Human beings have the most advanced intellect

You know we are made up of both matter and spirit. Our body is made up of carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, etc., and spirit is made up of pure energy; love, compassion, magnetism – this is all nature of energy. In ancient times they called it using two words: prakriti that is nature, and then purusha, which means the energy; two things, consciousness and matter. But then, one step further you go then they said, ‘There is no two, this is all one.’ Energy and matter are not two different things. Mind and body are not two different things, they are all one.

But consciousness works in four ways; there are four functions of one consciousness: like one person, when he goes to the office he is an officer, when he goes to the market he is a buyer or a seller, and the same person, when he is in the classroom he is a student. Right? And at home he is a father or a husband or a son or something. He plays different roles. Similarly, this one consciousness, it plays four important roles.

One of the roles is mind. Are you all here? Listening? If you are here but your mind is elsewhere, you can’t listen. Your ears are open, but if your mind is elsewhere, you can’t listen. Are you looking at me? If you are here, your mind is elsewhere, even if your eyes are looking at me, you are not looking at me. So mind is that aspect of consciousness through which the senses perceives and experiences. This is in all living creatures.

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Spirituality is an appointment with yourself

See one thing I want to tell you, don’t judge yourself too much.
We have this tendency, we judge our self too much, or we judge others.
Either you start blaming yourself, or you blame somebody else. Either you find you are not right, or you find someone else is not okay. You should wake up and stop judging.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are part of a phenomenon that is happening. Like there are trees, there are rivers, there are birds; like that you also are here.
So many birds are born, so many birds are dying. Isn’t it? So many trees are coming up and they all vanish. Like this, so many people, so many bodies have come and they will all vanish. And then new people will come and they will vanish.

This planet has been there for billions of years. See your life from a bigger context then you will stop blaming yourself. The first rule on the spiritual path is to stop blaming yourself, because whom so ever you blame, do you like to be with them? Do you like to be with someone you are unhappy with? No! So, if you blame yourself, you can’t be with yourself.

Spirituality is an appointment with yourself.

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Peace is the first step towards God

Bad Antogast, Germany
I am looking for a brilliant question to start with.
All questions are the same. In fact every question produces only one result when one hears the right answer. When you hear the right answer, what do you say? ‘Yes, I agree’.
If it is not the right answer and you cannot say, ‘Yes I agree’, you will say, ‘No that is the wrong answer.’ But whenever you get the right answer what do you say? You say, ‘Yes.’
So, every answer is supposed to bring in the ‘Yes’ mind, if it is the correct answer. But if every answer creates more questions, then it is an endless journey.
In one way, it is good because it is an intellectual exercise, but beyond that it is nothing. Just some entertainment, that is all.

But then, should there be no questions at all? No, it is necessary. Intellectual stimulation is essential. The intellect is a very important part. Even in the most ancient scripture, Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna gives all the knowledge and then finally says, ‘You think, discriminate and decide what is best for you’.
Then He says, ‘But remember one thing, I will only say what is good for you, and you will only pick up what I say.’ This dialogue between the student and the master is very interesting. Everyone should read it at least once in their life. When the great scientists of the world, including Einstein, read it, they said that their lives were transformed because they had always been told not to ask questions. Religion and faith always meant don’t ask questions but blindly follow. But the Yoga Vedanta philosophy doesn't say that. It doesn't shun the intellect. It says, ‘You use the intellect. Use it fully, but also know that the intellect is not all that is. The truth is beyond that; one step ahead of it.’
So don't be stuck in the intellect but at the same time, definitely make the intellect shine. Devotion and love is going beyond the intellect by satisfying the intellect.

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From your heart don’t encourage animosity with anybody

Bad Antogast, Germany
You should sing, dance and dwell in knowledge. Knowledge does not mean simply information, like you read books and get some information. That is not knowledge.
Knowledge is experiencing the reality the way it is. When knowledge becomes very strongly embedded in our consciousness, it is called wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge very well lodged in our self. That makes you wise. Everybody has wisdom. Some may have a little and some may have more. It is only a matter of time that life takes you from a little wisdom to more wisdom.

