Q: A lot of spirituality text talks about controlling our mind and channelising our thoughts. But practically for most of us that’s a difficult job to do. Request you to give us practical tips on this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ya, that’s exactly what we are going to do now. Meditation. You will know then how we will deal with the thoughts.
Q: How does one drop a tendency to judge people? How do you drop judgment?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Oh!(laughs) it can stop by itself. Once you know you are judging, you only come out of it. See, you cannot do anything about the past. The moment you become aware I was judging, I was judgemental, you are already out of it. You simply see, when you turn back and see how many times you had judgements about people, and they all proved to be wrong more or less, most of them. So with your own experience, you grow into wisdom. It cannot be induced from outside. You have to have this from inside. You have to look back and see how was it. What did I do?
Q: You talked about the village. What changed them? What was done in that village practically?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation, breathing, just educating them and singing together. Everyone comes together in the evening and starts singing, everyday. Once a week they have this preeti bhoj when everybody eats together. An inspirational programme called Youth Leadership Training programme gave them the inspiration.
Q: Can we try one in Gurgaon villages?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We can, definitely.
Q: Can I be a part of that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Definitely. Most welcome.
Q: Will you sing with us today?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, we will do meditation of course.
Q: An India specific question - Can business and ethics in contemporary India be reconciled?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, this notion that ‘only by doing wrong things you can prosper’ is wrong. It is not true. You see there are so many businesses in this country where they are flourishing doing ethical business. But they have to be highlighted. Many people don’t know.
The small businesses don’t understand that some of the big businesses are doing totally ethical work like the Tatas, Infosys or Wipro...they are all doing totally ethical business to the core. They are not cheating or doing things which are not ethical. We have to highlight this to the public. That work needs to be done. There are so many small business people who are so value based. Unfortunately they don’t make news. Only Satyam made news (laughter). It is so interesting to see that media captures those news more than the good ones.
Q: People in India are getting more and more inspired to do ethical business and take on responsibility for the society. Can you talk about this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think this is also true in US, everywhere. Today in the globalized world, how we can turn back to the ethics? In European parliament, every year ‘Art of living’ conducts a seminar – ‘Corporate culture and spirituality’. Business people from around the world come. And those who are doing ethical business present how they are doing, what all corporate responsibility they have undertaken, and how we can inculcate spirituality in the business. This happens every year somewhere in October or November.
Q: could you please comment a little bit on your concept of love. Love for parents, sex, children, your surroundings, friends etc.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I tell you, love..you are made up of love. You are made up of a substance called love. Your spirit is all love. And there are various types of love. Parental love, love of the siblings. Then love for the children, love for the spouse. They are little flavors. Different, but underneath that, I don’t see love as only an emotion, it is our very existence. Because all the atoms in your body love each other and that’s why you are a human being. That’s why there is a boss. You know the moment the love that is the bond, binding force between the atoms is gone, our body disintegrates. So, I see love more as the very existence not just as an emotion. I would say Love with wisdom leads you to bliss.
Love without wisdom or with ignorance leads you to jealousy, greed, anger, frustration and everything else. All these negative emotions are just an offspring of love. See you can’t be jealous of somebody if there is no love. Right? Greed is because you love certain things more than people, that is called greed. You love somebody more than you should and that is called possessiveness. And you love perfection so much that you can’t stand imperfection, and you show it as anger. Right? Love needs to be harnessed with a little wisdom.
There are around 20 CD's on Bhakti sutra - The aphorisms of love. You can just go into that. I have discussed different types of love and how they all affect our lives.
Q: We have a small group of youth belonging to a church. We have social work going on. We find our youth group lacks leaders. We find we lack leaders among youth. Nobody is coming forward to take responsibility. So what is your idea about how a leader should be and what could be done to take the youth forward towards leadership?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First of all, I feel that leaders should create leaders. And also leaders should not be imposing, they should be in the background, and they should be caring and compassionate. Why someone is not doing some service activity? Maybe they are stressed, they are tensed. So, if you are unhappy yourself, you won’t be motivated to do something for someone else. So, first you have to find the peace.
