Love is something that you can never get rid of. It is your nature. Either it presents itself in its pure form or it presents itself in a distorted form. Either there is pure love, or pure love gets expressed in a distorted form.
What are the distortions of love? Anger, jealousy, hatred, greed and possessiveness. All these paraphernalia, negative emotions are nothing but love upside down. Even blame is love. Do you see what I’m saying?
If you don’t like somebody, you would simply move away from them. If you keep blaming, that means you really like them. You can’t stay away from them, you can’t get away from them and that is why you keep blaming them.
What is the use of blame? See, you blame someone and if that person is really a culprit, for the first time it will provoke him, but if you keep blaming him, he becomes numb to it; he doesn’t care. Suppose someone is a real thief, and you keep telling him, ‘You are a thief’, you are wasting your time blaming him, because every time you say it, it doesn’t matter to him. It doesn’t touch him at all.
The whole day, you stand on the top of a tower and keep shouting, ‘He is a thief, he is a thief’, so what? A thief will never feel affected by it.
So, a true culprit doesn’t get affected by your blaming him or her. If he is not a culprit, if he is an honest person, really genuine and you blame him, it pierces his heart; it touches his soul, stirs his soul. If that person is a yogi, he will use it for his benefit.
If that person is a yogi meaning, the one who has some wisdom, he will say that people praise and they blame, but I have to keep my equanimity. So a yogi uses it as an exercise to maintain his equanimity and wishes only good to everyone. If the person is not that wise, if it pierces his heart and he feels the pain, it rebounds back to you. So, in either case, it will not serve the purpose to blame someone, and write badly about them day and night.
There are some people who I have heard write only negative about The Art of Living, day and night. At least by this, they are following what we are doing! They write all sorts of rubbish. It doesn’t matter to us. What their purpose is, we don’t know. Do they want to prevent others from coming to The Art of Living? I tell them it is not going to work. People will anyways come. If they write negative, more people will be curious to know what it is and they will anyway come. So, they are simply wasting their time and energy.
So, blame does not lead you anywhere and does not give you any result. Suppose by your blaming, you can correct somebody, that is excellent, but the thing is you cannot correct a culprit by blaming him. You can only correct him with love, compassion and communication. Blame means no communication.
If a real culprit is there and you want to correct him, you can only do it through communication. And if it is not a real culprit, your whole exercise is futile. Are you getting what I’m saying? Your whole exercise is futile because you are blaming and blaming, and it does not help.
Say, in your home, someone is incorrigible and they irritate you. Your mother, your father, spouse, children or somebody irritates you, what do you do? You keep blaming them. Your blaming your mother in law is not going to give you anything positive in return. You may get a lot of problems! Instead of blaming them, take this opportunity as an exercise for you to maintain your equanimity; your inner balance. So, if everything is okay, if everybody is praising you and you say that I am a very balanced person, it doesn’t mean much. It doesn’t make any sense.
If a bunch of people or even one person is blaming you for what you have not done and you still keep your balance then that means you have achieved something, you have gotten somewhere, and you have risen to some level. Are you getting what I’m saying? You need such an opportunity. Somebody blames you and you are able to maintain your equanimity, knowing what they are doing is completely rubbish and false.
So, for someone who is blaming an innocent person, it is not going to do them any good, even though the victim sends them blessings. Those who blame the innocent, it is not such a good thing. However, constructive criticism is essential.
This does not mean that you always say good things and nice things even when you feel nothing is okay. You put a smile on your face, but you feel very angry inside. This is not going to work. We should be genuine. We should be honest. You know, suppressing anger inside is also another problem. At the same time, being a time bomb all the time or a timeless bomb is even dangerous. So, we need a certain balance in life, certain wisdom. Silence, meditation and all these practices will take you in that direction.
Now, don’t tell me, ‘Oh, I have been doing meditation for so long but I still lose my temper’. Never mind. If you were losing your temper a hundred times, now you are losing it a dozen times. If you were losing your temper a dozen times, maybe you lose it a couple of times now. So, it always reduces.
You can never say that it does not work at all. When you blame someone, just analyze what your purpose of blaming is. You want to correct the person, is that why you are blaming? Or are you blaming just because you want to vent out your emotions? What is your attitude? Why do you want to do it? Venting out your emotions or blaming someone only shows how immature you are, how much jealousy you have, how you have no control over your own mind, and how much more you need meditation and all this. Isn’t it?
