Why Does the Mind Get Attracted to Negativity?

What is Negativity?

The mind does not always get attracted to negativity! Let us understand what negativity is. When would you call something negative?
  • When it does not give you pleasure
  • When it gives you a lot of pain
  • When it appears to give you pleasure, but in fact it gives you pain
Let us take for example, smoking. Smoking appears to give you pleasure, but it does not really give you pleasure. Look at the face of all those people who smoke. Are they in bliss and serenity? Are they happy and content? No! There is stress and anger. Now, why is it that they are unable to give up? It is because it promises you pleasure but gives you pain – that is negativity.
So, what is the definition of negativity? It is that which appears to give you pleasure, but in fact gives you pain and suffering.
I will tell you a small story to illustrate this. A gentleman went to a magic fare which has many magical things. There were magical flowers, a magical pond, etc. Amongst the different items, there was this magical conch, which was priced very high. The other items had low prices, but the attractive conch had a price tag of $50,000. You know, when things cost a lot of money, then people think – there must be something to it, otherwise why would someone pay $50,000 for a shell.
So, this gentleman went and asked, “What is this?”
The shopkeeper said, “This is a magical speaking conch. If you ask this conch for something, it will double it for you. That is why it is for $50,000.”
Very greedy people go for such offers. And so, this man bought the conch and took it home.
At home, this man said to the conch, “Give me one million dollars”.
The conch said, “Why ask for one million? Ask for two million dollars.”
Then the man said, “Oh, okay, two million.”
The conch said, “Why two million, ask for four million.”
The man said, “Okay, give me four million.”
The conch said, “Why four million, ask for eight million.”
At this point, the man got frustrated and said, “Fine, give me eight million.”
The conch said, “Why ask for eight million, ask for 16 million.”
The man said, “Okay, give me 16 million.”
The conch simply kept multiplying but did not give him anything.
So, negativity is like this – empty promises of giving some joy sometime, but it simply does not give you anything. That is why it is called negative things.

How Does Complaining Make You Feel?

You sit and gossip about somebody, it appears to give you some pleasure, but what does it leave you with? Have you noticed? Your body feels odd, and your mind feels awkward.
When you sit and just complain and complain, sometimes you find that it gives you some sort of pleasure, but in fact, it leads you to a state where you get so disgusted with yourself and your own mind. You feel like running away from your own mind. Running away is not going to help, because wherever you go, your mind is going to go along with you. It is like trying to run away from your shadow.

Why Does The Mind Tend to Cling to Negativity?

The nature of mind clinging to negativity is because it has moved away from its own true nature. A child does not do that – so it is not our innate born nature to cling towards negativity. It has become our second nature.
10 positive things and one negative thing – and the mind clings onto the negative. So, it is wrong to say that negativity is our innate nature, no! It appears as though it is our nature – it has become our second nature because of stress.
Mind craves for something and is averse to something. That’s alright. But at least for some time, the pendulum of the mind can stop. When it stops, it feels so nice and that is why the practices of Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation are important. These practices change the tendency of the mind from clinging onto the negativity.
The mind swings between craving and aversions, and it needs some rest sometimes, and doing all this will bring that calmness to the mind.
Also wisdom gradually helps one to get rid of all the cravings and aversions in the mind.

At the International Women's Conference,

February 23, 2018, Bengaluru

Spirituality Transcends Gender

You wonder, what has spirituality got to do with gender? Really, it has nothing to do with gender because spirituality transcends gender.
What is spirituality? Is it something that is not normal or natural? No! We are made up of matter and spirit. Our body has amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates and all that. And our spirit is made up of love, compassion and peace. All that which enhances the value of spirit is spirituality, and women need it all the more because women are the greatest influencers.
A woman influences her children, influences her spouse, influences her parents, and the society. A woman is very gentle and soft so she needs the strength. Spirituality is what gives her that strength and inner peace. If you don’t have inner peace, you can’t have peace in the family.

