You Are Fire - How Can Anything Burn Fire?

You have to remember that you are "fire". However some ash gets accumulated in the mind. Once you blow the ash away then the fire will rise up and shine brightly.
If there are too many worries in your mind, then just say 'Hmm (with a slight force) and all the ash that has accumulated in your mind will be wiped out and you will feel fresh and bright.
Often we sit and worry, ‘Oh, this is not happening’, or, ‘That is not happening’. Life is such, sometimes what you wish won’t happen; sometimes what you don’t want happens. Never mind. Don’t sit and brood over it. Move on; march ahead remembering that you are fire.
When you know you are fire, nothing can burn you.
People say, ‘I am burned out. Oh, I am so tired!’ What burned out? Come on! How can anything burn fire? Move on, knowing that you are fire. Let go of the past and move happily into the future.
And take life in its totality. Some pleasant, some unpleasant experiences – all these things happen and then they go away. Knowing that ‘I have all the blessings, I have the Grace, the best will happen to me’, you should move ahead. Break through all the barriers and feel that you are blessed.
This Is the one and only step you have to take – the rest will all happen. This deep sense of feeling that “I am blessed” can help you overcome any obstacles in life.
It gives you courage and confidence and it will open your lid for grace to be poured in. Once you realize that you are blessed, then:
  • All the complaints disappear
  • All the grumbling disappears
  • All the insecurities disappear
  • A sense of feeling unloved disappears
  • Wanting love disappears.
If you don’t realize you are blessed, then the doership begins. If you want to make a difference in your life, feel you are blessed. And especially for those on this path of knowledge, there is no reason for you to not feel blessed. So, feel you are blessed. This is the first step towards the Self.

Dealing with your problems (Transforming negativity into positivity) - Part II

Shakti chakra sandhane vishvasamharah” (Shiva Sutras) – there are different types of energy centers in your body. Bring your attention to these centers, observe them and the world of worries and thoughts that trouble your mind will disappear. There will be peace.
When we feel anger, emotion or excitement, then different parts of our body experience various sensations. When you get angry, the area between the two eyebrows ignites; when you become unhappy, the throat starts to choke; when you feel hatred, a sensation happens in the heart region. What happens when you feel jealous? The stomach churns. Goodwill is also generated in the stomach.When you feel very happy the area around the navel experiences some sensations. Similarly, when we feel jealousy or love, there is a sensation around the heart. Likewise, when you are sad, there is a feeling in the throat and also when you want to express gratitude, you cannot express it in words, and we often say that the throat chokes.
All together in our body there are seven chakras, or energy centers, and all 27,000 subtle nerves in our body are connected to these seven centers.
The first center is muladhara chakra. Here, the energy is either dormant or active. Shakti, or energy, rises from muladhara chakra to svadhishthana chakra where it expresses itself either as lust or creativity. When it climbs up higher to manipura chakra, the region around the navel, it is expressed as jealousy, generosity, joy or greed. Generosity, happiness and greed all happen in this one place. The same energy rises to the heart, anahata chakra, where it expresses itself in three ways – love, hatred and fear. When you are frightened, you place your hand on your heart, and also when you express love or respect, you touch your heart. Feelings of hatred are also connected to the heart. Then the same energy rises to the throat region, or visuddha chakra, where it expresses itself as gratitude or misery. When you feel grief or express gratitude, the throat begins to choke. This energy then travels upward to the area between the eyebrows, known as ajna chakra, where it is expressed as awareness, knowledge and anger. So Shiva’s third eye represents both knowledge and anger. When Shiva is angry, he reduces everything to ashes just by opening his third eye. Finally, when this same energy rises to the top of the head to sahaswara chakra, there is only bliss and joy.
This is how the energy of consciousness travels, and you can become familiar with it by observing this movement. Normally, life energy is flowing through these chakras, but if we feel under pressure or disturbed, then knots form in the chakras, obstructing the flow of energy. Place your attention on the energy in these chakras, and you will see that the negative energy in the chakras gradually dissolves.
All impurities disappear, and positive qualities are established. If you feel jealous and then meditate with attention on your navel, the jealousy will automatically subside. Due to jealousy, we make mistakes and then try to defend ourselves by justifying what we did. We should know that all that happened was because of impurities in our chakras. Shakti chakra sandhane vishvasamharah” – the world will be annihilated if you come in contact with these chakras through meditation. “Annihilating the world” means dropping the worries of this world forever.

