Once two villagers were sitting under a tree and watching the sunset. They were very close friends. After sitting quietly for some time, one asked the other, “What are you thinking? I am planning to buy five acres of land, a garden.” The other friend immediately said, “Don't buy the garden!”
The first one was surprised. He asked “Why?” The second one replied, “I am planning to buy a buffalo. Then, my buffalo will enter your garden and we will fight, have misunderstandings and lose our friendship. I do not want to lose our friendship.”
The first one said, “Then, you cancel your plan of buying a buffalo. I am going to buy my garden.” The second one said, “No, no, no. I have already decided to buy a buffalo.” The first one said, “How will your buffalo enter my garden? I will fence it thoroughly.”
The second one said, “No, you see, it can just enter; a buffalo is a buffalo. Who can stop it? It can do anything.”
Then the fight went to such an extent that they broke their limbs! 
Neither has bought buffalo nor any land. Nothing has happened. Just the mind´s race and both of them broke their limbs over it! Our fears are also like that. The future has not yet come. But you just sit there and think, “Oh! What will happen?”  So much anxiety about the future! In this run, the mind gets into such a mess. It is unable to see the present moment as it unfolds!
The mind totally forgets the divine. “Me, mine, what about tomorrow, the day after and the day after that, next year, ten years later?” You people plan in this way even up to the next birth! When people are newly married they say,”We will be husband and wife for many life-times to come! This one birth is not enough. We will be man and wife for the next seven births!” In reality, they may be fed up of each other in this birth itself, but they talk of the next seven births!
We should experience the divine´s presence, the divine´s light around us.
You should have a desire in your mind to experience this. Have we ever desired the divine light? Has such a desire ever risen in you, that you want the highest peace?  Has it arisen from deep inside you?  The divine light is something by which the whole world is running. Have you ever really wanted it? When you sing or pray there  should be total involvement. You don´t involve yourself totally. If the mind is preoccupied elsewhere then that is no prayer at all. There should be total involvement. When there is pain there is more involvement.
If you consider yourself as bonded, you will remain bound. Become free right now. Sit down and become contented.
You are afraid of opening your fists. What is there with you that you have to hold your fists? You have nothing with you. Open your fists. The whole sky will be in your hands.
Be natural. Be with love. Do service. Celebrate life.

The Four Principles - Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha


There are four principles: dharma, artha, kāma, and moksha. 

Dharma is the nature. 

The body has its nature. If the body wants to sleep you have to provide it with rest. But, what do we do if the body wants to sleep? We put on the television because of an interesting movie. We are going against the body. Dharma, the body has its demands. 

Artha is the means, kāma is the desire and moksha is the release from the desire. 

Suppose the body has a desire to eat and even though you have eaten, the desire has not vanished. Your stomach is full, but the mind wants you to eat. So the desire to eat still remains. Can you relate to this situation? This is where moksha comes in. Moksha means release from the desire. Dropping of desire is moksha.

If there is no co-ordination between these four faculties, then life will be a total chaos. 

It will be a misery. When there is co-ordination between the four faculties, the desire and the nature are co-ordinated. The means and fulfillment are co-ordinated. Liberation can be taken to mean fulfillment. Suppose you have a desire to go to the moon or to fly. But, your desire is not co-ordinated with your means. 

There is a story. Once there was a potter who made many pots. 

He took much time in making them, making each pot artistically and even painting some of them. He put them all in a basket to take to the market. It was quite some distance to the place. Usually the mind does not keep quiet. The potter started daydreaming as he was walking along. He began to make various plans what he would do with the money that he would earn by selling the pots. He imagined that he would become a millionaire. That his friends would respect him a lot. He would give them a lot of money and he would be able to just relax and lean on a chair doing nothing. While dreaming he dropped both his hands and all the pots fell down and were shattered. He did not even reach the marketplace.
No co-ordination between the means available, our desires and our nature, brings misery. And no co-ordination between all four – fulfillment, desire, means, and one’s very nature creates problems. 

The connection between Monday, Mantra, Mind and the Moon!


