Bangalore ashram, Feb. 5:
Q: Guru, I often see people bow down to you. Is doing all that necessary?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, no, not at all. These things are really insignificant. You know, these outer gestures are insignificant. Don’t give too much importance to them. All these gestures don’t matter. We all are connected from a deeper level, the level of the heart. That’s how we have met and we are all here.
Q: Yesterday you talked about leela (game). One can comprehend it intellectually but how to make it an inner experience?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t have to make it an experience. You simply have to wake up and see that life is a game. Wake up this moment as I am speaking. Whatever happened till now, is it not like a dream? You had dinner this evening, meditated in the morning, did yoga in morning and went to bed last night, and if you go over your own memory there were good / bad events, you had profit, you had loss but right this moment it’s all gone. Wake up this moment and you will see that tomorrow, the next 10 years is also like a dream! When you realize this whole phenomenon, that has happened in the past and future, it's all like a play, a game. You don’t have to think this is a concept and I have to experience it. My dear, memory is memory. Your thinking that you have to experience memory is a concept and your thinking that you don’t have it is again a concept. You simply have to realize right away that it is all a dream. This could be a dream. That very moment you feel a sense of relief. A soothing wave overtakes you. Don’t wait till someday you will experience - it’s all a game. May be after you leave the body you will experience one day. Then also you will realize I could have done that much before.
Q: What is the difference between dispassion and indifference?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, in indifference there is a sense of apathy, rejection and disappointment while in dispassion there is joy and enthusiasm.
Q: Do we all have a purpose in life or we all come and go whenever? If there is one purpose, what is it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, it’s best to take out a paper and pen, and list out what is not the purpose of your life. By negating it will be easier for you.
Q: Is Art of Living the best spiritual path? People say it is the best. Isn’t it a seed of war, calling my belief to be the best? The symbols of other religions in Vishalakshi Mantap tell us that all other religions are also good.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I leave it up to you. You discuss and decide. Go through all the confusion and come to your own conclusion. I never say it is the best and I also don’t say it is not the best. It is up to you. It will not be the truth to say it is not the best. And it sounds very funny for whenever someone says ‘it is the best’, you have a sort of resistance for that.
So sometimes some of these questions are best not answered. I am not here to clarify your doubts. I am here to create more doubts. Doubt is always about something, which is positive. When somebody tells you ‘I love you’ and you say ‘really’? But do you ask ‘really’ when somebody says ‘I hate you’? You doubt your capabilities but you never doubt your weaknesses. You are so sure of your weaknesses! You doubt in the honesty of people and never in their dishonesty. The nature of doubt is such that it always clings to something, which is positive. So if you have a doubt, I will encourage you that this is very positive.
Q: Guru, you said being a perfectionist is a cause of stress. Yet everything about you is so perfect. You are perfect, your actions are perfect, your words are perfect, your understanding of God is so perfect, this Ashram is perfect and so many other things. What is the difference between your perfect thinking or, mine or ours?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just that you have to look at yourself in the mirror. That’s it. You move from perfection to perfection. You move from one perfection to another higher perfection. That’s how you have to look at life. Otherwise you see this is not perfect, everything is imperfect, everything is hopeless. And we tend to get into negative framework. Isn’t it?
Q: What is Upanishad?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sitting close and listening is Upanishad. Upanishad is a collection of discourses of high knowledge, and the manner it was transmitted from a Master to students is very interesting.
One of the Upanishads beautifully brings this out well. Once a boy went to his father who was also his Guru and asked, 'What is God?' To which the father replied, ‘Food is God’, for everything grows from food, everything is sustained by food and when there is a lack of it, everything dissolves and everything again becomes food.
So the boy went and thought about it for several months, understood all about food and came back to his father, and again asked ‘What is God?’ The father said, ‘Prana is God’. The boy went, thought and understands all about prana, how it is going in and out of body, how many types of prana there are and read all experiments about prana. He again came back to his father and asked, ‘What is God?’ The father looked at the child’s face, so glowing and so vibrant. The father said, 'Ok, the mind is Brahman, mind is God'. The boy went and thought till he found the ultimate bliss.
Notice, that the student didn’t complain to the teacher that he was earlier told ‘Food is God’ but later something else. He simply came and again asked the question. So this is an ancient way of teaching, step by step – food, then prana, then the mind, then the inner spirit, then the universal spirit, Bliss. Bliss is Divinity, the space. You are like the space. Then he said, 'There is no difference between you, me and the infinite self. We all are one. The Self, Guru and the universal energy are not different. All are made up of one substance.'
