If one can see the Divine, why should one perform pooja

You are completely mistaken about pooja. The rule of pooja is only Shiva can worship Shiva. 
So first you place the names of the Divine on different parts of your body. You become part of the Divine and then you offer flowers and everything to the Divine. This is the actual and right way to do pooja, seeing the divinity inside. 
You are as much part of the Divinity as I am. You must know that godliness is in you too. God is in you as much as in me. If you are able to see well and good. You and I are not different, we are one. You should say, ‘I am a part of the Guru.’
Self-blame should be stopped and you should see that you belong to the Guru, to God and to the whole creation.
Why do I need to do pooja? Do I gain anything? No. It doesn’t matter whether I do or I don’t do but it is a custom. If I do then everybody else will also do. It is to lead by example. 
Lord Krishna also did and Sri Ram also did pooja and it is set in our tradition. So we continue the tradition like our elders did. If I don’t do, then why would anyone else follow? And how can I tell them also to do.
I don’t need to do pranayama, I don’t need to do kriya, I don’t need to do meditation and I don’t need to sit in satsang. But if I don’t sit, how can I inspire others to sit for satsang or to meditate? So, I also meditate. 
For me, eyes open or closed is all the same, but still I do. 
The same question Arjuna had asked Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna said, ’for me there is no karma. I don’t have to gain anything by doing karma nor will I lose anything by not doing it. But still - ‘varta eva ca karmani’ - I keep doing. Why? If I don’t do then people will not follow. They will follow me not doing anything and then there will be disaster.’
He said, ‘Just to lead by example I am doing everything, all the karma. So you also do work.’ Arjuna said, ‘No I am not going to do it.’ Krishna replied, ‘No, you have to do it.’
Arjuna again said, ‘Why? If karma is binding then why do you ask me to do karma? You say knowledge is freedom, then why do I have to act?’ 
Krishna said, ‘I also don’t need to do anything. But still I am doing everything. Then you should also do.’ 
Pooja means creating an atmosphere of Divinity and reposing in it. It is the chanting that is important. The chanting has all the vibrations from thousands of years. 
Like the tuning fork, when similar tune strings are there then they also vibrate. Similarly when you chant those mantras, your consciousness which is thousands of years old, somewhere the deeper layer starts reverberating. That is why when you hear those mantras, something happens in you. I have seen this all over the world, not only in India.
In the beginning when we say some chants, like ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, even those people who have no affinity towards Sanskrit or have never heard it before, when they chant this they say, ‘something happens inside’.
Our consciousness is very ancient, so the Vedic mantras have that power to touch the deepest layers of our consciousness. 
Now you can ask me, ‘why can’t we sing in German or French or Kannada or Urdu or Telugu or Assamese or Tamil?’ You can sing in any language, it doesn’t matter but the effect of these Vedic mantras are different. That is why they are called mantras, ‘Mananat trayatie Iti mantrah’. 
That which takes your mind across by listening to it or chanting it is called mantra. So these Maha-mantras have an impact on the consciousness that is why we say, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, ‘Om Namo Narayana’.
Bhajans are different; you can sing ‘Radhe-Shyam’. Bhajans are different or any other language songs are different. But when you chant ‘Om’, it has an impeccable effect on the consciousness.

How to retain knowledge for application at the correct time

I tell you do not doubt yourself. 

This is self-doubt, ‘I heard, but will this become practical? Will this happen in life or not?' This doubt you should not have.
Like you learned in nursery school, 2 + 2 = 4, once you learn it, then it stays with you. When you have to count, you say, ‘2 + 2 = 4’, it has already come to application. You don’t need to try to apply it in life. Application is spontaneous. 

So when you know, ‘Accept people as they are’, or ‘Present moment is inevitable’, whenever you are disturbed, automatically this knowledge comes up.
‘Oh, present moment is inevitable. Anyway, what can we do? It’s past. It’s gone.’ This knowledge comes to you automatically, as if you are programmed. Listening to knowledge means getting programmed. Once you are programmed, it comes whenever and wherever it is needed spontaneously.
‘I need to apply this knowledge in life’; this thinking is a big struggle. It is a big strain on your mind. You think it is not there. ‘I want to feed this information in the computer’. When you say, ‘I want to feed this information’, that means it is not there.
I tell you, the moment you listen to the knowledge once; it is already feeding in the computer, in the mind which is the super computer. You have already fed it. So, it comes to your help spontaneously, automatically. Don’t worry about applying the knowledge and leaving the knowledge. 
As long as you spend a little time refreshing it, turning the pages of the knowledge books or everyday listening to ten minutes of knowledge, then the application is spontaneous. 
But if you have not listened to knowledge for a long time, you are completely out of touch then you will forget. Only thing is, if you remember, application is spontaneous, automatic, and immediate. And if you have forgotten it then somebody has to remind you and for that you have to come to satsang, or to the Art of Living course and again refurbish the knowledge, refresh your memory.