Rudram chanting done on Mondays is even more special. Monday is the day of the moon and the moon and mind are connected. Mantra, mind, moon, they are all connected somewhere. So, in India, as a  tradition, they have this chanting going on in the Ashrams. So in our ashram also, every Monday, we have Rudra Pooja.
All the five elements are used in pooja. Pooja means honoring all the elements, born out of fullness. So, fire, water, incense sticks, fruits, flowers, rice, whatever nature has given to us, those things are used and the chanting goes on. There is a lot of depth and meaning to it. You can go and do some research on it, more and more things will come out.
Rudram is an ancient chanting which was downloaded from the Aakasha (space). When the ancient sages and Rishis sat in meditation, they heard, and what they heard, they started transferring to other people.
The effect of Rudram is it creates positive energy and removes negative vibes. And a lot is said about the Rudram. When Rudram happens nature flourishes, nature becomes joyful and happy.
Mainly, it creates more positive ions, more so when people are meditating.  Just doing it as a ritual is not that effective because it is said that the Veda Mantras are effective when people are awake from within. For them, these mantras have more meaning.

The meaning of the Rudrabhishekam


The meaning of the Rudrabhishekam is to convey that everything is Shiva, and is contained within the Shiva Tattva. There is nothing beyond the Shiva Tattva.
It is said: that which moves, and that which is steady and immobile – is the Shiva Tattva. That which is awake and that which is dormant or asleep – is also the Shiva Tattva. That which is greatest, supremely intelligent, and that which is the smallest – is the Shiva Tattva. In the Rudram chanting there is a verse which says, “Namo jyeshthaaya cha kanishthaya cha. Namo dhundhubhyaya cha hananyaya cha”. It means Salutations to that (Shiva Tattva) which is the greatest and the smallest; That which nurtures andThat which destroys and dissolves everything – is also the Shiva Tattva. Shiva Tattva is both the unmanifest, and the manifest in all forms of Creation.
The Rudram mentions “Vanchate parivanchate sthayunaam-pataye namo namaha.”. It means, “O Lord Shiva, you are the presiding Lord and Master of everything, even those who cheat and deceive others”. Another verse mentions “Namo vrikshebhyo Harikeshebhyo pashunaam pataye namo Namaha”. It means “O Lord Shiva! You are the Supreme Divinity and Lord of all plants, vegetation, and all living creatures”.
The Shiva Tattva is manifest as and present in all plants, trees, birds, animals and living creatures, even in thieves and cheats. So it means that the Shiva Tattva is the Divinity that is eternal and omnipresent in everyone and everything in Creation. This is why in the Rudram we pray, “O Lord Shiva, you alone are present everywhere and in everything. Hence shower your benevolence upon me and bless me with everything favourable”.
Towards the conclusion of the Rudram chanting we pray, “O Lord Shiva! Bless that everyone becomes my friend and is friendly to me; May everything become favorable and pleasing for me. O Lord Shiva! You as Aghora have a pleasant benevolent form; and are also Ghora – having a terrifying fearful form. I pray to You to please conceal your fearful forms, and bless me with your pleasing benevolent form”.
In the Chamakam part of the Rudram we chant, “Shancha-me, Mayascha-me, Priyancha-me, Anukamascha-me, Kamascha-me…”.
‘Shancha-me’ means ‘Bless me with peace and love’.
‘Priyancha-me’ means ‘May all favorable things happen for me, so please fulfill all my wishes’.
In the beginning we honor and worship Lord Shiva by acknowledging, “O Lord! You are everything and present everywhere. Our salutations to you; again and again”.
Then we lovingly ask the Divine for favors and blessings, by fulfilling our wishes and what we desire for. We pray that the Divine bestows Grace on us. 
Then we only ask for positive and favorable things from the Divine. We do not ask or pray for punishment, or any calamity, loss, or destruction. We pray to receive peace, and love in life. We also pray that we receive everything that is favorable and good in our life. We ask for both Bhukti (fulfillment of material desires) and Mukti (liberation). 
We also chant “Maanastoketanaye ma-na ayushhi ma-no goshhu ma-no ashveshu ririshhah. Viranma-no rudra bhamitoavadhi ‘rhavishhmanto namasa vidhema te” (Section 10 of Namakam in Rudram Chanting).
It means, “O Lord! Please bless everyone around me with happiness and health. May our animals be healthy and safe. Please save them all from your Ghora Rupa (your terrifying form). Bless us all with peace and happiness”.