Words appear very futile. Still, we use it sometimes since we need to use it. You go to a hospital and ask someone ‘How are you?’ You know they are not well, still you ask them, ‘How are you?’ And they say, ‘Fine’. They know they are not fine, still they say, ‘Fine’.
Similarly, I see you are all so happy and still I ask you, ‘How are you?’ I can see that there is so much happiness and radiance on your faces. It is just to engage on another level of communication.

The wise communicate first from the heart, from the being, and then engage in the outer level of communication, just to keep in touch. The ignorant rely on the outer communication. Between a mother and a child, whatever the child says is immaterial, because the child has not even learnt the language. But the mother communicates to the child from a deeper level.

Even before you learnt a language, you started communicating with your mother, and your mother started communicating with you. This is a deeper level of communication.

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In one moment of samadhi there is a million years of rest

Secrets of Meditation
So we will recapitulate what we have been doing in the last two days.
How meditation can happen in many ways.
Meditation is a happening, this is the first point.
Second is, meditation is effortless. The key for meditation is effortlessness. It is not doing something but doing nothing and that is meditation. And creating a condition where you really can do nothing is all that is important to look into.
So how can this happen? We saw many methods or many ways.
Through physical manipulation, Yoga, Tai Chi, all these can bring a certain amount of calmness in the mind. Not totally but a certain degree of meditativeness can come by exercise and physical manipulation.
Second is pranayama. This is even more important because we have five bodies to us (Panchakosha). First is the physical body, then the pranic body which is the bio rhythmic force or bio electro-magnetic energy. Then, we have the mind or the consciousness; then the intuitive body which is a further refined consciousness, and then the blissful. Usually we think the mind is inside the body, but it is the other way around. Body is inside the mind. I usually give the example of the Phantom Arm. Even though the arm is amputated a person feels the arm is still there, i.e., the subtle body which is still there.
So, through breathing techniques and breathing exercises, the mind becomes very serene, calm, and happy.

Then through any of the five senses the mind can become meditative. Through taste, smell, sight, sound and touch. Then through emotions; heightened refined emotions. Love, compassion, sense of service, all these can bring a certain degree of serenity to the mind; it becomes very calm and meditative. Through emotions you can attain the same meditative state.
Then through intellectual understanding.
One of the examples I gave is, when you go to a space museum or watch a space movie, then you see the earth in contrast with the universe, and how small this earth is, and where you are to what this universe is. That stimulation of the intellect brings a different context to life and makes the mind meditative. That little chattering mind just shuts off. The mind is chattering all the time, finding fault in others, or oneself, and suddenly you find all these things are insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe and of this existence. The awareness about this existence suddenly takes you to another plane of serenity, of calmness.
So through intellectual stimulation also meditation happens.

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If you have meditated you should feel light like a flower

Meditation is the journey from sound to silence, from movement to stillness, from a limited identity to unlimited space.
Last night, I said that there are five ways through which meditation happens. Let us recapitulate.
The first is by physical manipulation. Yoga, Tai-Chi, all these come under that. By stretching and contracting the body, the mind experiences a state of awareness that you can call meditation.
The second is through breathing exercises and pranayama, the mind becomes quiet and still.
The third is through any of the five senses and sensory objects; one can experience a state of no-mindedness, no thoughts, calmness, serenity and inner beauty.
If you observe a child, a baby enjoying a lollypop or a toffee, you can see how the child is engrossed totally in enjoying that piece of candy. You ask the baby, ‘What is your name?’ It won’t answer. They are fully into it. Being 100% engrossed in a particular sensory object brings you to a state of meditation.
On a free day, just lie down and keep looking at the sky, a moment comes when the mind becomes still, there are no thoughts and you don’t know where you are, but you know you are. An experience of the center everywhere and circumference nowhere. Limitless awareness can happen through just watching an empty space, because our mind is also space; consciousness is a space.
You listen to music and then a moment comes when you are completely engrossed in the music and you snap out of it. You no longer hear the music, but you know you are and yet you have no boundaries. In the language of Yoga, it is called Laya Yoga, which means dissolving in it. That leads you to meditation.
Any wonderment or astonishment also leads you to that state. Whenever a ‘Wow!’ arises in you, there is no mind, there are no thoughts, but you just are.
Sense of touch, smell, taste, sight and sound can all lead you into meditation, provided you do it in the right way. It needs a certain skill to experience that.

