June 30, 2012, Boone, North Carolina (New Ashram of Art of Living)
Q: Guruji, sometimes, dealing with kids gets so tricky that I tend to lose my patience. Everyday I decide to be calm, but when the situation arises I am not able to control myself. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You can’t do anything about it now, you have to live life spontaneously. Do you see what I am saying? It is okay to sometimes lose your temper, never mind. You should leave a little room for imperfection in life, and start accepting. What did you learn in the Part 1 Course? Accept people and situations as they are. It is a lifetime process. Every day you get reminded of this. When these situations come to you, you get reminded, ’Yes, I have to do this, this and this.’ So this is the direction in which we go. Sometimes you slip here and there, never mind, keep moving. Definitely one day, you will achieve perfection.
The other day, one teacher who has been in The Art of Living for around 20 years said to me, ‘Guruji, sometimes it feels so strange that I am happy all the time. Come what may I am happy’.
And I said, ‘Finally!’ 20 years is not too much time, it is okay. But you don’t need to take 20 years. Turn back and see the growth in you; this is why these celebrations are done. What is the purpose of Guru Purnima? Once in a year, you turn back and see where you were and how much you have progressed. How you respond differently to situations now and how your reactions have reduced and responses have increased. So, life is a continuous process. Isn’t it so?
How many of you feel that a lot of transformation has already happened? (Many raise their hands). No one can say that nothing has happened. No one can say, ‘I have not transformed. There is not an iota of change in me.’
If someone says that you should salute them because they are born enlightened. Some kids are there to teach you a lot of lessons. And it is okay for mothers and fathers to sometimes get upset with their kids. You don’t have to bring them up with all rosy, rosy, nicey, nicey and sweet words all the time. Then you will make them very weak. I have seen parents who have never scolded their children. These children when they grow old, they can’t stand any criticism. A little criticism, a little disrespect from someone or a little bit of failure rattles them. They become so upset because they never experienced anything like that at home.
So at home, being upset with kids sometimes (not all the time), is like giving them a vaccination so they get stronger to the world outside home. But don’t take this as an excuse to all the time get upset with the kids, it does not work. Too much of it is also bad. If you are scolding your children every day on a routine basis, they become so thick skinned and they go all the way to the other side, which is also not good. A little dose here and there is okay.
Usually in the Vedic astrology they say, ‘Out of 30 points, 20 matches and 10 you will have to
compromise.’ So these calculations are there. It is good to know this, so if one of you gets upset you get reminded that you need compromise a little more; yes! Of course, planets do have an influence, but don’t think it is one way. You too have an influence on the planets. It is two ways. In the universe it is all two ways.
So what you can do? You can do chanting. That is why it is said, ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is a chant which controls all the planets. On top of all the planets is the Shiva principle. So correction is available there. The correction is Om Namah Shivaya because this chant has all the elements which can nullify any bad effect.
Do you know the reason why there is the number 108? How many of you don’t know what 108 signifies? 108 signifies the nine planets and 12 houses, the constellations. When nine planets move through 12 constellations, they make 108 different changes. So to nullify those changes or any unpleasant effect, we say Om Namah Shivaya. So it is like a shield. It is considered a very auspicious mantra. Even the steps to this hall are 108 steps from the bottom. That means you transcend all planetary effects and rise to pure consciousness.
Sadhana, pranayama, meditation, satsang, chanting, singing, what is the point of doing all this if everything is being ruled by the planet? No, these are like the checks and balances. They will counter the effects and bring more independence; otherwise our consciousness is dependent on time and space. Also, sadhana brings freedom, to a great extent. I won’t say 100%, but yes, to a great extent. It is like, when it is raining and you go out, you have a choice, either you go out and get drenched, or take a rain coat and not get drenched.
Q: If you are not sure of a decision, for example, getting married, should you just go with the flow and get married or wait until you are certain?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should ask your partner with whom you want to get married.
There are some who are fickle minded, who need a push to do anything, including marriage. And there are others who face such situations once in a while. So I leave the choice to you.
And there are yet others, who would like to marry every time they see a beautiful girl or boy, and the moment it starts becoming a little more concrete, they have doubts whether they should or they should not, or if somebody else may be better. Again, here I would say, take the opinion of your partner, whether they want to get married to you, to such a fickle minded person. Do you know what my usual answer for all these questions are? Choice is yours, blessing is mine!
Q: I have a sincere desire to bring the Prison Smart Program to Miami, Florida. My degree is criminology and psychology. Our state has more money allocated to prisons, buildings and education. How can I help?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is good, go ahead. And when you go to meet the prison officials, don’t go alone. Go as a group of four to five and talk to them and convince them. Show them the videos and show them the experience of people who have undergone the program, and what transformation has occurred in their lives. I know, no sane person will say no when they see all these experiences. They are simply amazing and touches anyone’s heart.
Q: Death has no age. So when a person, young or old dies, is their soul of the same age?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Soul does not have an age, and you said it correct, nor does death.
Death does not have a time and soul does not have an age, correct! Everything starts from the beginning.
Q: How do I get clarity when things are very ambiguous?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a proverb in Chinese which says – When you feel so confused, take a pillow and go to bed. When you wake up next morning, you will be much better.
