Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gurudev, when you see all this crowd that worships you, don’t you have the temptation to become a living God? How do you manage to keep a balance?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The way people greet each other in India is different from the way people greet each other in the West, and in the Far East. In India and the Far East we bow down, we touch the feet. This is the normal way of greeting.
When we were kids we were supposed to bow down and touch our mother’s feet every day. We were all tuned to do it. If our grandmother came home or any elderly person came, all the children were asked to prostrate in front of them. This is a cultural thing. Don’t think that everyone has to do it. In fact, many times it’s a botheration! People come and fall at your feet, and while one is bending down the other bends over him and falls. It becomes difficult to manage a crowd.
Many times when I’m walking I get into different postures. I keep one foot behind because somebody is pulling it, wanting to touch my leg. It’s a tradition in the country and a way of showing reverence, what to do!
People praise, give adulation, but it is all going to that One source. Do you see what I’m saying? If someone says this painting is so beautiful, to whom does the credit go to? To the one who painted it, isn't it?
This is what we train our teachers for. It is not just me, all our teachers, wherever they are teaching, they get so much adulation and praise, yet they are all centered, it doesn’t disturb them.
In fact I say, if you have to praise someone, praise a fool. Then it is more useful. An intelligent person does his job, whether you praise them or not. But if you praise a fool it is of more value, as he may do something! Got it?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gurudev, your Prime Minister has a reputation of being a Hindu ultra nationalist in France. What does it mean?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Newspapers say many things. One thing I know is, there is a right wing, left wing and the centre in politics. But what is important is that – once a person occupies a seat of responsibility, he has to care for everybody.
As far as I know the Prime Minister is a nice person. From being a tea seller he rose to the top most post of this country and he is for the development of the country. Let’s see and hope he does a good job; he seems to be taking things in the right direction.
As far as I know, he is not one of those right wing extremist type of person. He is very sensible and a dynamic person which he has proved by his administrative abilities for 15 years. He has shown to the world how he can take people away from poverty. So we hope he does a good job for the whole country and he contributes to the international community in a very positive way.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gurudev, there are many inequalities in this world, one of them is between women and men. Women are suffering from different types of discrimination. Why is it so and what do you suggest for the countries both in the East and West? What do we do?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Three things: women empowerment, women empowerment and women empowerment! Women should feel empowered, they should never feel like a victim.
When you feel like a victim, you lose energy, you lose enthusiasm and you lose power. The spiritual path is where you get rid of both, victim consciousness and culprit consciousness.
As a victim you remain in the small mind and you can never reach the self. As a culprit also the same thing happens, you come into doership and you can’t reach the self. So stop blaming yourself and start praising because praising is a divine quality. So stop being a victim. Don’t think that you being a lady are being discriminated against. Nobody can do anything if you stand up! You have all the power to stand up and ascertain your rights. Of course we need to bring a lot of change in the society. But you can do that without having to feel that you are a victim.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's 'Art of Living' gets ISIS threat letters

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The Malaysian chapter of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living has received threatening letters from the Islamic State terror group, a close aide of the spiritual leader claimed on Saturday. 

"Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is touring some countries in the far east and he landed in Malaysia yesterday and few days ago while he was in Cambodia, we received threat letters from ISIS, one was received by the hotel manager, one was received by the director of Art of Living and one by senior faculty and the content of the letter is very threatening saying if you go ahead with the programme there will be consequences," said Nakul, an aide of Ravi Shankar. 

"The authorities have immediately notified the local authorities. We also contacted the Indian Embassy and we also conducted an investigation to find the source of the letter. We are going ahead," he said. 

The Art of Living had a yoga programme in the morning which was attended by 10,000 people and there is a programme underway in Penang attended by 70,000 people which Sri Sri will be attending, he added.

Q: Gurudev, How to come out of this cycle of birth and death?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
By continuing to do what you are doing now. You are in the right place.
