.

Q: How do we survive in a world where most of the people earn a living by illegal and wrong means?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Do not think that all people survive doing illegal or wrong actions. There are many good people who survive doing righteous actions. One who survives on wrong means has only a very short period of survival.
In our scriptures it is said that a teacher, guru or saint is not to speak lie at all. A king is allowed to speak a little lie. A business man can go a little further. A businessman can say one’s product is the best even if it is not. Only that much lying is allowed. It is like salt in the food.

Q: I am in love with a guy and I want to marry him. But my parents are against this. Whatever I chose I lose the people I love most. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Try to convince your parents or try to understand why they are opposing. If they are doing this because of caste system or any superstition then you talk to them and make them understand. But if they have some other concern then you should try to understand their point of view also. Sometimes you are blindfolded when you fall in love. You are driven away by feelings and you cannot see what others can.
If you are not able to come to any conclusion then give time a chance. Have patience, relax and pray. Prayer has enormous power and it works.

Q: What is the finest form of karma?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
What we don’t want for ourselves, we don’t do it unto others also.

Q: What is the best way to deal with the problem when you are passing through that phase?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Why do you want to keep problem to yourself? Drop it here before going. You can come here with problem but you can’t go back with your problems.

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International Yoga Festival

March 4, 2010
Rishikesh, India

Q: Which are the most important values which can transform this universe into a heaven?

Sri Sri:
Shift in our vision. This universe is already a heaven. What blocks us from perceiving it as heaven is our own mind. The mind clings on to the past or it wants perfection. It has its own ideas of perfection. This is about the universe. But if you ask me about improving the society, I think this is a question every human being should ask himself. I think we need to have a violence-free and stress-free society. The way to such a society is Yoga, Meditation and Service.
The gentleman continues - But I find 99.9 percent of people in the world are already good. But still that 0.1 percent dominates. Even if 10 percent people come together and say they don’t want violence and terrorism in society we can achieve this. How can this happen?
SriSri: The voice of truth needs to be heard louder. You’re right. It is time for the revolution. It has to be loud. People should come together. People should stand up for human values. It will happen.

Q: How can we stand together if we can’t stand for ourselves and don’t have a sense of satisfaction inside?

Sri Sri:
when you have inner satisfaction then everything happens effortlessly for you. When you don’t have that, even small things become a struggle. Wisdom is about having that inner satisfaction. Wake up and see what is bothering you and why are you not satisfied? You don’t have food, you don’t have shelter, you don’t have money or you don’t have a companion? Pin point the area and then deal with it. You think when you have x amount of money or that much fame, then you will be happy. Wake up and see life from a broader perspective and you will see that this is not the truth. This is another illusion. Then you settle down. Meditation is the answer.

Q: The mind is running all the time. We are caught up in right or wrong. But when does the mind stop?

Sri Sri:
(After a pause) Got it? When you are waiting for an answer, what is waiting? The mind has already stopped. When you are astonished, the mind has stopped. When you are in laughter, or panic, or fear, or when you are in deep love, the mind has stopped. Time has stopped. There is an experience of timelessness. Have you experienced that timelessness? Just sit on the banks of the Ganges alone and watch the water flowing. Suddenly you feel it is a moment of eternity. Same way when you watch the sun rise or set, moon rising or setting or watch a child playing, a sudden spurt of energy comes from within you and the mind is already still. You don’t have to wait for this to happen sometime in the future. It is happening here and now.

Q: If the soul is so wonderful then why has God chosen to burden the soul with the material world?

Sri Sri:
Have you seen movies? There is a hero and a villain in the movie. Now what is the role of a villain? He creates some kind of entertainment. When do you feel your body is a burden to you? When you feel that your body is a suffering to the spirit. But you can’t call it a burden when it is a means to elevate the spirit. When you know the body is given to you as an instrument to elevate the spirit, would you still call it a burden? Shareer maadhyam paro dharma sadhna- This body is an instrument for dharma, all that uplifts the spirit. Don’t consider it a burden. Honor your own body. The soul comes to your body after great effort. There is a great rush. Many souls compete to get one body and one succeeds. So our body is a gift and not a burden.

Gentleman asks: Is liberation from the body true liberation?
Sri Sri:What is burden? Desires, cravings and aversions in the mind are the burden. Your craving for something or your aversion for something makes you feel it is a burden. Losing your body doesn’t make you lose your cravings and aversions.
Question continues: Why is the material world considered to be a world of misery?
Sri Sri:It is the mind which makes you feel it is a misery. This world is a part of the divinity. So instead of blaming the world, look inside.

Q: What is the one quality that you need to have to love everyone alike?

Sri Sri:
An ease with yourself and everybody, simplicity. When you are open from within, then you can’t but love everyone and everyone can’t but love you. Neither you have a choice nor do they. You have done this as a baby. Do you remember how you were as a baby? Being natural, simple, innocent, without any barrier and free with everybody.

Q: When someone near to you is dying what words should we say to ease the pain?

Sri Sri:
When someone near to you is leaving the body, your words would have no meaning. At those moments you just be there in silence. Those vibrations will work for them.

Q: If I as a person can’t change myself, how do I expect others to change?

Sri Sri:
Do you feel you haven't changed at all? (The person replied: I do find some changes in me). As much as you have changed, don’t you think others will also change? Nobody knows everything in the world. We all know something. In fact when you see the magnitude of knowledge, you find it can’t be completely known. But aren’t you obliged to give others whatever little you know? (Yes was the reply). That is what you have to do. The world doesn’t expect you to do service which you are not capable of. The world expects you to do what you can. If you are a doctor then people will run to you in case of an emergency. At that time, your saying no doesn’t make sense. And if you are not a doctor and are approached to do something that you can’t, you simply say – ‘I am sorry. I can’t do it.’ We do what we can and we ask pardon for what we can’t.

