Friday, June 18, 2021
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Your New Year celebration could be a service

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

With everything that happened in 2020, including an unprecedented pandemic, the world went through a tumultuous time. People said to me –‘We feel so guilty to celebrate the New Year’.
I said, you know, you feel guilty when your celebration is aimed at gratifying yourself. But if your intent is to uplift everybody around you, when you see that your neighbors are feeling low, anxious and depressed and you want to make them feel better and more peaceful, bring them out of the gloomy space, then such a celebration is a service.
Doing service brings out the best in us. It helps to refine our good qualities, be in touch with values of compassion, kindness and connection.
You can make your whole life a service when you come from a space of giving and of no expectations. Your attitude can change any activity into service. It doesn’t matter what the work is. As long as you’re doing it without expectations of joy or profit and from the sense of contribution, it is service.
When your celebration becomes your service, there is no guilt in it. And when your service becomes celebration, there is no ego or pride in it. So let us celebrate with this one intention-to bring home this knowledge to everyone that life and events of the world are impermanent.
What is permanent? The spirit of our consciousness alone is eternal. It doesn’t change; it has no death, no birth. Life on a higher plane is eternal. Let us celebrate every moment being grateful because time is a gift.
Use every moment of the coming years to make an impact in society, Don’t wait for something to happen to you. You make things happen; contribute to the planet, change your lifestyle, make this world a better place for future generations, shun violence, wipe all those tears, and make people smile again.
Life is short. How much can you keep taking? Just know that whatever you need, will fall on your lap, once you are there to give to the world. Spread love, light and knowledge because it is knowledge alone that can take people out of misery in the long term.
In ancient days, people celebrated the New Year by giving a neem leaf along with some jiggery; something bitter and sweet. And then people would look at the calendar. Because knowledge of time and acceptance of sweetness and bitterness , give strength to move ahead in life.
Neem is very good for health though it is bitter. It destroys harmful bacteria. In life what you considered as bitter has given you some depth, has made you strong. The challenges that came to you, made you grow stronger and humbler. Jaggery represents sweetness. It gives you comfort. If life is only bitter, it cannot be sustained. If life is all sweetness, there is no depth. In the cycle of time, there is always something wonderful happening, and there are some less palatable events. In unfavourable times, you need to have strength, courage and knowledge. When good things happen, you must share it with others and serve.
Real celebration happens when there is total acceptance of nature. So that is what we should do on New Year’s Eve and Day. We honour time, life and creation and thank the divine for what the past year has given many lessons and New Year’s Eve is the time to reflect on these lessons.
Welcome with open hearts the New Year 2021 and the wisdom, health, happiness and prosperity it is about to bring. Wish for wisdom in life more than anything else because when there is wisdom, happiness follows spontaneously.

(The writer heads the Art of Living Foundation)

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