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Sri Sri and Mr Cobra


Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji loves going out for morning walks. Back in 2006, it was a regular feature. Everyday during the walk a snake used to cross his path; As if it was a daily ritual, the glimmering reptile  would wait for Sri Sri and slither away after seeing him walk by. He was a majestic cobra with a mark of 1o on his hood. His mud abode glorified the lawns of the garden outside Sri Sri’s kutir.

One fine day during his morning walk, Sri Sri found that the movement of Mr cobra was unusual. The cobra was seen on one side of the path, but it did not endeavour to cross the path like it would do everyday. Sri Sri mentioned to Dilip, who was with him that morning, that something was amiss and the cobra needed to be attended to.

By the time we came in to check, the long, glimmering and majestic creature was lying on the ground almost motion less, though it was still breathing. When we touched him to find whether he had any movement, he would just widen its hood laying flat on the ground signifying life. What a plight it was to see this, for in its full glory, it is almost impossible to find a live agile cobra allowing anyone to be near (snakes are solitary reptiles with their territory clearly marked).

The cobra exudes the beauty and grandeur of the king of snakes when it raises the hood to show off its handsome mark. And now it was struggling to raise the hood, breathing very slowly. Something had to be done immediately! Very often, the animal world depends upon humans for help. When animals come near humans, seeking  help, do nut shoo them off. Many organisations ready to help are just at a phone’s length away.  Snakes are very shy creatures. At the faintest sound they rush to hide in crevices in stone.

So our cobra surely needed medical help immediately. I got in touch with Dr Salem of Banerghatta Rescue Centre. He sent trained volunteers to pick our critical patient, who was carefully picked up and packed for a comfortable and safe journey to the Hospital. He was admitted in the intensive care unit and monitored for about one and half months. There, by series of injections in his tail, the cobra was cured of the poisoning and the lung infection.

Probably he had eaten an infected frog who had consumed some pesticide used by the farmers on the neighbouring farm.  The lung infection was due to the chemicals used in the detergent as the cobra used to stay in a water pipe. Humans have created a havoc by heavily using chemicals and pesticides. Sri Sri had once warned us that even if one species is wiped off from the planet, we are inviting a catastrophe. Let us refuse to use products in our daily life which may be harmful to the Earth.

A few weeks later Sri Sri asked how our fellow being of the gardens was doing. I went to see the cobra.  By now he was very strong, though still confined to a glass chamber. When injection was given in his tail he would promptly raise the hood in resistance to the prick and almost would (may be just on impulse) want to turn and attack. It was a delight to see his natural glory restored!

I wondered whether he ever understood that he survived due to the treatment he received due to Gurudev’s attention. Sri Sri wanted him back in his home on the farm, where he belonged to.

After two months, when he was strong and fit to be released, the authorities decided to release him deep in the forest where the conditions would be very natural. As for me, I believe that he would be much more happier to come back to his land where his master trod.

Posted by Meenal Moray, trained architect from J J School of Arts, who cares for the animal world. She lives and teaches yoga and meditation at the Art of Living International Ashram, Bangalore.

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Art of Living Tribal schools in Jharkhand


THE BEGINNING

In 1999, Shri Brij Bhushan Chawla was blessed by H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, to start tribal schools in Jharkhand, one of the most backward states of India. Today, Art of Living is running ten tribal schools in Ghatsila Block and twenty more in the tribal belt of Jharkhand and West Bengal. These schools provide education to 2,734 tribal children from 60 tribal villages who come from families that have been ignored for centuries and bypassed from mainstream development.

COMPREHENSIVE UPLIFTMENT OF TRIBAL POPULATION

It is not just the students, but entire families who are being uplifted. The tribal school teachers provide counseling to the villagers besides running the adult education program since many years. Regular medical assistance is provided to the villagers by Art of Living doctors who visit these areas at least once in a fortnight to conduct medical camps. Medicines are made freely available for the patients at these camps. Before Art of Living started its tribal school project, malaria was rampant in the area and child mortality rate was pretty high. Today, the regular supply of medical help by Art of Living volunteers has minimized the death toll.

