Corruption starts where belongingness ends

Bangalore Ashram, May 28: 

Q: What should be the ultimate desire of our life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If somebody tells you what the ultimate desire should be, that’s futile. This moment what you need is your desire. When you look at life from a broader perspective, then you yourself come to know what you want. Naturally, you will be compassionate, considerate for your environment, work for the country and keep doing such work and then it will not matter what the ultimate desire is. What this life is all about, you will know that naturally.

Q: How do I know if I am progressing on the spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:  See, are you calmer? Are you dynamic? Are you free from vices, bad habits and are you having a sense of belongingness with everybody around you? These are some of the measures; they don’t have to be the only measures.

Q: Dear Guruji, you often say, ‘Give all your problems to me’. But sometimes I worry that I get freedom from all my worries but did all my worries cause disturbance to you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t worry. At least that much of your worries have reduced, because when you are worried even I get worried. That is why you be happy.

Q: Guruji, it is said in Puranas that a wife wishes for the same husband for the next seven life times. Is it true?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, I am not qualified to answer this question.  You can ask people around you and find out. Some will say yes and some will say no, take a census and go by your experience. 
Once, this lady in America was telling that she has been married for 40 years and she has been living with the same husband. The other people present were wonder-struck at how she was living with the same man for 40 years. Then she said if you don’t know how to row one boat, even if you change the boat, you will not know how to row it. I said, ‘This is the story of every family in India and this tradition is there in the villages.’ If you don’t know how to row a boat, changing the boat is no use.
That is why, however the people around us are, we have to maintain a good relationship with them and through whatever means and efforts we should nurture the good qualities in others. Just criticizing anyone is not helpful. Instead you have to become a bridge. If you are just going to sit and criticize then it will only bring distance. You have to understand them, where they are coming from and why are they doing wrong.  And then you explain to them lovingly, win them over with love. This takes a lot of time; it is very easy to criticize someone and keep them away from you. That can be done in minutes but to be with them day and night, to explain to them and to bring change in them is very difficult and important. That is what should be done.

Q: Guruji, while doing pooja when we see the decoration of the idol of the Divine it feels very beautiful. But when we close our eyes and meditate, even that is very beautiful. So, what should we do, should we see or should we meditate?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Go deep in meditation and that is the best pooja. What is pooja? ‘Yena kena prakarena yasya kasyapi dehinad, santosham janayetpragyah tadeveshvarapujanam.’

What is the best form of worship? In whichever way, bringing happiness and peace to the hearts of people is the best form of worship; bring happiness to everybody. ‘Yena kena prakarena’ was said in those days. Now it cannot be done. Real happiness can be achieved only through meditation.

Q: Guruji, the war against corruption has already started in the country. In this war you are Rama, Shri Ramdevji is Lakshman, and Anna Hazareji is Hanuman. But Rama is still not to be seen in the field yet?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You left Arvind (Arvind Kejriwal) out! 
I am inside everybody and I am with everybody. Arvind is the common link between those who are walking the path against this corruption.
See, corruption is present in many levels of society; the first level of corruption is in the minds of the general public and that needs to be eliminated. 
We even give bribe to Devi and Devatas. We tell God if you do this work of mine then I will offer that to you, I will offer a coconut, I will walk the staircase of Vaishnav Devi. People asking for mannat or wishes, that too is one kind of corruption. But it is okay if sometimes a normal person just wants to give God something. Don’t say I will give if my work is done. Whatever you want to give God, give God and that is nice, but connecting it to our work or needs, that is wrong. This practice is prevalent in all religions, not just Hindu religion; it is in Christianity, in Islam and in Buddhist followers. This frame of mind that after my work gets done I will do this or I will do that is wrong. This should not happen. 
So if the general public stands up against corruption by not giving bribes, then how will anyone take? So first we need to fix those people who give bribes. Tell them not to give. We need to raise a wave of spirituality. That is when we will have more inner strength and that is when people will refuse to give bribes. When each one of you go back, each one of you will have to make at least 100 people take an oath that they will not give any kind of bribe to anyone. If you show some money to somebody, he remembers his wife and children and  thinks let me take it. So it is important to stop the people who are giving bribe.
Secondly, there are bribes that happen on the official level. Already there are many volunteers who are doing this practice, they go and stick a label on the desk of government officials that states ‘We do not take any bribe’. This has been started here but in many states it has not yet been started. It has not started in Maharashtra; wherever it has not started, there, we, volunteers must go to the desks of officials and stick a label on their desks that states ‘We do not take any Bribe’. If you go and stick this on their desk no officer can refuse you; stick it anywhere on the desk or chair or the door that here we do not take any bribe and so the people who give bribe will not give after reading this label.

Okay, the third level of corruption, on the ministerial level, for that quite a bit of work is happening with the Lokpal Bill and Arvindji, Annaji, Swamiji, Kiran Bedi, everyone is working day and night for this cause. So the Lokpal, once it has been passed will bring about the change. But the bill alone will not work; awareness needs to be created in the society towards the bill, what it is and how you can be punished by the law if you engage in corruption. This is being done at the moment. So like this work needs to be done on all levels of society and most importantly the mindset of the people needs to change and that will happen with the help of spirituality only because corruption starts there where belongingness ends. Nobody will ever ask for bribe from their family or own people. And the means through which we can spread belongingness is spirituality and this we will have to do. In everyone, we have to instill this belief that whatever is yours you will get. You work hard and be self-sufficient and stand on your own two feet. Whatever is yours you will earn. This way, this inner strength and awareness needs to be awakened in people, yes! With this we need to bring a big change in the country.

Now see, in Tamil Nadu there was so much corruption, before the elections, people were given money and made to promise by their children to take it and then these people take the money and give that candidate the vote. I arranged for people to go to each district and tell the people take the money but don’t give them vote because they are giving you your own money back. They are such poor people so they will take it. But I told them not to give a vote in exchange and don’t worry about the sin, give the sin to me and I will bear all the sin, no problem. And we were successful in Tamil Nadu.  We were lucky that the election commissioner very strongly stood by us and gave his agreement and support. But each and every one of us have to work. We have to go to each village and bring this awareness that we are against corruption, and we need to bring a big change in the way society thinks and feels.

Each person should feel that we need to move together, taking everyone with us. There are so many different kinds of people, beliefs, communities, we need to embrace everything and move together. We must not say, ‘Only my way is the correct way', no. The beauty about India is even though there are so many different communities, religions and beliefs, we respect all of them and together in unison we are moving forward.

The Art of living
© The Art of Living Foundation

Wherever you are, you meditate and you find the divinity

25 May 2011
Q: Guruji, India is compassionate with Pakistan. Pakistan does not seem to like India much. America pretends to love both but actually does not love anyone. It is a very complicated love triangle. Will it ever get sorted out, what should India do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just continue to do what it has been doing, wait and watch. India and US are naturally partners. We both have liberty, secularism, democracy. Artificially, they are partnering with Pakistan and it is not working out as much as it should. So there is a basic conflict of interest and Pakistan is suffering a lot. That is why multi-religious education is a must in Pakistan to root out fanaticism. Unfortunately, in Zia-ul-Haq’s time they changed their whole history, they disowned their ancient heritage. So it is a civilization without deep roots and that’s why this is happening.

Q: The more I gain knowledge from sadhana, seva and satsang, my faith in worshiping idols and visiting physical temples is going down. What is that Guruji?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. it is okay that you don’t go to temple after temple. Wherever you are, you meditate and you find the divinity. The Divine is everywhere. You don't have to run to temples. That is the first stage; you have crossed that stage and have come to the second stage where Hari comes to you. There is a saying that when Kabir was calling, ‘Hari, Hari, Hari’ he didn’t find Hari. But when he started meditating, he said, ‘ab Hari lage peeche keheth Kabir, Kabir’, Hari is now coming to me wherever I am.

Q: Dear Guruji, are there many other planets where there are many other Gurujis or are you the only Guruji of the universe?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, why do you want to worry about other planets now? I think I am enough for you to handle.

