July 10, Vancouver, Canada:
No technique really works (laughter). It is you who makes it work. That is called shraddha. Shraddha can be roughly translated as faith. When your intention and attention are there, manifestation happens. If your intention is not there it will not work. Sudarshan Kriya works because there is an intention behind it. For anything to work, you must have intention and attention. Then manifestation happens.
Now we will do some pranayama. Let’s begin with alternate nostril breathing. Check your nostrils. You know, when the left nostril is active then the right brain is active. And vice-versa. The right brain is music. The left brain is logic. So those who have the right nostril active would understand me better. If both are active you are in meditation. However if only the right nostril is active, no meditation happens. Your state changes every time you open and close your eyes. After food, the right nostril should dominate. When the right nostril functions the metabolism is 50 percent higher. When the left is functioning, our metabolism is much slower.
Active nostrils change because they live in an ocean of prana(energy). Breath moves from right to left nostril depending on the situation. If you are driving around a church, temple or any place of worship, both nostrils will become active. The prana of both, the body and spirit, is up in those places. When people are in full devotion in a place of worship, this happens. When you meet a spiritual guide both your nostrils will become active. When you meet a spiritual person, your own voice will tell you.
Q. Guruji, please promise to come to Vancouver every year now.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, my year has 700 days. (laughter)
Q. When we meditate you say don’t put any effort, but a part of you wants to put effort because there is a feeling that there is nothing to do. What to do with that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do bhastrika, asanas. Put effort in that. When you sit for meditation you don’t need to put any effort. See for catching a train you need to make an effort, but once you are inside the train with your baggage you needn’t keep running inside. That would not get you to your destination any faster. Once you have boarded you can simply relax. Just as on a flight, all seats will reach at the same time to the same place.
Q. How to control desire?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Be in the now. Desire is wanting to be happy tomorrow. Be happy and joyful now. Like children, if you ask them what they want, they will say nothing. Because they are happy with 'now'.
Q. Guruji, can you see the aura of other people?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Is this a big deal? You can also see.
Q. How to get rid of fatigue and headache?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yoga and pranayama.
Q. How do you know if an answer is coming from within or from the rational mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no criteria. The calmer and serene the mind is, the right answer will come to you.
Q. How does one stop the flow of negative thoughts?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Negative thoughts are due to three reasons. If your blood circulation is not good, if the lymphatic system is not ok or if bowel movement is irregular. In all these cases negative thoughts are likely. You can go on a fruit diet and cleanse your intestines. Then, pranayama will help. Take Triphala (an ayurvedic supplement) for a few days. Do yoga, pranayama and meditation. You will definitely find a difference. Group sadhana (practice) will also help.
Q. Are thoughts internal or external?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Thoughts are in the mind. The mind is all around you. Both inside and out.
Q. Why do we cry in front of God and how can we bring ourselves closer to God?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It makes you feel better when you release the tears. The impressions go themselves. You don’t need any effort to make yourself close to God. God is the closest thing to you. There is no escape from God! However you are, good or bad, God is all around you. Like there is air all around you. Whether you are awake or asleep, air is all around. When you feel hot, you stand in front of the fan. The fan is just blowing the air ,which is already there. Satsang is like a fan. The Master is like a fan. Only then do you feel the blow of the air.
Q. Please explain the meaning of Sat Chitananda.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sat is “that exists.” Chit is “that knows.” Ananda is “bliss.”
Q. How does one get over past childhood problems?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s already gone. If you think it is still in the mind, then rub it off. De-link the pain from the memory. But if you put effort in trying to do that, you bring the memory back. However, in meditation you feel the pain as a sensation and not as connected to an event. In the Art of Silence Course, during the Hollow and Empty Meditation, you observe pain as a sensation. The very first experience of life was pain, coming out of our mother’s womb through such a small passage. Before that you were in bliss. You didn’t even need to eat. Then suddenly the water got drained and you came out crying. Have you noticed the expression on a newborn’s face? It is as though they came out from ten hours of hard work! The first experience is that of pain. Then the child looks into the mother’s eyes, and then the mother experiences the love.
Don’t see pain as an event.
Q. How does one deal with separation anxiety?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ujjayi breath. You are in the ocean of breath.
Q. What happens to a relationship when someone passes away? Does it end or does it continue into the next lifetime?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both are possible. Some end and some continue to the next lifetime.
Q. How can we come out of yes and no in the mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just smile through. Take things as they come.
Q. Is it our responsibility to give birth to a child? Or can we leave this in God’s hand?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you feel you want a child, go for it. Simple. Even this thought of wanting a child may be from the universal thought.