Q: I want to understand the relation between spirituality and the material world? Does material prosperity and the spiritual world coexist?

Sri Sri:
Prosperity and spirituality can coexist but greed and spirituality can’t coexist. Unethical means of earning money and spirituality simply cannot coexist. If you have a factory or a business, you can continue do that and still be very ethical. You don’t have to leave your industry, which may be giving employment to a few hundred or more people, for spirituality. There is no need of saying materialism is bad and leaving that you want to go towards spirituality. That is not at all necessary. You can continue doing your duty. This is what is expressed in one of the scriptures ‘Ashtavakra’ where Ashtavakra told king Janaka that he can be a king and be totally spiritual. King Janaka was the embodiment of the highest knowledge. There are many examples like this. What I usually say is ‘keep money in your pocket and not in your heart or head’. When the money is wrongly placed that is when the problem arises. In India, materialism and spirituality are not in conflict with each other. Lakshmi – the symbol of material prosperity is portrayed pressing the feet of Narayana - the symbol of spirituality. We always say LaxmiNarayana which refers to the combination of wealth and spirit. But it is very important to note that greed and spirituality don’t go together.
Unfortunately we associate negative tendencies like greed and jealousy with materialism. Even if you have to do charity, you can’t do it with an empty bowl. How can you think of feeding ten hungry children with no money at hand? Is it not your dharma to feed them? In one of the ancient scriptures in India it is said ‘Righteousness comes from wealth. Proper governance is the basis of the economy‘. I think it is all connected. And the most important is the faith in the being, the highest self - the faith that I am going to get whatever I need and whenever I need. Then you give miracle a chance. Materialism is measuring every step too much. (Then you don’t know when the stock market is going to crash and banks are going to be bankrupt.) Don’t bank your faiths on the banks but bank your faith on the divinity and the power of your own sankalpa(positive sankalapa) and thoughts.

Q: Guruji I work in a hospital where people are dying and I am hoping to bring this yoga there. I am facing a little difficulty in understanding what is the difference between the yoga of living and the yoga of dying?

Sri Sri:
You must have heard by now, yoga has eight limbs.. I don’t know how much of pranayama and asanas(postures) you can make someone do when they are sick and dying. It may not be possible at all. Some good bhajans(uplifting music), soft and instrumental music will also help. This is called laya yoga. Some words of wisdom will help. This is gyan yoga. Your mere presence there will help. Your being there without any effort will help. When we are in the ‘doing’ consciousness, thinking what to do, we reduce our energy. When we are in the ‘being’ consciousness, suddenly the light, air and energy come in you. You can make them feel better with that presence and energy of yours.
There are three things which are very important whenever you sit for meditation:
1. I want nothing for next 20 minutes or half an hour.
2. I do nothing.
3. I am nothing.

Any effort is an impediment in meditation and so ‘I do nothing’. And then if you have any notions about yourself, I am rich, I am poor, I am intelligent or I am stupid, you can’t go into meditation. You cannot progress on the spiritual path. So you have to come to this – I am nothing.
These are the three golden rules which I feel are very important and with which you can sink deep into meditation.

Q: We talk about serving humanity. As a human being I have limited knowledge and based on that I believe in a cause and work for that cause. But if later, down the line, I realize the cause was not worthy, then being a person with limited knowledge haven’t I made this world a worse place than it earlier was? Can we serve the humanity before having perfect knowledge?

Sri Sri:
If you wait till you get perfect knowledge, it’s not going to happen. When you do service, you gain merit and that merit helps you to go deep into yourself. So service helps you gain merit, merit takes you deep into sadhna(self-effort and practices) and sadhna makes you come up and do more service. It is all cyclically connected. So it is not going to be complete if any one aspect is missing.

Q: How do I know that the service that I am doing is right?

Sri Sri:
You ask the people whom you are serving. If someone doesn’t want to cross the road, don’t drag them on the other side (Laughter follows). Service is that which is needed by the people.

The gentleman continued to ask what if someone wants drugs.
Sri Sri: Then that is not service in the first place. Don’t call it service if someone wants to kill someone else. You have certain basic human values. Anything that destroys human life is not a service.
Don’t regret about the past however it has been. You have learnt the lesson. Just accept it and move on, learning from it.
Gentleman continued to asked that should one act on the best judgment one can make at present.
Sri Sri: Your consciousness will tell you that it is wrong and you should not do it.

Q: Can you throw some light on Bhakti Yoga?

Sri Sri:
If you sit in the Ganga aarti in the evening, you will find everybody singing so beautifully and a wave of devotion. Bhakti yoga is seeing the Divine as mine and oneself as belonging to the Divine, and all that exists belongs to the Divine.

Q: Guruji we have heard the terms spirituality and enlightenment so often. There are very abstract definitions of the terms. Would you please throw some light on these?

Sri Sri:
(Jokingly) You want me to add more confusion to the words and give you one more definition! If I have a choice I would take away all the definitions and leave you in confusion because from that confusion something flowers up in you. My understanding is not going to help you. It has to come from within you. When you wake up and see, you will be surprised. I would like you to experience that WOW. Don’t make it a concept. If you don’t know what enlightenment is, thank God and say ‘ I don’t know what enlightenment is. Let me wait for it.’ It is the concepts that keep us away from experiencing the reality. That’s what I feel.

