The Fire Inside

Bangalore, India
(Satsang began with devotees from all over the world singing hymns and songs in their national languages. The crowd from various countries around the world and from all parts of India united with one another through music and singing.)

This is the true spirit of Navratri - Uniting the whole world.
Even in the ancient days, each person would specialize in a different Veda, in one particular branch of knowledge, and in Navratri everybody would converge and everyone would bring their part of knowledge, music, dance, culture, and everything together.
You must have seen, day before yesterday, we had the flute music, the string instrument, the tabla, the drums, and singing.
The variety that is present in the Universe is all converged with the knowledge that there is One Spirit; One Universal Consciousness, i.e., The Divine Consciousness (God).

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Significance of the Guru Discipline Tradition

Bangalore, India
Q: Sometimes I wonder, I have so many unending desires and you keep on fulfilling them. This makes me smile. How to get rid of hankering over desires Gurudev?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know your desires are getting fulfilled, that is enough. Be busy in fulfilling the desires of others, not your own desires.

See, what is the significance of the Guru Discipline Tradition? It is for the Disciple to realize that desires are endless. ‘Like the waves of the ocean desires keep coming one after the other. That is why I must keep my desires aside and do as per the Guru desires. ’
When you do this then the mind becomes hollow and empty and you start feeling a sense of lightness. Life then moves beyond joy and sorrow, and all craving and aversion automatically disappear.
This is the only way to remove cravings and aversions.

That is why it is said, ‘Na Guror Adhikam, Na Guror Adhikam, Na Guror Adhikam’ (There is nothing greater than Guru, there is nothing greater than Guru, there is nothing greater than Guru because Guru is the embodiment of all that is greatest.)

So leave everything on the Guru, and surrender to the Guru.
Fulfillment cannot be achieved through desires because if one desire is fulfilled another one comes, and if that is fulfilled another one comes. And then the mind keeps wandering between desires. Some desire or another will keep troubling your mind day and night.
Do you know, if there is anything in this world that troubles you, the topmost on the list is your own mind!
I am saying topmost because you do not see this. You feel that someone else is bothering you. You think your mother in law is troubling you, or your daughter-in-law is troubling you, or your wife or husband is troubling you. Keep all that as second on the list.
It is your own mind which is troubling you; there is no other enemy out there. Once you realize this you will understand that it is not the other, all the botherations are of the mind.

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A Beautiful India

Bangalore, India
(Sri Sri says looking towards the sky)

See, clouds are already there. It will rain well by the end of this month. If there is unrighteousness and decreased moral values in the country, nature also shows its anger. When all the corrupt people, whom we have made to sit on the top, do injustice to the country, nature also shows its anger.

The farmers of our country are committing suicide. If there is injustice to the farmers, it will result in nature showing its anger. That is why righteousness must increase in people. If the people who rule the country are not righteous, the country will be ruined, the people of the country will be ruined.

This is not something new; this has been going on since ages. In the ancient times, there used to be a Rajguru who used to catch the king’s ears if he did something wrong and cautioned him that it would harm him as well as his subjects. Nowadays, nobody listens. Farmers should not be subjected to injustice.

From today, before you eat your food, say, ‘Annadata Sukhibhava’. Let the farmers who provide us food be happy. Let the merchants who ensure that the food is transported and supplied to us be happy. Thirdly, let the women of the house, who cook and serve food to us, be happy. If these three are happy, the world will be happy.

If the women of the house are happy, there will be happiness at home. If the women of the house cook food with sadness, frustration or anger, the food does not digest properly and it affects the mind too.
If the merchants are happy, they will not cheat or adulterate food. We will get pure and clean food. Also, they will not loot and increase prices exorbitantly.
Since ages, merchants used to do a lot of social service activities, like constructing tanks, temples and Dharmashalas (Righteous schools). If the merchants are not happy and become greedy, it affects the people a lot.
Similarly, farmers must be happy. It is very important.
So, keeping all these three in mind, let us chant the mantra ‘Annadata Sukhibhava’ everyday.

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Love is a happening

Bangalore, India
Q: Dear Gurudev, love, respect and attachment, how are these three connected. How we can we keep these in balance in relationships? 
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think you have too much free time. You should get busy.
Do not sit and worry. Love, respect, all these feelings and emotions remain in you. When your heart and mind are clear, then the right emotions will come at the right time.
Love, respect – all these happen. You cannot make it happen. You cannot make respect come into you. If you make an effort to feel love or respect, it will be a failure. So, all that you can do is free yourself from stress and have wisdom in the mind.
Wisdom is seeing the world from a bigger perspective.

See what is temporary and what is permanent. All the opinions of people are temporary. They come and they go. This you must remember. Do not crave for respect. Some people give respect, some do not, it is fine. It is their choice. But if your life depends on respect from others then you are a weak person. You will feel weakened more and more, and when you are weak, you will be miserable.
You should know that you do not need anybody to respect you. ‘My respect is with me, I do not need anyone to respect me’, that is it.

So when you go back from here, that does not mean you behave disrespectfully. You give respect, but do not expect respect in return.
Sometimes people will not have even a little respect. That is how they are, never mind. If others do not give you respect, never mind. It shows their culture, their evolution.
If you are highly evolved, you will always respect everybody. Whether they are sane or insane, you will respect them. Then you will respect even the insane people because it is in your nature. You see them as a part of this Creation. They belong to the Creation, to Divinity. So when you respect everybody that shows how much wiser you are. Expecting respect shows our weakness and giving respect to people irrespective of who they are or what their standards are shows our wisdom.