UNFAZED IN FACE OF CHALLENGES

The team remained unfazed in the face of many challenges that came up while setting up the schools. The first and foremost challenge was lack of proper connectivity to these remote tribal areas. Miles away from roads, there was no electricity, and water supply in the area. Lack of infrastructure prevented sufficient and timely medical help from reaching, leading to deaths of tribals during emergencies. The Art of Living team led by Chawla ji toiled hard to get the electricity lines and the roads built to reach these places. They also created clean water sources by installing hand water pumps at every school and digging wells. The rising spread of Naxalism in the surrounding area was also a matter of great concern. Today, due to the good work that has been happening over the past decade in this area, there is no threat from the naxalites in running these schools.

Initially the parents were reluctant to send their children to school. They preferred to send children to work or engage them in household chores or baby sitting. The volunteers had to convince the parents of the value of education and make all the arrangements for the kids to attend the schools. These schools run free of charge and provide books, uniforms, school bags, bicycles and transportation, along with lunch and milk to the students.

HOLISTIC EDUCATION

The schools impart education in a holistic manner as envisioned by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji. In Gurudev’s words, “Every parent would like to have a child whose personality shines wherever the child goes. It is the personality that is appreciated everywhere. Such pleasing personality is what is the main aim of this education.” This is very much visible when we look at kids studying at our tribal schools…

TEACHING METHODOLOGY

Progressing as a team

Group-based learning is encouraged in the students. This helps them in imbibing human values such as sharing and helping each other to grow. Each group is assigned a leader to encourage the leadership qualities in the students.

Each tribal school has its own garden in the vicinity of the school structure. The garden is maintained by the students themselves. Fruits and vegetables are cultivated using zero budget natural farming. The students learn the value of teamwork and hard work while toiling in these gardens.

Fostering the hidden potential

The tribal kids are very good at arts and their creativity is encouraged by giving them opportunities to make craft and decorations at the school. All the charts put up inside the school are either prepared by the teachers or the students themselves.

The classroom walls are fixed with blackboards which are used by the students to draw paintings of their choice. When we look at the paintings of these kids, it is unbelievable to learn that there is no teacher appointed to teach them drawing and painting!

Fine balance of indoor and outdoor activities

Physical activities are an integral part of their routine at the school and sports events are regularly organized where students from all the schools get a chance to come together and interact with each other.

The culture of the tribes is maintained by encouraging the children to perform dances and dramas in their own traditional language and costumes.

Expanding the horizons of the tribal mind

The middle school has a well-equipped computer lab that provides access to quality educational material. Once in a while excursion tours are organized to give the students exposure to the outside world and expand their thinking horizons. Today these kids have started nurturing the ambitions of becoming doctors and teachers to serve their own community.

A DAY AT THE TRIBAL SCHOOL

Every morning the students arrive happily at their respective schools. Those students who reside far away from their school are provided with bicycles to come to school. Their day at school begins by cleaning the school campus. This imbibes qualities like responsibility and cleanliness in the students. This activity is followed by fetching water from the hand pumps and watering the plants in the garden next to the school building. After this activity students gather for prayers, which consist of Sanskrit chants and patriotic songs. This activity helps to instill sense of pride and moral responsibility towards one’s community, culture and country.

After the prayers, students settle down in class rooms to do exercises and meditation under teacher’s guidance. The breathing techniques improve concentration levels and keep student calm and energetic. The students are encouraged to participate in activities such as singing, dancing, and story-telling to boost their confidence.

The education is imparted in the national language Hindi, and English, while preserving the native language Santhali. Apart from the languages, the children learn modern science, history, geography, ecology and other subjects taught in schools all over India.

Nutritious midday meals and milk are provided to the students. A lot of importance is given to practical learning rather than the rote learning approach. For example, calculating the area of a circle is taught with the help of a board used by the kids to play archery. This makes learning subjects like mathematics an interesting exercise.

Ample amount of outdoor activities happen at the schools. Thus, the students go back home happy and stress-free at the end of the day.