When you become content then you are liberated. If you want something (including contentment) then you cannot be contented. Have the faith that you will get what you want. And if you don’t have the faith that you will get what you want, then why are you holding onto that desire? Be willing to let go of your desires.
If you want something and have the faith that you will get it, then you will surrender it and your mind becomes calm. If you don’t have the faith but still have the desire to get something, then you will need to drop it. When will you drop it?
If you have a doubt whether you will be able to drop it or not, then know it will drop by itself. Then again you will be at peace and contented.
Observe what is happening within you.
Take a deep breath in. Now you suddenly see there is nothing to hold onto, and immediately you find contentment and become peaceful (laughter in audience).
Listen, this is important. Firstly, we don’t know what we want. If we come to know what we want, then we don’t have faith that we will get what we want. This self-confidence is not there. If there is faith in the self, in the Guru, in the Divine, then just with the faith that we will get what we want, the mind becomes calm this moment. Not after getting, but before getting, the mind becomes calm. Isn’t it true?
If even this doesn’t work then think of dropping it, letting go.
And if you feelit is not getting dropped, then pray that all these desires drop off. At the time of prayer itself the mind becomes happy.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gurudev, I asked my friend, 'Why do bad people get good things?' He said, 'They are enjoying stale food from previous lifetimes'. Are we supposed to have everything without knowing why?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Suffering comes on two counts:
1. Ignorance – we are miserable due to our ignorance
2. Old karmas - we are experiencing something to pay off some old karmas.
These are the only two reasons.
It is okay if some challenges have come. You should have that much confidence within you that you can overcome the challenge. Earlier also challenges have come in your life and you have overcome them; you have gone beyond them. Learn from that.
Look back at your own life and see how many challenges you have had and how you have sailed through them and come out of them. This will give you confidence. The other option is to realize that you have to pay some debt so you are undergoing what you are undergoing.
Further, don’t compare yourself with others. You think other people who don’t do anything in spirituality are rising up? What do you know about them? They may have a lot of money but may not have good sleep. You don’t know their suffering. People by hook or by crook make wealth, they reach to the top, and then they fall from there. Hasn’t it happened? So many people who have climbed to the top using wrong methods, haven’t they fallen?
What should you do by looking at all that? You should go with your determination (of righteousness).
You should properly feed into your brain what it is that you want. The brain is like a computer; the consciousness works like a computer. First make sure of what you want.
If you confused and you don’t know what you want, then pray, 'Agne naya supathā rāye asmāna viśvāni deva vayunāni vidvān'.
This prayer was in Ishavasya Upanishad today, which means: May the Divine lead me and give me the best. And having the faith that only the best will happen to me. Got it?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gurudev, please speak on the issue of female foeticide.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I would say that it should not be practiced and should be done away with. I have heard that it is quite prevalent here in Haryana on quite a large scale. It is said that the ratio of female foeticide is 7 out of 10.
How many doctors are here? I appeal to all the doctors here to stop and refuse from doing the Gender based testing of foetuses. Female foeticide should be banned and there should be strict laws to stop this.

Q: Gurudev, Would you pressurize the religious leaders of the world, especially the Arab and Middle East countries to rescue the abduct, especially women and children? When we requested for the American government to send food, the answer they gave us was that they had to write to the government of Iraq and other neighboring countries to rescue the abduct.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This is between government to government. They have many policies. As an NGO, we can do what we can do. I think it is not possible for us to interfere into the foreign policies of the government. We cannot make one government stand against the other; that will be perceived as not being friendly. I would suggest you write to various governments and bring to their notice the communities that need urgent help, and that we would like to receive direct help from those governments.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gurudev, please speak about the dowry laws in the country.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No one should take or give dowry in any form. I would ask all the youths here today to take a promise that they will not support dowry in any way. You should tell your parents that you will only bring a bride home to them as their daughter-in-law, and nothing else.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gurudev, are you in favor of divorce?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
No, not at all. But if your relationship comes to such a stage that it becomes difficult for both partners to continue ahead, if your lives become a living hell because of it, and if no amount of attempts can save your relationship, then I would ask both the partners to peacefully part ways and move ahead with their individual lives.