Q: Guruji, I am an astrologer. Is it okay to listen to the problems of people and would that affect me in any way?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, you are astrologer and the work of an astrologer is very good. You can give people some direction, this will be beneficial. Sometimes people have Ashtama Guru, Ashtama Shani. Make them aware that they have Ashtama Guru, and they need to be a little careful. Those who have Ashtama Shani, this brings trouble to the mind. So advise people to be cautious.
Like this give advice to people. You must do that. That is how people will understand why sometimes too many thoughts arise in the mind or so many doubts come and one does not have any interest in doing anything. Then when an astrologer explains that this is reason why the mind is disturbed and it will get okay and these are the remedies, it will help. Everyone should chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, all the negative effects due to planetary positions will be neutralized with chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. Negative effects become very less, as good as gone.
That is why one field of astrology is remedies. There is a saying that an arrow was coming which was supposed to hit the head, just blew a few strands of hair and went away.

Q: Guruji, I have learned how to manage my emotional problems, please tell me how to endure extreme physical pain, my leg hurts a lot.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, when your leg is paining and you are watching TV for two hours, you forget that your leg is paining, isn’t it. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. If there is pain in the body, that happens sometimes here and there, do some Yoga Nidra, get massages done. Whatever can happen through some treatments, you do that. After that, don’t keep your mind on the pain, divert your mind, okay?

Q: Jai Gurudev Guruji, Indian higher education has moved away from Indian roots and has been captured by commercial educational barons. Doesn’t it need to be redeemed and if so how?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There could be many ways. You think. You all sit and brain storm what we can do, how we can change the education system. Education should have more compassion, not commerce. Of course it has to sustain, anything you make should have a self sustaining model but it should not be like a cash cow. That is what has happened now.

Q: Guruji, in day to day life spirituality does not always work; I have now come to understand this. I am not able to even ask people for money for the work I have done. Please give me a solution.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are working then do your work giving your 100% and when you are doing charity do that also to your best. Charity in work and work in charity will create problems.

Q: Dear Guruji, I have already taken a mantra from a saint but now I am getting attracted to this path and to you. To be like you do is it necessary to take a mantra, if yes am I being dishonest to the first mantra that I have received?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don't get so confused. You have served another saint and you have taken knowledge from him that is why you are here. He has made you progress. So just be grateful. Here you are doing kriya. Learn Sahaj Samadhi and in that you will get a mantra and continue to meditate. Even if the other mantra which you previously had comes to your mind while you are meditating no problem, it comes and goes, you just relax.

Q: If one member of the family is an Art of Living teacher, then will she be able to reform a husband who is an alcoholic? Please answer Guruji.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is very difficult. It is said ‘Ghar ki murgi dal barabar’. At home they already know you, even though you have become a teacher they won’t listen to you, you should not teach them. Take them to another teacher; they will listen to what another teacher says. If you teach them they will not receive it well, they will take it for granted. You should never teach your own family members. There are so many teachers. Take them to any teacher's class and you also learn with them.

Q: Guruji, I can understand being centered and doing sadhana and seva but when criticism and jealousy turns to harmful proportions, what should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Be aware, be alert. Is it jealousy in you or in others? If it is in you wake up and see what are you jealous about, everything is going to finish one day. Know that everything is going to be gone, everything is going to finish, your jealousy will right away go down.
If it is others’ jealousy, don't recognize it, they will bear their cross.

Q: When my sister gets angry it disturbs the whole environment of the house. My parents get hurt and cannot correct her as it leads to fights and they want peace, what should we do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know it is very necessary to bring the knowledge to everybody, make everybody do the course. If you have done blessing course, give them blessings or have someone give them blessings and things will improve. Know that in your life things will always go forward. We need to have patience, yes.
There is so much strength in our sankalpa, we forget this. You have come here. Ask for what you want. You are getting what you want or not? How many of your works are getting done? See, so many people, their work gets done without asking. Have faith, with faith a lot can change.
But if you have a sankalpa in your mind that things will not change then it will take more time.

Q: Guruji, I see people dying in my dreams and sometimes it has come true. I fear the death of my loved ones, please help.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t worry, this is all  illusory. Sometimes it can come true but it is not necessary that it always come true. Everyone has come at a certain time and will go at a certain time.

Q: What is Dharma? Is Hinduism or Islam dharma? If not then what is dharma. Between dharma and karma which is more important? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Dharma is that which keeps you on track, keeps you on the path. Dhriti (that which sustains), kshama (forgiveness), dama (piety or self- control), asteya (non-stealing), shaucha (cleanliness), indraiya-nigraha (control over the senses), dhi (intellect), vidya (knowledge or learning), satya (truthful) and akrodha (absence of anger). All these 10 rules are there of dharma, if you go on google you will know all the ten rules and what is dharma. Now knowledge is available at the press of one button on the computer.
What we don’t want others to do to us, not doing that to others, is dharma. Not treating others the way we would not like to be treated, that is dharma.
Now karma and dharma are very close, dharma is that which we have to do, which is our duty, which we hold on to. Karma is of two types, that which is for dharma and that which is against dharma. If you do karma which is against dharma that become adharma and karma which is for dharma is known as Sat Karma.

Q: I am very impulsive in nature. How to handle impulsiveness and emotional outbursts?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First don’t put a label in your head that I am emotional in nature. Every person has emotions. Who is not emotional? Everybody has some emotions. But if you label yourself as emotional by nature then you are giving a license to yourself not to be intelligent or you are giving a license to yourself to be weak. You can be emotional but you can't be emotionally weak. Wake up and see you are not weak, you are strong. You have to assume you are strong.
You have heard the story of Mullah Nasiruddin? Mullah Nasiruddin started thinking that he is dead. So walking here and there he kept saying I am a dead body, I am dead. If someone would ask him something he would say a dead body cannot talk, I am a dead body even though he was speaking. So his wife got very concerned, anything she would ask him he would say I am a dead body why are you asking me. So she took him to a psychologist, and the psychologist told him,' look you are not dead you are alive,' but he said,' no I am a dead body'. So the psychologist told him in a dead body there is no blood, there is water and he agreed. So the psychologist took a needle and pricked him and he started to bleed. Then the psychologist said see that means you are not a dead body, you are alive. Then Mullah says, ‘today I have found out that there is blood even in dead bodies’
So in this way whatever we believe our self to be, we become that. So we should not think ‘I am emotionally weak’. Who said you are emotionally weak? Wake up now and see that you are strong. Emotions are natural and it is very beautiful to have emotions. Otherwise you will become so dry. Even the elephant here has emotions. The birds, elephants, horses, cows and buffaloes, they all have emotions, even a dog has emotions and then how can you not have emotions. There are emotions in you as well but to think I am emotional, I am weak, this label which you have put on yourself needs to be taken off. You are fine with the emotions; there is no need to beat yourself up. You need to feel from inside that I am strong. If tears come sometime, there is nothing wrong in that. But don’t get too carried away with your emotions.

Q: My dear Guruji, I am devoted to you and after you I think I am devoted to chocolate. I love eating chocolate, everyone says it is not right, please tell me how do I stop loving it.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, if one day you are asked to eat a whole box full of chocolates, as much as you, and I tell you the same the next day, you will start nauseating, you will have trouble at least for a day or two. If you are ready to undergo that pain, one day sit and eat as much chocolate as you want, as you usually cannot eat. Do you see what I am saying? There is nothing wrong in liking chocolate but if you think it has become an obsession then do it for one day and see if you can get over the craving for chocolate.

Q: Guruji, masters have declared that enlightenment is here and now, this very moment. Then what is the role of techniques, yoga and meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: So that it becomes here and now really. Just reading a menu card your stomach does not get full. If fire is written on a paper it does not burn your hands. The difference between fire written on paper and fire in reality, this is the difference here, okay? You have intellectually understood that enlightenment is here and now but to experience it, it happens only in meditation. The techniques take the mind away from the cravings, aversions and all the obstructions that has come to be in the here and now.

