The art of dealing with terrorism, spiritually

The act which is only destructive and inflicts suffering on both oneself and others is terrorism.In such an act human values are lost in the process of achieving a goal. Some of the factors that lead to terrorism are frustration and desperation in achieving a goal, impulsive action, shortsightedness and confused emotions.
Terrorism can also stem from having a non-verifiable concept of heaven and merit, and a childish concept of God where God favors some and is angry with others, undermining the Divine’s omniscience and omnipotence.
Terrorism induces a psychosis of fear in everyone, and it increases poverty, suffering, and loss of life with no apparent gain. Instead of life-supporting solutions, the terrorist chooses destruction as an answer.
If you criticize without giving a solution, know that it comes from the seed of terrorism. Although there are certain qualities you can appreciate in a terrorist such as fearlessness, commitment to a goal and sacrifice, you must learn from them things that you should never do – valuing ideas and concepts more than life, having a narrow perspective of life and dishonoring life’s diversity.
The remedy for terrorism is to:
  • Inculcate a broader perspective of life.
  • Value life more than race, religion and nationality. Provide education in human values – friendliness, compassion, cooperation, etc.
  • Teach methods to release stress and tension.
  • Cultivate confidence in achieving noble aims by peaceful and nonviolent means.
  • Weed out destructive tendencies with spiritual upliftment.

How do I become more grateful?

First of all, drop this "more". More devotion, more gratitude, more joy, more happiness; we need to drop this "I want more and more".
First you are thinking, "I want more money, more joy, more happiness and more pleasure". Then you shifted your tendency to wanting more peace, more knowledge, more of this and more of that.
As long as you are in the run for more, you are not going to settle. Unless you settle, there is neither peace nor grace. Got it.
So somewhere you should take this whole ‘I want more’ thing and dump it and say ‘okay, that is it!

It is said in the Bhagavad Gita, ‘Yadrccha-labha-santusto Dvandvatito Vimatsarah.’
Whatever is coming to you, you should have some level of contentment and with contentment comes gratitude. If you are discontent, how can you be grateful?
If you are grumbling, you can’t be grateful, and if you are not grateful, how can there be grace? Do you see what I am saying? It all fits one into another.
So now, don’t ask me how can one be more grateful? Just stop complaining!
Know that this whole life is like a dream. It is all going to end and everything is going to finish one day. This very awareness will bring a shift in you.
‘This story is going to end someday and the curtains are going to fall’, knowing this, suddenly a shift happens from the run to having more to contentment. It will come to that.

There is no dearth of blessings

Everybody asks for blessings. Usually people say, “Guruji, please give me blessings”. Even if someone doesn’t want anything, they need blessings! Whichever Guru you go to, the only words which come out are, “Give me blessings”. And these are mere words tumbling out of your mouth. But how do we obtain blessings? We have not learnt this.
There is no dearth of blessings. You get more blessings than necessary. There is sunlight, a burning blaze of bright light all 12 hours of the day, but your doors and windows are tightly shut. Then, how is it possible for light to enter? If the sun’s light has to reach you, you cannot sit in a dark room and keep chanting on a microphone, “I want sunlight, I want sunlight!” This will not bring the sunlight in. You have to open the doors and windows, so that light may enter on its own.
When you ask for blessings, you should have an honest and clean mind. When you have a truthful mind, that mind becomes capable of receiving and absorbing blessings. When does the mind become truthful? When there is nothing to hide, no dirt in the mind and the mind is open. Blessings should only be asked with an open mind.
If somebody asks, “How are you?”, you answer saying “I am fine”. You, in reality, will not be fine at that point in time. In spite of that, you say, “I am fine, doing very well and on top of the world” and you are boiling inside! When you communicate without hiding anything inside you, with an open and innocent mind, only from this level will you acquire the capability of receiving blessings.
Who am I? This body is only a small window, that is all. I am really the Sun. When the Sun enters the window, does the window itself become the Sun? No. Sun only enters through the window. Moonlight is entering in, but the Moon is very far away. In the same way, I am far away from the body. In spite of being far away, I am still in the body”. This feeling should arise in you again and again. For that you need honesty. This requires practice.
Then, even if you don’t need, blessings will always be showered on you!

A technique from Shiv Sutras to overcome worries!

