Life & Guru are inseparable

Sri Sri’s talk on Guru Poornima.
Montreal, July 15: 

Life and Guru are inseparable. Your life is the Guru tatva(principle). Throw light on your own life. The wisdom that shines through your life - you need to honor, that is honoring the Guru. See, life has taught you so many things - what you did wrong and what you did right, and if you don’t throw light on your own life, then the Guru is absent. So reflect on your own life and honor the wisdom that life has offered you. That is honoring the Guru. Are you with me? It is serious stuff.

Life and Guru are inseparable. When you throw light on life, and when the wisdom is there, honor the wisdom. Wisdom is the Guru tatva, Guru principle. So, within you the Guru Principle is there, wisdom is there. In each and every one there is wisdom. Throw light on that.In life wisdom dawns; wisdom has come; honor wisdom. When we stop honoring wisdom that is when darkness takes over, that is when the full moon is not there, no moon is there. Moon is the mind and when it is brimming, full of wisdom, that is Guru Poornima. So everyday could be Guru Poornima in your life when you honor what life has taught you.

Many times we turn our face the other way around, close our eyes and gallop on our desires. I want this, this, this and this - you gallop on the desires dishonoring the wisdom. See, the giver has given anyway, he has given you a lot. The first thing is honoring the wisdom, the second thing you need to take up on this Guru Poornima is utilize the gift you have been given. You have been given, bestowed with so many blessings. Use the blessings that have come your way and you will get more. The giver is tirelessly giving and does not even want any recognition from you and makes you feel that it is your own. The giver gives you and makes you feel that it is your own achievement. The giver has no end, is not tired of giving, the giver gives; the infinity keeps giving you plenty, in abundance, and what we have got we need to put that into good use, better use.

You have been given good speech; put it into good use. Don’t use your speech blaming, complaining, you know, saying bad things. You have been given a brilliant intellect, use the intellect. I don’t know why many are so stingy in using their intellect. You know wine, the older it becomes, it becomes more expensive and better. I have heard so, never had wine. Like that the more you use your intellect the better it becomes. The more we put it into good use, sharper and more brilliant it becomes. Don’t worry. Don’t think you will lose your intellect by using it. By not using it, you lose it. Put your intellect to good use. You have a melodious voice, put it to good use. You have strength in the body, do seva. So all that we have been given, we should put into good use. When I say good use, it is not for yourself, use for the society, for the world. The Divinity lives in the world. So serving the world is doingpooja to the Divine.

And honoring wisdom your life gets elevated. And when you realize these two, you become so grateful, and when you are so grateful, full of so much of that emotion, full of love and devotion, it is so pleasing to the infinity. That is it!

Know there is a Guru hiding in each one of you and throw the light of wisdom, do aarthi there, to the Guru inside. Doing aarthi means what? Ecstasy, getting into such ecstasy with wisdom, throwing light on what life had brought to us. What is real and what is unreal?  What is right and what is not right? Why we chose that which is not right, what tempted us to do that and what is right and what is wrong? This you don’t have to ask somebody. Something inside you tells you, isn’t it? Something inside you tells this is right, something inside pricks, no this is wrong. Honor that, honor that! Are you all listening? Everybody?

It is so simple, utterly simple,yet so profound.

You know, another beautiful thing is being righteous and not asserting your righteousness. Suppose someone gives you a gift and they make you feel like they have given you a gift, is that a gift? Look I am giving you a gift, I am giving you a gift. Ten times someone says and gives you a toffee in your hand, what do you say? Keep it to yourself, I don’t need it. In the same way when we are righteous, do not assert the righteousness; I am right, I am right. You know asserting the righteousness brings anger, brings frustration and makes you wrong in some other sense. In one sense, you may be right. In another sense, you are wrong. Are you with me? Does it make sense? Being right and not asserting righteousness, being pure and not being proud of purity, being generous and not showcasing your generosity - do you see what I am saying? Being wise and not blowing your own trumpet, ‘Look I am so wise, so wise’ - that takes the juice out of it, right, what do you say? Being wise and being natural, absolutely natural, simple, simplicity; ready to be a fool also sometimes. It is such beautiful wisdom. Your life brings this up on you and is reflecting on it. Reflect on life again and again and again and again and again and again and again. Very good!

Seeing some people moving at the far end of the room, Sri Sri said:

There are some people who are going up and down several times, they don’t know where to get in or what to do. This is where we need a guide, a Guru, some people are walking the same road up and down, up and down, not knowing where the door is, where to enter. See observing little things all around can give you so many lessons.