Q: First time when a human being was born, the consciousness was pure. When and how did it become impure Guruji?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, during the course of time impressions started piling up on the consciousness. Consciousness never become totally impure, its only impressions which are on top of it and that goes away with meditation, seva, sadhana and satsang.

Q: In the wedding vows does the couple get to accumulate their past karmas or do they exchange it and carry it forward?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well all is possible.

Q: Guruji, how do I deal with people’s jealousy and greed that I may encounter on my spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, don’t recognize it, if they are jealous, it is their problem. You, thinking about their jealousy, you get angry. So, they got jealous but you got angry. You feel disgusted because they got jealous. Don’t recognize it, that’s their problem, from your side you be hollow and empty.

Q: Guruji, after Sudarshan Kriya you chant some shlokas and it feels so good. What is the meaning of these shlokas?  
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: More than the meaning, feeling good is important. If you are feeling good then that is good enough.

Q: Guruji, in the past three years I have seen that every year your grace in my life increases. I fear whether this will continue to happen in the future. Does this grace come with a lifetime guarantee?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely. With lifetimes guarantees, not lifetime guarantee.

Q: Guruji, what do you think of Anna Hazare’s  Lokpal bill or constitution?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: He is coming here to the Ashram in a few days. He will speak to you and you can ask what you want to ask.

The Art of living
© The Art of Living Foundation

Spirituality begins with amusement

Bangalore, May 23:

Q: Guruji, can spirituality be explained by science? Sometimes I get amused by this creation which is yet to be explained by science. Do the Vedas have a solution?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, amusement is the preface for Yoga. When you are amused then you start enquiring into the nature of truth and then your journey begins. So, it is perfect. ‘Vismayo Yoga Bhumika,’ spirituality begins with amusement and then it is like being in an amusement park all the time. You get surprised, wow! What is this? What is this world? So many different varieties of trees, plants, flowers, leaves, vegetables, fruits, people, what is all of this? When such a thought arises, then knowledge begins.

Q: Guruji, if we accept situations the way they are then how would one be creative?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You must have understood this in the course (Art of Living’s Part One course), right? Acceptance does not mean inaction; acceptance is actually acknowledging the present situation.

You know, every child should know that they are a part of all the traditions in the world. Pakistanis’ ancestors were Hindus, Buddhists, Jains; many of the ancestors were from all these ancient traditions. Some were Parsis. The children in Pakistan should have been taught Upanishads, a little bit about Yoga and meditation. Yoga was born in Pakistan; born means it was taught and preached in what we call Pakistan today.

Hundreds of people follow all sorts of preaching because they don’t have access to spiritual knowledge, they don’t know about it. That is why it has become a very important duty for all of us to educate people about spirituality. Don’t you think so?
So we have got to be more active now and see that any sort of fanaticism is transformed into compassion and fanaticism is changed into a commitment to do good work in society, isn’t it. So we all have to work for it, yes!

Q: Dear Guruji, can Sudarshan Kriya change the DNA?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes

Q: Guruji how do I make myself strong to accept criticism?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, whether you accept or not, the criticism has already happened, isn’t it? You are left with no choice. Only after someone has spoken, you find that they have criticized you, right. How do you know before they speak? Before someone criticizes you, you don’t know. After they have criticized you, it is already done. What is the option you have? Okay, don’t accept it, what will happen to you? You will become more miserable. So if you are intelligent you will accept it, if you don’t want to be intelligent you can suffer for some time. That is the only way you can do it.

Q: Guruji, I have seen that there is a lot of your grace on me. Whatever I want or whichever desires I have, you give them to me. It has never happened that I have not gotten what I wanted but desires are such that they never end and now I have started to feel ashamed of myself, what to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, now you have become aware of this, right? So you are now on the right track. The car has taken a ‘U’ turn. Ask for something big. Why are you asking for something small? And don’t ask only for yourself, ask for everyone. What you ask for, you will get.

Q. Sometimes, I am not happy with the school that my child is attending. Should I remove him from school and let him be at home?  
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, just because the school environment is not good enough, to remain at home is no good. Then children will become dull. We have to improve the systems in schools and this work is happening. That is why we are opening so many schools; we have opened around a 100 schools here in India.

Q: Dear Guruji, my mother-in-law does not distribute the prasad to people from other religions. Her logic is that those who don’t understand the importance of prasad won’t benefit. How can I get her to think otherwise?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Does not matter if she does not do it, you give it to everybody. Prasad is mostly nice eatables, people will appreciate. You know, everybody has got their individual opinions. Let them have, you have your own opinions, there is no conflict. You do what you want to do.

Q. What is more important: Vedanta, knowledge or love? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, Vedanta, knowledge and love are always together.  Sometimes one is given more importance and at another time the other is given more importance. So you have to go with both. Good!
The Art of living

© The Art of Living Foundation

When you meditate and your mind becomes quiet, that peaceful mind is the house of God

Bangalore, May 22:

Q: Jai Gurudev, Guruji, I know the world through the mind, intellect, memory, ego, etc., but only after leaving these six levels can I know my true self. So my question is when we leave these six levels, how do we establish our self in the seventh level?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We don’t have to leave the six levels; we cannot leave the body, mind, intellect. We have to be with this and know the Self. The body, mind, memory, intellect, ego is there and let it be there. Start meditating and relaxing for a few minutes every day, before starting your work, after your work. See, when you meditate and your mind becomes quiet, that peaceful mind is the house of God. That is why you cannot know God but you can be one with God. You are feeling peaceful, you are feeling happy, going deeper and deeper. In this, you will start to experience that 'I am everybody, it is all only me'.

Q: Jai Gurudev. Gurudev. I have read a lot of your books and I have read books by Sathya Sai Baba and Osho. I found no difference in them, they all talk about love and I just feel they are different physical manifestations. One thing I am greatly influenced by Osho is his concept of Zorba The Buddha. I wanted your perceptions on that. I really like the way he talked about material and spiritual together. Just want to hear what you feel.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, he was a great orator and he spoke really well. He had a deep intellectual insight which is fine but one thing that was missing there was the knowledge of the mantras; knowledge of the tradition of the mantras. Buddha said it is all nothing, everything is nothing and he also said I searched for the ultimate, I searched for the Self but I found there is no Self, there is no atma. I searched and searched and finally found there is not atma.
But in the Sanatana Dharma, Adi Shankara said, ‘Who searched? Who is it that did not find? That is atma.’ So, it is like two sides of the same coin. He talks about the emptiness and on the other side the Vedanta speaks about the fullness. So it is one step, from somebody to nobody is one step. Buddha stops at that, from somebody to nobody, and Vedanta takes you from nobody to everybody.

Q: Dear Guruji, our souls are recycled through rebirth it is said, the population on the planet yet is increasing. Is it that souls from other planets are coming and joining us on planet earth or other creatures are taking human birth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Other creatures. Both are possible, both things are happening.

Q: Guruji, Dr. Stephen Hawking has a very strong belief about our present human life. He says that there is nothing beyond this life, there is nothing beyond this existence. I don’t know how much he has studied religion but I know that you have studied physics. So how would you like to reply to him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No scientist would ever say, ‘I know everything and whatever is here that is all and there is nothing beyond’. Not at all, Stephen Hawking has not said what is here is the ultimate. He said there are many levels and many dimensions. Our brain is a frequency analyzer; it can only analyze certain frequencies. Right here there are so many other frequencies. So no scientist ever refuses the possibility of many layers of existence, many worlds right here, because there are many waves. What you see is just a wave function and in wave function there are infinite layers, one inside the other, one inside the other. So microcosm to macrocosm, there are so many worlds and so many levels of time.

Q: Jai Gurudev. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a great sadhak, he did sadhana for his entire life but still at the end he suffered, why?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:  Sometimes, masters take the karmas of the disciples. Because of the disciple’s karma, he has to go through those physical illnesses. It is not necessary everybody has to go through that, some masters choose to do that, that’s it!