“Jnandahisthanam matrka” – Shiv Sutra
Translation – Go to the root of knowledge, silence.
Carefully observe and distinguish the different ideas, thoughts or worries that arise in your mind. Then observe one thought, then one sentence and then one word. Then separate that one word into letters and look at each letter carefully. When you do this, your worries will disappear.
Practice this for one week and you will understand that when we hold onto the silence that is in between words, then worries vanish.
When there is no sound or words, there are no worries, because words are the root cause of worry. To transcend them is to reach silence. Move from knowledge to the highest knowledge.
A mantra, a sacred sound, is defined as “manahtrayate iti mantrah” – a mantra is that which, when repeated constantly, clears your mind from worries and protects you. Knowledge is bondage, and it is impossible to gain knowledge without words. We need the help of language to understand what we are worrying or not worrying about. When we separate the words, we will be free from worry. One gets worried by holding onto sentences. Suppose your mind is worried that “My son is unemployed.” Now sit down and break up each of the words in the sentence, like this: M-y s-o-n i-s u-n-e-m-p-l-o-y-e-d. The intensity of the worry becomes less, and if you reduce its intensity, then the mind, which is entangled in a sentence, drops the worry and becomes contemplative. If you meditate and attempt to drive away the worry, it may not work. So take hold of the worry and go for its root by taking apart its words and meaning.

Everything is connected

The Sun affects the planet Earth, so does the Moon. Though the moon only reflects the light of the sun, its energy affects the water, and the mind. This is scientifically proven, which is why when someone goes crazy, they are called lunatics. (The word lunatic is derived from the word ‘lunar’ because the mind is connected to the moon.)
Similarly, there are various energies at play; it is the connection of the macrocosm and the microcosm. Don’t think of it as a connection with the physical planets only, but the cosmic energy is somewhere and somehow related to this planetary position. That is what is discussed in Jyotish Shastra.
The macrocosm and microcosm are inter-linked. For instance, certain vibrations – like the bio-dynamic energy – are related to birds, planets, grains and parts of our body. For example, Saturn's energy is connected with the crow. The vibration of the crow, the planet Saturn, the sesame seed and teeth in the human body are all linked, connected. There must have been tremendous amount of research done on this in the past, and it invites people of the future to find out more.
Similarly, goat, the planet Mars, chick peas and the liver are connected. We know for sure that the liver and chick peas are connected. And we know that for hair, nails and teeth, sesame seeds definitely help. For instance, as per Ayurveda, if you take some gingily (sesame seed) oil and gargle, it helps mouth ulcers, pyorrhoea and other dental issues.
The ancient people have written these things. There seems to be some deep study conducted in the past or it has come from intuitive awareness. This throws a challenge for scientists to conduct studies, and prove or disprove it. If you think it is wrong, you have to disprove it, and if you think it is right, then you need to prove it! Isn’t it interesting how all these are connected – you hair, nail, teeth? Of course, everything is connected to everything else, but some are more direct.
Specific herbs have an effect on specific parts of the body. This Ayurveda Materia Medica was sung in the form of poetry thousands of years ago in the Vedas. It is the only Materia Medica in the world that is in the form of poetry. Hence, practitioners, i.e., Vaidyas, Ayurvedic doctors, found it easy to memorise and learn all about the organs and their impact. It is wonderful listening to these poems, and it is amazing how all of it was in a poetic form. These poems come from deep inside, from an unknown corner of our consciousness, which is why a lot of this knowledge is based on intuition. And something which comes out of intuition is always correct.

Significance of astrology for meditators

In ancient India, the Rishis used to have schools or universities in which they used to train psychics. Psychic means the one who can see into the future.
So, people would stay for twelve or thirteen years and meditate, go deep within and then the master would give them a task. He would say, ‘In 2015, on this particular day, at this particular minute, somebody will be born. Astrologically, you calculate and predict how their life will be.’ 
It involves two things – astrological calculation and an insight into space and time. So, this is what they used to do. However, since these were written by the students, it need not be hundred percent true. Students can make mistakes. They will be seventy to eighty percent correct. They can only give you a possibility, that something may happen.
Once upon a time, a monk from China wanted to meet me. He is known as a very big clairvoyant. Two to three thousand people go to him every day.
He called one of our organizers when I was in Indonesia and he said that he wanted to come and take blessings from me. 
He is a very nice person, a very nice soul. He just came, silently sat for some time, took blessings and went back on the next flight.
One of the devotees, who was very inquisitive said, ‘You should predict and tell us what is going to happen with The Art of Living and Guruji’. 
He said, ‘No, I cannot predict. I cannot predict about someone who is free. I can only predict if the mind is caught up. I cannot predict about one who has no mind’. He said, ‘Where there is no mind, there is only space, I cannot predict. Guruji is just space, I cannot predict him’.
If you are a meditator and if you are on the path of spiritual knowledge, you keep changing your destiny, since you are bringing more positivity into your life. If you chant, meditate and do pranayama, your free will and freedom increases.
You are not bound by certain events in life. For example if your jupiter goes into the eighth house, astrologers may warn you that your mind may go topsy turvy, your faith may be shaken and you will be low on confidence, etc. They also advice you not to take any decisions at this time. So, do your meditation, pranayama, prayers regularly and you can pass that stage. 