There is a story about one saint; I think it is Saint Ramdas. He was walking early morning in a village and a lady, outside her hut, she was cleaning the house in front, and she said, ‘Hey Rama wake up, how long are you going to sleep?’, she called her son who was sleeping inside the house. A young boy, his name was also Rama. When the saint heard that, his name was also Rama, he suddenly said, ‘Oh, somebody is telling me to wake up’. It said that moment he really woke up. Said ‘Wah!’, really he became so fired up and charged. He said, ‘After that I never slept, I got so charged, all fired up because my mind was going all in the past and the future’.

Nobody told him you should do this, you should do that and the mind can take you to such a trip. Our mind creates its own maya, manages its own world, its own bubble and we keep going around in our own bubble. We see the whole world through our own glasses and assume everything is that way. This is called Vipararya.

Vipararya means colored vision, not the right vision. So it is the Guru tatva or the light on the wisdom in life that makes you wake up and see - oh that is how it is!

Tell me, how many of you often have felt your judgments were wrong?

Look at that, most of the time your judgments were all wrong but while you were in judgment, you think that is how things are - that is the bubble we are in. Guru tatvais coming out of that bubble, throwing light on your life, throwing light on the wisdom life has offered to you. See that. Then we see that the judgments become more and more correct. Now 90 percent of judgments are wrong, maybe 10 percent right, this should reverse actually. 90 percent should be right and 10 percent should be wrong, it is okay to have 2 percent or 3 percent or 10 percent wrong.
1. Your own life is your Guru
2. Life and Guru are inseparable. It is not like a nursery school teacher - you learn something and you go away and then that’s it, but life and Guru are inseparable.
3. Wisdom in your life is the Guru. Throw light on your life and that is how the wisdom comes.
4. The giver has given you in abundance and the giver keeps giving you, put good use of it. The better use we make of our abilities and of whatever we have, the more we get.
5. Honor the wisdom. You know, the wisdom, honor it because the Guru and wisdom are inseparable and life and wisdom should be inseparable. Sometimes we live our life without wisdom. Then there is no Guru tatva. You are not honoring the Guru. Got it? That is Satguru.
6. Be righteous and do not assert your righteousness. Asserting righteousness only makes you wrong in some other way and brings anger and frustration in you. Same with being good. If you think I am so good then you think others are bad, you have to make others bad. ‘I am so good’ then that brings you sadness. People who think they are too good are unhappier than those who think they are bad. Some people who think they are bad, they don’t care, but if someone thinks ‘I am so good’,then they think, ‘What is happening to me’. So if I think, ‘I am so good’, asserting my goodness make me sad and miserable. Asserting my righteousness make me angry. So be good and don’t assert your goodness. Let others speak about it; don’t blow your own trumpet. Be generous and don’t show off your generosity

This is what we have to do - again and again and again recollect these things, recollect and the intellect has to soak in it again and again and again. This is satsang. Satsang is the company of the truth, the company of the wise, the company of wisdom within you. You shake hands with the truth inside of you, that is satsang, got it?

The giver is not tired of giving. He is never tired and he makes you feel it is yours. His generosity is so much; the giver gives you and makes you feel proud of it, ‘Oh look, this is mine’. Really, nothing is yours. But the giver gives you in such a way that you don’t even feel you have taken. What? The giver gives you in such a way he makes you feel that it is your own, you have not even taken, that is the greatness, and that is the beauty.

So like that, the lady’s shouting at her own son could make a saint wake up and become enlightened, so that was it - a lady said: ‘Rama how long are you going to sleep, wake up, how long are you going to sleep?’, that’s it, it triggered. So the natures gives you abundant signs for you to wake up my dear, how long are you going to sleep, how long are you going to use your mind, why, why, why, why. A complaining, wailing and waning mind, WAKE UP, life is so short. In this short duration of life, honor life! It is so precious. Put good use of the talents and the resources that has come to your hand, your doorstep. Make good use of all that you posses, your voice, yourintellect. Use your intellect. Sing whether somebody recognizes it or not. The Art of living

© The Art of Living Foundation

Your own doubt can act like applying a break & driving the car

Montreal, July 10:

Q: Dear Guruji, is Shiva consciousness and Krishna consciousness the same?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, yes, they’re same. Krishna consciousness is a little naughtier, that’s it. When it is silent,it is Shiva consciousness, when it is active,it is Krishna consciousness.

Q: Is there a place in our consciousness where everything is known? If yes, how can we go there?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:Yes, our consciousness is like having a library. In a library, there are millions of books, right? The librarian holds all the books but it is not necessary that he knows every book by heart. But he knows where what is and when it is needed, he can pick it up and know it.

