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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Way of Grace

The Miracle of Grace

Every moment around the Master is unique and revealing. only a few, now and then, here and there, are ever captured and recorded by those around him. Here a tiny effort has been made to bring a flavor of these experiences to others around the world.

Your Grace floods my life from every direction. I am in a constant state of gratitude that words cannot express. Only my heart and my tears can.

Dearest Punditji: My heart is bursting. Hearing the birds sing, my heart is bursting. Smelling the morning air, my heart is bursting. Waking in the middle of the night, my heart is bursting. Doing stacks of dishes, my heart is bursting.

One day I saw love. It was a golden liquid, and it dripped, dripped, burning, burning, until I could not look at another person without weeping for pain and joy. When I see you, don't speak to me, don't ask questions. Each moment is so precious, so perfect, how can I possibly talk about it?

Coming face to face with Guruji is experiencing the infinity of love. Tears keep rolling down and it is hardly important whether he is saying something or not. A most delicate feeling suffuses every level of my being, as if a fountain were streaming from within.

In his presence, buds blossom, eyes light up and a wave of peace and comfort heals all wounds in the heart. A drop of love resonates in the stillness of Being, taking one beyond time and space into eternity. -- Catherine Castle

Beloved Punditji: The night you gave my five year old daughter a hug she came running to me with bubbles of light beaming from her eyes, telling me about her joy. The next morning I asked, "What did your hug from Punditji feel like?" She replied, "Like rainbows, mama, like rainbows." Her joy is contagious!

Guruji: For many years I felt stuck on a plateau, bored. Because of you I feel like I'm finally moving again, growing. Every day I seem to recall some pearl of wisdom you've given which helps me. I finally feel like my whole life is becoming spiritual.

Now that we have met, something has happened too beautiful to put into words. I gave up trying to understand and now I understand. I gave up needing and now I have no needs. By your grace I found that life is like a river, overflowing on all sides. This happiness is so obvious, so simple, it's almost embarrassing. At times my mind races for a foothold, but there is none. The mind shouts, "You are deluding yourself, this is impossible!" But I don't care whether it is possible or not. Let the mind shout all it wants! I am free. Because I am nothing that can be bound.

I can walk, taste, see, sing, and feel gratitude when I'm in the shower, when I'm outside, whatever I'm doing. And I'm grateful for being grateful. I feel the gift of life from God. I'm really living my life. I always wanted to be immersed in life but couldn't do it until now.

For years I cried out to God to know Him more. I longed and longed. But I couldn't believe that one day I would be so blessed. -- Laura Weinberg

Before learning Sudarshan Kriya, I always squirmed at the term "God." I saw it as a man-made term and religions as man-made. But after learning the Kriya, my awareness woke up to the miracle of creation, and only the term "God" makes it possible to speak of the greatness of the universe, its rightness and glory.

Often we are told "God is Love." Yet how often are we able to directly know this from our own experience? I have experienced this truth, not only in meditation, but in daily living too. No matter what spiritual path you're on, this knowledge can revitalize and deepen your path. -- George James

Guruji: I wrote you five pages the other night when I couldn't sleep, all in my head. It was a love letter. Tears keep flooding my eyes when I think of you or of something you've said. You are so wise and you keep answering my heart's questions before I can get them written. I love your wisdom, your caring, and the funny, playful side of you. -- Paula

On the Pittsburgh course I discovered you had taken my heart. Upset at this I screamed all night, begging for it back. On this present course, I again discover you have my heart. This time I am beseeching you over and over to keep it. Yes, it is painful, but only on the surface do I cry. Within I weep for joy. So I call to you again and again, take my heart, take my heart and keep it with you forever.

Great love embracing, cuddling everyone and everything -- there is only One Great Love. Without it life would be devoid of any meaning whatsoever. If I love God so much, he must have loved me earlier. I do love, I am loving -- now and from now on. -- Ania, Poland

Dearest Guruji: Thank you for coming to Earth to show us the way back home. I love your humor and lightness of heart. I will follow your example and see the joy and goodness that are everywhere. -- Linda Kurtonick

When I sat in the sweet atmosphere of Muriel's home [see next page], pervaded by Punditji's presence, my intellect was alert, ready to analyze every proposition and to shoot down the first idea I would not agree with. But nothing happened in the way I had expected. He came, very relaxed and quiet. He sat down on a seat, clothed in a silk dhoti...and then remained silent, totally silent. Half a smile on his face, he looked successively into everybody's eyes. When my turn came, a strange experience took place. Instead of meeting a person, I saw in his eyes an empty space, a pure summer night sky, shining with the life of thousands of worlds. It reminded me of my childhood, when lying down on the grass and looking up at the stars, I had the feeling to fall up into the sky. That night, I did not hear anything about Indian philosophy! My chattering mind, with categories and ready made ideas, had been full. Now, without any word, he had allowed me to face the peace of emptiness. -- Philippe Gaudrat, France