Lord Buddha and his Enlightenment

When Lord Buddha got enlightened, he was silent for seven days; he didn’t say a word. All the Gods and the angels got worried that he is not saying anything. They pleaded him to say something, because what he says will benefit people for ages to come.
Lord Buddha came 2,500 years after Lord Krishna, and if he doesn’t say anything, what will happen? One of the Gods, Lord Brahma went to Buddha and said, “Please say something.”
Lord Buddha then said, “Those who know it, you don’t need to tell them. For those who do not know, there is no point in telling them because they are ignorant. Any amount of telling them will not be of any use. They are in the small mind.”
Then the angels told Buddha that there are some who are in the middle; they know a little bit and yet, they don’t know a lot. When they hear you, they can move towards the higher truth. Thus, they convinced Lord Buddha, and then he started speaking. He travelled all over India and spoke for 32 years. His only intention was to bring compassion and inner peace to the people of the world.

Each one of us have a ‘Buddha’ inside of us. Enlightenment is getting in touch with the Buddha inside us.

If you ask me, “Is it possible? Isn’t it too difficult?” The answer is – yes, it is possible and no, it is not too difficult.
The formula is:
1. Having clarity in mind, purity in heart, and sincerity in action.
2. Keeping a smile and doing meditation.
3. Seeing life from a bigger perspective.
We have been on this planet many times; life is much bigger than just a few incidents. We should not let our mind get stuck in events, incidents and people. We have to sail through them all, and then our smile will be stronger. Otherwise, you get one phone call, and all your joy goes away. You cannot afford to be like that. When you expand your mind and shift the context for your life, you become so strong, stable, solid and yet, so soft. Then there is nothing that can shake you.

Tap into the enormous strength within you

Take an oath today – 'Come what may, I am going to be happy! I am not going to lose my smile no matter what happens.'  If you do this, you will see that your life starts taking the direction that you always wanted!
You may have several failures, you may come across several stumbling blocks, you may not be able to be happy every day and all the time, but this very commitment that – I am not going to lose my peace for anything in the world – will bring such enormous strength from within you, that it will start changing the situations around you. 
One very important thing we need is the faith that only the right thing will happen! 
Today, can we all make this commitment (to be happy)? Can we instil the faith within ourselves that only the right thing will happen to me? Once you start on this journey, I tell you, things will fall in place. 

Are we slaves of our mind?

Three things affect our mind - time, the company we keep and the food we eat
Our body changes with time. Time also has an impact on the mind. The state of mind and the feeling also change multiple times throughout a day!
Thought patterns also get affected by time. Winter, summer, spring, all affect the mind differently. Ancient people did an in-depth study about it — how the moon affects the mind, how the moon is moving around in different constellations; how different degrees of the moon has a definite impact on the mind. That’s why they use the words ‘Tara-bal’ and ‘Chandra-bal’. The moon is in one constellation for two and a half days, then it moves to the another constellation. So in two and half days there are changes in the mood of the mind.
Then the question comes – “Are we slaves of our mind?”
I say, “No”, because there is something beyond the mind and that is the intellect. When the intellect is strong it overcomes the impact on the mind. When the intellect is weak, then the emotions overtake the mind.
Now what if the intellect also gets affected? Then there is something beyond the intellect and that is the Self, that is Shiva Tattva. Shiva is the master of the time and that is why he is called ‘Maha-kaala’. So when you take refuge in the Shiva Tattva or higher Self, then the impact of time is minimised, both on the mind and on the body.
So time impacts the mind and time has definite measurements. Similarly the company we keep also affects us. What we hear impacts our mind. The people with whom we are affect us. If we are in good company then it has a good impact on us. If we are in bad company then negative feelings like anger, jealousy, etc., affect us.
Then the third thing that affects the mind is food. Food is secondary, food is not that important. If the first two are okay, then the mind can get over the menace of food.
Those who know time are called Devagya. They know about time. All this is as per the divine will of time. Rule of time is divine and those who know time are called Devagya.
What is above God is Brahma-jnan (knowledge of the self). A Brahma-jnani is much above a Devagya. Being a Brahma-Jnani is being centered in the Self. What I am is what you are, and what everything else is too. This firm experience and faith brings about Brahma-Jnan and then nothing can shake you. Even if it appears that it is shaking, actually it is not, it is making you strong. Brahma-Jnan is bigger than all other Jnan (knowledge). 

