Bangalore Ashram, May 28:
Q: What should be the ultimate desire of our life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If somebody tells you what the ultimate desire should be, that’s futile. This moment what you need is your desire. When you look at life from a broader perspective, then you yourself come to know what you want. Naturally, you will be compassionate, considerate for your environment, work for the country and keep doing such work and then it will not matter what the ultimate desire is. What this life is all about, you will know that naturally.
Q: How do I know if I am progressing on the spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, are you calmer? Are you dynamic? Are you free from vices, bad habits and are you having a sense of belongingness with everybody around you? These are some of the measures; they don’t have to be the only measures.
Q: Dear Guruji, you often say, ‘Give all your problems to me’. But sometimes I worry that I get freedom from all my worries but did all my worries cause disturbance to you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t worry. At least that much of your worries have reduced, because when you are worried even I get worried. That is why you be happy.
Q: Guruji, it is said in Puranas that a wife wishes for the same husband for the next seven life times. Is it true?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, I am not qualified to answer this question. You can ask people around you and find out. Some will say yes and some will say no, take a census and go by your experience. Once, this lady in America was telling that she has been married for 40 years and she has been living with the same husband. The other people present were wonder-struck at how she was living with the same man for 40 years. Then she said if you don’t know how to row one boat, even if you change the boat, you will not know how to row it. I said, ‘This is the story of every family in India and this tradition is there in the villages.’ If you don’t know how to row a boat, changing the boat is no use.
That is why, however the people around us are, we have to maintain a good relationship with them and through whatever means and efforts we should nurture the good qualities in others. Just criticizing anyone is not helpful. Instead you have to become a bridge. If you are just going to sit and criticize then it will only bring distance. You have to understand them, where they are coming from and why are they doing wrong. And then you explain to them lovingly, win them over with love. This takes a lot of time; it is very easy to criticize someone and keep them away from you. That can be done in minutes but to be with them day and night, to explain to them and to bring change in them is very difficult and important. That is what should be done.
Q: Guruji, while doing pooja when we see the decoration of the idol of the Divine it feels very beautiful. But when we close our eyes and meditate, even that is very beautiful. So, what should we do, should we see or should we meditate?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Go deep in meditation and that is the best pooja. What is pooja? ‘Yena kena prakarena yasya kasyapi dehinad, santosham janayetpragyah tadeveshvarapujanam.’
What is the best form of worship? In whichever way, bringing happiness and peace to the hearts of people is the best form of worship; bring happiness to everybody. ‘Yena kena prakarena’ was said in those days. Now it cannot be done. Real happiness can be achieved only through meditation.
Q: Guruji, the war against corruption has already started in the country. In this war you are Rama, Shri Ramdevji is Lakshman, and Anna Hazareji is Hanuman. But Rama is still not to be seen in the field yet?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You left Arvind (Arvind Kejriwal) out! I am inside everybody and I am with everybody. Arvind is the common link between those who are walking the path against this corruption.
See, corruption is present in many levels of society; the first level of corruption is in the minds of the general public and that needs to be eliminated. We even give bribe to Devi and Devatas. We tell God if you do this work of mine then I will offer that to you, I will offer a coconut, I will walk the staircase of Vaishnav Devi. People asking for mannat or wishes, that too is one kind of corruption. But it is okay if sometimes a normal person just wants to give God something. Don’t say I will give if my work is done. Whatever you want to give God, give God and that is nice, but connecting it to our work or needs, that is wrong. This practice is prevalent in all religions, not just Hindu religion; it is in Christianity, in Islam and in Buddhist followers. This frame of mind that after my work gets done I will do this or I will do that is wrong. This should not happen. So if the general public stands up against corruption by not giving bribes, then how will anyone take? So first we need to fix those people who give bribes. Tell them not to give. We need to raise a wave of spirituality. That is when we will have more inner strength and that is when people will refuse to give bribes. When each one of you go back, each one of you will have to make at least 100 people take an oath that they will not give any kind of bribe to anyone. If you show some money to somebody, he remembers his wife and children and thinks let me take it. So it is important to stop the people who are giving bribe.
Secondly, there are bribes that happen on the official level. Already there are many volunteers who are doing this practice, they go and stick a label on the desk of government officials that states ‘We do not take any bribe’. This has been started here but in many states it has not yet been started. It has not started in Maharashtra; wherever it has not started, there, we, volunteers must go to the desks of officials and stick a label on their desks that states ‘We do not take any Bribe’. If you go and stick this on their desk no officer can refuse you; stick it anywhere on the desk or chair or the door that here we do not take any bribe and so the people who give bribe will not give after reading this label.
Okay, the third level of corruption, on the ministerial level, for that quite a bit of work is happening with the Lokpal Bill and Arvindji, Annaji, Swamiji, Kiran Bedi, everyone is working day and night for this cause. So the Lokpal, once it has been passed will bring about the change. But the bill alone will not work; awareness needs to be created in the society towards the bill, what it is and how you can be punished by the law if you engage in corruption. This is being done at the moment. So like this work needs to be done on all levels of society and most importantly the mindset of the people needs to change and that will happen with the help of spirituality only because corruption starts there where belongingness ends. Nobody will ever ask for bribe from their family or own people. And the means through which we can spread belongingness is spirituality and this we will have to do. In everyone, we have to instill this belief that whatever is yours you will get. You work hard and be self-sufficient and stand on your own two feet. Whatever is yours you will earn. This way, this inner strength and awareness needs to be awakened in people, yes! With this we need to bring a big change in the country.
Now see, in Tamil Nadu there was so much corruption, before the elections, people were given money and made to promise by their children to take it and then these people take the money and give that candidate the vote. I arranged for people to go to each district and tell the people take the money but don’t give them vote because they are giving you your own money back. They are such poor people so they will take it. But I told them not to give a vote in exchange and don’t worry about the sin, give the sin to me and I will bear all the sin, no problem. And we were successful in Tamil Nadu. We were lucky that the election commissioner very strongly stood by us and gave his agreement and support. But each and every one of us have to work. We have to go to each village and bring this awareness that we are against corruption, and we need to bring a big change in the way society thinks and feels.
Each person should feel that we need to move together, taking everyone with us. There are so many different kinds of people, beliefs, communities, we need to embrace everything and move together. We must not say, ‘Only my way is the correct way', no. The beauty about India is even though there are so many different communities, religions and beliefs, we respect all of them and together in unison we are moving forward.
© The Art of Living Foundation