Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lakshmi Jagad - Art of Living experience

Art of Living YES Teacher, Software Engineer 

I was born and raised in Bombay. Of course, the name of the city has now been changed to Mumbai but for me (and for many others in my generation too,  I am sure), it will be Bombay. The city of memories, family, school and college, friends and fun.

I had a liberal upbringing. My parents are possibly two of the most generous and open-minded individuals I have ever met. They placed no restrictions whatsoever on either of us (I have a younger sister). We got pretty much everything we asked for.  My sister and I were good students. We learned classical music and dance, performed at various events, and were fairly good daughters, if you discount the occasional tantrum, fuss or outburst. As I completed high school and joined junior college (in India, you join college at age 16), I found a great bunch of friends. We shared a common love for music, films, art and humor. Boring college lectures, surprise birthday parties, New Year celebrations, art films and rock music, walks along the beach, night-long conversations on philosophy and life, dreams and ambitions - these were the highlights of my junior college years. Soon after, I joined an engineering college. New friends, bigger parties, overnight treks... and life went on. Then I graduated from college and started working as a software developer. Everything continued as before.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar - The Inspiration

It was all wonderful and exciting and adventurous and yet at the age of 25, I felt like I had come to a full stop. Until then, life had been a series of events, people, places and experiences for me but suddenly it seemed that there had to be a deeper idea to it. Certain incidents in the past couple of years made me wonder if I really knew myself. I felt at conflict with my own self and with certain others in my life. I found myself thinking - Is there any purpose to all this? Who am I? Is there a meaning to these incidents and situations and people?

Suffices to say that The Art of Living Course came at the right time to me. I attended an Art of Living Course, then a couple of Art of Silence Courses, and then The Art of Meditation Course.

A year after my first course, I met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of Art of Living Foundation. Even before I met him, I had seen many videos of his. To me, he always came across as someone familiar, someone who I had known since a very long time. And when I finally met him, it felt like a true homecoming.

I had had no experience with Gurus or spiritual masters while growing up. Yet, it was a matter of few months before I came to see Sri Sri as my personal Guru. There was zero deliberation or thinking involved. It's interesting how some of the major decisions in my life were not decisions at all; they just came to be in the most natural way possible. Some things you simply know without having even a single thought. 

Youth Empowerment Seminar(YES!)

I conduct the Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!) for teenagers, and on one course, I remember talking about Sri Sri to the young participants. I said, "To me, Sri Sri or Guruji is a person who makes me feel like I can do anything. In his presence, I feel strong, complete, powerful. I feel like there is no limit to what I can achieve and accomplish. When I am around him, all my doubts and concerns disappear."

There is so much more I can say about Guruji and how he has truly brought out the best in me on so many levels. Intellectual maturity, a broader sense of perspective about the self and the world, a desire to learn and share... and most of all, a sense of abundance and fullness. Today, I feel like I lack nothing and I want nothing. Moment to moment, my life is full and complete. To Guruji, I owe this precious realization and many many others.