If your emotions are shaken, let them be shaken as much as they can be... know, there is nothing called compassion here. In higher knowledge, compassion is stupidity. Why? You can be compassionate only to somebody else, who is not you. Suppose your hand got hurt , you don’t say, I am so compassionate towards my hand. Do you ever say that? When you say that everyone is part of you, where is compassion there? Okay, you got hurt, it’s because of your own foolishness you got hurt. Put some ointment and forget about it.
When you get hurt, it’s your karma. You must have hurt somebody sometime and so you got it back now. Nothing happens without a reason. This is the highest knowledge.
So, some Masters will always say that if you are suffering, it’s not because of somebody, it’s because of you only. You better suffer and get rid of it.
Instead of that, if you say, “That person is responsible for my suffering”, then you are creating more karma and carrying it on to the next lifetime. But if you say, “My suffering is because of me, and I take ownership of the karma”, then you become free.
Saying, “My suffering is due to that person”, will continue the karma because that impression will be there in your mind. Why are you not looking inside? Why are you not moving on? Why are you holding onto an event of the past and blaming the other person for your karma? If you do this then you will continue to be miserable.

Did man create God or God create man?

I think it is both. God created man in his own image and man started creating God in his own image. There is nothing wrong. There is a term called ‘co-creation’.
Man has created God, it is not a crime. Many times we think that man created God, that means he doesn’t exist, this is not so. All the art forms, sculptures, imaginations, philosophy and even science, has all sprung up from man’s mind.
What do you mean by God? God is a principle, an energy which is creative, transformative. God is the generator, operator and destroyer. Doesn’t man do all these three things? Does he not generate, operate and destroy? So, where is the difference?
You think that God is something different from you; sitting somewhere up in the heaven to give you a little finger and when you try and catch Him, he runs away? This concept of God is what is troubling, and this is the concept that gave rise to communism and atheism. Or (the other concept is that) you think that God is in only one shape and one form. No! You can adore Him or Her in any shape and any form. God is the basic existence of all that is!  in fact it is the existence itself.

6 ways to make your relationship work

If you know how to row a boat, you can row any boat. But if you don’t know how to row, changing boats isn’t going to help. Similarly, changing a relationship does not necessarily solve the issue. Sooner or later, you will be in the same situation in any other relationship, because in all relationships, what is most important is your understanding of your own emotions, your own mind, your own ability to be stable, and your own ability to see things from a broader perspective. And for this, wisdom is important, because it is wisdom that gives you strength, stability and a broader perspective in life.
Most of the time, we look elsewhere for a perfect relationship; very few look within themselves, at the place from where they relate. To have a perfect relationship, you first need to see how you related with yourself. You need to look inside.
Following are the six best practices for making a relationship work:
1 Let Go of Control.

Many have a problem of letting go of control. This results in anxiety and restlessness, and it sours relationships. Wake up and see, are you really in control? What are you in control of? Perhaps a tiny part of your waking state!
You are not in control when you are sleeping or dreaming. You are not in control of thoughts and emotions coming to you.
Similarly, do you think you are in control of all the events in your life or in the world? When you look at things from this angle you need not be afraid of losing control because you have none!

2 Have a Sense of Reverence.
Whatever you revere becomes bigger than you. When you have reverence in your relationships, then your own consciousness expands. Then even small things appear to be significant and big. Every little creature appears to be dignified. It is the reverence in every relationship that saves the relationship.
Often you do not have reverence for that which you own, and losing that reverence happens unconsciously. Reverence in ownership frees you from greed, jealousy and lust. Cultivate the skill of having reverence every moment in your life.

