Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gurudev, following religion to a large extent sometimes makes a person rigid. Some people become righteous but ultimately they suffer and others around also suffer. Have we understood religion wrongly?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
That’s it! You said it correctly. We have understood religion wrongly. Now we need to move from religion to spirituality. The intelligent ones will do that.

The intelligent one will not get stuck up in the religious sentiments. We are beyond the religious sentiments. We should move into the spiritual dimension.

Gurudev, please speak on Surrender. Many times, people associate surrender to weakness.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You know, the word Surrender has two aspects. One is the eastern aspect of surrender, and the other is from the western perspective.

When you are defeated then you surrender, isn't it? This is one type of surrender, i.e., slavery.

Slaves surrender themselves. It is not really surrender from the heart, but it is just out of physical, mental and emotional weaknesses. You subjugate because of weakness. This is one type of surrender.
Now, in a spiritual sense, it is completely the other way around. In a spiritual sense, you are bothered by your negative emotions and negative qualities. And carrying it is a big botheration for you. Dropping all that negativity, which you do not want to carry, which you cannot handle is called 'Surrender', in the spiritual sense.

It is completely different and opposite to the western type of surrender, which means defeat. Here this type of surrender is winning over. You have won over yourself, your mind, and your negativity by dropping it and giving it away.

So, in a spiritual sense, surrender means strength, not slavery. That is why when you go to a vaishnava temple, they say 'Sharanagati', which means 'Surrender to God', and when you do sharanagati, they crown you. They take a silver crown and put it on your head. The meaning behind this in the spiritual sense is, if you have surrendered your negativity, you have become so strong that you become a king.
In Kannada it is said, 'Sharana Sharanarthhi', which means, 'I surrender to the surrendered one'.

Here, the saints are called surrendered ones. And the saints are the most powerful and most respected, because they have given up all their negativity and surrendered to the Divinity. When negativity is given away, we remain very positive and that is the sainthood. Sainthood cannot come without surrender, and sainthood is not slavery!Sainthood means being very powerful.
Sainthood and slavery, both use the word surrender. One surrenders their negative qualities, and the other accept their weaknesses. This is the difference between two sides of surrender. When you surrender your negative qualities, and all that you don’t want to have, you become powerful.

The spiritual type of surrender makes you very powerful, while the western type, makes you weak.
Now I want to take you one step further. What is there to surrender? There is nothing to surrender! Just relax.

Know everything, anyways belongs to the big mind, to the universe. Anyway, everything belongs to God.

Don’t struggle to surrender, thinking, 'Oh, I am not able to surrender a hundred percent', or, 'I am able to surrender hundred percent'. All this is just mental gymnastics. I tell you, drop all this, ust relax and be simple.

Purity in thought, clarity in mind and sincerity in action.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Q: Gurudev, I am from the Research field. I find it very difficult to invent new things and innovate. What advice can you give to researchers like me so that we can enhance our creative talent?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You should meditate regularly. Meditation and Vairagya(dispassion) will really help in this.

Every once in a while, you should just sit back and realize that this entire world is just like a dream. This entire world will come to an end one day. There is nothing for you to take away from here. This is what you need to bring into your awareness time and again. This will strengthen your dispassion. As you grow in dispassion, you will find that you are able to go deeper into meditation.

Gurudev, what is sacrifice? What should I sacrifice and how should I perform it?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Let us understand what sacrifice means. You like something and you want to have it, but for something better to happen for everyone else, you give that up. That is called sacrifice.
You wanted to go for a picnic or a movie, but then you were needed to do some work somewhere else, which would benefit others. So you give up your pleasure trip, and do what is good for the people. That is what sacrifice is.
Where there is love, there is no sacrifice needed. You don’t say, mother sacrificed going on a trip because the child was not well. The child’s well being is of utmost importance for the mother, so she did not sacrifice anything. Do you see what I’m saying?
It is when you strongly desire something and give it up because it can bring lot of good to others, then it is sacrifice.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Gurudev, during meditation, what is the benefit of keeping our eyes open by just five to ten percent? In many statues and idols of Lord Buddha, He is often depicted with His eyes half-closed. Please tell us something about this.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
When we close our eyes, we drift into the world of our mind, our thoughts and emotions – which is called the Manorajya (literally meaning the kingdom of the mind). When our eyes are open, we are engaged in the outside world. So when you close your eyes only partially, then the mind neither gets stuck in the inner world of thoughts and emotions, nor does it get entangled in the outside world. Then the mind slowly settles down and comes to a state of rest. This is a very beneficial technique for those who close their eyes and drift off into the world of dreams. It is like asiddhaushadhi (a perfect medicine).

