Formalities are like wrapping paper. When we buy something, it is wrapped in paper. Similarly, in life formalities should be given only that much importance. Rest of the time we should sit informally. That is what we call satsang. Satsangmeans what? Where we can sit with intimacy and belongingness; sit with heart to heart connection – that is satsang.
It is only through belongingness that the disinterestedness towards life can be overcome; once disinterestedness takes over life, all kinds of distortions follow. Dullness and disinterestedness is the cause of all desires and imperfections in life.
If you take a look at your own life; let us say you were to live for fifty years, sixty years or seventy years – how do we spend these seventy years? Make an estimate of the time.
If you have a life of seventy years, 10% of it we spend in bathing and washing. Suppose we spend two hours every day in bathing, using the toilet – that means out of seventy years you spend 7 years in the bathroom! Isn’t it shocking! In the same way, 7 years are spent in eating and drinking. If we live in a city like Delhi or Mumbai, we spend 15 years in a traffic jam. And in sleep, we spend half the time – that is 25 to 30 years we spend sleeping. So what else is left? If you actually calculate, you will see that in life we hardly spend 3 to 4 years being happy, joyful, laughing and playing freely. So we truly live life only for these 3 years. Rest of the time we just keep preparing to live life. It is like we kept making the bed all through the night, spreading the bed sheet and the blanket – by then it was morning; there was no time left to sleep.
We spend our entire life preparing to be happy and comfortable, but we are never happy. This is the situation. And if you ask, ‘Why, what are you doing?’
‘Earning money’ is the answer.
‘For the children and for their children; grandsons and granddaughters.’
The whole life was spent in earning money for the coming four generations, and there was neither happiness nor any joy, nor any connection with God. Is this what is called life?
All our life we earn money, put it in the bank, and then we die and the children keep fighting over it, filing court cases. No one files a court case over their own earnings. All court cases going on currently are over ancestral property. So we create conflict amongst the children.
This is not life.
What is life?
How much fulfillment we have achieved in life, this is what we need to think about.
See, when we were children, whenever we used to experience any suffering, what did we do? We would go crying to our mother, and fall asleep in her lap. We used to run to our mother. Why? Because we knew, mother would remove our sorrow. Then as we grew up a little, we would go to our father.
Then, in our country, there has been the tradition of a mentor; a Guru. So, when mother and father could not resolve we would go to a guru; a mentor.
The senior citizens sitting here, when you were studying in school, what a deep connection you used to share with the school teacher! Yes or no?!
If there was anything in your heart, you would go and speak to the school teacher. They would give you some relief. In a city, teachers played a very prominent role; nowadays, all that has disappeared.
Beyond this, faith in divinity – there is a God, a power, and we are very dear to it.
Lord Krishna first says to Arjuna, ‘Oh Arjuna, you are very dear to me.’ Afterwards, Arjuna also says, ‘You are also very dear to me!’
First the devotee does not say, first God says, ‘You are very dear to me.’
We should trust in this fact that we are very dear to God. That is it! The work is done!
If this thought enters our mind, then there is nothing else to be done. ‘God loves us dearly. We are very dear to Him.’
Just like a child will never wonder whether mother has made food at home or not. It is enough that mother is at home; food will be available when he goes home. Does the thought ever occur to call home to inquire whether mother has prepared food or not, and whether she is asleep or awake? No! At meal time one goes home and mother serves food on the plate. This kind of confidence that one has in their mother, one should also have in God – that God is my very own, and He loves me, and He will shower everything on me. He has created this whole world for me.
When will you express this feeling? After ten years of sadhana? At the end of life? When will you do it? Tell me. How much time will it take for you have so much faith?
‘God loves me dearly, I am very dear to Him.’ How long will it take for you to awaken this feeling within you?
From today, from this very moment!
What will you need to do to attain this – go to the Ganges, or perform tapasya (penance) in the Himalayas? What needs to be done? Perform tapasya for hours?