3 Have Common Goals.
When two lines move parallel with each other, they can go on together forever. But when the two lines are focused on each other, then they cross and go away from each other. The same is true with relationships. When both partners have a common goal in life, that makes their relationship last longer and brings more harmony. But when they are focused on each other, then they pick on each other; they love and hate, and all the fights happen.

4 Annihilate Conflict.
When you are in a harmonious environment, your mind picks up any excuse to be in conflict. Often small things are enough to create a big turmoil. Have you noticed this?
When your survival is at stake, you don't complain that nobody loves you. But when you are safe and secure, you start demanding attention. Many people create conflict in order to get attention. So ask yourself this question: Do you seek harmony in every situation, or do you seek to widen the differences and prove your righteousness?

5 Know That You Have More Love Than You Deserve.
You should always feel that you are not worthy of the love that you receive. Think that the love you receive is much more than what you deserve. If you come from this space of humility, then you will behave with magnanimity and dignity in all your dealings. You won’t chew on the past, you will live in the present moment, you will honor the other’s opinions, you will understand the other’s predicaments; that magnanimity will come from within.
If you keep this in mind, that I don’t deserve this love, you will not demand love. And when you don’t demand love in your life, it keeps on increasing.

6 Leave Some Room for The Other to Give.
Relationship means adjustment, it is giving. But at the same time, leave some room for the other partner to give. This needs a little skill - to make the other also contribute without demanding. If you demand, the relationship is not going to last long. Demand and blame destroy love.

8 qualities of a Yogi

1. He who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, he is wise among men, and he is a yogi, an accomplisher of everything.

2. A yogi considers even his work as a game, so be a yogi. Yogi means ‘one who does things in perfection.’ Every little thing he does will be perfect because he has that equanimity of mind. Only when you consider your work as a game can you ever be detached about whether it is going to be successful or not. It doesn’t matter anyway.

3. You have an intention or a desire and your mind and your life are running in that direction. When you drop this, then you become a yogi, then awareness, knowledge and wisdom dawn.

4. If a person acts without being feverish about the fruit of the action, not dependent on the outcome of the action that person is the real renunciate. He is a yogi. A yogi is not one who has just dropped everything and is sitting in the Himalayas.

5. Not knowing what is going to happen, keeps you in anxiety and stress. Not minding what is going to happen, give your hundred percent. That is the action of a yogi.

6. One who rests in the inner happiness, in the inner space, immersed in the inner light -that yogi attains the Highest, here and hereafter.

7. A yogi should be a close friend. Whether it is someone who hates you or who is indifferent to you or someone with whom you relate well to, who is related to you, or is a saint or a sinner -a yogi sees them all as the same, with equanimity.