Q: I would like to know about your views on this wonderful time on the planet when service is accelerated and technology is connecting the world, when we have the opportunity to make this world a one world family, when teachings from the teachers like you are spreading all over the planet and we have a chance to evolve spiritually. At the same time planet is facing dangers that the old ecological and political structures are not sustainable anymore. We are coming to a choice point where we are ending one paradigm and accelerating in a spiritual paradigm. Also so many souls are incarnated at this time. And wonderful events are happening like this to accelerate that. Would you please speak on that?

Sri Sri:
I think I have said it all. All the lines between different disciplines are blurred now. I remember when I was in school there was a thick line of difference between physics and chemistry, and they were thought not to be connected. Today, whether it is astrophysics, physics, knowledge about the spirit or information technology, all have come together. Environment and spirituality are not two different things. Perhaps the ancient people of this country knew this. They worship the trees, mountains, rivers etc in nature. And it is true for all native civilizations in the world. They honored nature. They took care that they care for nature and progress and development was aligned with the sustainable conditions on planet Earth. The most needed thing today is – Globalizing wisdom. There are two types of calamities – one is natural calamities like earthquakes. And second is man - made calamities. Man - made calamities can be overcome by wisdom and a Cultural Revolution, and by spreading this knowledge of a one world family. We are anyway one. There is no two.
Natural calamities can be overcome by caring for the planet, planting more trees, preserving water, by spiritual energy and with the thought that you are one with the vishavatma(Universal soul). An intention or thought that you are one with vishatma and a little attention manifests itself.

Q: I was thinking since I was a small child that what the original sin is? I never got a satisfactory answer as it couldn’t be about the apple. I wanted to know if you could explain from your perspective what is it all about or is it all a lie?

I am not a theologian in the first place and so I haven’t studied the original sin concept. So I cannot comment much on that. All I can say is that from Indian perspective sin is that which brings misery to many and merit is that which brings love, happiness and joy to many. Sin is something that could be washed out. It is not your nature. If sin is your very nature, you can never get rid of it. Like if mud is your skin, you cannot get rid of it. But if it is on your skin you can take a dip and it will get washed away. If the flaw is inside the diamond, it can’t be corrected. But if slush is on the diamond, it just needs a little water to be poured on and it gets clean.
Here in India we consider sin as a superimposition. There are three things in the yoga- malah, avarna and vikshepa. Malah is impurities in the body, vikshepa is impurity on the mind , restlessness and disturbances in the mind and avarana is the sheath which covers the spirit, which is the ego -identification with one little thing. And the purpose of yoga is to clean the three sheaths of impurity. Yoga loosens up all the three sheaths of impurities. And then the true spirit which is part of the divinity shines through.
So I don’t consider sin is your nature but sin is that which you have acquired due to ignorance. And with the light of knowledge it just disappears.

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

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Faith which can withstand doubt is authentic

Q: Guruji, in your company we feel as if Vrindavan has been created here and now only. But when we move out in the world, entanglements cling on to us again. How to be free from that?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Keep coming again and again. Have you noticed that the entanglements do not cling on to you with the same intensity as it used to be earlier? That grip is loosened. Gradually, when you become more centered, those worldly things do not distract you anymore.

Q: How do we differentiate between devotion and blind faith?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Blind faith is that which do not give you any positive result. In blind faith you move on with notions that you have heard from people here and there, and carry similar hopes with you. Either you are deluded or you are there for fulfillment of any strong desire or craving holding on to you.

Q: You often say we all are like your hairs and you come to know even if one hair is stretched. I have been pulling your hairs since many days, but it seems as if you haven’t noticed it?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
(With a naughty laughter) yes, some of the hairs seem to have been uprooted!
Everything has its own time. If you pray and wish all your prayers get fulfilled today itself, it is not possible. Have patience. (Making a gesture with his hands where right hand is facing audience and second is slanted downwards, and both palms shown above) Have you seen hands of all Gods and Goddesses like this? Same for Laxmi, Vishnu…Do you know its meaning? Have patience, I am giving. This is one meaning, when you need something. Another meaning is – come, surrender and you find there is no need to be afraid of anything whatsoever. (Right palm raised and facing audience) This is called abhaya mudra. Abhaya means without any fear. (Left hand slanting downwards with palm facing sky) And this is called Varada mudra which indicates - I am giving you whatever you want.
I don’t mind even if you ask for more.

Q: If one rotten apple spoils others in the basket then how can we handful of people can make this world a healthy and safe place to live in? There are little more bad people than good ones in the world.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is not the case in reality. There are more good people in the world than there are bad ones. There is more love in the world than hatred. There is more happiness than misery. But it seems the other way around. Don’t blame the society. You have a responsibility and you carry on fulfilling that. Continue spreading satsang (company of truth). Same was done by Mahatama Gandhi. Before independence in India, people were so depressed thinking they would be enslaved forever. So what did Mahatama Gandhi do? He started to have satsangs across various places in the country. People got courage from that. Same way we need to spread that a wave of satsang and awareness, not that of hatred.

Q: Guruji, you can do anything. So why don’t you erase all corruption and violence from the world and make it perfect?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
(Jokingly) This is a very clever way that you have adopted to skip! If I do everything, then what would be left for you to do! Why have you come in this world at this time? You also have a role to play. It will be a monologue if only one person plays all the characters in a play. I haven’t come here to do that. I am not here even for dialogue but I am here for multi - logue (Laughter). Everyone should play his/her own role.
Have you heard the story of the squirrel? When Sri Rama was building setu with his army of monkeys, a very little squirrel was putting sand in the water. Some members of the team laughed at how much this little squirrel could contribute. But that squirrel was very happy playing his role in Sri Rama’s army. He was happy thinking that he also has his job to do. Sri Rama felt very happy and blessed the squirrel moving his hand at his back. Because of his small size, only three fingers of Sri Rama covered his whole body, and he got mark of three lines on his back. This can be a fictitious tale but the message is - we also have a responsibility even if God is doing everything. Whatever we can do, we do that.
Responsibility is that which we can do.