Free yourself from the storm of emotions

Life is found to be caught up in storms so very often. And you are not yourself when you are in a storm. You don’t know what to do. At those moments all your spiritual practices, concepts, ideas and ideals fall apart. Your devotion, your love and all the beautiful things you cherish in your life, simply don’t seem to be there or mean anything. You are under the influence of a big storm. A whirlwind rises in you and throws you off balance.
What do you do? Nothing is helpful. You sit, close your eyes and try to meditate. But the mind is all over the place. You feel as though you are in a burning furnace, and you don’t know how to put the fire out. And the more effort you make to cool it down, and put it out, the more the fire burns, the more the restlessness and agitation increase. You are yourself only between the storms. How many storms rise in your life, and how frequently do they rise?
The less frequent they are, the more you are yourself. At those moments you are happy; you are settled. You are calm. Just think of those moments of intense restlessness, agitation and feverishness. The breath becomes heavier. The body becomes unbearable. You are not at all aware of the mind. But that is not what you are. You get a glimpse of the clearness of yourself between two storms. But life seems to be like the ocean – wave after wave lashing at you, one after another.
This is the only problem. This is the only basic problem in the universe. There is no other problem. You can attach it to one thousand causes or reasons, but the problem is how to free your life from this storm which has gripped it.
The first thing to do is to become aware of this. At that moment, the storm will subside. First, stop regretting things. For no reason, there is turmoil in the mind. When your mind cools down and you experience that inner cool, soft and delicate aspect of yourself, there is a big relief.
No one storm can be there all the time. It is impossible. It comes and subsides.
Your mind is like a wind – a whirlwind, subsiding and cooling down. That is your true nature. That is love. You have been resisting, restless, all this time. Now you see it is there. Okay, so let it be there. It is a part of nature. The storm is also a part of nature. Stop resisting the storm. Take it, gulp it in its totality; go deep into it and you will see it is nothing. It is just created out of yourself, your mind and your consciousness. In that aspect of you, you are your Self.
Know that there is a power, some power, someone, who is really caring for you.
Not just someone there is only One in the whole universe. That One in the universe is caring and taking care of you. You can relax, rest and be peaceful.
There cannot be an ocean without waves. Every event touches life somewhere on its surface. It creates movement. Take all that comes with both your hands. Don’t say that it is impossible or not possible for you. This thought of something being not possible means that you are resisting. This is making the storms stay for long periods. Stand there with your arms open. Say, ‘Whatever storms come, let them, I’m here.’ You grow out of them. You become bigger.
Tell yourself:
“Come what may, there is nothing that can destroy me. It may be excruciatingly painful, but it doesn’t matter. It still cannot destroy or kill me. I am here. I am much, much bigger than all these emotions, commotions or waves. They all rise inside me, in me, and in no way can they destroy me. I will let them be.”

So when a storm arises, just be with it. Do not try to get rid of the storm. Be with it; go into it. And, of course, you have your meditation and spiritual practices to help purify your whole system. It’s such a blessing.