Love is a basic substratum of this Creation. It can never disappear. It is always there. Again, give love and it will come back to you a million times more.

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Honoring Our Ancestors

Bangalore, India
(Many devotees offer Gurudev peacock feathers to which he says)

I want to know if these are these plucked from peacocks or does it fall down naturally and people pick it? If they pluck it then don't bring these at all. We shouldn't encourage people to pluck from peacocks. I don't know if this naturally falls or people pluck it.
(Audience: they pluck it Gurudev) Then you shouldn't bring this at all. Do not buy it at all because if you keep buying it they may kill even more of the peacocks. No one should buy this.
We will put instructions everywhere that no one should buy peacock feathers because that can create greed in some people to pluck them forcefully from the peacocks.
What do you say? Agreed!
This is a new trend that has started. You should stop buying these.
Very good decision we made today!

Q: Gurudev, I want to dance with you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My spirit is always dancing.

Q: Gurudev, can the Guru change the karma of a person, and when does that happen?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If a Guru alone could change the karma of a person then he would have changed the karma of everybody in one stroke.
No, you have to do some effort as well.
Guru can definitely relieve you of your sins. When you commit a sin and you realize that you made a mistake, you cannot relieve yourself of sin, but the Guru can definitely do it for you. So in that sense, yes!
At the same time, you have to do Purusharth (self-effort). You need to do some good work. And the sense of love and devotion is equally proportionate to the amount of karma that gets released.

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The significance of Gayatri Mantra

Bangalore, India
Adi Shankaracharyaji, after having given all the knowledge he had to give he says one last thing, ‘O Shiva! You are me and I am You – Shivoham! ’ (Shivoham – I am Shiva).

Atmatvam – The Atman (Soul) is Shiva, and Girijimatih – Our buddhi (intellect) is the manifestation of Mother Divine (Devi). And intellect is of three types: Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasik; which means that the intellect can be predominantly ruled by Satoguna, Rajoguna or Tamoguna.
So in essence – ‘I am Shiva and my intellect is Sati (Mother Divine) Herself’. And life depends on how our intellect (mati) is.
If the intellect is Tamasik then it becomes Kali (a violent form of the Mother Divine) and takes hold over Shiva (here, the soul) and works towards destroying everything.
If the intellect is Sattvik then it takes the form of Saraswati (the form of the Mother Divine associated with knowledge and wisdom); and if the intellect is Rajasik then it is Lakshmi (the form of the Mother Divine associated with wealth and prosperity).
So, as is the intellect so are the actions (Jaisa mati vaisa gati). As the nature of our intellect, so are our actions.

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Raksha Bandhan

Bangalore, India
Today is Full Moon – Shravan Purnima. The previous Full Moon was Guru Purnima, dedicated to the masters and teachers. Previous to that was Buddha Purnima and the one before that was Chaitra Purnima.

So this fourth Full Moon is called Shravan Purnima and this Full Moon is dedicated to the brother and sister relationship – Raksha Bandhan.
Today is also the day that the Janeu (sacred thread) is changed. The significance of changing the thread is to remind you that you have three responsibilities or debts on your shoulders – responsibility towards your parents, responsibility towards society and responsibility towards knowledge.
These are the three responsibilities or debts that we have. We are indebted to our parents, we are indebted to the society and we are indebted towards the Guru; the knowledge. So we have these three debts and the Janeu reminds us of these three responsibilities.

When we say debt, we think of it as some loan that we have taken that we need to give back. But we should understand it as a responsibility. The meaning of debt in this case is what? Responsibility! It is reviewing your responsibility towards the previous generation, towards the coming generation and towards the present generation. And that is why you put the three layers of thread on your shoulder (Janeu).
That is the significance – let me keep my body pure, my mind pure and my speech pure; Purity in body, mind and speech. And when there is a thread hanging around you, you remember every day, ‘Oh I have these responsibilities.’ In ancient days women also had to wear this thread. It was not limited to only one caste or another caste. Everybody used to have to wear this whether they were Brahmans, Vaishya, Kshatriya, Shudra; but later on it got confined to a few.
Responsibility is for everybody.

Now, when one gets married they get six layers – three layers of oneself and three of the wife’s also. Actually wives should also have it but men take it on themselves. This is a male dominated society; they made this big mistake. Women also had this in ancient days – the ceremony of taking responsibility. But now after marriage the man takes responsibility for his wife’s side as well.

So, on Raksha Bandhan you tie the Rakhi, what we call as friendship band. This term was recently coined in English, but from ancient times Raksha Bandhan has been there. It is the bond of protection where the sister protects her brother.
So Raksha Bandhan is a festival here where all the sisters go and tie the Rakhi on their brothers. And it does not have to be only their biological brother, in fact they start tying it to everybody and everybody are their brothers. So this has been very prevalent in this country and it is a big festival on Shravan Purnima.

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Sri Sri University opens its doors

Bangalore, India
Today we have commenced our University in Bhubaneswar, Orissa.
The first batch of students have arrived at the University, and this first batch of students are our pride, because they are the foundation of something that is going to be very big and very great.

The Sri Sri University in Orissa is based on values and universal cooperation.
The best of East and the best of West will be provided to the students in the University, and they will become Global Citizens, and take their skills and their brilliance all over the world.