Q: Sometimes I am exhausted with my work and then I lose my self control. How can I control myself because the result of this is very harmful for me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, that is why when you are exhausted, sit and meditate. Do pranayama and meditation that will remove the exhaustion.

Q: Dear Guruji, I have noticed that when anyone puts a garland on your photo it falls away, why is it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No need to put garlands, I am returning it back to you.

Q: Guruji, it is said that at the time of death the last though or memory in the mind is what influences the future birth that one takes. In this mind of mine, there is a big influence of this material world. What to do for me to remember and have only you on my mind at the last moment of my life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t have to wait for the last moment of your life. Live every moment with happiness and joy and do seva, sadhana and satsang.

Q: Respected Guruji, I am very concerned about our country’s economy which is getting affected mostly by the international crude prices. At the same time nuclear energy has also proved very fatal by the example from Japan. How can our country move forward in this regard?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By raising concerns like what you have done with the masses. Everyone should be concerned about environment, for people, for the whole country. When everyone feels this concern, things will change.

Q: Jai Gurudev. Is there God, how to believe it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The cars are moving, do you see cars going in the street? Yes, but is somebody driving inside or are they moving on their own? There is a driver right, but you don’t see the driver all the time when the cars are moving, right?

Q: Guruji, everyone seems to be running behind Moksha. What is this moksha please tell me as well?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why are you also running behind moksha? If you are not running behind it then what is the problem. Those who are running I will tell them, you don’t worry about it.

Q: Guruji I have a 30 acre of agricultural land with one small temple of Lord Gurudev Datta and Sai Baba together towards the end, near the west side of the land flowing north to south direction and a slope flowing east to west. My Vastu consultant says it is very dangerous to have such a land and gives me opinion to take it out. Guruji what should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, such land exists on the planet. In every land something good happens and something not so good happens, doesn’t matter. You chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ or ‘Guru Om’ and all the negative influences and effects will simply disappear.

Q: Dear Guruji, my husband always shots and screams at me and talks in a loud voice even though I talk normally. Towards others he talks softly, what should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That means he loves you more than anybody else. He has made a difference right there. So far you have managed; you know how to manage, so manage. Don’t expect him to speak very nice words, at least you speak nice words and let him be harsh. It can be one way, doesn’t matter, there will be harmony.

Q: Guruji, the path of knowledge is very tough; through devotion can one attain knowledge?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely.

Q: Dear Guruji, how do I stop comparing myself with the whole world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have so much time to sit and compare yourself with everybody. My goodness, I have no time. Too much time on your hands, you better do something more creative. You are sitting and comparing yourself with the whole world, what a waste of time.

Q: Guruji, the four do’s of our scriptures is Dharma, Arth, Kama and Moksha and the four don’ts are Kama, Krodh, Moha, Lobha and Ahankara. So why is kama a paradox which finds itself in both do’s and don’ts?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes because excess of it is very bad and in the right dose it is good. Like salt in the food, the right amount of salt is good and too much salt is no good.

Q: In astrology many astrologers recommend wearing certain gem stones and rings. Do you recommend wearing those things and if you are on the spiritual path do you need to wear those things?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No you don’t need to, of course everything little thing has some influence on you but you know you are much more powerful than a piece of stone. So if you like you can do it. Otherwise chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, that is most powerful mantra which takes care of all the bad effects of any planets.
The Art of living

© The Art of Living Foundation

Logic can’t console the emotions, but the quiet presence works

May 19, 2011 Bangalore Ashram

Q: Guruji, whatever is worth remembering, I forget, and whatever is useless, not worth remembering, my memory always remembers that. 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: At least, you understood this. Many people don’t even understand this. Give a pat on your back. Say you have taken first step in the right direction. And it will change. Just a little effort and done.
When you analyze the past, you should always come to this conclusion that everything happens for the good, because you learnt a lesson from the wrong things. But you should not apply this for the future. Looking at the past and knowing that everything happens for some good reason, you move on to the future. But if, in the present, you say, ‘ Oh! Everything happens for the good’, that is no good.

Q; When someone dear passes away, how do you explain that? How to console them? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you need to explain? You know, when you have to console, just be there quietly. Your simple presence will work.  By words you cannot console anybody. Everybody has come for some time and they go like that. No logic can console the emotions. Logic doesn’t work at all. And it is a wrong thing to pacify emotions through logical conclusions or understanding.
No doubt, the questions will come – why this happens? Those questions should never be answered. Simply be there in silence, in love, compassion, and the atmosphere changes.

Q: when a certain species of Plant or Animal gets extinct from the Planet, does it have an adverse effect on us? Also, are these species present parallel on other Planets as well?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ya, nothing gets extinct like that. It appears to be, but the number goes up and down. For some species to become extinct, it takes a long, long, long time. So, don’t worry. And, there are so many other planets. But we have enough to see and enjoy in this planet, and that is good enough.

Q: Is homosexuality a sin? Is it possible to change the orientation of a human being by Sadhana and Spiritual Practices? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, these tendencies come in you because you are made up of both mother and father, a combination of two. Everybody has both male genes and female genes. When male chromosomes are dominating or when female chromosomes are dominating, these tendencies come and go. You don’t have to brand yourself about that. It can all change. There is a possibility of those tendencies changing. Know that you are more than just the body. You are a scintillating consciousness, energy.  You are sparkling light, and so, identify yourself with that light more.

Q: My mirror tells me everyday that I am maturing on outside. Which mirror should I use to measure the growth that is happening inside, my spiritual growth? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:  See, are you more calm, are you more fulfilled, satisfied? You feel a sense of expansion. Turn back and see how you were and how you are today. A simple reflection about yourself gives you an idea.

Q: Guruji, I have this desperate need to be somebody, to have an identity of my own. No matter how much I tell myself that nothing is in my hands and I should accept everything, it only makes me more frustrated. Please guide.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just be busy. Don’t sit and think about yourself. Trying to have a self-image restricts your growth. Be hollow and empty. Do more meditation.

Q: How to deal with narrow-minded people around you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With a broad mind! Just smile at them. No tit for tat. It doesn’t work. Gently educate them. And determine that you are not going to lose your happiness because they are behaving in a narrow-minded way.

Q: Money, mind or meditation – All three are not in my control? Money doesn’t come, mind doesn’t stop and not able to meditate. What will happen to me Guruji?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You can’t do meditation? Okay, so first see why you are not able to meditate. The part of you that is entangled in money and mind, detangling it from there, entangle it in me! Then meditation will also happen, mind will also be happy and money will also come on its own.

Q: Is not committing a direct sin equivalent to a noble deed, and not doing the required noble deed equal to a sin? Am I responsible for my actions and non-actions as well? And if I don’t do anything, what is my status? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Nobody can be without doing anything. And when you do something, either it will benefit somebody or harm somebody. Right? Nobody can be without doing anything even for a second – You will start thinking either good or bad about somebody. So, that is why, keep on doing something good. Do good but don’t get into airs, “Oh I did so good”. ‘Naiki kar, kuen mein Dal’ (A proverb in Hindi saying - ‘Do good, forget it and move on’). So, can’t be doing nothing, and when you do, see that it is uplifting for all.

Q: Does Karma get transferred from one person to another?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely. When you make good business and you pass on to your children, you have passed on your Karma to them. Similarly, if you create a big hell, your children will have to bear it, or your parents will have to bear it. Definitely, Karma is not an isolated Island. It spreads on to the people around, into the family, into the nation. There are different levels in karma.

The Art of living
© The Art of Living Foundation

This is a new policy; don’t try to make anybody happy, you can’t

Bangalore, May 18: 

I have seen that swamis, sadhus and people in ancient times would not like to listen to any conflict anywhere. If someone came and complained to them they would just plug their ears and say, “You deal with it.”
See, if you are part of the solution, your energy is high. But if you are talking about problems and problems, your energy comes down.

