Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gurudev, even after death, a man in the form of a soul keeps on looking for a body. Why there is so much attachment to the body?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is because the body is the instrument of carrying out one’s Dharma (one’s duties or karma). It is said, ‘Sharira madhyam Dharma-khalu sadhanam’. It means that if one has to carry out one’s duties or one’s karma, it can only be done through the means of the physical body. Those who are Asariri – meaning without the physical body - cannot do it.

That is the reason even the Demigods (Devtas) have to take a human form to carry out their Dharma for attaining liberation.

Gurudev, you have said that in spirituality, faith comes first and then the experience, whereas for people with a scientific temper, it is the exact opposite. This feels a bit contradictory and I did not get it. Can you please explain?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 
No, I feel you got it wrong somewhere. It is the difference between the oriental and the occidental way of looking at things. In the orient, we always say that first the experience must happen, only then do you fully understand and grasp the concept. But in the occident, first you must believe and understand the concept, and then you get the experience. These are two different ways.
It is because the modus operandi is different in science and in spirituality in the occident that there are so many conflicts there. This is why when the Spanish Inquisition happened, so many scientists were killed and tortured. It was only because the modus operandi of the two differed so much.
In India, not one scientist was ever executed or prosecuted. Why so? It is because the modus operandi was the same for both religion and science. Here in India we say, 'Tattva Jnaana', which means, first understand the underlying fundamental principle. So we first understand the nature of the five elements, i.e., Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space. After that we go on to understand the mind, the intellect, the memory, the ego and then finally we go towards understanding God.
Here we always say that one should experience first. You will understand this more when you read the Upanishads. The Upanishads take you step by step from one level to another. This is why science and spirituality were never in conflict in the East.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why are we here? When all this is not reality, why are we made to come back again and again to live our lives?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
First, (we are here) to ask this question, and second, to find an answer to it!
Many live their whole life without even asking the question, ‘Why am I here?

Wake up, ask this question, and pursue to get an answer. Do not be in a hurry for the answer. The answer falls into your lap at the right time, so keep asking.

No books will answer this question, because this is the question of ‘life’. Your life itself is an answer.
Every day, if you ask, ‘Why am I here?’ then all the unnecessary things fall off, and the right things come up.

However, before asking the question (why am I here), ask, ‘What can I do for this world, before I exit? Anyway, I am here!’

This may be a better question to soothe you in those moments when you feel nothing is enjoyable, or everything is meaningless.

When you feel sad, depressed, suicidal or unhappy, at that moment you should say, ‘Let me stop thinking about myself. Let me see what I can do here. Anyway, one day I must go. Before I go, let me do something good here. Where am I needed? Who needs me? Where can I help out?’
These questions can bring some intermittent relief in between.
So do some service (seva). When you do some seva, you make others happy, that vibration of bringing comfort to others souls will bring you merit that will help you realize who you really are.

Give Miracles A Chance

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There are three components in life:
1. Effort. Without your self-effort, nothing happens. So you have to put your effort. Will everything   happen only through your effort? No.
You make an effort and sow a mango sapling today and you want the fruit of it tomorrow, it is not going to give you the fruits tomorrow. It will take its time. 
2. That is the second aspect: time. Everything has a right time.
Similarly, even for acting there is a right time. Suppose in winter you sow a mango sapling and then you say, ‘Oh, nothing has sprouted’, it is not going to sprout now, unless it is in a green house. There is a right time to act and a right time to receive the fruit of action as well. So, time is the second factor.
3. The next factor is a higher power or grace; that of all possibilities.
You should always keep room for possibilities; give miracles a chance. Logically you may think that something is impossible, but many times it becomes possible. How many of you have had this experience? A gift from the higher power is that of all possibilities.
You can club the three components as perseverance, patience and possibility. These are the three aspects. This is knowledge.
At midnight, you cannot say, 'I made all the effort, I removed the curtain but the sun is not coming in'. No, the sun will only come at the right time. And if you have all the blinders on even when the sun is there, you will not get the light. So, all the three have to match.
Like in a cell phone, the charger, sim card and the signal, all these have to be there. If the phone is charged but the sim card isn’t there or the range isn’t there, then the phone is not going to work. So, all three aspects are needed.
If you put a lot of effort at the right time, there is achievement. But sometimes it also happens that you put very little effort but still you are very successful. This is because the unseen possibilities are coming to your help. For example: someone has not put any effort, but they won a lottery.
When time and possibilities come together, you call it luck. You say, ‘I don’t know how it all happened!’. In a devotee’s life this is more; the right time and the possibility come together.
When at the right time you put a lot of effort, it will give you benefit. When you put in a lot of self effort, but there is very little support from nature, that is bad luck. When there is little effort but a lot of support from the divine, it is good luck.
Solar eclipse is over just now. Eclipse is a very good time for mantra chanting and meditation. When the Earth, Sun and Moon are in one line, at that time it affects the mind, and they say that when you chant mantras at that time, it is much more powerful. This is the ancient saying.
One or two hours before an eclipse, stop eating so that the food gets digested well and during the eclipse time you have an empty stomach, and on the empty stomach chanting and mantras are done for maximum result.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gurudev, what is the purpose of the mind? I only see bondage and sadness associated with it. Do we really need that layer of existence?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Just let it be! That is the secret to handle the mind.