Do your problems really exist? - Part I

This world is in our own mind! We look only at the world that exists in our mind, which we imagine in our own way, though the world outside may be different. Most of the problems in your mind start from your imagination.
If you are unhappy or have had an unpleasant life, it is due to the world in your mind. You have created such a universe. “Vishva” is a wonderful word – “shva” means either yesterday or tomorrow, and “vishva” means the special yesterday or tomorrow that we create in our own mind. In our mind, we imagine certain things as huge, though we are uncertain how they actually are. We are stuck in worries about yesterday and imaginings about tomorrow, which is why we lack enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a quality of life, yet some people find only boredom and unhappiness.
Observe, in what direction is your life moving – day by day, are you gaining enthusiasm or losing it? Look at a child five or six years old or a toddler of three to six months. They are filled with enthusiasm. It overflows from every cell of their body. Compare children with grown-ups and see if enthusiasm increases or decreases with age. Are we really living when we lose enthusiasm? This has happened because of our “Vishva” – we have made such a world. Now to drop this, should you run away from society to some cave in the Himalayas? You will not find happiness just by entering a cave.
The world originates in your mind. Only you have created it. Only you can drop it.
The solution is in your own body. “Shakti chakra sandhane vishvasamharah(Shiv Sutras)” -When you direct your attention to the energy centres of the body, the world of worries and thoughts that trouble your mind will disappear. There will be peace.

Dealing with blame

When someone blames you, what do you usually do? Blame them back or you put up resistance in yourself. When someone blames you, they actually take away some negative karma from you. If you understand this and don’t put up resistance and feel happy about it, then you drop your resistance. “Oh, good. That person is blaming me. Good. Something is going away.” And when you drop the resistance, your karma goes away. Do you see what I’m saying?
So when someone blames you and you put up resistance in your mind, and you don’t react, then you are not allowing them to take the negative karma. Outside you may resist, but inside if you don’t resist, and feel happy, “Oh, good, somebody is there to blame me and take some negative karma,” you will feel immediately lighter.
How does it feel to you when someone blames you? Do you feel some heaviness? Usually, when someone blames you, you feel hurt and you feel unhappy, you feel sad. This is all because you’re . . . resisting. That is it. What you resist, persists. The ignorant person tells someone, “Don’t blame me because it hurts me.”
An enlightened person also says “Don’t blame me.” Do you know why? Because it might hurt you. This is a beautiful point. What are the points? You get hurt because you resist the blame. When someone blames you, you resist it inside. Outside you may not resist, but inside when you resist, then that hurts you.
An ignorant person warns you, “You better not hurt me, you better not blame me because I will feel hurt.” Someone warns you not to blame them because it will hurt them and they’ll do something harmful to you out of revenge.
An enlightened person says “Don’t blame me because it will hurt you.” So here you say, "don’t blame me" because of compassion. You can tell someone, don’t blame me out of compassion, or you can say it out of anger.

If there is no bondage, where is the question of liberation?

Several years ago, we walked in the hills of the Himalayas. One night we wanted to go to the top of a hill. We were in a mischievous mood. So we gathered a few people and quietly left the āshram which we were not supposed to do (Shankaracharya Nagar). There were guards all over. But we were very friendly with them and escaped by the back gate into the mountains. There was so much confidence that nothing would happen. If animals came, we’d apply a Siddhī (power) and the animals would go away. We’d make friends with them. There could be lions, tigers and elephants in those forests. So we walked and walked in the night. Up one hill and then down another hill, up and down three hills. It must have been very late in the night, around 3 a.m. We were walking with a small torchlight. We just wanted to have an adventure.
And at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., somebody said, ‘Stop! Don’t go any further.’ So we stopped. We were on a big cliff. A few steps further there was the edge – a fall of thousands of feet. It was so dark we couldn’t see anything. We saw it all the next morning. So after somebody stopped us, we took another road; maybe it was their property. We went another way-a very small walking path.
On the way back, the other two people who were with me, refused to come back on that road. It was after 6 am, daytime, and they saw it was a way you don’t dare walk on! In the night, we walked through and went to the small Shiva temple down below in the valley. I really had to convince the other two boys with me on the way back. I was responsible for the whole course there, including taking all the boys back to the course venue. But they refused to come back because path was so narrow. One had to walk through just a small strip. It was really frightening. It was a slippery, sandy road. If you slipped, you would fall down thousands of feet! Ignorance or darkness is also useful sometimes.
Na mē bandhō’sti mōkshō vā. Nothing was binding me. At night nothing was binding the people, they could simply walk down but the way back scared them. It is in the mind. It should have been the other way around. In the daytime people could have walked and at night they should have been scared of walking that path! But the reverse happened. Na mē bandhō’sti mōkshō vā . There is no bondage in me, so where is the question of liberation? A devotee is very dear to God, but an enlightened is even more, because in a devotee there is a little gap. The devotee thinks he is separate from the Divine, but an enlightened doesn’t see it that way. He sees no distance, no separation. It’s a jñāni and a bhakt. As Krishna says, ‘A devotee is very dear to me, but the jñāni, an enlightened, even more because he is never away from me even for a moment.' 