Gurudev, some people say that we should not vote because the country’s parliamentary system is wrong. What do we do about this? Should we not vote?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I have come to hear that Maoists are saying to not vote and go for NOTA option (implying 'Not applicable', essentially meaning no vote at all).
I would urge you, don’t waste your vote. Your vote is very important. When you don't have strength to counter the corrupt, you should remove the more corrupt people using those who are less corrupt.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gurudev, there are times when I feel close to the Divine, and other times when I feel the Divine so far away. Why this fluctuation?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I think you have too much time sitting and thinking about yourself, whether your close or not. Get out and work for the world. Do something for the society. Keep yourself busy.

When you do seva, you get merit, and because of the merit, you can go deep in meditation. They are all connected. Everything is connected.

Gurudev, There are so many universities already in India, so why the Sri Sri University?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
We see many students are going abroad and are getting beaten up. In one year, more than 22 deaths have happened. Why should our people face racial discrimination when they can get the best of the East and the West here itself?

So we organised this university and the course curriculums accordingly.

We can really create universities like Nalanda and Takshashila once again, where people from around the world can come and get education.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gurudev, what is action in inaction and inaction in action?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is very clear. This is the whole secret.

When you are acting with hundred percent attention, something in you tells, ‘I am not doing it, I am not acting. It is just happening'. How many of you have had this experience? (Many in the audience raise their hands). This is seeing inaction in action.
Sometimes you get angry, or you behave in some manner and you feel that you are not doing it, it is happening.

Someone comes in front of you and you just blow up, knowing very well that you are not doing it purposely. Something in that person triggers something in you, and you start behaving like that. How many of you have has this experience? (Many raise hands).

You wonder, ‘My God, I never wanted to do this!’ That is seeing inaction in action.

You act because that person had to get those words, or that karma from you. So he just pulled out those words from you, and you never really wanted to say it. That incident had to happen and it was a karma. This is a little higher knowledge.

Now don’t try to apply this knowledge to every mistake you do. You yell at somebody and say, ‘I didn’t mean it. It was karmic and you had to get it, so I had to yell!’ This is misuse of knowledge. Don’t do that. Don’t misuse knowledge in that sense.
Sometimes without your wanting to do an act, you do it. You don't want to do it, but you feel helpless, and you are just watching the act happening.

You see that you are not doing it, yet an action is happening, this is seeing inaction in action.
You are sitting with eyes closed and meditating. You are not doing anything, yet the vibration that you are generating from within you is changing the world. This is action in inaction.

You’re sitting and meditating, you’re spreading the waves of compassion, waves of pure love and devotion, waves of harmony, and that harmony is hitting others and it is changing their mind-set, it is changing the atmosphere, it is removing the negativity, it is making things more positive.

You’re giving blessing to people. With your blessing things are changing. This is action in inaction. You sit in samadhi, you sit in deep meditation, that samadhi is definitely creating a lot of action in the world. That is action in inaction.

This is very difficult to explain. I have made an effort to explain it with whatever little examples.

Dear Gurudev, can you make me meet God?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Definitely, I am here to do exactly that. First, just become totally content and happy from within. Then you will get all that you want.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dear Gurudev, in the context of creation and Pralaya (meaning the ultimate dissolution of creation), two terms are often used: Mahatattva (the supreme principle or element of creation) and Tanmaatra, which are both difficult to understand. Can you please throw some light on this?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Tanmaatra means a measure of any sensation or phenomenon that happens within our body (the minimum quantity of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch that can be perceptibly experienced by our five senses).