I congratulate our Vice Chancellor, Dr. Mishra, and the President of our University, Dr. Rao and all others. They have all worked very hard in a short time. They had to make all the logistics even through the rains in Bhubaneswar. They had many challenges and through the challenges they were able to start the University on the committed date. Better facilities will come along as we move on.
I also congratulate all the students; you all have a very bright future ahead of you!
Even before the University started, I had gotten calls from all over the world, with people suggesting how they can associate with the University. And I am very glad that today, on a very auspicious day, we have begun the University. I am sure this first batch of students will be leaders in our fraternity.

Knowledge, personality, economic development, social responsibility and leadership in society, are all what we are expecting from our students. And I am sure that they are going to bring a new hope. They will instill a new hope in the economy when there is economic downtrend, moral degradation, social injustice, poverty and many other challenges.
I do not wish to recount all the challenges that society is facing today. But, I am sure these youths will be well equipped to wipe the tears of millions and bring up the economic growth and prosperity back in the world.

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Three Types of Illusion

Bangalore, India
Q: Dear Gurudev, when we meditate we experience such bliss, how can that state continue with or without meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With knowledge and with dispassion. When you see the whole world is a dream, the meditative state remains in activity also. But do not make a mood out of it; you should not do mood making. Live life naturally, as everyone else lives; simple, natural. Do not make a big mood out of it, yes!
And do not try to hang on to peace also. If we try to hold onto peace then there are more problems. Do not try to hang on to something, become empty. It is okay if disturbances step in sometimes, so what! Never mind. As long as you know this is the nature of the world.

There is a beautiful couplet in Kannada which says, ‘What can you tell someone who builds a home on the sea shore and is scared of waves. What can you tell someone who has built a home in the forest and is scared of animals. What can you tell someone who built a house in the middle of the town and is afraid of noise.’
Right in the market place he has built a home and he is allergic to noise. What can you tell him? In the same way when we are in this planet, in this world, pleasant things happen and unpleasant things happen. People praise you and for no reason people blame you. You should simply take them on and move ahead.
Isn’t that a very good advice?

Today some people came and told me that such and such person is very rude, he is not good and he has such bad qualities. He loses his temper all the time. Why do you still keep him in the organization?
I told him, ‘No, I give a long rope. Suppose I leave him outside anywhere else in the world, he will do the same thing. You feel now he is disturbing you, but if you send him out of the organization then also he will continue to disturb you. At least here he has a chance to improve.’ Isn’t it?
So I have patience; I say okay, let them be here, let them grow. With patience I allow them to be.

Q: Dear Gurudev, the Bible states that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Does this mean a wealthy person is doomed to hell just for being wealthy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No!
These words of different Saints and Prophets were given to different people at different times. Jesus says that I have not come to make peace; I have come to put mother against daughter and the son against father. That doesn’t mean he did not like families or he came to split families.

So, what is said is an example given so that people feel compassion. When there is poverty all around and someone is just enjoying too much without doing any kind of service; spending 100 percent of what he earns on himself or herself, then that person has a hard heart, like a rock. When someone is like a rock and there is no suppleness inside of them then heaven is far away. That is the essence of it.

Just now the thought came to me; we should send some 50 Lacs worth of medicine to Assam. We should buy 50 Lacs worth of some Ayurvedic medicines. So everyone contribute a little bit and we can give it to the people there. I am planning to visit Assam soon, so let us see.
As a first step they might need some medicines. We will all do something.
We are so many people, if we all give five hundred each then we can do quite a bit. We can send them medicines. And some Ayurvedic doctors should also go to Assam from here. We will send them to Assam.

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Devotion – A thirst never quenched

Bangalore, India
Q: After a lot of struggle I found you as my Master. In my next birth, I don't want to get lost and then get picked up by a Master. Is there a way out?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a lot to worry about right now. Why are you postponing things for the next lifetime? Right now, here, you have a chance. Become free, become happy and serve, yes!
We will see about the next life later.

Q: Dear Guruji, why do I cry in satsangs and in some of The Art of Living Courses?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you cry? I think you should laugh, isn’t it? Smile!
There is a shloka (verse) in the Upanishad which says, ’Bidhyanti hridaya granthi, Chidyanthe sarva samshayaha. Ksheenatechaasya karmani, Yasmin driste paraavare.’ – (Mandukya Upanishad)
When you see the Beloved, the knots in your heart open and tears come. All doubts and questions vanish from the mind, and all bad karmas vanish. This is what has been said in the Upanishads.
So you don’t know why you are crying, it is because some knot in the heart is getting loosened up; getting opened – this is one thing. And there is s nothing wrong, when the heart blossoms tears come and emotions well up. Gratitude and love are also associated with tears, not only misery. These are called sweet tears.
It is said in the Bhakti Sutras – The angels long for those drops of tears that come out of love. So you are very fortunate to have such tears.
Now if some of you are not getting tears, don’t think that, ‘Oh! I am not fortunate, I can’t cry.’ No, nothing like that! Only if you get tears you are evolved – nothing like that. It is just the makeup of some people. For some there is more emotion, a wider experience of hollow and empty in the mind. Some feel more waves of emotions taking over.
These are different experiences. And at different times people get these different experiences. Not everybody needs to get those.
And that is not a particular sign of any higher evolution. It is one of the signs, but not the only sign.

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What is Art?

