Extracts of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Guru Purnima message on 22 July 2013 at International Art of Living Center, Canada :
Once upon a time, a Guru was giving darshan to a congregation. People were coming and bowing down, seeking blessings. Gurudev was silent most of the time and when somebody would come and share their troubles, looking for a response, he would say only one thing. One person came to him and said, “I failed in my exam.” Gurudev said, “Well, you are very lucky.” Another came and said, “My wife has left me.” Pat came the reply, “You are very lucky.”
SRI SRI PERFORMING GURU PUJA DURING GURU PURNIMA 2013 CELEBRATIONS AT MONTREAL ASHRAM
No matter what problems people shared – “None of my friends are talking to me” or “I lost my job”, Gurudev kept telling them that they were very lucky. Even though it was the same response, strangely, those people would walk away happily, as though they received the right advice for their situation.
After a while, one person came forward and shared, “Gurudev, I feel very lucky and I am so grateful that I have you in my life.” When Gurudev heard this, he got annoyed and gave this person a tight slap. Even more strangely, this man, with tears in his eyes, started dancing in joy.
Another person who was watching all this, got totally confused at everybody’s behavior. But he could not gather enough courage to ask Gurudev directly. So he went to a senior disciple and confided, “I can’t make any sense out of what I saw. Could you please explain to me the meaning of all this?” On being asked to give an interpretation of the Guru’s actions (which devotees love to do anyway), this person replied, “It was perfect what Gurudev did!
The first person realized he was lucky because when you fail in an exam, you end up studying it more thoroughly. The person who lost his job and the one whose friends left him are lucky because they now have some time to introspect.
People in jobs never have any time and one has to be really lucky to get some time in life to reflect on the Truth, on ‘who am I’. The person whose wife ran away is lucky because now he can learn what mistakes he made in his relationship. He now has an opportunity to become sensitive to her wife’s welfare and that’s why Gurudev’s words made him happy. Every challenge in life is an opportunity and every opportunity is a step towards Divinity.”
“But why did the last person who was grateful get a slap?”
“Because when he said, ‘I am grateful’, he was still centered around the ‘I’. When he got that slap, he realized that even to be grateful, there need to be two. The Master told him, ‘Me and you? Two? Come on, wake up. There is only One Brahman.’ When you realize this, misery vanishes from life.
On becoming aware of the Oneness, that person started dancing.” Usually people exist, they don’t live. Existing without life is ignorance. Living as if you don’t exist is enlightenment.
There are three levels of human consciousness. The first and the lowest is pure inertia, when one does not feel anything. The second is when one realizes that there is misery in life. Buddha took people from inertia to awareness of misery.
Every misery wakes you up and that is when dispassion and discrimination dawn in you. That is why many people become spiritual when they see sorrow in life. The third step is realizing that life is all blissful. This is where the Guru Tattva (Principle) is needed. In the presence of the Guru, misery gets transformed into bliss.