Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: What do you say about the eastern and western cultures?
Sri Sri: Pick up good things like cleanliness and following the rules from the Western society. Western Civilization has such cleanliness and the sense of following rules. Learn the Human values from the East. Every country or tradition has something good to offer. We need to learn hospitality from the Japanese, precision from Germans, etiquette from the English and marketing from America and from India, human values.
We can also learn, what not to learn or what to unlearn? Too much formality! At some places, the mother has to take permission to go to her daughter, or the daughter has to take appointment from the mother. This has started to happen somewhere in urban society here also. The naturalness, sense of belongingness is disappearing from the society. That has given rise to depression and other disorders in so many countries in the west. There is such a sense of belongingness and human values even in a village in the east, and that is to be maintained.
Q: As per research statistics, there is major portion of population which is depressed in the West. Comparatively, it is much less in the East. It is so pinching to see such a condition, in spite of having so many comforts and electronic lifestyle. What is the reason and under these circumstances, where are we heading to?
Sri Sri: Yes, and that is why we all have to work together. The planet is facing a kind of stagnation; and it is only through youth, the transformation will happen. An empowered youthful heart, free from alcohol, drugs and other addictions is the hope of the world.
Q: Sometimes I think I live in a world surrounded by formalities and exchanging superficial words. But the question is I feel that there is more to it, life cannot be just being nice and living in this cordial way but there is more because I worry that when I die, I wouldn’t even remember where to start again?
Sri Sri: Now I understand there is a longing, there is emptiness, and there is a craving for something higher. Right! And that gives that pain. So, that pain to attain something very fast is in a way good, but what is needed along with this is a little patience.
Q: Can spirituality save the world?
Sri Sri: What is destroying this world? It’s the greed, jealousy, hatred, narrow mindedness, selfishness, and all these negative emotions and qualities which are destroying the world, right? Because of greed of few people, anger and hatred of few people, lack of awareness, lack of understanding or misunderstanding and narrow mindedness of a few people, the world is getting destroyed. How can these negative emotions be overcome? Is there a way? Yes, SPIRITUALITY. It is only spirituality which can turn hatred into love, anger into awareness and selfishness into compassion. It is only spirituality that can save the mind of the people, isn’t it so?!
Q: In the present society, divorce has become a common phenomenon. There is an air of discomfort and dissatisfaction around. Even after getting tired, I sometimes don’t understand what is that we are looking for and running after?
Sri Sri: Well, when you feel tired of the run, then a quest for the higher growth rises. You are fortunate that you can see there is something more to all this.
Q: Why does a desire arise? Where does it come from? What is the purpose?
Sri Sri: All desires have got one goal, and that is happiness. If a desire brings unhappiness, it has not reached its goal. The goal of desires is to bring happiness. So, that is the purpose.
Where does it come from? It comes when you are not aware of your Being, your Self. Desire is your wanting to stay in the moment. Desire is to experience joy. Joy is only in the moment. And when you are in the moment, there is no desire. Have you noticed when you are joyful and satisfied, there is no burning desire at that time.
Q: How to learn from experience? Often we keep doing same thing but don’t learn.
Sri Sri: If you keep doing the same thing again and again knowing that it brings you misery, you really don’t understand that it brings you misery, or you think it brings you some pleasure. Craving for pleasure and non awareness that it is going to cause you misery are two things which makes you commit same mistake again and again. That’s why it is called habit. Habits don’t give you pleasure but they inflict pain by not following them.
Q: How does one stop the flow of negative thoughts?
Sri Sri: Negative thoughts are due to three reasons. If your blood circulation is not good, if the lymphatic system is not ok or if bowel movement is irregular. In all these cases negative thoughts are likely to come. You can check the reason, and then take appropriate measures.
Q: What is driving many people away from faith and religion, and why do faith and power to pull people from doing good towards the society exist? Can you please talk about the destruction and dimensioning in the world about Maris in NZ and aborigine in Australia, all the native loving traditions are getting destroyed?
Sri Sri: I am for preserving the natives around the world, and I always encourage them to preserve it. I have seen similarities between aborigine in Australia, Maori in NZ, Arunachal Pradesh in India and British Columbia in Canada. The way they welcome a guest is so loving. They all have similar traditions and cultures. In the past, there was some connection or similar culture all over the world. You know, we need to celebrate the diversity and not think that everybody should be like us. We should take good things from every culture and I feel that is the way we can overcome the terrorism in the world.
If every child knows a little bit about all the wisdom in the world then they grow up much wiser. They don’t become fanatics or fundamentalist or terrorist. You know, terrorists think that only they know the truth, only they will go to heaven and everybody else will go to hell but they create hell for everybody else. No sense of global wisdom and we have to take responsibility because we haven’t globalised wisdom. We have globalised everything else on the planet from eatables to equipments to cold drinks but we haven’t given a comprehensive wisdom for youth of the world, don’t you think so?
Once a child asked me a question, Guruji dogs can communicate with any other dog in the world, but why not human beings? I still remember, this is some 25 years ago, in Manchester, UK. A small girl came to me and asked me, “Guruji, Why not human beings connect with everyone else in the world”. This is because we are so stuck in our identities, we have to grow beyond that, it’s good to have identity but we have to grow beyond that. Don’t you think so?
Q: In a world full of jealousy and hatred, how do I go on a path of humbleness and serenity?
Sri Sri: Don’t label the world. Some people are this way, but don’t pay too much attention to them. Just move on. Let them get cooked in their jealousy. It is alright. That which you put attention on, will grow. Manifestation follows intention and attention. If your intention is clear, I tell you, you will move on. If someone is jealous, what do you do? Just move on. Your attention should be on something higher, on the blossoming of the self.