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Meditation is food for the soul

In the next three days we will explore all about meditation.
Are you ready for the journey? Then buckle up! Fasten your seat belt!
Do you know what the real seat belt for meditation is? Feeling at home, being natural! If you feel very formal, you can’t meditate. Meditation requires being informal and feeling at home.

I suppose you all feel at home, right? Of course, it is California, everyone always feels at home. We are very casual, isn’t it? That’s the great thing about California, very at home, easy!

So, we will explore the need of meditation. Why do we need to meditate and what are the ways to meditate. I won’t go into the benefits; I assume you all know the benefits of meditation. But the need and the methods, and how we can have a successful meditation, we will explore all these avenues; the different types of meditations.

Now, what is the need for meditation, why should you meditate?
The need is there in every human being because it is a natural tendency of human life to look for a joy that doesn’t diminish, a love that doesn’t distort or turn into negative emotions. This is very natural, isn’t it?
Is meditation foreign to us? Absolutely not! This is because you have been in meditation for a couple of months before your birth. You were in your mother’s womb doing nothing. You didn’t even have to chew your food, it was fed directly into your belly and you were there happily floating in the fluid, turning and kicking, sometimes here and something there, but most of the time happily floating there. That is meditation. You did nothing, everything was done for you. So there is a natural tendency in every human being, in every soul to crave for that state when you are in absolute comfort.
You know why you want comfort? It is because you were comfortable at one point. So that wanting comfort is again natural because you have experienced a state of comfort that is called meditation. Meditation is absolute comfort. So getting back to that state which you have had a taste of just before coming into the hustle, bustle of this universe, of this world, is very natural because in this universe everything is cyclic, everything wants to go back to its source, and that is the nature of the world. Everything goes back and everything is cyclic; except plastic if you don’t use it properly.

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Wisdom is the best shock absorber

Mahasatsang at Taiwan
We all came to this planet as babies. We all carried smiles, joy and a sense of belongingness with everybody. Isn't that so? But as we grew older somewhere we lost that smile, we lost that friendliness and we lost that love for everyone. What happened? This is what we need to inquire.
Can we become like a child again from inside?

We usually use coconut as an example of how life should be. A coconut has a husk around it, and when it falls from a high level it doesn't break. It has a shock absorber or cushion. So if our behavior is friendly, wise, and if we live a life where we are free from stress, it acts like a shock absorber. Wisdom is the best shock absorber. Our body should be like the coconut shell – strong, and our mind like the kernel inside – white and soft. And our feelings like the water deep inside – sweet. If it is the other way around then it is a problem. If the body is soft and weak, mind is harsh like a shell and there are no feelings, they are all dried up then life becomes a burden. And that is the reason why so many people commit suicide and people get depressed. Isn't it?
So we need to bring this change in ourselves, in the society and in our families, where we hold on to the values.

This afternoon when I was talking to the press they were telling me that Taiwan is losing its traditional values. I said they should hold on to their roots. Taiwan has a very long history of values and these values should be nurtured and preserved. Especially family values are very important. Personal integrity is very important. Don't you think so?

These cultural values need to be strengthened, at the same time dynamic progress, which Taiwan is anyways doing. Taiwan is very dynamic. And I also say that Taiwan has the most enthusiastic volunteers. In all our international programs, there is a group from Taiwan which is all the time full of energy and enthusiasm. And when the people of Taiwan go anywhere in the world, they always carry gifts. Everyone caries some gift. This joy in sharing is very precious and is original to this culture. We need to maintain the values which are very good and very great to each culture. We can only do all that when we are free from stress and our mind is at peace.

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If you are at ease with yourself everyone will be at ease with you

Bali, Indonesia
Contentment and happiness are very important. Other things come and go. We have come on this planet so many times, we will come again. Life is continuous; it is coming and going, coming and going.