In the same way, though our consciousness is the abode of all the knowledge, it is not necessary to know everything all the time. Impossible. It is impossible in a physical body to know everything all the time. But when you are still, when your mind is in absolute stillness, and there is no craving and aversions, it is just free. Then you are like the librarian, who possesses all. The owner of the library who has all the knowledge and he can access it when it is needed, if it is needed. A lawyer has all the books but he doesn’t by-heart all the books all the time. But when a particular case comes up he knows which book to pick up and where exactly to put his finger.

In the same way our consciousness is an abode of all knowledge, right? When you are so still and free from mental modulations - that is when you are a yogi. Then you can know… that’s why the still consciousness, yogic consciousness is calledsarvagna.‘Tatraniratishayamsarvagyabeejam’ is a sutra in yoga sutras. In that consciousness, when you’re in a Samadhi state, the seed of all-knowingness is present in that.

Q: How do you know when you have found your Guru?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have no idea how you will find that out. It’s the heart that tells you. You can’t think about it. It doesn’t happen by judgment. Just be relaxed.

Q: What is the difference between soul, atma, and jeeva? Are they the same?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Soul is the English word, Atma is Sanskrit. The root word of self is swa, swa means atma. Most of the English words, when you go into the root, you’ll find Sanskrit there.Swa means Self.Swa means Atma. Jeeva is the Self enclosed in the mind. It’s like the air enclosed inside a balloon. Jeeva has sukha –happiness,dukha-sorrow, sanghata- it has associations, chaitanya- it is conscious, dhrti. These are five attributes of the jeeva, the embodied Self. Sanghata- it has impressions of associations, it is conscious and dhrti, it upholds.

Q: Dear Guruji, how does one develop a ‘Yes’ attitude?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just your wanting to have a yes attitude, you are already there.

Q: Could you please explain hollow and empty again?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, our job is to empty and you want to put a concept in it! Explanation is a concept, isn’t it? Scientifically know that everything is hollow and empty, your throat is hollow. That’s how you could swallow, and that’s how you could drink. Isn’t it? If the stomach is not hollow, how could you stuff so many truck loads of food in it? Isn’t it? And it gets empty very soon.

See per day, just imagine, per day you consume 2 KG of food easily, isn’t it? In one year you consume 750 kilos of food. That is almost a truckload in one year, and if you’re 40 years, 40 truckloads of food have gone through your whole body. How can it happen if it’s not hollow and empty? How can you breathe in so much air every day and breathe out if it is not hollow?

Do one thing. Take a small piece of your skin and go to a lab and put it under a microscope and you will see it is like a mosquito net. Your skin is all hollow and empty. So what we are saying in hollow and empty mediation is a fact. To be with the fact, to bring to awareness the fact that you are breathing; you are there, your body is here and the body is different from the floor, floor is different from body, and the skin is different from the clothes.

So when we go on analyzing, seeing like this, meditation happens. Does it happen or not? How many had a good meditation today?  Three dimensions are with us: body, breath and mind. You never pay attention. Body is one dimension, breath is another dimension, then what is watching and knowing this is the mind. This is another dimension. So the three dimensions, once you see are all separate,then boom, something happens.

Q: Dear Guruji, I have told lies to someone using your name and every day I feel guilty about it. How do I get rid of this guilty feeling? I promise I will never do it again.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, that is done. You have promised and it’s done. Move on. I know many people have used my name that way and people also know. People take Guruji’s name and get their way through. So anyways, there is no point in regretting the past. You have taken the resolution you will not do that again. So move on, okay? Done.

Q: Where should we direct our energy during silence? Where does the attention go when we walk outside? Thank you Guruji
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Two things: Observe the nature, second is, observe yourself, your own breath, your own body. And do it with least amount of effort. Don’t use too much effort. Okay? Just a gentle awareness is good enough; some people put so much effort doing it. Then they get headaches, they get so tired. We shouldn’t do that. The whole process is effortless, sadhana is totally effortless. Got it? Hm. The only effort you need to put here is to make sure you don’t eat too much food. If it is too tasty, inform the kitchen. Ask them to make it less tasty. That’s the problem, the food is too tasty then you feel like having one more, one more. If you don’t eat too much, then you are on the safe side. Too much food makes you feel dull. Meditation doesn’t happen then. Moderation, don’t fast also, just the right amount of food.

Q: Guruji, how to improve people’s skills and communication skills?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:  This is important. Talk less, observe more.
Second, don’t put your ideas too much so that the other person doesn’t digest it or take it, got it? Don’t keep pouring your ideas. Sometimes we do that, we pour too much of our ideas. The other person, you don’t even observe whether they’re grasping it,whether they’re understanding it or not.
Third, don’t bore them with your stories of failures or success. Your failure stories will bore others as much as your success stories. Oh I went here, I did this, I did that and the listener will say, ‘Oh my god when will this guy stop’! But in your own mind, there is such a joy that comes to you while talking; you don’t consider the other person’s listening ability at all. We don’t think about their listening ability or their relevance to it. How many of you agree with that?   We must watch out for that. And then, instead of telling them what you like, ask them what they want, what do they like. Sometimes we declare all that we like and we dislike.

