Connecting Through Love

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He has this knack of bringing people together. After all we are human – cut away name, family title, social title, educational qualification, religious & cultural background – and what have we? Love.

“Love is your very existence,” quips Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, everytime this topic is touched upon at interviews and satsangs. “It’s not just an emotion, it’s your very Being!” he emphasizes.

He has this way of connecting completely ‘unrelated’ people in simple yet effective ways. Internationals from the Vedic Wisdom Program visit the slum areas of the city and nearby villages to bless the locals.

“The purpose of the Padayatra,” explains Gurudev, “is that your hearts open and you see that how deeply you are connected with people you don’t even know! You don’t know their language, they don’t know your language, but you still feel that ‘Wow! You are so connected’.”

Gurudev is an expert at doing this sort of thing. From early Art of Living days he would post his teachers to far flung countries where the language, culture and people were absoutely alien. The teachers would go with great trepidation but would return from these trips with stories laced with Grace and Love. What really counts is really the presence of a person, and a loving presence will convey love far more than any words can.

Where would an ordinary bloke get to meet a hard core criminal? Gurudev sends his teachers (the brave and willing) to Prisons all over the world to rehabilitate convicts. Through the Prison SMART Program Gurudev has empowered individuals to teach the Happiness Program to prison inmates.

What unfolds is a two-way transformation. Touched by the humaneness of the inmates the tag ‘criminal’ simply drops from the minds of the teachers. And the inmates high on the happy energy of the Sudarshan Kriya feel a sudden awakening to a life with new possiblities. Many want to become teachers after their term is over.

Says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, “If you heal the victim, you will eliminate crime from the planet. Expand your vision, and see that inside every culprit is a victim crying for help.”

Gurudev is keenly tuned to the cry of help from all quarters. Art of Living volunteers are immediatey despatched to trauma hit zones – be they war torn countries or nations hit by natural calamities.

I live in the ashram and I see how people are getting connected all the time. The other day I was waiting to see off Gurudev at the Ganga chain along with so many others. I looked across to find my roommate – a youngster from a small village in Orissa bonding with a group of Bulgarians. What did they have in common? Kitchen seva to begin with and then they must have discovered that they had much more in common and so much else to share! It was deeply touching.

And now we have the World Culture Festival and as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar puts it – it is nothing but bringing celebration under one umbrella. A reminder that we all belong to each other as One World Family and we are here on this planet to be useful and celebrate humanity – our ‘humane’ qualities of love, sharing, compassion and serving. Here is the best venue to get connected and exchange love.

Art of Living is the core to bringing so many people together – people from diverse cultures, languages, religions – feeling a sense of oneness thanks to one being – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – the connecting cord for millions of people on this planet.

I find this thought simply astounding. And leave you with it.

From the Storehouse of Wonder

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Imagine the most beautiful gift just waiting for you…but you don’t even realize it exists! In a darkened hall on a large screen I watched Sri Sri Ravi Shankar share: there are some people in the world who are just stuck in their rooms, they don’t realize a whole different world exists outside. They eat, sleep and die in that room. Unless they are lucky to find someone who will show them the window and say, Hey, look out there at the sky, there is so much freedom out there, why don’t you leave this room, come out and look for yourself!

There are some thoughts that just strike us out of the blue – they come to us as precious realizations.

I was sitting by the window, looking out at the trees and sky, just enjoying the feeling of space that opened up before me, drawing an imaginary line between where my body lay and the far distant horizon, when it struck me: the beauty and value of space in our lives!

We live and breathe and utilze space all the time, but how often does it strike us, make us stop in our tracks and look at it with awe and wonder? How often do we take time off to appreciate – space? Yes, there are times when we crib & cry that we want more space in our lives: space to unwind, space to be with ourselves, away from cramping relations and cramped office cabins. But that’s when we feel the pinch or the crunch. A space crunch. With our daily schedules getting more and more crowded, one is left breathless, unable to relax or even observe the beauty of life!

Space cradles myriad things, beautiful and precious. Open your eyes. The cauldron of imagination and unimaginable possibilities – all inventions – are suspended in space. And what’s the point if one doesn’t have the space to unwind and simply experience that space. Space that is engulfing, relaxing, nurturing?

Entering into the space of one’s being opens up another dimension of space altogether. It’s like an unopened love letter, simply sitting there, waiting to be noticed and opened. It contains the astonishing, the remarkable, life-transforming truth, all that we hunt for in all the wrong places…there beneath our noses, and we pass it by!

I think being generally “spaced out” (without the support of drugs or alcohol) is not a bad thing after all – it raises you from the mundane level of existence and unprofitable thoughts that make you dip into past regrets or drown in future anxieties.

The ‘solidified silence’ that Swami Brahmatej spoke of in the Advanced Meditation Program I attended comes from the Space of Being – that expanding space of existence beyond thought – that which brims with life and wisdom and compassion: the solidified silence of my Guru, like a shield all around him, so that when he speaks it is like a voice travelling the distance of a few millenia to reach our ears and touch our souls with the nectar of ancient yet contemporary wisdom.

When space opens up time stands still…invisible flowers blossom in the field of consciousness, and the light of the sun and the fragrance of these flowers is what we carry with us everywhere.

On a Wave of Bliss!

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I’m on this Sea of Delight! Can’t explain it,

Just his sight – takes me to an incredible height!

I see him and it’s stillness, euphoria and expansion all at once!

The effect of seeing him and its after-effects : pure delight!

The sight of my Guru…makes me explode

Blessings far and wide.

In his absence…I feel his Presence

I’m stable – I’m the Seer,

Yet always with a tear and a smile from ear to ear!

I’m welded to Him, as He’s welded to me!

I’m His crazy ball

If I slip and fall,

I laugh and bounce up, Up,UP!

Yes, “my” Sri Sri often throws me

To a super new dimension!

Towards His flower petalled feet I bounce again and again

There’s a secret I will share:

I DON’T CARE

If I’m on the peak or trough,

Because either which way –

Straight up or topsy-turvy –

I am in Bliss!

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