The Secrets of Life

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Deepening the mystery of creation is science. Deepening the mystery of the Self is spirituality.

One whose eyes are not yet opened is not amazed by the magnificence of this creation. Tell me, what in this creation is not a mystery? Birth is a mystery. Death is a mystery. Life itself is certainly a greater mystery.

Samadhi is being completely immersed in the mystery of life and in this creation. Your knowing or believing in it doesn’t really matter.

This creation is an unfathomable secret! A wise person makes no effort to conceal a secret. But he does not make an effort to reveal a secret either. For example, you do not talk about menstruation or death to a five-year old. But as children grow older, these things are not hidden from them. They become known as a matter of course.

Whenever you consider a symbol, place, time, person or act as sacred, your attention is undivided and whole.

There are five secrets that are sacred and guarded by the subtle beings and angels in this creation. They are:

Janana Rahasya or the secret of birth: Birth is a secret. How a soul takes a body, and the criteria for selecting the place and time of birth, type of body, and parents are all a secret.

Marana Rahasya or the secret of death: Death is a highly guarded secret. Death remains a mystery. The process of separation of spirit from matter and its journey from then on is a secret.

Raja Rahasya or the secret of governance: The principles of governing and the principles of maintaining orderliness in creation are a secret.

Prakriti Rahasya or the secret of nature: Nature is a mystery. The more you know about nature, the more the mystery deepens. The more a scientist knows, the more he realizes there is to know. Science, though appearing to resolve the mystery in creation, has deepened it. Knowledge of particles, wave functions, black holes and the vacuum state have only deepened the mystery.

Mantra Rahasya (the secret of mantras): Mantras are the impulses or rhythms of consciousness. The mantras and their effects, influences, methods and modes of working, are all a mystery.

In the West, a secret is usually shameful and dishonest. However, in the East, a secret is honored and considered sacred. Mysteries of the creation only deepen. Getting steeped in mystery is devotion.

Deepening the mystery of creation is science. Deepening the mystery of the Self is spirituality. They are the two sides of the same coin. If neither science nor spirituality can create wonder and devotion in you, then you are in deep slumber.

Whenever you consider a symbol, place, time, person or act as sacred, your attention is undivided and whole. When things are the same, you tend to slip into unawareness and inertia. Why does an act that is performed repeatedly lose its sacredness? This happens when your memory overpowers your consciousness and you lose your sensitivity. For example, people living in Benaras, a holy city in India, do not feel that it is a sacred place. Through living in the present moment and through sadhana, spiritual practices, we can preserve that feeling of sacredness in our acts.

When you have reverence for the whole universe, you are in harmony with the whole universe. Then, you do not need to reject or renounce anything.

There is pleasure in rest and there is pleasure in activity. The pleasure in activity is momentary and causes fatigue. The pleasure in rest is magnanimous and energizing. To the one who has tasted pleasure in rest (samadhi), the pleasure in activity is insignificant. But in order to have deep rest, one must be active. The proper balance of both is essential.

The mind

mindLet us examine the five factors that influence the mind: space, time, food, past impressions, and associations and actions.

Space: The place you are in. Every place you are in has a different impact on the mind. Even in your house, you can see that you feel different in different rooms. A place where there has been singing, chanting and meditation has a different influence on the mind. Suppose you like a particular place, you may find that a little later it will not be the same.

Time: Time is also a factor. Different times of the day and year have different influences on the mind.

Food: Different types of food that you eat influence you for a few days.

Past impressions or karma: They have a different impact on the mind. Awareness, alertness, knowledge and meditation help erase past impressions.

Associations and actions: The people and events you are associated with influence your mind. With certain people, your mind behaves one way and with others a different way.

Although these five factors influence your life and your mind, know that the Self is more powerful. As you grow in knowledge, you influence them all.



Now let us examine the types of restlessness and its remedies. There are five types of restlessness:

The first is due to the place you are in. When you move away from certain places, streets or houses, you immediately feel better. Chanting, singing, or the innocence of children playing and laughing can change this atmospheric restlessness.

The second type of restlessness is in the body. Eating the wrong food, eating at odd times, not exercising, and overworking can all cause physical restlessness. The remedy for this is exercise, moderation in work habits and a vegetable or juice diet for one to two days.

The third type of restlessness is mental restlessness. It is caused by ambition, strong thoughts, likes or dislikes. Knowledge alone can cure this restlessness; this includes seeing life from a broader perspective, knowing about the Self and realizing the impermanence of everything. If you achieve everything, so what? After your achievement, you will die. Knowledge of your death or life, confidence in the Self and in the Divine can all calm down mental restlessness.