Who asked you to declare? It’s not an income tax department, asking you to declare your assets or your achievements; we go out of the way to declare all of our achievements, our likes and our dislikes. For a listener,you appear to be a very self centered person, drop this. The more pleasant you are, the more centered you are, you’ll be more liked by people. What do you say? Correct. Be centered and you want nothing from the person.

We, in our mind, we want some recognition from the other, we want some appreciation from others, we want some favor from others. Favor, recognition, or appreciation these are the things that puts a break on you being very friendly with people. In the heart when you say, ‘ I want nothing from this person, I don’t need to be appreciated by them’, then you will see the big shift that happens within you. It’s not out of arrogance that I want nothing from anybody, that’s not arrogance. Do you see what I’m saying? There’s a difference between arrogance and this. In arrogance still you want some recognition, yes? You don’t look for an approval or recognition from them. You should remember that everybody is caught up in their own little world.

Q: Dear Guruji, could you please share with us what you experience during deep meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just myself. Like doctors have some ethics, gurus also have some ethics - not to speak of their experience. Otherwise you would sit and close your eyes saying,’ Oh I want that experience, oh Guruji is in Samadhi, I want that Samadhi’. No.

Q: Guruji, who are Aryans? Please explain the origin of different races Asian, Europeans…
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, anthropologists have all the logics and theories and there are many who agree and disagree and contradict.  It is all in the history books, my dear. So many theories have come up, don’t bother about it. This is because of the presumption of some people that people must have been born in one place and spread everywhere afterwards. It is not necessary people are born only in one place. There could be births in ten places at the same time. Why should there be a single origin? This is erroneous thinking.
Historians in the past had only linear thinking. They only had one origin and everything going from there. They don’t know this idea of spherical thinking - means at the same time, in many places, life could have been created. Yes? In the Puranas it says there’s not just one place. In many places simultaneously people were created. And that seems to be the correct thing, not just one source or one origin for people. In Sanskrit, “Arya” means the noble, that’s it. Arya means what? The noble, cultured, civilized, educated - so it’s an educated, cultured person. Mister, like you say mister or miss, honorable, that way Arya was addressed. The way people were addressing the well- educated, cultured people - Arya. The word sir is similar to the word arya. In all the Sanskrit dramas this word is used. In the Vedas it is said,“Krinvantovishvamaryam,” let’s make the whole world Arya. It means let’s make everyone educated, cultured, civilized - that’s what it means.

Q: If someone has wronged me, should I try to take matters in hand and attempt to punish that person or leave it up to the nature to set the record straight?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Of course it takes more effort, courage, intelligence to set somebody right. If you have the patience, do it. And if you feel it’s costing you too much, it is getting on your own nerves,then leave it to nature.

Q: Dear Guruji, when faced with the choice of two equally attractive options, what is the determining factor in making the choice?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This can happen only happen with two things - either your job or your relationships! In these circumstances my single advice is ‘choice is yours blessing is mine’.

Q:  Sometimes I am really successful in managing my thoughts, other days even with yoga, meditation, and kriya it doesn’t work. What can I do? Thank you
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Hmmm. You get too many thoughts?  If your bowel movements are not okay then also the thoughts go haywire.Sopurifying the body through ayurveda - triphala would help. Second, pranayama, bhastrika, hard work, exercise, get on the treadmill and run, you know. Finally, let the thoughts be there. Why do you want to get rid of them? Don’t fight with them. They come and they go. Best not to meddle with them. Yes?  The continuous thoughts that bombard your mind - logical thoughts are one side of your brain the other side of the brain is music. When you want to shift -sing, go into music. Activity in the other side of the brain - that should help. But if a particular fear or desire is affecting you again and again, offer that, surrender that to the Divine. That’s it.

Q: Immigrants from third world countries deal with a lot of stress.Please provide some word of wisdom and love to us in this time of racial discrimination and failing economy.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Hmm. Have the faith and know the best will happen. And even momentarily if it appears not to be the best thing for you, in the long run, when you see yourself, your life, whatever is best will happen to you. You should have this faith.That will carry you through, okay? It can also make your sankalpa, your intention stronger. If you in doubt, ‘Oh maybe I have this problem, maybe I will not succeed.’ See your own doubt can act like applyinga break and driving the car. Your hand break is on and you’re driving the car. So know that the best will happen to you in your life. That’s it. Relax. Okay?