A Peaceful Woman Can Remove Conflicts

A woman is a woman’s best friend and worst enemy as well. Many conflicts arise between two women. If families are splitting, mostly the cause of it would be a woman because a woman is emotional. This is why it is important for women to find inner strength and peace. If she is peaceful, she can manage all other conflicts at home. But if she is disturbed, and has tears in her eyes, it keeps everyone on their toes.
Having said this, I would also like to say to all the women here today:
  • Women don’t need to go and ask someone to empower them. They already have the power.
    In this country, from ancient times and in mythology, all the power has been kept with the goddesses. The ministry of wealth is Devi Lakshmi, the ministry of education is Devi Saraswati, and the ministry of defense is with Devi Durga. What is left? Nothing much is left with the man actually. So, the main power is with Devi, and so is the same with woman.
    In India, we don’t say ‘Mr. and Mrs.’, we say ‘Shrimati and Shriman’. So women empowerment is already there. Take it for granted.
  • Don’t take things too seriously, have fun.
    If you have fun, you can create fun all around. If you are uptight, you create such an uptight atmosphere around you. So, humor, entertainment, wisdom – all these qualities help you be your natural self.
    You know, in this country, women have created 56,000 types of food. You go to Tripura, which is a small province near Myanmar and Bangladesh border, this little state alone has some 180 types of food varieties. People do not know this.
    Similarly, music and dance, without all this life is so dry. And creating an atmosphere where people talk about wisdom rather than complain about each other or create problems is natural to women. Creating an atmosphere of celebration is inbuilt in women. You have to make use of this tendency, this strengths that you have.
    If there were more women religious leaders, perhaps there wouldn’t be so much conflict in the world today. Either there would be no conflict or there would be much worse conflict.
  • Don’t listen to people who say that women cannot lead religious or spiritual areas. 
    Gender equality is to be honored in every country, and if religious leaders take up gender equality, we can move forward very fast.
    So, there are areas for women to take a lead in. Don’t wait for someone to invite you. Just jump in and take the lead, like the wonderful women present here have already done.
Innovation and inspiration will come when we have inner peace. A peaceful individual only can make peaceful families. And peaceful families can make peaceful localities and communities. And if communities are peaceful, only then can the nation be peaceful. So the root cause is to find the inner strength, inner peace and that you can do through meditation, yoga, selfless service, and music. There are so many ways to find inner peace.

You are both the Doer and the Non-Doer

There is a beautiful story in the Upanishads which goes, “On the tree of this universe, there are two birds sitting – one is enjoying the fruit, the other is just watching, like a witness”.

This story indicates the two aspects in you, that is, the doer and the non-doer. There is one aspect of you that is performing all actions. And there is another aspect in you that is not doing anything (the seer).

Now you might ask, “How?”
On one level, you find that you are changing. Your thoughts are changing, your emotions are changing, your body is changing. Yet at another, deeper level, there is something in you that is not changing at all, it is the same. That is how you know that you are changing. So, you are a combination of both, the change and the non-change, the tangible and the intangible. Similarly, you are both the doer and the non-doer.

When to Turn towards Non-doership?
When you are in activity, you are a doer; when you are retiring, or when you are getting into meditation, you are a non-doer (a state in which you recognize that everything in this universe is happening through a higher power).

When guilt eats you up, or pride takes over your head, then you should understand that you are not the doer.
Doing something good also makes you unhappy because you do so much and then you say that nobody recognizes you or nobody listens to you. So, not being recognized makes you miserable, and if you do something wrong, that too eats up your spirit and creates a sense of guilt. When such things happen, know that you are not the doer.

People who have committed the biggest crime on the planet, somewhere deep inside think, “Hey, I didn’t do it, how did this happen?” They feel surprised, and they feel that they are not the doer, it just happened. If you talk to the biggest criminals on the planet, you will see that they find themselves being caught up in a criminal act.

In the same way, someone who has done some excellent work, they also feel that it just happened; everything just fell into place. This non-doership is an experience in itself.

When you must do things, then don't say, 'Oh, I am not the doer'. Don’t go into that mode. It will only tear you apart. If you must focus on some work, focus and just do it.
“I am not a doer” is an experience, sometimes it just dawns on you. And it is also a reminder to you when you are reeling in guilt, or in arrogance.

The all important 15 second gap

How do you keep your mind in the present moment? First of all, you must know that "my mind is wandering". Then, half the job is done! The second thing is, take out a little time for yourself – just 15 seconds in between.
I want to share a little story with you. There was an executive who said that he was very upset with his boss. So he wrote a very nasty letter to his own boss. He signed it and decided to send it out after his meeting with me. When he mentioned this to me, I gave him this idea, that before signing any important paper, take a 15 seconds gap and just be still and reflect. So he did it, and he later said, “Gurudev, I did not send that letter that I had written, and it saved me a lot of embarrassment. And it saved my job as well”.
Taking that little time, that 15 seconds gap, can make a big different. You can do this several times during the course of the day.
As children, we used to play this game called ‘Statue’. We would be running and playing and someone would say, ‘Statue’, and we had to stand still. Have you played this game? This is one of the brilliant things to do to bring the mind to the present moment. And of course, meditation is very important. A few minutes of meditation keeps your mind like a clean slate to take on new load of work.

