Talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Acting Without Actions !

Behind every action, there is always a motivation to get a specific result. As we do every action with an eye on the end result, a specific goal, the expectation of the result affects the process of our action. Apply another way, the means of achieving the end often becomes bigger than the end itself. When we do some actions as an expression of joy and are not bothered about the result, we don’t get lost in the means. When we do some actions expecting joy out of them, it makes the action inferior. For example, when you want to spread happiness, but if you are keen on finding out whether the other person has become happy or not, you get entangled in their vicious circle.  And you lose your happiness in the process.
The concern about the outcome of your action is what pulls you down and dampens your enthusiasm. Suppose, you want to take up a project, but you start it by worrying whether it will happen or not. Then your whole enthusiasm for the project gets dampened. When you are aware of your potential, just jump into the action you want to do, without bothering about the result.

When you are in doubt, any activity you do will bring more doubts. When you have a choice, the grass on the other side will look greener and this will prevent you from enjoying what you have in your hand. It will not allow you to focus on what is right now. So when you are bothered by a choice, relax. The choice is never between good and bad; it’s always between bad and worse or good and better. There is no choice between a plate of rice and a plate of sand. The choice is between whether you should have rice or roti (Indian bread) . Never mind, today you have rice and tomorrow roti. Choices bring conflict and there is freedom in ‘choicelessness.’ 
How can you be centered when there is conflict? In Chinese, there is a saying that when you are in doubt, take a pillow and go to bed. In the Bhakti Sutras, Narada says, “ Karmanyapi Sanyasyati .” Take a break, not just from activity, but also from the fruit of the activity. You can take a break from the fruit of the action when you let go of the result and become totally centered in the action itself. It will bring deep rest from doubts and conflicts in the mind. One who is not concerned about the outcome, is centered in the action itself and reposes in the Self, goes beyond the dualities, beyond conflicts. 
This doesn’t mean that you should stop acting. One who is wise, has attained knowledge, divine love and beyond all actions, continues to engage in action. You can transcend only what you have gone through. You can let go only what you have. So to let go of the fruit of the action, you need to have the fruit and to have the fruit, you need to act! This is so beautiful. If you have never acted, then how can you drop neither the action nor the fruit of action. So be active. 
Keep doing your work, and drop the fruit of action.  All the fruit of action is there as the motivation for you to start acting. Shri Krishna used the fruit of the action to motivate Arjuna to fight. He told Arjuna that if you die in the battle, you will attain heaven and if you win, you will rule the world.

When you are bogged down with laziness, you need motivation to do something and the expected fruit of action acts as the motivating factor. But once you start acting, let go of the expected result. Just focus on the work at hand. This is the way of the wise!
From Talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Varying Hues Of Human Perception

Human race is diverse, so too its cultures and belief systems. Though religion is born in a particular race and nation, today it has cut across boundaries of race and nationality. Although religion has maintained its own identity, it could not remain immune to the cultural influence of host countries. It is interesting to note that what is considered blasphemy in one religion is considered a matter of pride in another. For example, in Hinduism, playing the role of prophets and saints is considered a privilege. Every year Ram Lila and Krishna Lila are played across India and innumerable people dress themselves up to play the parts of Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Hanuman and others. In the Christian tradition as well, Nativity tableaus are performed and watched as a respectful tribute to Jesus. Many actors abstain from personal bad habits for the period of these roles. People even carry big crosses and retrace the steps of Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem to relive the crucifixion themselves. The basic concept is that when you imitate somebody, you imbibe their qualities. 

By contrast, in Islam, imitating or playing such a role is considered blasphemy and an insult to the Prophet. In fact, music, sculpture, dance and painting were banned in puritanical Islam. 

“The Prophet said that Allah commanded him to destroy all the musical instruments, idols, crosses and all the trappings of ignorance.” Hadith Qudsi 19:5

“Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings….” (Musnad Ahmad & Abu Dawud Tayalisi)

Man cannot be without these expressions of art. Slowly, the influence of Hinduism gave birth to Sufism. Although it was banned in strictly orthodox Islam, music slowly found it way back into society, though the puritans object to this even today.

Interestingly, a parallel of this can be found in the Bhagwad Gita as well.

buddhya visuddhaya yukto 
dhrtyatmanam niyamya ca 
sabdadin visayams tyaktva
raga-dvesau vyudasya ca  [Chapter 18, verse 51]

In the above verse and the few following it, Lord Krishna says that a seeker of Divinity should transcend all sensory objects like sound and sight. However, this is a practice for yogis for a period of time and not a lifestyle as such. While Hinduism, on the one hand, encourages music by calling it Naada Brahmn, on the other hand, it says that one has to transcend sound to reach Para Brahmn, the Ultimate Reality. These opposite values in Hinduism gave it a broad spectrum and they bring in a lot of tolerance.