Q: Dear Guruji, please say something about Shiva. I am Shiva worshipper and he has brought me to Art of Living and you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Shiva is the principle in which everything is born, into which everything will go. There is no escape from Shiva. Shiva tatva means Shiva Principle. Shiva is not a person. Shiva is the space, is the consciousness. To describe that they put Shiva in blue. Blue means like the sky. You know, Shiva’s description is so beautiful (reciting a Sanskrit verse) it’s like liberation, liberation from everything. It is the lord, it is the most powerful, it is all over, spread everywhere. There is no place that it is not. It is where all the knowledge is present, that consciousness, that space. It has no attributes. It was never born, Shiva was never born nor has any attributes. It is a Samadhi state where there is nothing, just the inner sky of consciousness. That is what is Shiva.

Where there is alertness and no action. To describe the alertness they put a snake around Shiva’s neck. They put a trident in the hands of Shiva - means it is beyond the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping.  Shiva is holding a trident that means it is beyond the three states, in the fourth state, which is absolutely benevolent. The one state in which everything exists in the universe -the dark space, the dark energy - scientists today started calling it the dark space and the dark energy - in which everything else exists. The sun, moon, stars, everything exists in this one solid state of consciousness.

Q:  Guruji, when we are doing our practices kriya and meditation together, are we affected by other people’s negativity and bad karmas?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, no, no, absolutely not. Don’t worry. If you feel like you are getting affected by somebody’s depression or somebody’s negative energy, just say Om NamahShivaya a few times. It’s gone. It can happen. When people are so depressed and are not in proper shape and you meet them you may feel that. How many of you feel that, when you meet very depressed people something happens to your own body, right? Om NamahShivaya, Jai gurudev - it just disappears.

Q: Guruji, I want to be friends with the whole world but my mind is a barrier, big barrier.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Befriend the mind. Yeah? If you consider it a barrier, it will be a barrier. If you consider it a friend, it will be a friend.

Q: How does one let go of the thoughts related to the past that keep coming?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do one thing; give a big hug to that thought. Don’t try to get rid of it, you will see it goes.

Q: How does one move past a broken and abandoned heart? Thank you, love you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are in the right place. You know what, you must know about your death you must know you are going to die one day. That’s it. The whole drama is going to finish. Where are you? Wake up,wake up. We are all going to be finished one day. Everything is going to finish. Something bothers you too much? It is because you have forgotten you are going to die. Knowledge of death or just an awareness that we are going to die one day, everything is going to be finished, nothing will bother you anymore. Got it?

The Art of living
© The Art of Living Foundation

Know there is a power that is taking care of everything & the power loves you

Montreal, July 9:

Q: Dear Guruji, how could one conquer all fears and if successful, what to expect out of this experience?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is nothing called “all” fears. There is only one fear and the fear is of extinction and this is kept by nature. And how this can be extinguished is through the understanding, ‘I’m not the body, I’m the spirit’, number one; second, ‘only the best will happen to me’. That’s it. No third.

Q: Dear Guruji, you come in dreams a lot of times and solutions have given me spiritual guidance. Is this true, should I believe in this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Only when everything happens right then… if things go wrong then it is your own mind! (laughter) See, you got a thought, an intuition, when it is correct. If it doesn’t match the reality, you don’t call it “I had an intuition” how do you say it? “I had an illusion.” Difference between an illusion and intuition is that an intuition is correct, and illusion is not correct.

Q: What is more important happiness or performing one’s duty?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both. You have to perform your duty and you have to be happy. Why do you want to have a choice between these two? Hmm... If there is a choice, go for duty first because if you are unhappy it may be momentary, right? Happiness is there, will come. But if you are choosing happiness before duty then you will be unhappy in the end. So it’s better to be unhappy in the beginning than keep it a long, long program.

Q: Guruji, please explain to us laws of Karma, how can I revert physical illness and perform selfless seva? My physical illness prevents me from being active and happy and loving. I get tired very fast. Please guide. Love you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, the best thing is not worry about it too much. Got it? Karma is only in the mind, yet you worry about physical illness “oh this is my karma...” See, the body has its limitations. Everybody’s body has a limitation. And if we have violated the laws of nature, it is going to take its toll some time. Okay? So, keep your spirits high, the rest will be taken care of by itself.

Q: Dear Guruji, when and how can I achieve the ultimate bliss?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No chance (laughter). No way. Forget about it. Are you ready to forget it? Then you got it NOW. Your mind is anxious for “ultimate happiness, ultimate bliss, one day I want to achieve...”

Q: My heart wants to move ahead but my mind won’t let me, what to do Guruji? Thank you.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They keep getting into a conflict again and again. Like an old couple they get into conflict every day. (laughter)

Q: How do I find peace with having made a very big mistake that I am sure that has impacted on others?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You’re in the right place.