It didn't take long before the whole edifice of my sophisticated psychological knowledge crumbled, and I fell into a Silent Bliss, so deep as to be fathomless, and so fulfilling as to be beyond any hope of description. I simply fell into my Self and now I gratefully wake up each day feeling "I belong." -- Ron Sharp

One day in Rome the Master was walking in the park with a few devotees. Suddenly -- to everyone's surprise -- he left the trail and veered off into the bushes! Where in the world is he going? everyone was thinking. There in the bushes a man had been sitting, desperately praying for help, vowing he would not move from that spot until God answered him. When he opened his eyes, he was shocked to see the Master. At that moment his whole life was transformed. He felt a tremendous load lifted off his chest. He was so grateful because what he had been seeking in his life had come true. He had reached his goal. [Rome, July 1985]

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I first saw his picture in 1986 in Santa Barbara on the desk of Ramon, a friend who had studied with Punditji in Seelisberg, Switzerland.

The picture intrigued me, but Ramon would not talk about him. Then one day out of the blue Ramon said that Punditji had invited him to the Poola's home where he was staying in the high desert of Southern California. Ramon had no transportation.

So my introduction to Punditji began with service. I volunteered to drive Ramon across the state in my clunky car to meet this mysterious saint. We had to leave very early, missed sleep, and had no air conditioning for the long desert drive. We arrived at the Poola's exhausted. Punditji took one look at us and had us lie down. He guided us through a process called yoga-nidra. In 30 minutes we felt as if we had slept for hours and had awakened into a higher world. And we had. We sat with Punditji for the weekend in a small living room as we peppered him with questions and soaked in his radiance.

At the end of our stay, he blessed us and announced that the next weekend a course was being organized. He invited us. Full of pride in my many years of yogic self-development, I asked just what kind of course he meant -- meditation, postures, healing? I had studied them all. He replied that it would be a course in the Art of Living. Suddenly it struck me that although I had been doing spiritual practices for sixteen years, I had never actually been taught the art of living. Both myself and my friends seemed to be lacking this key ingredient in our growth. We returned the next weekend. The Poola's put us up again as if we were their own children. Our first Art of Living course did not even include the Sudarshan Kriya. However, in those four days the grace of God descended so strongly and sweetly and gently that we all felt like new creatures, with new minds and -- most of all -- newly expanded hearts.

When Punditji returned the next year, we came to take another course. This time he surprised us with the Sudarshan Kriya. We were speechless. Soon the loving glow and power of the course spread to all our friends. If they would not attend, I simply dragged them in to meet him. Before long the Poola's warm and hospitable house could not contain the burgeoning expansion of devotees. Punditji began to visit us in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The first Advanced Course in California was held in the high desert at Sky High Ranch in April 1988. In his presence we were far higher and wider than the sky.

-- Lloyd Pflueger

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As I was leaving the Bangalore ashram in the spring of '92, I showed Punditji a photo of some recent students from the U.S. He looked a long time at this photo and said "Go to this place now and teach for six weeks. Otherwise thousands who are waiting will not get the knowledge." I thought, Ohio? Thousands? Not likely.

There was a Russian man in the first course I taught there. When I expressed a vague interest in teaching in Russia, he became excited. He made calls to Russia for several hours and set up everything, including an invitation into his country and people to meet me at airports everywhere from Moscow to Siberia.

My arrival in Siberia in August was met with such enthusiasm. People were so hungry for the knowledge! In just the first six weeks 500 people took the Art of Living Course. Many received healings of physical illnesses and suddenly I was being labeled a healer! How could I explain to them that it was his grace which brought me, his grace which healed them, and that through their experiences a healing was happening in my own heart.
Grace can be seen and felt anywhere, anytime. The grace of the sunrise and sunset. The tremendous blessings of Nature are always surrounding us. An embarrassment of riches is continuously laid at our feet. Yet we wonder what grace is and where are miracles. The greatest grace is to be aware to even the smallest extent of what is being bestowed on us. Even a glimpse brings ecstasy to the heart and tears to the driest eyes.

