Have you ever met people whose faces are aglow with a deep sense of happiness and peace? No amount of makeup can make your skin glow like that!(Ever seen the faces of Buddhist monks?) We spend a lot of time attending to the nutritional needs of our body, planning and drawing up charts, sticking to it with discipline, so that we have healthy bodies. But what about nutrition for the mind and soul, which really accounts for our ultimate well-being? Here in this thought-provoking commentary, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, humanitarian and a global voice for peace and diversity today, who founded The International Association For Human Values, talks about what is the food for our soul? What is the easiest way to unravel this secret?
“Meditation is the journey from movement to stillness, from sound to silence. The need is present in every human being to meditate because it is a natural tendency of human life to look for a joy that doesn’t diminish, a love that doesn’t distort or turn into negative emotions.
Is meditation foreign to us? Absolutely not. This is because you have been in meditation for a couple of months before your birth. You were in your mother’s womb doing nothing. You didn’t even have to chew your food, it was fed directly into your belly and you were there happily floating in the fluid, turning and kicking, sometimes here and something there, but most of the time happily floating there. That is meditation or absolute comfort. You did nothing, everything was done for you. So there is a natural tendency in every human being, in every soul, to crave for that state when you are in absolute comfort. And getting back to that state which you have had a taste of, just before entering the hustle bustle of this world, is very natural because in this universe everything is cyclic, everything wants to go back to its source. When the autumn season comes, the leaves fall and go back to the soil and nature has its own way to recycle them.
The natural tendency to recycle all that we have collected in day to day life as impressions, getting rid of them and getting back to the original state that we were in when we dawned on this planet, is what meditation is. Becoming fresh again, alive again, is what meditation is. Getting back to that serenity which is your original nature is meditation. Absolute joy and happiness is meditation. Pleasure minus excitement is meditation. A thrill without anxiety is meditation. A love without hatred or any of its opposite values is meditation.
Meditation is food for the soul. When you are hungry, spontaneously you go to eat something. If you are thirsty you want to drink some water. In the same way, the soul yearns for meditation and this tendency is in everyone. That is why I say, there is not a single individual on this planet who is not a seeker. It’s just that they don’t recognize it. The problem is that we try to look for that food where it is not available. It is like going to a grocery shop when you want to fill gas in your car. You keep going round and round the grocery store saying, ‘I want gas for my car.’ It won’t work because you need to go to the petrol station. So, that right direction needs to be found. Meditation happens in transition. Actually meditation happens, you can’t do it. You can only create a congenial atmosphere for it to happen.
Meditation is uplifting the energy in the mind and spreading it out. Whenever you have been happy, that happiness has been associated with a sense of expansion. And whenever you have felt miserable, that has been associated with a sense of shrinking or contraction. There is something in you which expands when you are happy and contracts when you are unhappy. But we never pay attention to what is contracting and expanding. We only keep our attention outside. We have not paid attention to the reason. One of the sages of the past, Gaudapadacharya, said, ‘There is something in you that is expanding that is worth knowing.’ Even a glimpse of this consciousness, this energy inside you can make the smile on your face so strong that nothing whatsoever can take it away from you. Nobody can make you miserable; nobody can take away the joy from your life. Life assumes another dimension suddenly; just a glimpse of this, an idea about that something inside us that is expanding. You don’t have to leave things here and go. Just being amidst all the noise and still recognizing that beauty, that thing that’s so beautiful, so wonderful, so fascinating, right here and now is meditation. The peak, the most supreme type of prayer is meditation. All powers are hidden within the Self and everything will manifest when you connect to your consciousness. ”
About The Author
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is an international humanitarian leader and a spiritual master who is the global rallying voice of this generation’s collective call for peace.
Named one of the “Seven Most Powerful People in India,” by Forbes, his world-renowned meditation techniques helped end the 60-year conflict in Colombia. He has been credited with bringing opposing parties together to facilitate meditation and peace talks in Iraq, Cote d’Ivoire and India.
Founder of the Art of Living Foundation and International Association for Human Values, Sri Sri is leading the way toward peace and tolerance through meditation and humanitarian efforts. Over 35 years, his programs and initiatives have touched the lives of over 370 million people in over 150 countries.
“Sudarshan Kriya,” the meditation technique introduced by Sri Sri is backed by research and implemented in schools, corporations, prisons, refugee camps and retreat centers around the world. As a spiritual teacher, Sri Sri has rekindled traditions of yoga and meditation that have helped millions of people achieve personal and social transformation by relieving stress and discovering inner peace in daily life.