How can we experience infinity? It is possible only through love. Love is the only thing you cannot think about. If you think about it, it ceases to be love.
When thinking stops, love begins. Lovers talk silly things, they say the same things over and over again a thousand times. They are not thinking. Their reasoning mind is transcended.
With whomsoever we fall in love, we are really falling in love with ourselves. The truth is that we do not realize it because we are caught up in the name and form, though love is formless. Names and forms can kindle love in you, but then it takes you beyond the name and form to the true nature, which is pure energy.
Surrender and love are synonymous. Whomsoever you love, you surrender to them. It’s not a “doing” but a “state of being” when the mind is free of doubts and troubles. The word “surrender” is frightening because we have heard it in one context – when an army loses, it surrenders; a defeat is understood to be surrender. It is not submission. Only the brave, the knowledgeable and the wise can surrender.
Surrender is realizing that everything belongs to the Divine. “I” am not in control – that is surrender. Your mind realizes that it is not in control; the entire universe runs on its own and it does not matter whether you exist on this planet or not, things will happen. In the same way, you realize that your life is happening and that you are happening in this ocean of consciousness. Your heart beats by itself, your breath moves by itself, sleep comes, and you feel good and bad. With this realization, comes a deep relaxation, a feeling of trust and being at home, that is surrender.
Hindrance to Love
Only through love one can experience infinity, without the hindrance of lust and attachment. Love is getting closer, merging together, and dissolving. But the only way we have known the emotion through our lifetime is through sex. In sex you come to the present moment but, mankind has constantly been fighting lust and one has known through experience that it doesn’t lead you anywhere — it just brings inertia, more indulgence, and love goes down somewhere beneath.
The more one fights lust, the less he is able to win over it. If you are angry, or have fought with somebody, they occupy your mind more than someone you appreciate, honor or respect. Lust means all desires. When a desire arises, you worship it, recognize it and offer that desire to the Divine. Desire that arises in you is Shakti (energy). Knowledge or wisdom is again the energy. Divine knowledge, the power to act, to perform, is the energy.
When you have the desire (Iccha) and the knowledge (Gyaan) but you cannot act (Kriya), it means there is no Kriya Shakti. When you recognize these desires that arise in you and honor them, you will be relieved of them in the most natural manner.
It is so difficult to get into bliss and so difficult to get out of bliss! There are so many obstacles to get into bliss. So many things get in your way – even at the gate. You think you’ve got it, you have it in hand, and then it goes. You get thirsty, so you get water in your hands. But, through just a few loose fingers, all the water is drained out. Life is so strange! So how do we be blissful? Give priority to the Self, to Self-knowledge. Everything tries to keep the mind from sinking into bliss.
Some people behave very nicely on the outside, but are rough inside. And some people are very rough outside but nice inside. Some may be very polite and say, “Hello, how are you?” But inside, they are stiff. The Divine, unlike the world, does not care about your behavior, but how you feel inside. If you are like a flower inside, then outside too, you will become gentle, not stiff. But it’s preferable to be rough outside and gentle inside, rather than gentle outside and rough inside, for your own sake.
Sign of Prosperity
If you think nobody loves you, know for sure that you are loved. The earth loves you; that’s why it is holding you upright. The love of the earth is its gravitational force. The air loves you. That’s why air gushes in through your nose, even when you are sleeping it moves through your lungs. The Divine loves you very dearly, deeply. Once you know this, you will relax.
With calmness, talents simply come. Intuition comes, beauty comes, and peace comes. Love springs up. What else? Then comes prosperity! Bliss and prosperity. What is the sign of prosperity? Who is prosperous? The general idea is that one who has freedom to go wherever he wants to go, whenever he wants, is a prosperous person.
Take the case of an industrialist. Do you think he is free to go wherever he wants, whenever he wants? He has a million dollars in the bank, but his business ties him like a rope around his neck. Even if he goes somewhere, his cell phone keeps ringing. It doesn’t let him have his breakfast properly. Do you think he is prosperous?
Just wake up and see: you are rich! Do you have a smile? Then you are rich! Someone who has lots of money cannot even smile well. They don’t have friends because they can’t really know if the friends are there for themselves or for the money. That’s why in the Bible it is said, “A rich man cannot go to heaven.” I’m not encouraging poverty here, but just telling you to root out that thought of poverty from your mind, and consciousness.
The sign of prosperity is a smile. The sign of prosperity is freedom. The sign of prosperity is being willing to share with people around you, without fear. The sign of prosperity is the trust and confidence that you’ll get what you need tomorrow.
“The sign of prosperity is a smile, freedom. The sign of prosperity is being willing to share with people around you, without fear.”
Live your life well. That means, if you have to be useful to people all your life, there will be hundreds of people to take care of you. Mother Teresa was sick in bed for such a long time. Do you think she didn’t have anybody to take care of her? Vinoba Bhave, the Indian freedom fighter, was in bed for so long. There were hundreds waiting to take care of them and all they did was to share their life with everybody: to be useful to people around them. Give miracles a chance. Give your devotion a chance to work.
Contentment is the first sign of prosperity. I’ll narrate an anecdote. My grandfather was thought to be very simple minded and very liberal hearted. He used to give away everything he owned. If someone said, “Oh, you have a nice watch,” he would say, “Take it,” and readily give it away. So many times he would come home with just a vest (undershirt), jacket, coat and a shawl, as he would have given away the rest.
My grandmother was a devotee and from the royal family. My grandfather, with his generous nature, gave away his wealth in a few years’ time. He gave his three children a good education, but nothing else. He died, leaving my aristocratic grandmother with nothing. She didn’t have any skills except feeding everybody. Her three children were just teenagers. My grandfather had given away everything in the house, almost like a crazy donor. People commented, “What is this? He didn’t leave anything to the children!”
My father had to walk several miles a day; he supported the family. But my grandmother never lost her serenity or her smile, not even for a single day! She’d just pray and say, “Everything is in plenty.” Friends would come and say, “I saw your grandmother – she is so content and happy.” She would never be upset about anything. If she cooked a meal for two persons, and four came, she would feed them all. She would simply say, “It will come to us. God is giving us everything.” From the heights of prosperity she went totally down and then totally up. Today we have the whole world for a family. One needs to feel that the world is a family. Then there is no suffering at all.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader. He is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, an international non-profit that works to strengthen society by strengthening individuals. Sri Sri’s programs of trauma relief, conflict resolution, self-development, education, women’s empowerment, vocational training and revival of human values have benefited an estimated 300 million persons in more than 145 countries. www.srisri.org