Devotion is a gift. You can’t take credit for your own devotion. You can’t say, ‘I’m so devoted’.
You can’t take any credit. If you are so devoted it is a gift; such a blessing.
What does devotion do? Devotion gives you immense happiness, deep love and Siddhis.
Siddhi means what you think happens and what you want happens, you bless somebody and it happens; all this happen through that state of your being. Devotion is the state of our being.
In the yoga sutras Rishi Patanlaji said, ‘Samadhi siddhirishwarpranidhanat’, devotion towards the Divine brings perfection of Samadhi. It makes your meditation so serene, and takes you to the perfected state.
So we can never say, ‘Oh I am so devoted’, if you are so devoted it is such a gift. Just pray that let this stay with me forever. Not to let anything else spoil it.
Devotion is like a diamond; don’t trade it for anything that is muddy. A diamond should never be traded for a cup of mud.
Do you know where you tend to lose your devotion? Doing something that is related to temporary things, fighting with somebody, wanting something, like wanting a job, or your relationship doesn’t work then your devotion suffers.
You lose your job and your devotion suffers. If somebody blames you then your devotion is gone. If your work does not happen then your devotion is gone. So we are losing our devotion over a few dollars or over small things. A little fight with somebody and you feel all your devotion is gone. Isn’t it?
It is the small things and small little desires where we lose devotion, and it is not worth losing. Isn’t it?
See, if you are a medical professional, you give medicine to people, and most of the time it works but sometimes it does not work. It depends on many things. It depends on karma.
Similarly in your life many things happen and some things don’t happen, but at least hold onto the devotion.
Again I am saying, sometimes it appears to have gone or going away, then also you can’t do anything about it. Just relax and pray for it.
So devotion is a gift, you can’t take mileage out of it, and you shouldn’t. If you take then that is the way we start slipping out of mediation and out of devotion. That is what happens, we recognize the devotion and try to take mileage out of it, and ascertain, ‘I am so devoted’.
If you are conscious of this, just be like a child and let go. If you are devoted, feel grateful for being devoted, then that is a safe track. Then the devotion grows every moment.
See, in action there is never perfection. In any great act you will always find 1% flaw. Nature is like that. Any action however good it is, however beneficial it is, there will be a little bit of imperfection in it. Samadhi becomes perfected with devotion.
Now if you think, ‘Oh, I don’t feel the devotion, what do I do?’ Do nothing, just relax! Don’t think you don’t have it. You have it, it has not manifested now, but it will. A little more merit, do some seva and some good things and then it will manifest. Be in knowledge and it will come up.
Also the astrological situation has an impact on devotion in the beginning, for beginners. When a particular planet’s conjunction happens, at that time, the first thing that happens is devotion goes into the background. So when the Jupiter planet comes in the eight house it is called Ashtama Guru.
It is said that the pundits know that the person is going through Ashtama Guru, and he is going to go through turmoil for that one year.
What will happen then? The mind goes all over the place, mind is in turmoil, every decision is wrong, anything he does becomes hopeless, and moreover he loses all interest in spirituality. It happens once every 12 years. It can be for two months, six months or a maximum for one year.
For two months it will be intense, or for four months or six months. So when someone knows, ‘Oh this is my Ashtama Guru that is why my mind is like that’, then you have diagnosed the disease and you know why your mind is going like that.
If you don’t know, then you think, ‘Oh, I have wasted my whole life. Why did I do pranayama, why I did I do all these things. It is all a waste’, this is what happens and you stop doing everything. After one year’s time, then you realize, ‘Oh my God, I did a blunder, where did my mind go.’ You think that way.
Astrologers know and the people know in India, what you call sadesati, seven and a half years of Saturn. At that time people really lose all their material relationships, material wealth and for some people it is a very hard time. Health and all these concerns come if someone is only outward.