If you try to get rid of the mind, it becomes a monster. If you just let the mind be, it will vanish!
When you are not aware of the tricks and the mumbo-jumbo going on in the mind, then life is misery. This is because life is based on the mind.
When you recognize that all this is in my mind (judging people and situations, holding concepts about the self and others); you recognize that you are making a mess of everything in your mind.

'This is how it should be', or, 'It should not be like this', whenever such thoughts come, it means the mind is coming into play; this is all part of the world. This is where you need to latch onto that non-changing, abstract, invisible energy or power. When you latch onto it, you are no longer caught in the grip of the mind.
When we are in the grip of the mind, we make ourselves and others miserable.

Look back at your mind, not at others, and see what drama and pain has been caused by it. When you do that, it is no longer pain, it is entertainment. It is like a multi-channel television, a movie channel that has caused so much comedy, suspense, drama, and misery in your life.
This is the reason why all the great saints and poets always addressed their own mind, ‘Oh, my dear mind, how fascinating you are, why do you get caught up in so many things! Why do you not recognize that which is so magnanimous, and so beautiful?’Rumi, Kabir, all the great saints, have sung about their own mind.

In The Bhagavad Gita also, it is said that the mind is responsible for your freedom and bondage.
The mind is a friend and an enemy. When the mind is your enemy, it ties you down to your past impressions and experiences, because it does not let you see things with a fresh new eye. This is because everything we perceive is through the mind; even knowledge is perceived through the mind. When the mind is your enemy, it makes you judgmental, brings misery, stiffness and unhappiness.

When the mind is your friend, it makes you relax, smile, brings happiness, freedom, and liberation. So, the mind can be our greatest enemy or our best friend.

What if a resolution breaks?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 
Never mind. In the field you throw so many seeds. Not all seeds sprout. Some sprout, some don’t. When you sow saplings, not every sapling grows. Some do, some don’t. In a tree, not all flowers become fruit. Some fall when they are not even ripe. That’s why you put your effort and then you give up (here meaning surrender).
Giving up without putting any effort is foolishness and after putting all your effort, not giving up is also foolishness. Put all your effort and give up. Not putting all your effort and giving up is also foolishness.
What makes you free? Putting your effort and giving up makes you free.
If you say, 'I give up', without putting effort, it doesn’t make you free. You say, 'I give up', but you have not really given up because of that tendency of wanting to do. That will hold you back from being free. The secret of freedom is, put your effort and give up.
Not putting your effort and giving up doesn’t free you. And, putting all your effort and not giving up will also not free you.
Any action should only be done with awareness. An action from an unaware state has no meaning. Then it’s not called effort.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gurudev, if our virtues and skills are not ours, they are the play of Yakshas (angels), are Yakshas a separate identity or part of us?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Is there something called my own air? Do you say this is my air? The subtler you go, 'mine' does not exist. The subtler we go, there is only a field, and you share the field and the quality of the field.

It is best you keep all this knowledge, these concepts to one side. Relax in the oneness, which automatically comes in deep meditation.