Significance of Pongal, Sankranti, Lohri


When there is harvest, we celebrate the arrival of the first crop by sharing it with everybody. You are getting the benefit of all your labor and your hard work. In villages, at home, people used to get the first sugarcane, the first bag of paddy and they share it with everyone.
Celebration cannot happen without sharing.

And in this country sharing also has some knowledge & wisdom in it. Every celebration brings some wisdom with it. That’s the beauty here.


In Maharashtra, they give sesame seed and jaggery balls (laddoos). Sesame seed is the oil grain; sesame oil is the main oil that people use. Sesame, for some reason, is considered very precious. Sesame seed and jaggery are distributed to everybody and they say ‘You have this and let sweet words come out of your mouth’. This is the wish or greeting that we say. This tradition has been there for a long time.


This is also astrologically connected. Makar Sankranti is celebrated when the sun enters Makar rashi(Capricorn) which marks the end of winter.


In the southern hemisphere, you must be celebrating Kark Sankraman and not Makar Sankraman.

Our beginning of ‘Spring’ is beginning of ‘Fall’ for them and our ‘Fall’ here is beginning of ‘Spring’ in Australia.


So, the celebrations are also linked to seasons. Makar Sankranti is celebrated when you come from harsh winter into a pleasant sunshine.

Let your ego be small like sesame seeds and words like jaggery.

Can you give up your commitment?


How can we withdraw from our commitment? That can happen when Viveka(discrimination) awakens within us, and we realize that whatever commitment or promise we made was wrong and was made out of ignorance. When a commitment made does not bring any benefit or any good result, then you can withdraw from your commitment. But, you do not have the right to change this by yourself alone. This is why you should go to a Guru, or a wise person and tell them about your problem. Tell them that ‘I was ignorant when I took up this commitment. Now I feel that this is wrong and futile. I seek your help and opinion on how to overcome this.’
A Guru or a wise person can understand and tell you the way to overcome this. They will be able to judge and ascertain whether your commitment was right or not; or whether you are trying to run away from your commitment to keep yourself in your comfort zone.
For example, you got married and have a family and children now, and suddenly you feel like running away from your responsibilities and becoming a Sanyasi (a renunciate or an ascetic). When you go to a Guru or a wise person and tell them that you are thinking of doing so, they will immediately refuse and tell you not to do so. They will advise you to fulfill your responsibilities, raise your children well and after having fulfilled everything, then take SanyasIf you want to give up your commitments in order to escape from your duties and responsibilities, then that is not correct. But if you realize that your commitment benefits neither you nor anyone else, then you consult your Guru or a near and dear one before giving up your commitment.

How does one handle negative emotions


There are two kinds of mind. One is an open mind. Another is a closed mind. A closed mind is that which says, “This is how it is. I know it. That is it.” It gets hardened. An open mind says, “Oh, maybe, perhaps. I do not know.” Limited knowledge, and the conformity about it, makes a mind very hard.
Whenever you seem to understand a situation and you label it “I know this is how it is”, that is the beginning of your problem. And always all problems arise from knowing but not from not knowing. If you do not know, your mind is open, you say “Oh, maybe; something; perhaps; don’t know.” You wait. You cannot label something when you do not know.
Whenever you think an injustice has been made to you, or whenever you think you are suffering, whenever you think you are a victim, whenever you think something bad has happened to you— all this falls under the category of “I know it. This is how things are.”
Whenever we attach a label “not good,” it comes from a thorough knowledge.
Suffering is a product of limited knowledge. A question is a sign of limited knowledge. But when there is an amazement— patience, joy, waiting, you are in a state of “I don’t know,” maybe, something, oh what is it?, I don’t know, something you cannot pinpoint— the whole life is a shift from the limited “I know” to all possibilities, to “maybe.”
When your mind is open for all possibilities, an event happens, and there could be many possibilities for that event to be that way, not just in the gross— some other reasons in the subtle also.
Suppose you walked into your room and you find that someone has made a big mess in your room. It has irritated you. You are grinding your teeth. Now you attach that reason, that cause for your anger, to just that person who is there. But there is something more happening, something more happening in the subtle. There has been some angry time and vibrations at that moment there. At that moment something else is in the air. But you could only see that person creating a mess around you. And you attribute all anger to that person. This is what limited knowledge does. Haven’t you experienced this sometime? 
As we attach the events to individuals, the emotions to individuals, the cycle continues. You will never be free from that. So there is a step. First, detach that to the space or time. An event and emotion, detach it from the person and the event, to the space and time. This science is called astrology. Astrology is the knowledge of the oneness of the universe.