In the world there is always a play of positive and negative; some problems come, some challenges come and solutions also come behind it. The ancient people would simply focus on keeping their energy high. If your energy is high then when people come to you their problems will get solved.

Usually what happens when you talk to people? You get stooped into their level of problems. They talk to you about their problems and what happens? You get carried away into the problems. So just try this: one day let everybody come and complain 100 things to you, you simply keep your energy high, your sight inward, your mind inward as though nothing has happened. You will suddenly feel there is a freedom within you.
You try this: at home your mother-in-law will complain, your husband will complain, anybody can complain about anything, let the world go topsy-turvy, but hold onto the idea - I am going to keep my energy high. You just take one such step and see, because problems and challenges come so that you can turn your mind inward.
Instead of turning our minds inward when problems come, what do we do? We chase the problem and when we chase the problem we get totally drawn in that direction, dragged in that direction and then our energy goes down and we collapse. Isn’t this what happens?

Many times, in the name of compassion and sympathy you get drowned. Your compassion does not really help at all in solving the problem. It may be very shocking because in compassion the problem multiplies, and it doesn’t get solved.

Any problem comes so that a person can turn inward and look inside, get into a state of dispassion and calmness. Instead you give reasons and try to pacify the person. Pacifying a person in a problem is the worst thing. You should not pacify them. Let everybody bear their own cross. Bear your karma. If you are miserable it is your karma, if you are happy it is your karma. So you change your karma. This attitude makes a person more independent.

You show compassion and then they want more attention. You feel more compassion and give more attention and then neither compassion is there nor can you give any more attention. Only tension remains. It breeds tension in you, ‘That poor person is so upset and I have to make them happy’. Making someone happy is a big burden. Don’t try to do that at all. This is a new policy; don’t try to make anybody happy, you can’t.

There is a Sanskrit proverb that says ‘Kashtasya sukasya nakopi data’. Nobody gives happiness or misery. It is created by one’s own self, one’s own mind. When someone says ‘problem’, just turn and run in the other direction. Say deal with it, you deal with your own problem. Then you see independence comes, interdependence comes in people and that is how you make yourself self- sufficient.
I am talking about this to sadhaks, to all of you who are already on the path. But don’t use this when someone in the street is crying and they want a lift and you say, ‘Guruji said let them deal with it, I am out.’  If you have  space in your car you should go attend to them. That compassion is needed there, but not in relationships. When you are relating with people, random acts of compassion are essential. To someone whom you do not know, be compassionate.
Be passionate about dispassion.

Just see your own mind keeps getting bogged down by that person’s feeling, that person’s tension and this lady’s misery and this person’s unhappiness - what can you do and where have you gone? What has happened to you? You are completely shattered. That is why they say cut all these cobwebs around you, all these strings around you, only one string to the Divine, only one string.
Even there, don’t say, ‘Guruji didn’t look at me, maybe God is angry with me’, this and that, no! Everything is prasad, if I am kicked out, it is a Prasad. If I am scolded, it is Prasad. Everything is prasad, This attitude is the best attitude. So: no attention, no tension. Good!

Q: Guruji, if we do that people will think we are so insensitive.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Let them say what they want. That is what you are trying to do, please them. ‘No I am not insensitive, I am sensitive.’
As I said, you do your job, whatever you should do you do, but don’t sit and listen to their problems, and don’t get carried away by it, got it!

Q:  In the Part 1 course they have explained the three sounds and when they are put together they sound ‘Om’, ‘Amen’ and ‘Ameen’. I don’t understand how the three sounds form ‘Amen’ and ‘Ameen’.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No it’s similar, ‘Aa’ and ‘Ma’, two sounds are definitely there, it’s very similar.
If you see, English is a distortion of Sanskrit. Lots of words in English are derived from Sanskrit; I would say nearly 50 percent; brother: bhratru, sister: svasa, mother: mata, etc.

When the language changes usually distortion happens.
In Bengali, there are a lot of changes that have happened, ‘Vishnu’ become ‘Bishnu’; ‘Vishwas’ becomes ‘Bishwas’. The Bengalis say ‘eat water’, ‘jal khabe’; ‘khabe’ means eating but they say ‘jal khabe’. ‘Jal’ becomes ‘jol’; ‘jol khabe’. Every language has got its own characteristics, isn’t it?

In English also they change the pronunciation; instead of ‘West Bengal’ they say ‘Best Bengal’. Don’t ‘baste’ food; for ‘waste’ they say ‘baste’. That is how it is. You have to accept it.

‘You like bhite, you always bear bhites’; they are actually saying you always wear whites. ‘Guruji always bears bhites’ - that is the typical pronunciation. In Gujarat ‘lawn’ becomes ‘loan’ and ‘hall’ becomes ‘hole’; ‘the loan is in front of the hole.’

Q: We always perform Tarpana on Amavas in reverence of the departed souls of the beloved ones, is it really something scientific or just a ritual?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, Tarpana means ‘to satisfy.’ ‘Tarpa’ comes from ‘tripti’, which means fulfillment. Your ancestors had some wishes. Fulfilling them or taking them to be fulfilled, don’t crave for anything. That is exactly what Tarpana is: remembering the people who have departed once in a year.
In Christianity and in Islam also they do this for departed souls, particularly once in a year. So in India, in the ancient days, on amavas (moonless night) they kept remembering all the ancestors and they kept the full moon day to remember all the different manifestations of the Divinity. It is not only that every amavas you have to do something, but remembering them and doing some good work in their memory is good.

Q:  Guruji, you have told us that the Guru’s work is to confuse the disciple. Then who will we go to for answers?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Where else can you go? Anywhere you go you will get more confused, isn’t it? From where the confusion has come, the answer will also come.

Q: Guruji, sometimes we are in a free state of mind when we can talk to anyone and sometime we are not. How to get that state of mind back?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You mean at home with the wife? It does happen and people complain, at home my husband does not speak, but when some guest comes my husband speaks a lot. When I am alone with him he doesn’t speak at all; this is the problem, right? Your mind is such - sometimes you want to speak and sometime you have spoken so much that you have exhausted everything. You don’t feel like talking and so the prana has to go up for you to feel like talking more. That is nature. You don’t have to force yourself to talk, so be free.

Q: Jai Gurudev, you are so attractive, is this the bondage in my path? If I get stuck in your form what should I do to see beyond the form?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: So that you get detached from everything else - and then this will also automatically dissolve. You will see me more, much different than the form.

Q: Guruji, please talk on angels, what is their role and purpose. Does everyone have a guardian angel that looks after them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, angels are just positive energy.

Q: What is Swara Yoga, could you please articulate on that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First do alternative nostril prayanama and then go more deep into pranayama then you will see how the breath in the nostrils change throughout the day.

Q: Guruji, can we do Tarpana for ourselves when we are alive?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, become contented through meditation. That is Tarpana.

Q: Tell us something more about prarabdha and sanchita karma.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sanchita karma can be reduced by devotion, whereas for prarabdha karma some of it will have to be undergone; you have to experience it.

Q: Guruji, my boss wants me to be diplomatic and feels it is very important for communication but I am a very straight forward person and cannot be diplomatic. What is the right thing to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you put a label in your head ‘I am a straight forward person’ and why should a straight forward person not be diplomatic also? A straight forward person need not be rude all the time. Now you hide your rudeness behind that fact that you are straight forward, no you cannot justify the rudeness that way. Straight forwardness is necessary and diplomacy is also necessary, you have to have both. When you meet someone who is blind, you cannot tell that person, ‘You are a blind person’. You may say I am just straight forward, I am just saying the right thing, but you shouldn’t do that. So diplomacy is part of life; that is a skill you need to have. Diplomacy need not be that one is not being straight forward because it is not the opposite of being straight forward, not at all. These two things should go together.

Q: Guruji, how do you come to know what is going on in our minds even though we are thousands of kilometers away. How do you fulfill all our desires?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is my secret. If you attend the blessing course you can do that as well.

