Hundreds Attend Meditation Series With Sri Sri Ravishankar
LOS ANGELES,CA – Several hundred devotees of the spiritual leader and practitioners of the teachings of the Art of Living Foundation participated in a series on the “Secrets of Meditation” conducted by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Foundation’s West Coast headquarters facility in Los Angeles from April 19 – 21.
The cavernous 1,100 seat domed auditorium was filled to capacity as it was on the second day, long before the commencement of the program at 7.30 pm. It started with a video on the spectacular World Cultural Festival held at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin in July 2011 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Foundation.
Twenty year veteran of the Foundation Debra Poneman welcomed Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to the stage. She related an anecdote about him when on an occasion he returned half way from his car ride to visit a Senator when he realized it was the final day of his discourses and chose to return to say good bye to his followers instead of keeping his Senatorial appointment. When she revealed the waiting Senator had been Barack Obama, the crowd broke into thunderous applause. The point of the story she said was to show that all people are a one world family and there has never been anyone like her guru, since Mahatma Gandhi who has been committed to bring people of all nationalities, cultures, races and socio economic backgrounds.
Prior to the public address by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the program commenced with an extended musical session by the musical ensemble with mantra like chants of “ Om Namasivaya, Om Guru Deva Deva, Hari Giridhari” etc and accelerating to a infectiously joyful “ Amba Kali Maa, Jaya Jaya Durge Kali Maa” in which the whole congregation joined in. As Guruji gently opened his eyes from a trance like state he had fallen into soaking into the music, he commenced with the words “Meditation is the journey from sound to silence, from movement to stillness, from a limited identity to unlimited space.”
He then proceeded to recapitulate the 5 ways in which meditation happens that he had explained the previous day starting with physical manipulation, breathing, through emotional and intellectual stimulation and through the five senses with examples to illustrate each method. He stopped short of going into the benefits of meditation on which he said a lot of research had already been done and one could learn by looking it up on the internet.
What everyone is interested in, he continued, are the secrets of meditation. Coming to the difference in the Orient and in the Occident when it comes to secrets he pointed out in the Occident, anything that is shameful is kept a secret whereas in the Orient anything that is sacred is kept a secret. Therefore, he explained , a personal mantra, a sound gifted to one by a guru is kept secret and sacred and that mantra like a seed would sprout in secrecy and anything that one keeps to oneself as a secret does not leave the person but it takes one deeper and deeper to the subconscious layers. He added that the meaning of the sound is not important, just the vibration is, and that understanding the meaning is superficial compared to the vibrational aspect of any sound. Another aspect on meditation he clarified was that meditation happens in transition and one can’t consciously do it other than to only create a congenial atmosphere for it to happen.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar remarked that anytime in a person’s life is a good time to start practicing meditation but the optimum period to start disciplining the mind would be when young before the hormones kick in when the mind begins to wander because of distractions. That period is when the body and mind are both flexible and ready.
The Guruji then went on to reveal the power contained in the sounds “ Ho” and “He” and using the two led the huge gathering in a session of guided meditation, not to be confused with a mantra meditation which one does on one’s own. After settling everyone in the proper posture, the spiritual leader calmed the audience into total silence and then softly guided them in a session to experience meditation. Nearing the end he issued instructions to all under the deep spell to blurt out ‘Ho’ six times and then which flowed into an extended ‘hee’ sound and then soothingly the audience back to its normal level of consciousness. The session lasting 28 minutes seemed to have passed in no time at all.
After addressing a few questions from the audience, the guruji left the hall with folded hands to the tunes of “Wahe Guru” and to a standing ovation of devotion.
During the stay of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in the city, on three days each he conducted discourses on the Upanishads in the mornings, the Art of Meditation courses in the afternoon and spoke on the Secrets of Meditation in the evenings.
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