Knowledge from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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When people consider the past as free will they are filled with remorse and regret.
When they consider the future as destiny, lethargy and inertia set in.
A wise person will consider the past as destiny and the future as free will.
When you consider the past as destiny, no more questions are raised and the mind is at ease.
And when you consider the future as free will you are filled with enthusiasm and dynamism.
Of course there will be some uncertainty when you consider the future as free will, and some anxiety, but it can also bring alertness and creativity.
Consider the past as destiny, the future as free will and the present moment as Divinity.

Nigra means control.
Agra means insistence.
Satyagra means steadfast determination.
Duragra means blind adamancy, reckless stubbornness.
These four will give you progress when practiced for a limited period of time. They give limited results, positive or negative. But if they stay on for a longer period, they eat away the potential of life. One has to transcend all these four to attain peace.
Freedom is when you transcend all four. They are inevitable to streamline life but you need to transcend them to be free.
Give your own examples and discuss nigra, agra, satyagra, and duragra.

Normally in the world people with similar tendencies group together; intelligent people group together, fools get together, happy people get together, ambitious people get together and disgruntled people also group together to celebrate their problems! (Laughter) There is a saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”
The disgruntled people get together, they complain and pull each other down. A frustrated person cannot be with someone happy because the other is not dancing to their tune. You only feel comfortable when the other person is in tune with you. Intelligent people do not feel at home with foolish people. Foolish people feel that intelligent ones are not humane. One with wisdom feels at home with the disgruntled as well as the happy, foolish and intelligent. Similarly, people with all these tendencies also feel at home with the wise.
Just turn around and look at what goes on in your group - are you grateful or grumbling? Take responsibility to uplift the people around you. That is Satsang, not just singing and leaving.
The wise person is like the sky where all birds can fly.

Creativity brings a new beginning for "time". When you are creative, you break the monotony of time. Everything becomes fresh and alive. Creativity brings along with it a new round of enthusiasm. Both creative and procreative impulses in nature are associated with enthusiasm. When you are enthusiastic you are closer to the creative principle of existence.
Deep silence is the mother of creativity. No creativity can come out of one who is too busy, worried, over-ambitious or lethargic. Balanced activity, rest and yoga can kindle skills and creativity in you.

Wake up and Transcend
The foolish one uses the spiritual power to gain material comfort.
An intelligent one uses the material world to rise high in the spirit.
When you transcend the intellect you allow yourself to be used by the spirit.
One who is awake neither uses anything nor loses anything.
Become intelligent, transcend and wake up.

What is enthusiasm? Enthusiasm means to be connected to God within. When you are with your source, you can only be enthusiastic. Apathy is when you are away from the source of life. You cannot be but enthusiastic when your mind is totally in the present moment.
You should know that dispassion is not apathy. It is simply a broader perspective of reality. Dispassion is moving towards the source. Dispassion simply means the way back home. It is the journey towards the source, which is a reservoir of enthusiasm.
When dispassion and enthusiasm co-exist, that is the secret of perennial enthusiasm and profound dispassion. Though they appear to be opposite, they are actually complementary.

1. What to do if your commitment is boring?
Commitment has value when things are not so charming. When things are interesting you do not need commitment at all. You never say you are committed to doing something that is very interesting or charming.
2. Learning is inevitable. By doing things right you learn, and by doing things wrong you also learn. From every situation, from everybody, you learn either what to do or what not to do. Either by mistakes or by doing things correctly, you cannot but learn. Learning is inevitable.
It is only when you sleep that you do not learn. And if you are asleep in your life, there is neither pain nor pleasure nor learning. Most people are in such deep slumber. That is why many people do not even make an effort to get out of pain.
3. Question: How to improve patience?
Sri Sri: Can I tell you next year? (Laughter)
4. Question: How to improve memory?
Sri Sri: Ask me this question later. (Laughter)