There is a very beautiful couplet in Kannada which I used to study in school. It says, ‘If you have built a home in the forest and you say that you are scared of animals, what can I tell you? You have built a home on the seashore and then you are scared of waves, what can I advise you? And you have built a home right in the middle of the city, and you are averse to noise, what can I advise you? In the same way, having built a home on the top of a hill, you say that you don’t like breeze, you don’t like wind and you are scared of wind, what can I tell you? Similarly, being in this world, in the society, if you are scared of blame and praise and say that I don’t want to be praised or blamed, what can I tell you? I take refuge at the feet of my lord and then there is comfort wherever I am. The only comfort is the refuge at the feet of the lord’. It is so beautiful!
Which is the place where there is no fear? That is when I take refuge at the feet of the Divine. In school, we used to laugh at these little poems in our textbooks. But now I think they have removed all these poems.
So, that used to be a lesson for us, that if someone blames you or criticizes you or they praise you, you should treat them the same, you should not be worried about it. Stand up to criticism. And give constructive criticism with compassion. A criticism should go with compassion and care. That works. Blaming is out of anger, jealousy, hatred and does not work. It does not yield any result.
Q: Q: Dear Gurudev, I feel that the current education system is often more harmful to the children. We are taught to compete instead of cooperate and encouraged to study for grades and jobs instead of learning for the joy of understanding things. We are forced to absorb information and facts instead of pursuing things at our own pace and knowledge. What is your guidance on this, Guruji? Should we seek out schools without exams and a rigid syllabus?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, though the education system is not perfect, we are compelled to go with the flow, because only then your child will get a job. They will get an academic recognition. Even in medical science, there are many textbooks that were written long ago but are being taught today. Today’s modern medicine has made many things irrelevant, but we still go on studying the old textbooks.
Yesterday, I heard that there are some 43 genes that cause heart problems, but our medical science only knows five or six. They think of only those parameters. They don’t know the other parameters.
So, science is being updated every day. New researchers are coming up and old paradigms have become obsolete. There is a paradigm shift, but children are still studying the same syllabus in schools and colleges. It takes quite a while for them to update the syllabus.
For example, in history there was an Aryan invasion theory, which said that Aryans came from central Asia and invaded India. Today, they have proved that to be wrong and a complete falsehood. But still, the textbook carries the same story. It may take another decade for them to change all this. But there is no option. If someone says, ‘No, I will not study this, I will do it on my own’, they will not get a degree. They will not get a job. They will not even be considered as an educated person, though they may be more knowledgeable. If you are just studying for your own hobby, for your own joy, for gaining knowledge and wisdom, you don’t need any academics. But when you are seeking it as a profession, seeking a job, you will have to go with the flow.
In the past, several wise men have tried this. Many people have been experimenting this, but the success of this project is a big question mark. We don’t know how many children who have studied there have gotten a job and have become successful in their careers. They may have, but it is a big question mark.
Home schooling is good in America; more and more people are doing home schooling. I am not saying no, but you may have to find out about it. If you have a family business, then degrees don’t matter at all, because your children will anyways manage the family business. Then they can do anything they want.
Q: At the time of death what is the ideal mantra to chant, or image to have? The scriptures say that if you do it right, you can achieve moksha (liberation). Also, what can the family members chant or whisper or do for the dying person to help liberate them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Om Namah Shivaya is what I would say. Om Namah Shivaya or Om Namo Narayanaya or Hari Om; any of these.
Q: What causes me to lose my connection to you many times, only to find it again? Can you comment on this? Is this going to change one day?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Know that the loosing of connection is an illusion and having the connection is the reality.
Sometimes, when there are dark clouds, the blue sky doesn’t appear. The blue sky has not gone anywhere. In a few moments, those dark clouds will disappear. Sky is always there. It is there before the clouds, after the clouds, during the clouds, all the time. In the same way, one’s connection is always there; it is an illusion that it appears to be disconnected.
Q: Is Atman one or many? If it is one, what carries individual karma and takes it from one body to another? What retains the individuality even after one is enlightened? Is there one enlightened being or many?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With the questions you asked, we could write a book! We will take it all up sometime. Right now, you keep wondering about that.
Q: Do you know which member in the audience is asking the question that is being read aloud?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: As long as you take the answer, it is good. Don’t think that answer is for someone else. That question is yours and the answer is just for you.
Q: What does Om mean when we chant it 3 times, what does it invoke in us?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, somewhere in Boston during Guru Purnima in 2010, a lady from the Boston-Connecticut area had done a research where they recorded the sound Om, put it in the computer and found that the frequency of Omis exactly the same as the frequency of earth’s rotation around its own axis. So, in some sense, earth is saying Om. It is very interesting.
