How can yoga transform your life

Life always moves towards perfection. Just like how water flows down and fire goes up, the nature of life is to move towards perfection, to move towards something bigger and something higher.

Often people say that the mind is wavering, but the mind is not wavering. The mind is the wave. It is moving towards something. It is moving towards a higher joy.

If you get a little joy, you want some more joy. This is because the mind always moves towards something bigger and something higher.

Right from school days, what is it that you want? You want to get a higher grade. Which student does not want to get a higher grade? Which artist does not want to perform better? Which scientist does not want to reach the peak? Which engineer does not want to build something beautiful? So wanting perfection is in the nature of human beings. The mind wants to move towards something higher, and the way to achieve it is Yoga.

Yoga Helps You Get Out Of Misery

If you are miserable, yoga helps you get out of your misery. If you are very restless or unhappy, yoga brings you that equanimity. It first relives you from misery and then brings you equanimity.

Yoga also helps you attain skills that you do not have. The word for qualification in Sanskrit is Yogyata, which means that which has come out of yoga. It is action that brings you happiness or sorrow. And if you are skillful in action, then your action will only bring you happiness, or less misery. So with yoga, one attains:
  • Relief from sorrow
  • Equanimity
  • Skill in action.
Yoga Helps You Expand Your Vision

There is a fourth step to Yoga, which is to take you to the ultimate knowledge.

Our misery is when we don't open our eyes and see the vastness of the life. Misery means short vision. Yoga is expanding your vision - taking your eyes to the higher truth. If your mind is filled with fog, then your perception of life is very foggy. If your mind is filled with anger, you will find that everybody is mocking you. You will find that everybody is against you.

You project yourself to people, situations, and the world around you. That is what you do. All the time we are projecting ourselves. Seldom are we able to see the reality the way it is. That is why Yoga is important.

Again, yoga is not just doing some exercises. Yoga has been mistaken as just asanas. It is not. It is the expansion of consciousness. It is an emotional integration, a spiritual elevation with a touch of mysticism, which gives you a glimpse of something which is beyond all imagination. It is the connection to what we are.

If you look at a baby, a baby does all the Yoga postures. But not only that, the attitude of a baby, the way it breathes, its perceptual ability or sharpness, and its ability to stay in the present moment (all the qualities of a Yogi), a baby expresses.
So, Yoga should not be limited or misunderstood as just some exercise. It is a holistic development, expression and connection of human life.
Yoga Brings You Peace

Yoga is a complete science. It unites body, mind, spirit and the universe. Yoga brings that much needed and longed for peace and ecstasy in every individual. Not only that, it also makes such a difference in one's behavioral pattern, thought pattern, and one's attitude. For a sane life these days, yoga is almost indispensable. If you want to be sane, sensitive, sensible, strong and intuitive, you have to follow Yoga.

What Are Signs of Intelligence?

Buddha means the enlightened, and also the super intelligent. Buddhi in Sanskrit means intelligence and there are four signs of intelligence.
The first sign of intelligence is being alert. You can’t say that I am intelligent but I am a little sleepy. Intelligence means alertness. When you are alert your perception and observation improves, and this helps your expression become perfect.
Many times people say, “Oh, nobody understands me.” Instead they should say, “I haven’t been able to express myself.” If you have the skill to express, then there can be no misunderstandings. Perception, observation and expression – all these come from being alert.
Now if you keep yourself very alert for long periods of time, what happens? You get tired and feel exhausted. So, it’s not in the nature of our brain to be alert all the time. We need is relaxation. And the type of relaxation we know is taking a pillow and going to sleep. That's it. Sleep is necessary, but there is another type of relaxation where you are alert and at the same time relaxed, and that is meditation.
The other sign of intelligence is the ability to resolve conflict! Fools create conflicts. An intelligent person knows how to resolve conflicts in oneself and in his surroundings. If someone is creative but creates a lot of conflicts, you say, “Oh my god, that's not an intelligent thing to do”, isn't it so?
If you put an intelligent person between a conflict, will there be more conflict or will he reduce it? He will reduce or resolve it! The tendency to bring harmony is a sign of intelligence. The ability to find a solution is a sign of intelligence.
The next sign of intelligence is humour. There is a story I would like to tell you.
Swami Vivekananda went to a restaurant and went and sat on the same table as his professor. The professor told Swami Vivekananda, “A pig and a bird can't sit on the same table and eat.”
Do you know what Swami Vivekananda said? He said, “Sir, whenever you tell me, I will fly away.”
Intelligence has the ability to turn every conflict into humor. Humor is another sign of intelligence. If you have humor, you will overcome any conflicting situation.
Another sign of intelligence is not getting stressed, and if you get stressed, to know how to get over stress. Intelligence is to know how much to use our minds and our bodies, and not overusing them. If we overuse our minds and our bodies, we get drained, exhausted and tired. Intelligence is walking the fine line of the middle path.