It is a measure of anything that manifests at the level of the physical body. For example, our eyes see things with the help of the light that enters our eyes. It is because there is light within our eyes that we are able to see objects.

Often when people lose their eyesight, it is said that the light has left their eyes (meaning that light no longer enters their eyes to help them see). Now, the amount of light that we can see varies in different species. An owl can see even in the dark or in very dim light, but we will not be able to. A cat also can see very well in the dark. So we say that an owl’s Tanmaatra or that of a cat’s is much higher than ours. As humans, our Tanmaatrato be able to see in dim light is far less. That is why even when there is no power or light, a cat is able to clearly see what is kept where.
In the same way, we can understand this difference in Tanmaatra when it comes to the sense of smell. An elephant has a very strong sense (or Tanmaatra) of smell. It can smell things clearly from far away and can correctly judge as to what lies ahead, or what is coming towards it, and from which direction. And it remembers that for years to come.
In the same way, there is a Tanmaatra associated with the sense of taste. A food object has a defined taste, but we experience different tastes when we eat it. For example, if you eat a little sugar and then drink your tea, then you are not able to taste the sweetness of the tea.

If a particular experience (of an object by the senses) is below the Tanmaatra associated with it, then you are able to experience and understand it, but if it greater than theTanmaatra associated with it, then you are not able to comprehend it properly. So when you eat sugar first and then taste your tea, then you are not able to taste the sweetness, because the Tanmaatra has changed. So this is what is meant by Tanmaatra.

Each of our five senses – the eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin – are collectively called the panch jnaanendriya (the five senses of cognition), and each of these has a Tanmaatraassociated with it. It is because of this Tanmaatra that we are able to see, hear, smell, taste and touch.

Q: Gurudev, How can I gain the determination to face a situation? Or should I change my path? How can I know what is my dharma (duty)?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
See, we ask such questions many times. There is no dearth of knowledge about anything we want to know about. Nowadays, knowledge is available at a click of a button. Type your query on Google and you will get everything. But that is not the actual thing. There is something else. What is that? You need to just wake up and realize that everything is going to end one day.

Everything that has ever happened till this day, till this very moment, does not exist anymore. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad. No matter what happened till now, no longer exists. It is all finished.

As we go ahead in life, we will realize that everything is going to end. Nothing will remain. And yet, we still sit and go on thinking over it, worrying about this and that.
Shake everything off yourself, just wake up and see – there is nothing. Everything is nothing, that’s it. This very realization is enough for wisdom to dawn within you.

The nothing that remains is what everything truly is. You need to remind yourself of this again and again, so that it gets instilled in your memory.
After listening to the entire Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna says, 'I remember now'.

What does he remember? That all this is nothing! I am not this. If I was this then I would have ended. I have surpassed all this and moved on, this hasn’t even touched me.

This we must remember again and again.
See, you go to school or college and somebody curses you - hasn’t it happened to you?

In college, there is nobody who hasn’t heard curses from someone, whether friend or enemy. At that moment, we might have felt so heavy, but is that heaviness still present? It is not there, it has passed away. Just see how you have surpassed all that and moved ahead.
So, Everything is Nothing - this is called the Hridaya Sutra (aphorism of heart) as was told by Lord Buddha. This is also what Adi Shankaracharya called as the philosophy ofAdvaita. All the five elements are nothing. The five senses are nothing. I am nothing. You are nothing.

In the language of the knowledgeable, this translates to, 'All this is nothing'.

Devotees say the same thing in a different way – they say, 'I am akinchan' (I am nothing). If you just understand this, great awareness dawns within you.