Bad Antogast, Germany
Why do you want to talk about darkness?
The whole Universe is enveloped by darkness - Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Scientists today say that what you see today as light is only a spot; it is like a bubble in a water bottle. Light is like a bubble in a water bottle. But the water is the real thing. The bubble is simply what appears. That is not the real thing.
So the Sun, of course we know is the source of energy. But the scientists say that, what keeps the Sun tight and round in shape is the Dark Energy around it. So the Dark Matter and Dark Energy is a million times more powerful than the Sun. Like air bubble inside a water bottle is just air trapped by the pressure of all the water molecules. Now water is heavier and so much more powerful than the air. Similarly the whole Universe is filled with energy which you cannot see and which you don’t know. And you think there is nothing in it.
The black holes, what the scientists call it, can just swallow the Sun. Our Earth, the Sun and our solar system is simply escaping and moving in between huge black holes.
So many black holes are there in the universe, and if the Sun gets even a little close to it then it just sucks the whole Sun, and nobody knows where it disappears. So the whole Universe is filled with that energy which is not seen, that is why it is called Dark Energy or Dark Matter.

Q: What is Art? Where does poetry come from and what does it do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh! Anything that you appreciate becomes art.
You see a heap of stones lying somewhere and you think it is just a heap of stones. But if it is arranged a little bit, you start appreciating it. Then it becomes an Art.
On a piece of paper when you start putting or splashing some colors and then start appreciating it as a painting, it becomes an Art. It gives you some meaning, isn’t it?
And for poetry, it comes from a subtle level of the mind. When your breath flows in a particular rhythm, when a particular Nadi or channel in you gets opened, in that particular moment, something comes up and you write. Then the words rhyme. So it is a gift! Imagination is a gift.
It is all how the consciousness expresses itself; how your mind expresses itself. And when you appreciate, it becomes Art.
If you don’t appreciate and just blabber some words then that is not it. See the modern poetry needs certain intelligence to appreciate it.
Have you read modern poetry? Let me read you something.

A leaf ruffles on the ground; Water carries it along.

That is it. (Laughter)

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What happens after death?

Bad Antogast, Germany
Q: Guruji, please give us Gyaan (knowledge)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: For that you have to ask questions. Knowledge means you have to pull it out.

Q: What happens after death?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What happens after death is the mind gets freed from the body, the spirit. The mind has memory and intelligence, so these two things become like a balloon. The karma, the deepest impressions form a balloon. It is like in sleep.
Death is nothing but a long sleep. Before going to sleep, see the last thought that you get, and as soon as you wake up, see what is the first thought that comes. Have you noticed? It will variably be the same though.
So the physical body decays and the pranic body with all the impressions forms a balloon and leaves the body and hangs around.
Don’t imagine a balloon hanging around! It is a light; an energy.

I will give you the best example. In a television station, they conduct a program and then they transmit it through the dish and the program remains in the atmosphere – it is the same way.
When you send an email from the computer, you type all the letters and then you press the send button. What happens? It goes into the space. Does your email remain in the space till it is downloaded? Even after several days you can download your email. Even one year later or ten years later you can download an email. There is no expiry date, isn’t that so. It is not like those greeting cards which sometimes people send you that expire in 24 hours. The messages or letters you send don’t hang as letters in the space, it remains in the space as energy.
Like that every soul is a particular frequency and every thumb is different because a thumb is like a particular cell phone chip.

So after death, every individual energy stays, and the impressions it has taken, accordingly to that it experiences those stages there. But then after sometime that soul comes back.
The soul enters the body at three times – this is all a secret. It is called the birth secret and death secret. So the soul enters at the moment of conception, or it enters in the fifth month, or at the time of birth. So the three sections are there, but there is no way to determine when it enters.
So if at conception time it comes then what one should do to care for that?
Keep yourself happy. Usually pregnant women are kept very happy in India. Whatever she wants is provided to her. I would say, don’t watch all these violent movies, and scary songs, and scary things. Generally light flute music would be good because it is soothing. It is good to listen to music, knowledge and wisdom. All these things would be preferable.
The soul also chooses where to be born, the place to come. According to its wish it will just come there.

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Sri Sri talks about the recently discovered God Particle

Bad Antogast, Germany
The scientists have discovered the God Particle; that is what they are saying – Higgs Boson. And they say that the entire universe is made up of this. It is a field, and this field is energy. It gives shape to the planets, stars and everything.
This sounds so familiar to someone who has studied Vedanta, or someone who has experienced deep meditation. The whole universe is made up of consciousness. It is a play and display of one consciousness. The Vedic Rishis also said the same. They said first know the elements; they called even Brahman, the Ultimate, as a Tattva. Tattva means Principle. Like God Particle, they said Brahman Principle.

What is the first principle? They said the Elements; Earth element, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, and then the Mind, the Intellect – the subtler and subtler you go, you reach there.
Subtler than space is mind, subtler than that is intellect and knowledge is present there. And subtler than that is ego, and hundred times subtler than ego is the Mahat Tattva – The Principle called Mahat, field called Mahat. Ego itself is an atom, but finer than the ego, beyond the ego, that point, that particle is a field called Mahat Tattva, and finer than that is Moola Prakurti – the primordial energy.
And beyond that primordial energy, is Brahman, of which everything is made, which is the substance of the whole creation. Brahman is infinity, it is neither born nor will it ever die.

In the Rig Veda, there is a Sukta called Nasadiya Sukta, in the 10th Mandala, 129th Adhyaya, there, around seven verses are written. In the seven verses of The Hymn of Creation, it is so striking how these aspects which we now know through quantum mechanics and through quantum physics were present then and there.
What scientists call as Dark Matter and Dark Energy which is everywhere, and which is what we are talking about, the Nasadiya Sukta says the same thing.