Q: Guruji, what should a devotee do if his faith is shaken?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Shaking of faith and devotion sends you a message about the strength of your faith. What is the need to be afraid of? Shake it as vigorously as you can. I would say only that faith is authentic which stays even after shaking. This is job of the master– to shake the faith and let it grow stronger. Guru doesn’t build your faith but he shakes your faith. This is the strategy moving from ancient times. When the faith shakes, it reveals that it can be made stronger. If it is authentic, anyway it will grow strong. In the whole process you realize, this is all mere a play of mind. Faith and devotion were always present. Devotion towards truth can never disappear. This is maya(illusion) of the mind which makes you feel it is shaken.

Q: Is there any formula to have peace at home?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You have asked a very difficult question! But its answer is very simple. You keep on smiling irrespective of what happens around you. If noise is there, accept it. If somebody is shouting, let it be for some time. Try considering the whole atmosphere of your home as if you are watching any television serial. Do you get upset when you watch television? Some people were telling me that same arguments take place on television which happens at their homes also. Think as if some live show is going on at home. And only a camera is missing. When you remember this thing and see yourself as the director and not actor, then at least you will have peace in your heart. And up to what time others will play their role? They will be tired in sometime. All this trouble is in wake state, neither in dream nor in sleep. God has granted you few hours of sleep and some other routine activities like bathing etc. take some more time. So at least for these ten hours, you are at peace. (Jokingly)And enjoy the other 14 hours show. What else can you do? But if you want to enjoy, remember not to be the actor.

Q: How should be one’s relation with the Master? One is an ordinary person and other is a person with so many powers. Should it be like a friend or a beloved?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Let love be love. Don’t give it a name. Love is above all relations. Being in love with the master is like being in Love with the divine. Master, God and spirit are not different. These all are one. Only one exists – one non dual existence. Everything is divine.

Q: What is the meaning of Kumbh?
(The Kumbh Mela is one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism. The word Kumbh means 'pot' or 'pitcher' and Mela means 'festival' that is why it is known as "the pitcher festival". It is a fair that energizes your mind and soul)

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Wherever people come together and do satsang, that is kumbh.

Q: Do planets have any effect on us?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, planets do have an effect on us. But the effects are minimal on those who are on the path of sadhna, satsang and knowledge. For those, negative effects reduce and positive effects start to increase. It’s like when you take umbrella under the hot sun, you feel less heat on your head. Practices and mantras are the solutions.

Q: Should one believe in the horoscopes?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If your mind says you should do it, then you should. But that shouldn’t be given too much importance. Sometimes the recorded time or place of birth may not be accurate. There are many issues involved. So neither should we totally ignore it nor should we take it to be exactly right.

Q: Is it ok to be driven by emotions?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The difference between a human and a stone is that, humans have emotions. When feelings are combined with wisdom, then that is good. It’s like when water flows between two banks, we call it river. But if water is scattered all over the place, then that is flood. In life, along with intellect, feelings are also to be nourished. To maintain a balance between intellect and emotions is wisdom.

Q: What is liberation? Is it possible to be liberated in this birth?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is possible in this birth only. You should listen to Ashtavakra (A commentary by His Holiness ).

Q: How can I be contented? Lots of needs keep bombarding the mind.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Tell me one thing. Are you contented today?
(The gentleman said ‘No’)
What do you need?
(The gentleman continues ‘I need to have something after having what, all my desires are pacified)
It’s good if you are aware that lots of desires are disturbing you. This desire - I want to get rid of all desires, is called mumuksha.

Q: Can you please talk about our karma governing our future?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, your karma forms your future. I have talked about all these things in the book ‘An intimate note to the sincere seeker’. You should read that.

Q: What should we do when nothing is in our hands and we don’t understand what should be and what shouldn’t be done in a relationship or career?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You should meditate then. When you are so much deluded and confused, meditate for some time. You will find clarity dawning instantaneously.

Q: What question should I ask?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
My dear, you are asking me to tell you question also! Is it your New Year resolution not to use your brain come what may? You want to borrow even questions! No way. The questions have to be yours. It’s not school where they give you questions and you give answers. Here you have to come up with the question. And you don’t have to; if it comes up in you then that is your question. Nobody can tell you what question you should ask, what you should prayer for or what you should seek. It is a spontaneous outcome from within. Need is not to be dictated by somebody or anybody. Need is that which arises from within. In reality when you come in this energy all questions in you disappears.

Q: How to be in the present moment?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
(Making a snapping sound with his fingers) Like this. Are you here now? (The lady nodded with a yes). Then be here now.

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

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For Global Spirituality

Meditation is absolute comfort for the mind

What Sri Sri said today
Rishikesh (India), March 3:

Q: Please talk about spirituality. People have so many notions of spirituality and meditation. I don’t understand what does it actually mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
We want to achieve success in professional life. Isn't it? That's why we take up an enterprise or profession. That provides you means to have comforts for the body. Yoga, meditation and spirituality are about giving comfort to your soul. When the room is very hot, you switch on the air conditioner to give some comfort to the body. AC (Air conditioner) for the mind is meditation – Absolute Comfort to your mind.

