‘In a free mind, there is always heaven’
Bangalore (India), May 28:
Q. Why are we attracted to objects we should not be attached to, even though we know this is unhealthy?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We don't understand this aspect well enough. We still feel there is some joy in those objects, and this misleads us.
Q. Should we believe in superstition?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Once you know that it is superstition, then how can you believe it? If your brain and reasoning says it is illogical and not good, then what is the point of it? You should move away from it.
Q. What is pooja? You said that giving a big smile in the morning is pooja. Is it ok to smile instead of washing the idol and offering it incense and flowers?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely, there is no need to wash the idol and decorate it, and in the night you needn’t put it to sleep.
Just do sadhana and feel the Divinity within yourself.
However this doesn't mean that you stop doing pooja on special occasions. Doing meditation is important, but on special days, make sure you do pooja.
If you don't do this, then children won't get the sanskaar (culture) of prayer. Children should feel the sense of belongingness with God. If you don’t do that, then the first thing they will do in the morning is to turn on the television. This is because there is no memory of God. You should have God’s pictures in the house. After seeing God's pictures, children light incense, and offer flowers.
Life is a celebration, sit, pray, light lamps and incense and do kirtan (singing in a group). This is important.
Read some mantras, say, “Om Namo Bhagvate”, “Om Namo Narayanaya”, “Om Namah Shivaya”, then the prana shakti (life energy) in the environment will get awaken.
Q. At my workplace, I have to listen to seniors who tell me to commit morally wrong acts. I am in a dilemma whether to follow them or not. If I follow them, I cheat myself. If I don’t, I am afraid of offending them.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You should work with skill and intelligence. You should pray: “Let this man not force me to do any such acts.” Then your prayer will be answered.
Q. Should we follow the advice we get in dreams?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are five sources for dreams:
1. Your dreams may come from your desires
2. Your dreams may come from your fears
3. Your dreams may be delusions
4. Your dreams may be premonitions of future events
5. Your dreams may be a result of the place you are sleeping in
We experience different things in our dreams. Usually, our dreams are a mixture of the above. Our dreams are of things from the past, future, and of various types.
Don't analyze your dreams too much. If a dream comes, let it come, and just go ahead with your life.
Q. What should be done to end the cycle of karmas?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By seva, sadhana, and satsang.
Q. I am a college student. After following spiritual practices, all the excitement in me seems to have been spent. Now I am only calm. Am I making a mistake?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely not. Though you are calm, you are also enthusiastic, and happy. Isn’t it? Then it’s fine.
Q. Nowadays, youth marry without their parent's consent. They do this blindly, without thinking. Is this acceptable?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your question already has the answer. Nobody will tell someone to do anything blindly or without thinking.
As a parent, look at the matter from the children’s point of view. First, examine your reason for refusal. If the reason is good, then it's fine. But if you refuse because of differences in economic status or differences in caste, then it’s a different thing.
Parents can give guidance to children. Explain to them not to take a hasty step, acting on a whirlpool of emotions.
Q. Why don’t Muslims believe in yoga? How can we teach them the Art of living?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sure, we should teach them yoga as well. We conduct programs in many Islamic countries, such as Iraq and Pakistan.
There are even Hindu people who resist yoga and spiritual practices. There are temples that don’t allow yoga camps to be conducted.
So also in Islam. The few people who resist yoga change their perspective when they understand yoga. When people learn yoga, and understand the benefits, they won’t stop it.
This resistance is due to lack of knowledge and information.
Q. When we insult others, is it true that their karma decreases? What should we do if someone blames us for no reason?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If someone blames us without reason, what can we do? Try explaining to them, and then forget about it.
Q. What is knowledge for? To earn money or social good? What should we do if someone uses knowledge to earn more money?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is wrong. If knowledge is used to earn money, it will give not benefits, either to the receiver or to the giver.
Q. What is Paramatma? Who are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (Hindu Gods)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just like a rainbow, where all the colors merge to form a single white light, the Paramatma (Supreme Consciousness) is white and all the forms of Gods are the various colors.
This world is full of names and forms. Fruits, flowers all have a name and form. Our ancestors realized this, and said that there were 1008 names and forms, all belonging to the One who had no name.
Q. You have told us that there is no heaven or hell. But in our ancient texts there are pictures of hell where people are suffering.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: True. Heaven or hell is the state of mind. If the mind is in difficulty then hell is right here. If Sanskaar is absent, then hell is right here.
For a mukt (free) mind, there is always bliss, it is always heaven.
Q. What is mumukshtatvam?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Mumukshtatvam is asking God for mukti (freedom). When you tell God that you have done everything, met people, talked to people, eaten enough, gone to enough parties, and now you want to be free, that is mumukshtatvam.
Q. What is right? A truth that brings tears or a lie that brings a smile?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a saying:
Satyam bruyaat, priyam bruyaat,
Na bruyaat satyam apriyam
Na priyam cha nanrutam bruyaat
‘Speak the truth, speak pleasantly,
do not speak unpleasant truths
nor speak pleasant lies.’
This is sanatana dharma . If someone is blind, don’t say “Hey blind fellow come here!” This is not pleasant, though it may be the truth. Don't say unpleasant truths and pleasant lies.
© The Art of Living Foundation