So we will recapitulate what we have been doing in the last two days.
How meditation can happen in many ways.
Meditation is a happening, this is the first point.
Second is, meditation is effortless. The key for meditation is effortlessness. It is not doing something but doing nothing and that is meditation. And creating a condition where you really can do nothing is all that is important to look into.
So how can this happen? We saw many methods or many ways.
Through physical manipulation, Yoga, Tai Chi, all these can bring a certain amount of calmness in the mind. Not totally but a certain degree of meditativeness can come by exercise and physical manipulation.
Second is pranayama. This is even more important because we have five bodies to us (Panchakosha). First is the physical body, then the pranic body which is the bio rhythmic force or bio electro-magnetic energy. Then, we have the mind or the consciousness; then the intuitive body which is a further refined consciousness, and then the blissful.
Usually we think the mind is inside the body, but it is the other way around. Body is inside the mind. I usually give the example of the Phantom Arm. Even though the arm is amputated a person feels the arm is still there, i.e., the subtle body which is still there.
So, through breathing techniques and breathing exercises, the mind becomes very serene, calm, and happy.
Then through any of the five senses the mind can become meditative. Through taste, smell, sight, sound and touch. Then through emotions; heightened refined emotions. Love, compassion, sense of service, all these can bring a certain degree of serenity to the mind; it becomes very calm and meditative. Through emotions you can attain the same meditative state.
Then through intellectual understanding.
One of the examples I gave is, when you go to a space museum or watch a space movie, then you see the earth in contrast with the universe, and how small this earth is, and where you are to what this universe is. That stimulation of the intellect brings a different context to life and makes the mind meditative. That little chattering mind just shuts off. The mind is chattering all the time, finding fault in others, or oneself, and suddenly you find all these things are insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe and of this existence. The awareness about this existence suddenly takes you to another plane of serenity, of calmness.
So through intellectual stimulation also meditation happens.
Q: Can you speak on how devotion can transform the ego in order for the self to be realized?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, what is devotion? It is a state of Love.
What is ego? It is a sense of separation and a boundary; a wall; an identity.
Love seeks to dissolve the identity, love seeks to merge. Ego wants to maintain one sidedness. So they play different roles and they can coexist at different times.
So when there is love at that moment there is no ego, and when there is ego at that moment there is no love.
When you want to take up a challenge, love does not work, ego works. Ego can take challenges. But when you want to relax and have fun, at that time, ego does not work, love works. Do you understand what I am saying?
That is why nature has put both things in you, it has put love also and ego also. But if you are stuck in ego, it is like getting stuck into your shoes. You don’t know how to get it out of your feet. Then you are bathing with the shoes on, you are sleeping with your shoes on. You should know when to remove your shoes and be at home.
So love is the first thing that has happened in life. As soon as a child is born and it opens its eyes and looks at the mother, there is love. In that very first glance it receives love from the mother and gives love to the mother. But the ego comes at the age of three. Identity becomes very strong after three years and then it grows, and sometimes one gets stuck with that.
But when you become very old; most senior citizens if you see, there is no ego in them. They become like a child again. Past ninety hardly anybody can maintain their ego.
Before three you can’t have it and past ninety you can’t have it. It is almost like sex; there is an age for it, after that it is not possible and before that it is not possible. But they all have their roles to play.
Q: Hello Sri Sri, I have friends who feel that this earth is past the tipping point with all of the overpopulation and destruction of some of the natural resources, like the oceans, rainforest. A lot of people feel hopeless and hopeless. I tell them that there is a perfect divine order amidst all the chaos.
So, my question is, do you think that I am just blowing smoke above the wind pipe or the planet and the population will be just fine?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is good to be concerned, but not to be paranoid. There is a difference.
If you are paranoid you can’t do anything about it also and you just lose your peace of mind.
But at the same time you can’t say, ‘Well, God will take care of everything and let us just carry on with what we are doing.’ You can’t say that either.
God will provide us even if we exploit this planet a little more, somehow nature will provide more of that.’ You can’t say that. We need to definitely care for the planet.
And see, when the tipping point had come, this concern has come also. Nature or that big mind has put the concern in the minds of millions of people.