But first both partners must give their 100% to make amends and improve the relationship before taking the decision to go for a divorce.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Q: Gurudev, There is a widespread consumption of alcohol in society today. What can we do to curb this menace?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Just bring them all to this intoxicating satsang. I promise you I will introduce them to such a high intoxicant (spirituality) that they will forget all these vices. So many people have left smoking, drinking and other vices after coming to the spiritual path. So you should not shun such people. Instead, convince them to come to the satsang and then you will see that they will surely change.
Once you are intoxicated with devotion and deep love for the divine, you can never let go.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gurudev, what should I do when someone insults me in a group or in public? Is it correct to complain about that?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
See, when someone insults you, what can you do? You cannot control everyone’s mouth. In such a situation, you have only two choices:
1. You also behave in the same way and insult them. But that will not improve the situation in any way
2. You simply smile at their ignorance. Just tell them that every person has the right to their ignorance and to display it as well, and then be quiet
See, even if someone insults you, it does not stay forever. For a few moments someone says something unpleasant to you, and it reaches your ears. But it is all temporary, just like bubbles in water. These unpleasant things come and go.
Who in the world has the time to stop and brood over these petty situations, or to keep thinking about someone else? So when such things happen, do not worry and get disturbed by them.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gurudev, I feel that people around me deceive me very quickly and easily. What pleasure do they get in doing such things?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Whether they deceive you sooner or later, how does it matter? I tell you, it is better they deceive and cheat you sooner than later. Being cheated later will bring more difficulties for you.
Listen, know that you are wise. Cheating someone is a two-way thing and takes two people to make it happen, just like clapping needs both your hands. If someone cheats and takes advantage of you, then it is also because you were not fully aware.
If you are alert of what is happening around you, then how will they be able to deceive you? So you should stay alert.
If you do not get carried away by emotions then who can cheat you? This applies even for your brother, sister, your own family and personal relationships. Do not let your emotions get the better of you. Emotions have their own place in relationships. Butwhere you have to be intelligent and act wisely, there you should not get carried away by emotions. Be alert and take intelligent action. Then you will not get deceived, and you will see that even your relationships will become sweeter and more harmonious.
When people do not use their wisdom and act purely on the basis of emotions, then you will see that they quarrel over very trivial matters. We should not give anyone a chance to take advantage of us, or deceive us. How many of you here agree with me? (Many in the audience raise hands)
If you have a lot of gold and money at home, keep it away in a safe rather than outside. If you carelessly keep it lying outside and your maidservant secretly steals something, then how can you blame her for it? It is your mistake in the first place. You should be wise and not keep it outside so that they do not get the tempted.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Q: Gurudev, Nowadays, a lot of incidents are happening on women. We say we are the country with the best culture, especially when it comes to respecting women, them why?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You are correct. We are not following the tradition at all. In the name of secularism, we are not following ethics at all. We have sterilized our education of all moral and ethical values, so our younger generation is becoming so self-centered and selfish, and not caring for others. This is one reason.
The second is female feticide. In many states, for every 100 males there are only 65 females. This is going to be dangerous. You can’t live in a society where the ratio of men to women is so high. We should ban sex determination in the womb. Whether boy or girl, what difference does it make? We must honor a boy baby and a girl baby as one and the same. So people should realize this and not abort a female fetus in the womb. If people realize this, then women will be safer because the ratio is what is alarming.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Q: Gurudev, Why don’t we introduce organic food instead of polished food for all of us here since we have got the knowledge of Ayurveda?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Do you know that all the food grown here at the ashram is organic? All the vegetables and the milk is organic; ghee is organic. Sometimes when we don’t get enough organic supplies, then we have to go for the regular one.
We need to educate the farmer to go all out into organic. There is a big disconnect between the growers and consumers.
I have heard many farmers say that they grow organic food but there are no takers, and I have heard many people say that they are not getting organic food.