The Story of Eklavya and Dronacharya

Since ages, the story of Eklavya (a character from the Indian epic- Mahabharata) has come to define exemplary discipleship. But there is an unheard and unseen side to the famous story.
Eklavya was the son of a poor hunter. He wanted to learn archery to save the deer in the forest that were being hunted by the leopards.  So he went to Dronacharya (a master of advanced military arts) and requested him to teach him archery. Dronacharya was the teacher of the Royal family. 
In those days, as a rule, a teacher to the members of Royal family was not allowed to teach the state art to anybody else. It was forbidden to make anyone as powerful as the princes for the safety of the region. 
But Eklavya deeply desired to study under Dronacharya. Dronacharya, bound by the state law, could not accept him as his student. 
Eklavya in his heart had already accepted Dronacharya as his Guru. He went home and made a statue of his Guru. Over the following years, with sincerity and practice, he learnt archery and became better than the state princes at the art. He became so good at it that, he would hear the sound of the animal, shoot an arrow at it and claim the animal.
One day, Arjuna, the prince found out about this talented archer. Making matters worse, he saw that Eklavya was far better than him. He went to Eklavya and asked him, ‘Who taught you archery?’
‘Dronacharya,’ said Eklavya.
Hearing this, Arjuna was furious. He went up to Dronacharya and said angrily, ‘What is this? You have cheated us. What you have done is a crime. You were supposed to teach me exclusively, but you taught this man and made him more skillful than me.’
Dronacharya was baffled and confused at Arjuna’s allegations. He wondered who this student of his was, who had learned the art from him but whose name and identity he did not know! He thought hard but could not come up with an answer for Arjuna. He could not believe, this student was better than even Arjuna. 
Both, Dronacharya and Arjuna decided to meet the boy. 
Eklavya welcomed his master with great honor and love. He led both of them to the statue he had made of Dronacharya. Eklavya had practiced archery over all the years, considering and believing the statue to be his Guru. 
In ancient times, a common practice in learning was Guru Dakshina, where a student would give a token of gift or fee for the knowledge gained by the student. 
Dronacharya said, ‘Eklavya, you must give me some Guru Dakshina. You must give me the thumb of your right hand.’ Eklavya knew that without the thumb, archery could not be practiced.
Eklavya without a second thought gave the thumb of his right hand to his Guru.
In this story Dronacharya is commonly viewed as being cruel and self-centered. The perceived understanding is, this boy who has learned the skill on his own and is good at it, is made to give it up for the vested interest of Dronacharya.  But when one looks at it from the point of view of the wise, one finds, if it were not for this incident, nobody would have ever known Eklavya.
Though on the outside, it seemed as if Dronacharya had done injustice to Eklavya, actually Dronacharya uplifted Eklavya from just being a student to becoming an epitome of discipleship. 
Dronacharya blessed Eklavya with immortality by asking him for his thumb. So when people think of devotion, they think of Eklavya, and not Arjuna.
See the greatness of Dronacharya, he took the blame on him and uplifted his student. That is why, even if the Guru is wrong, if your devotion is there you can never go wrong. But the Guru is not wrong, it appears he was partial but he uplifted Eklavya and preserved his Dharma (duty) also. His duty was to maintain the law of the land: You cannot have anyone much better than the prince.

What upholds or sustains your life?

Dhruti means that which upholds or sustains life. For many people, the mind goes hay wire. They cannot even sustain or tolerate a small insult. A little bit of imperfection they cannot tolerate. 

Sattvic dhruti is that which sustains the mind, life energy, and activities of the senses. 

That which helps you to be steadfast in your yoga. Not like one day you do yoga and next you go for bhoga (sensory pleasure). Not like that. That which upholds your senses, your life is sattvic dhruti.

Rajasic dhruti is of the type, when I get results then I will deliver. 

This sort of mindset where your enthusiasm is related to some little reward is rajasic dhruti. It could be related to Dharma or it may not be related. Any work that is taken with the intention of getting results, such as fasting to achieve some results. What is God going to get if you fast?

Tamasic dhruti is one who sleeps a lot. 

That is most important for them. Nothing else. Very fearful. You look at their face, they are always down, depressed. If you cannot get married, you are upset. You get married, you are upset. Always regretful. That should not have happened. I should have had like that. After 40 years of marriage, they think they should have married someone else. And arrogance. And one is unable to get of this negativity in the mind. Some people try to get out of it, but they are not able to get out of it. Lazy people, who can sleep anywhere, any time.
One who is lazy, gets scared easily. Then behind fear, comes negative thoughts such as who will cremate me when I die, who will take care of me when I grow old. Some one will complete the cremation rights. Man is mad. If you do not want to leave the madness, then be mad for that which has made all these things not for the things made by Him. Then after this comes vishaad: they think about what happened many years ago and get upset. People will reach Mumbai from Bangalore, and then they will continue to say we should have booked another ticket. Vishaad has become a habit. A person who is enthusiastic and happy, they will not go into vishaad.