When Sadhana becomes boring

Exercises are always boring but we know for our good health we have to do it. Like eating is boring, but still we eat.

Sadhana is boring but still we should do it. Make it a routine, sit for a few minutes, do some rounds of bhastrika

Sometimes you have to get on to the treadmill and you feel, I don’t want to do this exercise but still you do it because you know it is good for your health, in the same way you must do sadhana.

Doesn’t matter if you miss it for one or two days, that is okay. Don’t feel guilty about it. 

But if missing becomes regular, then you need to reconsider it. That is why doing sadhana in organized groups is always good. There is a proverb in Sanskrit: ‘Ekas tapasvi, dwir adhyayi’; whenever you want to do a practice, doing it in groups of two or three or more is always beneficial. 

Many times you do things for company’s sake. I have heard many people saying, ‘I don’t drink unless I have company.’ 

When you can do wrong things for company’s sake, can’t you do something good for company’s sake also?!

Coming back home

Let go! What are you holding on to? You are home! Wake up!

Wake up, it is your cravings, which is giving you an illusion that you are far away from your home. And what are the cravings – for pleasure, for recognition. And what did you get in all those pleasures? Five minutes or ten minutes of some sensations and some stimulation; other than that, what is it? NOTHING WHATSOEVER! Absolutely nothing! 

It left your hands burned down, your head and heart devastated. What else do you want? 

Come on! When you want to be back home, it does not take more than a wink of the eye. That means it doesn’t take more than a second. 

Wake up and shake up! Wake up and realize you are already there. The cobwebs around your mind are your own making. You know how the spider makes its own cobweb. Who has done it? Not somebody else. From its own saliva, it made the cobweb and it is all caught up in it and feels,’ I am dying!’

You blame it on the world; blame it on people, blame it on situations and blame it on your own mind. 

Stop blaming even your mind. You simply have to shake and wake up. Done!

Death can anytime rob you of all of it, in one minute. Not even a minute it takes. In one minute death will rob all of what you have. Before death robs you, let go I tell you. Then you are free and you will feel I am home. 

One day death is going to rob you of everything; your home, your kith and kin, your car, jewellery, your fridge, all will be gone. In fact, they will all be here, you will be gone. It is the other way around. 

Wake up and see nothing is yours. Can’t you say this – ‘Nothing is mine!’?

‘Nothing is mine’, and you are home. It is such a freedom I tell you, such a freedom! 

I don’t mean you should go and empty your bank balance and give it all away. Keep the money in the bank, but not in your head. Got it? 

You will not be greedy, you will not be angry, you will not be possessive or jealous. Just one remembrance of an inevitable truth that is going to happen in your life, you are going to die one day! You don’t need to read books to know this. It is such an obvious truth. You don’t need to quote from scriptures to know that you are going to die.

This one thing in sight is good enough to bring a transformation in life.  

That sense of courage, conviction and realization is what wisdom is. First realization, and then courage and conviction, brings so much freedom. Only then real meditation happens. Till then you sit with your eyes open and closed and again open and closed. Yes, there is some quietness in the mind, but nothing beyond.

5 secrets of relationships

None of us are islands; we all need people to live meaningful lives. If you examine any aspect of your life, you will find that it involves relationships. Having said this, it is important to note that as invigorating as a good relationship can be, a bad one can be just as energy-sapping. So, it is immensely useful to understand how to deal with people.
The main challenge in this endeavor is that every person is different. So, we need to exercise all the facets of our personality to get along with the diverse spread of people before us. However, it is possible to utilize some common threads to build bonds with people. That these threads are relatively unknown or unused by the general public is obvious from the strife and conflict around us.
So, how about we explore and see if some of these ‘secrets’ of relationships can inspire harmony and integration around us?