-- Suzanne Wethered

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I only know that I feel warmth and happiness when I am near you. I feel a complete truthfulness and understanding when I talk to you. I feel a deep involvement and interest when I listen to you. I feel as though I am the sun, the moon, the trees, when we are together. -- Shobhna, East Africa

To our surprise, five different fragrances emanated from Guruji's body. I had never seen him do such things. He was simply sitting relaxed. The fragrances just came from his body. One scent was jasmine, one was rose, and three others. -- Rashmi

I was teaching a course in Madras and I had played the Kriya tape for the group on the first day. When I got home I intended to rewind the tape, but to my surprise I pushed the record button by mistake. I realized this when I heard the tape come to the end, as I was busy doing some work in the next room. I checked the entire tape and sure enough, no sound came out as it was played. The complete cassette got erased. This really put me in a very sad state, since I needed the tape for the next day. I was urgently going to send a message to Bangalore to get a new one, but it was too late at night. I thought of cancelling the next day's course. I went to sleep with a depressed feeling about the mistake I had made. Then I dreamed Guruji came to me and asked me to play the cassette. When I woke up I simply put in the tape, pushed the play button, and bingo! To my astonishment the Kriya tape with Guruji's voice started playing. I could not believe my ears. -- G. Kittu Rao

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It was hilarious. Punditji just set off the alarm going through the security gate at the Pittsburgh airport. The guard, with his squealing metal detector (enlightenment detector?) was thoroughly baffled. Punditji graciously removed his shawl and stood there with bare arms, but finally the guard gave up, completely mystified. Punditji later commented apologetically, "It was just after satsang..."
A little while later we went back through the exact same security gate, and this time I set it off instead. I was laughing so hard! This time they made me take all the change out of my pockets and take off my earrings, then my coat, as the guard did the same thing to me he did to Punditji. It was Punditji's turn to laugh. He had played a trick. I asked him how he managed not to set it off the second time and he said, "I held my breath."

-- Susannah Rowley, Canada

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During a visit to North India, Guruji, myself and three others were trying to get from Delhi to Varanasi to attend a conference. We needed five airline tickets, but none were available. We tried calling many times but it was absolutely impossible to get seats. I finally decided to give it one last try, but still the answer came back negative -- no seats available. I reported this to Guruji. He insisted I should try again, right then and there. I was most reluctant, and besides, I had just called a couple of minutes earlier with no success. Anyway, I followed the Master's instructions and called. Lo and presto! -- there were exactly FIVE seats that were now available! -- Vinod Menon

For this book we wanted to show everyone some tapes of the Master that are available. I set up to photograph various books and tapes on our lakeside deck, placing fresh flowers and ferns all around. David had said earlier that he wanted to sprinkle drops of water on everything as a finishing touch. As we prepared to shoot the photo, it started to rain. All the books and tapes were getting wet, but it all looked so beautiful in the rain. We were laughing because there was nothing we could do about it. We had intended to call the scene "A Garden of Knowledge," but now decided to call it "A Shower of Knowledge" (page 83). After the photo session we just left all of the flowers on the deck and forgot about them. A week later we came to the deck to do our afternoon breathing practices (page 10) and we were surprised to find the flowers still fresh -- even through sun and a week without water. -- Gary Boucherle

Protected by His Grace:
I was about to have a head on collision. There was absolutely nothing I could do. In these few microseconds
I knew that death was near. I closed my eyes and a small bright light appeared which turned into a thousand bright suns. It was the most amazing experience. Within a few seconds I found that I was absolutely okay. I was able to open the seat belt and walk out of the car. And I saw the dreadful, lethal-looking accident that had just taken place. The following day I met Guruji and he simply said, "You see, being in the moment, being in tune with your own nature, nothing can touch you. Grace came to all. This terrible accident would have been death for all, but grace came to both cars and all came out alive." -- Rashmi

One late afternoon while driving from Vancouver to Seattle I was overcome with drowsiness. In fact, I had caught myself nodding off. There was no place to stop on the freeway at the moment so I rolled down the window and turned on the radio to keep awake. The next thing I was aware of was Guruji's voice sharply calling my name, "Marcy!" I opened my eyes to find myself about to collide with several cars. Filled with gratitude, I turned off at the next exit. -- Marcy Jackson

I was driving home when all of a sudden I couldn't get the car under control. I ended up going off the road and over a 15 foot hill drop. When I came to, the car was upside down. Sagebrush was coming in at my face since there was no windshield left. I felt around, found my glasses, pushed open the door and crawled out. A man named Angelo drove me to the nearest town to call the police. When I got back, people were searching through the field, sure that someone must be bleeding to death somewhere in the brush. I said I had been protected -- not a scratch on me. One man agreed, noting the audiotapes with Gurudev's picture that covered the roof of my upside-down car. The car was damaged top, bottom, and all four sides -- totalled. I am grateful for his vigilant grace and protection. -- Sherri Silverman

