The Gift of Grace.

I am back after a refreshing Art of Living Part 2 Program, at the Bangalore Ashram in the presence of Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar). Advanced Programs are usually spread over 4 or 5 days (sometimes longer too for those who can’t have enough of the silence) comprising of yoga and deep meditations, with silence at the root of it. Every time I do this program, I feel deeply rested, the mind becomes clearer and for me creativity springs up. Needless to say, yet another poem sprang up based on my experience and wanted to share it with you all!

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Being in the world, but not of it!

This is a story that I tell usually at the end of the “Art of Living” programs that I facilitate and it lucidly illustrates the spiritual path.

One day, the king Akbar, asks his witty and clever minister, Birbal, to bring him someone who was “Here and not There”.

Not obeying the order would mean death.

Birbal thought deeply and brings a thief to the King and says “This thief lives here in this world and steals trying to grow his wealth Here. He has no concern for the other world. So he is fit to be one who qualifies for the one who is “Here and not There”.

Akbar, not to be outdone, then orders him to bring someone who is “There and not Here”.

Birbal, ponders and a while later brings an ascetic and tells Akbar: “Here is a person who is concerned only about the world beyond and has nothing to do with the world here. He qualifies for one who is “There and not Here”.

Impressed, Akbar now tells him to bring him someone who is “Neither Here nor There”. Birbal brings a beggar and tells the King that the beggar is neither Here nor There, because he is not participating in the world in any sense and has no concern for anything related to spiritual matters either.

Akbar, then asks Birbal if there is anyone in the world who is both Here and There?

Birbal, brings a simple household couple and says “The man and woman work in the world and tend to their family, but do everything in the world with God in their thoughts. Because they do the work of the world and allow their spiritual practices to carry them through both the good and the bad times, they are a man and woman who are both Here and There.”

Source: The Path of the Everyday Here by Lorna Catford.

Creating Space for People, Events and Things

It was a jam packed hall last night in Los Angeles, where Guruji was giving a talk, and in the middle of the talk, he stopped and saw that couple of folks were standing at the back. He asked the audience to raise their hands if they had open seats next to them and then asked those seated to move a seat so that those standing can be accommodated and then he said spontaneously:

This is what life is all about. Keep shifting your position. Don’t be stuck somewhere….make room, make space. It is all about creating space. Create space for events, for people and for things to happen as and when they unfold. Every event, every person you come across in your life is contributing to your life in some unimaginable way.

Rest of the talk and transcript is here

Don’t look into those eyes

Guruji, Chicago 2014

Guruji, Chicago 2014 ; Waiting to give the photographer the due credit!

If you want to
play safe;
If you want to
the status-quo;
If you are
afraid of

don’t look into those eyes

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Presence of Guru brings Wisdom in Life

What a Guru Poornima – thanks to @twitter, a Direct Message went out to over 373K followers of @SriSri and I did get one too!!

DM from SriSri

DM from SriSri

And here is the transcript from Guruji’s talk at Boone, today, reproduced from Art of Living Website :

You just sang this song, ‘Ajo Ananthaya‘. Ajo means Never Born, Ananthanya is InfinityNitya Shudha is Forever Pure, and Sat-chid-ananda is Pure Bliss.

Guru principle is like the space, and you cannot avoid space. Whether you recognize that there is space or not, is another question. You cannot escape from air. Whether you recognize there is air or not is another question. And today is the time for you recognize that there is air; there is space.

You know, air is there everywhere but when you sit near the fan, you feel it. In the same way, in the world, in the universe, the Guru principle is there. When you recognize it, you feel so great, and you feel bliss.

Recognition of the existence of the Guru Principle, and the role it has played in life, is Guru Poornima.

In our body, the throat chakra is for gratefulness. Above the throat chakra is the Ajna (Agya)Chakra, that is the seat of Guru. So gratefulness is a way to reach to the Guru Tattva.

And then where does the Guru lead you to? Bliss (pointing to the top of the head), i.e, theSahasrara Chakra. So, Guru is sandwiched between gratefulness and bliss.

This Guru Principle is that which removes darkness, it is that which removes all suffering.

We chant, ‘Bhishaje bhava roginam‘, which means, it is like the medicine for those who are stuck in small little worldly things; the disease of small mindedness. It is called a disease because the mind wants to get out of the suffering. Guru Tattva brings that absolute comfort.

You know, there are some people who live without light; they don’t even know of electricity. Animals live without electricity, without light; they don’t need it. But human beings need light when it is dark. So human beings need the Guru Tattva, they need the knowledge. People living without knowledge are equivalent to animals.