Q: How do I keep my spirit high all the time?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just remember why you are disturbed, it is because of small things and know that it will all be alright.
So when you see all these things come and go and everything will be alright, then you say, ‘I am not going to be disturbed by this. I am bigger than this.’ Yes!
Just that thought in the mind – I am bigger than this. Then the spirit is uplifted higher.
So I am not the body; body is undergoing so many changes all the time. Sometimes I feel tired, sometimes I feel strong. I am much bigger than the body.
People think mind is inside the body, this is wrong, body is inside the mind.
The mind is like a candle, there is a wick and there is flame above the wick. If you close the candle with a lid, it will burn only as long as there is oxygen. In the same way, if you put somebody in the room and close it, they will be alive only till oxygen is there in the room. So the mind is like the glow that lives on oxygen, on consciousness. So first there is the body and then there is the mind, so the mind is much bigger. When you remember this, that the mind is like a flame, it is much bigger then there is peace. Still if something bothers you then breathe (referring to Sudarshan Kriya). With fast breathing and Bhastrika, it becomes better.

Q: Guruji, why do relationships take away our freedom?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If there is wisdom in relationships, it does not take away freedom. If there is no wisdom, then there is no freedom. It is not the relationship that gives you or takes away freedom. It is lack of wisdom.

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Our consciousness is very ancient

Bali, Indonesia
See the ocean, how non-stop the waves keep coming. It doesn't get bored.
Birds sing the same song, they don’t get bored. Every morning birds sing, all their life. They don’t get bored. It is human beings who get bored. ’Oh once again the same thing.’ And why do we get bored? It is because of memory. You remember what you have done before and so you get bored. Memory is a blessing and also a curse. It is both. It is because you get bored that you feel the need to look for something different, something new, and that is how creativity comes up; you look for the ultimate. Otherwise you could have remained like an animal doing the same thing every day. But you can’t do it because you get bored. Isn’t it?!
So in that sense boredom is a blessing. Because you get bored, you move on, you look forward, you become a seeker and you rise higher. At the same time, boredom is also a curse because it doesn’t allow you to be stabilized in one place; stabilized in yourself, and your mind keeps jumping from one place to another aimlessly. You get bored about everything and you can’t enjoy anything. Do you see what i am saying?
Boredom is a blessing when it leads you to wisdom. And boredom is a curse when it leads you to frustration and depression.
These are the two different paths that boredom leads you to.

You are bored and so you can’t enjoy, and when you can't enjoy you get depressed and frustrated. You go into that direction. Or, because you are bored you wake up and you start with a quest. You move ahead and you look into the self which is fresh all the time! The self is ever new. Because you are bored with the ephemeral, the surface, you go deep into the self.

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There is no short cut for making money

World Forum for Ethics in Business (Singapore)
What is most essential today are role models. Young entrepreneurs need to see role models; industries which have ethical practices, which are fair and which have corporate social responsibilities. This can happen and in fact this should happen, for there are ample number of businesses who have grown steadily following code of conduct and ethics. They only need to be highlighted and that is the main purpose of this forum, to highlight such businesses, which can be role models for the coming generations to be ethical in their practices.

You know, one can gain money in many ways, but one cannot gain good sleep in many ways. A good sleep and inner comfort will only come when you feel everything is clean; everything is straight forward. When there is transparency, clarity and sincerity.

Usually I recommend meals and meditation for everyone in the afternoon, in companies, in factories, etc. I would recommend people to meditate for 10 minutes to 20 minutes and share a meal together. You will find such coherence in the group. You will feel like working together, team spirit gets built up, creative ideas come up. So it is always good to have food together.

That is all! I believe in talking less and doing more. So, I have said what I need to say. If you have some questions, I shall take them.

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The best gift is wisdom

Mahasatsang at Singapore
When you turn the candle upside down, still the flame always goes up. In life also, so many incidences will come where your enthusiasm is put down; your spirit goes down. At that time remember ‘I am like the candle and I will come out of this. Nothing whatsoever can stop my spirit and enthusiasm.’
Move on like that. Life force should always go up. That is why in Hindu and Buddhist tradition, whenever someone visits, Aarti is done on them. A lamp is lit and taken around them saying, ‘Be like the flame and let your life always keep moving higher, around the Divinity and knowledge’. Then they apply a little kumkum (vermillion) on the forehead saying, ‘Let the knowledge be with you all the time.’

The best gift is wisdom. Other things will come and go.

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