Bangalore ashram, Jan. 22:
Q: Guruji, the world knows you as a spiritual leader. Would you please share your experiences of your knowing that you are endowed with such spiritual power?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What do you want to know? I am like this from the beginning and I will continue to be like this in the future also. Usually, people come to the spiritual path when they get some disappointment. This is not the case always, but usually it is such. People take sanyas (renounce the world) when they have had failures in their love lives, or some problem or another. Nothing like that, at all for me. In fact, every child is born with spiritual knowledge but when you grow up, you start losing that. A yogi is becoming a child again, getting in touch with your pure essence.
Q: Guruji whenever I think of you I become very emotional, tears begin to roll down and my heart starts melting. What to do? Is it good or bad?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t tag your emotions as good or bad. When your heart opens up tears come, it’s natural. Let it be. It is said in scriptures that tears of love are so precious that even angels run to collect them. Even on heaven, there are no tears of love. The most wonderful thing on the planet, on earth is to have tears of love, tears of gratitude. That indicates that our life is glorious. That makes our life rich and fulfilled. Fulfillment in life is when you have tears of gratitude and that comes by luck. You can’t manufacture tears of gratitude; you can’t put glycerin and have tears of gratitude coming in. When you realize what all you have received in life, your heart opens up.
Q: Guruji, sometimes I feel connected to you and sometimes I don’t. I am confused if you are my master or someone else. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know on these matters I don’t give any clarifications. I create even more confusion for you to work on that confusion .You are given an exercise so that you do it. The teacher gives you the problem and he wants you to find a solution to the problem. In schools and colleges you are not given solutions and asked to find problems for that. A teacher’s job is to create confusion so that you can exercise your intellect, your mind, your intuition and your inner voice to see and come up with a solution.
Q: Dear Guruji, our brain is more than a computer. Scientists say that we use very little of our brain. Einstein is said to have used 32 percent of his brain. If we want to use 40 – 50 percent of our brain what efforts do we need to put? What will be its consequences if our brain becomes overactive?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That’s a problem. So we need to first learn how to calm our mind down. Only a calm mind can come up with collective thoughts. Disturbed and chaotic mind will give rise to chaotic thoughts only and chaotic thoughts are coming in abundance. How to streamline the thoughts is an art in itself, the art of silence. How can you do it? With meditation, the mind becomes calm and collective, thoughts become focused, meaningful, purposeful and focused.
Q: Does man need money or God?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Some think God is money. Many think money is God and very few know that God himself is money. God is love and when you have richness of love in you, you will see how abundance flows in life. There is a saying in sanskrit: ‘Udyoginam purush sindh mupayi tilaxmi’ God comes to you in the form of money - wealth is a consort of God. Consort of God, spirit of God comes to you as abundance when you put effort, to one who is working and not to one who is lazy. And one who has confidence and courage. So the one who has courage and confidence, and who puts in effort will get money. Don’t keep buying lottery tickets and sit at home. This is the biggest problem - you want money but you don’t want to do anything. So we have to put in effort. Money is just a means not an end in itself. You will need that but is it everything? No. You may have a lot of money but if you can’t eat, you can’t sleep well at night then that money is of no use. It loses it’s utility. So many people come here who have a lot of wealth and are depressed. They want to quit everything, their job, everything.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that in the next 20 years, 40–45 percent of the population will be depressed. What’s the point in having so much money and prosperity in the world when so many people are getting depressed? That’s why you need to have balance in life, balance of material and spiritual life. Isn’t it? Often people think spirituality means do nothing and sit quietly. No, it is not so. You should work. Even in the ashram there are 600 people who work -day and night. There is no Sunday and no Monday for them and they work round the clock. People come here all the time and they work. Kitchen people are working so hard. The kitchen never takes rest. You have any idea how much food they cook everyday when there is no big program? 600 – 700 Kg of rice is being cooked daily, 70 Kg of salt is put in, and 100 kg of vegetables are cut every day. So much of work they do. The housing department works tirelessly. And they are still smiling. And there are people who go and work in the fields. They are working in slums. There are teachers who are working worldwide. They work day and night. In Karnataka, itself, we have 78 slums and there are many different classes being run, educational classes, computer classes. Seva is a part of spirituality and definitely you can’t do charity with an empty bowl. You need money for service. But here nobody worries about money and charity happens, everything happens spontaneously. So these are some of the things we need to keep in our mind. You have money, you earn money, it’s good but you should keep aside some part for charity, whatever your capacity is 3 – 10%. Keep it aside. Along with it do your spiritual practices daily.
Once in a year, keep seven days completely for spirituality and then you don’t sit and calculate money. You come here and be 100 percent here, and take care of your health, do yoga, pranayama, meditation and learning. It is a very common experience when businessmen come here leaving their jobs for some time and do seva, meditation and the advance course, they start getting better contracts. Their wealth on the other side starts increasing. What they used to get putting in a lot of effort, starts to happen with very less effort. That is when sattva in you rises. Sattva is positive harmony within you and when that dwells up, your work outside also becomes smother and better.
Q: What is enlightenment? When is one said to be enlightened?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you say a word, you have already heard a definition for it. I would say enlightenment is a connection with the universal spirit, realizing that you are part of it, you are that. Living unconditional love without any effort, you don’t have to put any effort for that. Being like an open book, being natural and all these qualities are there in every individual. It only needs a little nurturing and then it starts blossoming. So when you walk, walk like you are enlightened, you are open, you are like a child, and you are free - emotionally, mentally and intellectually. Enjoy the freedom. When you don’t have any cravings and aversions of your own, then you can give yourself a certificate that you are enlightened. But you should be over all your cravings and aversions. Clear heart, clear mind and clarity in action are all part of enlightenment. If you look at a child of two-three years, or a baby of six months - there is unconditional love in his eyes. Every baby has all these qualities but minus wisdom. When you grow old keep all these qualities in you like innocence, and have the depth of wisdom along with it. That is what it is.
Q: What does a Guru want from a disciple and what does a disciple want from his Guru?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A Guru only wants the disciple to progress, to blossom, not to be unstable, just be happy, unselfish and serve people. And whatever a disciple wants from Guru, Guru keeps on bestowing that. Initially, a disciple asks for little things and then asks for great things. The Guru sometimes give him the little things he wants and sometimes doesn’t. (laughter)
Q: Guruji, Kabirdas has said Nindak neare rakiya angan kuti shava, bin pani sabun bina nirmal kare suhay How to identify a good critique?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How can a critique can be classified as good or bad? (laughter) Nindak neare rakiya angan kuti shava, bin pani sabun bina nirmal kare suhay The great Indian saint Kabirdas has said that keep someone who criticizes you close by, that will keep your house, your mind clean - without soap and water. Like you need soap and water to keep your body clean, like that one who blames you, you should keep close by. If everybody around keeps praising you, they may not keep all the facts in front of you. Someone who is criticizing you, will show you your pitfalls. Welcome criticism, anybody who criticizes you, welcome that. Don’t shy away from criticism. Isn’t it a part of DSN? (an Art of Living program) You all have done DSN? You should be able to give constructive criticism and also take criticism. That is the strength. And there is no good critique or bad critique. Keep them nearby means that don’t run away from critique, don’t stop talking to them. You stop talking with someone who criticizes you. Yesterday if somebody criticizes you; you talk to them normally today. Don’t shun them.“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”
~ Sri Sri Ravishankar
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For Global Spirituality