We have already begun making the connect here between the farmers and the consumers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Q: Gurudev, What is Yoga? How can it help bring peace?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yoga is a technique which unites the body, mind and spirit. Yoga relieves you from stress and tension. It is stress that causes weakness, anger, jealousy and all the negative emotions. When you get rid of stress using breathing techniques, meditation and some simple exercises, it helps your body and mind and creates a sense of well-being and happiness from inside. If you’re well and happy you will not be violent.When someone engages in violent activity, know that behind the violence there is anger and frustration.
We have all done yoga as kids. If you watch a child from the time it is born to the age of three, it would have done all the yoga exercises. The way a child breathes is different from the way an adult breathes. Breath is the link between the body and emotions and by attending to the breath you are able to soften the emotions and get rid of negative emotions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Q: Gurudev, In India, there is a very well known river that is contaminated with germs, and the masters there say that if you’re interested in Hinduism or Buddhism then as a part of the rituals you have to go and have a bath in that dirty river. Can you tell us what really lies behind this?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Once upon a time the river Ganga had very pure water, and today our Prime Minister has taken up the job of cleaning the whole river which is considered very sacred. In India we honor the rivers, the trees, and the animals. Honoring the whole creation is a part of nature.
Nowhere in any scripture it is said that one needs to take a dip in the water; or that it is a prerequisite for someone to do yoga and meditation. These are all rituals. As I said, rituals and practices are different. People cultivate rituals over a period of time but the main thing is to appreciate the values. Values is the knowledge.
In poems it has always been said, ‘Knowledge is like a river. If you assimilate knowledge, you will be happy, you will be liberated’, this is the real message. The river Ganga, which you mentioned to be polluted also means knowledge.
In a simile it is said, 'If you are bathed in knowledge then you are free (here meaning liberated)'. But people literally take it as only if they bathe in the river will they be free. This is incidental or accidental, but the essence is living the values.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Q: Gurudev, We know that each religion has two aspects, one aspect is the beliefs and the other is rituals. Which one is the unifying and which is the dividing factor?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I would say religion has three aspects:
1. Values
2. Symbols and
3. Rituals and practices
The values seem to be the same amongst all religions, like brotherhood, oneness of God, love and compassion, serving the poor and needy. This is the spiritual aspect of religion.
Second, is symbol. Every religion has symbols, holy places and books. Third is rituals and practices. There can be many different rituals.
What people usually do is, they leave the values and hold on to the rituals and symbols. This is where conflict arises. That is why I say, ‘Spirituality unites people, but religions can divide people'.
If you see the major religions of the world, you will see that the Abrahamic religions come from the same source. It is like three brothers from the same family. But, there has been a lot of conflict.
Other religions like Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, there has never been any conflict. The six religions of the Far East have always coexisted, and their rituals are completely different. Within Hinduism there are hundreds of sects, but there have never been any clashes. The basic rule is to respect and honor each other. It was the same with Islam. In Islam there are five different sects, or even more. There have been periods in history where they all coexisted peacefully. Even in Iraq, Shias and Sunnis coexisted.
When conflicts arise, it latches on to religion much more than any other identity and then the whole problem starts. We should focus more on the spiritual values which can unite people of all religions.
I would like to tell you a happening in Japan. Once, President Nixon went to Japan and he wanted to meet all the religious leaders. On one side of him was seated a Buddhist monk and on the other side was a Shinto priest.
President Nixon asked the Shinto priest, ‘What is the percentage of Shinto followers in Japan?’
He said, ’80%.’
He then turned to the Buddhist monk and asked him, ‘What is the percentage of Buddhist followers in Japan?’
He said, ’80%.’
The President couldn't understand how that was possible, but it is possible.
Similarly, if you come to India, the Jain and Hindus have completely different sets of beliefs and rituals, but they live together with such harmony. Similarly, the Sikhs and the Hindus participate in each other's festivals and honor each other but never has there been any conflict. They never said, ‘Only I will go to heaven.’
