When our needs are less we are able to take up bigger responsibilities.

24 January 2011, Bangalore

Q: In the Isha Vasya Upanishad it is said, “tena tyaktena bhunjitha” enjoy the world by renouncing. How can we do this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 
This is a skill! If there is no feverishness, it happens. Have you seen how a child behaves when he sees chocolates? He eats a couple, then stuffs some in one pocket and tries stuffing more in the other. The child is in a frenzy. An adult does not have this feverishness. When such feverishness for the objects is missing, then only you actually enjoy the object of senses.
You experience, you enjoy, but without craving for it, knowing that the joy comes from within you. The object is only a reflection. When you realize that joy is within and not in the object outside then only you can enjoy.
This is little profound and it clicks to a mature mind.

Q: Krishna tells Arjuna - Don’t think you’re killing them - they’re already dead. If a terrorist also gives you the same reason in the name of their faith or religion, what would you say?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: These are completely different situations and you cannot mix them up. A terrorist does with hatred, with ignorance, right? You cannot take a policeman or an army man and a terrorist as same. They both shoot with guns, but a policeman does it for a different reason and a terrorist does it for an entirely different reason. The intention, the state of mind, is totally different. That is why Arjuna was told, “Fight the war for justice, but not with anger, hatred, jealousy or greed. Do it to protect the dharma, the righteousness.”

Q: They say we must dare to dream big. But what follows is desire. How does one handle this desire?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With discrimination! Desires just come up. You should have your dreams but remain grounded.

Q: Is there a masculine and feminine side to everything? Then why do we categorize things as male or female?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 Yes! There is a neutral gender also.There are 3 genders. Some things fall under the neutral gender too. In fact, there is a whole scripture on the gender of stones as well as trees. The Shilpa Shastra or Book on Sculptures elaborates on this. Hawaiians also say that different stones have different genders! They can identify those. But it doesn’t matter. The Self, or the Spirit is beyond gender.

Q: Should the student take the whole responsibility for not scoring good marks?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 It is better if he takes full responsibility. You could blame the teacher, the environment, the parents and everything else and finally you blame yourself. It’s better to take responsibility than go on a blame game.

Q: What’s the value of sacrifice on the spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 It is essential. On the spiritual path you need to have that zeal and enthusiasm for sacrifice. Just today I met several swamis - all young people - computer engineers and highly qualified people. They’ve sacrificed their whole career, life, everything to bring education to poor people, to do service in society. They’re doing service day and night. They’re not wishing anything for themselves. They’re not thinking, “Oh, what will happen to me?” They have dedicated their lives to build schools and colleges and to bring education to millions. So, it is necessary for a bigger cause. Sacrifice brings a bigger joy! It doesn’t reduce your joy. When our needs are more, our responsibilities are less. When our needs are less we are able to take up bigger responsibilities. That is the happiest life!

Q: Guruji, how come you radiate so much peace and serene beauty?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 Because you are beautiful too, that’s why I appear peaceful to you. If you were not beautiful then you would know nothing about my beauty. Whatever quality you have, only that gets projected onto the world outside. So, what you see in me, take that as your own. If you don't feel beautiful, become beautiful. What is stopping you? Become that.

Q: Does the cycle of life and death never end?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 The whole world is like that. It’s all spherical: everything moves in cycles. You have to come back, but you have a choice. If you are born out of compulsion then it's the same old story again and again. But if you get liberated, then you have the choice and the will to be born when you want. When you come back liberated, it is joyful.

Q: Is it true that some places have negative and positive vibes? I have experienced that our group working in our suburb doesn’t get the success it does outside. What should we do to increase the sattwa of a place?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 
Keep working, keep doing. Everywhere it is possible to make a change. It’s just a matter of time.

Q: How do I control my anger? I get angry over very, very small things.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 If you have to get angry, get angry at bigger things, not the small usual mundane stuff. Get angry at corruption in the system and injustice happening around you. Give a bigger dimension to your anger and see all the small things become simply insignificant. I want you to go and talk to every youth in this country and in the world. Talk to them. Tell them to take action against corruption. If the head of the government is shielding corrupt people, what can you do? People have to wake up. That’s what we all have to do. Everyone should speak out against corruption.

Q: What is the best way to make someone aware of their responsibilities?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 Anything that works! Anything that makes them aware is good. Don’t sit and think what is the best way? Whatever ideas occur, you apply those and see which one works. The one that works is the best.

Q:Having been given an instruction by someone we put faith in or a mentor, should I follow just the essence of it or word to word?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 See, you’re asking a very general question. And you will selectively use it the way you want, isn’t it? I’m not going to get caught up in this whole thing. (Laughs).

Q: Distractions and problems of everyday life come up again and again. Is it better to lead a detached, quiet life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 
Life is a combination of both: dynamism and silence, chaos and quietness. You shouldn’t be afraid of either. Those who are used to chaos, are scared of silence. Many times, in my public talks I have observed that some people can't even close their eyes, they’re so scared. Sometimes politicians and even professors can’t sit for 10 minutes with eyes closed.  They’re scared to do so. People are so scared of silence, of stillness, of closing their own eyes. Similarly people used to their silence, to their comfort zone are so scared of chaos and disturbance. Both are incomplete. You should feel as comfortable with silence as you are with chaos, and that is the art of living. We see dynamism in silence and silence in chaos. When you are at home with both of them you are able to contribute in both situations.

Q: The country is so full of gurus. I don’t know whom to accept as a Guru. Kindly advice whether I choose a Guru or a Guru chooses me? If I choose then how do I select one?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: 
Well, I can’t give you any criteria. You choose. It’s up to you. It’s not something you choose intellectually. 
Something in your heart guides. You feel at home, you feel cared for, you feel comfortable, right? Otherwise, you can keep asking this question wherever you go. There’s no point, right?

Q: In spite of doing Sudarshan Kriya daily , still some emotions keep bothering me, lust, greed and jealousy. How do I get free of them?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Your desire to be free indicates that you’re already on the way out. It is already going away. Do not be too hard on yourself. Practices will help you a lot.

Q: How does one strengthen vairagya (dispassion) when desires arise in us?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
 Know the impermanence of everything. Okay, you get a desire. It will be fulfilled. So what? Time will devour all. Time will change everything, so keep moving. When you know everything is impermanent and can still enjoy everything at the same time, that is vairagya or detachment.
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