So whenever something worries you, awaken yourself. Remind yourself that one day we all have to die. No matter how much you decorate and adorn this body, one day it will burn on the funeral pyre.
See every problem as a challenge. Take it as a challenge and see. Then there is no power in this world that can wipe the smile off your face.

To know this, how many books will you have to read? What all will you do, where will you go? You don’t have to do anything. This is what you are learning - the art of doing nothing! 

People have gotten so tired asking again and again, 'What do I do?' And the gurus who keep saying, 'Do this, do that, do this', have grown tired of saying it. So you have to do nothing - just know that all this is nothing.

Now this doesn’t mean you sit and keep chanting this. Then it will become a kind of a disease.
They have caught a new kind of disease overseas - they call it 'affirmations'. Think a particular though within you repeatedly.

In Switzerland, we had a workshop once. And after the workshop we went to a nearby hotel to have some tea and snacks. There, a couple was sitting and they asked me, what do I do. I said that I teach meditation.

I asked them what they do. They said that they practice and teach affirmations.

A husband wakes up at 3am, sits on the bed and says, 'I love myself, I love myself, I love myself' to himself repeatedly. Does one have to do all that to understand such a simple fact?

Our devotees and seekers, who were there at that time, said 'We don’t have to do anything like that. We do Sudarshan Kriya and we automatically feel that ‘I love myself’. We don’t have to say it again and again.'
Now you are here in Rishikesh, do you have to remind yourself that you are in Rishikesh? You know where you are. If you say this repeatedly then sometimes doubt comes. Then one may think, 'Am I really here?' (Laughter)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gurudev, India is rapidly emerging as one of the youngest nations of the world. How do we channelize all this energy of the youth towards the progress of the country? What should the youth of this country bear in mind as they move ahead in their lives?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is why we have created Volunteer for a Better India (VBI). All of you should become active members of VBI.

I want us all to bring about a wave of happiness in every corner of the country. You all should work for this. The population of our country is 120 crores. If just 10%of the poplution gets actively engaged in VBI, then there will such a huge transformation in our society, and in our country.

So everyone of you should have this as a target for yourselves.

Each one of you should bring 10,000 new volunteers into VBI. It is not difficult at all. Get people to fill in the Happiness Survey. Form groups of three and reach out to people and get the Happiness survey forms filled by everyone.

When you cross 5000 or 7000 surveys, just send me an email informing me of this. Even the ladies can get together and do this.
If we can provide India with a strong base of 10 Crore dedicated volunteers, who can dedicate at least one hour every day for the society and the country, then the entire face of this country will change.

We have such great knowledge with us, yet we are miserable and dejected. What then is the use of such great knowledge. We are sitting on top of a great treasure (of knowledge), yet we weep and cry for small petty things.
Just think over our country’s situation today. There is an abundance of oil in the middle-east countries, and in countries like Malaysia, yet we are exporting oil and petroleum to these countries. We are sitting over a great wealth of oil and natural gas in our country, yet we are behaving like beggars, asking for oil imports. This is the work of the corrupt people in the government administration.
I was just reading about something yesterday. In a span of just six months, there have been ten major sea accidents by the Indian Navy. Have you ever heard of something like this happening in any other country? Such accidents do not simply happen by chance (implying the work of conspiracy by some corrupt officials). When such accidents happens, everyone in the country takes the naval officials to task and questions them as to why such an accident took place (on grounds of alleged negligence). Despite ten such accidents having taken place, our ministers do nothing about it, except sit there and watch the scene unfold. This is very unfortunate.

Had this happened in some other country in the world, people would have been shocked and angry about it. But in our country, our officials and our people are simply sleeping over it. No one is concerned about how many lives were lost in such mishaps at sea. All they are interested in is about filling their own pockets with money.
We have a huge wealth of coal and mineral resources, yet we are importing coal from other countries. Our country is so rich in Bauxite ores (an ore from which Aluminium is made), yet we are importing that as well. We have such great wealth of iron ore, yet we export our rich ore deposits to other countries (at lower prices), and import finished steel products (at higher prices) from them. This is most unfortunate.
There is no dearth of talented scientists and researchers in our country. There are talented people everywhere in our country. So the youth of this country are very capable of bringing about a huge transformation. I would ask the youth to just come together and bring more people to VBI. We should all think of doing something big in the coming 3-4 years. Do you all agree with me? Will you all join? Just do it.