Q: Dear Guruji,pranam. Is it okay to buy a lottery with the intention of winning a big prize? (laughter) or is that money is not good to have.Please advise.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No comments. I don’t want to create another conflict in your mind.

Q: Can we ask for big lottery prize as one wish for Guru purnima?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How funny the mind works! Want to have a lottery without having to do much. Good, good, good, good.

Q: Jai Guru Dev Guruji, Please forgive me.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Done.

Q: Dear Guruji, Patanjali says Yoga alone can liberate one. AdiShankara says knowledge alone can liberate one. Please explain.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: And you forgot that the Bhakti Sutra says devotion alone can liberate one! All that is needed is to connect. It is the thought that purifies the intellect. If you’re an intellectual person it is the intellect that is an obstruction for you to be in bliss. The mind comes in the way and keeps questioning, putting doubts.
Through knowledge, purify the intellect.
Through yoga, you purify your body, mind, and sprit.
And through love/devotion, purify your heart.

If you take any one route, the other two routes automatically comes along. It’ll be done, it happens. Yoga means unite and union, and if you go through the way of the heart, definitely union automatically happens and when you union happens, knowledge already comes. Go through knowledge - unless there is a passion for knowledge how will you go into knowledge? Under passion is love. So, love is present is in knowledge. The passion for knowledge cannot be if there is no love for it. So, you go through the route of knowledge, love is there, but hidden. It is coming along and it blossoms. The more you know, the more you start loving it, liking it. This is the secret. Hmm? The English proverb ‘familiarity brings contempt’ is very superficial. The more you become familiar, the more love will blossom in you for it. Yeah? So, either you go through knowledge or love or through yoga. Yoga also includes karma yoga, action. Yoga means uniting. The other two just comes along, tags along.

Q: How can you bring someone you love onto the spiritual path if they keep resisting? I try and it doesn’t seem to be working.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t give up. Try with all your tricks. The question is how canyou bring someone into spiritual path if they are resisting it. I say keep trying. Try, try again, and keep doing it. If they seem to be adamant you be more adamant.

Q: Guruji, I still have doubts when I don’t want to doubt who and what you are. What should I do? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Never mind, doubt as much as you can. I don’t mind you doubting, go on. Know that what we doubt is always positive. We doubt the love of someone, not the anger of someone. We doubt our capabilities, we never doubt our weaknesses. We doubt our happiness. So understand the nature of our doubt.

Q: Guruji, how do you help someone release their anger if they’re stubborn and don’t want to try the spiritual path
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, I would tell you, give everyone freedom. You cannot control somebody. This person is like that, what can you do with them? By our telling something to somebody, they don’t change and you should not control anybody. This is what my conclusion is, what? Don’t control anybody. Let them go the way they want. Gently guide them if they listen to you. If they don’t listen to you, well, it is their problem. What can you do?

Are you getting what I’m saying? You try to control them - your kids, spouse, and friends - without any intention; your trying to control them has no bad intention at all. But well, what can you do when they get so angry? You know, your anger is because of trying to control. The moment you stop trying to control somebody, your anger also vanishes, got it? Hmmm? You get irritable when somebody doesn’t listen, right? You tell them ten times still they don’t listen, and then what do you get? Irritated. Then your knowledge should come “Well this is the way that person is suppose to be. What can you do?  Jai Guru Dev!”  So immediately what happens? At least your brain gets relaxation, you don’t get irritated.

So, what did I say? Stop trying to control any situation, any person. You are at peace; our wanting to control is the problem. Do you get it? In any situation things will happen, this way or that way. Do your best and leave the rest. Finished. Got it?

Now, this should not be mistaken for lethargy, lack of leadership, lack of initiative, or orderliness. Are you getting what I’m saying? This is a very, very fine balance. A wise person understands to lead without control, got it? Gently lead without trying to control. And then don’t lose patience to tell not once, but ten times. You should not say it in the very first time “Oh, I said it anyway and that person didn’t listen.” No, you should have the patience to say it ten times and if they still don’t do it, then don’t get upset.

This is wisdom, having the patience to say ten times. How will you say it ten times if they don’t do it once, twice, thrice, and you say, “Well, they don’t do it, that’s how they are” then that indicates you are lethargic, you lack initiative, you lack commitment. I’m telling you something very, very, very fine, are you listening? When you have commitment, what do you do— you keep doing it... correct?

Suppose when you have to cut wood, you cut once, if the wood is soft, it breaks immediately. But if the wood is hard, what do you keep doing? Keep hitting. How many times? Until it breaks. So you keep hitting it. What we do is, we have in our mind the same benchmark for everybody. We think, “Oh see all this wood cuts once this hardwood should also cut once.” Then we get angry. No. Some are hard and some are soft. It all takes its own time to cut them. And if it doesn’t cut and it is not wood, then you call someone else.