LIVELIHOOD TRAINING

Special attention is given to the development plan for the students when they grow up. A vocational training center is set up to allow the students to learn skills that can help them earn their livelihood. The school uniforms are stitched by some of the students and their elders at this center. The students prepare decorative crafts items that are sold by the volunteers.

The team running the project believes that the locally trained teachers are more suitable for the schools as compared to teachers brought from urban areas, due to the fact that local teachers better understand the language and culture of the students.

Therefore the team periodically organizes teacher’s training workshops to generate quality teachers at the local level.

The project coordinators are also working on programs to facilitate the students with skills that will help them to earn a living within their native instead of relocating to urban areas in search of employment.

FROM VISION TO REALITY

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji says, “Knowledge and spiritual awareness should go hand in hand with social and political system. Only then can justice prevail in the society and there be a sense of belongingness with everyone in the world, irrespective of their religious and cultural background or age group. We need to impart this education – at the levels of schools and colleges.”

After visiting the tribal schools in Jharkhand, one can truly feel that this vision of the founder is becoming a reality in this nation with the dedicated efforts of the volunteers of the Art of Living with his inspiration. The Art of Living has started 209 such schools all over the country, making education a reality for 24,209 students.

For more details about the tribal schools of Jharkand, contact Mr. Brji Chawla, bbc108@yahoo.com

 Author Sandesh Sawant is a faculty of the Art of Living foundation and works as software engineer at Cisco Systems in India. The author enjoys working on social causes and has written the article on the basis of his visit to the tribal schools in Jharkhand.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Art of Living Projects

 

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Music, Navratri & Sri Sri


Music, to put in a gross way, is a group of musical notes of different frequencies or pitch arranged in a particular pattern and rhythm. However, this gross description is incomplete as it is limited only to the subjective aspect of music. In reality, music is a means of finding the Self.

The purpose of music is to transport the listener (and the musician) beyond the mechanical sound of the notes to the inner silence, another realm of one’s being. That’s why music is also known as nadyoga. Through music one can attain the transcendental. It is an important aspect of life like bhakti, gnana and karma. A nadayogi focuses on nada as the absolute brahman of which this entire creation springs out.

The finest aspect of music comes alive every year during the annual Navratri celebrations with Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Art of Living International Centre in Bangalore.

The evening before the day of Maha Chandi Homa a musical bliss dawns when Sri Sri plays Veena, the instrument of Goddess Saraswati. It is an out-of-the-world experience by itself. One can literally feel that the strings in one’s heart are being played that resonates throughout one’s life. Sri Sri’s Veena rendering is followed by the offerings of devotees in the form of dance, music (instrumental and vocal), Vedas, ancient scriptures,stotras in praise of the Mother Divine!

It’s not just a divine rendition of Veena, but elevating music as a form of worship. Goddess Sarawati is worshipped on the last three days of Navratri as the sattvic expression of Devi, known to bring self knowledge.

The Goddess, who is worshiped as the deity of music, is depicted to have a veena, the symbol of music, in one hand and a book, the symbol of knowledge, in the other. Knowledge is the subject of the left brain. Knowledge is not complete without music, which is the subject of the right brain. Music balances knowledge. For the journey of life to be complete, both music and knowledge are essential.

During the sacred Navratri celebrations at Bangalore Ashram, music is intricately intertwined with the invocation and worship of Shakti – the pure energy.

The ancient scriptures say, ‘Shruti is the mother, and laya is the father of music.’ Shruti is translated as pitch and laya is translated as rhythm. But they are much more than pitch and rhythm.

Shruti and laya are not separate. They merge into each other and have to remain indivisible throughout for music to exist. Laya, the rhythm, is in the soul of the universe. Everything in this creation changes, and this change follows a very precise rhythm. The universe itself revolves in a rhythm.

Laya is the attribute of music that is beyond the tangible rhythm of the music. Laya means to let go, to unite. Laya is complete cessation. It is the merger of all the different rhythms at the levels of one’s body, senses, mind, intellect, memory and ego to the one consciousness, the non-dual brahman. It is through this laya that the notes in the music are absorbed into the ‘swara’.

Music ‘happens’ when swara takes over! There the music, the musician and the listener, if any, with all the instruments cease to exist as individual entities, and dissolve into the one brahman, the nada!Swara is subtler than and far beyond the subjective sensation of the musical notes. Swara translates the subjective ‘anubhava’ to the objective ‘anubhooti’.

‘Swa-ra’ in Sanskrit means, ‘that which illumines itself’. It cannot be obtained through mere practice or penance, nor can one be trained to get it. It has to dawn by itself! And when it dawns in the musician, it shines forth itself through his music.

It is the swara and not just the technical correctness of the pitch or the quality of tones or the voice of the musician that makes music transcend and transport one to its destination.The sound that is beyond the finest vibration, the seed form of all the sounds is the state of absolute stillness, the nada, which can only be attained, not perceived through the physical ears.

Posted by Dr Manikantan Menon; Dr Mani promotes ‘Holistic well-being’ thru a blend of Ayurveda, Music and Indian Spiritual Knowledge & Yogic Practices

 
 

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Navratri: The Sri Sri connection


As a kid, Navratri  was a welcome relief to the reluctant student in me, it being the only day in the calendar, when even parents encouraged us to not study! Beyond that heavenly relief, I never understood or even cared to figure out, what the celebrations were about! To confess, for a long time, I even believed that people celebrated Navratri  because it was a welcome escape from their regular routine!

But in the years to come I was destined to realize that my childhood perceptions were true, but from a very different angle! Navratri was indeed a celebration of breaking patterns!

“So who scripted this change?” is a very inevitable question. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the wonder beyond my imagination, is the answer! Years ago when I first came to the heavenly Art of Living ashram for Navratri , I was initiated to this beautiful experience. Since then Navratri  became the most anticipated event in the year. As I progressed through my teens, I started realizing the depth and meaning of the wonderful celebrations! I slowly started realizing that Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is silently taking us through that most divine experience, often unreachable for the common man.

I remember distinctly going to temples during the Navratri  and waiting with folded hands for the abode to open for arathi! But since the day, I chose to walk the Master’s path; the differences in my Navratris earlier and now have been starkingly evident! Those meaningless folded hands transformed into tears of gratitude; the memorized mantra chants often gave way to prayful silence! Instead of waiting for the abode of Devi to open for darshan, I searched for the divine’s presence inside my heart. This inward journey was beyond comparison and explanation!

I remember Sri Sri explaining the science and philosophy of Navratri  in a Satsang before the start of the nine nights! I sat amazed realizing the meanings behind many of those symbols! A few days before, I had heard a scientist explaining to a crowd, the science behind the poojas. As I sat hearing and loving every bit of the talk, he chose to spoil my party!  He concluded his talk with this strange remark that meant the divinity of the pooja, is nothing more than a psychosis factor to motivate people to participate in them. The debate on religion and science is a never ending one and almost all intellectuals who have graced the Earth have spoken volumes about it. I am no one to question the scientist’s remark.

But I guess I have a genuine doubt! If these poojas were a mere scientific procedure, then we could recreate them in any controlled laboratory setup by combining a few chemicals. But will such experiments succeed in stimulating the positive vibes which uplifts your being! Will such chemical reactions help to stimulate a person to move towards the higher goal? Will those mechanisms transform negativity to positivity the way poojas do? I do not know the answer. Perhaps my limited knowledge shuns my understanding!

I believe there must have been a million scientific phenomenona that our ancient Rishis would have mastered, before giving shape to these powerful rituals. But should we bank on a few scientific theories, which can be proved wrong any other minute from now, to prove the significance of these rituals?  Don’t we have a bigger and deeper spiritual and philosophical significance to highlight? The lines of science and spirituality are at times blurred and at times distinct! So every individual reading this blog can interpret or introspect on this question to the best of his\her knowledge!

But I believe the real success of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar comes here! He gave a new dimension to these age old traditions and made them accessible to many parts of the world with the perfect blend of scientific reasoning. He attracted the seekers craving for scientific rationale to the Yagnashala without diluting its spiritual quotient! Many intellectuals have bitten the bullet, failing to strike this balance. Today when thousands are celebrating and rejoicing the poojas of Navratri in the  Art of Living International Centre in Bengaluru, similar kinds of poojas are happening around the world under his direct guidance.

Millions of people caught up in the hassles of daily life, are now coming to these celebrations where subtle energies are invoked through mantras and yagnas and are experiencing deep and authentic joy! Sri Sri, has undoubtedly revolutionized this spiritual wave which is bringing together people from all age groups and cross sections to participate in the Navratri celebrations as enjoined by the Vedas.

Every year, I see more and more youth, taking up the responsibilities of the festival and turning out in large numbers for participating in these poojas! Isn’t this the revival that Swami Vivekananda spoke off? If we can sustain this spring in our footstep, then many of our social dogmas and evils will not have a place in our society in the years to come! I was travelling across USA, when the Christopher Nolan movie “The Dark Knight Rises” hit the cinemas. I witnessed the enthusiasm and excitement of the youth those days! It was an absolute frenzy! But today, when I see the excitement of the youth in the Navratri Yagnashalas in organizing the pooja celebrations, I doubt if “The Dark Knight Rises” can even come close! Of course, the comparison itself is very unfair and illogical! After all, these nine nights are undoubtedly the “brightest”, spreading the light of love & knowledge!

Perhaps the time is ripe to ensure that this precious and ancient knowledge is passed on to the next generation.  In this auspicious moment I pray that we realize the significance of these poojas in elevating us to become better individuals. Let us all celebrate with true spirit, the victory of the good over the evil, the victory of unconditional love over hatred! Let us get drenched in this amazing eternal bliss & devotion! I Happy Navratri!

Posted by Rahul Riji Nair –  Noted Film Maker,Columnist, Business Analyst, Social Entrepreneur, Founder Director of Save My Ten Foundation and Active volunteer of The Art of Living Foundation. 

 
 

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About The Art of Living And Behind The Scenes


On any given day, thousands are present in satsang at the Bangalore Ashram. Many years ago, it was just a few hundreds.On one such day after the satsang, Sri Sri began moving through the crowd and distributing sweets.

A little boy crept through the crowd and made it all the way to Sri Sri and held out his hand. Sri Sri smiled at him and lovingly placed a sweet in his little palm. Bubbling with excitement, he turned back and vanished into the crowd. Sri Sri continued distributing sweets and had moved just a few steps ahead when the little boy appeared again through the crowd and stretched out his hand. He was given another sweet and he rushed back again. When this happened a few times, the volunteer holding the packet of sweets pointed out to Sri Sri, “He has come for the fourth time.”Without stopping for a moment, Sri Sri replied, “Jab tak ye baant-ta rahega, main ise deta rahunga.”(As long as he keeps distributing them further, I will continue to give him.)

Anybody who has ever come forward to take any initiative with even a trace of sincerity has only received encouragement, appreciation and compassionate guidance from Sri Sri. If not forced by circumstances, most people would spend their lives within the small pond of their limited experiences. What he had to offer opened them so much that in profound gratitude, they disregarded all shortcoming they believed they had and stepped forward with the sentiment, “What can I do for you?”  It is very tender and delicate inside the person who feels it but when it acts, it moves with a tremendous force.It is this force which has  driven the mammoth expanse of  the Art of Living movement all around the world.

For these people, stepping out of their shells and taking responsibility has caused enormous growth in them. Most people who are teachers now had no prior experience of speaking in a group; most people who lead satsangs are not trained singers; people who have done massive construction projects started with hardly any knowledge of construction. “If God has really made me in His own image, what is it that I cannot do?” This conviction comes to them and they are able to do phenomenal things. They don’t do it for their ambition or a sense of achievement. They do it in gratitude for the person who unlocked something profound in them.

Art of Living may give off the appearance of an organization but this whole movement is not run by any management strategy or policy. It is run by an authentic personal experience that deep within, you are love and it is the same love that you are made up of, that moves this world.This realization, because of its purity and universality, has brought so many different people together. Love is the force that binds these people and looking at the magnitude of this phenomenon, it can only be a force of Nature.

Posted by Nakul Dhawan

 

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Art of Living : Navratri For Who’s and Who’s


For the uninitiated, it is a time to dance, party and socialize in a grand way! For the Master it is a time to set an example of honoring the practice of silence! For the seeker it is a time to go within and let go of identifications with the modulations of the mind! For the ashramites it is a time to brace themselves up to handle the chaos of the crowds with their wit and patience!

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

That which brings rest at three levels is ratri.  Someone caught up in blaming,  regretting the past, hankering  for pleasure or anxiety of their future well-being is unable to really rest despite having material comforts. For such people Navaratri could be translated as Nava( no)-ratri(rest)- that the lifestyle and attitudes they are pursuing is not bringing them any deep rest.

However, for a seeker who has tasted something deeper than the transient sensory charms of the world, it is a time to honor that which moves the senses. A scenery is charming because it captures the mind, stops it from running around. The same scenery which for the bhogi is a habitual channel to run away from oneself, for the seeker-the yogi is a channel to return within.

What is the energy, what is the power by which the eye is able to see? The power by which we are able to connect to the world outside? The ancient Rishis called this the Shakti-the divine energy which is a part of the Brahman, the absolute. Manifesting as the play of the three qualities- the satvic, rajasic and tamasic tendencies,  this energy brings about the cognition, activity and ignorance or forgetfulness respectively.

Of course when we first hear about the tamasic energy manifesting as ignorance the reaction would be that of aversion–wanting to move away from that. However, Navaratri is the time to honor even  that. Slumber, procrastination, delusion, inertia, ignorance — if one consciously decides to honor them it is not hard to see the value they bring to life! Honoring these aspects directs them toward what is life supporting. For example procrastination is a blessing when it comes to reacting to an insult! Not knowing all that is going on in people’s minds is a blessing, else imagine the amount of noise one would experience sensing the thoughts of everyone around!

Without this tamasic energy one would not be able to sleep-as anyone who has been excessively worried and anxious sometime has experienced. Without the rajasic energy, it would be impossible to be active at all, there would be no movement! Lord Buddha as he got enlightened, just stayed silent in ecstasy as the rajas, tamas had completely subsided. The angels had to request him, nudge him, cajole him into speaking, traveling and sharing the light for the benefit of the seekers.

All these three energies are divine – and yet if one does not honor the divinity of them, the truth, the infinity which moves them, it is impossible to fathom them. In other words, on a day one feels dull and lethargic, taking a few moments to acknowledge that this is not really something that is their own but just the tamasic energy manifesting can free one! Just taking a little time to honor it — which is not same as indulging or encouraging it — and knowing that this is just a play of the divinity, of the timeless, of something much much larger! The moment this shift happens one is able to be light and playful again and not caught up in identifying oneself with the effects of these qualities!

Navaratri is the time to consciously honor these three aspects of the Shakti, which sustain life, just remembering their divine origin, their true source which is the pure untainted consciousness  brings deep rest. All the meditations, ceremonies, rituals are aimed at this. May this Navaratri move you from the limited to unlimited, from bondage to freedom!

Watch the live webcast of Navratri Celebrations 2012 in presence of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from Art of Living International Center, Bangalore: http://www.artofliving.org/navratri-webcast

Posted by Dr Birjoo Vaishnav

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Art of Living Wisdom

 

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Art of Living with one’s own mind


Usually we think of scientists as people narrowly focused on their specialities. What would a scientist have to do with spirituality?

Richard Feynman

Well, one of the greatest physicists since Einstein, the famous Richard Feynman was fascinated by the workings of the mind and experimented with different meditation techniques. His experience with hypnosis and the power of belief is very insightful in to how our mind often fools us. Here is his story in his own words!

On Wednesdays at the Princeton Graduate College, various people would come in to give talks. The speakers were often interesting, and in the discussions after the talks we used to have a lot of fun. For instance, one guy in our school was very strongly anti-Catholic, so he passed out questions in advance for people to ask a religious speaker, and we gave the speaker a hard time.

In the great big dining hall with stained-glass windows, where we always ate, in our steadily deteriorating academic gowns, Dean Eisenhart would begin each dinner by saying grace in Latin. After dinner he would often get up and make some announcements. One night Dr. Eisenhart got up and said, “Two weeks from now, a professor of psychology is coming to give a talk about hypnosis. Now, this professor thought it would be much better if we had a real demonstration of hypnosis instead of just talking about it. Therefore he would like some people to volunteer to be hypnotized. I get all excited: There’s no question but that I’ve got to find out about hypnosis. This is going to be terrific!

Dean Eisenhart went on to say that it would be good if three or four people would volunteer so that the hypnotist could try them out first to see which ones would be able to be hypnotized, so he’d like to urge very much that we apply for this. (He’s wasting all this time, for God’s sake!)

Eisenhart was down at one end of the hall, and I was way down at the other end, in the back. There were hundreds of guys there. I knew that everybody was going to want to do this, and I was terrified that he wouldn’t see me because I was so far back. I just had to get in on this demonstration!

Finally Eisenhart said, “And so I would like to ask if there are going to be any volunteers . . .”

I raised my hand and shot out of my seat, screaming as loud as I could, to make sure that he would hear me: “MEEEEEEEEEEE!”

He heard me all right, because there wasn’t another soul. My voice reverberated throughout the hall–it was very embarrassing. Eisenhart’s immediate reaction was, “Yes, of course, I knew you would volunteer, Mr. Feynman, but I was wondering if there would be anybody else.”

Finally a few other guys volunteered, and a week before the demonstration the man came to practice on us, to see if any of us would be good for hypnosis. I knew about the phenomenon, but I didn’t know what it was like to be hypnotized.

He started to work on me and soon I got into a position where he said, “You can’t open your eyes.”

I said to myself, “I bet I could open my eyes, but I don’t want to disturb the situation: Let’s see how much further it goes.” It was an interesting situation: You’re only slightly fogged out, and although you’ve lost a little bit, you’re pretty sure you could open your eyes. But of course, you’re not opening your eyes, so in a sense you can’t do it.

He went through a lot of stuff and decided that I was pretty good.

When the real demonstration came he had us walk on stage, and he hypnotized us in front of the whole Princeton Graduate College. This time the effect was stronger; I guess I had learned how to become hypnotized. The hypnotist made various demonstrations, having me do things that I couldn’t normally do, and at the end he said that after I came out of hypnosis, instead of returning to my seat directly, which was the natural way to go, I would walk all the way around the room and go to my seat from the back.

All through the demonstration I was vaguely aware of what was going on, and cooperating with the things the hypnotist said, but this time I decided, “Damn it, enough is enough! I’m gonna go straight to my seat.

When it was time to get up and go off the stage, I started to walk straight to my seat. But then an annoying feeling came over me: I felt so uncomfortable that I couldn’t continue. I walked all the way around the hall.

I was hypnotized in another situation some time later by a woman. While I was hypnotized she said, “I’m going to light a match, blow it out, and immediately touch the back of your hand with it.

You will feel no pain.”

I thought, “Baloney!” She took a match, lit it, blew it out, and touched it to the back of my hand. It felt slightly warm. My eyes were closed throughout all of this, but I was thinking, “That’s easy. She lit one match, but touched a different match to my hand. There’s nothin’ to that; it’s a fake!”

When I came out of the hypnosis and looked at the back of my hand, I got the biggest surprise: There was a burn on the back of my hand. Soon a blister grew, and it never hurt at all, even when it broke.

So I found hypnosis to be a very interesting experience. All the time you’re saying to yourself, “I could do that, but I won’t”–which is just another way of saying that you can’t.

Posted by Art of Living Blogger Dr Birjoo Vaishnav 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Art of Living Wisdom, Others

 

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