Q: Gurudev, Can an atheist attain enlightenment?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Definitely! But he won’t remain an atheist after that.
Look, an atheist can attain knowledge but he will not be able to remain an atheist forever after attaining knowledge. That is why communists run away from us, because they feel scared.

If you are a man of principles, then what is the problem in meeting someone else? When we are not convinced about our own principles, when we don’t trust ourselves, then we worry that we might lose our principles by shaking hands with someone else!
In other countries, when people greet each other, they greet with one hand, saying, ‘Salaam’, or offer a handshake using the left or right hand. But here in India we greet with both hands and say, ‘Namaste’. It becomes a greeting when both, the left and the right hands join. When the right hand is not so ‘right’ and the left hand is not so ‘left’, then it becomes a greeting (meaning the coming together of two opposites in harmony).

But in other countries, the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ don’t meet at all. They speak ill of each other at a distance.

Even here, the people aligned to the ‘right’ (here referring to the right wing politicians), and the people aligned to the ‘left’ (referring to the Leftist or Communist political parties in India) don’t even meet. Why? It is because they fear that doing so will destroy what they have established so far.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Gurudev, why was the world created?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
For you to ask this question! If it was not created, how would you even ask this question?

We are all thinking about the creation of the world. Is a mirage created? When was it created?
Do you know what a mirage is? On a hot summer day, in the dessert, you see (the illusion of) what appears to be water, but is not. That is a mirage.

If someone says, ‘When was this water created?’ You say, ‘It was never created, it only appears.’
Similarly, this world was never created, it appears.
This is a higher knowledge, it is knowledge from Yoga Vashishtha. If it goes above the head, never mind! We can discuss that sometime later. The truth is this world was never created, it only appears.

I can't tell you more about this, it is a highly-guarded secret.

Gurudev, are you God or are you a great human being?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Listen, whoever I am, first you should find out who you are.
I am far but you are very near to yourself. So first know that which is near to you, then try to know that which is far!

First contemplate upon, 'Who am I?' and then think about me. When you truly realize who you are, then you don’t need to understand anything else, and then you will automatically understand who I am also.
There must have been a similar question in Arjuna’s mind also. But before he could even ask that question to Lord Krishna, the Lord answered, saying 'In whichever way one perceives and worships Me, I reveal myself to them in that very form'.

Why did Lord Krishna say so? Lord Krishna says, 'This is because I am hollow and empty, I am nothing. When I am nothing then whoever sees Me in whichever form that is dear to them, I appear to them in that way'.

Many of our saints have said the same thing. They have said that one should be as simple and easy as water. Just like water takes the form of a vessel in which it is poured, in the same way, our consciousness should also have the same quality.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beloved Gurudev, can you speak on the future of education? It seems our curriculum is old fashioned, not useful for work and not supporting peace in the world. Will this change and how?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, you are absolutely right! It has to change, and you and me should change it. We should put all our efforts to change it.
In India, The Art of Living has developed new educational methods for our schools. We have about 70-80 paid schools and over 400 free schools in India. (With the Euro-a-Day and Dollar-a-Day donation schemes, today we have expanded to 404 free schools with about 40,000 children studying in them.) It is such a joy to see the transformation in the children.

We have adopted a new way of teaching. They do not carry a big load of books in their bags. We teach them to be creative, and to understand the topic and the subject well.

Yes, we should do something along those lines in Europe as well. We will see.