Intuition; and winning over Yoga Maya


Intuition is different from Yoga Maya. Of course, intuition is also a siddhi. But there is a very clear difference. In Yoga Maya, you will find someone coming and telling you. And you cannot avoid Yoga Maya.
Yoga Maya is not a bad thing. The way to win over it is go through it and not be attached to it. Use your brain also. This is a very delicate balance – keeping your mind and also tuning into your intuition. You need to have that balance.
Unless and until you are totally centered and hollow and empty, your intuition is always colored by your own cravings and aversions. When you win over these things then Yoga Maya is your friend and does not pose a challenge.
That is why the spiritual path is essential and the Guru is essential because the Guru can guide you and tell you, ‘This is Yoga Maya’. Or he will say, ‘Yes, you are right’. So, without the Guru you cannot win over Yoga Maya. A Guru is very necessary.
Though Lord Krishna was born a Siddha, he had to have a Guru and so he went to Rishi Sandipani.
Lord Krishna says in Bhagvad Gita, "Mama maya duratyaya". My Maya is very difficult to cross over but it can be crossed over only by my grace, and only through me one can cross over that. That's what he told Arjun. It's very interesting how this whole thing is. So always be aware, be cautious of Maya. It can just come from somewhere and hold you in its grip, and the mind starts buzzing. Sometimes you just have to snap out of that and that happens also by grace.

Three Types of Maya

There are three types of Maya.
First, Maha Maya, which is total ignorance. People who have no knowledge of spirituality. Just put yourself in their place for a moment. People who are not on the spiritual path what do they do? They wake up in the morning, brush their teeth, drink their tea, stuff themselves with burgers, run to work and do whatever they want to do there. Then they come back in the evening, eat a big meal and go to bed.
That's it, their whole life is like that. They are not sensitive and they are not sensible. They are like stones. You don't find humanness inside of them, and they don't feel themselves either. They also don't feel anything about anybody. This is Maha Maya; the deep darkness.
Second, Moha Maya which is attachment. I am centric, everything else is around me. Moha Maya is all mine, this is mine, that is mine, my word, my thought, my thing. Day and night you are only saying mine, mine, mine, mine and that gives you a lot of misery.
It doesn't let you see things as they are, this is Moha Maya. Attachment to very trivial things is Moha Maya.
Third is Yoga Maya. Yoga-maya comprises of these experiences, the subtle inner experiences of different siddhis coming to you, and different channeling. Some energy is coming and talking to you; suddenly Gabriel has come and joined; she is saying things; Angel is coming and all that. See that love all around? This is Yoga-maya.
On the path of yoga you get these siddhis, where some spirit comes and starts talking to you and then you get totally sucked into that. These experiences remain for a little while and then they go away and that leaves you in a deeper darkness. Many times, Yoga Maya is really tricky because there is some 60-70 percent truth in it, so you will start believing it. The reverse also happens, suddenly you feel ‘Oh, I've been cheated’.
I know about one lady, she was a very good meditator. She got into Yoga Maya. She would get different spirits coming and telling her ‘don't do this’ and ‘don't do that’. She would tell this to others, many times it would come true. Once that same spirit came and told her, "Your husband is a diabetic, don't give him medicine he will be fine”. Listening to her inner voice she didn't give medicine to her husband and he became blind. When your husband at home is blind, it is miserable it is for you too, and then she started questioning the spiritual path, blaming everything. That's when she came to me and I told her to stop listening to these spirits. So, this is what happens in Yoga Maya.
These are three types of Maya, and one has to cross over the three types.