Significance of the symbols of Lord Shiva

Crescent Moon
Shiva Tattva is where there is no mind and the moon signifies the mind. When there is no mind then how can this ‘no mindedness’ be expressed? You need a little bit of the mind to understand, experience and to express. The no-mind, infinite consciousness requires that little bit of mind to express itself in the manifest world. So, to express that inexpressible, that little mind (crescent moon) is on Shiva’s head. Wisdom is beyond the mind, but it needs to be expressed with a tinge of mind and this is symbolized by the crescent moon.
Damru symbolizes the Universe, always expanding and collapsing. From expansion, it collapses and then it re-expands; this is the process of creation. If you see your heartbeat, it is not just one straight line but it is a rhythm that goes up and down. The whole world is nothing but rhythm; energy rising and collapsing to rise again. So the damru signifies that.
Look at the shape of the damru, from expansion it collapses and again expands. The damru is also a symbol of sound. Sound is rhythm and sound is energy. The whole universe is nothing but a wave function, it is nothing but rhythm. The damru signifies non-dual nature of the universe.
The Serpent
A state of samadhi where there is nothing, just the inner sky of consciousness, that is Shiva; where there is alertness and no action. To describe this alertness, they put a snake around Shiva’s neck. So the serpent is a symbol of alertness. In the state of meditation, when the eyes are closed, it gives the impression that the person is sleeping, but he is not asleep, he is alert. To express this state of consciousness, a snake is shown around Shiva’s neck.
The Trident
Trishul or trident represents the three aspects of consciousness — waking, dreaming and sleeping, and it represents the three gunas — sattva, rajas and tamas. Holding a trishul signifies that Shiva, Divinity, is above all the three states — waking, dreaming and sleeping; yet is the upholder of these three states. Divinity is beyond the three gunas, but it holds the three gunas together. Shul means problems or suffering. Trishul means that which destroys all kinds of suffering.
River Ganga
Ganga means knowledge; knowledge that purifies your soul. Head is always the symbol of knowledge. Heart is the symbol of love. Hence, Ganga is shown flowing from Shiva’s locks. If Ganga were to be love, it should have come out of the heart of Shiva. It is coming out of the head, because it simply means knowledge. Knowledge is liberating, knowledge brings freedom, knowledge is purifying. All these are the characteristics of knowledge. Knowledge is also movement, motion. So Ganga (knowledge) has to come out of Shiva’s head.
Blue Body
Blue means infinite, like the sky. Blue signifies the all-pervading Infinity which has no limits. It has no shape. Shiva does not have a body. Shiva was never a person at all. To symbolize the unfathomable, the infinite Divinity and to make that Divinity comprehensible to people, ancient rishis made a form. Knowledge has no shape but it infiltrates each and every particle of the universe. The whole world is filled with Shiva, whose body is in the whole universe.
Shiva Linga
Linga means identification, a symbol through which you can identify what the truth is, what the reality is. What is not visible but yet can be identified by one thing; that is linga. When a baby is born, how do you know its gender? Only through one part of the body can you identify whether the baby is a boy or a girl. That’s why the genital is also called linga. How do you identify the Creator? He has no form! So then, they said that there should be a sign to identify Him. So the sign, by which you identify both the male and female forms, combining them both to form one single symbol to identify the Lord who has no form or identity; who is all-pervading in this entire Brahmanda (Creation), is Shiva Linga. Shiva Linga is ancient. From the form, you go to the formless, through the Shiva Linga. It is a symbol that is the representation of the cosmos and the creator of the cosmos, as one. It is the Shiva and the Shakti, the two principles in Creation. The silent unmanifest and the dynamic manifestation together are represented as Shiva Linga, which is not just Shiva, but the completion of total Supreme Consciousness.
The Bull
Bull has been used as a symbol of dharma (righteousness) for a long time, throughout the world. Shiva riding on the bull simply means that when you are righteous and truthful, the infinite consciousness, the innocent consciousness is with you.
The whole creation is the dance of one consciousness (Shiva). The one consciousness danced and manifested into a million species in the world. So this infinite creation is the dance of Shiva or Shiva Tandav. The whole world is a place of Shiva.
Mount Kailash
The abode of Shiva is in Mount Kailash, and the smashana, the cremation ground. Kailash means ‘where there is only celebration’, and smashana is where there is only void. Divinity dwells in the void as well as in celebration. And in you there is void, in you there is celebration.