How much time does it take to feel belongingness for someone? You just get a card printed, and a wedding of your brother or sister happens, and a brother-in-law or sister-in-law comes into the family. How much time does it take to make someone your brother-in-law or sister-in-law? How long does it take to form a connection? This is not time-dependent. A connection is not time-dependent. If we establish a connection with the Divine in our heart, just wait and see what miracles will begin to unfold in life!
I have come to you just to say this.
I only have to say that the One who created you, created your parents, created your grandparents and great-grand parents, one who created all this for you, loves you very much; you are very dear to Him. You have forgotten this, and I have just come to remind you. So as long as you remember that, perfection, prosperity, power, devotion, liberation, peace, all will become available to you in life.
What do you think? Can you begin to feel this way starting today? God is my very own!
No matter which religion you may belong to, which community or caste, it makes no difference at all. To establish a link takes no time.
All of you have cell phones, right? How many of you have cell phones? Raise your hands.
Nearly everyone has a cell phone. For the cell phone to work, what do you need? It needs to be charged and a SIM card is needed. In spite of both these, if it is not within range, the cell phone does not work. So, all three things are needed – to be within range, the cell phone should be charged and have a SIM card. It is the same with life as well. First of all faith – faith is that range; God is my very own, and I belong to Him and He loves me. To look after my happiness and sorrow is His job and He will do it. Protecting me from sorrow, and giving me happiness is His job – having this confidence.
Along with this, two other things are needed. We need to keep our minds clean and perform seva (service) in society – these two things. For short periods of time, we also have to sit down and do something. As human beings each one of us has a certain duty. We need to perform our duty. The job of keeping our minds clean will have to be done by us, and it is our responsibility to perform whatever seva within our capacity for the people around us.
So the three things that we need are Seva, sadhana and satsang – satsang means faith/confidence. These three things are necessary for us. If you practice these three things, you will see that whatever work you desire will begin to get done effortlessly.
In our country there is a tradition that those who are deceased are offered sesame seeds (til) and water. How many of you observe this tradition? Those who have passed away, we take their name and perform tarpan. Do you know what tarpan means? It means to satisfy. Those who have passed away, their children say to them, ‘If any desires were left in your mind, let go of them; they are equivalent of sesame seeds; let it go. We will fulfill it. Let it go and be completely absorbed in God. Move on.’ With this feeling, we offer sesame and water. Do not be stuck in small desires, be content.
When we do not want anything for ourselves, a unique power awakens within us. Do you know what it is? We can fulfill the wishes of others. Such a power awakens within us. We become capable of giving blessings. If we want to bless others and if we ourselves are not contented, how can we bless others? So who is capable of giving blessings? Only those who are themselves contented, those who do not want anything for themselves. If they say, ‘Let your will be done’, it will definitely happen, surely happen.
Ideally, as we grow older, our contentment should also increase. The more contented we are, the more mature we are. There are two kinds of joy: one of receiving and the other of giving. In our childhood we experienced the joy of receiving. If you give anything to children they are always ready to take it. But as we grow older, we experience another joy. What is that? Joy in giving.
For example, in a home there is a mother or a grandmother; when the grandmother is alone in the house, she does not prepare five different kinds of vegetables and four different sweets for herself. But when children come to the house or guests come, she cooks many different kinds of dishes and serves them. So in giving there is a joy and this is a mature joy, a mature pleasure. But many times we lose sight of this and we keep looking to receive all our lives, and we remain dissatisfied and a kind of misery pervades.
For wealth to come, the mind should be content. The more satisfied we are, the more we progress. An individual who is content, when he blesses others, his blessings will manifest. This is the secret behind blessing. It is a great secret.
There are those who bless generously. I am never miserly in giving blessings, I bless a lot. But in order to receive, one should be deserving. How will that happen – by keeping your mind pure; keep your mind clean. How to keep the mind clean? When anger arises, different emotions come up, then how to do it? For short periods of time, do pranayama, and meditation. Then it will be absolutely clean.
Stay in the present. Whatever is the past, drop it all. Put aside all the matters of the past, and sit and meditate. ‘In this present moment I am pure, I am enlightened consciousness’, awaken this confidence within yourself, that ‘I am pure, I am divine.’
