Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Make the divine your Valentine. Just be… and know that you are loved. That is Beloved”
Sri Sri says that “In this world, though we are taught many a branches of knowledge like reading, writing, mathematics, science, music, arts at all, yet we have not been able to grasp the very essential Art of Living…
India has, over the ages, produced several men of wisdom and spiritual acumen – who has been instrumental in alleviating the distress and woes of common people through their teachings and healing techniques!
Continuing the rich tradition and heritage is His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – a renowned humanitarian and a spiritual inspiration to millions of people of all faiths, cultures, and traditions. Popularly known as Sri Sri – his universal message of peace, love, service, and human values has attracted the attention of world leaders and international humanitarian organizations. He is the founder of numerous humanitarian service organizations, including the Art of Living Foundation, an NGO in special consultative status with ECOSOC of the U.N., and the International Association for Human Values, headquartered in Geneva Sri Sri’s teachings are based on the ancient Indian yoga or Vedic tradition. For him, creation is an infusion of love, love and only love. And he tries to instill love in all hearts with his specially designed Art of Living courses, which is manifested through the five paths – Sadhana (devoted practice), Seva (unconditional service), Satsang (communion), Celebration and Smile.
Sri Sri says that “In this world, though we are taught many a branches of knowledge like reading, writing, mathematics, science, music, arts et all, yet we have not been able to grasp the very essential Art of Living – the secrets of life that will secure our health, happiness and success. Health is much more than an absence of illness; success is something beyond money in the bank or material possessions; status we have attained and the comforts of home and family are no guarantee of happiness. The true value of our life is our own inner joy – and how much we have shared with others. Our worth in this world is our unconditional love and service to a global family.
Living effectively is the finest of arts. The time-tested secrets of the art of living comprise the highest and most treasured teaching on this planet – a practical wisdom that bestows day-to-day worldly blessings as well as the deep spiritual unfoldment of one’s inner self.”
The doctrines of Art of Living Foundation revolve around Sri Sri’s philosophy of “love, practical wisdom and service.” One of the things that Art of Living teaches is that every individual is a source of love; wisdom allows one to experience themselves as a source of love and to share that with other people in a practical way; and finally sharing love in a practical way usually winds up as some kind of service to others.”
Love is the key word and forms the nucleus of all Sri Sri’s doctrines, teachings and philosophy of life. Love stems from a unilateral notion of creation, where everything is part of one divinity. Our true nature is love, and love inculcates this whole creation. Once we drop the tensions and stress, we realize our true nature. Knowledge is the means to become ‘hollow and empty’, to get rid of all the impressions we have accumulated over lifetimes – thus clouding our minds. Once we attain this state of inner emptiness (our natural self), we experience for ourselves the dynamic oneness of creation, whose very nature, like out own, is love. Responsibility to our fellow human beings is not to be taught, it is an intrinsic part of universal love.
Similarly, Sri Sri bestows a practical wisdom that is most rare in this world. The knowledge of how to live life is a priceless lesson in the context of today’s world – torn apart by hatred, greed, jealousy and distrust. His lessons in the art of living are basic to everyday situations: how to handle love, anger and frustration; how to deal with the complexities of various relationships; how to purify mind, body and spirit; how to live in the present moment; and finally, how to realize and radiate the divine love within us.
Lastly, the third component of Sri Sri’s teaching encompasses Service or Seva. According to him, our service is our inner attitude, and not the action. While giving and taking is a nature of all human beings, giving without taking is the nature of the Divine. To increase our joy and happiness, we must share our well-feeling with others. Giving is essential for spiritual growth. A willingness to share what we have and to help others is called Seva or Service. Sri Sri professes that Seva is our own inner joy pouring forth into action, which connects us to others and make them a part of us. Service is the expression of love and he encourages his followers to serve in whatever manner possible.
Apart from the invaluable lessons in the form of speeches and mass lectures, the other and probably the most important facet of Sri Sri’s Art of Living is the healing and purifying technique through breathing exercises.
Breathing is the first act of our lives. Within the breath lies the secret of life; and it is directly linked to the vital life energy in us. The jewel in the crown of the Art of Living is the healing breath known as “Sudarshan Kriya”. This unique breathing practice is a potent energizer, where each body cell becomes fully oxygenated and new life is infused. Through this systematic process of breathing, negative emotions that have been stored as toxins in the body are dislodged and flushed out. Tensions, frustrations and anger gets released while anxiety, depression and lethargy are washed out. As a result, the mind and the body get a positive uplift and a sense of joy in the moment prevails where once again a smile is brought to face directly from the heart.