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Be Open Minded

Bad Antogast, Germany
Q: Dear Guruji, what is the real meaning and importance of Rudra Pooja? And what happens to the people or the place?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Rudrabhishek is an ancient chanting which was downloaded from the Aakasha (space). When the ancient sages and Rishis sat in meditation, they heard, and what they heard, they started transferring to other people. The effect of Rudrabhishek is it creates positive energy and removes negative vibes. And a lot is said about the Rudrabhishek. When Rudrabishek happens nature flourishes, nature becomes joyful, happy.
Main thing is the vibration, that is it. If you ask me, ’Do you know the meaning of all the chants? I will say, ’I also don’t know.’ It’s the vibration of the chants that is important and then the meaning.
There are two parts, the first part says, ’Namo, namo, namo, namo!’
Mana, means mind. The word mind in English comes from Sanskrit word Mana.
Nama is the reverse of the mind. The mind going to its source is called Nama.
When the mind goes outside to experience the world, it is Mana. So Nama. is the mind going back to its source. When it goes to its source, what does it find? Everything is made up of one consciousness.
Now, what do the scientists today say? God Particle – by which everything has been made. Thousands of years ago the Rishis said the same thing, that everything is made up of one thing, and that they called Brahman. – that which is neither male nor female. It is nothing but a Tattva. Tattva means principle. A great principle by which everything is made of, they called it Bramhan. And when that Bramhan becomes personal, it is called Shiva Tattva – the innocent Divinity; that is in everything. That is why we say, ‘Namo, namo!’
In the trees, in the greenery, in the birds, even in the thieves, and in a dacoit,

Then, the second part will say, ‘Chame, chame, chame, chame.’ You have heard this, isn’t it?! This means, everything is in Me.
‘Me’ in English comes from the Sanskrit word ’ Ma’, which means Myself.
‘Ma Ma’ means ’ For Me’, ‘In Me’. So, everything is in terms of ; myself;. The second part is everything is for me and everything is in terms of me.
Even for numbers they say, ‘Ekaachame’, which means, one, two, three, four, they are all my form; Myself. Like that, ‘Sugamchame’, happiness for me!
‘Abhayanchame’, fearlessness, happiness, health, all the good things in the universe, let them all come to me, and they are all part of me. That is it.

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Everyone is nothing but a reflection of you

Bad Antogast, Germany 1130
Q: Guruji, how can I free myself from thoughts, emotions and feelings and how can I get detached from all relationships?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you want to detach yourself from relationship? Because it gives you pain, isn’t it. Why does it give pain? Because you do not have a broad vision of life.
All relationships are for a few days, few months, few years, but life is much bigger, so instead of trying to detach yourself from relationships, what is best for you to do is expand your awareness.
Listen to more of Ashtavakra Gita knowledge, not just once, again and again, and keep your thoughts on the Brahman, on the infinity, on the great energy; everything is part of it, everybody is a manifestation of it. That is why that is called Brahmacharya.
‘Brahma’ means the infinity, ’Charya’ means moving into it – having your mind moving into the Divinity. Not focused on limited – that man said this, this lady said this, this is that, and all that little mindedness. Always trying to pick on others and then you get into craving and aversion, aversion and craving, and this goes on forever.
So expand your vision, be more in the spiritual knowledge, know that everybody, every human being is like a bubble in the water. How long do they stay?
Clouds in the sky, how long do they stay? Know that everything is temporary, ephemeral.

Q: Guruji, I am confused, in Hare Krishna movement they say surrender to Krishna and the process will take you to the spiritual world. You say, ‘Surrender to me and let go of all your problems.’
So what is the process in Art of Living to get back to the spiritual world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is it!
And Krishna also said, ‘Those who see me in everything and in everybody, and everybody in me are the most intelligent.’ Why did you forget that?!
And He also said, ‘I will keep coming in every age’, right!

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Sri Sri's Message on Guru Purnima

Guru Purnima is celebrating and honoring the Guru Tattva
Ishwaro Gururatmeti Murti bheda Vibhagine, Vyomavad vyapta dehaya Dakshinamurataye namah.
(There is no difference between the Guru, Self and God. Obeisance to Lord Dakshinamurthy who is the personification of the Supreme Self that permeates through Space)

There is no difference between Guru, Self, and Divine. These three are One – your Soul, the Guru Tattva and God. And all these three are not the (physical) body. What is their body like? It is like the sky.

‘Vyomavad vyapta dehaya’ (Vyom = Space, Deha = Body, vyapta = to permeate).

You are not the body, you are the Soul, and the form of the Soul is like that of Space. The same is true for the Guru as well. Don’t think of the Guru as the limited physical body. The Guru is the field, the energy which is all permeating; so is the Self. And honoring the Guru is honoring your own Self.

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Truth is contradictory

Boone, North Carolina
Q: Dear Guruji, do you really like being a Guru? And do you read all our botherations or do you have helpers?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are helpers (smiles mischievously). Do you feel free of your botherations? How many of you feel free from your botherations? (Many raise hands in the audience).
Look at that!

Q: What do you think of politics? Do you think people should get involved in politics?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is politics? Caring for people, isn’t it? Politics means one who stands up for the people, one who cares for people. People who are caring should be in politics. Not the ones who are selfish, but the ones who care, yes!
Unfortunately, of late, that is not the case with many. People come to politics just to enjoy some power, not to empower people, not to serve people. So it is good if you have an intention to serve the society, and if that is your cup of tea, then you should do it. But if you are a businessman and your tendency is to do business, you should not get into politics. It is the same with a philosopher or a doctor. See your aptitude.
If you have a big vision for the people, the country, or the world, then I would encourage you to get into politics. Especially the younger generation should get involved in politics.

