Life is a fine balance between the emotions & the intellect

Bangalore ashram, Dec. 12:
Q: Guruji, many times you have clarified that the Master is the presence and not the physical entity but when I see you I get so mesmerized with your appearance, your actions. Please tell me what to do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Simply realize that you appreciate what you have. You are also beautiful. Inside each one of us there is beauty. We all have all these virtues inside us. Some virtues are manifested and some will soon manifest.

Q: Guruji, do you have any unfulfilled desires?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: (After a little pause) Yes, I want to see millions of people smiling and all these conflicts in the world to end. There should be no war. WAR itself means ‘Worst Act of Reason’. People who are involved in war give reasons to justify their actions but it is actually the worst act of reason. There is so much domestic violence in the world today. All this must stop. This can happen when people become more compassionate and understanding.

Q: To break the cycle of birth and death we have to attain mukti/liberation, then why do enlightened masters reincarnate?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With one goal - to help those who are in need and on the other hand just to play.

Q: Is it ok to pray for a peaceful end to the life of a person with Parkinson’s syndrome?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whenever someone suffers, the people around him or her are the ones who suffer more than the person. The family of a mentally retarded child suffers much more than the child himself. That child is in a different paradigm of mind. Nature gives the strength to endure the suffering and walk through with strength. An animal is given only that heavy a tail, which it can wag. Just imagine a rat having the tail of an elephant. Nature is very intelligent. It only gives you that problem which you can handle.

 Q: Guruji, I read somewhere that chanting OM is not good for women. Please elaborate.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Maybe some man has written that book! (laughter) Perhaps they are afraid that women may become more powerful, intelligent, independent and stronger than men. All this is not true. In the Middle Ages, some people spread this message with the selfish motive of keeping the knowledge only to themselves.

Q: Can charity grant liberation?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Charity purifies wealth. Ghee/clarified butter purifies food. Knowledge purifies the intellect. Bhajan purifies the mind & Service purifies the action.

Q: What is the difference between self–respect and ego? If someone says harsh words to you, it hurts. Is that ego or self-respect?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Nobody can take away your self–respect. If it pinches you then that is due to ego or your foolishness. When someone is harsh to you, it is ok to be hurt but then you should also know how to rise above that. It is because of knowledge that we can come out of that feeling of hurt.

Q: If everything is pre-decided, then what is the need for karma/ action?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We cannot live without karma. All is pre-decided for an animal but not for a human. Some things are pre-decided and some are not. If everything was pre-decided, why would we be doing bhajans here? It would be no different than being an animal then. Humans have responsibilities to fulfill and humans take on responsibility. An animal has neither any responsibility nor any demand. Humans have freedom as well as an intellect.

Q: What is difference between accepting people as they are and labeling them as they are?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You tell me the answer. If you really want an answer then sit and think about it. If in your mind this question has arisen, the answer will also come. You have some notion of acceptance in your mind and some other notion of labeling. That’s why you are using two different words. You won’t ask the difference between ‘Kela’ (banana in Hindi) and ‘Banana’. When we ask the difference we already know what that difference is. You already know in your mind and a little introspection will give you the answer.

Q: I see some images during meditation. Is that ok?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no need to pay attention to that. It is just an experience. In Sudarshan Kriya or meditation you may hear something, see some images or visions but all these come and go. It is a form of stress release.

Q: In one of your books you have said religion is like the banana peel and spirituality is the fruit inside. Does that mean one who is spiritual has nothing to do with religion?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Religion is inevitable. You have a religion since birth. Your name only conveys the religion to which you belong. Your name, marriage all this is part of religion. You can’t deny it. Spirituality unites all religions. That is the core value of all religions.

Q: If a relationship is not going smoothly, what to do?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I am not an expert to answer this. (Laughter) One thing I can tell you is that you should leave a certain margin in a relationship. The strength of a relationship lies in the ability to accommodate rough patches. How well you handle it gives you skills. Otherwise how do you get to know how accommodating, understanding and considerate you are? These virtues come up only when you have rough patches. See the situation as an opportunity on how to adapt, how to be accommodating, understanding and considerate. You should give a shot to excel in exhibiting your character rather then changing the other person.

Q: Guruji, up to what extent should one sustain a relationship? How much can one bend?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You can’t bend too much if the other person is turning violent, taking advantage of you. Then you have to stand up and state clearly. Deal with all of this using your intellect and not your emotions. Conflict is always emotional. Resolution is intellectual. Emotional conflict can’t be dealt with emotions. Similarly an intellectual argument cannot be dealt with the intellect. The emotional side of it has to be considered. If you observe carefully there is a stream of emotions behind an intellectual argument. Life is a fine balance between the emotions and the intellect. When to use what, is the real wisdom. And how do you gain that wisdom? The answer is meditation, meditation and meditation.

Q: Tell us something about ‘nadi shodan’ (alternate nostril) pranayama.
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are 1,82,000 nadis/ energy channels in our body. When we breathe, these are activated and that is why we are alive. When we breathe through the left nostril, certain nadis are functioning and others function when we breathe through the right nostril. So when we alternate the breath through the nostrils, certain changes happen in the body and in our system. Our system gets purified. Fresh energy moves in the system and the stress is eliminated. The left nostril activates the functioning of the right brain and vice versa. So when we alternate our breathing, all the brain waves get synchronized. Biochemical changes happen in the body. The Endocrine glands function better and any imbalance in body is rooted out. There are many benefits of pranayama.

Q: Guruji newspapers today are filled with so much vague news here and there. Can’t we have one full page on environment?
H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you write articles? I want all those who have good writing skills to sit together and have some collection. We will implement this. The Ashram agricultural department is very successful in controlling pollution and purifying sewage water. We are using some ancient techniques, which have been forgotten. It is surprising to see the results that these techniques have brought about. Sewage water is completely purified, ready to drink and the sewage is turned into manure. Using this method we can clean all sewage plants in all villages across India without chemicals. The Agricultural Department also took a project in Nasik where vegetation was grown using seawater. So all this is possible.

“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”

~ H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
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