The Ignorant, Intelligentsia & The Wise

April 5, 2013

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Speaking Tree

Wisdom is beyond time. Like the sun is ancient, but the sun’s rays are fresh -- it’s not the same, stale rays. It’s the same with water. The river Ganga is ancient but today’s water is very fresh. In the same way, wisdom is something which is applicable to our life, which is new and fresh, yet which is ancient. That which upholds life, can be called wisdom.

The ignorant are fanatically religious. The so-called intelligentsia is fashionably atheistic but it is the wise ones who know how to combine the old and the new and make their lives. Like a tree which needs roots which are old and shoots which are new, life needs to be adaptable and this, exactly, is ancient wisdom. The very first hymn in the Rigveda says, “Rishirbhi nutane nurut” and the second hymn says, “Agni purvebi rishibhi nutane rut.” Modern and ancient rishis do exist; the old and the new, they exist together and that’s wisdom. Like technology, trade and tradition need to be revived and reviewed again and again. This is essential and the vibrancy of India is that we are able to do this. From ancient times, traditions have been kept intact, yet we have become very adaptable as time flew into modern-day requirements and life’s challenges that one has to meet.

What really is wisdom? Why we should be wise? Nobody wants to be in suffering. Nobody wants to be upset. That something which takes us away from suffering, which gives us vision, which makes life vibrant, which connects you -- the individual you to the universal You that exists in the universe and brings the immense satisfaction that small gratification doesn’t bring -- is what is wisdom and it is available in everybody. It has nothing to do with education. You’ll find wise people even among the illiterate,perhaps even more than you may find among the literate.They know how to manage homes, they know how to keep harmony in their neighbourhood, how to bring people together and how to bring celebration in life. Wisdom is that which brings celebration in life, which brings a smile on your face, which keeps you healthy and gives you that intuitive ability to see life and what is ahead of you.

I would like to add one more thing as we were talking about thought. I find thought is the gatekeeper of the house. Emotions are a little more powerful than thoughts. You may think ‘I am happy’ or you may put all your attention on thoughts but when emotions come ,they just barge in with such force that all your thought processes you kept to yourself just disappear. You find that your emotions are much more powerful than thoughts. Situations overpower you. Though you want to say ‘I want to be happy’ or ‘I am happy’and suddenly a bolt of emotions comes, some energy comes and they all disappear.

So we need to work on several layers of our life. First is environment; then body and breath for breath is the link between mind and body. Then mind and thoughts, and then emotions which are even subtler and powerful than that and beyond that is the energy field that is positivity, the radiance, soul, spirit that you are, that comes into play. And all these techniques like meditation and contemplative prayer as in Buddhist Zen tradition is to transcend thought and reach that level from where everything else runs. That is like attending to the house owner -- and then the guard will listen to what the house owner says.

From a talk delivered by Guruji at the recently-held India Today Conclave in New Delhi. Text courtesy:


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Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

  • brendah said:

    test 4/29/13 1:52pm

    April 29, 2013 1:52 PM
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