You are at peace. This is my conclusion. What? Don’t control, let them go the way they have. But keep guiding them; if they don’t listen they are putting mud on their own head. You know, it takes four-five people to bathe an elephant. Sometimes, they make the elephant lie down and pour buckets and buckets of water, so much water is poured on the elephant. Have you seen an elephant taking a bath? No? Oh when you come to Bangalore ashram you have not one, but two elephants too. It takes two hours to scrub, they get like a spa bath! And every day they get scrubbed, and then good temperature water poured onto them. So, they stand up shiny, ten minutes you leave them and they take the mud and throw it all over. They have no sense that,‘Just now I had a bath and I’m throwing mud on myself again’. The moment they find mud and dust, they pick it up and throw it right onto their own head and look all dirty again. (laughter)What to do? Hmm.

Q: Dear Guruji, apart from being friendly to everyone, what kind of friends I need to have in my life? And what to do when my friends don’t stand up to me or don’t trust me in times of need?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:  Listen, don’t analyze anybody. This is another conclusion. Stop analyzing anyone. Where is the time to analyze somebody, and don’t analyze yourself also. Just relax, know there is a power that is taking care of everything and the power loves you. Know this and just relax. Yeah? Best idea? You are at peace, and you will be helped that way. It is not someone who is going to help us; we have to do our thing. And nature is with us, there is a power with us which nobody can understand, nobody can understand, even we cannot understand. So, just trust in that power and relax.

Q: Dear Guruji, you know that I want to do seva and do part 2 courses at an interval of at least three months to come out of some bad impressions. But I am not able to do just because of my family members.What to do Guruji?please help.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Never mind, you are seeing the webcast; you sit in meditation wherever you are. Hmmm. Yes. This should not be the cause of your disturbance for you. Okay? So much knowledge is there, so many meditation CDs are there, do it every day. Do your practice; nobody can take away your right to do meditation. Find time and do your meditation. And keep this knowledge in your awareness. That is good enough. Opportunity will definitely come, and you don’t have to say, ‘Every three months, every six months,’ like that. Hmmmm? Whenever possible come, and if it doesn’t happen even once in a whole years’ time, then you put a little more effort. At least once every year you must do an advance course.

Q: Dear Guruji have you seen god, love?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh my dear, have you seen yourself? Not in the mirror. God is not an object of sight. You must know that. If you see god that means god is away somewhere and you are somewhere. You are a seer and that is a scenery. God can never be a scenery; god is the seer, the onlooker... hm? And you are, and can be that. When the mind becomes still you are that, not before.

Q Dear Guruji, my sister likes someone but my family won’t approve. My belief is that it is her choice. If I let her hang out with this person then I have lied to my parents which I don’t want. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yeah… make peace. Yeah. If you don’t tell your parents they’ll feel doubly cheated, they’ll feel your sister has not respected them and they’ll lose faith in you also, that’s not good. You should inform your parents. And if you find it’s the right person then you become a lawyer also. (laughter)

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Passion for transformation & dispassion for momentary pleasure

Berlin, July 6: 

Q:  During the World Culture Festival, what did you enjoy most?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Every moment!

Q: If we are to let go of our efforts, why should we make any effort at all?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: During meditation, let go of all your efforts.  Before that, you have to make effort otherwise what will there be to let go? (Laughter)

Q:  Being in silence and being alone leads me to a melancholic mood. I feel sorry for myself. Is this ok?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t feel sorry for yourself.

Q:  Every time I leave you, I feel very sad. Can you record a meditation that says “see you soon”?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good idea. Some things are good as ideas.

Q:  How is it that having experienced dispassion and bliss, the mind still goes towards the mundane?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is the nature of the mind, never mind!  The mind is made up of three qualities ie, sattva (purity/clarity), rajas (activity/action) and tamas (inertia).  According to the combination of these three qualities, different states of mind prevail at different times.  Don’t be bothered by these.  Everything comes and goes.

Q:  How do I change failure into success?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:  Just move on, move forward. Don’t look back.  Failure can only be in the past, never in the future.  Again, it’s about understanding the event. If you see it from a broader perspective, you will see it better.

Q:  Today we did meditation in motion. It was so painful.  Have you done this? (laughter).
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it’s blissful! After every pain comes bliss.

Q:  Could you talk about the role of women? Today, women are portrayed as a commodity. How can we change this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Pity those who see women as a commodity. Praise those who see women as people who can make a difference in society.

Q:  Why is the body cremated in the Hindu religion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The world has a big population. Less space is taken up; land is so expensive. The body goes to Nature. Bones remain and are given to the river.  Once the body is cremated, 700g to a maximum of 1kg of bones and ashes remain. The soul becomes freer.