8. A yogi is one who has a balance of activity and rest.


Do you want to listen to a story? When Buddha got enlightened, he became silent and angels asked him to talk.
He said “People who are happy they don’t need to listen to anything. They are happy. They are happy with everything around, they don’t need to listen to anything. And people who are unhappy they don’t listen to anything.  If you try to put some sense into people who are unhappy, they are not there. They are so embroiled in their own misery. They have closed their ears. Those who are miserable don’t listen to me anyway and those who are happy don’t need me.” So the angels requested him that there are some people who are on the border line. That’s when Buddha started talking.
Those who are happy you can feel the vibrations. You don’t need words to express yourselves. They are so sensitive. They can catch you. Kids exuberate happiness. They radiate joy. If you ask me, I will tell you that there are those who are happy and they want to share happiness. Nature of happiness is to share. Nobody can say I am so happy leave me alone. When you are happy you want to share happiness. It’s simple, if you see a nice movie you pick up the phone and call your friend. Nature of happiness is to share. Those who are happy,  they share. This is the first category. There is another category of people who are seeking happiness. So they seek in changing jobs, places, cars, gadgets,  trying to find happiness. There is a third category who have no hopes of happiness. For them happiness does not even exist. And if they see someone happy, they feel more irritated. Have you seen such people around? If one of them is happier the other is irritated.
Happiness is not something which has left anyone untouched. We all know what happiness is. So there’s no need to define happiness. It’s really a blunder to define the basics of life. Because you can’t define it in words. You can’t water it down in definitions. They are much vaster, much bigger, much greater.
You know feelings can never be captured in words. Haven’t you felt that there’s so much you want to express but the words are not sufficient enough? It’s the same with happiness. Happiness cannot be conveyed in words or in gestures.  Our being is much, much, much, larger than our expressions.
Happiness is something that everyone has experienced. But it is very fragile. Now you are happy. Just one nasty phone call,  are you still able to keep your happiness? One nasty phone call and your happiness is gone. Your happiness is fragile.
What is that that can make our happiness stronger? I call that Wisdom. Wisdom brings a different context to our life. It expands our context. Anyone who is not happy, you make them see life from a different context and you can bring a smile back to their face. As the context of life expands the problems and issues appear smaller and insignificant. So to make your feeling of togetherness, feeling of worthiness become stronger the first thing is expand the context of life. If someone doesn’t get this take them to the planetarium. When they see the light and how insignificant the little earth is in the context of bigger universe, the multiverse, something happens.
Second is commitment.  If you are committed to do something, you don’t care. Whatever obstacles that come on the way, you don’t care.  Unpleasant remarks may come from people, but nothing detracts you. That is commitment. So strengthening commitment is the second thing.
The third thing is compassion.  We are more disturbed by others behaviour towards us. That is why we feel our happiness depends on many other factors.
Someone who is stressed – is unhappy, spreads unhappiness. Why do you have to succumb to it?  Instead of succumbing to someone else spreading unhappiness, say to yourself “I can be in control of myself. I can spread happiness. I can be the source of happiness when I have compassion for others.”
What do you say?
Does it make sense?
Let me review.
First is expand your context, broaden your vision and then have purpose in life. Focusing your energy on something which you find useful, find your purpose. To me the most meaningful thing is bringing happiness in the lives of people, instead of running after happiness. You know it runs further away from you. If you stay put, happiness chases you.
Most of the people who are running after happiness, I would say, stay where you are. Just be. You will find that happiness surrounds you. It must comes to you. If you follow joy,  misery follows you. If you follow wisdom, joy follows you.
Second is commitment. Commitment to the greater goals in life. Then you will be really happy.
And the third is compassion. It’s compassion which keeps us in a state of unconditional love, unconditional happiness.
Everyone is seeking happiness – a happiness which doesn’t turn into misery; a love which doesn’t turn into hatred; the perfect action that doesn’t turn into anger and frustration. And that which brings the stability within us, which makes our happiness strong, that, I call wisdom. Wisdom for life. No wisdom. No happiness.

Blame the planets when you experience turbulence in your mind

Do you know, when the time changes, the mind also changes? There is a beautiful science about this. You can also get a clue from the astrological chart, how the mind is connected with time.
There are twelve constellations and nine planets according to Vedic astrology. It is said that when Jupiter transits in the eighth place from the time you are born, it has an impact on your mind. Similarly, when Saturn transits the eighth place, it makes your emotions go topsy-turvy. When Jupiter is in the eighth place, you lose all your wisdom. But that is only for eleven months, and in these eleven months, it is only for three months that it makes you so miserable. Unless and until you are in deep spiritual knowledge or enlightened, this will definitely affect your mind. 
Similarly, every two and a half days, the mood of the mind changes. If you are miserable, it won’t exceed two and half days. There will be a break and then it may come again. Like this, the cosmos has an influence on the mind.
Know that all the negative emotions are just a passing phase. It may be because of some planetary combination. This is where astrology comes to your help in a big way.  That is why Jyotish (astrology) is called the Eye of Wisdom. It makes you see beyond your immediate situation, and know that it is only for a short time, and it is going to change. You gain some unknown inner strength from this. And you will not start blaming yourself or people around you. It is always better to blame the planets because they are so far away.
You can’t do anything about them. They move at their own pace, you can’t hasten their movement.  On top of all the planets is Lord Shiva or the Shiva Tattva. So by chanting Om Namah Shivaya, you will sail through all this.
I tell you, in any of these unfavorable situations there is always an advantage, i.e., turning more inward and becoming more spiritual. In favorable situations your mind is outward, so at least in unfavorable situations you can turn your mind inward and utilize this time for prayer and meditation.
All of these, Rahu Bhukti, Shani Bhukti, Ketu Bhukti, etc., are all very good for spiritual growth.
The main purpose of Shani (one of the nine cosmic influencers in  Hindu astrology) is to make you more spiritual.
And how does he do it? When you are clinging on to the outer, he brings problem there to bring you inward.  If you are already inward, he does not have anything much to do. His job is done so there will not be any problem also. Even if problems are there they would be minimum, they will just come and go. So every situation can be used for one’s benefit.