You know it is our ambition; our over ambitiousness does not let us choose things.
I just received an interesting SMS from somebody. A devotee went to a very rich person’s home and they asked him, ‘What would you like to drink – coffee, tea, coke, hot chocolate, milk, ojasvita’, and the list went on. Then the devotee said, ‘Okay, I’ll have tea.’ Then he said, ‘What tea would you like to have? Ceylon tea, Fruit tea, Darjeeling tea, Indian tea or Burmese tea’, they gave a choice of another ten teas. He said, ‘Okay, Ceylon tea.
’ And then they said, ‘Do you want black tea, milk tea, cold tea, or tea with lemon in it. What type of tea?’ He said, ‘Milk tea.’ ‘What type of milk do you want? Pasteurized, unpasteurized, whole milk, 2%, 2.5% or 10%?’ He said, ‘Oh my god! Let me have black tea.’ ‘So then do you want sugar in it?’ He said, ‘Yes please.’
Then they said, ‘What sugar do you want? Crystal sugar, brown sugar or honey; what do you want?’ He said, ‘Oh! I am dying out of thirst!’ And then the person asked, ‘How do you want to die? Become a shareholder in our company or our supplier?’ So too many choices can make your head reel.
Q: Please comment on this. I see so many people who are very close to you. I feel that I am not special. How do I feel the personal connection with you? I feel it is necessary to have personal connection in order to be 100% on the path.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Certain things you should assume, and this is one of the things that you should assume – we have a personal connection; that is it, full stop. Now, don’t question it another time.
No point in questioning your connection. We are all connected. There is no choice. Neither do I have a choice, nor do you have a choice. So relax, put to rest this particular question if it bothers you. Don’t think some are close to me and some are not; someone is special and someone is not special. No, you are as special and everyone is unique.
Engage yourself in any of the project. The more you engage in some or the other project, the more we will have to interact. Otherwise what is there to interact? ‘Hello! How are you? Are you doing fine?’ And you will say, ‘Yes’, and I will say, ‘Yes’, and that is it, we part. But if you have something to do, like Sushant has done something on Twitter, so I said to Sushant, ‘Let us see, come and let us discuss. I want to learn what Twitter is.’
Sushant got an award, do you know about that? He was in Obama’s campaign and he did something with Twitter and was awarded for that, just two days back.
So when everyone was scratching their head, he came up with an innovative idea. He thought out of the box and the company honored him. The company Twitter honored him for thinking out-of-the-box.
So take a project like that. Take a project on whatever you like.
Now Meenakshi came up with a wonderful cookbook. Meenakshi and her team have come up with a cookbook. It is not a book actually but pages that cooks can keep in front of them and start cooking.
So it is a project and like that if everyone comes up with a project then there is something to sit and talk about. Otherwise in silence, in meditation, we are already connected, we are linked. And anytime you need any help anywhere, when you ask, do you get it or not? How many of you get it? (Everyone raises their hands).
See, everyone gets it. So I am doing my job!
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Never mind, don’t worry; don’t identify yourself with the thoughts. Thoughts are thoughts, they come and go, don’t worry. As long as you don’t give them power, you don’t act on them, you are very safe.
It takes time for your consciousness to be so dispassionate and so centered that such thoughts don’t occur to your mind, and it doesn’t happen right away. I tell you, it takes its own time.
You might have noticed, as your sadhana improves, these sorts of thoughts are fewer and fewer, isn’t it? Erotic and violent thoughts are fewer and fewer.
Q: Thank you so much for blessing me to be here on this inauguration. It was so amazing. Each of the speakers touched my heart with their words. I would like to thank my sister and parents who have been a combination of mediation, commitment and service. In the least of my imaginations did I ever see myself here, this moment! I also want to thank my Art of Living teachers, brothers and sisters, who at different times have inspired me to stay on this path. My husband has been an amazing inspiration and my son as well, whom I consider my first Guru. He has made me a seeker. Thank you so very much for everything.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is good. This is what we need to recognize. Our company is something important. Our friends, our relatives can take us up and they can pull us down too. You also have to see, anyone who tends to go towards negativity, you should try to pull them up. Get them out of the negative tendencies. It is very easy to succumb to negative emotions; blaming, complaining, world over this is so prevalent, isn’t? But it is the knowledge that is so precious. When we soak ourselves more and more in knowledge, we gain that strength to move up and pull everyone up.
Usually formal programs are very boring, half the people fall asleep or dose off. But today’s program was very good, everybody was alive. And another thing, don’t think the whole credit goes to the speakers; it depends on the audience as well. It is the audience that brings out the good things in a speaker as well. So, when you are all here, very conscious and aware people, when you are all sitting here with such a beautiful heart, beautiful intentions and big vision, the speaker can’t but speak appropriate things. So it is always a combination of the speaker and the listener. And the speaker, however good they are, if the audience is not receptive, the right words simply won’t flow. There will be a block.
