India, (Art of Living International Center, Bangalore), September 12:
Q. If I am you and you are me, then when will my mind become your mind?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: All the difference is only on the gross. The subtler we go, we see there is only one consciousness.
Q. How to increase intelligence and how to be more creative?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To increase intelligence, you need to observe some silence. Silence is the mother of all invention. Silence is the basis of intelligence. Take few moments, hours, days of silence. I wouldn’t recommend silence for more than a few days. People go into silence for months - it is useless. They shouldn’t do too much. Time to time silence will increase all our ability. Our senses will become sharp, mind becomes more alert. You become more intelligent, you are aware about what you are speaking, your intuition becomes so much better.
Q. What can I do to become the Divine’s favorite?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Smile and Serve. Smile at everybody and serve all.
Q. How to behave with people who have hurt me in the past. Even though I have forgiven them, I don’t know how to interact with them. I don’t want anyone to take away my smile.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good. This very intention to move on will help you. Hold on to that. Then, have compassion on those who have hurt you, that they don’t have as much awareness or knowledge as you have. They never had the opportunity to learn, the way you have learnt.
Q. It is said that if someone is enlightened, his or her generations are liberated. If it is so then can one choose not to have children and devote his/her entire life to seva?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Good, no problem if you don’t choose to have children that is fine. Yet what is necessary is that you have to feel that you are the parent of the entire world, that everybody on this planet is a child and that they belong to you. At least this you can have, no one can stop you from feeling that or thinking that.
Q. No matter how sincerely I do sadhana and attend satsang, I am unable to get rid of eating non-vegetarian food. It makes me guilty, please help.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You talk to some of the YES!+* people. They will tell you all the ways. You know the main thing is to save your mind, don’t let guilt enter your mind. Just be natural.
Q. How do we know who is a true master and who is pretending to be so?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I never spent time looking for one! You know, your heart tells you. There is something called as the gut feeling. Your heart tells you that you are in the right place. Second is, any teacher, any master, anybody, even you as a friend, what do you want from your friend? Do you want something from your friend, other than their own happiness?
If you expect something from your friend or your student other than their own progress and happiness then you are not a good teacher or a friend. In friendship you expect your friend to be grateful to you but a teacher does not even expect that. So want nothing from anyone other than their own happiness. In the Upanishads, it is said there are five signs of a Master. The Upanishads have said that there are five signs of being with a Master:
1. Knowledge flows
2. Sorrow diminishes
3. Joy wells up for no reason
4. Talents come up
5. Lack start disappearing, abundance dawns
Q. Is the concept of anatama (no soul) true? Modern neuroscientists are in agreement with this idea. Please tell us what the truth is.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Lord Buddha said, “I went in meditation, I searched and searched and searched for the soul, I could not find it. So there is no soul, there is no atma.” That become anatmavad. He said everything is hollow and empty. There is no soul, there is no person, no entity. It is all nothing, everything is nothing. This is what Lord Buddha propounded.
Then, after sometime Sri Adishankara came. He said Ok, is that case! You didn’t find anybody. Right? But who experienced that nothingness. Who experienced that there is no self? Who searched and found that there is no self?
Someone must have searched; someone said there is no self. That is the self. That is how using the same logic of Buddha, Sri Adishankara brought back the Vedic wisdom back into India.
And the places he travelled, today is India. From Kerela to Kashmir, from Gujrat to Orissa to Kamagya. He travelled to these areas and that became India. The Self is like the space. It is not an entity or an object. In fact, what lord Buddha said and what Adishankara said there is not much difference, only one change, a flip in thinking - Buddha says it is all nothing, Adishankara says it is all fullness, everything is full, every single inch of space is filled with knowledge and information.
He says this entire universe is consciousness and consciousness is true infinity, wisdom and information. That is why great scientists like Albert Einstein appreciated this so much. They said the Bhagwad Geeta, the Upanishads are the greatest scriptures, reading which their whole life changed. What the scientists are saying today about the black hole, dark matter, dark energy, has been said long time back.
If you listen to a quantum physics scientist and listen to Vedanta, you will feel that they are talking the same thing.
Q. My mind goes all over, even when I’m doing pooja.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is Ok. See it is not the best when the mind goes in all directions. But you have got into the habit of sitting with yourself everyday. That ways sometime you will get into meditation and an samskara (impression) is formed.
There is benefit from mantra japa. Even if you are not benefitted 100 percent but just 20 percent, that is also Ok. To settle the mind, pranayama is necessary. Do swadhaya (study of the Self) and keep reminding yourself that everything is nashwar (transitory).
What seems like a problem today will be OK, it has to be OK.
We sit for pooja, along with flowers even leaves and thorns are offered. So it means that we accept life with balance, whether there are flowers, thorns, fruits, leaves and surrender everything.
Q. Should we chant the mahamrityunjaya mantra while doing puja?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is good, there is a lot of praises for mahamrityunjaya mantra. It feels good when you say it. Sugandhim pusti wardhanam, make your body and senses healthy, such a prayer is very good.
There is gayatri mantra and mahamrityunjaya mantra which have their special mahima (highness). Chant Om Namah Shivay - it has everything. Om encompasses everything. There are different vibrations for Om Namah Shivay, Om Namho Bhagwate Vasudevaya.
That is why Om Namah Shivay has been called the maha mantra. Na (earth element), Mah (water element), Shi (fire element), and va (air element) – ya (sky element ) it includes all the elements. So the Master of these five elements is Om Namah Shivay.
Q. What is mukti (liberation)?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you take the last breath joyfully that is mukti (liberation). Those who experience some lack and are sad while dying, they return. Be satisfied at the time of your death. The one who is immersed in knowledge, even while dying, will be free.
Q. What happens to those who die unhappy?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Can’t do anything. Be contented and live life. Don’t wait to get contented at your dying bed.
Q. How to overcome fear?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Through sadhana, Kriya , meditation.
Q. Is there a limit for tolerance?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sky is the limit. If someone is doing injustice, don’t tolerate yet don’t react. Respond to it. Reaction is when you just do it without being aware of it. When there is injustice, plan properly and counter it with awareness. I am not telling you to tolerate if somebody does any injustice.
With skill, see how you can educate them. Tolerating means giving others sometime to improve. If their behavior is creating pain for you and you want to give them some time to improve, this is tolerance.
Then educate them with this idea that what they are doing is going to harm them so they must be educated. And then ignore because you cannot correct everyone on the planet. Some people are that way. If you go on thinking about them, then you will be spoiling your own peace of mind. So tolerate, educate, ignore and don’t react but respond.
* Yes +! is an Art of Living course, designed especially for the youth.
(From the Office of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)
© The Art of Living Foundation