Change the Way You See The World

A seeker is one who knows that intrinsically, every human being is a spark of Divinity and so they cannot be bad. I tell you, there is no bad human being created by the Creator. Everyone has light in them.

Do you believe in the goodness of people?

There are basically two types of attitudes, or two kinds of people in the world.
  • Those who think that all people are intrinsically bad – inside they are very bad.
  • Those who think that basically everyone is good deep inside, even if their behavior is a little bad; it is only at the circumference. 
The first kind of people cannot trust anybody, and the second type of people does not doubt anyone too much. Do you see the difference? If you think intrinsically everyone is good, then your doubt is only superficial. You don’t deeply doubt anyone because you know there is goodness in everybody. You believe in the goodness of everybody.

The other set of people have this big issue of trust, because they think intrinsically everybody is bad. Even if they appear to be good outside, deep inside they are not good. This attitude, this assumption in your mind causes you to not trust anybody. Wisdom is to see that, that negativity is only at the circumference.

It is so interesting to see that if you find something wrong in a person, you think, that is the true nature of that person.

I want to share one incident with you. Last year, I went for a big satsang in one of the northern cities of India. At the satsang, there was this notorious person who came in, climbed onto the stage and started moving around. All the journalists and everyone else said, “This guy is a criminal, how did he get access to Gurudev? How is he standing with Gurudev?”

This man was so notorious; he would say, “I can make a call and stop any airplanes.” He would just tell any taxi driver to get off the car and he would take the taxi and go. He was someone with a big criminal record. So when he came to the stage everyone was wondering, “How did Gurudev allow this?”

You know, this same person, who has not done any course or anything, three months later came to the Bangalore Ashram on Shivratri to meet me. He took my picture out of his pocket, and said, “Gurudev, since I kept this picture in my pocket, I am not able to do my work. What has happened? What have you done? My life is all topsy-turvy; my whole life has changed. There is so much joy here! Now I want to take this joy to my state, and to every home.”

This is the same guy who was considered to be the most anti-social element by everyone. Even journalists are afraid of him. Journalists, usually, are not afraid of anybody. But they said, “This guy is horrible.” The world is as you see it.

You know, how we perceive people, is how the world becomes. In Sanskrit, there is a proverb that says, ‘Yatha Drishti, Tatha Srishti’. As you see the world, that is how the world becomes for you. If you see the world as full of horrible people, in your experience, only such type of things will happen. If you see the world as full of good people, even in the worst criminal, you will see there is a very nice person hiding deep inside him. You will recognize that.

So, don’t judge people, or label them as bad people, or good people. There is only one Divinity which expresses itself in so many ways, in so many people, in so many moods and in so many colors. It is one light. If we can recognize this, then we will have such deep peace in our hearts, such trust and faith that nothing whatsoever can shake us. Everyone has light in them.