Looking beyond the Known

The mature intellect brings forth devotion that is always in awe of creation. When something is unfathomable, the intellect is in awe. When the mind takes rest in the vastness of consciousness, only then can it know the Truth. This can only happen through Shraddha. Shraddha is not just faith, it is to love something that is beyond the purview of knowing. And if one is willing to look beyond what is already known, then the vast wealth of knowledge embraces them.
The mind keeps wandering from one sense to another in search of satisfaction. It is only when you realize that this joy is caused by something greater, you can be centered. There is a saying that when one appreciates a flower, the flower feels sad as the creator of the flower is not being appreciated. In Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna declares himself as the cause of all the joy of the senses. The intellect keeps getting stuck in the senses but when the mind, intellect and Chitta get fixed on the Divine, the highest can be attained.
If one is unable to be completely fixated on the Divine, then one can establish devotion through sadhana or spiritual practices. However, any practice has to be done continuously without exception and with respect. Mental tiredness gives rise to the inability to do any practice. Many people do either only Sadhana or only Seva, and Lord Krishna does not spare either. He says, 'If you work for Me then you will not be tired, this is for sure!'
Lord Krishna treats Arjuna as a friend and gives him options saying, 'If you cant even maintain your practice, then at least be part of Me. Feel total oneness with Me.' The body, mind and emotions are a result of karma. Good and bad things will happen, but be detached. 'Take refuge in My connection with you and don't ever question this relationship.'

Transcending your feelings

We can transcend feelings easily when we know that there is something which is much more basic to life than feelings, and that is the self; the life force, which is not changing at all.
We have 1,72,000 nadis in the body. Sometimes the knowledge nadi opens up; sometimes the music nadi opens up. Different nadis open up and you experience different things. So, don’t be so obsessed with your feelings. Do not focus on what is happening. Instead focus on what you can do and what you have to do.
Often, we don’t concentrate on what we have to do but we sit and ponder over that which is happening. We put so much attention on what is happening rather than on what we are doing. Put attention on what you are doing and leave whatever is happening to Nature. Nature will take you through whatever is happening.
I tell you, whether it is thoughts or emotions or feelings, it is not an isolated incidence. It is a global phenomenon. Suppose you go to a place where there is an Independence Day celebration, or some National Day Celebration and everybody is in a charged mood, singing patriotic songs, you suddenly start feeling so patriotic. Tears start coming from your eyes.
Similarly if you are watching a show where some victim is talking about their story on how a politician has victimized so many people; suddenly you feel angry. Everybody suddenly feels a sort of patriotism, it wells up within you.
The movie directors and producers know how to invoke these emotions in you, and what music fits in there. They will put the right kind of music that you will start crying or laughing. You know, feelings are associated with music, and emotions can be evoked with music.
Throw your feelings out, listen to your intellect and see what you need to do. That is it. Know that whatever you have to get, you will get. Whatever is due to you, will come to you. And whatever you need to do, you must do it.