Happy New Year 2017!


Time teaches you lessons and makes you wise. If you are intelligent, you will learn from time and celebrate. If you are unwise, you will lament and become sad with every passing year.
2016 has been such a wonderful year. We had a great event (The World Culture Festival). What people thought was impossible, we made it possible. We built the world’s biggest stage ever, of seven acres in New Delhi at the banks of the Yamuna river to the astonishment of the world. We built this stage in a place which was considered to be unusable (due to foul smell). This place was cleaned and made a field of celebrations which was one of the world’s biggest event ever. 3.5 million people attended the program, 1.8 billion people from 188 countries around the world watched it on live stream. We had 107 different performances with 182 dignitaries from around the world participating. And most of all, the presence of 2500 religious leaders made it the largest inter-faith gathering ever to the amazement of the world! All this happened without an incident… that is something that gets jotted down in history.
So, in 2016, we all together created history. The credit of this goes to every single individual of The Art of Living. Your participation, your intention and your attention made it possible for this event to manifest. That was a very grand time for The Art of Living and for the world.
In the year 2016, The Art of Living has had so many achievements that we cannot list them all. This year, we organized The World Summit for Ethics in Sports at the FIFA headquarters in September. For the first time in history, we made people realize that it is needed to bring ethics in sports. It was a very good event.
There are people who move with the time, and there are others who move time. The Art of Living moved time. We have celebrated in the past, and we continue to celebrate year after year as our motto is to make life a celebration. True to its motto, we welcome 2017.
If you add up 2017 (2+0+1+7=1), it equals to number #1. So, I wish every one of you a bright and shining 2017. #1 is the number of the Sun. In this year let knowledge dawn in your life. 
What is most important is, for knowledge to take the front seat in your life. Everybody has knowledge, but sometimes it takes the backseat. It is not in the driving seat. When knowledge is sleeping, it is ignorance. When knowledge is in the backseat it leads to regrets later on. When knowledge is in the driving seat, there is only joy and celebration in life. Then you celebrate in every situation for life is celebration. So, wish for knowledge to be in the front seat in 2017.
There are good qualities in everyone. The courageous will accept the good qualities in everyone. Even if it is in one’s enemy, it should be appreciated. Appreciating good qualities is a very wise quality itself. So, let the Sun which is coming bring you wisdom in this new year. Happy New Year to everyone!
Life is so magnanimous! What you think about life is only the tip of the iceberg. We think of life as survival – a job, relationships, money or just making ends meet. This is what we think life is all about. Our whole life revolves around money, relationships and reputation – these three things. In trying to get these three things we lose our health, and then life starts to revolve around four things (money, relationships, reputation and health).
We end up going round and round trying to get hold of these four things and finally become so miserable. And when you become miserable, you lose all these four things. This is what people consider to be life! Now what we are saying is completely revolutionary – Life is celebration, commitment, wisdom and service.
When you have such a short time on this planet, why make people so miserable around you and become miserable yourself? Who said what, when, and where is not important at all. One’s life does not depend on what someone said, or what your reputation is. Life is much bigger and much beyond that.
Life should revolve around commitment, service, celebration and acquiring wisdom. Make life a celebration, uplift the spirit of others, be committed to doing good, and be caring. When life revolves around these four, then money comes, reputation comes, relationships improve and health remains robust. You get everything that you want when you don’t focus the wants.
When you don’t focus on money, relationships, reputation and health, and focus on celebration, commitment, service and wisdom, you get everything. If you focus on the former four and leave the latter four, then you become miserable.
If you don’t have care and commitment, then relationships will not work. If you don’t have commitment and wisdom, then money and reputation will not come. If you don’t look at life as a celebration, then health will not be okay. So, put this message on your refrigerator - “In 2017 let my life revolve around wisdom, celebration, service and commitment. And through this I will get money, health, good relationships and a good reputation.
There is an abundance of blessings!
Time poses in front of us challenges, charm and change. With wisdom, you can sail over these three very comfortably. You can take on the challenges, appreciate the charm and embrace change.
Lets plan what big thing we want to do in 2017. Think about it, and we can accomplish it!