A seeker is one who should know that, intrinsically, every human being is a spark of God, so they cannot be bad. There is no bad human being created by the Creator. Take it from me – no bad person at all. Everyone has light in them. Somewhere it is hidden, somewhere it is sleepy, and somewhere it is more in action.

So these are the two paths. See in your mind, which side are you going. Are you going towards trust, or towards doubt? If you are going on the side of disliking others or disliking yourself, then it is the time to give a shift to it, and say, ‘No, intrinsically everybody is good.’

Benefits of having a Guru

Every human being comes to this planet with subconscious, unconscious and conscious mind. As the conscious mind starts becoming more active, learning begins. The presence of a Guru is essential for any learning to happen. The Guru’s presence continues throughout the life because the learning continues throughout the life.
What are the benefits of having the Guru in life?  When you consciously acknowledge the Guru, that is when you learn more. You also might have experienced, that in life sometimes you feel stuck and the Guru’s presence moves you through, so that you don’t get stuck. Events, situations, concepts can all make one feel stuck. Firstly, one does not even know that one is stuck. Guru’s presence makes you realize that you are stuck, and helps you move.
First step in learning is knowledge. Of all the different types of knowledge that you learn, from whomsoever you may learn, that “who” is part of the Guru. Mother is the first Guru. From the mother you learn first level of learning – alphabets or this is a cat, this is a banana etc. This also applies to the various other disciplines that we learn.
Moving from where we are stuck to having the flow in life towards its ultimate goal is the second benefit of having a Guru.
Third benefit of having a Guru is when you have a desire for something. In order to get it you need guidance. You need someone to give you what you want. But then there is no end to desires and sometimes you are not even sure of your own desire. That is where the Guru comes into play. The Guru principle or Guru Tattva will give you that which is good for you and not everything that you want.
The fourth benefit is liberation or inner freedom.  Guru does not let you remain in an illusory world but helps you wake up and look at what is the ultimate reality of the universe. That is freedom or liberation.
Knowledge, movement, achievement and freedom : these are the 4 aspects that one gains by having a Guru.
Self-effort is only in the conscious mind. For the subconscious mind you cannot put an effort. You need someone else or some other higher power to influence that. In fact to turn the unconscious mind into the super-conscious mind one definitely needs help and therefore nature has provided tradition of masters. Time and again the human society has been guided by holding hands towards oneself, towards the light that one is. In fact if you see from the context of mind and intellect, or emotion and intellect they go in completely opposite direction. 
Moon is associated with the mind. Someone who goes crazy is called a lunatic. Moon is associated with feelings, emotions, craziness whereas Guru is associated with wisdom, knowledge and rational thinking. Guru Purnima is the strange combination of the rational and emotional. Guru stands for rationality or wisdom and moon stands for emotions. This combination is an oxymoron – fullness of the emptiness or emptiness of the fullness. Life has place for both and the Guru does both. Guru brings the fullness in emotions or strength in the emotions and sharpness in the intellect.
Rational thinking appears to be in opposition to emotional ecstasy or emotional elevation but with spiritual wisdom it doesn’t. It unites them very well. In fact it brings us to the first point in Art of Living – opposite values are complimentary. It makes you realize that you can be sensitive and sensible in life. This is the skill and the art in life. It’s easy to be sensitive and it’s easy to be sensible. There are some who are very sensible but not sensitive and there are some who are very sensitive but not sensible. That wisdom which brings the balance in life is the Guru principle.
Everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher as well. By default you are teaching something. Whether you want to or not, whether you acknowledge it or not, either by showing people what you should do or by showing what you should not do. Someone learns from you even though you may not deliberately want to teach. From just the way you walk your life, someone can learn from you.
The smallness in human psyche or human attitude and tendency can only be gotten rid of through wisdom. Wisdom comes from Guru and so is the celebration of Guru Purnima. The wisdom does not find its fulfillment unless and until there is gratitude and recognition of progress, achievement, freedom and wisdom in life. It is there, but it needs recognition. It is called Pratyabhijna in Sanskrit.
The principle by which the internet is working today was there even hundred of years ago, but no one recognized it. They did not know how cellphone could work without wires. Science is a recognition of that which is and spirituality is also a recognition of that which is. So they go together very well. That’s why fulfillment in life comes when you have both science and spirituality. Contentment comes when knowledge of who am I (the subjective knowledge and the knowledge of what-is-this-all-about) is present. In both realms Guru is essential. Leading from darkness to light, from known to unknown, the manifest appearance to the un-manifest reality, the journey can only happen with a Guru.
From darkness to light, from the seen world around us to the unseen world within us, from the conscious mind to the super-conscious mind, the journey is possible only with a Guru and Guru’s energy or grace.
So everyone is playing the role of The Guru in a small way or big way in some field or the other. When it comes to the totality or the ultimate then you say Jai Gurudev. That is very sacred and so Guru Purnima is one of the sacred moments where one feels how blessed one is, how enlightened one is and how fortunate one is. It is a moment where we realize what a big blessing or possibility has been opened up for us on this planet.
Two things that manifests in Guru’s presence – Emotional fullness and Intellectual sharpness.