But if someone is spiritual then that same situation will make them so much better. It depends on how the person is. You must have heard people around saying, ‘Oh, for seven years nothing is working for me. I try but everything is a flop.’ This happens in the Saturn’s seven and half years that comes once in every 30 years. So it comes only twice in a lifetime, not too often. But that is good enough to shake a person; fry somebody.
Usually if it comes when a person is a child, within 15 to 20 years of age, it doesn’t have much impact, but only in the middle age it has an impact. But if it comes to somebody after they are 50 years, then also there is not much of an impact.
So this period of seven and half years also brings turmoil. In a way it makes a person turn inward. If you have noticed, those of you who came on the spiritual path, you came because there was some crisis. How many of you came because of crisis? This is what Saturn does. It creates a situation so that you get so fed up of the outside and you turn inside. In that way it is very good.
But Ashtama Guru that comes once in every 12 years is when faith is shaken. You even wonder whether there is a God or not. Nothing appears worthwhile. Everything appears tasteless and directionless, and feelings of boredom and confusion get generated. But that is for a short time.
And the moment you are in satsang, that moment the mind gets uplifted. All this gets cleared. That is why in the Guru’s presence or in satsang, or in sadhana, these planetary effects are minimum. It just does not affect you so much. People experience this over and over again, so many times.
That is why these traditions are such. The way they have put together, it is so amazing, and it is amazing how the tradition is kept and knowledge is maintained.
Q: Guruji, please explain how to determine if something is a feeling or an intuition.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Time will tell you.
Q: If the creator is real then how can this world which is part of the creator be an illusion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What does illusion mean? Illusion means appears to be.
See in a hologram, all the figures appear. In the hologram all the rays are real, but the figures are temporary. They are not the real existence. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Actually the word Maya means that which changes, that which can be measured. And measurement is not the same. If something weighs one kilo here, when you go to the North Pole it will weigh different and if you go to Singapore that same thing will weigh different. If you go to moon, its weight will be just 1/6th of what it weighs here. And this knowledge people had in the past. That is why they said this whole universe can be measured and measurement is not real.
Q: Einstein’s special theory of relativity which gives us E=MC2 is based on the fact that the speed of light is the only thing that doesn’t change. Can you say something about that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With the discovery of dark matter and dark energy they say that there is a very big difference. Even the measurement of light is only relative, it is not absolute.
In that sense, love, light, etc., cannot be measured, it is all part of the Divinity, it is not Maya.
But this dark energy and dark matter which science has come up with now is very interesting. That is what has been said even in the Rig Veda. It is said that in the beginning the universe was dark energy covered by darkness. People would not understand this; they found it very weird and something with no sense. But in the Nasadiya Sukta (known as the hymn of creation), it says, ‘Neither this was, nor that was, it was all dark energy covered by darkness.’
The latest discovery about that is absolutely befitting. Actually, it looks like it has been translated from Sanskrit. And it talks about, what you call the Milky Way, how all the planets and stars were just gas and water. How from space element gas came and light came. The friction from the gas made light, from light came water and from water came the earth. It is such a beautiful description of the galaxy.
Q: Dearest Guruji, can we meditate on you instead of a mantra? What is the best way to mediate to merge into your energy and become you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now just take the mantra and let it go, don’t do anything.
Q: In my school, almost all the children say bad words, how can I control myself from saying these words? And how can I help them to stop saying these words?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have the power. You are superman, I tell you. You be determined, ‘I will not say any bad words.’
Do you know, I have not said one bad word all these years? So when I could do it, you can also do it. Never has it come to me, even when I was upset. The worst word that has come out of me is, ‘Stupid’, that is all I have said. Nothing beyond that, no swearing, not a single bad word, ever.
Q: Why is the road of spirituality so difficult?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Difficult?! My goodness! This is the smoothest, effortless and easiest. Other jobs are very difficult. I go for the easiest things in the world. It is so comfortable and so easy, you can smile your way through, dance your way through. It is the other things in the world that you have to do that is difficult. When you have to fulfill adesire of yours, it is so difficult. But in the spiritual path, dropping the desire is so easy. You drop it and then you forget about it.
