Q/A session with Sri Sri in Israel, 20th October 2009
Q: What is the way to free myself from attachments, especially emotional hurt of the past as well as trust and mistrust? How can I free myself to be able to trust again after betrayal and not remain suspicious or cynical because of that?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: One thing we need to remember is that the whole story will be finished here! All of us will be gone! We will all go under ground. Life will come to an end, right? If we look back and see so many people we once knew are now gone. Those who were with us, they are all finished. More will go. Everybody will go and one day we will also be gone. This is the permanent truth, the definite truth in life.
I was just thinking today is my mother’s 10th death anniversary. Already 10 years have passed! Time goes, things change, when we see life from a broader angle what is emotional hurt then? Somebody said something and it hurt us and we cried; somebody said a good thing and we laughed. What’s the big deal about it? Sometimes you’ve said something and it hurt someone, but that was not your intention. Hasn’t this happened to you? How many of you have experienced this? You have scolded your daughter/son many times haven’t you? What if they hold on to that all their life and say I will not forget that you hurt me. What would you say to them? “Come on let it go, I didn’t mean it”. Isn’t it? Or “I was stressed I was upset, I was not in a good mood so I said something”. Don’t you expect people to let go of the hurt that you have caused them?
You want people to let go of the hurt you caused them. In the same way don’t you have to let go of the pain they have caused you? If someone has hurt you earlier, it is due to selfishness and because they don’t know how vast life is, how beautiful life is. They are selfish because they are afraid. They are selfish or self-centered because they don’t have knowledge in their lives. Nobody taught them how to love people, how to be silent, how to be in this beautiful knowledge. It is not their fault. Is it their fault? If you have not learnt how to read and write, is it your fault? Society teaches you. Your teachers, parents take you to school, make you learn and then you learn. In the same way there was no system for them to learn about life from a broader angle. So you can only be compassionate towards them. They have not had a chance to learn, there was no guide, no teacher. They were not exposed to spirituality. They were not exposed to mannerisms. So they were small-minded selfish people. That was their up-bringing. So what will you hold on to? “Oh you hurt me!” Come on let go! Life is moving. When you die, you will be asked two things: How much love have you given and how much knowledge have you acquired in your life? It shouldn’t matter what others have done to you but from your side you should be compassionate. If people are good towards you, be happy. If they do wrong, have compassion. Life can only swing between happiness and compassion. There is no third option. In our life we have lost people who have been very dear to us. What do we do? That is how life has been designed. We move on. We will also die one day. So let’s move on with commitment. When we are sad, we pray for strength and when we are happy we pray for the strength to serve.
Q: Is wanting to find a lot of love in your life considered to be feverishness?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you are aware of the feverishness, “Oh I want it”, then it is feverishness. Otherwise you just relax. Suppose you want to go to Jerusalem. You think about it and then you go. Your feverishness is ‘Oh I want to go to Jerusalem, Oh I want to go…’ Feverishness is ‘Oh I want a boyfriend, or I want a girlfriend’. Looking at every girl and every boy, running after them, annoying them, this is feverishness. Have you seen sometimes how people annoy you? Girls here may know better. A boy is in love with you and keeps running after you. How many of you find it irritating? So, only you can decide if it is feverishness or not.
Q: How can I free myself from the polarity of dependence and independence so that I will be free for real?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is nothing called total independence in life. Forget about it. If you are thinking I want to be totally independent you are not. Till the age of 15, 16 or 17years you were not independent. You were born dependant. Somebody had to lift you up. Somebody had to change your diapers. Somebody had to wash you. Somebody had to feed you. Somebody had to bathe you, put you to bed. You were born dependant and in the end will also remain dependant. When you die you are not going to cremate your body. When you are sick somebody has to attend to you. You cannot operate yourself. You cannot be your own doctor. After 50 – 60 years, it becomes so obvious that you are dependent on somebody. To some extent you can’t say I am totally independent. Somebody has to do something for you. Just the fact that you pay them some bills, it doesn’t mean you have become independent. You are just getting it done as an exchange. You are helping them a little bit but you are still your dependant on them. Suppose no one wants your bills, nobody wants to work for you, what will happen to you? Because you have some paper bills and people want those currency bills it gives you an illusion that you are independent. Money gives you a false notion that you are independent. You may have money, but what if nobody wants money, then what will happen to you? You are dependant. So life is a swing between independence and dependence. At the same time you are independent to think, you are independent to act, you are independent to have a say over you feelings, control your feelings, if you want to feel good, it is your choice. If you want feel bad it is your choice.