Sudarshan Kriya is a natural process by which the biological rhythms of an individual are brought in sync with the natural rhythm through breathing exercises. When this synergy between the rhythms of the nature is brought into our breath and our body, the mind and the emotions can be brought back from a chaotic condition to a state of balance. The effect is immediate and tangible. The internal discord from past sorrows and disappointments is returned into a soothing symphony of peace and tranquility. Even the most intense or devastating emotions subside after a short practice. One if left free to enjoy life – alert to the present moment and centred in the silence of one’s Being. Sudarshan Kriya is a powerful tool for daily living and is simple to learn and easy to practice.
The Art of Living cleanses the mind, heals the emotions, and the trauma just vanishes. It helps us to forgive and begin life anew. Many of us practice meditation or some form of self-development. But we often notice that there is a gap between our inner experiences and our outer worldly activities. In meditation, we may experience peace, but in the world, we are either distressed about the past or anxious about the future. With Sudarshan Kriya,
Sri Sri helps and guides us to go beyond the surface of our thoughts and emotions, and experience the essence of our true Self. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been able to gain tremendous popularity among the young and the old, whites and the blacks, males and females, the pious and the convict – all alike, all over the world, cutting across the borders of nationality, race, religion, caste, creed and color – through his discourses that are simple to understand and easy to follow, but they touch the very essence of one’s soul. He says that we must be grateful to God for whatever he has given to us. It is then can we have more on offer. But, if we keep concentrating on what we lack, the emptiness continues to grow. He insists that we must open our eyes to see that we area part of everything in this universe. This feeling of oneness with the nature and the universe will give us contentment. As our minds have become more complex nowadays, we need to bang on our inner door to open it; and realize that there is no dearth of love and happiness in within ourselves. It is then we can experience God in the depth of our hearts.
One of the more important teachings of Sri Sri is to insist us living in the present moment. It is always that we have our minds swing between the past and the future. Either we repent for the past deeds or worry about the future. He says that we must consider the past incidents as destiny and try to forget them. At the same time, there is no point in postponing our happiness for a future date, which never comes. Instead, he tells us to be in the present. If we are happy now, the past will not torment us. If we live life now, tomorrow will take care of itself. This is what he says is Art of Living!
Through very simple yet convincing ‘keys of life’, Sri Sri inculcates the essence the basics of his Art of Living. His monologues like – “Expectation reduces joy in life; Surprise increases joy in life”, “Live in the present moment; Present moment is inevitable”, “Responsibility equals to Growth; Complaining equals to Non-responsibility” , “ Do not find intention behind others’ mistakes” , “Accept people and situation as they are” , “ Lear to excuse others” and “ Do not become football of other’s opinion” may sound mere phrases, but they carry huge underlying meaning to those who can find the truth.
Art of Living affects and improves the quality of every day life of every single individual. It is through Pranayams that one gains increased flow of oxygen and vitality; through Sudarshan Kriya the internal cleansing and healing is done; through meditation the realization of the self is obtained and the mind is freed from the deepest impressions; the body and the mind is tuned up through yoga; singing and dancing cultures the heart; laughter helps us celebrate our daily life; Service or Seva makes the world a better place and also inculcates inspiration; wisdom is gained for practical living and gaining success; through Satsangs humble dedication to the Supreme Being is achieved. Sri Sri’s teachings help us to emancipate ourselves from the earthly bondage and free our mind, body and souls from the vices of material world. At the same time, it helps us to unfold and realize the divine love that rests within our heart; enables us to appreciate life in all its totality and beauty and finally, express our gratitude for whatever we have received.
The sum total of these all results in a purified mind that rises above anxiety and distress, a toxic-free body that gains supremacy over stress, tension and illness and a soul untarnished by the dirt and filth of the material world – like a swan in the water ~ finally culminating in the enlightenment of the self-being.
Just as the illustrious Guru himself says “Mysteries are there not to understand but to live. Living the mystery of life is joy. Enlightenment is that state of being mature and unshakable in any circumstance. Come what may, nothing can rob the smile from your heart. Enlightenment is a rare combination of innocence and intelligence, having words for expression and, at the same time, being very silent. In that state, the mind is fully in the present moment. You just sit and the song flows through you.” It is the Art of Living !!!