Today more and more of the population is concerned about the environment like never before. Do you see what am I saying? Today people are concerned even in small villages. In remote corners of the world they are talking about preserving the earth and organic agriculture, and not using chemical fertilizers. This concern has infiltrated into remote areas today.
At the same time, people are so paranoid, angry and agitated about it. ‘Oh, we are destroying the planet.’
I would say just relax. Don’t get paranoid but be concerned.
Q: What is Samadhi?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Dhi means the intellect and Samadhi means where the mind is in total equanimity; where your whole system is in total balance, that is called Samadhi.
Body, mind, spirit, everything is in such coordination and serenity. There are so many different types of Samadhi.
One is called Laya Samadhi, which is like, when there is some music going on and you are completely dissolved into it. You know you are but you don’t know where you are.
Then there is Pragya Samadhi, Asamprajnata Samadhi, etc.
Also, there is a Samadhi where thoughts are there, ideas are there but you are very tranquil. And there is a Samadhi where there are no thoughts, just a feeling is there.
So there are many different types of Samadhi.
It is said that the joy of Samadhi is described as – in one moment of Samadhi there is a million years of rest. ‘Koti Kalpa Vishram’ – million years of rest in a moment, is Samadhi.
It is also described that the pleasure in one moment of Samadhi is equivalent to one thousand units of sex.
So why celibacy happens to a Yogi is very natural. You don’t need to make an effort to be celibate; you don’t need another body to rub yourself on to find ecstasy. You just sit and there is a heightened joy and bliss that just wells up within you.
That is why celibacy is not a practice that you do; it is a happening wherein every cell of your body is in a sort of thrill and bliss. And bliss is what you try to achieve in sex. I hear sometimes one achieves bliss and sometimes one doesn’t, but people get tired. That is what I hear.
But in Samadhi you don’t get tired in spite of having that deep experience of joy. There is with no excitement, no feverishness, no tiredness, but an elevation which is energising you every moment. So that is why celibacy happens.
Q: Does meditation help one to come out of grief when a close one passes away?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it does help.
Meditation definitely helps to come out of grief when a close one has crossed over to other side.
See, death is a very certain thing. Nothing is more certain than death, for sure. However you have lived your life, you are going to die. Successful or unsuccessful, you will die. Famous or infamous, you will die. Rich or poor, you are going to die. Healthy or sick, you are going to die.
It is not only sick people who die, healthy people also die. Everyone will die one day, so death is the most certain thing. You accept this truth, the reality and so you can say, ‘Oh you are gone, bye for now. I will see you few days later.’
Meditation definitely helps you to overcome grief. Not only that but when you meditate, the vibrations reach across to them and they feel peaceful.
Q: When there is a difficult situation, should I simply accept it or fight it out?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Fight it out, if you feel.
If you feel you have done your 100% and you can’t fight it in any way, then pray. Pray for help!
First you accept the situation as it is and then fight it out. And after fighting, again accept. A fight should be sandwiched between acceptance and that is the essence of Yoga.
Yoga means what? Acting with acceptance and with serenity; acting with the total vision.
Q: After death what happens to the soul?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, it gets ready to come back. It goes and stands in the line for another body. Millions are waiting to come back to the planet. That is why I tell people who have suicidal tendencies and want to kill themselves, not to do it. You have waited a long time and in a long queue to get a body, so don’t destroy it. It is very precious.
Q: Where was I before I came into this body?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Very good question! Before I got this body, where was I?
The consciousness is very ancient; the mind is older than the stones. I tell you, keep this question. This is a very important question. Don’t be in a hurry to get an answer.
In this very question you will find the answer, and you will go deep into meditation and much more. I am here now, but everywhere too.
Q: Do you need to set an alarm to come out of meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, usually not because it can be too jarring.
But if you keep an intention that I will meditate for 20 minutes or half an hour then your eyes will open. You have an inbuilt clock inside that works with your intention.
Have you all tried this inside mechanism? Just put an intention in your mind, I have to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning and right at 5 o’clock in the morning your eyes will open. There is an inbuilt clock inside you. Use it!
For meditation, sit for 20 minutes. Don’t sit for too long in the very beginning. When you come out of meditation you will forget where your home is and where your car keys are!