Q: Guruji, during amavas and Diwali we are told not to wander about at night and not to use sharp tools, what is the reason behind that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, the moon has an impact on the mind. On full moon days, you feel different; new moon days, you feel different. In the ancient days they used to say, since amavas is such a dark night, not to use sharp things as you may hurt yourself. That is what they said in the past but today with electricity that doesn’t apply.

Q: Guruji, what happens to the letters that are sent to you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They all come to me, don’t worry.

Q: Guruji, some people say that you must not go to funerals and some people say you should go to funerals. Which is right?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, we can go for funerals; there is a social responsibility. There is no problem in going. Usually, once you return from a funeral, you take a bath because the energy changes.
The Art of living

© The Art of Living Foundation

Dispassion is what you invoke in yourself

Bangalore, May 17:

Q: Dearest Guruji, is it true that every chapter of the Bhagavad Gita has influence on a particular plane? Kindly explain.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Planets are far away, they have an influence on your mind, on your Self. Every chapter has an influence on you.

Q: Dear Guruji, my business keeps me busy but I have this urge of doing some seva. Is there something that I can support financially without giving too much of my time? Will that be counted as seva?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, that is okay. Some can give time, some can provide resources. Seva happens with both time and resource. So if you can’t give time you can put your resources into that.

Q: Guruji, you asked us to be dispassionate and you also say that dispassion is a happening. I really want to be dispassionate but I am confused how can I create a happening in my life? Please guide
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Dispassion is not a happening; I would say dispassion is what you invoke in yourself. When you widen your awareness, when you see everything is going to disappear and death is imminent, we are all going to die and everything is changing; when this knowledge comes - then dispassion is spontaneous. You need to understand and see life from a broader perspective and then automatically dispassion comes within you; but there is some effort. A little effort from you and then it will happen.

Q: Guruji, my wife and me separated two years back, we want to remarry now. You can say in our case our divorce did not work but we both are scared, are we committing the same mistake again? Please guide.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s a good intention that you want to make it work. As time goes your consciousness changes, your mind changes, and you are understanding changes. In this changed scenario if you feel like giving another try to make things work, there is nothing wrong, try it anyway. If it doesn’t work, then don’t choose the same partner in the next lifetime.

Q: How do I enjoy life if it is going to get finished one day? This thought doesn’t let me enjoy Guruji.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It should make you appreciate life more. See, a flower is going to wither away but don’t you enjoy looking at the flower? You have a gulab jamun (an Indian sweet), ice creams, once you eat it’s going to finish but don’t you enjoy it? Now see, there is the beautiful full moon there and it is going to disappear one day but still we enjoy it today. Good!

Q: Dear Guruji, generally one of these shaktis are predominant in us: either Brahma shakti, Vishnu shakti or Shiva shakti. How to use them and how to balance them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Simply do it! That’s it. Brahma shakti: you create but don’t just drop it. Vishnu shakti is to see that whatever you start, you continue.

Q: Guruji today is Buddha Purnima, so please tell us something about it.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Buddha stood for meditation all his life, all the time. We will do a short meditation now.

Q: I am from Rajasthan, there are many ashrams in Rajasthan and I was thinking that if a small ashram of The Art of Living is built there, that would be a very nice thing. What are your thoughts? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Alright, build an Ashram, all of you get together and make one. I make people, you make the Ashram. Just yesterday we were discussing that there are so many ashrams but there are no people. In the ashrams, there are no Yogis. So that is why I thought first, let’s make strong people and that is why I called this ‘Vyakti Vikas’ not ‘Ashram Vikas’. So now this work you do, the other work I have already started.

Q: When someone of our own suddenly passes away and we are not prepared when he leaves. There is so much to talk and to say and when he leaves you want to feel him. You said they are always there so how to do that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Those who have left will understand that this world is just a play, there is nothing really; it’s just a wave so there is no need to tell them or explain anything to them, without saying anything they will understand. When in the body, we understand using words but once we are out of the body, then communication happens through feeling. So don’t worry, you be happy, those who have gone have gone and we are here now.

Q: Guruji, if our nearest and dearest ones don’t understand the feelings that we have towards you and they logically try to analyze and this hurts us. How do we handle this situation, this often comes in our life.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you want to explain everything to everybody? Feelings are such that people don’t understand. You don’t have to express all your feelings like that. They could be insecure and think that you will leave home and go to the Ashram and be there. So see that people don’t get into that fear. Your love and devotion should be expressed only as much as they can understand. Same with joy, sometimes you don’t know how to express your happiness; if you express too much people don’t understand.

One devotee went to a funeral of somebody, a mourning meeting and there were bhajans and he started dancing and the people didn’t understand. There is satsang and bhajans, of course you dance when you are in joy and he said that anyways everything should be a celebration. But if you dance there people can get annoyed. So you should see what a person can understand; how much they can understand and how to convey what you want to convey. Be skillful in conveying so that your expression doesn’t bring fear and anger in others as much as possible. And then ignore. Beyond a level you should simply ignore.

Q: I feel that India’s socio-economic problems are a lot based on over population, do you agree?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, no. India’s problems are not based on over population, they are based on corruption. The problem is because of corruption. Population was thought to be a curse till a few years ago but today it’s the population that is the basis for improving the economy. Population means big market, why would other countries look at India? Because it’s a huge market.
The Art of living

© The Art of Living Foundation

Love strengthens the soul, hatred and sorrow weakens the soul

Bangalore, May 15:

Q: Is there something like a good or bad being? If someone is bound by an outer problem, does the negative path follow him? How to get rid of that? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no good or bad soul. There are strong and weak souls. Strong souls are happy, and weak ones are sad. Now, how does a soul become strong?  Devotion strengthens the soul. Love strengthens the soul, hatred and sorrow weakens the soul.

Q: Compared to the universe, if our existence is nothing then what impact does it create if we are born or not? How does our karma effect?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, in the universe nothing matters, yet everything matters. This universe will collapse even if one species disappears. Suppose all the house flies disappear from the universe, the universe will collapse, it cannot exist. This is what scientists say today, even if a particular type of butterfly is missing or one type of flower becomes extinct, the universe cannot stay.
 A house fly has no significance; how many planets are there! How many solar systems are there! Milky ways are there! Yet, if house flies are missing the universe collapses. So, though house flies are very insignificant they are very significant. Similarly, everyone is significant yet insignificant.

Q: Dearest Guruji, if Shiva is the potential of this universe, then what is Narayana Tatva?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Narayana is the manifestation of Shiva tatva in the human system. Shiva tatva is the un-manifest absolute; Narayana is the manifestation of it. Like water vapor or humidity in the atmosphere, you don’t see it but when the clouds pour you see the rain. So water is Narayana and the water vapor is Shiva tatva. That is why when you see Swamis and Sanyasis or Yogis you say, ‘Om Namo Narayana’.

Q: I belong to a particular sect of Islam. I see a lot of violence associated with Islam. Why are there religious conflicts in the World today? Is there any Supreme power behind it, something supernatural? Why don’t we follow our paths, celebrating all religions?  Why do there exist seemingly different words of the Masters of different ages and times and places? 
 Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In those days, communication was not so good, there were no telephones. For people to go from here to there and there to here would take years, not just months. So at that time what was prevailing in that area, that is what Masters or Gurus or Saints spoke more about. Muhammad spoke about Judaism and Christianity, he didn’t speak about Hinduism or Buddhism because it had not reached that area then; but he said for every tribe a different wisdom has been given. He also said, ‘So many prophets have come before me, honor them all.’ That’s what he said, be at peace and honor everybody.

He said about one lakh prophets have come before me, if you count those hundred thousand it will include many Rishis and Maharishis, and all the Masters who have come to the planet.  Unfortunately, after his demise, the religion became very much restrained and it started restricting people.
Mohammed gave so much freedom for women at that time but then later on it changed. You know it happens in every religion, as times goes, distortion happens. Whatever the original prophet said that doesn’t stay on, it doesn’t remain, things change.