The thread connecting boredom, love and meditation

What is boredom?
A repetition without interest or love causes a monotonous state of mind; that is boredom. It overshadows the Self.
A practice or abhyasa is again a repetition whose purpose is to destroy the boredom and reunite with the Self. In this process the practice itself creates boredom and as you continue, it penetrates the boredom and destroys it once and for all.
Whether the practice gives you joy or boredom, it must be continued. Only the practice or abhyasa can annihilate the Mind.
Self is Love and Love is always repetitive. That is why love letters are simply repetitive and there is no boredom there. If you are bored with yourself then how much more boring you would be for others. Root out the boredom in you through deep and continued meditation.
Wake up and Walk up.

On devotion - A beautiful story about Lord Rama and the monkeys

When Sri Rama was building the bridge to Sri Lanka, a lot of monkeys were helping him build it. So the monkeys were picking up stones, writing  Sri Rama on the back of the stones and putting it in the water. When they put the stones in the water, they would float.
Again, this has a spiritual significance. When the name of the Lord is with you, you will float through the ocean of misery; you won’t sink in the world of misery.
All the monkeys were writing Sri Rama, and all their stones were floating. When Sri Rama saw this, he was so surprised. He thought, ‘What? These stones are floating!’ He wanted to try it himself. So he took a stone, wrote Sri Rama and put it in the water. The stone sank! Sri Rama was surprised.
One monkey was sitting somewhere and watching. Sri Rama went where he thought nobody was watching (whenever we think nobody is watching, there is somebody who is watching). So, one monkey who was watching, he started laughing. Sri Rama was a little embarrassed. The laughing monkey said to Sri Rama, ‘Those who you throw away from your hands, how they will float? They will only sink!’
This is to say that the devotees are so much more powerful than the Lord himself; devotees can do so much more than the Lord himself. This is the lesson from the story.
While this was happening, a little squirrel was also moving around. It was taking little pebbles, and putting them in the water. Some laughed at the little squirrel, saying, ‘How can a squirrel be a contributor?’
The squirrel said, ‘I am contributing for my own joy. I am also a part of this huge thing that Sri Rama is doing, and I am so proud of it.’
Even today in India, we call it the ‘Squirrel’s Contribution’; it is a sign of humility. Even when we do a little bit, it doesn’t make a big significance, but being part of something big, saying, ‘I have also done something’, gives that inner satisfaction.
So, the squirrel also started contributing by throwing little stones in the water.
The lesson from this story is that devotees are more powerful than Rama himself.

Four kinds of attitude you can develop to handle your own mind

1) FriendlinessBe friendly with people who are happy. If you are not friendly with happy people, you will be jealous. This is because you think that your enemy is happy, and you cannot tolerate your enemy being happy. So, shake hands with happy people. Such an attitude does a lot of good to your mind.
2) Compassion: Do not be friendly with people who are miserable, instead, have compassion for them. If you are friendly with unhappy people you will become unhappy. And if you become unhappy, you can never help them to come out of their misery. 
Many people have gotten into trouble by being friendly with unhappy people; both become miserable. It is like a doctor going to a patient who is sick, and the doctor also becomes sick. If the doctor also thinks, ‘How can I alone be healthy? Let me also share the patient’s misery’, then who will help the patient then?
So, what should be the attitude with people who are miserable? Compassion, not pity.
3) HappinessFor people who are doing good work or who are successful in the world, you should feel happy as though you are doing it.
For example, someone is a good singer, singing and bringing joy to everybody, seeing him you should think, ‘I feel so happy that this person is singing so well, and making everyone happy.’
If someone is a good entertainer and he entertains everybody you should feel happy about it. If someone is a great architect and builds beautiful buildings you should feel happy about it. Whenever someone does a good job, share that happiness with them; we need to have this attitude.
4) Indifference: For people who are doing horrible things in the society, destroying themselves, we usually get angry at them. When you are angry, your mind suffers a huge loss. You lose so much energy, you lose your mood, and your enthusiasm. When energy and enthusiasm goes away from you, you become angry and are no better than the other person. You do not know what you are doing. So, what should you do in such a situation? Have a sort of indifference in your mind.
For example, there are thieves in the world, they are there, what can you do about them? First accept, be indifferent. However, this does not mean you do not take any action. Your mind is indifferent (unaffected), but you act on it.
These are the four attitudes that will help us to save our mind. This is what we need to do, save our mind at all costs.