There is also emotional restlessness. Any amount of knowledge does not help here. Sudarshan kriya, a powerful breathing technique helps! All that emotional restlessness vanishes. Also the presence of a Guru, a wise person, or a saint will help calm emotional restlessness.

The fifth type of restlessness is rare. It is the restlessness of the Soul. When everything feels empty and meaningless, know that you are very fortunate. Do not try to get rid of it. Embrace it. This restlessness of the Soul can bring authentic prayer in you. It brings perfection and miracles in life. It is so precious to get that innermost longing for the Divine. Satsang (company of the truth) and the presence of enlightened ones, soothe the restlessness of the Soul. Do not look for the Divine somewhere in the sky. See God in every pair of eyes, in the mountains, water, trees and animals. How? Only when you see God in yourself…only Gods can worship Gods.

Heightened awareness brings you close to the reality. And for this, you have to increase your prana, the life force. This can be done through: 1. Fasting and eating fresh food. 2. Pranayama, Sudarshan kriya and meditation. 3. Silence. 4. Cold water baths. 5. The right amount of sleep. 6. Emotional contentment. 7. Presence of the Master. 8. Singing and chanting. 9. Giving without Givership and service without Doership.

All of these together is Yagya. When you have reverence for the whole universe, you are in harmony with the whole universe. Then, you do not need to reject or renounce anything. When you have reverence in all your relationships, your own consciousness expands; even small things appear to be significant and big. Every little creature appears dignified. It is the reverence in every relationship that saves the relationship. Cultivate the skill of having reverence for every moment in your life.

How anger hurts you


Every sincere seeker wants to get rid of anger and reach a state of perfection, but is often swept by his or her emotions. What can you do when anger rises in you? You may remind yourself a hundred times that you shouldn’t get angry, but when it comes, you are unable to control it. It comes like a thunderstorm. Emotions are much more powerful than your thoughts and promises you make.

Anger is a distortion of your true nature and it doesn’t allow the Self to shine forth fully. The structure of human consciousness or mind is very similar to that of an atom. The positively charged protons and neutrons are in the center of the atom while the negatively charged particles are only on the circumference. Similarly, in human consciousness, mind and life also, all the negativity and vices are only in the periphery.

Showing anger itself is not wrong, but being unaware of your anger only hurts you. Sometimes you can show anger purposefully. For example, a mother gets angry at her children. She can act tough or shout at them if they put themselves in danger. There is a place for showing anger, but when you get angry yourself, what happens to you? You are shaken completely. Look at the consequences of getting angry. Are you ever happy with the decisions you have made or the words you have spoken when you are angry? No, because you lose your total awareness. If you are completely aware and you are acting angry, that is fine.

All anger is about something which has already happened. Is it of any use getting angry about something which you cannot alter? The mind always vacillates between the past and the future. When the mind is in the past, it’s angry about something that has already happened; but anger is meaningless as we can’t alter the past. And when the mind is in the future, it’s anxious about something that may or may not happen. When the mind is in the present moment, anxiousness and anger appear so meaningless.

Spiritual practices help you maintain your centeredness and not be shaken by small events. This is where a little knowledge about yourself, your mind, your consciousness, and the root of distortion in your nature will help. It is when you are exhausted and stressed that you lose your nature and get angry. Every individual is bestowed with all the virtues in the world. They simply get covered by lack of understanding and stress. All that is needed is to uncover the virtues that are already there.

Breathing techniques and meditation are very effective in calming the mind. Learning something about our breath is very important. Our breath has a great lesson to teach us, which we have forgotten. For every rhythm in the mind, there is a corresponding rhythm in the breath and for every rhythm in the breath, there is a corresponding emotion. So, when you cannot handle your mind directly, through breath you can handle it better. Meditation is letting go of anger from the past and the events of the past. It’s accepting this moment and living every moment totally with depth. Often anger comes because you don’t accept the present moment. Anger comes when one seeks too much perfection. When you are joyful, you don’t look for perfection. If you are looking for perfection then you are not at the source of joy.

The world appears imperfect on the surface but, underneath, all is perfect. Perfection hides; imperfection shows off.

The wise will not stay on the surface but will probe into the depths. Things are not blurred; your vision is blurred. Infinite actions prevail in the wholeness of consciousness, and yet the consciousness remains perfect, untouched. Realize this now and be natural.

sri sri ravishankarSri Sri Ravi Shankar, a world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader, 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.


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