‘Recognize the cause of the barrier – and be free from it’
Bangalore (India) May 23, 2009:
Q. People say that life has both joy, and sorrow in equal proportions, but after experiencing the Divine, I have only joy. Is this the calm before the storm?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, not at all. All your sorrows have been dealt with in your past lives. In this life, you can be happy.
Do seva (service) when you are happy, and make sacrifices when you are sad. Remember the Divine in your happy moments too. Most people only remember the Divine when they are sorrowful
“Seva mein jo sumiran kare, dukh kahe ko hove.” (The one who remembers the Divine in Seva, where is the sorrow for such a one?)
Yoga saves you from experiencing sorrow. This is its purpose. Yoga is not only about practicing asanas, it is also pranayama, meditation, satsang, and seva. So keep practicing pranayama, meditation, and do seva.
Q. It is said that everyone meets their life partner at the right time. Why are parents so worried about their children’s marriage? What can be done to reduce this worry?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The habit of worry is difficult to shake off. First people are worried about getting married, then about having kids, then about the children’s admission, then they have to perform well academically, then they should get a job... so if worry becomes a habit, then a person will keep worrying.
Parents should be told to stop worrying. You must also keep trying to find a soulmate. Don’t sit and wait for God to send you your soulmate!
Q. How do we increase family values?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: India has not yet lost family values, and it is our responsibility to maintain them.
To increase family values at home, make it a rule to eat together regularly. If not daily, then at least once a week. Sit and have a meal together; if not dinner, then at least breakfast. At these times make it a rule: unless each and every member of the family is present, no one eats. You should all eat together. Then there will be a change in the atmosphere at home.
Even in villages, all friends should meet and eat together.
When I was a child, Pitaji (Sri Sri’s father) would invite everyone to eat together once a month. Everyone would get some dish from home and there would be so much food! The atmosphere would be great.
Similarly, at least once in two-three months, have a preeti bhog (family feast). Don’t make it a party: make it a pot luck. Someone should plan – decide the dishes between yourselves. Then there will be a good atmosphere in the family and the society.
Q. The food in the Ashram is great. We can feel the love of the Divine in each bite. Now how can I go home?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I thought you already came home! This is your home. Wherever you go, that is your office. You get rest at home, work at office. If you are tired from work, then you come here to rest.
In society and work, be a partner,
at home be a helper.
Q. The Divine has given me everything. What can I offer as a gift to the Divine?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Keep this question with yourself – from time to time, the Divine will take the appropriate gift from you.
Whenever you feel upset, hatred, anger, or any negative emotion, give it to the Divine, and be happy.
Spread the knowledge, and happiness to other people. The happiness, faith, and devotion you have, whether it is a spark or a flame, should spread to other people so that they experience the same joy, and happiness in their lives.
Q.: Can our sadhana (spiritual practices) change the karma of others?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes!
Q.: How can Indian youth contribute to the world?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Human values. Indian youth can bring human values to the world. India has a very charming personality, and this should be projected properly.
Sometimes, our culture is depicted so badly in the media. If we degrade ourselves, and make other people laugh, we are happy about it. This weak nature has to be removed. WE should decide what our values are. We should keep our self-respect. We should decide what we like, and what we don’t like. We should not depend on others to judge us.
Of course, it’s fine that people appreciate us. But just because someone appreciates us, we are happy. We should have more self respect, and we should believe in ourselves.
Q. Why is there suffering in love?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Without knowledge, there is suffering in love too. Despite knowledge, if there is suffering, then accept it. That is the nature of love.
Q. When we work in a team, should we invest our time in improving people or improving the results?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both! A little here, and a little there.
Q. I want to commit my life to serving society. But my parents are insecure about this. How can I make them understand?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good! Explain to them, convince them. But if you’re in the middle of education, complete it before you come here. Don’t leave it halfway.
Q.: The person who invented the English alphabet made a mistake: they kept ‘I’ and ‘U’ apart!
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: They tried to keep ‘I’ and ‘U’ far apart– but could not succeed. It’s only on paper. Actually, we are very close. Do you think anyone has the power to keep you and me away? Why do you give someone that power? No way!