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The right thing will come at the right time

Boone, North Carolina
Q: What to do with unfulfilled desires? The lifelong desire of prosperity in relationships goes unfulfilled. As time passes I feel frustrated, regretful, and my energy sapped. How do I manifest these desires and let them go?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You say it is a lifelong desire. Is it really a lifelong desire? Did you have the same desire when you were a kid, or when you were a teenager?
Just take a look at it. Is the desire worth all the effort and time you are putting into it? Or can your life be very useful in some other way? These are a few things that you need to ponder upon. As your energy builds up, let go and you will find that desires just happen. The more you hang onto them, the more you hold on and crave for it, the longer it takes. That is a fact.

Q: Dear Guruji, I know that you love me, but I don't love myself. I wish I was more comfortable within myself and with others around me. What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are doing the right thing; Advanced Meditation Course. That is the first thing we do in the course, praise yourself and praise your partner. Didn’t you do that? Do that sincerely. Don't think that this is just another exercise and they are just asking me to praise, no! Do it seriously. Some of these exercises may appear silly to you on some level, but on another level they really have some impact on our consciousness and our subconscious mind.
Stop blaming yourself - this is the first law of spirituality. The more you blame, the more you will be away from you own spirit. So you should stop blaming yourself and recognize the good qualities that you have. Continue doing this and it will happen.
Sometimes these patterns, these old habits take a longer time to ease out. As you become aware, ‘I have to stop blaming myself’, then suddenly your energy goes up. And do pranayama, it definitely helps. When energy is higher, there is no way that you will continue to blame yourself, that is not possible.

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Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness

Boone, North Carolina
Q: Guruji, sometimes, dealing with kids gets so tricky that I tend to lose my patience. Everyday I decide to be calm, but when the situation arises I am not able to control myself. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You can’t do anything about it now, you have to live life spontaneously. Do you see what I am saying? It is okay to sometimes lose your temper, never mind. You should leave a little room for imperfection in life, and start accepting.
What did you learn in the Part 1 Course? Accept people and situations as they are. It is a lifetime process. Every day you get reminded of this. When these situations come to you, you get reminded, ’Yes, I have to do this, this and this.’ So this is the direction in which we go. Sometimes you slip here and there, never mind, keep moving. Definitely one day, you will achieve perfection.
The other day, one teacher who has been in The Art of Living for around 20 years said to me, ‘Guruji, sometimes it feels so strange that I am happy all the time. Come what may I am happy’.
And I said, ‘Finally!’
20 years is not too much time, it is okay. But you don’t need to take 20 years. Turn back and see the growth in you; this is why these celebrations are done. What is the purpose of Guru Purnima? Once in a year, you turn back and see where you were and how much you have progressed. How you respond differently to situations now and how your reactions have reduced and responses have increased.
So, life is a continuous process. Isn’t it so?

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Boone, North Carolina
Keeping silence is very useful. At least twice a year we must do this. Once a year is a must and twice a year is very good.
Silence purifies our speech. Often when we speak what happens, have you observed? You must observe. When you speak what impact your speech is making on others – we must observe that. Many times, we do not bother to notice this, we go on blabbering. We just want to say all that we want to say and become free. No, you must see what impact your speech has on others.

There is a beautiful couplet in the Bhagavad Gita which says, ‘Anudvega-karam vakyam satyam priya-hitam ca yat. ’ The words that do not rattle the minds of people and which is truth. Truth which is benevolent and which is pleasant, those type of words are to be spoken. That is called the penance of speech.

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No Explanations and No Complaints

Holland, Netherlands
We need to create waves of happiness in Holland. Don’t you think so?
Do you know, if we think only about ourselves then our life shrinks. But when we think for the whole society, for everybody then there is more joy. Yes, there are challenges in it.
Everyone wants to be happy, right? Is there anyone who doesn’t want to be happy here? Every human being, every animal, every creature wants to be happy. Now, what is the way to be happy? It is by sharing happiness. When you spread happiness, it grows. When you don’t spread it and keep it to yourself, it starts to dwindle and then finishes. This is what people don’t know. They want to be happy, but they don’t know how to share it with everybody and to expand their family. And that is what The Art of Living is. It is the education to expand one’s happiness and to expand one’s family. So, are we all committed to do this?

There is an old Sanskrit proverb, which says, ‘The real worship, the real prayer to God is to create happiness in others.’ It has challenges, no doubt about it. All individuals have challenges. One may have challenges about their job, husband, wife, children, brother, sister, mother, father, family, health, etc. All these challenges surround us, right? There has never been a time in anybody’s life that challenges don’t come. If not yours, you are bothered about your friend’s challenges. If not your friend’s, you are bothered about your relatives’ challenges. If nothing, you have the world to bother about!

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Life is worth nothing if there is no love

Haarlem, Holland
Now tell me, how do you want to spend this evening? What do you want to discuss this evening?

(Audience: Talk about healing; Let us do meditation; Tell us about Ayurveda; Speak on crisis.)

See how the word crisis is bringing laughter and smiles on your faces; this is something very unique, isn’t it?! Usually when people talk about crisis they are crying, but here it is different and this is what The Art of Living is – Turning every crisis to one’s advantage. Taking every crisis as a challenge, as an opportunity is what we need to promote in the world. Don’t you think so?
Do you know, in Chinese language, there is only one word for both opportunity and crisis! If you say crisis, it also means opportunity.
Then what else would you like to discuss?