Gurudev, how to love unconditionally in this world full of conditions?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Do not try to love. You cannot force yourself to love, that is simply impossible. Just let go and be natural. Know that there are limitations in this world. People have their own limitations, their own prejudices. We have to live in this world with all types of people. That is one of the principles of The Art of Living: Accept people and situations as they are.
You should always remember that people’s ideas, emotions and opinions keeps on changing. Everything changes. Many friends become enemies and enemies become friends.
See, you are friends with somebody and suddenly for no obvious reason they become your enemy. You have not done anything wrong to anyone, yet they turn out to be unfriendly towards you. How many of you have had this experience?
Sometimes people whom you do not even know will come to you help. You have not done them any great favor, yet they help you. On the other hand, people for whom you cared a lot and helped a lot suddenly become your enemy.
Has this not happened to you? (Many in the audience raise hands).
This friendship and animosity works on some deeper principle called karma. If your time is good, your worst enemies also start behaving like your friends. And if your time is not good, then your closest friends too will misunderstand you and start behaving like your enemies. When you see all this from a bigger perspective, then great inner strength dawns within you and you are able to smile through any situation, whatever it may be.
See, 35 years ago when we conducted yoga and meditation sessions in countries abroad, they would not respect it much. They would think that the people who practiced these techniques were crazy.
Seeing people with ash smeared all over their body and standing on one leg, or doing a head stand, etc., would seem unnatural to them. There was so much prejudice back then, I tell you. Yoga was thought as not to be for the common person. Respected people in society would not do yoga.
In those days, yoga did not get public and political acceptance. No religion or spiritual tradition can survive for long if it does not gain public and political acceptance of the land. So, for many years people thought that only those who are crazy would do yoga. People used to be scared of yoga and spiritual practices. It took many years to overturn this trend of thought. We have so many teachers who have gone from place to place to spread the message of yoga and meditation. Thousands of Art of Living teachers worked throughout the world for this.
Swami Paramhamsa Yoganandaji began the trend towards meditation and spiritual practices in those days. After him, Shri Maharishi Mahesh Yogiji also contributed immensely to the growth of spirituality. He took great initiative to save the people from drug addiction which had become popular because of the Hippy Wave at that time, especially in the Western countries. He slowly encouraged more and more people to turn towards yoga and meditation to find relief and happiness. But when he began to speak about levitation and other phenomena, people again got scared and wary about these practices. Then around 1980 or so, people’s mindset changed and they began to take interest in yoga. Many schools of yoga developed during this time.
So over a period of time, this outlook slowly began to change.
The scenario today is so different, with people across 152 nations actively practicing yoga and meditation. More and more people are finding joy and happiness through these practices. Today, in all big advertisements, you will see someone sitting in a yoga posture, or sitting as if in meditation with eyes closed. People’s opinions have changed.
In earlier days, yoga and meditation was thought as not to be for normal people. That is why I had to keep the name of the foundation as The Art of Living, and that was more acceptable. We could never simply just say 'Yoga Sessions'. Yoga is one part of the entire program here at The Art of Living. The whole process is for you to come to know your own self. That was more acceptable than just yoga alone.
Prejudice is a big issue, but time takes care of it. That is why I used to tell our teachers, 'Educate and ignore'.
It is also a great development that happened, when our own Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modiji took great efforts to popularize and establish yoga. It is because of his efforts, the United Nations declared 21st of June, which is the longest day of the year as The International Yoga Day. I feel this is a great honor that has been conferred upon yoga, but I feel this alone is not enough. It is more important that it reaches every doorstep in the country and more and more people benefit from it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Q: Gurudev, Shiva is complete, then why does he get married to Parvati?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is like asking if God is complete, then why did he create this world.
A spider is complete, yet it creates a web by its own saliva, and moves within its own web. Waves rise in the ocean, then where do they go? Are they going somewhere? Why do they rise? Got it? The ocean is complete, yet it comes up with waves.
Shiva and Shakti are the same, that is why the concept of Ardhanarishwar, who is half Shiva and half Parvati. This is true in all of us; in each one, there is a mother’s DNA and a father’s DNA; a male aspect and a female aspect, and together you become complete. Physically, you may be a woman, but you have your father’s aspect inside of you.
Is it that only females are born out of females and males are born out of males? No! Inside each one of you, there is a male aspect and a female aspect.
Shiva and Shakti are one, yet they are different. Parvati means Shakti (the manifest world, i.e., air, earth, fire, water, air, mind, ego and memory), Shiva is the unmanifest. The form and the formless are married; like your mind is formless, the body is form, and they are married.
Yet, it is all just one wave function when you go to Quantum Mechanics; there is no male, no female. However, when you want to have a baby, you cannot say that it is all one Quantum Mechanics, it is different there.
When you want to eat food, Quantum Mechanics does not work there. You should know what to eat and what not to eatn correct? So, the world of differences and the world of unity co-exist, yet they are different. That is why it is said that the unmanifest Shiva tatva has no parallel, there is no two; it is complete.
As Shiva, as a male energy, (it is) consciousness; then there is female energy, i.e., the manifest universe or the body. When you talk about body and mind, then there are two things, the manifest and the unmanifest. But when you talk about atoms or wave function in Quantum Mechanics, it is all just one vibration.
When you watch television, you see an episode, but if you see it from another angle, you perceive electronic waves. On the other side, you are seeing an episode, and getting some information; they are not opposite. In fact, they are interwoven in nature.
This is a little bit scientific; if it does not go in, just relax. At some time, you may get it. If you are a Physics student or interested in Physics, then you will catch it easily.
That is why in ancient India, one had to first understand the five elements. They would say that you do not worry about atman (soul), self or God; save that for a later time. First, learn about the five elements and their special permutations.
Several years ago, a nuclear scientist had come to the Bangalore ashram. In a satsang, I spoke about the five elements. He said that nobody knew about the fifth element; scientists discovered the fifth element recently. The Greeks knew of only four elements.
I told him that he did not know of the Indian philosophy. Since ancient times, they have spoken of five elements in India. Then I told him about the three types of space; he was startled to know that. I asked him to read Yoga Vasishta; it is published by New York University Press. This knowledge has been there.
So, first they would say that one should understand the five elements and then go to the next three, i.e., mind, intellect and ego. Then, you will come to the Self, to God; before that, they would say do not even think about it!