While criticising, mimicking or accusing a politician is legal in some countries, in some others, it is an offence. The west takes pride in freedom of speech and allows people to express extreme opinions. However, in other places, such expressions can be an emotional assault on the sentiments of people. The outrage and violence that we have seen due to films like Innocence of Muslims says it all. What is appalling is that in the protests against the film, a large number of innocent muslims were killed.

In the end, it is we who attach meaning to an expression. Somewhere those who are very sensitive seem to lack sensibility and somewhere else people who are very sensible seem to lack sensitivity. What is needed is the perfect balance between sensitivity and sensibility in today’s globalised society.
From Talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Finding Life's Direction - Talk By Sri Sri

A river needs two bunks to flow. The difference between flood and a flowing river is that water flows regulated in a direction in a river. During floods the water is muddled and has no direction. Similarly, the energy in our life needs some direction to flow. If you don’t give direction, it is all confusion.
Today most people are in confusion because there is no direction in life. When you are happy, there is so much of life energy in you; but when this life energy doesn’t know where to go, how to go, it gets stuck. When it stagnates, it rots! Just like the water has to keep flowing, in the same way, life has to keep moving.
For life energy to move in a direction, commitment is essential. Life runs with commitment. If you observe  the small or big things in life, it moves with certain commitment. A student takes admission in a school or college with a commitment. You go to a doctor with a commitment saying that you are going to take the medication or listen to whatever the doctor says, The banks work on commitment. Government works on commitment. Needless to say, a family runs on commitment: mother is committed to the child, child is committed to the parents, husband is committed to wife, and wife is committed to husband. Whether it is in love or business or friendship or at work or any area of life you take, there is commitment.
What would really irritate you is non-commitment. If you just observe, you expect some commitment from someone and when they don’t do it, you get upset. Or when someone doesn’t keep up his or her commitment, you get upset. Commitment is essential in life. You cannot stand someone who does not commit, but see how much commitment have you taken in your life?

In life, what you always want is more joy, more power and more energy. You want more, anything you are given, you want more - more money, more fame, more beauty, more joy, more pleasure. This “wanting something more” envelopes your mind and then you do not look at your capabilities. More will be given to you only if you utilize properly what you already have! This is a law in nature. Why should the nature give you more when you are stuck with your little mind?
This tendency of wanting more is there in you; you only have to give a twist to it. Instead of “what more I can have”, just turn it around and start asking yourself “what more I can do?” Then you will see that there is joy. Nature of joy is to give because you are the source of joy!
Usually we think we should have resource and then we will commit. The greater the commitment you take, the greater the resources will come to you automatically. You don’t have to sit and worry how you will get resources. When you have the intention to do something, resources simply flow when it is needed and how much it is needed.
In doing what you can do, there is no growth. Stretching a little beyond your capacity will increase your capacity. In whatever capacity you do something for the society, for the environment, for the creation, that much you progress further both materially and spiritually, value wise. The heart opens up with a feeling that you are part of everyone.
The technique to get depressed is to sit and think only about yourself! If you just sit and think, “what about me, what will happen to me?” you will surely get depressed. The way to expand from individual to universal consciousness is to share other’s sorrow and joy. As you grow, your consciousness should also grow. When you expand in knowledge with time, then depression is not possible. Your innermost source is joy.
The way to overcome personal misery is to share universal misery! The way to expand personal joy is to share universal joy. Instead of thinking “what about me?” “What can I gain from this world?” think “what can I do for the world?” When everyone comes from the point of contributing to society, you have a Divine Society. We have to educate and culture our individual consciousness in order to expand in time with the Knowledge from “what about me?” to “what can I contribute?”
A commitment can only be felt when it oversteps convenience. That which is convenient, you do
not call it commitment. If you just go on your convenience, your commitment falls apart causing more inconvenience! If you keep dropping your commitment because it is inconvenient, can you be comfortable? Often, what is convenient does not bring comfort, but gives an illusion of comfort.
Whatever you are committed to brings you strength. If you are committed to your family then your family supports you, if you are committed to your society, you enjoy the support of society. If you are committed to God, God gives you strength. If you are committed to Truth, Truth brings you strength.
Often one is not aware of this idea and that is why one is hesitant to commit to a greater cause. Also there is a fear that commitment would weaken one or take away one’s freedom. To the wise, their commitment is their comfort. Whenever their commitment is shaken, their comfort is also shaken. To the lazy, commitment is torture though it is the best remedy! Your commitment to a cause is bound to bring you comfort in the long run.