Q: I am young and sometimes I like to go out and drink with my friends.  I don’t feel guilty. Should I?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sometimes you do so only socially. When you become unhappy, this socialising drink will catch on and you will drink more and more. You could become an alcoholic.  Just say no, keep away. Be firm that you won’t have it, then you are in a safe place.  From here, you can never turn into an alcoholic. I’ve seen so many people become alcoholic with the same logic.  They start with ‘once in a while’. Alcohol does so much damage to your nervous system that can reflect in the pure consciousness, the deeper reality. Drink brings dullness. It is like driving with the brakes on.
If you want to progress, you must put some barriers,for instance, tobacco. Smoking was considered part of the culture some 35-40 years ago. Today, it is not. We have been saying this for years and it has taken so long and cost millions of lives. So many lives would have been saved.
No smoking, no drugs, no alcohol – put these barriers.

Q:  How do know when to keep knocking on the same door and letting go?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:  Yes, do both – knock and let go and let go and knock.

Q: How can I offer both positive and negative to God?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just let go. If you find it difficult, just live in the present moment. Now, now. The past is gone. The future is yet to come.

Q: Can meditation happen if the person next door snores a lot? (laughter)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Many options. Poke them. If they continue, accept it.  If you find it is irritating you more and more, get up and sit somewhere else.

Q:  This is my first meditation course.  So far, it’s much better than I expected. I am worried because I would like to meditate all the time.  What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:  You will get going home instructions.

Have fun. Take life lightly and seriously too. If you take life all serious, it is very boring.  If you take it as all fun, it becomes frivolous, superficial. You should have depth. Life should be silence and celebration, a combination of both. Be dispassionate, totally centred and totally passionate to bring transformation. Passion for transformation and dispassion for momentary pleasure – these two can make you a very, very deep person. If you walk this path, you will have no dearth for anything, all will happen at the right time.The Art of living

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Keep moving and keep your spirit high

Berlin, July 4:

After the grand World Culture Festival event in Berlin, the volunteer team shared their challenges with Sri Sri.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Challenges are there to make you see that you can overcome them, that you have the energy. Your spirit should be high at all times. It doesn’t matter, never mind, keep moving and keep your spirit high. That is the main lesson - that you are unaffected by the event. Lessons come out of challenges. These are momentary challenges; see them off with a smile.

Q:  My boss is very adamant. We have had many conflicts. How do I handle him?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very easy.  Say whatever you want to say the other way around.  I want to tell you a small story. This person’s wife was very adamant. She would always do the opposite of what the husband said. The husband was desperate and went to a Swami for advice. The Swami whispered something in his ear.  Three months later, the Swami was in the same city and saw that this person looked very happy.  The husband thanked the Swamiji and said, “Your trick worked!”Swamiji had advised him to say the opposite of what he wanted!  For example, if he wanted fried potatoes, he should tell his wife that he did not want fried potatoes. It’s all about how to handle the mind. Do not talk when communication breaks down. Tough people increase your own skills.

Q:  What do you think about anti-depressants?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Be in knowledge.  Listen to knowledge and do your practices every day. Then you cannot get into depression. Follow medical advice and go gradually. Join a team, do seva. When you have nothing to do, you think about yourself and get depressed.

Q: Whom should we pray to, you or God?  Will you transfer our prayers to God or go to you directly?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Prayer is innate. It’s not something that you do with your mind or is in your mind. It’s something that happens automatically when you need help.  Do not make an effort to pray. Relax. There is only one God who works through everyone. Whomsoever you address your prayer, it only goes to one God who is the cause of the Universe. Don’t worry about anything. Give me all your problems and go back happily.

Q: Do you answer all prayers?                           
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Be careful what you wish for. You should always add a clause at the end to say “and whatever is best”.

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One Divinity, one humanity, celebrating differences, this is our sacred duty

Excerpts of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s speech at the World Culture Festival, Berlin, July 2-3. 

This event celebrates 30 years of The Art of Living.

I am so happy to be here in this city where the walls came down between people, it is time walls come down between cultures and civilizations. We all should remember we are a one world family. We need to bring everyone together in a spirit of love compassion, service.

When we started, we had this idea, the theme song was rainbow colors and the rains have come! Singing in times of difficulty shows that we have achieved something. Whatever the circumstances are, we will continue to serve the world as one human family with differences.

It is time to celebrate the differences and celebrate life on this planet. With all the volunteers, we are sure we can create a stress-free, violence-free society for our children. Poverty eliminated, differences celebrated and connection to the inner Divinity. One Divinity, one humanity, celebrating differences, this is our sacred duty.

The Art of living
© The Art of Living Foundation