Q. How can one always remain committed?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you want an answer? You are committed to getting an answer? Let me see how long you can hold on to that commitment. You know, there is nothing like one commitment. It does not work like that. From time to time you have to take on commitments in life. That is part of your nature. If you are weak, you will drop your commitment everyday. If you are strong, you will stick to it. How does one become strong? Pranayama and meditation.
Q. Why do people meditate? Is it alright to sleep during meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s fine unless you are snoring and troubling others! (laughter) Meditation is deep rest. What is samadhi? It is equivalent to a million years of rest. If you meditate even for a second and sleep before and after, never mind. Even if it is sound sleep. So what?
Q. Please speak about forgiveness toward ourselves and others.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t do it, if it is hard. Go the easy way. If it is hard to forgive, never ever forgive. If it is easy to hold a grudge against somebody, keep it with you all your life. In that case you should be happy with it. Can you be happy with a grudge against somebody? If somebody made a mistake, it is their problem and not yours. You just go the easy way.
The struggle is that we want to forgive but we can’t. We should look at every culprit as a victim. If the person was unjust to you, clearly he was not happy. Otherwise, he would not have done it. He was not as refined and cultured as you. Whose mistake is that? If that person was enlightened, or had knowledge he would not have done it. So be compassionate.
Q. Please talk about domestic violence and how one can live with it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Domestic and social violence both arise out of stress. We never teach people how to handle stress. No one is given spiritual knowledge. Don’t you think this knowledge of meditation and Sudarshan Kriya should reach everybody? This knowledge of non-violence should reach all.
Somehow we have to reach this knowledge to people. You cannot tolerate domestic violence. Educate people. Put your 100 percent to bring them to knowledge and meditation. Through this, you will see how their whole attitude changes. There is a village of 600 people in Nanded Province in India. It had the usual challenges of a village - alcohol, debts, etc. One 'Art of Living' teacher took it as a challenge and started teaching courses in small groups. Within a few months there was a huge change in. Today everyone gathers together in the evening and sing together. Nobody drinks or smokes, or takes tobacco. There is no crime. There is one store in the village that runs on trust, without a shopkeeper. It has been running in this manner since three years without any theft. The entire village is organic. Nobody is unemployed. There are no locks on doors in the entire village. All the houses are painted pink to show unity. They keep it so clean. They are self-sufficient and environment-friendly. They have received the “Most Ideal Village” award. One hundred and eighty villages of Karnataka and altogether 500 villages are now following this model. Every person does pranayama.
A lot needs to be done. We have 140 schools in areas where there are no roads or electricity. We have a good number of children studying in these schools. They receive free education. First generation literates achieve such good grades in school. The President of the World Bank asked us how our projects are successful. I explained that money is not always the reason. Love and spiritual energy make projects successful.
Q. How does one handle fear of death?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you isolate and think only of yourself then you will have the fear of death. Once you are in service, there is no fear of death. Terrorists are committed to something so they are not afraid of life or death. If you want to do good for others, your commitment to it will take care of this fear.
Q. What is your advice for people on planet Earth? How can we live such that after 50-100 years we would still have fresh air to breathe?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Care for nature, like native communities worship nature. Honor the environment. In a place in India if you cut one tree, you have to promise you will plant five of the same kind within the next forty days. There is a whole ritual in which one who is cutting the tree speaks to it, telling it that after cutting it will be useful to us. We must care for nature, not exploit it.
Q. What to do if you love someone but the other person doesn’t love you enough?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do not ask them “Do you really love me?” Ask them “why do you love me so much?” Tell them they love you too much and “I think I don’t deserve this.” You have to go on this trip and do everything with style. Any problem in life should be handled with style.
The whole of life is a game to be played. It is not a struggle. Nothing can destroy you. You are a drop of immortality, a drop of something eternal. Your spirit is eternal. And it is alright if this does not ring a bell right now. I will just say what I know and some day you might authenticate it. Do not be afraid of anything. We have no choice.
Q. How were you able to establish three centers in Pakistan?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The people of Pakistan are very good. They just do the Sudarshan kriya. We have teachers there. When you are stuck in concepts, you are in the box. It is when you get an experience that you can come out of the box.
Q. Please speak about what will happen in the year 2012.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The year 2012 is a fascination. It has become such a sensation. No news is good news till it has become a sensation. We will have more work to do. People will become more spiritual. It will become a necessity and not merely a fashion. The Golden Age is already here.
I think now I have said everything. Many things can be said without words. Some things can’t be said with words and some cannot be said even without words. Even if you say, you may not grasp it.
You are so fortunate. Remember these words when you go home. You are very fortunate. You are so amazing and beautiful. Remember this knowledge. Spread joy and smiles. Lessen worry and bring more joy in everyone’s lives. You do this job and let the Divine take care of you. Smile at everyone.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”
~ Sri Sri Ravishankar
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