Words from Him

Words form Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living foundation

Monday, September 25, 2006

On Navaratri

‘Nava’ means nine. It also means ‘fresh’ or ‘new’. ‘Ratri’,‘ra’ means giving solace or rest. ‘Tri’ means three. There are three types of botherations or problems that may affect a person - physical, mental, spiritual. That which gives you relief from all these difficulties is ‘ratri’. ‘Ratri’ or night relieves you and brings you comfort. It takes you into its arms and puts you to sleep. Even birds and animals go to sleep at night. The night relaxes everybody, whether happy, unhappy or miserable, everybody goes to sleep. ‘Navaratri’ means the new night or the nine nights that give you rest from all these three types of problems.
The nine days represent the nine months spent by the baby in the mother’s womb. It represents the evolution of the consciousness to a heightened awareness.
In life, there are positive and negative qualities that affect us. Navaratri represents how the negativity can be conquered by the inherent positive qualities in an individual so that one emerges as a divine being.
In the ashram, when such a celebration happens, it is done for the benefit of all of humanity. It is done with an intention that all the people should be happy; there should be good rainfall, prosperity in the country and so on. Many 'homas' are conducted with the chanting of 'mantras' creating an atmosphere of positivity and celebration.
'Mantras' remove fear from the mind. They break the thread of repetitive thoughts and bring the mind to the present moment, which is the field of all possibilities. The sound energy of the mantras charges the atoms positively. These vibrations are absorbed by every atom of our body.
'Homas' are ancient ways of purifying the individual and collective consciousness. They have three aspect; Devapuja -honoring the divine in all its forms, Sangatikarana -hastening the process of evolution by bringing together the elements of creation and Dana -sharing what you have been blessed with.
Women are celebrated during these days. In the Hindu mythology, the three deities Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati representing courage, wealth and wisdom are celebrated.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Awakened intelligence

In Indian culture, having a master was not just considered a matter of pride, but it was mandatory. Not having a master was looked down upon as being an orphan, being poor and a sign of misfortune. The word anatha in Sanskrit means one without a master. An acharya (teacher) gives shiksha, which means knowledge; Guru gives diksha which means heightened awareness. A Guru does not simply fill you with knowledge, but he kindles the life force in you. In the presence of the Guru, you become more alive. The pinnacle of intellect is awakened intelligence. The Guru invokes not only intelligence but also the intellect in you. Knowledge may not invoke intelligence, but in a state of intelligence, knowledge is inherent. The guru principle pervades your life. Your mother is your first guru and then from science to spirituality, from birth to death, guru principle permeates your life. There is a guru for every discipline - a religious guru (dharma), a family guru (kula), a rajguru (guru for the kingdom), a vidya guru (guru for a particular discipline) and a sadguru (spiritual guru).
In the Upanishads, five signs of a sadguru are mentioned. In the presence of a sadguru, knowledge flourishes (gyana raksha), sorrow diminishes (dukha kshaya), joy wells up without any reason (sukha aavirbhava), abundance dawns (samriddhi) and all talents manifest (sarva samvardhan). Once you have found a sadguru, remember that he or she is always there with you, watching and giving you wisdom. Spiritual path is not a path of learning more; it is a path of unlearning. There is no end to learning, but there is an end to unlearning and unlearning can be complete. Enlightenment is unlearning. Learning has no end; unlearning has an end. That means if the path is endless, then that is no path. The true path is one that takes you home and kindles that love deep in you. Only unlearning takes you home, but the mind is ambitious. It wants to learn; it wants to learn this and that. The ambitious mind keeps looking for new things and you get fooled everywhere. It cannot attain anything. It's the ambition that becomes a hindrance. An intention to learn more is essential, but you should not let it become too much, like feverishness. A little bit of salt in the food is good, but if the salt is more than a pinch, you cannot eat the food. It is the desire for something higher that motivates you, that moves you. If there is no salt in the food, you cannot eat that food. It doesn't taste good, and it's the same with too much salt in the food. Feverishness for enlightenment itself is also a hindrance. Attachments cause feverish breath and feverish breath takes away peace of mind. Real freedom is the freedom from the future and freedom from the past. When you are not happy with the present moment, you desire for a bright future. Desire simply means that the present moment is not alright. This causes tension in the mind. Every desire causes feverishness. In a state of feverishness, meditation doesn't happen. You may sit with eyes closed, but desires keep arising, thoughts keep arising; you fool yourself that you are meditating. Without fighting the attachments, observe the feverish breath and go to the cool place of silence within. As long as some desires linger in your mind, you cannot be at total rest.