Q: How do we deal with anger and hatred towards somebody whom we cannot avoid; especially when both are completely at different frequencies?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First realize you are magnanimous. If you believe in your magnanimity and your inner beauty, it will become easier for you to handle all such situations. When you don’t look within, when you are simply focusing on the behavior of others, it will definitely rattle your mind. Then you try to correct the other person and you will be unsuccessful. People who irritate you, in some way or the other can bring about the best in you. They can bring out the talents and skills in you. See, when everyone around you is wonderful you don’t need any skill to handle a situation. It will only happen when there are people whom you think are unreasonable. So it is an exercise, take it as an exercise as much as possible. I know it is not an easy job. At least, you save your mind. I have spoken a lot about this in the books Celebrating Silence and Celebrating Love, go over it.
The moment deep acceptance starts coming from within you will suddenly find the other person also changes. It is strange, but true. When we change, they also change.
Q: I do a lot for my family members and yet they are all always saying I am wrong. What should I do? How to deal with it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t say that they always say you are wrong. If they always say that you are wrong then it would not bother you or even touch you. You would take it as their nature. Sometimes they would have said that you did right as well. Isn’t that so? If you can appreciate them when they say you are right, and when they appreciate you, you should also accept when they don’t appreciate what you are doing, and say that you say wrong. You should find a middle path. You know, often, we generalize and externalize the problem. ‘Oh, I am always wrong’, ‘Oh, I am always right’, ‘Oh, I am always like this’, ‘Everybody is bad.’ This sort of generalization and externalization of problems is very common. We should make an effort to step out of that and go beyond that. Just smile. If you feel that they are unreasonable in their comments and they are always criticizing you, just smile. Don’t be bothered about it at all. Educate and ignore, and walk your path. What can you do? Every time you sit for meditation, someone comes and complains, ‘Why are you sitting and closing your eyes, it is useless, don’t do it’, never mind. When you wake up, smile, and sit again the next day and they will turn around.
Q: If love is our true nature then why does it feel so good to hurt someone when you have been hurt yourself? How do you stop yourself from retaliating against others?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Again, you should read Intimate Note to the Sincere Seeker. I have spoken in so many words on these issues. Do you want the chain to continue? You hurt them, they hurt you and they retaliate. Do you like to be retaliated? I am asking you a question. Unintentionally a mistake has happened through you. Suppose someone starts retaliating because you did something wrong. Whatever you said or did hurt them deeply, and you said sorry a hundred times. Still they want to retaliate and take revenge, what would be the state of your mind? How do you like it? Why don’t you get into the other person’s shoes and see for a minute? You wouldn’t want that. You would say, ‘No! I asked forgiveness. I asked to be pardoned.’
Just imagine if someone refuses to pardon you for small things which you did unintentionally or out of ignorance, would you like it? When you like to be forgiven, how come you don’t want to forgive?
And this, enjoying hurting others, is not the right thing. It is simply you wanting attention that is all. This you need to correct. This is our mind’s sickness. It is the sickness of our own mind being happy making someone miserable. What do you call it? Sadistic! Enjoying someone’s suffering makes you happy. ‘Look, you made me suffer and I make you suffer’, that type of joy is not for you, no! It appears to be a joy momentarily but it comes back to you a million times more, so don’t go for it. There are better ways of joy. When you forgive, see what big joy, what big comfort it brings to you. When someone comes and apologizes, it is our magnanimity to say, ‘Oh, okay never mind.’ I tell you our magnanimity is in forgiving, and that is what we do. But if they continue to do wrong, if they don’t respect your forgiveness, then take a stick. Then go, challenge them; go to court or whatever. But you should give ample chances for one to correct them self. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness; it should not be taken for granted. At the same time, not forgiving, doesn’t show or speak very good of you. What do you think? Isn’t it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know when marriages break down you have to deal with the children’s psychology with care. Often parents pour all their grievances onto those young minds. They say bad things about their spouse so that the children remain closer to them. Don’t do that. Don’t say your father or your mother is very bad; this does not help in any way. All that you should make them understand, both of you together is that, ‘We have chosen to go in our different roads but we both care for you.’ That is it. It is a very delicate and very tricky situation, but it is a momentary one. You know this hard time will pass; you must know that. Just have patience and devotion. Your devotion, your meditation, your sadhana, all this will come to your help, okay?
Sometimes we will have to take the hard reality of life and not brood over it; and have a better vision. Also, give your children a bigger vision of the future. If you keep them engaged in something about the future they don’t go on chewing on the present bitter moment and take it too much to heart. So you should give them a vision of a better future, or talk to them about what they should do when they grow up, or what is needed for the country. As bigger challenges and bigger problems come in front of you, then the small individual personal bickering and issues lose their significance. That is the best way to handle this situation.
Q: What is the purpose of performing a long pooja as opposed to a short pooja.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, it is just like your daily meditations and your advance course with longer meditations. They all have their impact. Poojas don’t have to be too long, but these poojas are done for the masses. Not for one individual, but for the entire population.
Q: Why do we turn to the right side and not to the left side at the end of Kriya? I have asked this before, nobody gives an answer.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh, they are wise! They expect you to come for the Teacher’s Training Course (TTC), and Teacher’s Refresher Meet, that is where we discuss these things.
Those are the real secrets!