A Story - Once God decided to visit a temple


There is a very nice story. Once God decided to go to a temple, which He rarely does. So He gave a dream to the priest. He said, “I’m coming into the temple tomorrow.” So the priest, for a change, started cleaning the temple. If it’s a Hindu temple, it is a little messier than other temples. They throw water everywhere, prashad everywhere, here, there, and flowers will be lying down here and there and some dried flowers will be found. So he said, “Okay.” He kept cleaning. And he told all the people, “Today God is going to come to the temple.” Even the people who come to the temple did not believe. Say, “Oh, what has happened to the priest?” They felt sorry for him. “He may need a psychiatrist. Today he’s saying something very weird, like ‘God is going to come to the temple.'” They also had no faith. Some people had compassion for him. Some people phoned a psychiatrist but somehow the priest made all the arrangements. He brought flowers. He arranged the temple. And then he waited, waited, waited, waited. After evening, five o’clock, six o’clock, seven o’clock…. There was another co-priest. He said, “Oh, you are crazy.” He started discouraging him. “What? What do you think? Has something gone wrong with you?” The first few moments people have some hope and then as time went by, everyone, even those one or two other crazy people who could accept his idea, also started discouraging him. And since everybody was so discouraging, he thought, “Maybe.” He started doubting himself. “Maybe I had a hallucination or an illusion. It’s not true.” So he waited up till eleven o’clock. Somehow tried hard to keep awake, drank some Indian tea. So he kept awake up ’til twelve o’clock, then he fell asleep. And then in the middle of the night, he heard somebody knock on the door. God is also afraid to come in the daytime. Somebody may arrest Him and punish Him, court-martial Him. “Why did You do this thing to me? Why did You do this thing to me?” A number of questions. So He preferred to come in the middle of the night. He heard a knock on the door. And then the priest wanted to get up and say,
“See, I hear a knock. Maybe God has come.” The co-priest who was with him there, sleeping in the same room, he just scolded him and made him go to bed again. Sleepy he said, “Just drop these funny ideas and go to sleep. If not, I’m going to call the mental hospital now. This is too much.” So hearing this, the man slept. And in the morning when he opens the door of the temple, he finds the footprint and finds the wheel of the chariot. He was so sorry. God had really come and had really knocked and here he had missed. He felt so sorry, so miserable. This is a nice story. That is what happens. God is calling you every moment. He’s singing through you. He’s waking you up through those sounds of the birds, through that little, little animal, creature, its voice, see how beautiful, “Coo, coo,” something it says. It fills the whole atmosphere. If you listen to it, your heart starts glowing. Something happens in you. You start becoming more alive. Love flows in your life. In the morning, have you heard the birds singing? He is singing in the voice of birds to you. He’s waking you up every morning. But we miss Him. We have missed in this crowd, in our mind, in our concepts, in our ideas. We want God to fit into our costumes. Say, “You should come with such-and-such a costume.” Fit into our concepts, our ideas, what God should be doing. We are not ready to accept what is. In the very presence of a devotee…. See, God is omnipresent, but a devotee is rare. Whether you want or not, God is all over. God is in the stone. God is in the flowers. God is in the garbage can. God is all over. But a devotee is not all over. So God runs behind His devotees. To God, devotees are very dear, so dear. The ancestors rejoice when a person blossoms fully on this planet in Divine love. All the people who are dead and gone, their souls, their Beings, they are filled with joy and grace and happiness. They enjoy. Every drop of gratitude in you brings great joy to your ancestors. Do you think about all those people who have gone? Your grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-great-grandparents. The whole family tree of yours rejoices when you experience, when you live this love, when you are a devotee. All of them are liberated. It says the seven generations in the past and the seven generations in the future get liberated, if you get liberated, if you become free.