Today if you talk to scientists who study the string theory, who study quantum physics, they will say the same thing that is said in Upanishads. In the Upanishads, it was said thousands of years ago that 'God is not a person, sitting somewhere up in heaven but God is present everywhere. He is omnipresent and omnipotent, the energy of which you are also made of, everything is made up of.' Don’t confuse God to be a person, somewhere sitting up in heaven. Godliness is your own nature.
God is Vibration. God is Love. God is Truth, Existence. God is Beauty.
People right through history have told this. Lord Krishna told Arjuna, ‘People think I am a human being but I am not. People confuse the Divine to be a human being. But God is the force, He is energy. That is Divine and not a person.’
Q: What is secret of selfless service which is devoid of personal conflict?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just do service. Don’t think too much, whether it is selfless or selfish. Never mind. Don’t analyze too much. Let’s keep it simple. If you enjoy doing service, it’s good. If you don’t enjoy, never mind because someone who is benefitting, is enjoying. It’s better not to analyze too much. Where is the time to think? If there is an intention only, it will make you feel uncomfortable. Just think I am doing it with all my heart because it has to be done. Finished. That’s it. And if you are enjoying then don’t think, “Oh I shouldn’t be enjoying” because whatever you try to push down, fight with, it simply comes up.
In my commentary on the ‘Narad Bhakti sutras’, I have said: ‘Without any conflict, repose in the Self’. Now suppose there is some conflict, then don’t try to get rid of it. Simply embrace it and you will find it disappears.
Q: Guru which is your favorite quote from the Gita?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have so many. There is no point in you picking my favorite quote. You read it and find your own favorite quote and keep reviewing it every few years because it may change. You can’t find a more contradictory scripture than Bhagwat Gita. In every chapter Lord Krishna says something different. It is like climbing one step after another. And all that is said is relevant from a bigger picture. Arjuna also said, ‘Krishna, you say different things at different times. I am so confused. Please tell me one thing that I should do.’ Then Lord Krishna says intelligent people know there are many facets, many angles, all is spherical whereas dull people think everything is linear.
Q: Guruji, how do I know if I am growing on Spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Look, there are no criteria. See from the past if you are more calm, or drop all spiritual practices for a month and see how do you feel, whether it makes a difference, or ask people around you if you are behaving better than before. Now none of these are benchmarks. And after listening to all these opinions, throw them all into the basket. If you learn to relax well, if you are able to see everything as a dream – nature of the universe, you are progressing. There is no other way. You are on a conveyor belt, you can’t be stuck, you have to move, or you will be pushed. When you are on conveyor belt, you will be moving.
Q: Guruji, I have my partner whom I love with all my heart but I still get attracted to other people even if I don’t want to. How can I get rid of it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, the mind always gets attracted to something new but the heart always recognizes something which is old. You always say, ‘It is an old friendship’, Preet purani, ancient love. Whatever you are attracted to, if it becomes a little difficult to get, you develop love for that. If you get it easily, it is finished. When love gets deeper, it becomes devotion. When love matures along with wisdom, it becomes devotion.
Q: Guruji, I get bored nowadays. I am contented in my heart but nothing gives me joy except from your talks. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My dear, why do you have so much time sitting and thinking about yourself? If you are happy, go and do seva (service). We have lots of things to do. Care for others, do some service. There is so much to learn. Learn more. Don’t run behind joy. Let joy run behind you. If you follow joy, misery will follow. If you follow wisdom, fun and joy follow. Wherever you go, fun tags behind you.
Q: Guruji, if human being knows that if one is born then he has to die, then why does he worry so much about death?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, there is lack of spiritual education, broader vision and knowledge of who one is. Ok, let me ask you all a question. You know, all those who have grown old don’t feel that they have grown old. How many of you feel this? (Many raised their hands). You are 50, 60 or 70 years old and you feel that everybody else has grown but you haven’t changed. You see your little 1- 2 year-old child has grown to 16 years but you don’t realize that you have also grown equally. You know, many times father and son, mother and daughter have this conflict because neither father nor mother think that they have grown older. It is the same problem with mother – in – law and daughter – in – law in India, perennial household word because you feel that you haven’t changed, you haven’t grown. This is because there is something deep inside you which never dies, which never grows old. Time doesn’t touch that aspect deep within you.
Q: When we do mistakes, people get angry. But even when we rectify the mistake people don’t leave their anguish? What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Bring them to the course. They are not living in the present. Bring them to the present. They keep on hanging on to the past. You have changed but they forget to change.
“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”
~ Sri Sri Ravishankar
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