One without wisdom lives an animalistic life, it is not a human life. So, it is fashionable to be civilized and to have a Guru in life. If there is no Guru in life, it means life is uncivilized; like one who does not know anything of technology.

It is a privilege, a good fortune to have access to knowledge. And this ancient tradition, from millenniums has preserved this beautiful knowledge, and today we feel very grateful! It is an occasion to remember and to celebrate life with knowledge, life in knowledge, and life for knowledge. It is wisdom that can eliminate misery in the world. If wisdom cannot bring happiness, nothing can bring happiness. So we have this privilege to spread happiness, wisdom, and knowledge.

Wisdom is not just information, it is a quality of consciousness; it is a quality of life. Wisdom does not come just by studying and attaining degrees, or by stuffing yourself with information. Something triggers inside and you become wise. Some Naadi (energy channel) inside, or some part of your consciousness flips over and you become wise. I think so!

Wisdom is not attained just by reading a lot. You cannot just read a lot and be very wise in everything. Wisdom is a quality of consciousness, a quality of life, and this gets transferred by good company. That is what happens.

The Presence of the Guru does not bring you any information, it shifts the quality of consciousness, and that brings the wisdom to your mind.

Now, should we go and sit in front of a Guru all the time to become wise? Not necessary.Wherever you are, simply feel the presence of the Guru Tattva.

Guru Tattva is in-between the eye brows. The Ajna Chakra, where the pituitary glands are situated, that is the seat of the Guru. In the science of Yoga, the Ajna Chakra or the space in-between the eyebrows is called the seat of the Guru. It is situated above the Vishuddhi Chakra(in throat region); the pure space. You enter the pure space, you enter into meditation, and you reach to the Guru. And it is the Guru who pulls you into meditation.

You are stuck in the heart region where there is love, hatred and fear. If you have to get out of hatred and fear, you have to get into the inner space. And who pulls you into the inner space? The Guru Tattva. So the Guru pulls you into the inner space.

When you come to the inner space, what happens to you? You become pure, i.e., Vishuddhiwhich means So Pure. The heart becomes pure, the mind becomes pure, and that connects you to bliss, which is the Sahasara Chakra.

This is the science of Yoga. It’s so amazing if you go into the depth of it. Every moment it reveals even more.

So do not think that just by words, by reading books, or by stuffing yourself with a lot of information you can become wise, no! Wisdom comes by that shift; that is why it is called Grace.

Grace (or Good luck) means what? That which you cannot explain. If you could explain how you got something then it is not luck.
When do you call something your luck? When you cannot explain the cause of it. Of course, same for bad luck also. If you have bad luck, you say you can’t explain it. So it’s the gratefulness which leads you to Guru Tattva and the bliss further on, and vice versa, because when you find that solace, then you feel more grateful.

So, what is wisdom? It is a quality of consciousness; like alertness.

What is alertness? (Sri Sri snaps his fingers) Your presence in now! You know when you suddenly become alert, your mind shifts (sort of, opens), and suddenly you are all alive. Words cannot describe what alertness is! In the same way, words cannot describe what wisdom is.

Everyone in their life, sometime or other, have experienced a little bit of wisdom. Whether one has maintained it or not is another question.

It is wisdom that holds the key to happiness. No wisdom, no happiness. So people seeking happiness will have to go come to the Guru. People seeking knowledge will have to come to Guru. People seeking a better quality of life have to come to the Guru; they have to acknowledge the Guru principle in their life.

One of the saints of the middle ages, a great yogi said, ‘Who drinks the nectar? One who has a Guru. One who doesn’t have a Guru in their life, he goes thirsty, he has no juice in his life; he does not know true joy. But one who has a Guru drinks the nectar; again and again he drinks the nectar‘.

There is plenty of nectar in the inner realm of our being. One who has a Guru drinks it in abundance. One without a Guru goes thirsty all his life.

He is describing our own physiology, which means, in this (pointing to the head or Sahasara Chakra) there is bliss, there is nectar. When there is Guru in life, then you get access to it, otherwise life becomes meaningless.

There are a lot of beautiful poems written on this. I’ve not read them all, only heard a little bit here and there. But the essence is how the quality of consciousness gets shifted, and the shift is a gift (wisdom is a gift).

The company of the wise brings that shift in the consciousness, or its given to you as gift, and so you feel thankful. It is not something that you earned in your life. You cannot earn it but it is being bestowed on you, and that is the key.