The power to change your Karma, is with You

Lord Buddha had a devotee who was also his cousin. He was a brilliant man, and very devoted. In the beginning, Buddha’s sangha or communion was quite small, but in time it became bigger. So, the devotees close to Buddha became more possessive, and his cousin felt that he owned Buddha, but Buddha can’t be owned by anybody. You cannot say you own the ocean. So, because of this there were some misunderstandings and this cousin turned against Buddha.
When some people have their own opinion or negativity, there are a few more people who will join them. This cousin of Buddha and a few people become a group, and one day when Buddha was giving a sermon, he went up the hill and pushed a boulder from there towards Buddha.It could have killed him. But the boulder stopped just few centimeters away from Buddha.
The other loyal disciples got so angry and upset. They wanted to punish him and teach him a lesson, but Buddha stopped them and just smiled. He said, “It is karma. You don’t do anything. We will not react”.
Once, in the 90’s, I was in Washington D.C. I was giving a talk and there were 300 hundred people there. Suddenly, a tall hefty man came from the back to attack me.
Everyone froze to their seats because nobody knew what to do. He could have lifted me in one hand, he was so big! I just looked into his eyes and said, “Wait!” It is not yet time for me to go. I have come here to do some work, let me complete my work. I didn’t tell him this, I just said, “Wait”, but in my mind I said, “I am not ready to go”. And then that guy looked at me and sat down in front of me and started crying. He came with so much anger and anguish, but then he just sat down and tears flowed from his eyes. To make the story short, he then joined a course and everything changed for him.
Why I am saying this is, every phenomenon that happens in and around us happens due to some karmaHaving said that, it doesn’t mean that if something is fatalistic, you simply accept that everything is karma and you can’t do anything about it. No, that is a wrong understanding of karma.
Karma is a phenomenon, and you have the power to change it in the future because life is a combination of free will and destiny.
Your height is your destiny but your weight is your freewill. If you weigh 100 kilos, you can’t say, “Well this is my fate”. No, get onto the treadmill and do some exercise. When a phenomenon happens and you react, then the cycle keeps going on. Don’t react but act.
When someone pushed the boulder at Buddha, what the people did was they reacted, but Buddha asked them not to react and then he smiled, that is an action. When someone is against you, if you show love and compassion and if you turn the other cheek when they hit you on one cheek then they cannot hit you back. That is a bigger weapon! The principle of non-violence is also an action, a more intelligent and wise action, and not just a reaction.