This is what the Middle East can learn from the Far East. Whether they are Yazidis, Christians, Muslims, Shias or Sunnis, Ahmedia or Sufi, they can all coexist. What is important is to honor the diversity.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Diversity is in the DNA of Hinduism: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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Why should the Bhagwad Gita or any other sacred book get designated as national scripture? Why does one have to learn Sanskrit? With self-proclaimed Hindu nationalists assuming the right to decide who is a Hindu, the question arises: what does it really mean to be Hindu? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder, Art of Living Foundation, tells Narayani Ganesh that any political party that seeks to represent the Hindu way needs to celebrate its diversity rather than limit it.
Why do we need to establish a certain Hindu identity?
Hinduism should be seen as a transcultural way of life. If you tie it up with a certain culture, its scope becomes very limited. This is what happened to Judaism and to some extent, to Islam. Christianity, on the other hand, has seeped into every culture — you may wear a skirt and be Christian, or wear a sari and blouse and still be Christian. Similarly you may wear a suit and tie and still be Hindu. Your dress does not matter, unlike what was promoted by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness that brought in cultural Hinduism. They insisted that people wear the dhoti-kurta and sport a shaven head with a tuft, even in cold places. They took the Bengali culture with Hinduism — there is nothing wrong with that, but it limits the purview of that philosophy. The uniqueness of Hinduism is that it transcends the cultural and generational time barrier. Fashion is a time-bound thing but if you attach religion to fashion, then there is a problem. In Chanakya’s time, the tuft (at the back of the head) was the fashion, and a particular way of wearing a dhoti was the fashion. But sporting a tuft or shaving your head does not make you a Hindu.
The way one chooses to dress or eat is all part of culture, and culture is dynamic. If we embroil Hinduism in all of this — clothing, food, language and so on — we are not doing justice to its universality, to the vastness that Hinduism stands for. If we limit its scope, then its universal nature of thought gets lost.
What does vedanta say about Hindu identity?
Even among south Indian states, the culture is so different. And the culture of a Tamil, Bengali and Punjabi Hindu are also so very dif ferent. The same Krishna Yajurveda mantra is chanted differently in Kerala, in Andhra Pradesh, in Tamil Nadu and so on. So Hinduism is full of diversity and no one can make it into a uniform something. For instance, in Karnataka, the Hindu bride wears white and the widow or a sanyasi wears red whereas in TN, the Hindu bride wears red and widows wear white! It’s totally the opposite, just across the border!
Wearing this colour or that, sporting a tuft or earrings is not part of religion. That is fashion. What do the Vedas say? “Krinvanto Vishwam Aryam” (Let us make this world a noble place to live in, let us give highest knowledge to the whole world). The upanishads say, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the whole world is one family).
So you are saying there is no uniformity in Hinduism?
It is impossible to bring uniformity in Hinduism. The shakhas and branches are all different.
Can there be one single sacred book of the Hindus?
In Hinduism, there is no one central book, and no one specific culture. Therefore, those who are trying to bring unification are doing injustice to the very structure of Hinduism. Celebrating diversity is in the very DNA of Hinduism; that is the reason why it is most needed today in the whole world. The world is diverse — but all conflicts are about trying to make the world monolithic. Celebration of diversity is the only way to counter extremism.
What should a party that calls itself a Hindu political party be doing?
It has to honour diversity; it is the only way because otherwise, we will be narrowing the scope and reach of Hinduism. Celebrate diversity, and don’t try to limit the universality of being Hindu.

Gurudev, in the last five years the ashram has become like a fortress. It was easier in the older times to get peace in the ashram than now.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Be in the present moment and listen to the knowledge. In earlier days, there may have been a few people. Today there are more people. When more people are there, there is more possibility for you to share your knowledge and wisdom and gain patience.
You should also grow. You cannot get stuck to what you were 30 years back. 30 years back you could interact with 10 people. Today, you may have to interact with 1000 people. So we should expand as time passes and not shrink into shells.