Many people think wisdom means reading a lot of books. Wisdom has nothing to do with books. Wisdom has nothing to do with gathering information. It is just the quality of consciousness that shifts in the mind, and that is bestowed by the Guru Principle, by acknowledging the Guru in life.

One has to acknowledge from one’s side. The Guru does not accept or reject anyone. It is the student, the disciple, who accepts (a Guru) as his Guru.

In India, there is a famous story of Eklavya (a character from the Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata).Eklavya is considered the epitome of a disciple.

As the story goes, Eklavya wanted to learn archery to save the deer in the forest that were being hunted by the leopards. He was the son of a poor hunter. So he went to Dronacharya (a master of advanced military arts) and requested him to teach him archery, but Dronacharya rejected him because he was the teacher of the Royal family, he was a Raj Guru. He was teaching the royal princes of Bharat (India).

In those days, if you are a teacher of the royal princes then you cannot take someone else and teach them archery and make them equal to the prince. It was not considered ethical.

You are teaching archery to the prince so that you make him a great archer, to protect the nation. So you cannot teach someone from the street the same knowledge. It was forbidden to make anyone as powerful as the prince. His duty is to make the prince very powerful, so he cannot create a competitor. Otherwise the nation would not be safe and secure.

So, Eklavya wanted to take Dronacharya as his Guru, but Dronacharya could not accept him. This was the law of the land, that you have to exclusively train the princes.

Nevertheless Eklavya accepted Dronacharya as his Guru, and he went home and made a statue of his Guru. He learnt archery and became even better than the prince. He became an expert. He would just hear the sound of the animal and shoot an arrow at it.

One day, Arjuna, the prince found out about this. He saw that Eklavya was far better than him. So he went to Eklavya and asked him, ‘Who is your Guru?’

Eklavya said, ‘Dronacharya is my Guru’.

Arjuna then goes to Dronacharya and shouts at him. ‘What is this? This is cheating. You are supposed to teach only me, but you taught this man and made him more skilful than me’, he questions Dronacharya.

Dronacharya was baffled as to who was this student of his, whom he had not taught, and who has become a competitor of the prince. Then they both go and meet this boy. Eklavya leads them to the statue that he made of Dronacharya which he considered as his Guru.

Dronacharya then says, ‘You have to give me some Dakshina (a gift as fees for learning)’. He asks Eklavya to give him the thumb of his right hand as a gift (without the thumb there is no archery). Eklavya without a second thought gives the thumb of his right hand to the Guru.

This story is viewed as the Guru to have a very cruel attitude. The boy has learnt on his own, while Dronacharya goes and asks for his thumb taking away his skill. How bad this Guru was! This is one way to see: the Guru robbed the student of his skill. But from the other side, if you see, if it were not for this incident, nobody would have ever known Eklavya.

Though on the outer level it seemed as if Dronacharya had done injustice to Eklavya, but actually Dronacharya uplifted Eklavya because this one act made him immortal. So when people think of devotion, they think of Eklavya, and not Arjuna.

See the greatness of Dronacharya, he took the blame on him and uplifted his student. That is why, even if the Guru is wrong, if your devotion is there you can never go wrong. But the Guru is not wrong, it appears he was partial but he uplifted Eklavya and preserved his Dharma (duty) also. His duty was to maintain the law of the land: You cannot have anyone much better than the prince.

This is a beautiful story. There is a full dialogue on this which people say is very good.

Yoga Vashishtha is another very nice story of how Vashishtha gives knowledge to Sri Rama. You should read Yoga Vashishtha, it is a very beautiful way in which Vashishtha gives knowledge toSri Rama and uplifts him from depression; makes him realize that he is an incarnate of the Divine and the light of the world.

So again, wisdom is a quality of consciousness. It can be developed through sadhana, or grace, not through information. Wisdom can directly be instilled in two ways:
1. Through spiritual practises (sadhana). Through sadhana that quality of consciousness develops in you, or
2. By putting your attention on it.

See, whatever you put your attention on, that quality comes into your consciousness. You become that. If you keep thinking about monkeys all your life, then… (laugher). Or if you keep thinking of someone who is angry all the time, you will also get into that state of anger. Haven’t you experienced this? (Many raise their hands)

So wherever the mind goes it absorbs those qualities. So when you put your attention on wisdom, then your consciousness becomes like that.

That is someone who is enlightened or very wise is called Pratah Smaraniya. It’s a very common word used in India. It means, that which is worth remembering first thing in the morning.

