Q: Gurudev, please talk on the art of asking questions since, at times, I am not satisfied with an answer I get, or I get more confused with the answer. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation!
When the mind is restless, no matter what the answer is, it does not get in. When your mind is quiet, just a sign is good enough and you will pick up the answer, for you are the source of all answers. When you are quiet, then, from within you the answers come up. That is why, a few moments of relaxation is essential.
Whatever you tell a restless person, he will say, ‘But’. You give them an answer, even then they will say, ‘Okay! But…’, and then they go on changing the topics.
This is the sign of a mind which is so filled with ideas and concepts, that there is no place for new wisdom or knowledge to enter in.
When the mind is restless,
no matter what the
answer is, it does not get
in. When your mind is
quiet, just a sign is good
enough and you will
pick up the answer, for
you are the source of all
answers. When you are
quiet, then, from within
you the answers come
up. That is why, a few
moments of relaxation
The same thing happened with a Master and a disciple.
A disciple came to a Master, and he was asking some questions,(a very similar situation as you are in.) He was asking question after question, but was not satisfied with any answer that the master gave. So, the master said, ‘Okay, come! Let us have tea.’
The master asked, ‘You like tea?’
He said, ‘Yes.’
So the master started pouring tea in the cup of the disciple. The cup got full but still he kept pouring. The tea overflowed from the cup and spilled on the table, and the floor.
The student asked, ‘Master, why are you doing this? The cup is full. You can see the tea spilling all over the carpet!’
The Master smiled and said, ‘That is what the situation is. Your cup is so full that it has no more space to take anymore, but you are wanting more. First, empty your cup, drink what you have.’
The ancient Rishis in the Vedas have said, ‘Shravana’, first listen, and then ‘Manana’, i.e., contemplate about it, or think about it. You listen to an answer, and you think about it. Then make it your own. See if it is in your own experience? Don’t believe anything because someone says it. This is the basic thing that one has to remember.
My experience is my own and your experience is your own. Don’t take anything just because I am saying it. Simultaneously, don’t discard what anyone says; you should be a good listener. First, listen, and then contemplate on it. Then, make it your own experience. Then, that becomes wisdom. Knowledge turns, and becomes wisdom – Shravana, Manana, Nidhidhyasa.
After speaking all the 700 verses of Gita, Lord Krishna says, ‘Look Arjuna, I have said it all. You think about it. If you find it suitable, take it.’
That is what needs to be given, freedom of thought, freedom of opinion, freedom of belief and faith. You can’t force a thing on everybody’s head. Faith has to be developed from within one’s self.
Q: Gurudev, these days everybody is giving hate speeches and creating turmoil in people’s minds, and then they get arrested for it. No political leader is giving any love speech. What to do? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now, first of all, you have to take back that word everybody.
Everybody is not doing it. There are some people, one or two, here and there. They do such things, because only then the media will pick them up. The hate speeches are picked by the media. They want media attention, so they do it. And if they get arrested, they become a hero within a particular community. What can you do? They go for negative publicity because they cannot get any positive publicity. So the easy way to get negative publicity is to go and blabber something about somebody, or give some hate speech somewhere. Surprisingly, so many people clap for that, because it is a thrill for them.
Sweetie-sweetie talk, some good love stories don’t interest people. ‘Hey come, let’s punch that guy’, and everybody agrees.
This is what is called mob psychology. The mob is interested in doing something destructive in the world. Never ever has a mob done something constructive; mob has always brought destruction.
Sometime destruction may be essential. One such example was the Freedom Movement, when they wanted to root out this colonial system. So the mob joined, but peacefully. And why is that? The leader was a spiritual man – Mahatma Gandhi. He would do satsang, just like what we are doing. Every day there would be singing, meditation and discussions on the issues of the country, and the world those days.
So there was a movement to dismantle the current regime, but without bloodshed, without violence. It was a unique thing in the history, where the mobs gathered but didn’t destroy anything, didn’t bring pain or suffering to anybody.
The same type of mob is happening now all over the world. In the Arab Spring, see what is happening? People are killing each other and there is so much suffering.
I am dreaming of a very different aspect. I want people to come up with creative ideas and plans. A seed for one such revolution was sown on 3 February, in Delhi, where the gathering who attended the event was three times more than that of the anti-corruption movement.
A record crowd gathered together, and took a pledge to do something constructive.
The government was a little concerned and they posted so many police. Everybody was screened when they were coming in, and so it took a long time for people to come in and go out. However, everyone was so surprised that there was no blame game, no hate speech; everyone joined to do something very constructive.