1. Being the architect of your happiness

Do you allow yourself to be swayed and affected by other people’s words and actions? Can your happy and jolly self flip into its sad and anxious counterpart because of someone else? If you said yes, it is because you give more weight to other people’s thoughts and feelings than your own. Instead, how about allowing these remarks to pass by without reaction?
When you stop reacting to other people’s random remarks, they tend to stop saying them. On the contrary, you might find more positive comments coming your way when you stop expecting them. So, try not to allow the weight of expectation to burden your relationships. No one can make you happy or sad without your permission. When you realize this, you will discover joy in every nook and corner. Your flexible, non-reactive and easy-going demeanor will encourage people to put their best foot forward too.
How do you do this? Focus on learning, awareness, and the larger picture. Meditation and breathing exercises can help you in this, as they take you away from the petty elements of life into the abundant universe.
2. Giving up obsession & feverishness
For most of us, being in love is the most sought-after emotion. In front of that one and only love, everything else fades away and becomes insignificant. You are immersed headlong in the deepest emotion, and all other senses disappear.
The problem is that this sort of passion or obsession rather tends to become old and jaded sooner than you’d think. You find it difficult and tiresome to outdo your feverish self of yesterday, and, eventually, run out of steam. This brings out your irritable and unattractive side – the one that repels even those towards whom the passion was directed earlier. You become bored and are boring to others.
Being centered can avoid these pitfalls in relationships. You maintain a calm and composed nature that is pleasant and reliable and that attracts people towards you. Healthy practices like meditation and pranayama encourage and enable this.
3. Communicating effectively
What does this mean? Since we interact with a diverse set of people – in terms of age and temperament, there cannot be one universally applicable answer or method.
With children, you need to display patience and accept them as they are. Teenagers need a friend by their side almost all the time. So, the parent in you takes a backseat. The sick need a compassionate ear to hear their problems. The elderly need an attentive and caring one. If you can adjust your communication and behavior according to the kind of person you are dealing with, you will be more successful in your relationships with people.
4. Giving...and taking
Are you a giver? It is true that we have been taught to give freely without counting or expecting. In which case, perhaps, what you need a lesson in, is in taking! While constantly giving must seem like a noble and selfless quality, you are in fact depriving the other person of experiencing the joy of giving.
For a relationship to thrive, both parties must GIVE and TAKE. This will ward off the bitterness that accompanies those who always give. You must allow the other person to experience the wholeheartedness and generosity that fills them as they give. It will also prevent them from feeling the weight of indebtedness at receiving continuously.
The reality is that there is so much to learn from giving that it is wrong to not let the other person experience the learning. So, ensure there is a balance in giving and taking in your life. Your relationships will greatly benefit from the judicious mix and balance.
5. Take time-outs
Only when you have the time to think, feel and experience, can you begin to think about others. So, at least once a year, take time out for yourself – go on a holiday, retreat into silence, and be with nature. Your mind will feel cleansed of the year-long obsessions, anger, jealousy, tensions, and anxieties.
In this space, there is a possibility for growth, compassion, and thoughtfulness. From here arises thoughts of giving and serving. This helps you discover your true nature and helps you connect with people at a deep and spiritual level.  
If you enjoyed these simple truths, you can read it in more detail in ‘Secrets of Relationships’ by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Choosing one's goal

For a while, just sit by yourself and think. Keep all other things aside. See, what is it that you want? Ask yourself, ‘what is it that I want?’ And then whatever goal comes up, hold on to that.

Of course, whenever you want to take up a vision, a goal, a mission, the surroundings have a great impact on that.

You have a mission and you are working. Suddenly something happens, one of your dear ones is not well or sick, or somebody had an accident; you need to be very flexible there. You can’t say, ‘I have this goal, I have to go’, no! You need to attend to this, because life is complex, it is not a straight line.

Life is so complex, and in this complexity of life, keeping one’s goals is what determination is. And you can do that effortlessly when there is devotion and wisdom in life. 

Wisdom and devotion are two important things that make life effortless. Things happen effortlessly, after being on the path. It is no more a struggle.

Yog Maya

Yog Maya is some spiritual experiences which you get sometimes and they are intuitive in nature and most of the time they become correct. But when you start relying on them too much; I am adding, ‘too much’; then it will start distorting the whole thing.

And if you are really not hollow and empty, your own desires, your own ambitions will come up in your vision and in your dreams, and you will hear voices, and all these things can happen, and it can distort the reality. 

So, Yog Maya are those little powers, those little visions, apprehensions, aberrations and intuitive visions, which are 80% true and 20% not true. But, you don’t know whether what you see belongs to the 20% or 80%. 

