Bangalore ashram, Jan. 26:
Q: Guruji, during the course I feel very good but once I go out, I feel misery again. What to do to get rid of that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Imbibe this knowledge. Independence means depending on the inside. Your independence is only when you are dependent on the inside. You are miserable when you want things from others for your comfort. How much can you take? And even if you take everything, it is of what use? This is what I think. I am independent means I am inner dependent. So I want nothing from anybody. Just this aphorism, reminder of this, time and again, will take your mind, which is sticking to the outside, come to its center. You will feel the relief. Misery simply means you are stuck to the outside. Joy means you are in your element which is inside. If you depend on others for your comfort, you lose your joy. First, have this faith that nature will provide whatever I need or I deserve, it will never happen that nature doesn’t provide you with what you need. Secondly, I want nothing from anybody. And third whatever I have, be it be intelligence, great voice, qualifications, skill is only for others and not for me and I serve others as much as I can. Finish! Where is the misery then?
Q: Guruji, you love each one of us so much. I feel my love for you is much less as compared to your love for me. How can I increase my love for you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No way, you can’t increase your love. It is already there. You simply have to relax and realize it is there. Never question or doubt your love. You think, ‘Oh, others are having tears in their eyes and I am not having any’. Never mind, never look from at things that angle. Every child from the mother’s womb is complete. It is not that the first child is more complete than second and third is further less. Every mother knows that every child is full, complete. Same way your love is total, complete, at its height. Never doubt that and never compare it with others. If you feel your expression of love is less, it is because of your selfishness. All that you can do is be generous, be less selfish and you can’t do it overnight. Day by day, slowly be more generous, be more centered, and be more dispassionate. Then the love which is inside you, will start expressing itself. Even in the expression of love it should not be too much or too less. It should be the middle path. The problem in the world is that in the West, they express love too much. Husband and wife keeps on saying ‘honey’ and then they become diabetic (laughter), can’t touch honey any more. (laughter) It is just the opposite in the East, they never express love at all. Both ways are extreme. There should be a middle path. It’s like you want a seed to sprout, it neither sprouts when buried deep down in the soil nor when it is put on the top. It needs a little bit of soil and put in it and that’s it. Take the best of the orient and the best of the occidental. That is the middle path.
Q: What is surrender? Does that mean doing nothing and letting nature do whatever it wants to?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This word ‘surrender’ has been used, misused and confused so many times. I think we should use some other word. (laughter) Just relax, be in your element, feel the connection, have a sense of belongingness. In fact, the connection is already there, you simply have to feel it. This is a better word. What is it that you have that you can surrender? Worries, anxiety, tension, and depression! And those, too, you don’t know how to surrender. I want to be done away with this word ‘surrender’. I want none of you to use this word hereafter. It’s like a straw out of which juice has already been taken out, like sugarcane straw that you keep chewing and nothing comes out of it. Some better word is to be used now. Let go, relax, feel the connection and that’s it.
Q: How to be one pointed on the path? There are so many distractions pulling us back.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With wisdom, you come back. This very question tells you that that you are coming back, in fact, you have already come back, you are not distracted. Through wisdom or misery, you are brought back to the center. When you go off center, you are beaten, you start crying and then come back to your center. The wise come back to the center through wisdom. The not-so-wise face problems here and there and then come back to the center. This is the law of nature. This is how things are.
Q: In my country, most people are of the opinion that you can’t raise a child without a non - vegetarian diet, as the body will lack amino acids and the brain won’t function properly. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ample research has been done to contradict this theory. Look into that. There are millions of people who are vegetarian in the West and they are very brilliant. In fact, all the genius people in the West, including Einstein were vegetarian. Many of the top scientists have been vegetarian. This theory that the brain doesn’t work needs to be questioned.
Q: While Ayurveda is considered to be an indigenous system of medicine then why did English (allopathic) medicine have permission by a government to take over Ayurvedic medicines? Also English (allopathic) medicine claims to have a faster recovery rate?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, statistics show contrary to this. Even in modern medicine, the probability factor of medicine not affecting is very high. Research says that the placebo effect with modern medicines is nearly 40 percent. 40 percent of the effect from medicines being administered can be brought about using a placebo. Modern medicines are being discovered every day and those which were used 10 – 12 years ago are being discarded. The problem is that these pharmaceutical companies have a lot of western interest. It is the economy which is ruling modern medicine rather than their effectiveness. I feel we should have a combined, holistic approach. Ayurveda has some very good qualities, allopathic medicines also have some very good aspects and also homeopathic. Holistic medicine is the best. It is wrong to completely discard modern medicine and it is equally wrong to discard natural cures, ayurveda. In case of emergency, allopathic does well and ayurveda has a unique way of attending to the root cause of disease. Not only symptoms but also healing without side effects. Today, much research has been done on this and many have experienced this. For instance: The probability of remission of piles by allopathic treatment is very high but in the case of Ayurveda it is less than one percent. These are the things one should adopt about Ayurveda. Ayurveda is, anyways, adopting modern methods of investigation. So, the best is to adopt the holistic approach. Our aim is not to benefit pharmaceutical companies but people.
Q: What is the spiritual path? How does one know if one is on the spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Anything done to uplift your spirit, to make you walk towards the truth, that brings up human values within, that connects you to the innermost and outermost is spiritual. Meditation, pranayama, yoga, service, singing, chanting, creating happiness around you are all part of spirituality. If you create misery, then that is not spirituality. If you can create joy, it is spiritual. But not momentary joy. Such joy, in the long term, creates misery that is not spiritual. Alcohol, drugs can create momentary joy but they are not at all spiritual. That is the spirit.