Q: Is criticizing anyone bad?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
In life we don’t want anyone to think badly about us. We don’t like if a few people say bad things about us. Do you also do same with people? Of course, you can't always say that all the apples in the basket are good. Sometimes you have to criticize. But when you criticize, let it come from your lips only and not from your heart. Don’t hold on to it in the mind. Don't hate anyone. It harms only you and no one else.

Q: Guruji, what has more significance - doing the Sudarshan kriya or praying to you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You are important. You are the one who prays. It's you who does the Sudarshan kriya. All this is for you, so that you can become centered and so solid that no one can take away your smile. This capability is only within you. If you don’t want, then nothing is possible. Everything depends on you.

Q: Does the master find disciple or disciple finds the master?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
How does it matter whether you find master or the master finds you? It is sufficient that both have met.

Q:Does guru come at the end of a yug?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Not just at the end. He can come at any time. Jab guru aate hai tab naya yug shuru hota hai. Shuru mein bhi aate hai, beech me bhi, ant mein bhi. (When the Master comes, a new epoch begins.)

Guru is not a person. Guru is embodiment of wisdom.

Q: What is the significance of Kumbh mela?
(The Kumbh Mela is one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism. The word Kumbh has been derived from the Sanskrit word Kumbh meaning 'pot' or 'pitcher' and Mela means 'festival' that is why it is known as "the pitcher festival". It is a fair that energizes your mind and soul)

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Ganga is a symbol of knowledge and Yamuna symbolizes love. Prayag (where Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet) is the unity of love and wisdom. When love and wisdom meets, celebration happens.
Kumbh means coming together of saints, scholars and katha vachaks(story tellers). They participate in discussion and meditation with the sankalpa(positive intention) of universal benefit. People needn’t go to all the different places. They can all come to one place. The concept of mela started in India. Nowadays we call it expo. There are expos for motors, books, clothes, to present all the products in one place. On similar concept all the saints used to congregate in one place once in 12 years. In those days transport facilities were not so extensive and traveling would take so much time. Kumbh mela provided an opportunity for people to converse and exchange knowledge with each other.
If you see it from planetary perspective, Kumbh happens when Jupiter enters Aquarius. By bathing in the Ganges the chitta (consciousness) becomes joyful. Your consciousness is purified. The sins are washed away. It's so beautiful. The sins are so superficial that just by a dip in the Ganges they can be washed away. The ever-pure consciousness can never be dirtied.

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

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Let the limited ego dissolve in the Universal ego

‘Let the limited ego dissolve in the Universal ego’
Rishikesh (India), Feb 28:

Q: Guruji, it is said that God is in all. Then how are the avatars different?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Avatar means one who has come down. Those who want nothing, they come for the wellbeing of all. They haven’t come for themselves - either to enjoy or burn karmas. They have come for jankalyan (welfare of all).

Q: How do we save ourselves from bad thoughts?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar We become what we think. Especially for a devotee what he thinks comes true. But this power of thought is with the devotees only. When you become a devotee then you do not get bad thoughts. With devotion, all vikalpas go away.

Q: Is it important to take bath in Haridwar during Kumbh or will bathing in Rishikesh suffice?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar It’s perfectly ok to bathe in Rishikesh. You can take a dip wherever the Ganges flow.

When such parva comes, Ganga comes to every home. In South India, during Diwali the Ganga snan (bath) is done. The usual greeting is, “Have you done Ganga snan?” If you take a cold water bath in the morning, it means you have done Ganga snan.

On the banks of the Ganges, many sadhus do penance and they transfer all the merit in the waters of the Ganga. Teerth ko Sant Puneet banate hai – Teerthani pounaynti sataha!

Jaise teerth sabko puneet karte hai, sadhu ganga ko puneet karte hai. (Just as the Ganges purifies all, the saints purify the Ganges.)

The Ganges is chaitanyamayi (enlivened) hai, brahma roop hai.

As soon as you bathe you feel fresh and new. All the impurities of the mind are washed away. The mind becomes healthy.

I wouldn’t say the same for the Ganges at Kanpur and beyond. The Ganges water should be kept pure. If the Ganges is polluted then its benefit won’t be to the extent of its fame.

Q: Can you please speak to us about ego?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Some say drop the ego, some say destroy it. I say, let the ego stay in your pocket. If you say you have dropped the ego, it becomes a very big ego. Let the limited ego dissolve in the Universal ego. Bhagwad Geeta has elaborated on this in great detail. There are three types of ego - tamasic, rajasic and sattvic. From tamsic and rajasic come to the sattvic ego. The sattvic ego automatically dissolves into Brahman in the state of samadhi.

Q. A marriage has two - wife and husband. I love satsangs, but my wife is against sadhana and satsang, how will our marriage move on?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Use yukti (skill). It’s a test of how good a sadhak you are. You stay put, she will gradually come around and she will also become happy. If you drop your practices and go behind her even you won’t be happy.

Q: How to get rid of laziness?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar If there is greed, laziness will go away. If there is fear, laziness goes away. When you are in love, there is no sign of laziness.

Q: How to get rid of lust?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar It has come from birth. If you keep thinking about it, it will become stronger.

The same vasana is transformed into joy and love. When there is contentment and masti, the lust automatically fades away. When the sun is shining, you don’t need a torchlight.

Atma rati - atma me rati lag jaye, ishwar me man lag jaye. (Mind settles into consciousness).

Q: Guruji, what is the difference between laziness and rest?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Sharir ko aaram, man ko vishram to ban gaye tum atmaram. (When the body is at rest, mind relaxed, then you are one with Consciousness).

