Often you describe yourself by the way you look and the work you do or by your relationships with other people. But you are so much more than your body, your thoughts and feelings. All of these things are changing, but you are that which is not changing. Wake up this very moment and see who you are. You are unlimited spirit.
What is the nature of spirit? Spirit experiences and expresses value. Values are feelings and emotions that which cannot be captured totally by the words or understood by intellect. The values that enhance life are confidence, cooperation, faith and knowledge.
The values come only through spirit. We think we can find happiness or comfort through the material, yet we know from our own experience that material comfort alone is not sufficient or complete. Happiness is a quality of consciousness. It does depend on matter, but to a far greater degree it depends on attitude and understanding.
As we adopt the values of the spirit, life attains its richest form. Without them, life becomes very shallow and we are dependent and unhappy. It is the dharma of spirit to support life. It is the dharma of spirit to uphold and sustain life. Living the spiritual values makes your personality solid and strong.
What are the effects of the spiritual dimension of life on society? It brings a great sense of belongingness, responsibility, compassion and caring for the whole world, for the whole humanity. The spiritual dimension in the truest form smashes the narrow boundaries of caste, creed, religion and nationality and gives one a broader awareness of life present everywhere. Only spiritual understanding will eliminate war.
When the mind relaxes, the intellect becomes sharp. When the mind is loaded with small things such as ambition, feverishness and desire, then the intellect loses its keenness. And when intellect and observation are not sharp, life does not express itself fully. Ideas don’t flow properly and abilities diminish day by day. With this understanding, you step out of your little mind and that step will solve many of the problems in your life.
You want to be free from greed, hatred, jealousy and all such imperfections. If the mind is holding all these negative qualities, it cannot be happy or peaceful — you cannot enjoy your life. So the first step is to see that negative emotions are due to the past and not let the past affect your experience of life now. Forgive the past. If you cannot forgive the past, then your future will be miserable. Commit to dropping the past and starting a new fresh life.
To be fully in the now, you need to learn to handle your botherations. What is it that is bothering you? Whatever feelings you have, be with it totally without holding on to it. Children never worry. They experience and express emotions, but the next moment they are relieved. Whatever feelings you have in the moment, be with them 100 per cent. Share them with the Divine. Surrender them. Cultivate this practice. Then you will not worry. You will be carefree.
On the spiritual path, you will experience plenty. Maintain a balance — have confidence that what you need will be given to you and at the same time, be dynamic, not lazy. Spiritual life is marked by effective and dynamic activity. It is not an escape from hard work or from taking sincere action. Take heart. At any moment, in any place, you can just sit and let go, knowing inside you there is a sky without clouds, a sky studded with stars — stars of love, stars of beauty, stars of charm — a pure, clear space, vast and deep. That blue inner space is what you are.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, spiritual teacher and an ambassador of peace.