That’s why I would say smile and then serve. If there is no smile in your service, it will be short-lived. You may do it 2-3 days, 5 days and then you can’t do anymore because you don’t have energy. So, that inner peace and a sense of belonging in people. When that dawns in you then you can’t but serve. Service becomes your natural..your second nature.
Q: What do you find a source of inspiration?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I see every child is inspiring.
Q: What is the meaning of life? If we see in jungles, we see predators eating other animals. Birth and death seems so mechanical. No big meaning, whereas our pursuit of humanity is focused on stretching life and living longer. Is it really necessary?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Ya, animals don’t violate their nature. They don’t violate the laws of nature. Their life is all programmed. They don’t have freedom. But human beings do have that freedom. It is because you have the intelligence that you have the freedom to violate.
That’s what makes us different from animals. Isn’t it? And so we have the ability to know more than what animals can grasp or comprehend. We know about the whole universe, we know about galaxies, the milky ways, we know about the atoms, we know about macrocosm. This ability to know, ability to create, ability to change is all embedded in our system. That is what is called as Viveka, the sense of discretion.
Q: In one's spiritual pursuit, if he goes after form, is it possible that in the long run he might learn that he went on the wrong track and miss the formless? For example in meditation, if one goes for mantra based meditation or form based meditation, is it possible that he might get the essence which might come through Vipassana or something else? He may waste his time or spend more time reaching there.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, there are all possibilities. It is not that people who go in through form never attain. We have instances of millions of people. Thousands of saints in this country, who went through form to formless. If you see Tulsi Ramayana, what Tulsidas says..he wouldn’t have written that without experience. 'Rama niranjan, arupa,' he said all that.
First he sees Rama as an individual person. But then he saw that the spirit behind Rama is formless. Same way Saint Francis of Assissi, he went through form and he became formless. Meera went into form and got to the formless. Guru Nanak Dev. We have many many examples in this country that when there is true seeking, you will never go wrong. That’s my contention. Because nature will guide you. Because, see the Intelligence, the Cosmic Being is such, it doesn’t let you down. So, it guides you into the right path. I don’t think it would be a waste of time or it is wrong. But you have to do that with proper viveka, wisdom.
So, should we do a short meditation now. How many of you think meditation is concentration? Nobody thinks it's concentration? That’s very good. So, you’ve passed the first thing. Often people think meditation is concentration, focusing the mind or controlling the thoughts. It is not. Meditation is deep relaxation. OK.
Three things are important for meditation. First is that for the next 10 minutes, we will be mediating. You have to know that we want nothing for the next ten minutes. Is it ok with everyone of you? Can you say I want nothing for the next 10 minutes. No you don’t have to say it loud (laughter). See, if you say, 'Oh! I have to drink a cup of water, I’m thirsty,' then your mind is stuck. Next 10 minutes I want nothing. Shall we take all our mobiles and press the red button. This is an essential ritual for meditation. So, you’ll all be here for next 10mins. You can’t get up in the middle and go and disturb others. So, first thing is I want nothing for next 10 minutes.
Second important thing that we need to do is ‘I do nothing’. We will say Om 3 times. Om is vibration. Om means love, unconditional love that is eternal. We’ll say Om 3 times. All the eastern religions, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism - they all have taken Om as sound that they’ve heard in the meditation. So, it is very much connected with yoga. So we say 3 times Om.
Third is ‘I am nothing’. If you think you are very intelligent forget about it, you can’t meditate. If you think you are a fool then also, impossible. If you think you are very rich, remember that quote in Bible? Rich men cannot pass..What is it? So, if you think you are rich, no way you will have meditation. If you think you are very poor then also no. If you think you are a sinner, impossible to meditate. If you think you are the holiest person then also no meditation. So, what you should be. I am nothing.
I want nothing. I do nothing. I am nothing. Can we take these 3 things? I’m not very intelligent nor I’m stupid person. I am neither rich nor poor. Not sinner nor holy saint. So, I am nothing. Nobody. OK. So we will have these 3 ideas. We don’t have to go on repeating these in our mind. Just an idea. Right? Idea is like that.
“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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