So, I would recommend 20 minutes or half an hour in the beginning, not more. It is not possible also to sit for longer. Automatically your eyes will open and restlessness will start coming if you sit too long. Don’t force yourself to sit for too long; 20 minutes minimum and half an hour maximum.
Q: Why do I feel hurt when I do meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you know why you feel hurt? It is because meditation is kindling that space which is love inside of you. It is bringing up the love from deep within you.
Love is connected with hurt; do you see what I am saying?
So you may feel sorrow, you may feel some emotions come up and tears well up. Don’t judge them at that time, just be with it.
If it becomes a little too unbearable then take some long deep breaths. Do some pranayama, some breathing exercises at that moment and then you will see it will soothe you.
Q: How to balance life while working for a cause?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, that is a challenge.
When you intend it, when you think it, and when you say it that you can do both, though they appear to be conflicting, you will succeed in your job and succeed in your cause.
‘I have a cause that is greater than my job’, when you see this then you can do both.
If your passion for the cause overtakes the job concern, then you will say, ‘No, I throw away my job, I will pursue my cause.’
It is a tough road to tread on but it yields a lot of results. It is more fulfilling in that sense.
Any big achievement needs some sacrifice somewhere.
If you want to be in a comfort zone then balance both ends. But if you say, ‘I don’t care too much about comfort. This is my compelling passion and I want to take up a greater cause’, then you need to jump in.
Q: How does singing helps in meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Singing does help. Singing creates a vibrant atmosphere and increases the prana that helps you to calm the mind and go deeper into meditation. So singing is a component.
Do you know that 70% of English language is Sanskrit? How many of you have heard about this?
Sister is swasa; daughter is duhita; go is gachcha. The root of English language is Sanskrit.
Q: Why has He created life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why should He not create life?
He has created life so that you could ask this question. If he would have not created, you could not have asked this question!
I don’t know. I have no idea. I think God needs better adviser though. He made things too complicated.
Q: How to accept the present moment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Like now, this moment I have accepted your question, and I am here now. Got it? It is spontaneous.
The present moment is inevitable. Whatever exists is in the present moment. Even a future thought is in the present moment. Your future worry is not in the future, it is in the present. Even the past memories are in the present. You can’t escape from the present.
Your worry about the past is also in the present. You simply have to wake up and see the present is inevitable, that is all.
Q: Is anger good?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you want to use anger for something and it is in your control then it is good. If anger controls you then you are in trouble. Do you see what I am saying?
You can use anger as a tool, but if anger starts using you then you lose everything; the cause also is gone.
Most people do this. When they want to fight against injustice, they lose it and the very cause for which they are fighting is defeated. In third world countries, and all over the world, they burn buses, burn trains and cause so much damage. Behind every riot, they think they are fighting against injustice; any riot, anywhere in the world.
My interpretation for WAR is – Worst Act of Reason. There is a reason for which you go to war. Anyone who goes to war, they will justify the war. But it causes so much damage and doesn’t give you anything. That is why one needs to find alternative ways. Peaceful, nonviolent demonstration is the best, like the Gandhian principles.
We did this now in August in India. You must have heard about it in the papers. IAC – India Against Corruption, we are founding members of this. We did this movement without a single act of violence or disturbance anywhere in the country.
The Art of living was the main patron, main source, and all our volunteers made sure that no anti-social elements get into this anti-corruption movement.
Standing up against corruption and crime, it could have gone wild. People could have burnt homes, and could have done all sorts of things. But no, there is commitment to non violence. And suddenly during the whole time, the crime rate had gone down in the country. Everybody was standing up for a cause.
Q: What is sin?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sin is that which gives you suffering and suffering to others in the long term. That which gives you pleasure for a short while but causes you to suffer for the rest of life is sin. But that which may appear painful in the beginning but in a long run uplifts you, that is merit.
Q: What is the secret of meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are three types of space. One is the external space, in which all the four elements are there. The second type of space is the inner space where thoughts and emotions come from; this is called Chit Akash.
Then there is the third type of space where there is only bliss. And these three spaces are connected, the outer space, the intermediate space of thoughts or the subtle body, and the causal space of bliss and of love.