We need to awaken this feeling in ourselves. That is why we have a tradition that if you take one dip in the river Ganga, all sins will be washed away. In one dip all our sins will be washed away. Why? It is because sin is not our nature.
In foreign countries they say, ‘Sin is my nature,’ and believe that it is their nature; ‘We are born out of sin’ – this is what they say abroad. But in this country we have never said this. ‘We are pure consciousness; ever pure’, this is what has been said, and it is important for you to have assurance of your purity.
So when we do pranayama every day, a new wave arises in our lives – of contentment, joy and bliss. This is what I call the Art of Living.
Today, you go to any corner of the world you will find people doing Sudarshan Kriya and pranayama. I have just returned from Pakistan. In Pakistan also, they welcomed me with so much warmth and affection. They said that there also the lives of lakhs of people have been transformed. So much joy has come into their lives by doing pranayama; the mind feels lighter, worries have receded, and whatever they wish for, begins to get fulfilled. This knowledge of ours is very significant.
As human beings, we all have some needs and some responsibilities. If our responsibilities are more, and our needs less, then in life we remain peaceful. If our responsibilities are few but our needs many then we remain unhappy. We need to focus on this.
There is a tradition in India, that when any saint or Guru comes to a city, they are given some Dakshina. Is there such a tradition in Rae Bareilly? I will ask you for a Dakshina today. If you have any troubles in your mind, any hatred towards someone, or any suffering, just give it to me in Dakshina. Whatever your problems and botherations are, give them to me in Dakshina. Okay? You become empty. Do not have hatred towards anyone. If there is any problem or concern, you give it to me and keep smiling.
May you spread goodness in the lives of others as well, may you spread fragrance. That is what I want.
Is this difficult to achieve? Even if it is, do it! We do such difficult work; people walk 500 kilometers carrying Kaavadi, or go on a trek to Amarnath – that is difficult. What I am asking for is not more difficult than that. Just resolve that, ‘I am not alone. I give all my troubles to you Guruji. You take it.’
So you give your troubles, your problems to me.
This was about spirituality.
Now we have to do something in society as well. What do we need to do? We must stand up against ignorance. We have to ensure that there is not even one person in this city who is not educated or who is superstitious. We will have to work on this. We will have to remove ignorance.
Next we will have to stand up against corruption. Corruption begins where belongingness ends. No one ever took bribe from their own people. If bribe was taken, it was always from someone who was an outsider. Nobody would have asked for bribe from one’s own brother or nephew. Has anyone asked for bribe (from one’s family members)? Or has anyone given bribe to one’s own uncle or nephew? No! It is only from one who is an outsider that we either took bribe or gave bribe. Here no one is an outsider. So all of us should resolve, for the sake of the country, for one year we will stop taking bribe or giving bribe. On your desk post a strip of paper that says, ‘I do not accept bribes.’ If you feel hesitant or do not find time, I will say, all these youth who are sitting here, will prepare the strip and go and stick it on your desk for you.
If there is a strip on your table, even the giver will withdraw his hand and not give any bribe. You will not even feel any embarrassment or difficulty. So for one year if you resolve not to take bribe and commit to work hard for the country, our country will reach unbelievable heights.
Many people say, ‘Guruji, your job is only to guide meditation, speak on spirituality. Don’t speak against corruption. Leave politicians alone.’ What do you believe, should I give it up?
(The crowd says, ‘No!’)
See, I agree! I also feel that I need to speak about it, and that is why I keep speaking about it.
Patriotism and devotion to God are not two separate things. Patriotism needs to be there because this country belongs to God. This is His creation. Can we say to a painter, ‘I love you; I don’t love your painting!’ Is it possible? You tell a sculptor, ‘I recognize you, but not your statue.’ Then he is not a sculptor. So everyone who believes in God will value His creation, honor it, respect it, respect each and every individual. That is the sign of a devotee.
There are two signs of a devotee – he will honor everyone, this is the first sign, and secondly, he will never worry what will happen to him – he will not worry about this.
Okay, so then shall we all take an oath that we will neither take bribes nor give bribes? Raise your hands.
The second oath that we will have to take is that we will honor women and not allow female feticide.