Our youth have this energy, we only need to channelize it.
Can you imagine, just in a matter of 2 months, with no resources at all, 1,000 projects were completed in Delhi? These were 1,000 small projects that were completed in 17 slums adopted by The Art of Living. So the volunteers have started working in 100 slums now.
India is wobbling between scams and slums, and we need this sort of enthusiasm in people to do something creative.
Whenever your mind
becomes quiet and silent,
when you meditate, when
you are happy from inside,
creativity is a by-product.
It is only natural, and if it
doesn’t happen, then you
should be surprised.
There is a river here which is called Kumudavati, which has almost dried up. So, some of our volunteers have taken up the task of re-energizing the river from the source, through all the twelve tehsils (similar to a county) that the river moves through. It is a very good initiative and it will help solve the water problems of so many villages.
Water level has gone down. It used to be 20 to 30 feet, now it has gone down to 600 feet, so much below! So these volunteers are going to re-energize that! They are doing rain water harvesting, and all things necessary to re-energize it.
One would have to spend crores of rupees on such projects. But people are using their own petrol, and going by their own cars, and doing the work. This is the joy, the intoxication of service.
Also, two of our volunteers here today have announced the signing of a project wherein they are planning to build 1,000 toilets for the poor people.
Q: Gurudev, there is an ancient proverb that says that when you come to a true master, the skills in you start to manifest. Is that true? Because I even see the elephant here, in the Ashram, play the mouth organ. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it seems to be happening that way here.
Many who have never been into music have started singing. Many people write poems. I see a lot of creativity around. Looks like they are making the ancient proverb come true!
See, whenever your mind becomes quiet and silent, when you meditate, when you are happy from inside, creativity is a by-product. It is only natural, and if it doesn’t happen, then you should be surprised.
Q: Gurudev, today in every field, whether it is Corporate or Social Service, it is very difficult to make out the good from the bad. Now that CSR is a compulsory aspect of corporate entities; how to choose the right NGO to work with? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See whether the NGOs are transparent and they have no religious bias; this is very important.
Sometimes people do CSR activity, but their motivation is different. They want to convert people from one religion to another religion, or from one ideology to another ideology; one set of vote bank to another set of vote bank. These should be avoided, because it is not really charity, it is a business in the garb of charity and should not happen. There should be pure intentions; the heart should be clean and pure.
There are many such NGOs who work with the mere intention of bringing happiness and smiles on the faces of people. So look into that; whether their intentions are correct, whether their balance sheet is correct, whether they are transparent in the spending of their money, and their administrative cost is low.
Their administrative cost should not be too much. Sometimes administrative cost is so high that very little goes to the beneficiaries; that should not happen.
Many NGOs, have said that 40% to 50% goes towards administrative expenditure .That is not desirable .It should be kept to a minimum of 5% to 10%, or a maximum of 15%. So look at that, and then see people who are working with that NGO, and take their help.
Q: Gurudev, today alcoholism is the biggest challenge to move towards spirituality, and a safer society. However, in these two days of the Corporate Culture & Spirituality conference, nobody spoke about it. Please guide us. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We tell people that we have a greater type of intoxicant here – meditation, singing, and serving. This is a better intoxicant; it takes you to a greater height. People simply don’t know of this brand of whisky, that’s all.
There is a joy in serving people and seeing the smiles around; many people don’t know of that intoxication. There is a joy in meditation; deep peace and deep sense of comfort that people don’t know. We need to make people aware of this, then they will just throw all the alcohol bottles away.
Don’t take anything
just because I am saying it.
discard what anyone says;
you should be a good
listener. First, listen, and
then contemplate on it. Then,
make it your own experience.
Then, that becomes wisdom.
Q: Gurudev, how did a handful of British people rule a spiritual giant like India? Is there something to learn from this? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, you can wonder about it! One speciality of India is that there was never any unity here.
Once I was in Europe and a journalist asked me, ‘Gurudev, tell me, how come the Indian journalists criticize India more than anybody else?’
I said, ‘This is our speciality, we fight with each other.’
It was the internal fight between many kingdoms, and the selfishness of the kings that led to that sort of thing. In some way, it was good; the British did some good also to colonial India. You should see the positive side of everything. Of course, there are many negative aspects of the colonial rule, but there was also some positivity, you have to see that also. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been speaking in English today, and India would have never gotten into computers at all. It would be like China. We would have all had our own different languages; 600 dialects, 24 languages, and India would have been really fragmented.
Today English, somehow, has become a very common language, and India can connect itself with the entire world. So there are advantages, there are some good things.