Are there any commitments that can be given up? Yes, commitments made with shortsightedness can be given up because when you are committed without a vision, you feel stifled when your vision expands. When your commitment brings misery to many in the long run, it can be given up. Just like you run out of fuel in the car and you have to refill it again and again, in the same way your dedication and commitment runs out in the course of time and it needs constant renewal! Commitment in life grows toward a higher cause. The higher the commitment, the greater is the good for all.

From Talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Talk by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Being Famous

If you want to become one of those people who are rich and famous then go for it, it’s not so difficult. Whether you are a hero, heroine, you will find once you are in the field which you are finding very great - it is just ok. If your calling is very strong then go for it, it is not difficult.
You know, our body is constantly emitting energy, vibrations. You are emitting energy all the time. And when you know your vibrations is what makes things happen in the world, you will know that you are in control. So when you are thinking that things are going to be negative then that is what seed you are putting in the universe, and that is going to happen. So with your positive thinking, positive ideas, positive sankalpa… It is said, that let positive vibrations come out of you.
Negative thoughts arise in you, yet you tell, everything is positive. And how does that happen? Not by just thinking, but by relaxing. Cutting a thought with another thought is only superficial but cutting a thought by silence, by letting go, bydevotion, by faith, by surrendering to God, it is deeper.
Maharishi Patanjali says that poise of mind happens when you offer all that you can’t handle yourself to God, to the universal spirit.
The universal spirit is all around you, all the time. It doesn’t have a form, a name but it is around you all the time and you surrender your desires to that universal spirit. Be sure and know that your problem is going to be solved. That is siddhi,perfection. You notice in your own life, be centered, relax and let go and you will see things are happening effortlessly, it has to happen that way and if you don’t find that way, then there is some screw in the mind that is loose, that needs to be fixed. People ask for blessings and I give blessings in abundance, blank cheques of blessings but you should know how to fill it, encash it and the way to encash it is, ‘it is going to be done’, ‘my needs will be taken care of’, ‘best will be done’ without a question. Sometimes we don’t know what we desire, or we desire for something that we don’t deserve, or we desire for something much less than what we deserve. Ask and it will be given. When we deserve for more and desire for less, ask skillfully. So what is the way? Ask skillfully, and how: ‘I want this or anything better than this’.And have that positive frame of mind because it’s all neurons. One of the scientists says that our brain has different types of neurons, and there are certain neurons which create barriers. When a person in front of you touches someone else, the brain says, ‘You are being touched’ but there are certain neurons in hand which sends a signal to the brain that says, ‘it is not you being touched’. If your hand is given anesthesia and then if someone touches someone else, you will also feel the touch. And he (the scientist) says, we all are nothing but neurons, we all are connected,everybody is connected. The subtler we go we find there are only vibrations, and there are no neutrons, protons, electrons but all that exists is – vibrations. And then he says numbers are very important.
In Rudrapooja we say ‘ekachame, trisraschame…’,yesterday only we understood why do we say that. We chant odd numbers first and then even numbers in the Rudrapooja. He said if numbers won’t be there, the whole universe will collapse. Everything exists on numbers, on figures and if one number goes missing, the whole universe will collapse. It’s like on a cell phone you want to make a call and if you dial one wrong digit the call never goes to the right person. One can’t argue saying, ‘If one digit is wrongly dialed, how come I can’t make a call?’ And if everything is right, then life gets connected, so numbers are so important. And it is all just vibration.
One of the greatest physicist who was in the team of creating first nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki says. ‘I studied matter for 35 years to find out it doesn’t exist. What exists is just vibration’. Everyone of us is emitting andabsorbing vibrations. And chanting, singing creates such a positive vibrations, you become a source of energy.
What is the difference between a bulb which is lit and a bulb which is not? One is emitting energy and in the other, no energy movement is there. And all singing,chanting and meditating is like lighting the bulb. Have you noticed the difference between those who are doing all this with faith and someone who has never done this? It reflects on their face. If you haven’t started noticing you better start noticing! (laughter)
What happens when you are worrying all the time? Suddenly you find the brain, the upper part has become like a stone, the heart has become like a stone. Similarly what happens when you hear a negative comment about yourself from somebody, the whole body has become heavy. You can’t avoid people saying negative things about you. How many have this question? And how many have this experience? When someone says something negative about you or when a close friend of you is feeling very low, suddenly you also start feeling the same, your whole energy gets down. That is why satsang is that important, this knowledge is that important. When you focus on someone who isdepressed, you also feel the same and when you participate in a satsang your whole focus is shifted to knowledge. That’s why the Guru is important because when you think of Guru, when you shift your focus to the Guru in a few moments, your energy gets restored, you get back to your normal self. How many of you have experienced this? There is an old proverb ‘Guru bina gati nahin’ means there is no progress without the Guru because there are so many people around you and you are being tossed and turned by everybody’s moods, emotions and blames, and you are stuck, you can’t notice that. But when a Guru is there nothing of this will matter to you and even if it does it is only for few minutes or hours and then you are able to push through it, move through it. Like you have a rain coat and if it is raining you can always protect yourself from rain. In this context ancient people in India, Korea, Japan even in China had said that spiritual teacher, master or a person who is on the path is so important, so that you don’t have to keep feeling this negative vibrations, heaviness for daystogether.
Secondly, if you find nobody is available, no commune is available then what you do? Chant, do pranayama, nature walk, Vedanta or this science that everything is just vibrations.
Numbers are very important, so we chant ‘Om NamahShivaya’ 108 times, in Islam also they put a number 786, right? In Rudra Abhishek we chant an odd and even sequence of numbers. That changes the vibrations. Even pundits don’t have answers of chanting numbers in Rudra Abhisheka. We have to listen to the scientists to understand. They say this whole space is curved. Space is also like water, like you put a ball in water it curls. Water is a medium, like that space is also a medium and this was also said thousands of years ago in Vedas and that is why, it is the fifth element. Space is where vibration travels, it is a medium like water, air, fire and earth. And the same thing, scientists are saying today. It is amazing to see how people 10,000 years ago knew that space has a curvature, it is a medium and there are not one but 10 dimensions, which is the spirit. These facts open your mind to a higher reality.
From Talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Friday, March 21, 2014