How do you get out of Tamasic dhruti? 

Do seva, sadhana, satsang. Tamas gets converted to Rajasic and then to Sattva.

Everything manifests when you meditate!

Divine and worldly dispensation are one and the same, they are not disparate. God is inseparable from this world. He is all permeating. Sarvam khalvidam Brahma – All of this is Brahman. 
If you stick your hand in a fire, you get burnt instantly. However, if you sow a mango seed or  a coconut seed, in the ground, it takes 4-6 years to bear fruit. Similarly, there are some actions whose consequences are immediate and there are some actions with a delayed outcome. If your grandfather/forefather toils for 20 years to set up a factory, who will enjoy the fruits of his labour – you will! Applying the same logic, karma and its consequences are eternal and beyond comprehension. Some karma can be resolved only by dealing with the consequences, whereas the outcome of some karma can be modified / modulated.
For example, while preparing a meal, the proportion of ingredients can be adjusted with respect to one another. However, once cooked it cannot be reverted back to its uncooked state. Similarly, what your height is today is praarabdha karma (karma that cannot be changed), but your current body-weight can be changed (reduced/increased). That is why doing dhyaan (meditation), japa (chanting), havan (sacrificial fire), daan (charity) helps in changing your karma.
Having an attitude of gratefulness for all that we have received in life also resolves karma. Do not criticize or condemn anyone. However, on the path of Self-knowledge forget about your sins and merits, and just relax and be happy. The more relaxed we are, the more spontaneously (naturally) things get done.
When we were building the ashram, I did not seek advice from a Vaastu consultant. Several years later, some Vaastu specialists commented on how all structures were in their proper place with respect to one another. Our consciousness itself is Shaastra, so if we listen to our consciousness, our intuition, we will function in accord with nature.
Suppose you have no knowledge of electronics, but you need to tackle an electronics issue, you intuitively play around with the wires, and eventually the problem gets resolved. Many people have experienced this. Once I was going from London to Birmingham where I was scheduled to give a talk. This happened more than twenty years ago. Birmingham is a big city. One gentleman realized an hour after we had left London that he had forgotten to obtain the address or the directions to the venue in Birmingham. There were no cell phones then. So I decided to intuitively guide him, telling him to take this turn here and that turn there, until we reached the street in Birmingham on which the venue was located!
Shaastra is not a book, you yourself are the Shaastras. If you study your consciousness, your mind, that is what is in the Shaastra. This is how the knowledge of Vaastu Shaastra, Ayurveda, etc came into being. Dance, music, art, science, have all emerged from the consciousness of the spirit, through meditation. So meditation is supreme. Everything manifests when you meditate. In english it is known as intuition. Intuition means that which is ‘right’. This power is within everyone.

If you have these Three, you are very fortunate

After 8.4 million bodies, you get a human body
Just imagine, from bacteria, birds, animals, etc., 8.4 million lives later a human life comes. In this human life, few get to know the real spiritual path. And among those, very few walk on the path and they are the lucky ones.
Adi Shankara has also said, that the human birth is very difficult to get. 
After having gotten human birth, the desire of wanting to walk on the spiritual path, is also very difficult to get. Few people get this. And even after getting this desire to walk on the spiritual path, only few get the opportunity to do it; they get the right path.
So many people, who want to walk on the spiritual path get caught up in all these wrong notions that one day the world is going to collapse, or doom’s day is going to come. And so these people pray out of fear. They get into paths where they are indented with fear and guilt. Fear and guilt are two things that will never allow you to go deep into yourself. And this is what some of the so called (religious) paths do.
Some of the religious paths create this fear of hell and heaven that puts people into such a turmoil of guilt and fear that the mind can never calm down. Meditation can never happen. This is very unfortunate. So even though these people are aspirants, they are not getting the path. 
These people don’t get access to the knowledge: ‘Come on, the mind is like a river, what are you holding on to? Don’t hold on to it. All the events are gone, drop it and move on. Live in the present moment‘. 
This knowledge is not available to many people (who aspire to walk the spiritual path). They go on repenting about the past, feeling guilty, and the mind becomes a mess.
Of course they do pray. Their prayers do help, and they get some blessings. Blessings come to everyone, no doubt, but the knowledge, the right path and liberation remains a distant dream for them. Peace does not happen in their life. They sit with the hope that one day they will go to heaven. And so these souls get trapped with desires and fear. 
They get a human life to be free from all this. So they will have to come back again to work out all these things. Again they will get into meditation.
So, a human birth, desire for a path, and the path being available to them (Maha Purusha Sannidho: getting a Spiritual Master), these three things are rare and difficult to get. If you have all three, you are lucky.

Excerpts from Keynote Address at the World Happiness Summit

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 doing 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 getting succumbed 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.