As soon as you wake up whom do you think of? Whomever or whatever you think of, your mind assumes that quality. That is why it is said, when you wake up in the morning, think of the Guru, or any wise person, or any saint, so that your consciousness becomes like that. Then the whole day passes by like that because you have incorporated wisdom (by remembering the Guru), and the quality of consciousness has changed to that level. This is called Pratah Smaraniya.

A man of great achievement and a saintly person is called Pratah SmaraniyaPratahmeans Morning, and Smaraniya means Worth Remembering. That which is worth remembering first thing in the morning.

Usually people say a prayer before going to bed, and as soon as they wake up, they say a prayer. Like that, in the morning it is worth remembering those with wisdom so that you become wise.

That is a practice, and it makes a lot of sense.

We are in a world where emotion catches emotion. If some people have an emotion, others catch that emotion. Similarly, wisdom catches wisdom. In the company of wise people, your quality of consciousness also shifts. If it doesn’t, then you have to think why not? Maybe Time could be a factor, because it is impossible not to change when there is wisdom in somebody around you.
Remember this: Wisdom is not information. It is a quality of consciousness.

When you walk around today, or any day from today, think that you have a diamond inside of you, a gem inside. You have acquired some gems, some wisdom. Walk in life with the feeling that you’ve been given something very precious.

A lady saint called Meera, a devotee of Lord Krishna, could not make progress without a Guru. So she went to a cobbler (a person who makes shoes), and he became her Guru, and then she sang the song, ‘Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo‘ (meaning: today I got the most precious wealth).

Though she was a devotee of Krishna, the Guru gave her the mantra ‘Ram‘ (laughter), and Ram and Krishna are completely opposite. Whatever Ram did, Krishna undid it all. Have you heard the comparison between Ram and Krishna? (Audience says, ‘No‘)
Ram was born at 12 noon and Krishna was born at midnight.

When Ram was born there was a big celebration, but when Krishna was born there was fear all around.
Ram was born in a palace, Krishna was born in prison.
Ram will not cross the line and would obey what his father said, and Krishna never listened to his father.
Many such things, completely opposite. That’s why people say, you should follow Ram and notKrishna. You should listen to what Krishna said but you should act like Ram. It is easier for the parents and the spouse.

So she used to sing the name of Krishna all the time, and her Guru gave her the mantra ‘Ram‘, and so she sings, ‘Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo‘.

What I am saying is that, even though her Guru gave her the mantra ‘Ram’, it did not cause any conflict in her. If someone is Christian, a Sikh, a Budhist or a Hindu, it doesn’t matter. Whatever religion you are born into, or whatever religion you practise, it doesn’t matter. The spiritual wisdom carries you forward, so honour the knowledge. That is why Meera sings, ‘Payoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Payo‘. It is a very famous song in India; most Indians have heard this. So Meera says that this is a wealth I received, a blessing I received.

It is a great wealth.

Every day can be a Guru Poornima


Via [The official blog of Sri Sri RaviShankar] a beautiful talk on Guru Poornima by Guruji.

Life and Guru are inseparable. When you throw light on life, and when the wisdom is there, honor the wisdom. Wisdom is the Guru tatva, Guru principle. So, within you the Guru Principle is there, wisdom is there. In each and every one there is wisdom. Throw light on that.In life wisdom dawns; wisdom has come; honor wisdom. When we stop honoring wisdom that is when darkness takes over, that is when the full moon is not there, no moon is there. Moon is the mind and when it is brimming, full of wisdom, that is Guru Poornima. So everyday could be Guru Poornima in your life when you honor what life has taught you.

Head over to the blog and read the rest of the talk.

Two things that Guruji talks every year about Guru Poornima is about Gratitude and Reflection.  Now, is a good time to pause, reflect and be grateful for the presence of Guruji in our lives and how the presence has changed our lives.

The Art of Living website has a beautiful theme called “I am Grateful” on its website. If you feel like go ahead and share your reflections out there.

Posts on Guru Poornima from previous years are here.

A sure shot way to eliminate Jet Lag

I landed in US after a 24 hour flight and another hour to clear immigration, customs and a couple of hours wait at the airport to be picked up and a long drive home in peak hour traffic from EWR to NJ…it seemed like a long day….however, I made sure that I took time out to do the Sudarshan Kriya before I hit the bed. I woke up fresh next day morning with no signs of tiredness or jet lag. Not only me, but it worked for my kids too!

So, if you are a globe trotting exec, here is one arsenal you can add to your armory to beat the Jet Lag – The refreshing and energizing Sudarshan Kriya!