So every time you have experienced some love or some happiness or some peace, you are in touch with that inner space. You just touch and go and it brings that energy inside you.
So with enhanced energy, meditation happens. And meditation also enhances the energy, it is both ways. When your energy is uplifted, then meditation happens.
Q: Why it is a challenge to be compassionate to ourselves?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Because we are in the habit of blaming ourselves.
On the spiritual path, the first rule is stop blaming yourself. This is a rule. If we can apply this rule then you will progress very well on the spiritual path.
See, what is spirituality? What is a spiritual path? It is getting in touch with yourself, the core of your being. Going inward to be in touch with yourself.
If you keep blaming yourself, how can you go near yourself? You will never want to be with someone who blames.
The biggest impediment for meditation is self blame. You can never be at peace, you can never dive inside and you can never transcend when you blame yourself. So never blame yourself.
Q: What does dance express?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, when you are happy, every step you take is a dance. You dance your way through your life. Wisdom makes you dance through all situations.
A movement stretched in rhythm is dance. Sound stretched in rhythm is music. Life stretched is celebration!
Q: What are your thoughts on a one world government and a one world family?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A one world family is what is most practical right now.
I leave it to the politicians to think about a one world government. They have established The World Bank, but for a one world government I don’t think any politician will be ready for that, as of now. But at least if the United Nations would become more powerful and more proactive, rather than taking a back seat, it would be good for the planet.
Q: (A member of the audience spontaneously asked a question without a mike, hence the question was inaudible)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen. You are breathing? Yes, you are! Definitely. You know it, I know it and everybody knows it.
So what is happening? The air is entering inside your body and the same air is going out of your body and traveling the whole world. Can you say, ‘This is my air’?
The subtler you go you can’t posses it or own it. On the level of the gross you can say, ‘This is my body.’ Definitely!
Even then, your body is emitting vibrations or energy all the time. You are losing energy and gaining energy from the cosmos. There is a continuous flow and every cell in your body is changing.
You are exchanging energy all the time. You are nothing but a particular vibration, a wave function, a frequency.
One particular frequency is called Susan, another particular frequency is called Jeffery, and another particular frequency is called Michael. You are almost like a particular TV channel.
Like from a tower different channels are aired and the channels can be caught in anybody’s home in any television.
You can’t say, ‘BBC is coming in my television but how can it come in the neighbor’s television?’ They are the same waves.
Your consciousness is also a wave function and it has so many possibilities, so many avenues.
It is like the sun. When the sun has come totally inside your window, you can’t say, ‘Oh the sun has come into my window, I have captured the sun!’ No. The same sun will totally be there in the neighbor’s window as well, and all over the world. This is spherical thinking.
We are trained in linear thinking. If something is born it has to die, this is linear thinking.
Think spherically. The Vedanta gives you spherical thinking. The ancient people knew spherical thinking and that is why they use the word perhaps; perhaps this and perhaps that.
In Jain religion and Jain philosophy also they use perhaps. This is a very interesting thing to understand. With spherical thinking, the intellect is stimulated and it is charged to transcend the limited and see the truth beyond.
So the sun is here totally and there also totally. And you are just a vibration. As the body you can’t be everywhere, but as consciousness you can be in many places.
If you have touched a flower, your vibrations have gone into the flower.
Have you heard of biometric locks? They are locks that will open only when you touch them.
If you had spoken about these locks 20 to 25 years ago, people would have laughed at you and would have thought you are insane. Everything is possible.
So everything is just a wave function. The whole universe is a wave; a field of consciousness.
Q: Is refusing medication considered as suicide?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No! If someone wants to refuse medication and wants the body to take its natural course then it is not suicide. It is okay.
But if someone out of anguish tries to strangle themselves and end their life then that is suicide; as far as I am concerned. I would call that suicide.
Sometimes people who are in coma they are force fed or they are kept on a machine for a long time. What I would say for them is let them go naturally, don’t force feed them. This is my personal opinion, but there are different opinions on this issue.
When you know that someone cannot survive and cannot come back to being normal then there is no point in keeping them alive like a vegetable. I would say remove all the tubes and let nature take its course.