Gurudev, how do we handle people who emotionally abuse you?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If it is physical abuse, then you should just stay away from them. But if it is emotional abuse that you are going through, then it is totally your responsibility. No one can emotionally manipulate you if you do not let them manipulate you. It is as simple as that.
If you do not want to be unhappy, no one else can make you unhappy. Just decide for yourself that no matter what happens, I am going to keep my mood and spirit high and I am going to keep smiling. Come what may, I am not going to get bogged down or bow down before anyone else’s tactics. That’s it, finished!
Just one sankalpa is enough to get out of it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Q: Gurudev, Why do I attract people who hurt me?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is not people who hurt you. It is your own foolishness, your own mind, your own vulnerability and your own emotions that entangle you, and make you feel hurt.
Do you think people have no other business, that they want to come and hurt you? Do they get a lottery by hurting you?
What can hurt you? Somebody’s words, somebody’s selfishness, somebody not caring for you. You love somebody and you think they don’t care for you, or you have helped somebody a lot and they do not talk to you, and that hurts.

My dear, wake up and see, is there an intention in them to hurt you? You need to see things from the other side as well. Place yourself in their position.
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Many times it happens that you never intended to hurt someone, yet they felt hurt by your action. What do you tell these people who feel that you have hurt them?

You say, ‘I did not mean it, something happened through me. I did not mean to hurt you, but an incident or event happened that gave you an idea that I hurt you’.

Now if you really intended to hurt somebody, then it means you have a deep hurt inside you. Even then, you are worthy of being excused, and you have to excuse the other person as well.
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If someone has hurt you intentionally, you should know that they are sick. What should be your attitude towards someone who is sick? You should be compassionate towards them.
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If someone has not intended to hurt you, it is an unintentional act, then it is your own mistake. You can only blame your own perception, and not them.

They are not culprits, it is you who has to ask them for forgiveness, ‘Please forgive me because I mistook you. I thought you intentionally hurt me.’ Then the friendship grows.
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If someone has scolded you or used harsh words that have hurt you, and they have done it with a very good intention, then you can only thank them.

This is because you have only grown stronger by their act. (No parent has raised their children without giving them a piece of their mind, isn’t it? Yet, do you feel, Oh, they have hurt me? They may have used hurtful words, but it has been for our own good.)
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If a friend has insulted you, knowingly, you can only thank them.

This is because they have had the courage to give you their piece of mind, what you needed, otherwise why would they do it? Why would anyone want to hurt you at their own cost? Nobody wants to risk their friendship.

What should your attitude be? ‘Thank you! You did something good to me, it has made me strong.’
It is all in your hands, how you view things; what type of intention you put out there, that will come back to you. If you think that everyone is hurting me, then your own intentions will create similar situations again and again.

When you wake up and see, 'There is none other than the One, and the One comes to me in many forms. It is all for my growth, for my well-being, for my happiness'.

This is because the Universe is so loving, and compassionate towards you. If we can keep this wisdom in our heart, nobody can hurt you.
In India, there is a proverb, ‘If God is happy with you, He gives you a lot, and if He is very happy with you, then He gives you a slap also.’

This is because every time God gives you a slap, He turns you away from the material world towards Himself; He wants to draw you to Himself. Drop everything and look at Him. That is why He gives you the slap because He is too compassionate and too happy with you.
Everything is an opportunity in life. If you are happy and comfortable, it is an opportunity for you to recognize the truth and share it. If misery comes your way, make use of that as an opportunity to turn inwards, and become very strong from within, and recognize the truth, the reality of the Universe, i.e., everything is changing, every relation is fleeting.

All this leads to that one reality, that everything is nothing.
Buddha said, ‘Everything is nothing’, and Adi Shankaracharya said, ‘Everything is one thing’. In one thing, there is love, joy, and in nothing, there is peace.

So the first step is, everything is nothing, then there is peace, and to top it, everything is one thing, that brings love, joy and celebration; that is Vedanta.

Gurudev, how can married people be more dispassionate?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Whenever you have a fight with your spouse, at that time become dispassionate. When what you don't like happens, at that time, become dispassionate.

Dispassion is a part of life, without dispassion life cannot move ahead. Without dispassion there can be no happiness in life, or no contentment in life.

One who is not dispassionate will keep pulling things from the past and re-projecting them into the future. But a dispassionate one will not do this because he always lives in the present moment.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gurudev, how can married people be more dispassionate?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Whenever you have a fight with your spouse, at that time become dispassionate. When what you don't like happens, at that time, become dispassionate.

Dispassion is a part of life, without dispassion life cannot move ahead. Without dispassion there can be no happiness in life, or no contentment in life.

One who is not dispassionate will keep pulling things from the past and re-projecting them into the future. But a dispassionate one will not do this because he always lives in the present moment.

Gurudev, I am a part-time tarot reader and a few people have suggested me to quit. They say that tarot card is a tool that connects us to the lower level spirits. I want to ask you if I should continue or quit.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If you ask me, you should quit.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Gurudev, yesterday you said that everything is Shiv Tattva (fundamental element or principle). So what is your message for the devotees of Krishna? Also, I don’t pray to Shiva but only to Krishna. Is it okay?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva are the same. In Chapter 10 of the Bhagavad Gita, on Vibhuti Yoga, Lord Krishna himself says, 'Rudranam shankaras-chasmi vitteho yaksa-rakshasam. Vasunam pavakas chasmi meruh shikharinam aham' (10.23)

Lord Krishna says, ‘Among the Rudras I am Lord Shiva’.
In the next verse He says, 'Purodhasam cha mukhyam mam viddhi partha brhaspatim. Senaninam aham skandah sarasam asmi sagarah'. (10.24)

Lord Krishna says, ‘Among the generals of war, I am Lord Kartikeya’.
So Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva are the same. There is no difference.

Gurudev, what is the secret to happiness?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The secret to happiness is in being without desires, and in focusing on how you can serve others. The more you serve, the more happiness you will get.
Having this feeling, 'I don't want anything for myself, I am contented', bring happiness. And the third thing that brings happiness is wisdom. Without wisdom there is no happiness in life.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Gurudev, Shiva is called Bhoothnath (lord of the ghosts) and he is surrounded by ghosts and spirits. Do ghosts really exist?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If you ask me whether Shiva exists, I can answer, yes! But I don’t know about the ghosts around him (laughter).

Yes ghosts do exist but they are not different from him. They are in him.
The 5 elements are known as the Panchabhutas. So Air, Water, Fire, Earth and Space are collectively called the five bhootatmas. Some souls also become ghosts and that is because even after leaving the body, they are not able to drop their vasanas (impressions due to cravings and aversions of the mind). That is because even after the soul leaves the body, the realization does not dawn that it is the eternal light, or consciousness.

It is like, the food is in front of them and they are thinking of eating but they can’t actually eat it.
The word ‘Bhootkaal’ means the past. This is because it has already passed, but still one is holding on to the impressions of it and unable to drop it. Ghosts are also souls but they have lost their power. They are powerless as they have not realized that they are souls.
When the soul attains self-knowledge, then it becomes powerful. When they realize this, they no longer remain as ghosts (they are called earth bound souls).

Q: Gurudev, In Shiva Purana it is said that anyone who worships Lord Shiva is freed from all sins. Does this mean that corruption begins at the top?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No! Do you know what corruption is? Corruption is doing that which you don’t wish to be done to you or to your kith and kin. You cannot link pooja (here meaning worshipping Lord Shiva) and corruption.
Pooja is a feeling that comes to you out of fullness. Like when a guest comes to your house, you come to the door and receive them. If someone very dear to you is coming to see you, don’t you rush to the train station or the airport to receive them? Does it come out of a feeling of compulsion? You can tell them to call a taxi, but instead you take your vehicle to go and receive them. Why do you do that? What is that feeling? It cannot be called corruption. So pooja means that which comes out of fullness.
In Puranas, many things are written. I’m not an advocate of all the Puranas. Many of them are a means of expression. In fact, the word Purana means a new way of expressing.
The Hindi Purana and Sanskrit Purana have totally opposite meanings. In Hindi, Puranameans old, and in Sanskrit Purana means very new or modern; it means a different way of expression. Don’t call that as a corruption. God is not so stupid that He waits for you to break a coconut to give you a boon!
All the poojas you do are to express your fullness, not to please God. I think this is a very wrong concept in the world. We think we do things to please God; this is wrong understanding. People fast for many days so that they can please God. You fast to purify your body; you don’t have to fast to please God. This is a wrong understanding.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gurudev, Vedanta says let go of everything, but our scriptures advise to take everything. Which is the better option?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
To let go, you need to be holding on to something in the first place. So both are right. If one says get into the bus and the other says exit the bus, unless you get into the bus, you cannot exit. So you need to do both.

Gurudev, is it practically possible to be ever smiling and happy in life you? What is your trade secret? I promise I’ll never compete with you.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I want competition! I want everybody to compete with me! I don’t want that promise from you at all. In fact, you should tell me that you will always compete with me. There is an ancient saying, 'Shishyat icchet parajayam’, a teacher always wishes to be defeated by his student. That is the pride of a teacher.
What is the secret to keep smiling?
1. Broaden your vision and know that life is much bigger than the small events that take place in life. What robs you of your smile is unpleasant events; events which do not bring you comfort or which appear to give you misery. But when you realize that you are much bigger than pleasure and pain, and you are much bigger than the events in your life, both pleasant or unpleasant, then the smile on your face will not vanish.
2. When you know that there is a power that will guide you and take care of you, then also your smile cannot vanish.
3. When you know that you are here to give and contribute to people who need you more than you need anything else, that also gives you the strength to move through those moments when you cannot smile.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gurudev, yesterday we were told that Shiva’s seat is Nirvana (liberation), and His presence is bliss and he spreads joy all around him. Can you please elaborate on this?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Why are you troubling me? I don’t trouble you to understand so why do you trouble me to make you understand it?

All these are aphorisms given to you and you are given the intellect to ponder upon and understand the meaning of these.