Guruji was coming from Paris to Connecticut. I decided to drive from my home in Washington, D.C. to go see him. On the way I picked up my cousin Sundra in New Jersey. We went to the J.F.K. Airport in New York and saw Guruji there briefly as he was passing through on his connection to Connecticut. Before continuing our travels we decided to have lunch in Jackson Heights. By 5:00 pm we had picked up Debbie and had left New York. We drove two more hours before the traffic came to a complete stop. As we moved along very slowly, I looked down at the gas gauge. It was on "empty." I had last filled the tank back in D.C. We were all so worried that we would not make it to the next exit. We were praying we wouldn't run out of gas. Then all of a sudden I saw the needle go up. I said to Debbie, "I don't know what is going on here but it looks like we have half a tank." She started to scream. She told me that she had just said to herself, "Guruji, you won't let us run out of gas, will you?" We were all laughing and we could not believe what was happening. My cousin who does not do Kriya said that if she had not seen this with her own eyes she would not have believed it. The gas stayed half full until we reached the gas station at 10:20 pm. -- Neelam Patel

In the summer of 1985 Punditji asked me to drive him to Winterthur (in the German section of Switzerland) to visit some people there. It was both his and my first visit to this town. Yet without so much as even a map, he was somehow able to show me the way: "Turn left." "Turn right." And through his guidance, we arrived! -- Stella DuPuis

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A small group of us were staying at a Buddhist monastery in Tokyo, an oasis of peace in a desert of concrete. The immaculate grounds had lovely gardens that songbirds inhabited. Our rooms were separated by thin paper walls and we slept Japanese style on floor mats. It was like a dream to be here with the Master in this lovely old monastery.

Soon a group came together who wanted to meet Punditji. I picked them up at the train station. As we walked through the tiny overcrowded streets I was bragging to them about Punditji, and how his talks would knock their socks off.

We brought them upstairs to meet Punditji, but he just sat very silently. I introduced everyone, trying to get the conversation rolling. Punditji just sat, smiling blissfully. I started sweating. Here I had brought these new people to hear a brilliant lecture and he didn't say a word! Finally one person, then another, started crying. No one spoke. The room filled with intense grace. After awhile Punditji politely dismissed everyone for the evening.

On the way back to the train station I started to apologize, but they all said, "No, we've never experienced anything like that in our lives! Can we come back again tomorrow?" I was relieved that they had appreciated the silence and the grace surrounding Punditji. The next evening they returned -- with friends -- and this time Punditji gave a talk!

Our first trip to Japan seemed like a bright start for the Art of Living. On the morning we were to leave, Punditji as usual arose early to sit with the monks for their morning chanting. At the conclusion, the monks would customarily bow before a statue of Buddha. Yet on this particular morning they all turned to Punditji. The head monk said, "We bow to the Divine, and this morning we see the Divine Presence not only in the statue, but living before us in you."

Silently they joined their palms and bowed in respect to Punditji.

-- Scott Hague

After giving a beautiful talk on Buddha at a Kyoto temple, the Master leaned over into a prayerful repose. The peace and silence of the Buddha pervaded the atmosphere.

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A Master is like a dock that is ready to receive you onto the shores of the Divine.

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Standing in front of the window I looked up to the sky, imploring, "Oh God, come to my help. I can't endure it any longer. Show me the way." I felt a knot in my throat, choking me. The telephone rang. The voice of a young Indian announced a talk by a saint from Bangalore for the following evening. Someone unknown had given him my phone number. He insisted that I be present. I was not looking for a master. But the call came at such a moment that instantaneously I knew that I should go.

On the next day I entered the hall and beheld him. He was sitting cross-legged on his chair, face to the public, wrapped in white veils, with long black hair and beard, an ineffable smile in his eyes. It was like a fairy tale image. His silence invaded me. All the sorrow, all the anguish that had gripped me during the previous months were magically sponged away. Time stopped. Eternity began. Spellbound, I remained totally hollow, totally empty.

I didn't draw near to him at the end of the evening. Yet the encounter had led me back to my inner Being, to my center, the realm of eternal peace and joy. Serene, I returned home. My daughter was surprised by the change. Only a few months later did I find him again -- or did he find me. A voice on the telephone asked me to lodge an Indian spiritual master for ten days. I accepted, thinking He will be meditating all day long. I'll be left in peace. Oh, what irony! He arrived at my home one day, holding in his arms red roses which he offered. It was he himself, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar -- Punditji. His light frame seemed to be clothed in space. Immobile on the threshold, he laughed like an old friend who was playing a good joke. Life streamed into the house.

Since that first visit, Punditji came to Paris again and again. Teachers in France have gradually dispersed to different horizons, filled with enthusiasm and devotion to share his precious teachings. -- Muriel Jaeger, France

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