(Audience: Freedom; Love; How to make decisions; Chaos; How to educate children internationally; Football)

Now tell me, what if I know nothing about any of these topics. I have no idea about football. In India football is not very popular, what is popular is Cricket. Even that I am not familiar with.
So I know nothing about any of these topics.

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Happiness has nothing to do with the prosperity

Breukelen, Netherlands
(At an impressive ceremony at the prestigious Nyenrode University, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was conferred with an honorary doctorate today.
Addressing the gathering , the Rector of Nyenrode, Dr. Maurits van Rooijen FRSA, said that it was a great privilege for the university that Sri Sri has accepted this doctorate. In its 65 years since inception, the university has conferred this doctorate on very few individuals, some of whom include Mr Nelson Mandela, Mr A P J Abdul Kalam and Mr Bill Gates. He added that the work and life of Sri Sri is a true representation of Leadership, Entreprenuership and Stewardship, the three core values of the University.
Sri Sri then address the gathering with the following words)

Honorable Rector, Honorable Dean, Honorable Board of Trustees, and all the dignitaries present here. I am so honored to receive this doctorate degree from Nyenrode University. I really appreciate and feel grateful to you for choosing me to be part of this university. Even without studying in this university I have become an Alumnus of the University today.

I feel there are three important aspects to education; first is information, second is observation and third is intuition. I am so happy to hear that this university has all these aspects.
Often when we think of education, we think it is only gathering of information; that is not sufficient. You need keenness of mind, a mind which is alert and sharp enough to absorb what is happening around, and what is happening within. Ethics is listening to the consciousness that is deep within, and acting according to it when it comes to social interactions.

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Diversity is not a threat instead it should be celebrated

World Forum for Ethics in Business at Amstelveen, Netherlands
Let’s see, are we all here now? 100%?
Do you know, our present includes the past and the future? The anxiety about the future and regret about the past are all in the present moment.
Now the challenge is how to sail through these opposing currents with the light of hope in our hand. And now this light of hope that we are holding is under a big storm. Somehow we have to save this light of hope.

I want to tell you about an incident that happened in 1999.
At the end of the last millennium, there were rumors that on the 31st December 1999, the world was going to crash. Now this was because the computers were not programmed to take up any more programs and so everything would collapse. And so, there was this fear-psychosis spread all over the world, and more so in North America.
People even started storing food in their cellars. They were buying groceries and milk powder. There was a scarcity of milk powder in Canada, can you imagine? This was because everyone went on a shopping spree, buying food and storing it in their cellars expecting a big disaster to happen.
At that time, I took a whirlwind tour of nearly 100 cities in a matter of two and a half months. In the morning I was in one place and by evening I was at another place, and my only message was to say that ‘Everything will be okay, don’t worry. Business will be as usual, please don’t worry and please do not store things in your cellars. It is not needed. ’ Everywhere the same question kept coming.
Once again, this year in the past month I toured about 20 cities in 14 countries and everywhere people have been asking, ‘What is the fate of this world on 20-12-2012. We hear there is going to be a disaster.’
I said, ‘This will only be in the American movies. The world will not come to an end. If it comes to an end, it will only be in the movies. Things will be as usual and you just carry on.’
A sense of relief comes into us when we hear that there is no longer a doomsday anywhere near. We are able to sit back and relax, and enjoy our cup of tea and watch television.

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Meditation makes you lucky

Bangalore, India
Our country is a land of Rishi (Saints) and Krishi (Agriculture). Irrespective of the pooja (worship), we first perform ‘Beeja Vaapana’ (sowing seeds in small clay pots) and ‘Ankurarpana’ (spraying water and milk over the seedlings). Life and pooja are not different. Our life is a pooja. Wherever we walk, it becomes a Pradakshina (circumambulation). We should have this attitude towards life. There should be purity in life.
When there is purity, the mind will be strong, the intellect will be sharp and there will be enthusiasm in life. So, even to sow a seed into the earth, they used to look for the right time. They used to sow the seed with devotion.

Also, our elders used to fold their hands and pray ‘Annadata Sukhibhava’ before eating food. This means - Let the one who has provided me food be happy. We must all do this. Will you all do this daily? The first person responsible for providing us food is the farmer. The merchants come next. The third are the women of the house.
Farmers grow the grains. The merchants ensure that these grains are supplied to us and the women of the house, the mothers, cook the food and serve it to us. We pray that all these three should be happy. Even if one of them is sad, our lives will also be affected.
The farmers produce a good crop, but if the merchants and distributors do not give the right price to the farmers or plan the distribution well, they are doing a big mistake. The farmers should ensure that they do not poison the land and water with chemicals. We must never go for Genetically Modified (G.M) crops. We must do organic farming. A lot of people are now doing Zero Budget farming.
Farmers pay money to buy the seeds and then poison them with pesticides. If we stop doing that, and instead follow the ancient methods of agriculture, the farmers will be happy. If the merchants do their business without being greedy, they will also be happy. And, if the women in the house are happy and serve us food, our digestion will be good. If they shed tears and cook the food, we will have to shed tears to digest it. We will get body aches, headaches, stomach pains and various diseases.
So, to ensure that all the three are happy, we have to pray ‘Annadata Sukhibhava’. Chant this daily before eating food.

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Great strength comes to you when you sacrifice

Bangalore, India
What do we get upset with? We don’t get upset with the birds, or the clouds, or with Nature. We don’t get upset with the environment. So, what do we get upset with? We get upset with the people around us. Our enemies upset us and our friends upset us as well. Our mind gets stuck either in our friends or in our enemies. We either think about our friends or we think about our enemies the entire day.