Move from one Perfection to another Higher Perfection - Talk by Sri Sri

Q: Guruji, I often see people bow down to you. Is doing all that necessary?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, no, not at all. These things are really insignificant. You know, these outer gestures are insignificant. Don’t give too much importance to them. All these gestures don’t matter. We all are connected from a deeper level, level of heart. That’s how we have met and we are all here.
Q: Yesterday you talked about leela(game). One can comprehend it intellectually but how to make it an inner experience?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t have to make it an experience. You simply have to wake up and see life is a game. Wake up this moment when I am speaking. Whatever happened till now, is it not like a dream? You had dinner this evening, meditated in themorning, did yoga in morning and went to bed last night, and if you go to your own memory there were good events, bad events, you had profit, you had loss but right this moment it’s all gone.
Wake up this moment and see from tomorrow to the next 10 years is also like a dream! When you realize this whole phenomenon that has happened in the past and future is all like a play, a game. You don’t have to think this is a concept and I have to experience it. My dear, memory is memory. Your thinking that you have to experience memory is a concept and your thinking that you don’t have it is again a concept. You simply have to realize right away it is a dream. This could be a dream. That very moment you feel a sense of relief. A soothing wave overtakes you. Don’t wait that someday you will experience it’s all a game.
May be after you leave the body you will experience one day. Then also you will realize I could have done that much before.
Q: What is difference between dispassion and indifference?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, in indifference there is a sense of apathy, rejection and disappointment. In dispassion there is joy and enthusiasm.
Q: Do we all have a purpose in life or we can all come and go when it is? If there is one purpose what is it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know it’s best to take out paper and pen, and list out what is not the purpose of life. By negating it will be easier for you.
Q: Is Guruji the best Guru? Is Art of Living the best spiritual path? People say it is the best. Isn’t it a seed of war, calling my belief to be the best? The symbols of other religions in Vishalakshi Mantap (meditation hall in the ashram) tell us that all other religions are also good.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I leave it up to you. You discuss and decide. Go through all the confusion and come to your own conclusion. I never say it is the best and I also don’t say it is not the best. It is up to you.
It will not be the truth to say it is not the best. And it sounds very funny for whenever someone says, ‘it is the best’, you have a sort of resistance for that. So sometimes some of these questions are best not answered. I am not here to clarify your doubts. I am here to create more doubts.
Doubt is always about something which is positive. When somebody tells you ‘I love you’ and you say ‘really’. But do you say really when somebody says ‘I hate you’? You doubt your capabilities and you never doubt your weaknesses. You are so sure of your weaknesses. You doubt in the honesty of people and never in their dishonesty. Nature of doubt is such that it always clings to something which is positive. So if you have a doubt I will encourage you that this is very positive.
Q: Guruji you said to be a perfectionist is cause of stress. Yet everything about you is so perfect. You are perfect, your actions are perfect, your words are perfect, your understanding of God is so perfect, this Ashram is perfect and so many other things. What is the difference between your perfect thinking or, mine or ours?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just that you have to look yourself in the mirror. That’s it. You move from perfection to perfection. You move from one perfection to another higher perfection. That’s how you have to look at life. Otherwise you see this is not perfect , everything is imperfect, everything is hopeless. And we tend to get into negative framework. Isn’t it?

From Talks by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar