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Art of Living and Siddartha


The movie Siddhartha, an adaptation of a novel with same name by Hermann Hesse, depicts the life of a young Indian seeker, who lived during the time of the Buddha. While the Book “Siddartha” by Hermann Hesse is my all-time favourite, the movie doesn’t really make the same impact. But the movie is still worth watching, if possible on the big screen. We have reprdouced the movie here along with the plot summary for you to get a flavour of it. Enjoy!

The protagonist Siddhartha, who is the son of a rich Brahmin, leaves his home to seek truth and enlightenment and joins the nearest group of wandering ascetics.

Joined by his best friend Govinda, Siddhartha fasts, becomes homeless, and meditates, eventually seeking and personally speaking with the Buddha. Convinced by the elegance of the Buddha’s teachings, his friend Govinda  joins the Buddha’s order. But Siddhartha does not follow, and decides to carry on alone, believing that he cannot simply be taught these things from teachers and he must figure out and experience the Truth himself.

Siddhartha meets a friendly ferryman, fully content with his simple life. Siddhartha crosses the ferryman’s river and comes to a city, where he is enchanted by a beautiful courtesan named Kamala.

He knows she would be the best one to teach him about the Art of Love, but Kamala tells him that he must become wealthy to win her love. Kamala directs him to work for Kamaswami, a local businessman. Siddhartha easily succeeds in business with his wisdom, patience and tranquility. Alongside Kamala becomes his lover and teaches him what she knows about love.

Soon, he is leading an affluent life, gambling, drinking, dancing and enjoying all pleasures of the material word.  In his middle years, Siddartha realizes that the material world is slowly killing him without providing him any spiritual fulfillment.  One night, he leaves it all behind without telling either Kamala or Kamaswami. He returns to the same river and seeks out the peaceful ferryman Vasudeva. The ferryman shares that he attained inner peace through the revelations that came from the river.

Siddhartha decides to live and work with Vasudeva.  He intently studies the river and spiritual illuminations start unfolding in him like never before. While sitting by the river, he contemplates the unity of all life, and in the sound of the river he discovers the word Om.

Some years later, Kamala, now a disciple of the Buddha, is travelling with her son to see the Buddha at his deathbed.  She is bitten by a poisonous snake near the river and dies.

Siddhartha recognizes her and realizes that the boy she left behind is his own child. Siddhartha attempts to console and raise the rebellious boy, until one day the child flees to a city. Siddhartha becomes desperate to find his runaway son, but  Vasudeva advises him to let the boy find his own path, just as Siddhartha did in his youth.

In contemplating the river, Siddhartha has a revelation – Just as the water of the river flows into the ocean and is returned by rain, all forms of life, their birth and death are interconnected in a timeless and infinite cycle. With Siddhartha’s moment of realisation, Vasudeva announces that he must depart into the woods, leaving Siddhartha peacefully fulfilled and alone.

Toward the end of his life, Govinda hears about an enlightened ferryman and comes to the river to seek wisdom from the now-elderly Siddhartha. He did not recognize that the ferryman was his old childhood friend! Siddartha explains that neither he nor anyone can teach the wisdom to Govinda, because words are limited and can never communicate the totality of Truth. Instead, he asks Govinda to kiss him on the forehead, and when Govinda does, the realisation that Siddhartha has experienced is communicated instantly to Govinda. Govinda bows to his wise friend and Siddhartha smiles radiantly. Both were enlightened!

Watching the movie reminded me how Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been espousing total acceptance and celebration of Life through his personal example and the Art of Living movement. This precious knowledge of Life is coming to us as an inner experience not just borrowed words and concepts. Despite all his brilliance and commitment to the Truth, Siddhartha had to be helped and guided by the boatman. It is a great fortune that we in the Art of Living are gently being guided on the path to Truth with so much wisdom and love.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Art of Living Review, Movies to Watch

 

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Art of Living Navrati decoded


Did you count the divine audience? We have heard Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar talk about this! Many have even captured them in their picture frames. Some try to explain it as a scientific phenomenon. Some even call it a “blue-star” syndrome. Some more even take the liberty of ignorance to dismiss it as a superstition.

Yet the phenomenon of “angels” or divine energies being spotted during various spiritual activities blessed by Sri Sri continues to intrigue those who seek to know the real truth about this creation. It is impossible to dismiss this intriguing phenomenon of angels, after finding out what a Naadi Expert decoded just after this year’s Navratri celebrations at the Art of Living Ashram in Bangalore.

Naadi is an ancient science that decodes the past, present and future of an individual as foreseen by sages in ancient time and recorded in palm leaves. There are very few experts who have the knowledge to decode the inscriptions.

I wish modern science could testify this 7000 year old Akashic records and corroborate the revelation of all devas, devis and sages assembling at the Art of Living ashram in Bangalore for the Navratri celebrations!After the Chandi Homa, the Naadi Expert checked the palm leaves and decoded the following conversation between Kaushik Muni and one of his disciples.

Astonished by seeing that all sages, saptarishis, devas and devis including Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh were present in Art of Living Ashram for all the nine days of Navratri, the disciple asked Kaushik Muni to throw light on it. Hear it from the horses’ mouth:

Disciple: All of you are sitting here for all the nine days. Are you not responsible for rest of the world? Don’t you have to go anywhere else to fulfill your responsibilities? There are places with famines and floods which need your attention, but you all are happily sitting here.