People become our enemies even when we have not done any wrong to them. Many people have had this experience. We don’t do any wrong to them; neither do we misbehave with them and still they become our enemies. This is very surprising! We think, ‘Oh! Why has he become my enemy? Until yesterday he was my friend.’
In the same way, we do not do any special favours for some people, yet they become our close friends. That is why I tell you, this is some astonishing and mysterious Karma – how some people become our enemies and some our friends.
So what should we do? We should place both our friends and enemies in one basket, and just become empty from within; be joyful. All these happenings (people becoming friends and enemies) run by some law and we don’t know how and where it comes from. We just can’t say when someone’s feelings towards us will change and whether it will be in our favour or not in our favour. We just can’t say. That is why we should place absolute faith on our Self, on God, and not on friendship and enmity. We should not waste our time thinking about friends and enemies.

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Very strange are the ways of Karma

Bangalore, India
How many of you have had this experience that without doing any harm to anybody, or anything wrong still people became your enemies. (Many raise their hands) So many! And now tell me, you have not done any big favors and still some people have become your friends. How many of you have this experience too? (Many raise their hands)Look at this!

You have not done any harm to anybody still people became your enemies, and you have not done any good to somebody but even then they have become very good friends. Very strange are the ways of Karma.

That is why it is said that the ways of karma are unfathomable. ‘Hone wala karm aur karne wala karma mai bahut farak hai’
Apart from our actions the events that have to happen keep happening. That is why the ways of Karma are very strange. And that is why I tell you, keep all your friends and enemies on one side and relax; respose in yourself, and keep your attention on the Divine.
This is what Lord Krishna told Arjuna, ‘Samah satrau ca mitre ca tatha manapamanayohsitoshna-sukha-duhkheshu samah sanga-vivarjitah’ Do not lose the equanimity of your mind. You do not know when and where, what will happen. When a friend will become an enemy and when an enemy will become friend.

One does not know anything in this world. So keep your attention on the truth and perform all your duties sincerely and meditate sincerely.

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Three kinds of Devotees

Bangalore, India
There are three kinds of devotees. The first kind is a devotee who keeps asking, ‘God give me this’, ‘God give me that.’ The second kind is a devotee who is always grateful, ‘Thank you God, you gave me this and you gave me that’, one who is emotional, prayerful and keeps crying out of gratitude. The third kind is a devotee who always remains joyful, keeps smiling, dancing and singing – joyful devotee. All three are different kinds of devotees, and yet all three are supreme. It is not that one is greater than another – that is not so. A crying devotee, a laughing devotee, and a devotee who keeps asking – so which category are you in, you can see that for yourself. It is possible that a little of all three may be there in you. That also is okay. Then that would be the fourth kind of devotee – one who has a little bit of all the three present.

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A goal is needed in life

Bangalore, India
Q: How was God born?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If he was born, he is no God. God is one who was never born and never dies.

Q: My son has undergone many courses, but he is not ready to change. He does not do the Kriya even after repeatedly telling him. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it is a little difficult to reform children during teenage. Have patience. It cannot be said that there is no change at all. After doing all these courses, there would surely be some change in him.

Q: After organizing Art Excel and YES course for children, we are getting complaints from parents that their children are not practicing what they have been taught. How do we address this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Follow-up sessions are needed frequently. Make them play games. Put in all possible efforts from your side. Once you sow a seed, don’t you check if the seed is growing properly?

Q: Can miracles happen against the laws of nature?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. A lot of them happen. Many people have experienced such miracles in their.

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Consider your life itself as your sadhana

Bangalore, India
Q: Guruji, in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, ‘My birth (janam) and actions (karm) are both Divine.’ Please elaborate on this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, when you acquire self-knowledge, then you feel that your birth and your actions are both Divine. This understanding comes to you.
Once discipline and morals are established in you, then you just cannot commit mistakes. Not a single bad word comes out from your mouth. There is no hate or ill feelings in your heart towards anyone. It just cannot happen because everyone feels part of you; like your very own. This is the pinnacle of Love.
It is a state of love where you have no negative thoughts in your heart for anybody. When this knowledge, this consciousness gets firmly established in you, then you experience the self in time. This is what is said in the Gita, ‘Tat Swayam Yoga Samsiddhaha Kalen Atmani Vindathi.’
See, in life, you need to understand just this much – whatever I am doing and whatever I have done has been inspired by the Divine. And these acts are surrendered to the Divine.
First of all, you must feel that you are surrendered to the Divine then you can see effortlessness even in your wrong doings.
This does not mean that you overlook your wrong doings or shortcomings. If we have done something wrong, committed some mistake due to some craving or desire, then you will also have to find a solution for that and take some corrective measures. As you keep doing this, a stage will come when you will achieve that state of love, and you feel that everything is inspired by the Divine.

Q: Guruji, how do I know you – the Guru, beyond the body? How do I understand the Guru? My understanding feels very small for this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you realize that your understanding is beginning to fall short that itself is enough. Just relax and repose in yourself.
This is what love is. Love means what? Abheda - I am not different from him and he is not different me.
See, when someone abuses a child, what does the father say? ‘If you have abused my child, it means you have abused me.’
Or if you abuse someone’s mother or father, what will the child say? They will say, ‘Abusing my parents is the same as abusing me.’ They will protest, isn’t it? That means there is unity. Where there is belongingness, a feeling of unity, that is a sign of love.

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