Q: Krishna is ‘bhavana bhahit’. What does that mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have used some phrase, you tell its meaning. God is hungry for feelings. He doesn’t need your sweets or flowers. So if you sit with feelings, that is enough. See Krishna everywhere. Lord Krishna says in the Gita, “Wherever you see in any form, I am there. I am knowledge in a knowledgeable person, wherever there is knowledge I am there, I am strength in the strong, beauty in the beautiful, all is me”. Read the Gita deeply and best is to meditate. Be a yogi, yogi is the best.
Q: Why do some people not smile at others but are happy with themselves only? What is good? To maintain happiness with oneself or to be happy with people around also?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: (Jokingly) Ok, somebody didn’t smile at you and was smiling at himself being adjacent to you, is that your problem! (laughter) The world is like that, some people don’t smile at you, you don’t smile at someone. Leave others. Are you smiling? We maintain our smile that is good enough.
Everybody has one’s own set of problems and if that much compassion has arisen in you then you go and ask, ‘What is your problem? Why are you not smiling? Do you need any help?’ But then see whom are you asking (laughter) and in case you are slapped by someone, then give them your second cheek too. (Huge laughter) If that compassion is there, then ask everyone, ‘Why are you not smiling?’
Once in Switzerland, we were waiting for some conveyance and we saw that nobody on the road was smiling. I thought, everything is here and still people are not smiling. I had so many flowers with me and so I asked the devotees who were accompanying me to give flowers to those who were not smiling on the road and ask them to smile. That was such a fantastic program. After that we raised a wave called ‘Spread your smile’ in Netherland, France, Germany, Switzerland where people give flowers and said, ‘ Please smile and make others smile by passing on this flower’. Some people were shocked initially that nobody till that day bothered about their smile and suddenly somebody coming and asking them to smile.
But if you are in India, take care before giving flower to anybody. (laughter) Be a little cautious before giving a flower here in India. In India, if a girl smiles at a boy it is taken in a different sense. It is not normal, and a boy giving a flower to a girl is not taken as a very nice gesture. (Huge laughter) But in Europe, it is not considered bad. (Somebody from audience asked, ‘Let’s start this in New York also’.) Yes, we are doing there also, something called ‘A Rose of friendship, Pass it on’.
Q: Guruji, I am from Kerela. I want to ask – what does it mean to do puja (worship)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a saying that talks about puja. Yen ten prakaren, Yatra kutrapi dehina, Santosham janaye pragya Tadaye vishva lochan Create patience in people. When you bring a wave of happiness, wherever you go, that is puja. Whatever way when you create happiness and patience, that is puja, truly worshiping God. How beautiful it is!
Q: Guruji there are mental hospitals for mentally challenged people, what is the place for people who are in love with the Divine?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: For them, this whole world is their own. Such madness is welcomed everywhere. Everybody will invite them; everybody will welcome them and would love to talk to them. Because they know, we spread such fragrance.
Q: I feel lustful at times. What to do and how to get rid of that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When there is no joy in life then lust increases in you because then you get joy in that only. But when you find joy in life otherwise also, then the frequency of such desires starts reducing. When you start finding joy in sadhna (spiritual practices), joy in service, joy in satsang, joy in devotion, joy in surrender - that is the only way to come out of lust. No other way exists. When all are done together slowly, you come out of lust. Otherwise, you will have to wait for age. May be then you will be out of it. You won’t be capable physically to do it but you get rid of it from the mind or not, that is not sure.No guarantee is there. Usually very old people see all obscene stuff and try to get satisfaction from it.
Q: South Indians are deep into rituals. Are rituals very important to reach the spiritual path or the ultimate goal?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Man can’t be without ritual. Let’s be clear about it. Today is the Republic Day of India. What happens today in New Delhi and the capitals of other states is a ritual. There is a particular way you walk, a particular way you hoist flag, a particular way you behave. It is a national ritual. Even in communist Russia in Kremlin, three guards shot three gunshots in the sky everyday and perform a ritual.This is a ritual. Human beings can’t be without rituals. If your ritual is meaningful and environment friendly, then all the more better. A wise ritual is offering flowers, lighting a candle, creating love, planting a tree, distributing sweets, these are rituals with more meaning. And not killing an animal, that is not at all a good ritual. We don’t have any right to transgress other life. Violence or anything that pollutes environment can’t be a ritual. It is not a kind gesture to nature. If caring for the planet is considered a ritual or worship, that is the best ritual. In ancient Vedic times this is what they designed or considered. In one other school of thought around the world, going to temples and give bali (animal sacrifice) is a ritual. I won’t approve of those inhuman rituals. Ritual should be something that uplifts your spirit, that which elevates your spirit. In ancient times they call ritual puja. Puja – pu means out of fullness and ja means born out of it. So when you do something with full of gratitude, it is ritual. Even that has been distorted today. Human beings can’t be done away with rituals altogether. You can’t say, 'I don’t want ritual at all’. Have you noticed in homes where no ritual is performed, the energy is low? For there is no celebration, no vibrancy. Performing some sort of ritual, some sort of chanting or reading in home creates positive ions in the atmosphere and also has a good impact on children. That’s why I would say don’t be stuck too much with ritual but also don’t drop rituals altogether. Adopt a middle path. Like on Christmas you light a candle, you put up a Christmas tree. On Diwali you light lamps, decorate homes, exchange sweets, burn a couple of incense sticks. Also on Eid you clean homes, perform prayers, there is function. Whenever there is little bit of ritual, it creates a good atmosphere especially for children and develops a healthy, social, religious and spiritual kind of mind. Don’t you think so?“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
© The Art of Living Foundation
For Global Spirituality