With the rise in tamoguna, laziness develops in the body. When there is no tamoguna, then you get vishram.
In laziness, you don’t gain energy and strength.
If you rest well, you get energy and strength. If you sleep for seven-eight hours, you feel fresh.

If you are simply lying around, there is no enthusiasm, no strength, no freshness. The body is tired, the mind struggles with desires. When body gets rest, and the mind has no feverishness, that is happiness. It brings you strength. Sankalp siddh hone lagta hai. (Intentions start getting fulfilled).

When the mind is ridden with thoughts, then sankalpas don’t come true. When you are happy, sankalpas come true.
When you have desires, you become unhappy and it becomes a vicious cycle.

Try giving your desires to someone at least for sometime. Desires exhibit your tendency to want more. Keep it aside for sometime. See, everything fills up.
At least for sometime, akinchan aur achaha hokar vishram karke dekho. (Become nothing and desireless and experience the relaxed state.)

Q: I don’t seem to have changed much after the Sudarshan Kriya.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar See, there are two things: we think I haven’t changed. Ask any old man whether he is old. He will get angry. He says, “I am only 70, I am not old.” Within himself, he doesn’t think he has become old. There is something inside us that doesn’t change, it remains the same.

That's why we think we haven’t changed. Think about it.

From another angle, there are so many changes in you, you are not the same as you were two months ago. Wherever your eye falls, you see I am not the same. I don’t think as before, feel as before. Then you think you are progressing in life. Some walk slowly, some take a big leap.

He, who takes a leap feels it’s a big change. Even if one does not experience a dramatic change, gradually the change happens.
When you look back in life see how much you have changed.

Q: I feel hurt with people talking negative things.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar We give rise to others with our perceptions. If you look upon someone as a friend, that would be beneficial for you. If you take them to be your enemy, then that will happen.

Q: What is seva for a student who has lots to study?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar You must study and keep doing little seva. It doesn’t matter how much seva you do. Do according to your capacity, with your heart in it. That would be equal to doing seva like anyone with great capabilities.

Q: Guruji I feel I lack self confidence and intelligence. What to do?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ram is the strength for the weak.

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Uplift your spirit with joy of colour

By His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Holi is a festival of colours. This whole world is so colourful. Just like nature there are different colours associated with our feelings and emotions: anger with red, jealousy with green, vibrancy and happiness with yellow, love with pink, vastness with blue, peace with white, sacrifice with saffron and knowledge with violet. Each person is a fountain of colours which keep changing.

Puranas are full of colourful illustrations and stories and there is a story related to Holi. An asura king, Hiranyakashyap, wanted everyone to worship him. But his son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Narayana, the king's sworn enemy. Angry, the king wanted Holika, his sister, to get rid of Prahlad. Empowered to withstand fire, Holika sat on a burning pyre holding Prahlad on her lap. But it was Holika who was burnt, Prahlad came out unharmed.

Hiranyakashyap symbolises one who is gross. Prahlad embodies innocence, faith and bliss. The spirit cannot be confined to love only matter. Hiranyakashyap wanted all joy to come from the material world. It did not happen that way. The individual jivatma cannot be bound to the material forever. It's natural to eventually move towards Narayana, one's higher Self.

Holika symbolises past burdens that try to burn Prahlad's innocence. But Prahlad, so deeply rooted in Narayana Bhakti, could burn all past impressions (sanskaras). For one who is deep in bhakti, joy springs up with new colours and life becomes a celebration. Burning the past, you gear up for a new beginning. Your emotions, like fire, burn you. But when they are a fountain of colours, they add charm to your life. In ignorance, emotions are a bother; in knowledge, the same emotions add colour.

One legend talks about the time when Parvati was in tapasya and Shiva was in samadhi. In facilitating the divine union of the two, Kamadeva, the Lord of Love, gets burnt to ashes by Shiva. Shiva had to come out of samadhi to join Parvati, `Parva’ is festival and `Parvati’ means `born out of festival’ - celebration! For samadhi to unite with celebration, the presence of desire was necessary. So, desire (Kama) was invoked. But again, to celebrate, you need to overcome desire. So Shiva opened his third eye and burned Kama. When desire in the mind is burnt, celebration happens and life becomes colourful.

Like Holi, life should be colourful, not boring. When each colour is seen clearly, it is colourful. When all the colours get mixed, you end up with black. So also in life, we play different roles. Each role and emotion needs to be clearly defined. Emotional confusion creates problems. When you are a father, you have to play the part of a father. You can't be a father at office. When you mix the roles in your life, you start making mistakes. Whatever role you play in life, give yourself fully to it. Harmony in diversity makes life vibrant , joyful and more colourful.

The joy you experience in life is from the depth of your Self - when you let go all that you hold on to and settle down being centered in that space. That is called meditation. Meditation is not an act; it is the art of doing nothing! The rest in meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep that you can ever have because in meditation you transcend all desires. This brings such coolness to the brain and it is like servicing or overhauling the whole body-mind complex.

Only then we are able to understand the uplifted state of the being and see that the whole world is all spirit or consciousness. Celebration is the nature of the spirit and the celebration that comes out of silence is real. If sacredness is attached to a celebration, it becomes total, complete. It's not just body and mind but also the spirit that celebrates.

In a state of celebration, the mind often forgets the Divine. We should experience the Divine’s presence, the Divine’s light around us. You should have a desire to experience the something by which the whole world is running. To experience this through your prayers, there should be total involvement. If the mind is preoccupied elsewhere, then that is no prayer at all.