Faith and alertness appear to be completely opposite in nature. When you are alert, usually there is no faith and you feel restless and insecure. When there is faith the mind is secure and rested and you are not alert.
There are three types of faith:
Tamasic faith which is because of dullness. Like when you do not want to take responsibility or action and you say, "Oh it doesn’t matter, anyway God will take care of all these things!" (laughter)
Rajasic faith which is brought on by intense compulsion of desires and ambition. The ambition keeps the faith alive.
Satvic faith is innocent and is born out of fullness of consciousness.
Faith and alertness, though apparently opposite in nature, are actually complementary to each other. In the absence of faith there can be no growth, and without alertness there can be no correct understanding. Faith can make you complacent. Alertness makes you tense.
If there is no faith, there is fear. And when there is no alertness one cannot perceive or express properly. A combination of both is essential.
In Gyana (state of wisdom) there is alertness without tension and faith without complacency. The purpose of education should be to remove the element of dullness from faith and the element of fear from alertness. This is a unique and rare combination. If you have faith and alertness at the same time, then you will become a true Gyani (the Wise One)!

Several Types of Dispassion
There are several types of dispassion:
You are dispassionate because you realize the misery in the world. (You have a fear of misery.) The events in life -- the pain, the suffering one experiences or sees -- brings dispassion.
The second type of dispassion is born out of the desire to reach something higher. Some consider dispassion as a path to enlightenment. If you renounce something here you gain something out there. Those who are seeking enlightenment practice austerities and take vows for a better place in heaven.
The third type of dispassion comes out of wisdom or knowledge. A broader understanding of the transient nature of things brings a state of non-attachment to any events, objects, people or situations that lets you remain calm and unperturbed.
Divine love does not let the dispassion manifest. The attainment of love brings such bliss and such intoxication, it not only takes away your passion, but dispassion as well.

There are two types of knowledge. The first one is pure knowledge and the second one is applied knowledge. Applied knowledge may benefit you directly and immediately but pure knowledge benefits you indirectly in the long run.
If there are some things that you have studied or understood that you are unable to put into practice, do not get disheartened. Sometime in the future, if you do not discard the knowledge you have as impractical, it will be of use to you.
Often people discard the pure knowledge for its lack of immediate application. In fact these two types of knowledge compliment each other. Applied knowledge without pure knowledge remains weak. And pure knowledge without application will remain unfulfilled.
Do not discard or label the knowledge as impractical. Do not label yourself as weak or unworthy because you are unable to apply the knowledge in your day-to-day life.
Sometimes when you are alone in nature, silent, taking a walk, looking at the sand on the beach, a bird in the sky, or while meditating - suddenly the knowledge will emerge and you will recognize the knowledge dawning in your life.

Examine your friendships, they are often for a cause. There are several reasons for your friendships:
You make friendships because you have common enemies. Fear and threat to survival can bring people together.
You make friendships because you have a common problem. You talk about your problems and become friends. For example, sickness, job dissatisfaction, etc…
People get together because they have common interests. For example, through business or a profession (doctors, architects, social workers, etc…)
You make friends because you have common tastes. You have similar tastes in sports, movies, entertainment, music, hobbies, etc…
People become friends because of compassion and service. Out of compassion and pity for someone, you become friends with them.
People become friends merely because of long-term acquaintance.
Brave are those who nurture friendships for only friendship’s sake. Such friendships will never die nor become soured for it is born out of one’s friendly nature. Only through wisdom can one become friendly by nature.

Question: Why is it easier for some of us to commit to our own welfare rather than that of others?
Sri Sri: Because you do not know that whatever you are committed to brings you strength.
If you are committed to your family then your family supports you, if you are committed to your society, you enjoy the support of society. If you are committed to God, God gives you strength. If you are committed to Truth, Truth brings you strength.
Often one is not aware of this idea and that is why one is hesitant to commit to a greater cause. Also there is a fear that commitment would weaken one or take away one's freedom. Your commitment to a cause is bound to bring you comfort in the long run.
Commitment in life grows toward a higher cause. The higher the commitment, greater is the good for all.
Noah: Why don't we make any vows in the Art of Living?
Sri Sri: When the path is charming, commitment is effortless and is part of your nature.
Mikey: In Art of Living we don't make vows, we have Wows! (laughter)