Q: If someone, whom you know loves and cares for you, doesn’t show it to you anymore, how do you still believe that they do and not get angry with them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Give them some time, let them take a break and recharge them self to show you their care back again. People do need a little bit of recharging again and again.
You have drawn all that love and attention from them and it needs a little more time to get recharged. Just know they are recharging their batteries. If you demand from someone to show you their love, it is not going to work. On the contrary, it will be counterproductive. So never demand and never question, ‘Why don’t you love me?’ Don’t say that.
In fact, you should say the other way around, ‘Why do you love me so much? I don’t deserve it. Why do you love me so much? You love me too much, I can’t take it anymore.’ Tell them this and you will see everything changes. You know, it is such a burden for someone to prove their love for you.
Suppose someone tells you the same thing, ‘I don’t think you love me, come on show me.’
Then you will think, ‘Oh my God, how should I prove that I really love him.’ It is such a burden and nobody wants to carry such a burden on their head all the time.
Everyday you come home and prove that you really love your spouse at home. No! Take it for granted and move on. Don’t try to make someone accountable to prove their love for you.
Q: As Buddha attained enlightenment he must have experienced what other masters experienced, yet he never spoke about God. Because of this some people even say that he was an atheist. Can you talk about this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, in Buddha’s time there were many concepts of God. Many people had read all the Upanishad.
You should remember all of Buddha’s followers were high intellectuals in contrast to the followers of Jesus; they were all fishermen; simpletons. But Buddha’s followers were well read high intellectuals, so they all knew about God; they knew about Brahman, they knew about Atma, they knew about everything. And when you start talking and discussing, it will only remain on that level.
Again, since there were so many schools of thought, if he would approve of any one school of thought then the other schools of thought will say, ‘No that is not that way,’ and then they would all go away from him. So Buddha was very clever, he said, ‘Let me not talk about all these different schools of thought. People will all come and really enjoy and find the truth for themselves’, because they were all stuck there as they all studied in big universities. There were big universities at that time, thousands of people were studying, and they studied all the different schools of thought, scriptures, medicine and everything. India was at its peak at that time.
So Buddha said, ‘I am not going to get into this argument. I just want to give them a simple technique.’ Like what we do. We don’t talk about a belief system, religion or anything. We simply say, ‘Just do Sudarshan Kriya’, and everybody does it – Muslims, Jewish people, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, everyone does it and they find the true experience of being hallow and empty.
So that is why Buddha said, ‘No, I am not going to speak about God.’ That was the right thing to do at that time.
Whereas Jesus was different, in his time there was only one school of thought there, in the village where he was teaching, and they all believed in God. Judaism was the only school of thought and they all depended on only that one book. So he spoke on the same lines of God, and then he introduced them to the knowledge without negating it.
Do you see what I am saying?
Moreover, his followers were very simple people. They did not even have that deep study of different scriptures. So it was easy, they all were charmed by the simple message of God is Love, and they followed.
Lord Buddha did exactly what he had to do and it was absolutely fine. That is why later on also, when Adi Shankara and other saints came, they found that there really is no difference between what Buddha said and what the Upanishads say. So India never became a Buddhist country because what Buddha said was already present.
Buddha never started a religion by himself; he lived as a Hindu monk. He became a Hindu monk and died also as a Hindu monk only. But afterwards Buddhism became a separated religion. He was just a reformer of the Hindu Sanatana, the ancient way of life. It was not even called a religion but just a way of life. He was part of the ancient way of life, and then it became a religion afterwards when it left India.
The influence of Lord Buddha was so much afterwards that people started forgetting all the Upanishads and everything, then Adi Shankara from the tradition, he came and he re-established Yoga and Vedanta. Adi Shankara said only thing, it is just one flip over and that is all that happened. Buddha said everything is emptiness. ‘I went deep in meditation and I searched but I could not find any Soul or any Self.’ This was his last sentence.
