India (Art of Living International Center, Bangalore), September 9:
Q. If someone is not a Brahman, can he do Upnayana* and would he get social recognition?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Yes.
Q. It is said that sadhana and meditation influence the mind. Does the food also have an effect on the mind?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Yes, food has an impact on the mind. It is said jaisa ann waisa mann, as is the food, so is the mind. Food influences your mind, thoughts and behaviour.
Q. What is the origin of Om?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Om is the origin of everything else.
Q. How can I love and respect myself? And break a pattern that has been in me since I was seven years old?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar : Forget about it, take it for granted. And this is one such thing. If you try to love yourself, you would be in trouble. The more effort you put, the longer it takes for you to realize this. So take it for granted that everyone loves themselves for sure and you too love yourself. You are love. Love is not an act, it is a noun.
Q. Why is it so simple to be complicated?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you think it is so simple to be complicated, it is so complicated to be simple then! Then you can easily accept that life is a mixture of both complication and simplicity. And if you don’t want to do only simple things in your life all the time and want to do something complicated as well then, you do something which is so complicated it makes you so simple.
Q. Is eating non-vegetarian food, a sin?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Eating non-vegetarian food is not satvic. So that which is not satvic does not give you happiness or does not give you knowledge and enlightenment. Further progress in the spiritual journey will be at stake by eating non-vegetarian diet.
Q. What is the ideal diet for armed forces personnel? Today alcohol and non-vegetarianism is prevalent almost everywhere.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, you can avoid it. More and more people are becoming vegetarians and teetotallers in the world today. There was a time when vegetarian food was seldom available in college campuses outside India. Today, everywhere there is vegetarianism. People are turning to vegetarianism for health reasons, to avoid the risk of cancer and many other illnesses. So vegetarianism has become much more popular and it will become even more popular in the coming years.
Q. In the talk about Ganesha, you have not spoken about riddhi and siddhi. Could you please do so?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Riddi and siddhi come with the divinity. They are part of it. Even if you don’t want siddhis, they will come. Same with riddhi. Riddhi means abundance, various kinds of abundance and splendor.
Q. Are husband and wife really made for each other? How is this possible?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I am not qualified to speak on that. You should ask them(those who are married). Thats how, when they are in love with each other, they feel we are made for each other. When they get into trouble then they wonder whether their marriage is really made in heaven or is it made in hell.
Q. I am perpetually in wonder, how you perpetually look so fresh and so charming!
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good. Keep wondering. Wonder in anyone’s eyes is a charm in itself. Children look so beautiful, you know why? Because they have a wonder in their eyes. Wonderment. So I am happy you are keeping that wonder in your eyes and making yourself much more beautiful, much more charming. Everyone should wonder about something or other. Wonder indicates liveliness. When you lose all wonder in your life, you become very inert, dull and lifeless. Sign of life is wonderment and thats why nature has created so many things to wonder about and make life wonderful!
Q. What is the meaning of the symbols on the pillars (in the Vishalakshi Mantap – the Meditation Hall in the Ashram)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: All these symbols are from various faiths in the world. You see Om, the universal primordial sound. Underneath you see the DharmaChakra of Buddhism. Then you see on the second pillar, Cross, this is the sign of Christianity and then the Feather, which is the sigh on Native American religion. Then you see the Hand, which is the sign of Jainism. Underneath is the Turban and the Sword, which is the sign of Sikhism. Then you have the Conch and the Disk, which is a sign of Vaishnavism- a branch of Hinduism. Underneath you have, Shintoism and Taoism. Then you have Islam. Below Islam, Taoism, Ying and Yang. Then you have signs of other native religions. In the end you have Judaism and underneath is Zoroastrian fire symbol. So, almost all the faiths in the world are represented here.
Q. Even though I do regular sadhana, many times I get feverish about things. How to deal with this feverishness?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are feverish to get rid of feverishness will become a big hindrance. When you feel feverish, accept it. Your accepting feverishness itself will bring the calming effect. Otherwise, you are feverish to get rid of feverishness, will roll into a chain reaction of feverishness. Accept life in its totality and that is the way to be centred. Once you are centred, you are the source of creativity. You will be the source of happiness, joy and love.
Q. How to react in a situation where one see injustice being done to people around us or to our self?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you see injustice, you must stand up to it. And stand up with skill, don’t be foolish. You need to have the skill, power and support to stand up and that you need to garner, when you stand up to injustice
Q. In the book ‘Celebrating Silence’ you have mentioned that anuvrat can even help one get rid of attachment and entanglements. Please explain.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Anuvrat means taking up a vrat(vow), even if it is a small one. With small small vows we can move towards important Sadhana. These are steps. Taking small small steps, we receive strength in life.
Q. Even after doing the Art of Living course why do some people live in such hatred and ego? How to teach them the language of love?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Bring them to satsang again and again. Sometimes, even after having good intentions in the mind, a person tends to fall because of the company (he keeps). This is called sanghdosh. People are good and wish to walk the right path, but due to bad company, are not able to imply their good thoughts. Thus, satsang is very effective and vital. Inspire others and bring them to satsang. Just like people push others to do wrong acts, similarly for good also we sometimes need to pull people.
Q. We crave for the pleasure of the senses, personal gain and power. Do cravings drop one at a time or all together?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sometimes cravings dissolve one at a time, sometimes all together. As soon as anurag(devotion) is born in life, everything else is dropped. When there is love and devotion you will see that all the negativity is removed on its own. When the satva is increased in life, attachments and aversions due to rajoguna, tamguna are themselves removed. For some, it happens slowly and gradually and some undergo misery and then drop it. They drop it because of misery.
Q. Are there different techniques to achieve different siddhis(perfections/powers)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ek hi saadhe sab sadhe, sab saadhe sab jaaye, if you follow one thing you will achieve all, but if you want everything, you won't achieve anything.
Q. The atmosphere of the Ashram is very beautiful. It is easy to practise seva, satsang and sadhana here but difficult in the outside world. Will I receive more merit by applying knowledge in the outside world?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it is alright. I also have a habit of teaching the Gita in the Warfield. Wherever there is war in the world, Gita is taught. Yes, it is easy to apply knowledge here. You begin from here then wherever you sit you can meditate and wherever you meditate such an atmosphere(like that of the Ashram) you will be able to create on your own.
*The sacred thread ceremony
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