Of course, there were many bad things too. Many laws from those times that are obsolete today, are still in place. So all the young people, like you, should become law makers, and change all these laws.
Women have already taken the reins in their hands, and have started changing some of the laws. I am sure more will happen.
Q: Gurudev, how can I earn a lot of money without putting too much effort? Is there any mantra? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is how the scams begin (laughter).
You have heard about all the scams, isn’t it? There are plenty of them, one after another, every month.
No, don’t go for quick money; you will lose it also that fast. A sustained economy is good.
If your ethical principles are strong, you will say, ‘I am going to make a lot of money, but with ethics. And no money in an unethical manner.’
In the past century, people had the fear of bad karma, or that God will be unhappy. Fear of God, or fear of karma, would ensure that people didn’t get into unethical practices.
People would say, ‘Oh, that is a bad karma; I don’t want to take that money.’ Do you know why? It is because people had a strong belief that money earned in an unethical manner will have to be spent in a manner which will not bring them happiness.
They would say, ‘It’s going to make me more miserable’. This was a strong belief.
In fact, people would say, ‘If you earn money unethically, that money will be spent in courts and in hospitals.’
So that consciousness was there, pricking people. Today, that is missing.
They say, ‘When we do CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), it is going to come back to us many times, multiplied.’
CSR was always thought of as an investment, and unethical money was thought as a punishment. Those values have almost disappeared today. So we must re-look at this.
Q: Gurudev, my father says that I don’t take stress,but end up giving a lot of stress to other people. If I give stress, I ask, why do they take it? Shouldn’t other people be managing their own stress? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That’s another way to look at it too.
Sometimes people say, ‘I am here only to test your patience. God has put me on this planet to test everybody’s patience.’
There is an old proverb which says, ‘Nobody is the giver of problems or comfort. Problems and comforts are created by our own mind.’
We can feel comfortable anywhere and we can feel miserable anywhere we want, the choice is totally ours.
After speaking all the 700
verses of Gita, Lord Krishna
says, ‘Look Arjuna, I have
said it all. You think about it.
If you find it suitable, take it.’
That is what needs to be
given, freedom of thought,
freedom of opinion, freedom
of belief and faith. You can’t
force a thing on everybody’s
head. Faith has to be
developed from within one’s
Q: Gurudev, I am not able to achieve excellence, so I remain unsatisfied. Is satisfaction possible without achieving excellence? If yes, please guide. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: : If frustration is the mother of excellence, then there are many countries which are so frustrated, and we don’t find excellence there.
People say, ‘Oh, satisfaction can make you dull, and inactive.’ If frustration can bring creativity, then Lebanon, Afghanistan, and all these places should have been the most creative parts of the world. But it is not so, isn’t it?
So, satisfaction is one thing, and then creativity is another thing. When you are calm, serene and quiet, deep inside, then you get access to the source of creativity.
Q: Gurudev, being on the spiritual path, sometimes makes me inefficient at my work place. How do I balance the two? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Then drop the spiritual path; be efficient in your working place.
Why do you want to do something that would make you inefficient? The spiritual path is meant to make you more efficient. If it is making you inefficient, just wash your hands off. Say ‘Bye Bye’ to the spiritual path and focus on your work and see, whether you can do it. Don’t put the tag of inefficiency to your rest or your meditation. It is not possible as far as I am concerned, but you should try and make an experiment.
Q: Gurudev, I find that in spite of producing educated graduates, we still need to train them again before they can be used in our industry. How can we partner with your University, and introduce some education that is relevant for our industry? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Definitely; we can have skill centres. You may talk to Dr. Mishra, the Vice Chancellor (of Sri Sri University in Orissa) and the Board members, they are present here. We will think and design new programmes and new curriculum for the students.
I want to give the best of East and the best of West to students.
Today, borders don’t matter; borders have disappeared actually. We are living in a global society, and the coming generation should gear up to that global vision of a united world. We should forget ‘my country’ and ‘your country’. We are moving towards a society where virtually there is no distance at all.
See, yesterday, a conference happened here, but 90 countries participated in it on-line.
People from so many countries were watching the webcast. We are moving into a different era of knowledge; of wisdom. So we have to adjust our mind-set towards this, and so I want to give the best of East and the best of West to the children of this planet; so that they become a global citizen, and serve the country that they live in.
Q: Gurudev, is lust bad? Should we just go with lust, because if we resist, it persists. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Moderation! Nothing should be done in extremes.
Lust is because you don’t have much to do. If you are busy, then it doesn’t take over your mind as much. You should use your energy more creatively, then you will find you will be more centred.