You should listen to the Ashtavakra knowledge. I have spoke about it in this. Life is a combination of both independence and dependence. If you want to be kind you are totally independent to be kind. If you want to have good manners you are totally independent to have good manners. It doesn’t depend on others. If you want to speak sweetly its totally dependent on you to do that. If you want to blame somebody or be rude to others you are totally independent to do so. You have to choose what you want to be independent about and what you want to put yourself through. You may think financially you are independent, but I tell you if you cannot endure certain derogatory remarks from one of your friends or family or someone, you are not independent. If someone blames you or tells you bad things about yourself then you will come to know how independent or dependent you are. If you are really independent then nothing can bother you. You move with zeal, with vision, with a smile.
Q: How to get joy in life?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Forget about getting joy, it will come to you. You should just relax.
Q: I am a very happy woman and blessed with a lot of things, so why do I bother about being over weight?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know a man or woman cannot live without botheration. That is why I started the Art of Living, to get more botherations! So this is a good botheration, at least it will put a break on you not to take a second scoop of ice cream. You will not stretch your hand for the second piece of dessert, or second piece of apple pie. You will stop at half. It is good to have a little concern, otherwise when you grow older you may have to pay a lot of bills to the doctor. So it is better to keep a check on the weight unless you want the doctors to become rich. That is your choice!
Question: What do I do about the guilt I have of not being able to love some people in my family or even blood relatives?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t force love out of yourself. Take it for granted that certain feelings, connections or love is already there. You don’t examine it every day right? Do I love my mother or my father, or that person? - though you may not like their behavior. If your father and mother are old and cynical you may feel very irritated and may not like their company because they put you down or sing the same old song. Likes and dislikes arise from the head. I’m sure deep in your heart there is love, a certain feeling there. It is because it exists that you are asking this question. So it’s just that you don’t want to recognize your love for them although you love them. There is a deep connection of love but you don’t like their behavior, the way they act or their mindset. It’s just an external thing. It’s perfectly okay. Never doubt your love for people. The love is always there and it will be there. Just take it for granted.
Q: Whatever I did this year professionally did not work. I studied Hindi, Massage, Physiotherapy and Anatomy. I really want to succeed. Please help!
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a lot of work to be done. There are a lot of needs. 30% of the Europe is depressed and we have this beautiful knowledge that can help people overcome depression and suicidal thoughts. It would be very nice for us to work together towards a vision of a world with less suffering. I would like to have many youth to do Art of Living work full time. 3 - 4 days to go out and teach everybody. Once you become a teacher you can teach, create a community for Art of Living here. You can have your own ashram here. Meditate here. Each one can do their job, and still contribute. It’s a common pool where everyone can contribute. You can start up a community kitchen. You don’t have to worry about grocery shopping. One person can go shopping, one person can cook, and everyone can take it in turns. A small community of 60 to 100 people can live like this. There can be celebration, meditation and yoga.
The whole atmosphere will become so uplifting! In the Bangalore Ashram, we have 800 people living together. Before we were only 10 to 12 people. Now there are so many people who want to come and live here at the ashram that we don’t have place. It’s because nobody needs to worry about their electricity bills, house, tax, and food. It is all being taken care of and everybody can contribute in whichever way they want to. The same is happening in Germany, Canada, USA and has recently started in Argentina. Our life is too short to spend time on unnecessary and unwanted things. Half of life is anyway spent on sleeping. The Next 40 to 50 years or for however much longer you will live on this planet, do you need people to take care of you, do things for you, or do you want to do something for others and for the society? Helping others and serving society, wouldn’t that be a good idea? There should always be somebody to think about others, to care for them and to help them. I want you all to think about this. I don’t want to call it an old age home. These old age homes are very depressive. Ashram is a place where there are old people, young people, children, everyone lives together. So the younger generation is enriched by the experiences of the older generation, and the older feel enthusiastic with the young. We can create this type of atmosphere. What do you think?
Q: I am a coward. All my life I have been afraid of every little thing. I see risks and danger in my way and fear everything and everyone. I’m afraid to get hurt. How do I overcome all this?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First of all remove this label – ‘I am a coward’. Who said you are a coward? Drop this label. When you label, like the saying in the bible ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ you go on encouraging that. You are wonderful. We are all here to support you, and I am here to support you, and everybody here will support you! Don’t think you are weak. Just drop it.
Q: Can one do hollow and empty meditations at home as well?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: At home you don’t need to do that. Just sit and it will start happening. You give a car to the servicing garage and then you when you get the car you simply run it. It’s already ready. Everyday at home you don’t need to service it. But everyday you wash the car, so similarly you should just close your eyes and meditate.
Q: I have learnt to accept people as they are. However we have also learnt the concept of responsibility. I have a 13-year-old son. He is mature, breaks rules, leaves school in between, doesn’t learn, doesn’t come home on time, and hangs around with friends. That concerns me. How do I complete my role as a mother, accept him and place limits?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are already doing it. It is very difficult to manage or deal with teenagers. Sometimes you need to be strict, and sometimes loving as well. It’s like riding a horse. Sometimes you can let loose but sometimes you hold on tight. So managing teenagers is like riding a horse.
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