Q: Gurudev, Should social organizations be a part of politics? Will it not weaken its own strength?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There is a table with four legs. Even if one leg gets broken, then the table still remains upright by the support of the other three legs, isn't it?
In the same way, in society, if politics (or any other aspect of society) becomes corrupted and loses its effectiveness, then society has to be supported by those aspects which is morally upright.
So, if the social organizations remain silent, or feel dejected and helpless, then it is not good for the society.
See, Nirbhaya died in Delhi (referring to the case of a young girl who was abused and killed in New Delhi). Why did all the social organizations come out in support for her; seeking justice for her? They could have said that it is a criminal case, so it is the duty of police only. What do we have to do with it?
If they would have thought in this way and remained silent about what is going on, then will it be good for our society? No, not at all. need to stand up and intervene sometimes.
In the same way, if there is some wrongdoing in a social organization, then shouldn’t the government intervene? If there is some wrongdoing in the domain of religion, then the government has to intervene, and it does.
A society is a composite community, consisting of many individual entities. We cannot build walls between the different parts of the society. They support and complement each other. This is how it has been since time immemorial.
The great Rishi Vishwamitra used to stay at his ashram. But when there were misdeeds happening in the society, he went to King Dashratha for help, and Lord Rama accompanied him to help restore order and peace. It was their duty to protect Rishi Vishwamitra and set right the elements that were creating a nuisance and disturbing him.
So it is the duty of each part of society to remind the other about its duties and responsibilities. Especially, the good people should come forward and enter politics. If good people just sit back and do nothing, then the wicked elements and criminals get encouragement to create more nuisances in society.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thank you Gurudev for constantly taking care of me, advising me, showing the way and providing help. I am achieving so much. Is there anything I can do for you?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I think we can all do the Happiness Survey. We should go door-to-door and ask people, ‘Are you happy? If not, what is the reason?’
We have a Happiness Survey; two or three of you get together, go meet people in your area, knock on their door and say, ‘We want to do a small survey. We want to know whether you are happy. If not, what are the reasons for your unhappiness?’

If they are happy, then ask them, ‘How often are you happy?’ (Seventy percent of the time, eighty percent of the time, twenty percent of the time?) There are about seven-eight questions along these lines.
When we put forward this Happiness Survey in the last couple of months, people have had amazing experiences. The interviewer had an amazing experience, and those being interviewed also felt very good. When you do the survey, people feel that they are being cared for, and they feel so good about it.

Some people said, ‘For the first time, somebody came and asked me, are you happy? What is the reason for my unhappiness?’

One lady in her sixties said, ‘In so many years, not a single person asked me, why am I unhappy? Now I feel that there are more caring people in the world.’
You are all meditators; you all do yoga, breathing, meditation and you carry a positive glow, an energy with you. So when you go and talk to people, they already feel some energy being transferred to them. They already feel happy. We are spreading happiness in some way. And we also come to know how many people are not happy, and how we can bring happiness to them.

At the end, we have to share (details of our experience of) the Art of Living Happiness Program. If they want to do it, they can enroll and do the course also.
At a mundane level, this is a way to reach out and connect to people; it is a very good way for them to know you.

There may be some people who bang the door on your face, never mind. Walk away, smiling; that is your ego busting process.

See, even if someone does not like you, it does not bother you, it does not matter to you. Move away with a happy and smiling face to the next place.

If you visit ten people, few people may be that way (who bang the door on you), but the ones you interact with, they feel so grateful to you. They will be so grateful that you even asked them, that you took care of them. What do you say? How many of you like this idea?
Before we leave the course, we will make lots of forms in all the languages. You do the Happiness Survey, and send them to me. We will do the data analysis to make a graph and see how many people are happy in each region and what the reasons for unhappiness are in each age group. It is a good idea!

Gurudev, how do we judge whether somebody loves us truly.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
From whomever you receive love, just know that it from the Divine. You are getting love from the one supreme energy.
Your affection is also is toward that one energy only, and you are simply receiving its love through this person or that person. Know this and relax.
Whether that person is true or false, right or wrong, don’t fall into these traps of the mind.
If you get sunlight through the window, then you know that the light is coming from the sun. It is not the light of the window. So just understand this much and relax.

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