In Indian culture, women have been given the same status as men. There was no discrimination between women and men, no disparity. And on this land, not just men but also women have the right to perform shraaddha, antyeshti (ceremonies to honor the dead) etc. They have the right; I tell you they do.
Maharajji sitting there must also be in agreement with me. He is raising his hand in agreement. Women have the same rights that men have. In the old days women also wore the janeyu (sacred thread). Seeta maiya (mother) also performed tarpan and shraaddha for her father. This has been described in the scriptures.
So men are superior, women are less, do not think this way. Both have equal rights. Female feticide should be banned. This is the second point. Are we all ready to take the oath that we will not allow female feticide to happen?
The third oath we will take is against alcoholism. The poverty of our country will only be eliminated when addictions are wiped out. Rivers of alcohol are flowing. If someone wins the election, he drinks; if he loses, then also he drinks, to forget his sorrows. A poor man, whatever he earns, out of that he spends 60% on alcohol. Besides alcohol, no other business is prospering. So poverty will always be sustained and the country will remain stuck on poverty if this is not stopped.
They drink in joy, and in weddings also they drink; if someone dies they drink, when someone is born they drink; if a loss is incurred, they go and drink, if a profit is made in trade, or they win the lottery, then also they drink. No matter what happens, they keep drinking. A river of alcohol is flowing. We will have to stop it.
Mothers, you all can play a very big role in this. Tell your children every day not to touch alcohol. Mothers can get the alcohol shops closed. If you desire, you have the strength to influence everyone: husband, brother, son and father as well. You take it in your hands – the alcohol shops should be closed down.
How many people agree with this? It is extremely important. Otherwise, our country will never move forward. It will remain stagnant.
Next is caste discrimination; the amount of caste discrimination there is in Bihar and UP, is not present in any other state of the country. There is too much of it here. We have to rise above it. If we want a major transformation in society, we should not stay caught up in caste discrimination. There is one human race – have faith in this.
I appeal to the youth that you all should begin taking on the reins of this country in your hands. Before it comes to you in a bad shape, you should start owning it right way, then you can prevent a lot of damage from happening. So you should get prepared right now.
Let us chant OM two or three times and do a small meditation!
In Boston, a scientist was doing research on the word ‘Om’. He recorded ‘Om’, and then uploaded its frequency into his computer and measured it. He found that the frequency of ‘Om’ is the same as the frequency of the earth. The frequency of earth’s rotation on its axis, and the frequency of its revolution around the sun were found to be the same as that of ‘Om’.
That is why in our country, from ancient times, people have said that ‘Om’ is the primordial sound, the voice of nature. Buddhists also believed this, and so did the Jains, Sikhs, Sanaatanis, and also the Arya Samajis; all the religions of the world believed one way or another in slight variations of it. That is why they believe in Ameen, Amen; but ‘Om’ is a vibration that is resounding in this creation eternally.
Q: Guruji, please tell us about the Vedas. Can anyone read the Vedas?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, there have been over one thousand Rishis and Maharishis in the Vedas, out of which many of the Maharishis belonged to different castes. In those days there was only one religion, Sanaatana, but they were of different castes. Everyone can read the Vedas, including women.
Q: Guruji, today the entire country is divided on the basis of caste. How to bring it back together?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is what I am saying: if someone needs a good doctor, they don’t inquire about his caste. They go only in search of a good doctor. If a good lawyer is needed, then too one goes to a good lawyer; one does not check his caste. Only during elections the issue of caste comes up. There is no guarantee that someone from our own caste will work in our favor. An individual from another caste, if he is balanced, truthful and accountable, he will also work for our good. That is why one should rise above caste differences.
In matters of food and marriage also, too much consideration is given to caste, although today’s youth are more progressive, I believe.
Q: Guruji, what is the solution to jealousy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The solution to jealousy is to realize that the one who you are jealous of is also going to die and you are also going to die. Everything here is going to end. And in this world there are seven billion people, out of whom there is one person like him; and there must be so many others greater than him. This way, if you look at it from a broad perspective, you will see that the jealousy will come down.