When you are faced with obstacles, deep prayers can work miracles. Prayer happens in two situations, or in a combination of situations. When you feel grateful or when you feel utterly helpless. If you are not grateful and prayerful, you will be miserable. The feeling that “I am blessed” can help you overcome any failure. Once you realise that you are blessed, then all the complaints disappear, all the grumbling disappears, all the insecurities disappear.

Celebration dawns spontaneously and life becomes colourful

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

~ Sri Sri Ravishankar

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Bad thoughts are similar to the dark clouds that come and pass away

What Sri Sri said today:
Rishikesh, Feb. 27:

Q. Guruji, when I get bad thoughts, I am able to subdue them through the intellect.

But is it possible not to have bad thoughts at all?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:This is the skill. How you manage bad thoughts. Lots of thoughts come if there are impurities in the body, if there is aavaran (artificiality) in the mind.

Having too many thoughts indicates some weakness in the body. Consult an ayurveda physician and take herbs to cleanse the body. Through pranayam, the mind is purified. Through meditation, the consciousness gets purified. Sometimes the thoughts come because of the surroundings or company. Do not be afraid of bad thoughts. These thoughts are similar to the dark clouds that come and pass away.

Q: Could you please tell us something about prakriti and parmatma?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:There are two things – prakriti and parmatma. Prakriti moves according to rules. Parmatma is free. Human being is a combination of both. With the increase in the parmatma element, man experiences more freedom. An increased level of prakriti means one is no different from animals, birds or trees.

In the human being there is a glimpse of the parmatma and there is prakriti also- it’s a precious combination.

Q: Guruji, these days when we are talking of saving the planet from pollution including our water bodies, is it wrong to throw the puja materials in the water?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:If you put natural things, then there is no pollution. They are bio degradable. If you put soap or plastic, it harms the water. Since centuries, in the forest so many leaves and fruits fall in water, but the water is not contaminated. But when we throw artificial things, the water gets contaminated.

When we put bowls made of leaves, and garlands made of real flowers into water, it doesn’t get polluted.

It is interesting , one who is familiar with the real stuff, to him even the fake thing seems real.

And to the one who is familiar with the fake thing, even the real appears as fake. This is maya. What is real and what is unreal has to be found out. Therefore you need an inward eye (antar drishti). This is possible through yoga and meditation.

Q. Guruji, what’s the difference nihilism and advaita?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:One is nothing and the other is complete. Truth has two aspects - we keep saying it’s nothing and then experience the completeness. Therefore in Yoga Vashishta, Maharishi Vashishta says in beginning, that the consciousness is empty like the sky and full like an ocean. We start with saying, “I am nothing” and move to “I am in everything”.

Q. What is swadhyaya?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Do either of the two things:

Become such a devotee like Yudhishthir, who gets Lord Krishna who is full of cleverness or else become clever, awaken that element in you.

The world thinks you to be better than you actually are. The world thinks you to be less worse than what you actually are. If you think like this, then what you want, will happen. Whatever kind of sankalpa you release in the universe that kind of result will come to you.

Realize this now or later after a decade. Once you realize it, you will bow down to this Universal Self. Otherwise you will blame the world and become sad making yourself blemished. Some people indulge in self pity, “I am very good but people do wrong with me.”

Who says people did wrong? Who asks you to be stupid and be swept away in emotions? Some fall in love crazily, they talk so much and the other person doesn’t know how to handle it.

Wise know how to accept love and give. But everyone is not wise. We want everyone to behave like the wise but we behave like an ignorant.

a look at yourself. This is swadhyaya study of oneself. Swa – means self, adhyaya – means study. Swadhyaya doesn’t mean turning pages of books.

Q. Guruji whenever any problem comes, we keep aside all Gods and pray to one particular God. Don’t you think the other gods will become angry?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:There is a shloka - Sarve deva namaskara, keshavam pratigachchati.

Like all the water ultimately goes to the ocean, whichever God or Goddess you pray to, it goes to the One only. Don’t worry God won’t be angry.

Q. Guruji I want to increase my faith…

Sri Sri Ravi Shanka: Stop the struggle to strengthen the faith. Assume you have faith, if it shakes, pray to God to make it strong.

Q. Guruji, in night we see stars, does it mean to see truth we have to live in darkness?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Is the sun, during daytime, not visible to you? Don’t you see the moon in the evening?

It’s only in the absence of the sun and the moon that the stars are visible. Then you run behind the stars. Only those who haven’t seen the sun and moon of their own Self run behind the stars.

Opposite values are complementary. If there is a question, there is an answer.

Q. Guruji, some people have assumed that they are Radha, but there are so many Radhas, what to do?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:The real Radha doesn’t see anyone other than Krishna, how did you see other Radhas?

Q. Guruji, I have lot of weaknesses and I feel bad about them. When will I become like you?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:You have realized that you have weaknesses. That’s the first step. Now, do you want to remove the weakness or not? The very pinch of having the weaknesses will help you to come out of them. If you simply accept them and say I am an ordinary person only etc…. you will continue to have them.

Someone is there to take away your weaknesses. Have this faith. Ok, you slipped once, twice, thrice, doesn’t matter, keep moving ahead. People say take vows never to commit them again. Breaking the vows makes it worse. Surrendering is better.

Q. Please explain the meaning of seva (service).

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:One is our job, the other is seva. Both are different. You do your job for livelihood. Seva means seva- Doing like Him. God has given you everything, whether you remember him or not. He wants nothing in return. Do work and be in the way that will make the other person happy. The reward of seva comes only when when you want nothing in return.