Adi Shankara said it in a different way, referring to Self as an object or as a substance. So Adi Shankara turned it around and he said, ‘Who could not find the Self, that is the Self, and this Self is all bliss, it is space.’
And then he just brought this whole knowledge, this philosophy back. Till this point, everything else said in Buddhism is the same – I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not this, I am not this – and then when you go to the center core, Buddha said, ‘There is nothing’, and Adi Shankara said, ‘There is everything. This is the spirit, this is consciousness, and the consciousness is in one place, and every place.’
So in short, just like Jesus, Adi Shankara also lived only for 32 years and in those 32 years, he traveled the length and breadth of what is India today, several times.
In those days there were no vehicles, no cell phones, nothing. So it is said, any direction Adi Shankara would walk there would be victory there, there would be celebration, because 500 years after Buddha, people became very pessimistic. It is said that people were not taking interest in anything in life. They said, ‘Life is anyways sorrow, life is misery, so we don’t have to do anything.’
So, the military was not there, the Kings were all discouraged, the celebration aspect simply vanished. People were only talking about Anitya – Everything is impermanent so just become hallow and empty. This was the only slogan that was being said throughout. But Adi Shankara said, ‘Come on, it is impermanent, but there is something permanent as well, so let everyone celebrate, sing, dance.’
Then he started Bhaja Govindam, and then music, dance, culture and all these things were re-introduced by Adi Shankara.
Q: I had my Upanayanam many years ago but I never quite understood the significance of the ceremony, the thread and Sandhyavandanam. Can you please explain? Isn’t Kriya enough, why Sandhyavandanam?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, you do Kriya, that is good enough and afterwards if you are being initiated, do the Gayatri Japa.
Gayatri Japa means – Let my intellect be inspired by the Divine.
It is our intellect which blocks the vast Divinity from expressing itself fully in life.
So, the prayer is, ‘May the Divine inspire my intellect. May the Supreme Energy manifest in my life and in my intellect.’
And in Upanayanam, they usually put a thread on you and the thread is to signify that you have a responsibility towards the knowledge, towards your parents and towards society. So it signifies carrying your responsibilities on the shoulders.
A young boy, before he goes to study, they make him realize that, ‘You have the responsibility.’ And then the child studies and comes back.
When you have finished all your responsibilities, in Sanyasa, then they remove the thread and throw it.
If you are a recluse, then you don’t have the thread. This is a system that has been followed from a long time.
Q: Guruji, string theory talks about parallel universes. Can you say something on this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, parallel universes are talked about. There are 14 worlds and they are parallel, one inside the other. Right here there could be many universes. The Pitra Loka is not somewhere else, it is right here. That is why our senses only analyze a few things – tanmatras.
There is a little bit of all the five elements present in our senses and because of their presence we are able to see and experience this. Like our tanmatra of light is different from the tanmatra of an owl. So if it is very dark outside, you can’t see, but an owl can see.
Tanmatras of bats is even different. Where you cannot see anything, bats can see. Its ability to perceive is different. You will need a torch to move around in your room when everything is dark, but a cat doesn’t need it, it will find its way. So, our all our five sensory perceptions are based on something called tanmatras – our frequency.
We are tuned to a particular frequency, but the universe is of infinite frequencies.
Q: I just started a new anti-psychotic drug for the condition I have. I would like to hear from you some message of inspiration or hope. I love you and I feel so much a part of you but I am feeling like a failure right now, and I worry that I won’t regain my talents. I keep fighting, but some words from you will be very helpful.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t fight. The body needs medicines, just take them, relax and be happy. If you have taken a step into spirituality, what you need to remember is – in any condition let me be happy, wherever I am, however I am, I want to be happy. I will be happy, I will keep smiling, and even if I have to go through a tough time, I will go through it with a smile – this one thought, this one determination you should have.