We have said, 'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam' (one world family). We have accepted the whole world as our family. Then you should rise up to that idea. Feel at home with anybody and everybody. Don’t just focus on what is comfortable for you and what is not comfortable. You should get out of your comfort zone and bring comfort to others. This is most important.
See as to how many people are comfortable with you. You can do a survey about yourself and see how many people you make happy and comfortable? If you dislike people, you will find you are not friendly.
As we expand, we become friendly with people of different natures and different parts of the world. Sometimes, we feeling comfortable with people of our own state or country or religion. Here you have to mix with everybody. We have people of different faiths all here, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs. We have people from every state of India, right from the Northeast to Kerala, and right from Jammu to Tamil Nadu. We also have people from all over the world and everyone has their own mannerisms and food habits. So you need to learn and bring comfort to others. You have had enough peace, now it's better you give peace to others.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Gurudev, getting love is painful and not getting it is even more painful, and maintaining love is also painful. So which pain should I choose?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Choice is yours blessing is mine. If you want to choose pain, you are most welcome, but I will tell you, choose the bigger pain as the small ones are of no use. Your love for the whole humanity, that’s what you should be concerned about. Love for the planets, love for the animals; animal rights (animals do have a right to exist). We have no right to take their life away. You worry about all these things.
Look into the eyes of the goats, or even the chicken, cows, dogs. Look into their eyes. This entire creation is filled with love, and how people can slaughter them to fill their little tummy. It is not even healthy. This is unfortunate.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Gurudev, is the relationship with the Guru eternal, that of many births? Are we with the same Guru over many lifetimes?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Why don’t you want to finish your journey in one life? Why are you postponing? You are asking a very tricky question to trap me. This lifetime you do your job properly, don’t postpone it thinking that 'Next lifetime also I will get a chance'. Who knows what you will be next lifetime; maybe a cow in a cowshed. So don’t postpone to the next lifetime.
I may not be available in the next lifetime. I may be in-between. You may have to take many births.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Gurudev, why are the Yezdis suffering so much? Were they the guards of Hitlers concentration camps at that time and is this their karma? Why should somebody be victimised for nothing?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
These questions have no answers because it is connected with something much bigger than our understanding. Instead of sitting and wondering why they are suffering, think of what we can do for them. You don’t need to come to the conclusion on why they are suffering, instead of that, let us see what we can do for them.
In Kurdistan they have already collected 110 tons of food grains and supplies. We are arranging to get all the material airlifted to the people who are caught in the Sinjar mountains. There are 9500 of them there. So our Art of Living machinery is working. Anyone who wants to help them can contact IAHV. Let us see how we can help them. Let us create the awareness in people about their suffering.
In the middle ages, this was the case with Parsis. They were chased out of Iran. They came in small boats and landed in Gujarat and that’s how they were given shelter by the Kings in India. The people of India were full of compassion and they allowed them to follow their own religion and keep their traditions alive. This has been an ancient tradition of India, i.e., to give protection to those whose existence was threatened. Similarly the Jews also came to India and they were given protection.
Today Yezdis are in trouble and so The Art Of Living is going to help them to preserve themselves and come out of their trauma and current situation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gurudev, what sustains love? Why do I sometimes feel love and sometimes feel no love at all?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, love is also a gift, so when it comes, feel grateful and when it is not there, feel the longing for it, that is when prayer will arise out of you; poems will arise out of it. Poems come not only when there is love, but when longing is there, poems come, prayers will happen and many miracles can also happen, so enjoy them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gurudev, many Gurus and saints have spoken about the need for a renaissance of India. It seems that with this new government the time may have come. What form should that renaissance take?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Renaissance has already begun a few years back. People have woken up and it should continue with the same enthusiasm and speed that is necessary. For that the people in power have to be very careful, conscious and support this sort of renaissance and I am sure they will do it. At least many of them will.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Gurudev, I have been a teacher for many years. I see in myself and other teachers that we don’t always practice the basic course points and it disturbs me to a point that I feel a bit of a fraud when I teach. What to do?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is good that you feel the pinch. That is the safety valve. If you are oblivious to your not following the teaching, then there is a problem. The moment you recognize that there are shortcomings in you then you are very safe. 