Lord Shiva as Nataraja - Part II

There is another story associated with Lord Nataraja. As the Lord was dancing merrily, one of his earrings became loose and fell on the ground. Then it is said that the Lord lifted that small earring with the toes of His foot. What is the meaning behind this? There is a great secret behind this. That is why this is also called as Chidambaram-rahasyam (the secret of the infinity).
As the story goes, when the Lord effortlessly lifted the small earring merely with the toe of His foot, the entire creation was struck with wonder and amazement. Here, what it means is that we grow accustomed to whatever we are listening to around us. We do not find anything amazing or unique in that. It does not astonish us; it does not create a sense of wonder in us. But when that trivial earring was lifted off the ground by the Lord, then one suddenly gets a glimpse of the subtle, the invisible infinity. Here, it shows that this mysterious creation does not operate the way you think it does.
There is a deeper, hidden, miraculous divine power at work behind everything. You must make space in your life for that miracle of the divine to manifest. This is the deep meaning of the story. Otherwise, we usually go through life with our own limited understanding. We tend to think we understand how everything in creation operates, but it is not really so.
In South India, if someone tries to keep a secret, then others can ask him saying, "My dear! What are you trying to hide? Is it some sort of Chidambaram-rahasyam?" People jokingly ask this to one another in the South. 
Who knows and who can really say? Anything can happen at any time! When we realize this, an altogether different dimension of possibilities opens before us. The possibility of the miracles that is hidden in every moment – is what is represented by the Lord lifting the small earring from the ground by His toes and effortlessly placing it back on His ear.
It is said that whatever you read in the Vedas, the Puranas and the Upanishads is not superficial or shallow. It is literally the Truth and you can see and experience it all in this vast Creation, and in this very lifetime. This story is mentioned to illustrate and assure this fact.
There is consciousness present within our whole body, and it is divided in the upper and lower halves of the body. This divine force or consciousness is called as the Kundalini Shakti. The other meaning from this story is to elevate and raise this Kundalini Shakti from the lower centres to the higher centres of the being (From the Sanskrit word ‘Kundala’ literally meaning an earring). When this Kundalini Shakti is awakened and rises within us, then our entire life becomes a dance of joy and bliss. Then nothing in the world can trouble us, and the entire world becomes amazed in wonder when the power of consciousness gets awakened and enlivened within you.
When the Lord Shiva seated deep within you rises and dances in absolute bliss, then the entire Creation is struck with amazement and wonder. This is what happened when Lord Nataraja lifted off the fallen earring from the ground even as He was engrossed in blissful dance. All the gods and goddesses were amazed to see this. It is said at that moment, huge waves of infinite love and bliss swept over the whole of creation and everyone was steeped in joy and happiness, even the gods themselves. And then, in that same state of wonder and bliss, each started dancing in joy. This is what it means.
When you awaken from within, you perceive this entire creation dancing with such joy and total bliss. Everywhere you go, you find the nectar of the Divine pouring. Even when a bird chirps, you find it so beautiful and divine. When the Sky takes on different colours in the day, then that scene also exhilarates you from within. It is that same kind of amazement and happiness that you feel when you meet your beloved. That inner experience brings forth a glimpse of beauty and deep love within you. You find sweetness in everything everywhere. Everything appears new, and fresh. If a baby is crying, then also you find sweetness behind it. If you see a man or a lady walking, or an animal – then such trivial things too fill you with sweetness and adoration. Every particle in this Creation then appears to shine with a different and unique Light; there is uniqueness in everything. You experience the real beauty of creation and this becomes revealed through Lord Shiva’s Tandava as Nataraja. This is the essence behind the story.
So, when you awaken from within, with knowledge and awareness – then you experience the cosmic dance happening every moment within you, and you are the very Lord of that dance. The soul within you, the Shiva Tattva within you unfolds and manifests.
Here during Satsang anyway everyone is dancing happily. But usually it is the outside World that makes you dance (through desires or feverishness). The entire creation is the cosmic dance of Purusha and Prakriti. Every person in the world today is dancing to the tunes of one thing or another. So, at first it is Prakriti or the Mother Divine who makes you dance – to the tunes of anger, desire, lust, greed, egotism etc. What all kinds of actions people do when they are caught in this dance. Is it not a dance? Under the influence of these, people engage in all sorts of activities and drama. There is no dearth of such actions. Wherever you look, you will find people dancing to the tunes of anger, desire, etc. But when the spirit within you strives against these influences of Prakriti, then it rises above these lower urges born of desire and ignorance, and gets engrossed in a dance of bliss and joy – the Ananda Tandava. At that moment, Prakruti is struck with amazement and becomes enamoured to behold this divine dance.
The Devi was not able to fathom and match what Lord Shiva was able to do. We often say that a strong and one-pointed mind can support a feeble body, but if the mind is weak and stuck in negativity, then even if the body is physically strong, it cannot support or take that body forward in life.
This is one of the depictions brought out from this story. The Devi or Prakriti danced and put forward a question to Lord Shiva to unravel. Through Her movements, the Devi says, “O Lord! I dance before you through the eightfold aspects of My divine nature. Would you be able to match my steps and dance along with Me?”
That means, your body (as Prakriti) is asking the Soul (Lord Shiva), “Can You be one with me?”
So, when the soul awakens, it rises in a blissful dance and proclaims, “O Devi! O Prakriti! You are mine and a part of me only. I am the Supreme Lord of all creation”. By way of this divine dance of bliss, the Shiva Tattva dwelling deep within us all establishes its sole lordship and presence as the Master of all Creation – being endowed with all divinity and beauty.
Have you noticed that there is a ring of fire all around Lord Nataraja? It means that this divine dance is not something that takes place at the gross material level of the World. It happens in the subtle world, which is the world permeated by Shakti, by the Divine primordial energy. This divine dance is a scene set within the subtle invisible realms of creation, and is happening at all times ceaselessly. There is a ring or large halo of flames around Lord Nataraja’s dance to show its inseparable and underlying connection with the Shakti or the primordial Energy.
What is the relation of this dance with Mahashivratri? On the occasion of Mahashivratri, when the entire atmosphere becomes so filled with positivity, when all the planets are favourably placed and aligned, then you are able to go deep into meditation very effortlessly, and are able to experience the blissful Shiva Tattva. You are able to connect with the Shiva Tattva and also feel the omnipresence of the primordial Energy (Shakti). This is the importance of Mahashivratri.