What is Freedom? What Does It Mean to be Truly Free?

It is a natural tendency of every human being to want to be free. Freedom is not luxury, it is a necessity. Not just human beings, but even animals want freedom.
Babies want freedom. If you tie a scarf on the neck of a baby, it just wants to remove it. You put a chain on a baby’s neck and the baby will want to pull it out. It is the adults who put jewelry around their neck, but children want freedom, they don’t want any restriction. That is why they throw their hands up and down… free!
Wanting freedom is innate to human beings as well as animals. Every living being wants freedom, and liberation or moksha is nothing but freedom.
Freedom is a natural desire in every human being but when the mind gets so muddled up in unnecessary day to day things, it forgets that it wants freedom. It is as good as someone who wants to sleep but has forgotten how to sleep.
Freedom is not running away from situations and circumstance. Sometimes a situation is stifling or unpleasant, and we run away from it and think this is what freedom is, but that is not so. Freedom means:
  • Being unfazed by circumstances, situations and the people around you
  • Being free from your own emotional garbage
  • Being free from the jungle of your thoughts that bother you
  • Being free from all the entanglement that you harbor in your head
  • Being free from fear and anxiety
Anything that stifles you and makes you feel small, being free from that, is what freedom is.
How does one move towards freedom?
  • Let go of cravings and aversions
Whether you accept it or not, watch it or not, life is an act of letting go. It started the moment you were born. You let go of the womb and came into this world. As soon as you came here, you started breathing in and breathing out and you are taking food in and letting it out. It is a constant exchange. You cannot hold on to anything here.
As a child you were holding onto many toys, and as you grew up, you let go of all those toys. Are you still holding on to your little toys and bells? No! As you grow older, you obviously let go of many things. Similarly, let go of cravings and aversion. When you feel free from all the cravings and aversions, that is freedom. 
  • Meditate
Meditation is food for the soul, it nurtures the core of your existence. It keeps you physically fit, healthy and mentally focused. Intellectually, it brings you sharpness, keenness of attention, awareness and observation. Emotionally, you feel lighter, softer and purer and you feel able to let go of the past garbage. It creates positive vibrations around you, influencing your behaviour with others, and others behaviour towards you. There is nothing better than meditation to bring calmness to the mind!
  • Reduce your wants
If you want freedom, your wants should be minimum. Minimum wants will give you more freedom. If the wants are too many, they go on and on and on.

Now, when the wants arise in you, what do you do? You can't keep on wanting things. This is where wisdom comes to help. See life with a bigger context.
  • Develop a sense of contentment
When the mind is not stuck in desires of either respect, money, position, and the mind goes beyond these things, then you can say you are free.

Before you let go of the body, if a point comes when you are so fulfilled, and you are ready to let go of everything – that is the infinite freedom that you experience.

You need not even physically let go of things. It may not be possible practically to let go of everything but at least in the mind if you let go of everything, you will find there is enormous freedom, and lots of happiness and connectivity towards everything will come.
  • Have Faith 
One very important thing we need is the faith that only the right thing will happen! There is a great power in the universe that has maintained this universe from billions of years. Have faith in that power. It will take care.