Q. Today is my second day of silence. My mind is a devil’s workshop, it keeps having thoughts endlessly!
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sing, observe nature, and observe your thoughts. Look at nature as though you are looking at it for the first time – look at the trees, and look at the birds.
When you observe these things, your mind becomes calmer. Observe your thoughts. Silence makes you observe. As you observe, your thoughts will reduce.
The thoughts were always there, but only in silence can you observe them!
Q. In a relationship, if one doesn’t keep their commitments, what should the other do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Forgive them! Forgive them once, twice, thrice, four times. Then bark. If that doesn’t work, walk out.
Q. What is the secret to your fashion statement?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In style, and fashion, no statement is required. No statement is made in fashion. Fashion is just appearance. But anything you do, do it with style!
Q. Enlightened masters and astrologers often predict the future. Does it mean that the future is fixed already?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If nature were a dead phenomenon, you could predict it, the way a machine is always predictable. But it is alive, so you can’t predict its behavior.
If a car is moving, you can predict where it is going (right, left, or straight). But can you predict the movements of a cat? Can we predict which way it will turn, and where it will sit? It is the same with the mind.
Nature is not dead, it is alive. Yet, enlightened people can predict, but only to some extent.
That is called “maya” and the world is called the “maya of the mayavi” – it is the will of God, will of nature. God is also mischievous: if we plan to do something He often plans to do something else.
Nature is a lively, dynamic existence: “sat chit anand”. Because it is pure consciousness, chaitanya, it cannot be predicted 100 percent.
Q. What role does karma play if everything is predetermined by God?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is Karma that is being predicted. It is possible to change that as well. This is called ‘upaya’ (solution).
Astrologers say do upaya, but the best upaya is seva, and sadhana. Chant ‘Ohm Namah Shivaya’. Do it all the time - it is like an armor, a shield.
Q. I am unable to give my 100 percent, despite all my efforts.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar It’s okay, give your 99 percent. If you can’t do that either, then give your 90 percent. That is also okay.
Q. When do we get Moksha?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Have you travelled by bus on a long journey? Have you then been required to answer nature’s call? Did the bus stop? When you got down and relieved yourself, how did it feel?
If you sat down in the same position for a long time, then got up and walked, how did it feel?
When you feel you are free of shackles and barriers, and you feel light and happy, that is Moksha.
Even if someone abuses you, and you say, “You curse so well!” then that is Moksha.
Recognize the cause of the barrier – and be free from it.
Q. When do we lack presence of mind, and when does the learning process stop?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The learning process stops because you watch too much television. This reduces brain activity.
You should rest your mind from time to time, by closing our eyes.
Our mind is like a blackboard in a school. If the teachers don’t wipe it after using it, and other teachers keep on using the same blackboard, will it make sense to the students? Our mind is the same. We use it a hundred times but never clean it.
Pranayam, and meditation are useful for cleaning it. They will keep your mind fresh, and ready to learn.
Q. An artist is able to create a beautiful picture, but I am not. Why?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You too can make a beautiful picture! The first time you try, you may not, but at your tenth attempt, you will.
Everyone is the same here. Kings, peasants, saints, - all are equal. The intelligent, and the foolish are all the same.
Q. What is the difference between aradhana (prayer), and sadhana (meditation)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is called sadhana for yogis is aradhana for devotees. The only difference is in the language usage.
Q. Corrupt politicians are better off in life than simple, good people like us. Why?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If something good happens to them, it won’t last. For some time, they might believe that their deceit got them ahead, but it won’t last. “Satyameva Jayate” – truth always triumphs.
Q. I’ve heard that hell is a place where people are burnt. Could you explain further?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your own mind creates heaven, and hell. Don’t listen to preachers who tell you that you will be toasted, and fried. They are in total ignorance. They misquote the scriptures. There is no such hell. Don’t worry and be free!
Q. The days, I don’t do my spiritual practices, I ask God for forgiveness. Is it okay?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, yes. Do only as much as you can do. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: “Practice as much as possible, and if you can’t, then do my work. If you can’t do that, then feel that you are one with Me. Then drop the fruits of your actions, and relax.”
Q. What is the secret for a happy married life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If the husband and wife will focus on each other and police each other, they will clash. If they have a common goal, then they will be like parallel lines, they can be together and go on forever.