Was Buddha an Atheist?
A pure atheist is impossible to find. An atheist is one who does not believe in anything that is not concrete and tangible. Life is not all concrete and tangible. Nor is this Universe. Whether it is business, science or art, they all involve a certain amount of guesswork, assumptions, imagination and intuition. All of them are ethereal in nature and are not tangible. The moment an atheist accepts, even remotely a field that is unexplainable, he ceases to be an atheist. Any intelligent person cannot rule out the mystery in life and the universe and hence cannot honestly be an atheist! The so-called atheists are perhaps only denouncing certain concepts of God.
Question: Was Buddha an atheist?
Sri Sri: "No" in one sense because he professed emptiness which is very hard for an atheist to accept and "Yes" in another sense because he did not profess concepts of God.
Jim: An atheist believes only what he can see but Buddha said all that you see is not real.
Sri Sri: If only all present day atheists could be Buddhas…

Wake Up and Slow Down!
When you are in a rush, you are unable to properly perceive things. Often you are in a rush in life. This takes away the charm, thrill and beauty from your life. You can never be close to the Truth when you are in a rush because your perception, observation and expression become distorted.
The rush to enjoy robs the joy from life. All the rush that you have in your life only denies the joy and freedom of here and now.
Often one does not even know why one is in a hurry. It almost becomes a biological phenomenon to be in a rush. Wake up and become aware of the rush in you!
Anne Farrow says: Wake up and slow down! (Laughter!)
It is ridiculous to be in a rush to slow down. Just being aware of the rush itself will take care of it. Slowing down does not mean lethargy or procrastination. It is easy to be in either extreme of being in a rush or being lethargic.
Feverishness arises out of lack, a need to achieve; whereas dynamism is an expression of fulfillment.
The golden rule is to be awake, and being awake you cannot help but be dynamic.
Communism and Spirituality
Communism has three goals.
To check the greed of feudal and capitalistic societies.
To check the fanaticism and fundamentalism of religious communities.
To care for and share with the needy.
Only spirituality can bring fulfillment to communism.
Only spirituality can check greed and open up the hearts of the rich to help the needy.
Only spirituality can check the fanaticism and fundamentalism of religious groups and create a sense of belongingness in the whole world.
Only spirituality brings up the tendency to care and share in one’s life.
Only spirituality can bring about open mindedness and a progressive attitude.
Communism cannot fulfill its goals without spirituality. It is impossible and time has proved it. Spirituality nourishes communism.
Knowledge Nibble!
Question: If you have a Guru do you need luck?
Sri Sri: You need luck to have a Guru! (Laughter)
The True Yagya
Rage has no ears, nor does it have vision.
It only leads to reaction.
And reaction leads to regret.
Regret causes frustration.
Frustration clouds the reason.
Unreasonable acts provoke rage, and start a vicious cycle.
Self Knowledge and Devotion alone can free you from this vicious cycle.
In the fire of Knowledge, when rage and revenge are offered, the warmth of the blemishless Self shines forth.
This is the true Yagya.
Praise the Fools!
Praising the fool is beneficial for society!
A fool when pleased might stop doing harm and start doing good work. In this sense it is wise to praise a fool as he needs motivation. So your praise is meaningful when it is directed towards a fool!
A wise man by his very nature will keep doing good work. His attitude does not depend on someone’s praise or blame. So it does not serve any purpose to praise a wise man because your praise cannot make an impact on him.
There are three types of people - the wise, the crooked and the immature.
Even if the wise man is scolded or praised, he continues doing good work.
The crooked need to be praised to do good work.
The immature however need to be both praised and scolded from time to time.

Rest and happiness make a real holiday. Often people go on a holiday and they come back tired and tanned, and needing a few more days to recuperate! A real holiday is that which energizes and does not wear you out. Remember, nothing energizes you like Wisdom.
- Doubts and complaints are impediments for rest.
- The moment you set out on your holiday, know that it has begun. Often people expect to find a pinnacle of happiness. Enjoy every moment of the journey as children do, do not wait for the destination.
- If you cannot be happy in one place, you cannot be happy in any other place.
If you do not know how to row one boat you will not be able to row any other boat.
- To get maximum satisfaction out of your holiday you need to do something creative and engage in Seva.
- Do not ever forget to make meditation and prayer a part of your holiday.
If your days are Holy, then every day is a Holiday!