Q: Guruji, farmers have been working the hardest since ages, and are becoming poorer day by day. What can be done for them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: For one thing, the farmers have been adding these imported chemicals to the soil which has ruined the soil and also reduced production. Farmers should focus on chemical-free farming.
In our country there are so many types of wheat, and so many different native seeds of rice. We remain ignorant of these. In recent research it has been found that the wheat from our country, our ancient wheat; it is not so attractive to look at but it contains 12% folic acid. Folic acid reduces the chances of heart disease and heart attacks. But the wheat imported from outside does not contain folic acid in the same quantity; this is what is said. But we have nearly destroyed these native seeds and don’t want to use them because the hybrid seed look bigger, thicker, and more attractive. So we brought that, and lost our own seeds.
Recently, our Art of Living volunteers have taken up a major program to save our native seeds in UP, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. They are using the native seeds and the production has also increased. Three-fold more production will be there if we do organic or chemical-free farming.
I will tell you all a mantra today that we will recite before we eat food: ‘Annadata Sukhi Bhava’. Before eating food, you should say this once or twice.
‘Those who are providing me with this food, may they be happy.’ When you chant this mantra daily, it includes three: one is the farmer, the second is the trader who buys the grain and sells it, and the third is the lady of the house who cooks the food and serves it to you.
If there are tears in the eyes of the farmers, your stomach will not be able to digest the food. If the farmers are happy, our body will be disease-free. So bless the farmers, pray for the farmers.
If the lady of the house sheds tears, how can you be happy? That is impossible. The tears of women burn the earth. The tears of women contain fire, so don’t let their tears flow. If their tears flow due to lack of maturity, then there is nothing you can do about it. In spite of having everything, they keep crying and someone asks, ‘Why you are crying?’ They say, ‘I am not crying, my face is like that.’ Some people have grown into the habit of maintaining a weepy look. Smile, laugh and make others laugh; don’t get entangled and do not entangle others!
Q: Guruji, in Uttar Pradesh, in most places it has become a tradition to give things away for free. Politicians also promise to the public to give them things for free. In such a case, how can self-pride of the people increase? Everything is expected to come free.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Doesn’t matter. Let it go on for some more time. Self-pride will increase naturally and then the individual will himself say, ‘I don’t want free things.’
Just as when an individual’s status improves, he says, ‘I don’t want to send my children to a free school.’ He considers it his pride when he pays money to send them to school.
Even a rickshaw driver says, ‘No, I will pay money and send my children to a good school.’ This is something internal, and it will awaken by itself.
Q: Dear Guruji, when we are in your presence we do not remember any of our problems, no matter how big they are. You tell us how we should surrender our problems to you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When it comes up, then surrender it to me.
Look I have traveled to 152 countries and I keep traveling; nowhere did I feel that I had come to a foreign country. And people from those countries also never felt as though they were meeting me for the first time, or I was a foreigner. They also felt the same belongingness that I felt towards them. That is why I say, whatever we are inside, is what we see outside. The way we think, the kind of feelings we entertain, bring about a transformation in others.
For the youth of this area I would say that all of you should become teachers of meditation. There is a great demand from all over the world for teachers from India. If Indian teachers of yoga and pranayama go to different places, they can do a lot of good for the world. This helps eliminate diseases, brings strength to the body, mind remains joyful, intellect becomes sharp; there are several benefits.
Q: Guruji, how can one get contentment in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Through meditation.
Q: Guruji, the public has not seen God or heard God. Then how can they feel oneness with God?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is why there are Saints, Mahatmas and Gurus to tell you, ‘He is yours, believe it!’ See, we cannot know everything; we have to go with knowing some things and accepting some things.
So I say, ‘Know some things and move ahead, accept some things and move ahead and lovingly embrace everyone and move ahead.’
Q: Guruji, what is moksha?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You go ask children how they feel the day their exams are over. They toss all their books and give a big sigh. ‘It is over now, finished!’ That is moksha.
One day, in your mind when such a relief comes, ‘Yes I am fulfilled. I need nothing in this moment. I am satisfied with life.’ That is moksha.
Moksha is the opposite of bondage. When bondage ends, it is moksha.