Don’t think that you are a fraud. You are a traveller on the path and you are guiding the people who are coming behind you. This will only bring humility in you and you will know that knowledge is precious. No doubt you may not follow it 100% but you cannot deny that your life has changed and you are following it at least 80%. So even if you are not following the course points or the knowledge a 100%, you look into the 80% of the points that you are following. There are people who have not even understood or started their journey. For them you can be a real help.
One more thing, when you teach others, you also learn, so don’t say that I am a hypocrite. As you are teaching, you are also learning and you are refreshing the knowledge. Instead of sitting and blaming yourself and others, it is better you start teaching. Otherwise you will sit and blame yourself, 'I am weak, I am unable to follow the knowledge, I am bad', and then you go into guilt and self-blame. This is the worst thing that can happen to you on the spiritual path. That is why on this path, you always have a guru or a master. You leave your weakness to your master and go with the strength that you have and move as much as you can. So don’t be hard on yourself, and at the same time, recognize that you don’t follow all the knowledge but you have the intention to follow and that is good.
So just move on. Don’t get off the path and blame yourself. If you feel that way, just come and sit in an advance course, or a blessing course and it will wash it all off, because this life is a journey and you have to keep moving till you find perfection. And slowly and steadily you will definitely get it.
Just turn back and analyse. Suppose you had not followed any of the points in life, where would you have been? It will be utterly scary, that is why know this and walk ahead. Leave your shortcomings to me.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Q: Gurudev, What is the solution for the Kashmir issue? Peace talks for the past 50 years have failed. Is war the solution? Lord Krishna also fought for truth. Has the Kashmir issue become an ego issue?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
In the recorded history of the world, the world has been peaceful for only 288 years. This is only 8% of the time! This is what the historians stay. That means conflicts have been there all through.
For the India-Pakistan issue, people to people contact is essential. That is the way to go forward. The terrorists that they trained to work against India are now working against them. They have to realize this. They have to drop these strategies and come on board and make South Asia free from poverty. They should fight against poverty, not against India. India and Pakistan should work together to eliminate poverty.
Today, if you tell the Kashmiris, 'Those of you who want to go to Pakistan can go', nobody will go. They know on that side of Kashmir people are not happy. People there are poorer than the Indian Kashmiris.
The Azad Kashmiris have not even seen beds. They don’t know what air conditioning is, or dining tables, or chairs. They are in very poor condition. When they come and see people here, they say that this is really different.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Gurudev, I am a Muslim lady and I come from very far to listen to knowledge from you. The Koran is the base of our religion but I cannot identify myself with the Islam of today. But your words go deep into my being. Why?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 
Our soul always looks for the truth and wherever it finds the truth, it resonates. When something feels right in your heart just listen to that, and go with that.
All other conditioning of the mind, of philosophy, of religion and customs, keep on one side. They have their value; I won’t say you should discard them. They all have their place, but the spirit in you longs for the truth and that resonates wherever there is truth. Accept it without any feeling or any guilt.
Sometimes you feel you are not being loyal to your religion or loyal to your teacher. This sort of conflict you should do away with because no religion wants you to suffer.
Every Master, every paigambar (prophet), every saint who has walked this planet has always wished good, they have always wished elevation of the student, of the people, of mankind. When you are finding the truth, you are finding that spiritual elevation, that spiritual enrichment, so know that you have the blessings of everyone. All the prophets, all the Gurus, all the Masters are giving you their heartfelt blessings. You should know this for sure.
Teachers do say, 'Stay on one path, don’t waver, don’t go for spiritual shopping'. I agree with them. At one point of time when your mind is just being too greedy for experience, it tries to shop. It doesn't want to stay in one place and totally be there and absorb; the mind has a tendency to shop. When you go with that tendency of shopping, of acquiring little bit from here and there, then you are again self-focused, self-centered. You are not coming to the being. So the teachers in the past said, 'When you are here, be here'. If you are in one boat you have to be in that boat only.
This is for an entrant or sadhak (practitioner) who has just gotten onto the path. But at some point of time when there is stagnation, the teacher himself or herself will guide you, the light itself will guide you to only the right place. So that is okay, it is fine. When you are here, be here 100% and you are! So it’s perfect don’t worry about it.

Gurudev, you mentioned that the trick is to cut the connection between thought and me. What makes us feel that the thought is mine?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
In Sanskrit this is called tadatma (identification).
When you are watching a movie you are so identified with the movie that when something happens to the hero or heroine, you start crying. Doesn’t it happen?
It used to happen in villages, when the hero was being attacked by the villain, the entire audience would throw slippers and stones on the screen. Many times the owners of the theatre would have to come and announce, 'This is a movie, please don’t throw slippers and stones on screen because it will get spoilt'.
This is what identification is: the mind identifies so much with the scenery.
Same way, when you are watching a movie and if you are intelligent, you know it’s just a movie. You don’t throw stones at the television because your hero is being hurt by the villain.
In the same manner, your emotions and thoughts come and go. It is your strong association with the thoughts that puts you in a cage. Identification is that cage. Knowing that all these are just thoughts and detaching from that identification is liberation.
We all do this to some extent; everybody does it. You don’t act on every thought that you have. If you consider all thoughts as your own, you will go mad. But we consider many of our thoughts as our own. We consider ourselves to be the thought. It is only when you sit and go into meditation that you start becoming a witness and realize that these are just passing thoughts. We are able to disassociate ourselves from most of our thoughts; they just become like a passing cloud.
Of course, when such a cloud comes it also stirs some emotions. Thoughts and emotions are linked. When a bad thought comes, it stirs a bad emotion. When you are a witness the emotion also stays for a minute and then it vanishes. But if you identify with it then it stays longer. It can’t stay forever but it stays for longer, it drags the whole thing a little longer.

Friday, March 6, 2015

This is my first time in India and I am sometimes shocked by the poverty and dirtiness. It is a paradox how this country has so much knowledge and is still like that. Why?

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 
Yes, India has a lot to learn from the West, and the West has to learn a lot from the East. We need to exchange whatever we are good at, because we are one global family.
Definitely you are correct, that’s why the first thing our Prime Minister took up is the 'Clean India Campaign'. Of course we in The Art Of Living have been doing this (Cleanliness campaigns) from a long time.
In the urban areas, you will find a lot of littering which you don’t find in Europe or in America. But see, the population here is much more, and the people need an orientation so that it can learn cleanliness, hygiene, punctuality, and all that from the West. So when you are here, if you want to walk around in India and teach the people, you are most welcome to do so. You have both the responsibilities - not only learning but also teaching.

Q: Gurudev, Please tell me how to keep my connection with the divine in my everyday life, and in times of distress

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This intention to keep the connection itself indicates that you keep feeling the connection again and again.
Just make it a habit. As soon as you wake up, feel the connection. Before going to bed, thank the divine for all that you have received. Even this, you do not need to repeat it verbally, you should simply take it for granted and be natural.
Divinity is the simplest form of awareness. Divinity is our most natural state. Any moment in which you feel totally at ease and at home, know that you are in divinity. That is it.
One of the biggest requirements is total contentment. When you feel totally contented, that moment you are with the divine. And that is the time when you are in the moment, in the 'now', because 'now' means 'total contentment'.
'Now' is for 'total contentment' and 'tomorrow' is for 'desires, planning and wanting'. So behere and now, in total contentment and total serenity.
How often total contentment and total serenity comes up in you, is up to you. Sometimes it just happens to you. That is why many saints in the past have said that it is a gift that they have received.


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