See today, in Pakistan, everyday there is a bomb blast that too in mosques because one sect of Islam thinks only they are correct and everybody else is wrong. The Wahabi sect thinks everyone else, even Sufis are wrong. So it is mainly the religious leaders who create more of these problems and not the founder of the religion. The founder of all religions would have just said, go on the spiritual path, go within and connect yourself to the Divinity. They would have all recommended yoga, chanting and meditation. So, unfortunately, we leave the cream of the religion and get to the outer shell and people are fighting unnecessarily. That is why we should turn to spirituality.

The main message of the Prophets is: Have peace with yourself, peace in your environment and peace in the world. Second is love all and serve all, third is to believe in one God but in many names, that is it.
There is one Divinity in many names and in many forms. Love and compassion for everybody and peace in your heart, if these are there then you don’t have to listen to anybody who tells you that you should not do this because you are not this or that.

Q: Is Lord Vishnu’s task easier or is your task here on Earth easier?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Look I do not do any comparison. If my task is easy or difficult, I don’t go and discuss it and think about it. Whatever it is, if it is difficult we have to do it, if it is easy we have to do it and it is all happening through the Vishnu shakti only. Vishnu is not somewhere sitting in the Waters, Vishnu is the one which has His existence in each and every inch of this Creation.

The Art of living
© The Art of Living Foundation

You are a gift to the world!

Bangalore, May 13:

Any celebration can be genuine only when there is dispassion in the heart. When the mind turns inwards and latches onto that which is not changing, that which is eternal. You know what, the moment you see that deep inside you are eternal, then what is death and what is birth? It’s like people saying the sun is rising and the sun is setting. Neither does the sun rise nor does the sun set, in the same way we are not born and we never die. We remain, we stay; that aspect of our consciousness is what we need to latch on to and that is the spiritual path; that’s it!

Generally you have all noticed that somewhere deep inside you there is this feeling that I am not changing, everything else is changing but I have not grown up. I also don’t feel that I am 50 plus at all and similarly every one of you feel that you haven’t grown up. There is something in you that says, 'I have not changed, I have not aged'. You really are ageless and still you do all these celebrations.

If celebration can bring more service activity then I would go for it every day! Why once a year?                                                        

I am so glad that hundreds and thousands of volunteers today around the world are engaged in some or the other service activities. There are so many blood donation camps and so many programs happening. As I am speaking there are so many satsangs that are happening right now and we are on the webcast and millions of people are watching and I am congratulating them all. You have done a lot of service activities today. Keep it up and take any excuse to do service activities.

For life to be blissful, two things are essential. One is dispassion. Latch on to that inner being that is non-changing. Just recollect and remember that you don’t change and nothing inside you changes, you are eternal. When you are anchored in that dispassion then life becomes a celebration, at the same time service activities happen through you spontaneously. So when we are doing service activity, we have to share. Whatever we have, we should share with everybody and when we go deep inside our Self, then dispassion arises. These two things, service and dispassion, can make life a celebration. So snatch any occasion to have these two values.

A celebration without dispassion is very flaky. It is superficial, and there is no depth to it. In the same way service without dispassion is also not the best quality service because it tires you down. We need to be more dispassionate and do service activity and then life becomes a celebration.
My being here is only to remind you that your being is eternal, we are all eternal and in life challenges come and problems come, some pleasant, some unpleasant. All these events come and situations come, but don’t worry. I am with you and together we will sail over all these rough waters and we will make life a celebration. We have already made life a celebration and we will continue to bring celebration to our life and continue to bring more celebration into the lives of the millions of people around us, yes!

Actually you should remember you are a gift to the world. You are not a burden to the planet but you are a gift and when you feel that self-worth coming up within, you will be able to do wonderful things for people around you. When you are satisfied, when you are fulfilled, you can only think of what you can do for everybody else and to realize that you must realize the fact that you are a gift to this world.

I was giving the analogy of a match stick; remember that you are a match stick. The purpose of a match stick is to light the lamps. You know, you strike the match stick and it burns and it lights several candles. Like that so many match sticks in a box can light so many lives. So think you are a super-sized match box. You are here to bring light, wisdom and happiness into the lives of people.

So don’t worry about anything, all your little needs and desires will be taken care of, it will all happen. You have to turn and see what you are doing for the world, how you are contributing to this world and how you are enhancing spirituality in the world. This is essential and is very much needed.

Q: Dear Guruji, you say that our relationship is as old as this earth. Have we celebrated your birthday in some past live as well? I don’t remember but you would, so please tell me.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes we have. Of course! Now tell me, the first time you met me did you feel that we are meeting for the first time? No, I also have never felt as if meeting a stranger with anybody. All those people, everyone I met, I have always felt I have met them before and I know them. As of now I have not met a single stranger.

Q: Guruji I want to have an intense longing for u but it comes and goes and the mind moves on to other things. How do I have this consistent intense longing for you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Never mind, have some fun. If you say ‘I don’t have longing’, that also is another longing. You’re longing for the longing; it’s like when you are angry, you are then angry because you are angry. Similarly you are longing for longing, know that is also longing.

Q: What is the difference between sankalpa and desire and if there is a difference then what is the technique to transform all desire into sankalpas?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know I have already spoken about all this, about sankalpa and desire and how to change it. It is all about dispassion, dispassion works everywhere.

Q: I am thinking today that everything is permeated with light and when I look into myself your light is within me. In me, in him and all of them, it is you only that is present. Where ever I see everywhere it is you who are shining. Where have you come from, who are you, tell me that at least today?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you want to know who I am then there is a deal you will have to make with me. The deal is that first you have to know who you are. When you find out who you are then you will know who I am and this is also what I want, that you know who you are and then you will know who I am.

Q: In a world that is changing so fast you still seem to be the same, unchanged and so beautiful and so adorable. How is that Guruji?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Some questions are to be wondered about, so this too is not a question but something you need to wonder about. Questions are always bent, crooked, but wonder is always straight. So transforming life from question to wonder is knowledge. Knowledge does not give answers to questions but changes the questions to wonder. So this is something that you should wonder about.

The Ashramities have started chanting a few shlokas of the Bhagavad Gita every day. I would like to say that everyone, wherever you are, start reading a few shlokas of the Bhagavad Gita every day. Read three to four shlokas everyday, if you don’t understand Sanskrit never mind, even the translation is good enough.

The Art of living
© The Art of Living Foundation

While we live we should be happy and allow others to be happy

Bangalore, May 8: 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Every day we have to take some time off to make ourselves peaceful. For this, we need to become aware that all that is there today will not be there someday, like the bubbles in the water. We should know the impermanence. While we live we should be happy and allow others to be happy. When we remember death, the questions about life become less.
While we live we have to achieve two things - how much love we have shared and how much wisdom we have gained. These are the only two things that remain with us even after we die.

Every day we should sit for a few minutes and meditate - be free from all unnecessary things like what others think about us. We have to realize that God (Paramatma) is omnipresent. If He is not omnipresent, we cannot call Him, God. He is always there, everywhere and in everyone of us. We close our eyes and see Him and that is meditation. Guru, God and Atma (soul) are the same.

When you come to the ashram, leave your worries here - don't take them back with you.
When you do seva, your needs will be taken care of. Our work is to spread wisdom. So you spread wisdom and whatever you need, will happen anyway.

There is no point in spending the whole of our earnings on ourselves. We have to keep two-three percent for social service, for dharma jagruti (awakening of truth) – so corruption can be minimized. We should all get together and inspire the people of our country.

When you have a question, ask yourself several times, and when you don't get the answers, then only ask the Guru. Other things you will get by your prarabdha (past karma) and all good things will happen. 