Kaushik Muni: We go everywhere, but here the yagnas have been done for all of humanity and without any selfish motive and without any deceit in the heart. The poojas here have been done for the benefit of whole world. That is why we come here.

Disciple: If someone does a small puja with same devotion, will you go there also?

Kaushik Muni: Even if it was a small yagna, we would have come here because it was done with selfless motive for benefit of whole world. So we would have come to bless so that it reaches the whole world.

Disciple: But you were not even invited here?

Kaushik Muni: But we were welcomed nicely and taken very good care of.  Also, here the pundits don’t do the yagnas as a profession, but with a pure heart. The fruits of yagna have reached even those who are not here physically but have remembered Gurudev, They have all been blessed. Many calamities have been averted; the hearts of people with violent and negative tendencies have been transformed.

Listening to this fascinating conversation etched on thaliyola (palm leaves) 7000 years ago with iron nails in Vatteluttu, the ancient Tamil script, it becomes official and absolute truth that not just millions of mortals across the globe, but even subtle beings called variously as angels, devas, devis and sages are also drawn to purity and authenticity of Sri Sri’s spirituality.

How often we have seen the unseen hands of divinity playing out in our lives. Surely, we don’t need to be told about it by a Nadi expert. Yet, it’s nice to know even the divine comes running where we go!

 
 

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The Sound of Silence



I am just back, rejuvenated and refreshed from my favorite Meditation Retreat at the Art of Living International Center in Bangalore.

The experience of deep silence and stillness is not easy to capture in words, and yet not wanting to give up easily, I am trying to share it here.

As the flute flowed melodiously during the evening satsang, it seemed no different from the human body. Air was being blown through the hollow and empty flute and beautiful music was flowing out. Three things came together to create this music: Knowledge of the music, the mastery over the blowing of air and the knowledge of the apertures to be opened and closed. The manner in which the air is blown, its smoothness, force, transition, intensity, the practice and the knowledge all come together to create the music.

 The human body, made up of the five elements and five senses, is also like a beautiful flute with its five apertures. It is a much more complex system than the flute; however the fundamental principles to create music remain the same. A mastery of the body and mind are needed to bring out the harmonious and melodious music, inherent in us.

Every time I do The Advanced Meditation Course of the Art of Living, I find myself acquiring greater skills to gain this mastery. These skills help us to wade through life’s transient events and give us the experience that in its essence Life is indeed Celebration, Joy and Love.

The same message was echoed as I watched Nature and its hollow and emptiness. Hollow and Empty and yet playing the most beautiful music in the chirping of the birds, the distant sound of the children, the chanting of the Vedas, the flow of the water, the sound of the trees swaying… A silent symphony played by sounds of silence and wonder.

 As I became one with the swaying of the trees, the blueness of the water, the vastness of the sky, the heat of the Sun, the solidity of the Earth underneath my feet, a silence dawned. The moment stood still and I was alive like never before.

A deep impact has been made. There is a playfulness in me that is enlivened, a calmness and an understanding that does not allow the situations to overwhelm me. There is also a new dawn of creativity and an enthusiasm to live every moment in its fullness. Living has become exhilarating after I heard the Sound of Silence.

 

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How to Move from Lack to Contentment


A glance at the news papers reveals the corruption and the violence around us. We see an impoverishment of collective thinking towards building a healthy, happy and secure environment. Where does all this stem from and why?

The basic root cause zeroes down to a sense of lack. The sense of lack arises from non-availability of desired object or the insatiable desire to possess objects or experience pleasure. Let’s take a close look at the cause of lack – non availability of desired objects. When there is a mis-match in the skills that one possesses and the skills required to attain the desired object, one resorts to convenient shortcuts to fill the gap.

The other culprit is insatiable desires. It is a malady that has especially plagued humanity in modern times. With self effort it can be recognized as a mental pattern that can be corrected. Most desires arise from comparing what one has with what others have. The “other” person becomes the elusive benchmark, when we desire to possess something that he has and we don’t have. I am not advocating an austere life style here. However, we need to understand this never ending horizon of desires.

If one does not recognize this pattern, there is no freedom from being mired in the mirage of never ending desires. One can spend an entire life reeling in this never ending cycle of short-lived happiness and misery. Or, one can choose to opt out of it. The beauty is that the moment one becomes aware and recognizes this pattern of desires, we start becoming free from it.

For a definite change in the mental pattern, one needs to have the courage to step out of deeply ingrained comfort zones and ask these questions, “What is happiness? What does it mean to me? Is it possible for me to attain a state of permanent happiness?

Well, we have some good news here! Even for the most materialistic person on Earth, the answer is Yes! Increased awareness of the workings of our mind will arrest the thoughts that give birth to insatiable desires. Awareness increases our level of contentment and happiness. A glimpse of this self-generated happiness removes the lack in our lives and replaces it with an inner peace and genuine smile.

How do we attain this level of awareness? There is a famous saying by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, a revered saint and enlightened Master “When you follow knowledge fun follows you”. This is the knowledge about the Art of Living.If one learns the Art of Living and starts living through life, instead of blindly chasing desires, the path becomes easy, fun-filled and fruitful.

From the time I have done the six-day workshop on the Art of Living there has been no looking back. I lead a normal life of gifts, surprises, challenges etc. However, there is one expression of mine which has come to stay forever and that is a smile☺

If you want to know more about these programs you may contact the Art of Living centre in your city. How? Nothing comes easy my dear friend. If you want a lasting smile, put in an effort to find out. (Hint – information is available here, right under your nose!) Happy scouting ☺

 

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