Om is called the sound of one hand clapping. Om is the eternal sound; Om is the sound which is there in the universe all the time.
All the saints in the past, when they went deep into meditation, they just heard Om. So, Om means many things. It means love, eternity, purity, peace. Om is made up of several dhatus: ‘Ah’ ‘Oo’ ‘Ma’. Just ‘Ah’ has 19 meanings.
You can derive some several thousand meanings from Om. All those meanings are attributed to Om, so Om is the seed of the whole creation; Om is the sound of creation.
In Bible too, it is said, ‘In the beginning there was a word and the word was with God and the word was God’. That isOm.
There they don’t say which word; the word is Om.
It is in all the religions in some or the other form. That is the true name, ‘Ek Omkar Sat Naam’. Om means truth. It is the name of the infinity or the Divinity. It means love. It is the origin of the universe.
There is a beautiful verse in the Guru Granth Sahib, which begins with ‘Ek Omkar Sat Naam, Karta Purakh’ – From Omeverything has come, in Om everything dwells, and into Om everything will dissolve; both matter and consciousness.
The best thing is that it is a complete vibration. ‘Ah’ affects the lower part of the body, ‘Oo’ affects the middle part, ‘Ma’ affects the upper part. The total prana is represented by one syllable Om. Before birth, we were part of that sound and after death we will merge with that sound; the sound of the spirit. So, you can say many things about Om. There is a whole Upanishad, the Mandukya Upanishad, which is all about Om.
Now, why don’t we take only Om as a mantra? Why do we need any other mantra to chant during meditation? Before meditation, you chant Om and create the vibration, but for meditation you need different mantras. Just Om is not used;Hari Om or Om Namah Shivaya, or something else is used along with Om.
Only recluses, those who want to do nothing with the world, or are very old are allowed to do chant Om. Even then, it is not advisable.
Q: Is enlightenment achieved through meditation only?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Is thirst quenched through water only? Is hunger quenched through food only? Or can you dance and get rid of your hunger? What do you say? Seva is essential; seva, meditation, all that are essential.
Q: I am not sure about what I want to do in life. I want to ask you but I don’t even know what to ask and what exactly I want. I get bored doing anything in very little time. I find myself being very moody. I am not satisfied or happy doing anything. How can I live my life with this kind of mental state?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You want comfort too much. Get out of your comfort zone. You are only thinking of your comfort and pleasure; that is when you get into this sort of stage or state.
You are here to be useful to somebody else. You are here to do something useful to someone. How can you be bored? Even if you are bored, you have to do that, because what you do is useful to someone else. If you are self-centered, and you think, ‘If I like it only then I will do it’, then that is not seva. That won’t bring you satisfaction. Do you see what I’m saying?
‘I don’t like meeting people’, but you are meeting people for your sake or for their sake? If you are meeting people for their sake, then your life is fulfilling.
You may say, ‘Guruji, you can do this, but what about me? I cannot do this.’ At least do something! You don’t have to do what I am doing; at least do a portion of it, maybe ten percent or five percent. See, I am very free, but yet I am not free. Every day of mine is bound. Do you see what I am saying?
You have all come here to be in satsang with me, I will say, ‘Oh, I don’t feel like being here. I feel moody. I want to go somewhere, to Shawinigan, Trois-Riveres’, and I take a car and just walk away and you are sitting here, waiting for Guruji, where is Guruji?
I don’t want to do this but I am doing it all the 365 days. I am answering the same questions; people are saying, ‘Will you find a husband for me?’ ‘Will you find a wife for me?’ or ‘Get me a job’, or do this, or do that, or take a picture with me, ‘You don’t care for me’, ‘You care for me’; all these stories. Do I feel bored? I have been doing this for 30 years now; more than 30 years, even before The Art of Living too, for 40 years!
I can’t say I want to go somewhere for a ride. So, do something that is good for others. I need so much of your time, your work. Don’t worry about whether you like it or not, just do it and see. Sometimes you don’t like doing things in the beginning, but later on, you will reap the fruit of that action. Any seva you do will always take you up; it will always bring you benefits, beyond your imagination. So don’t underestimate that. Do you see what I am saying?
Otherwise, if you are doing everything to satisfy your own self, you will be bored, because nothing in the world can satisfy you. And you are lucky in a way that you are getting so bored so quickly. You are so lucky; you are the right person as a seeker, you have the right ingredients to grow because you get bored with all these material things. That is good.
One very good thing with the kids these days is that they get bored with everything very soon, but instead of getting frustrated, they should move that whole energy in another direction of evolution, to go higher.