So, we just take these experiences as they come.

Increasing one's self-confidence

How to get more self confidence in life? There is no way!! No chance for you to get it, that’s it. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it! 

If a rabbit wants to have horns, I would say no chance. If you think you need to get one like those, like an antelope, you can put on such hats only during Christmas time. You can fix it on top of your head, but if you don’t have it, no way! 

But, if you listen to me; carefully, I tell you, you should know you have it. You do have it. Who said, you don’t have it. 

First, accept your ignorance about yourself. First accept that you don’t know anything about yourself. And then you will realise you have it.

Using will power

When you know what you did in the past was not correct, then you already know what you should do. Spiritual path gives you the empowerment. 

But if you say, ‘Oh! I can’t do that’, then you can’t do it. If you put this thought, ’yes, I can!’, then you can. 

I have heard people say, 'I can’t leave smoking.' If you can’t leave smoking then nobody in the world can make you leave smoking. You should get up and say, ‘yes, I will leave smoking.’

Nature has kept that will power in every human being who can think and who can act. It is present in everybody. It is like you shutting your eyes and saying, 'I can’t see, I can’t see.'
You first open your eyes!

You say, 'I can’t open my eyes.' If you can’t open your eyes or don’t open your eyes, how will you see? 

If you say, 'I am hungry but I won’t open my mouth.' Nature has given you a mouth and it is hollow and empty, and nature has given you food. You have to connect these two things. 

Food is in front of you and you say, 'I won’t open my mouth.' Even to say that you have to open your mouth. 

So, the will power is in everyone. You have to say, 'Yes I can do it; I am going to do it.'

If you are in the bad habit of smoking say, ‘Yes, I am going to leave it. I can do it.’ Because that one thought, ’I can’t leave smoking’, is giving you power to keep smoking.

Wanting to see God

Do you want to see God? How many of you want to see God? It doesn’t take much time. Stop seeing the world. If you see the world, you can’t see God. Either you can see God or you can see the world. You can’t see both. You have to choose one. 
If you want to see God, I’ll show you right away: stop seeing the differences. Stop seeing the world.
Quantum physics can help you see God. Know that this all is one, that everything is made up of One. It is an illusion that there is this person and that person. It is an illusion that there is this object and that object. All objects are made up of One. 
We are like in a hologram. One light beam makes the hologram. It appears to be an object but it is not an object, it is just light’s play and display. This whole universe is a play and display of light which appears to be different. There is nothing but God on this planet.
If you sit in a movie show, whatever you see on the screen is just light passing through, that’s all. Light is passing through a running film and appears to be different things, different people and different incidents. Like this, the whole world is a play and display of one consciousness. There is no matter and there is no energy. There is no you, there is no me, there is no this, there is no that. It is all just One.
That is it! You sit still. In the Bible it says, ’Be still and know that I am God.’ It is the mind that sees the differences. The intellect perceives the differences. Transcend the intellect and be still. There is only one thing.  
You can’t say One, because to say One, you need to have two. If you say something is complete, then you have to be outside of it and say it is complete.
The ancient people were so brilliant that you would be amazed. They said, non-dual, there is no two. To say One is wrong. Only two can say it is One. That there is no two is the best way to express it. That is what is called advaita (non-dual) but dvaita means dual.
This is pure science, like the quantum physics. You can experience, you can know it, but in practical life, you have to come one step down. You have to acknowledge the duality, the multiplicity in the creation. 
The table, chair, roof, door, is all made up of wood here and that is a fact. But you can’t use the chair for a door and a door for a chair. From that level, you have to operate in duality. 
So the Periodic Table in chemistry is also true and quantum physics is also true. Both talk about the same matter.

What should you do with money

You are living in a world which is complex. In some way or another, you are dependent on something in the world. You cannot insulate yourself so totally. There is no total isolation or insulation from what is happening in the world. 

You can be smart, and not greedy. Often people who are greedy, they end up in trouble. They see these advertisements that say, ‘Just invest your money and you will get 200% returns out of it.’

You don’t scientifically think why they would give you 200%. You get caught in the cloud of that, ‘oh they are going to give me tremendous money.’ 

At that moment when you are so feverish, no wisdom enters your head. You think it is so real, and you invest and you lose all the money. I have seen so many people do that and have heard many people lose all their wealth just out of greed. 

So we should be intelligent enough to see where it is good to invest. I can’t tell you all that. It is against ethics. You invest wherever you find it is safe.