Monday, October 27, 2014

Dear Gurudev, what is the main mantra or key to happiness in life?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The key to happiness in life is to not stay stuck in 'I…Me…Mine' (meaning one’s own personal desires or material gains). Dedicate your life to some larger goal, or to the service of others around you. Then you will find that only happiness flows through your life.
The second thing you need to remember at all times is this, 'There is someone (the Divine) who loves me very dearly, and is taking care of me at all times. He cannot be without me and He is all capable of removing any lack that I have'.
Knowing this too brings such joy in one’s life.
See, when it comes to doing things in life, you cannot possibly go on doing something or the other all your life. Also, you cannot do something which is beyond your capabilities. So all your actions are limited by your capabilities and by time. 
For example, a new-born child is not able to do many things by himself until he becomes 5-10 years of age. Until then he is dependent on others for many of his needs. In the same way, when we grow old and become 70-80 years of age, we find that there is very little that we can do on our own. We again become dependent on others around us.
This intermediate time in our lives is when we are capable of doing something. And in that time period too, we will still be able to do only as much as our capabilities allow us to do.
The same person cannot become a doctor and an engineer and a bureaucrat all together at once. He can only become of these three. So everyone has different capabilities, and the limitations that time places on each person are different (meaning depending on the age of a person).
Everyone has different strengths. There is a limit to our capability also. You will not be able to do something today, as well as you could do it 10 years ago when you were younger, isn’t it so?

What you are doing now, is something you will not be able to do so well, after 20 years from now. So we are dependent on both time and our capabilities.
But when we remember this – that there is a Supreme power which belongs to us so totally, which is capable of fulfilling all our needs and wishes, and which is with us at all times – then this strong faith alone can keep us happy at all times. 
It does not matter what you call this Supreme power, whether you call it the Guru Shakti, or the Paramatma (supreme soul or Consciousness), or God. When you have this faith in you, then you can be happy at all times; regardless of your capabilities. Then you will not feel weak and insecure in your old age also because you know that there is someone who is all-powerful who is taking care of you and protecting you at all times.
So just having this faith alone can make us so happy.
As age progresses, our strengths and capabilities diminish. This is natural.

You see many people, as they grow old they become so dejected and insecure. Their face reflects only misery and sorrow. The older they get the more miserable they become. But a devotee is not like this at all. For a devotee, the older he gets, the more joyful and happy he becomes. He smiles more and more, and is happy at all times. 

A devotee thinks, 'Oh, I have seen it all. I have known and understood it all. I am happy and content from within. And God is there with me at all times to fulfil all of my needs'.
So with this deep feeling of faith, a devotee will remain happy at all times. This is something we all must remember.
Once, I had gone to South Africa and the people from an Old Age Home there came to visit me. Huge crowds of people gathered there to meet me. I felt so disappointed looking at their faces. I just kept wondering what had happened to them. They looked so miserable.

Their children had thrown them out of their own homes and put them in an Old Age home. They became so depressed thinking about their children that it showed on their faces. It looked as if they hadn’t smiled in ages.

I met our Art of Living teachers there and told them, 'Make these people attend The Happiness Program. Teach them to do sadhana and bring them on the path of knowledge'.

After a certain age, one finds it very difficult to learn something new. Why is this? It is because as we grow old, our sight and hearing start to diminish gradually.

Even if we are able to see or hear things, the mind is not able to grasp and understand what we have seen or heard. Then even if we listen to some knowledge, it remains at the external level only, it does not sink deep within. Such is the state of a person in old age.
So I told the other people, 'Just see what happens in old age. So keep your life dedicated to some greater goal and be in knowledge. Do not get caught up in attachment and desires, thinking only about your children, or your home, etc.'
One can hardly imagine what difficulties those people must have gone through in their lives. How they must have earned money to raise and educate their children, and after all that, the same children brought them to an old age home and paid some money for their parents to be looked after. Once in a year they visit their parents, or write a letter to them if they cannot come to meet them; like during Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, etc. The fate of those poor old parents is really very unfortunate.
But when we have this unshakable faith that there is a Supreme Power with me at all times which loves me dearly and belongs to me, and will never leave me; then the strength we get from such a faith makes us glow with happiness, and our face lights up with a smile that never fades. This is why Spirituality is very essential in life. It is spirituality that brings happiness, enthusiasm, intuition, self-realization and the fulfillment of all that one wishes.

Q: Gurudev, How do I always be happy and not get entangled by the boundaries set by body mind and thought?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If you drop this always, you will be happy. Never mind if you are unhappy for a little while, so what? If you think I should never be unhappy, then that becomes a cause of unhappiness.

Q: Gurudev, Why do you think attaining spirituality is necessary?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is because you want to be happy unconditionally; you want peace which does not get disturbed by small things. And this is quite natural.
Wanting spirituality is as natural as wanting deep rest, as wanting to be loved, as wanting comfort and happiness.
The definition of spirituality in Sanskrit is attaining greatest happiness, attaining greatest freedom (Nirvana) 
. It is natural. Like water flows down, and fire goes up, human beings want enlightenment.

Gurudev, sometimes there seems to be conflict between love for my own country and the idea of a One World Family. Can the smaller be dropped for a bigger cause?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I do not see any conflict between the two. One can have love for one's own country, and at the same time have love for humanity.
You can do both.
It is just like how a family person serves his family, but at the time also comes out and serves the society.
It is not that if you are into social service, you must neglect your family. That is not right. You have to do both, you have to attend to the family and also do your social service.
Now, if a family member is upset for no reason, then what can you do. But from you side, you should make sure that you do not do anything to upset anyone.
In the same way, you can serve the country, and also be part of a One World Family.
Moreover, hating somebody is not patriotism. Patriotism does not mean that you are against the others. You not against anybody, but at the same time you protect your country, and work towards its development. This is Dharma.
In Mahabharata also, Lord Krishna never advised the Pandavas to hate the enemy. He never spoke about hate.
Lord Krishna said, 'Yudhyasva vigata-jvarah'. Fight without feverishness.
If you fight with feverishness in your mind then you will be disturbed. Fight with a calm mind.
That is why he said, 'Yogastha kuru karmani'. (Meaning: Be steady in yoga and do whatever you must do. Give up attachment, be indifferent to failure and success. This stability is Yoga).
India has fostered such high ideals and have set an example for the rest of the world.


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