Music, Meditation and Wisdom - all these three things should be there in life - gaan, dhyan aur gyaan (music, meditation and wisdom).
The Art of living

It is up to us to bring out the best in others

Bangalore, May 07:

Q: Guruji, when we say that so and so person is a realized soul, please tell me what do they realize?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Realization is just that I am not the body but I am much more than the body. I have been here before this birth and I will continue to be there after my death also. If someone realizes this, that’s it. But that only they can say, others cannot judge for them.

Q: Dear Guruji, please tell me are we humans wanting to be spiritual beings or are we spiritual beings in the disguise of humans?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Both - spiritual beings in the disguise of humans and wanting to come back to your spiritual being, back to our home.
You know what the word Radha means?  Radha means ‘back to the source’. Dhara means flow; flow from the source is called dhara and when you read dhara the other way around, it is Radha. When water flows down, it is called dhara, and when water goes back from where it started flowing, it is Radha.

Q: Dear Guruji, my son is now two years old, he feels insecure with other people. Do kids at that age feel that? How do I handle this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It may not be insecurity in the child. A 2-year old child would not be so insecure, it may be your own projection. Sometimes you project yourself too much on what the child is feeling or saying. Especially grand parents have a lot of projection on the children. Grandpa will say my 6-month old baby looked at me and said, “Grandpa you don’t go for walking today, you stay with me,” and all that he was saying with his own eyes. The baby doesn’t even speak but grandpa feels that he says everything. A lot of it will be your own projection.

If you feel your child is a little jealous, sibling jealousy will be there, if you feel that, then you pat them and give them a little more attention.

Q: Guruji I did the Yes+ course two years back and recently I told my parents about my feeling hollow and empty from inside and my experience about nothingness. They say that I will become good for nothing now, what should I tell them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
: Don’t tell them anything. Just show them that you can do a lot of things. Win their heart by your actions not your words.

Q: Guruji, how is longing a divine quality? I feel a lot of pain in longing.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Tadap hi ishwar hai! (Longing is the Divine)

Q: Guruji, I feel that I am surrounded by selfish and cunning people who just want to get work done from me. How should I maintain my innocence and simplicity in this world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
First of all, don’t label everyone as cunning and corrupt. Then you will only see them in that light. Do not label people like that even if they are like that. Your sankalpa or your thought can bring up the worst in them. However, if your sankalpa is good even in the people who appear to be worst, good will come out of them.
Today one of our teachers from Srinagar called me; he completed a YLTP course of 50 youth. He was mentioning that the transformation was so much in the youth. The district collector came for the closing ceremony and said, "This is a miracle. What has happened to these youths here? So much transformation”. The youth were saying that you have never given us this kind of spiritual education before and you blame us that we do this and we do that, but nobody ever taught us inner peace.

So it is up to us to bring out the best in others, often we criticize others saying, "You are hopeless”, but you know there are some good things also, you have to give them some hope. Bring out the Divine qualities in the people around you; take this as your mission. I am not telling you to be naïve. Be careful, at the same time bring out good qualities.

Q: It is said that life is a play and display of consciousness. Why does consciousness feel the need to play at all?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Play is nature. When you are happy what you do is play. When you play you have no need. That is why you play. If you are full of needs you only work, you can’t play, do you get it? Games can come when you have free time. Play becomes part of your life when your needs are fulfilled. Consciousness is full and its nature is playfulness. The Divine's nature is being playful.

Q: Guruji, environment is one of the most important factors today, what do we do to look after it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, caring for the environment is a big part of The Art of Living. Plant trees; use less plastic, if possible, no plastic and use cloth bags. These are all very valid things to know. You have heard about that in the basic course so you all do it already.
Keep the environment clean, if you find people littering the streets you should try to educate them. If you have free time wherever you find any littering, you stand there and call a few people and tell them, “Let’s clear this place”. Do something like that.

Art of Living
© The Art of Living Foundation

Knowledge is structured in consciousness

Bangalore, May 4:

Q: People have lot of expectations from me. What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is their problem! You give your 100 percent, do whatever you can, and then if somebody expects more, it is their problem.
(Sri Sri then asked the audience about the progress they were making in learning the Bhagwad Gita. After the audience recited shlokas from the 7th chapter, Sri Sri proceeded to explain the meanings.)
When a yogi sleeps, everybody is awake. And when everyone is sleeping, a yogi is awake. This is what Lord Krishna says in Gita. You have already heard this? What does it mean? It simply means, when everyone is excited and worried, the yogi sleeps comfortably. The yogi knows that everything will happen for the best, and all happenings will be for the general good. A yogi has this confidence.
And when everyone else is sleeping, then yogi is awake, meaning that the yogi is aware of the Truth about life when everyone is asleep, sleeping about the truth of life. Nobody wonders, ‘What is going to be my end?, where will I go, what is life, who am I?’ When none of these questions arise in people’s mind, they are asleep.
People are lost in watching movies and playing video games. There are people who begin playing video games even at a very old age. Man isn't seeing that death is coming near… He does not think, ‘How I have filled my mind with so much craving and aversion. And I have done nothing to wash and cleanse my mind’. If you don’t cleanse the mind of impressions, then you have to carry the same mind and same impressions with you after death.
So when you die, your mind should be happy and joyful! One who is sleeping, he is taking all garbage into his mind. The yogi is alert and awake. He does not take any garbage from anybody into his mind: Why did this man said this to me? That lady said that to me?
Your mind is completely destroyed thinking about others’ imperfections. Leave others’ imperfections to others. Let them handle that. You handle your mind, you handle your imperfections, that is good enough. Do you have patience to accept others’ mistakes? You have to accept others’ mistakes? Correct them as much as you can. If you are so compassionate, only then you should correct it. Otherwise leave it to Nature, they will find their own way. But if you are so compassionate, correct it with compassion, and then, it doesn’t get into your head, your mind.  
When do you get angry or upset? When you see someone else’s action as imperfect. Can you correct somebody’s action like this? His action is imperfect but now by thinking about it, your mind has become imperfect. At least save your mind. Others have gone on the wrong path, why should you let your mind also dwell on the wrong! Right? That is why He says, the yogi is awake when others are sleeping. When you are sleeping, you let others’ garbage enter your mind. But yogis don’t let this happen. They keep their mind fresh.

Q. Change is constant. Will the knowledge of the Geeta change for this century?  Will there is new knowledge?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, as your mind blossoms, new aspects of the knowledge will blossom in you. Knowledge is structured in consciousness.

(Turning back to explaining the 7th verse)
Where does your mind go? It goes towards, beauty, light, strength.. Lord Krishna says, ‘Wherever your mind goes, see Me in that. If something is beautiful, it is because it has life in it. It is the same consciousness. So the mind goes back to the source. Lord Krishna says: The light in the sun is Me. I am the liquid in water.
I am the smell in the earth. I am the fire in fire.

We are made up of the same substance as the sun. If there is no sun, there is no earth. If there is no earth, then there is no you.
If you talk to a quantum physicist today, he will say the same thing - everything is made up of one wave function.
The same thing Lord Krishna said: I am the life in everybody.
Turn our mind inward and look at the life force that we are.

In life, it is Me.

Life is god. God is not something outside the life. Life is Divine.

The life in this body is Divine. What is the mind craving for? This pleasure, that pleasure. Right now, attend to the life. Its not that only my life is God. Life everywhere is the same

The seventh chapter is very beautiful.
In the Bhagwad Gita, the chapters unfold, step by step.
In the chapter on Vishad yoga, Lord Arjuna is feeling so nervous, is trembling.
In Sakhya yoga, Lord Krishna tell Arjuna, awaken! Nothing has hap pened to your Atma.Happiness and sadness have come and go.
In Karma yoga, Lord Krishna says: Act! You cannot do anything without action. Even you want to stand and sit, action is required. So, do something.
After Karma yoga, its Gyan yoga: Understand what you’re doing.
After Gyan and karma, its Dhyan, where Lord Krishna says: before acting, meditate. After finishing work, meditate.

In that manner, the chapters unfold, step by step.
The Art of Living
© The Art of Living Foundation