Gurus need not give long sermons. They will only give you the essence. You must dwell upon it and reflect on it and it will open up within you.

Gurudev, a Guru should not stay away from a King or a King should not stay away from the Guru, which option is the right one?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
If you see form the eyes of a Guru everybody is part of him; it is all just roles that one plays. First, everyone should know that we are all part of one divine light, one human race. We cannot afford to be stuck in a role.
Each role is like a coat, we should keep changing our coats and we have to play all the roles perfectly. So if someone comes to a teacher, they have to come only as a student. For a Guru, whether rich or poor, stupid or intelligent; everyone is the same.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Gurudev, when does an action leave an impression on the consciousness?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
When an action is too pleasurable or too painful, it leaves a mark.

Q: Gurudev, I have a habit of living in a fantasy world and I realized that it is a defense mechanism. In that world I don’t have any defects. Even when I meditate this happens, how to overcome it?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The moment you realize it is a fantasy, you have already come out of it! If you were still in it you would think that that is the reality. The moment you labeled it as ‘My fantasy world’, you have already come to the shore. You are no longer drowning in it. So, don’t worry about it.

It’s good to have dreams. Think big and have dreams, but at the same time don’t lose the touch of reality. Dance cannot happen when both feet are on to the ground, one has to be firmly on the ground and the other has to be up in the air.

In life also, you should be practical and not lose ground reality. At the same time you should dream something different, something bigger, something higher and sometimes the impossible. If you are dreaming something that is totally impossible, then you are not true to yourself.

When you think that something is totally impossible and at the same time it is totally possible, and somewhere in between you think, ‘I can do it,’ then that is the dream that you should hold on to.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dear Gurudev, ancient India has been witness to many age old ancient traditions which are now extinct. One such tradition is the Devdasi tradition. This tradition has given the world the traditional Indian dance forms, like Bharatanatyam, Odissi, etc. The practitioner of Indian classical dance forms would know that these forms are yoga (here implying the union) of body, mind and soul. There seems to be a connection between art forms and spirituality in India. Can you please talk a bit about that?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes of course. Art, dance, music and spirituality are connected. But in the medieval ages, during the Mughal rule, this was not considered very good by the kings who ruled at that time. Especially in North India, the dancers and practitioners of these art forms were looked down upon. This happened only in the Middle ages. Before that, musicians and dancers were honored.
But when they were looked down upon, the women who were dancing and dedicated their life to dance and music were sort of kept aloof (from the mainstream society). People would not marry them and it was not considered a good thing in the family to have people of that caliber. So it became a class of its own, and then it was calledDevdasi. That was unfortunate. But later on this stigma was removed.
You know, one of the very famous singers of India also known as the nightingale of India, Mrs. M. S. Subbalakshmi, when she started singing, almost the entire society made her an outcast. And one man married her and brought back the whole system of music and gave it the dignity that it very much deserved. Mr. Kalki Sadasivam is a very great thinker and a journalist. Before M. S. Subbalakshmi, the music and dance forms did not enjoy that high respect that was due to it.
Of course male singers were appreciated but female singers were not. If anyone took up acting in movies, then that was it. Their reputation was finished then and there. There was a huge stigma attached to acting in movies also but fortunately we have crossed those dark ages when people had so much prejudice.

Q: Gurudev, What is the criteria to consider anyone as an avatar (reincarnation)? Sri Krishna is not considered an avatar in many religions other than Hinduism.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
First you should understand what avatar means. Avatar means descending of the divinity, and wherever you find knowledge, divinity has descended there. It is seeing the formless in a form.
In Srimad Bhagavatam it is said, the divine has descended in the swans, in the fire, in the trees, in all animals. The entire creation is nothing but the manifestation of divinity, and wherever you get this message (referring to knowledge) from, you call that as an avatar.

Sage Dattatreya has noted 24 different forms of life. He received knowledge from a swan and said that the swan was a form of Vishnu.

You should know that God is present in every particle of the universe. The cheapest commodity available is the divinity! It is present in the Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. Everything is made up of one vibration and it can be called by any name, Brahman, divinity, God. So, when divinity shines through one who gives knowledge and can kindle love, then one considers that as an avatar.

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