Life is a combination of effort and effortlessness

Opposite values are complementary. In life you need both effort and effortlessness. When you want to work, you put in all your effort and then the work is done – but, when you want to sleep, can you put in effort and get sleep? There are certain things you can do through effort and certain things that you do effortlessly, e.g. sleep – the less effort you put, the better sleep you get. Otherwise, your effort itself becomes an obstacle to sleeping!
The same, with memory – if you forget something and you struggle to remember it, you will not remember! Your very effort becomes an obstacle for memory. So you just drop it, and when you drop the effort to remember, memory comes! Memory is something that happens effortlessly.
The third thing is appreciation and love. If you want to appreciate beauty, you cannot do it through effort. Simply and suddenly, the appreciation of beauty happens in you! And love? – You cannot try to love. The more you try to love, the more difficult it is. Love is effortless. The next effortless thing is meditation. If you put effort into meditation, meditation does not happen! Meditation happens effortlessly.
All other things need effort – memorizing anything requires effort, learning new skills need effort. If you want to learn some sport, you have to give 100% effort. If you want to play the sitar, you have to put in effort. 
Life is a combination of effort and effortlessness and they are complementary!
If you work dynamically, you sleep well. If you have memorized well, you remember automatically. If you are doing service, you are able to love more, because there is satisfaction and your heart is opening up. If you can see beauty everywhere, you can appreciate beauty! When you can do this, things become effortless. Even jobs requiring effort will not be strenuous. 

Going bananas

I will share with you something very interesting. Human beings and bananas share 50% of the same DNA. How many of you didn’t know this? (Many raise their hands). A banana is 50% human. I don’t know why people use the term, ‘Gone bananas’ when someone has gone cuckoo. Maybe because the person is using only half of their DNA. (Laughter).
There is a beautiful human being inside everyone. What makes one different is the stress that covers the beauty. When the stress is gone, we become our original selves. Every child which came into this world came as a pure, beautiful, innocent and intelligent child. But then, somehow, we tend to lose that innocence. The intelligence which has no innocence does not have much value and innocence which is not intelligent has no value. What is needed? The combination of intelligence and innocence. That which gives us this innocence and intelligence, which gives us sensibility and sensitivity, that which makes our heart blossom and keeps our intellect sharp is what spirituality is!
What is happening now? Are you watching what’s happening within you? Either your mind is saying, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. As I am speaking you are also having a dialogue. Are you noticing that dialogue?
Audience: Yes
You have to say ‘Yes’ to this question. You can’t say ‘No’, at least for this one because your mind is going ‘Yes-No, Yes-No’. It doesn’t matter what I say. What is important is for you to know that your mind is saying ‘Yes and No’. This is creating another level of awareness. It is very important to cultivate this.
See, we all have ten fingers but we don’t know how to play the harp, or the guitar or the violin. That needs a little training. Similarly, though we have all these abilities, we are not trained to use them. If we can train ourselves to use them, what happens? Our sharpness increases, our memory sharpens, our intuitive ability becomes very strong and our presence of mind increases.
What the psychologists say is, when listening to a talk that is for 10 mins or more, your mind keeps taking cappuccino breaks now and then. Today a lot of young people are losing their attention. What is called ADHD; attention-deficit-syndrome is increasing. How many of you agree with me? (Many in the audience raise their hands). So, what to do? Meditation, yoga, a little bit of breathing exercise and Sudarshan Kriya.