Q. Guruji, in life we see good people suffering a lot. It seems God is hard on the good people. Why?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:No no, it only seems so. It’s not real. A person who seems successful and happy despite doing wrong actually is restless in the heart. He can’t sleep peacefully, can’t eat with joy and his fall will be greater than his rise. Have faith that if I am doing good, then good only will happen. If you think otherwise, it is an illusion. But being good doesn’t mean one should be stupid, use your intelligence. One’s heart should be clean.

Q. Guruji many people don’t donate eyes thinking that they will be born blind in next life. Can you clarify?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:It is not true that if you donate eyes in this life, you will be born blind in next life.

Q. Dear Guruji, in my prayers I keep asking the Divine for my wishes to be fulfilled, is it selfish?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:No no, keep asking, if you don’t ask the Divine where else will you ask? But remember, you will only get when the time comes.

Q: When will matter be united with the spirit? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:When were they separate? Who is listening to my answer? Is it matter or spirit? Matter listens or the spirit?

Reply from audience - don’t know

A dead body also has ears, the sound hits it. But does it hear? Who is listening?

When this small ‘I’ relaxes, it gets in touch with the Universal Spirit, and that is meditation.

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

~ Sri Sri Ravishankar

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The more spiritual you are, the greater is the harmony in material life

What Sri Sri said today
Rishikesh, Feb. 26:

Q: Guruji, how to know whether we are making progress on the spiritual path?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:When you look back you will find that you are not the same as before. That person of the past is not there any longer.

See how strong you have become!

Sometimes the thought arises that despite so many years of sadhana, I still get angry. But see now, the intensity is far less. Sometimes the past impressions (samskaras) come up. Still, on this path if you have taken ten steps ahead, you will not slip back completely. You may go back four steps, not completely ever.

There is a permanent transformation that happens within us.

We are just not that same person. Walking on this path even donkeys turn into God, what to say of men? (Is path par gadhe bhi chal chal kar khuda ho jaata hai to aadmi ki kya baat hai.)

Q. How to quicken the progress?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:If you want to quicken the pace then keep listening to knowledge again and again. Read at least one page of Yoga Vashishtha, Ashtavakra daily. Keep doing satsang, seva, satsang, meditation.

Maya has long hands and the pull keeps happening. With the help of the rope, one to has walk away from the pull. Satsang, sadhna, satguru are all there for this only.

Q: I often speak the truth, but because of this people become angry. What must I do?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Speak the truth and speak sweetly as well. When you speak harshly then people get angry, not because of the truth. When it is very necessary to tell a bitter truth, speak it with sweetness. You don’t have to cut vegetables with an axe.

Q. How do we remember the Divine in every breath?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:The Divine is not so sub-standard that you will ‘have’ to remember Him. Remembrance happens. Don’t make an effort to remember. You have to remember something when it has not touched your heart. When the heart is kindled then you don’t have to make an effort to remember that.

Q: Could you speak about love?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:It is not possible that a person does not know about love. It’s love that gets distorted into anger and anxiety. It is almost impossible to talk of love. Sage Narad said a little and after that he said it is inexpressible - Anirvachniyam.

Q: How to increase devotion?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Open your ears wide and listen. You are a devotee and a true devotee. Don’t ever raise a doubt on this. The badness is imposed from outside. Inside you are one with the Truth. Your devotion is also true devotion. This is the way to think. Otherwise, the self doubt transforms into guilt and then you spoil your mind. Move with the belief that I am a true devotee. Hear this with open ears.

Q- Krishna ki chaturta, Ram ki gambheeta (Lord Krishna’s mischievousness, the seriousness of Lord Rama) … Guruji, which way to follow?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:See there is no fight here. They came at different times, so that there is no competition. They came to tell us that, “We are all one”. Here there is no conflict of which is better which is worse, everything is essential. Each one has a style, place and time.

It is like you sing different songs for different occasions in life. In a marriage you don’t sing a song that is sung at funerals.

Q. Guruji, how to establish harmony between material and spiritual lives?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:There is already a harmony. The more spiritual you are, the greater is the harmony in material life.

Whom would you like to interact with? Those who are happy and enthusiastic or those who are stiff and serious?

All our bodies create vibrations. From some people you feel like running away, while you want to spend more time with someone. The waves coming from inside a person can send people away. Being on the spiritual path makes the waves beautiful.

Q: Guruji whenever the Earth is burdened with sins it is said that God will come down. This is Kalyug, why hasn’t God come so far?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:The God is inside you. Let Him come out.

It’s been so many years since you came on the planet and still you haven’t given birth to the one inside you.

Log Kahte Hai Ishwar Nazar Nahi Aata
In Bando Se Poojho Ishwar Ke Siwa Kuch Najar Nahi Aata

People say that we can’t see God, Ask people here – They can’t see anything else other than God.

God is not an object to be seen. He is the seer. That’s why in yoga it is said that “become established in the seer.”

Shareer ko aram, man ko vishram, to ban gaye atmaram.

Give rest to the body, relaxation to the mind, and you will become established in the Self.

Q: Guruji, there is so much corruption in politics, should Art of Living enter politics?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Reform and administration are two different streams. It is essential for both the streams to flow. If the ruler becomes reformer and reformer becomes the ruler then both works will stop.

But spirituality will have to be brought into politics. Corruption will have to be dealt with. Though thousands of crores of rupees have been allocated under different programs, it is not reaching people at all.

I would say that you sadhaks should take part in it. Good people have been running away from politics as if it’s a dirty drainage pipe. With so many dirty drains flowing, Gangaji has disappeared. New direction will have to be brought to politics, we all have to work towards it.

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

~ Sri Sri Ravishankar

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