Q: Dear Gurudev, what has God got to do with spirituality? Can I not believe and still be spiritual? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes!
Do you know, in the six Darshanas (schools of India Philosophy), the first three Darshanas do not even talk about God – Nyaaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya.
Nyaaya Darshana by Gautama Maharishi deals with knowledge – whether your knowledge is correct or not. Knowing the means of knowledge whether it is correct or not, this is Nyaaya Darshana.
For example, from your senses you see the Sun setting and the Sun rising. But Nyaaya Darshana says, ‘No, you cannot just believe what you see, you have to go beyond and find out, does the Sun really set or is the Earth moving?’
You do not have to feel
compelled to believe in God,
but you have to believe in
something. You have to at
least believe in the Consciousness.
We think that Copernicus found out that the earth is going around the sun, but that is absolute false. He definitely found out, but before that, in India, people already knew a long time ago that the Earth is going around the Sun. Nyaaya Darshana talks about all that. It talks about perception and the correction of perception!
And then Vaisheshika Darshana – this is a count of all the things in the universe – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, and then all the objects and subjects, and all that analysis. This is Vaisheshika Darshana.
In this, they talk about the mind, consciousness, intellect, memory and all that.
Then is Sankhya Darshana.
So, these three Darshanas do not talk about God, but they talk about Consciousness.
Only in the Yoga Sutras, which is the fourth Darshanas they talk about God as one topic.
So you do not have to feel compelled to believe in God, but you have to believe in something. You have to at least believe in the Consciousness.
Usually when we think of God, we think of somebody who is sitting out there in heaven, who created the creation, and then went away from the creation and started trying to find fault in everyone. Whatever you are doing, he is trying to take a stick and punish you.
This is not the type of God that we have ever spoken of.
God is the existence!
The entire universe is made up of a stuff called Love, and that is what God is!
You are inseparable from God.
Nothing ever exists outside God; everything has to exist inside God only. So it is beyond good, bad, right, wrong, and all that. Pleasant and unpleasant is all immaterial.
The One thing that exists, that One whole if you need to call it something, you can call it God. Or you do not have to worry, just know yourself.
Q: Gurudev, this week Art of Living is celebrating Peace and Health Week in honor of Gandhi Jayanti, could you please talk about the connection between peace and health. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is so obvious, if you are healthy, you are more peaceful.
Health includes Peace. If you are not peaceful you cannot call yourself healthy. If mind is disturbed, body is disturbed.
Sickness is not just in the body, it could be in the mind, it could be in your intellect; it could be in the inhibitions of your intellect and sadness in your soul – all this is considered unhealthy. That is why the word Swastha has such a deep meaning.
Usually we think of God as
somebody out there in
heaven, who created the
creation, and then went
away from the creation
and started trying to find
fault in everyone. Whatever
you are doing, he is trying to
take a stick and punish you.
This is not the type of God
that we have ever spoken of.
The entire universe is made
up of a stuff called Love,
and that is what God is!
If you go to Bali, they greet you saying ‘Om Swasthi Rastu.’
It is like when we say, ‘Namaste’, or, ‘Hello’.
In Bali they say, ‘Om Swasthi Rastu’, which means may you be established in yourself.
If you are established in yourself that means you are peaceful, you have no inhibitions, you are clear in your mind, you have no negative feelings and your body is healthy.
All this together is called Swastha in Sanskrit; a healthy person.
Q: After coming to The Art of living, I have developed the faith that whatever be my work it will get done. However, sometimes it does not happen. Why is it so? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, at times it does happen. In those times know that something even better is in store for you.
See, in life, happiness and sorrow, ups and downs, respect and disrespect, all of these things happen. But in the midst of all these, maintaining you equanimity is what is important. It is the difficult times that tell you how equanimous you are.
When everything is going good for you, you may say, ‘I have a lot of faith and devotion’, but there is nothing great in saying that. But when things are not going well and you can still hold on to your faith and devotion, then that is true faith; strong faith.
Nature will put many events in your path to shake your faith, but even then if your faith still remains then you have become a really perfected person, and after that thing will be smooth.
In nature, it happens like that.
Q: What do I do to enhance more positive qualities in myself? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To improve and blossom the positive qualities, do Sadhana and Seva. And if people abuse you when doing Seva, then just listen to it. Tell them, ‘Go ahead and abuse me!’
See, when we are ready to even accept abuse that is when our consciousness starts blossoming. But if we say, ‘How can you speak like this to me, don’t abuse me’, and we resist, then blossoming does not happen.
So keep doing Sadhana, and do Meditation. As we keep doing our practices, our consciousness continues to blossom, and all the positive qualities start coming forth.
Q: Gurudev how does it feel to be the ideal of millions of people? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Hollow and empty, and yet very full!
Q: Gurudev, in your meeting with the Upanayanam batch, you told us to learn the Brahmayagna - the four Mantras from the four Vedas. Could you please tell us the meaning of these Mantras? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The vibrations of Mantras are more important than the meaning of the Mantras.
These Mantras were downloaded by the Rishis. They sat in meditation and they got something and they downloaded it and passed it on to people. So it was received as a vibration, it was not done with an intellectual awareness of sitting and writing it down.
These Mantras have come from an intuitive level, or from the pure consciousness.
See, if you sit and think and act and join a few words and give meaning to them, then that is a different thing. But something that comes from inside you, like poetry, like an intuition, can be expanded and explored for generations to come. And every time you explore it, some new meaning will come out of it and that is why they are called Mantras. Mananat trayate iti Mantrah – when you just dwell on it, it uplifts your energy. This is what is said.
Mantras do have some meaning, but the meaning is just the tip of the ice berg. The meaning is not so important. In Mantras, it is the vibrations that are important.
See, in life, happiness and
sorrow, ups and downs,
respect and disrespect, all
of these things happen.
But in the midst of all these,
maintaining you equanimity
is what is important. It is the
difficult times that tell you
how equanimous you are.
Q: Gurudev, when we chant the Gayatri mantra, does it matter how many times we chant? If we do a little more or a little less, does it have some negative impact, or does the feeling only matter? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, chant with feeling that is enough.
You will not get any punishment. If anyone says something, tell them you have a lawyer. I will be your lawyer if anything happens.
Many Pundits create misconceptions among people that something will happen, or women should not chant Gayatri Mantra. All this is wrong, there is nothing like that.
Chant with love and not out of fear.
Q: I try so hard not to think negative, but nevertheless negative thoughts keep coming to my mind. What do I do? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you keep resisting negative thoughts, and try to push them away, then they will follow you like a ghost.
Shake hands with your negative thoughts. Tell them, ‘Come here and sit with me. I will not leave you’, and you will see how they quickly disappear. Thoughts are scared of you.
If you get scared of negative thoughts then they will control you. But if you shake hands with them, then they will disappear.
Q: Gurudev, what is the difference between a sin and a mistake, and are they both forgivable? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Absolutely, both can be forgiven.
A sin can have some intention behind it, but a mistake happens without your awareness; when you are not aware.
When doing a Sin, you knew it was not right, but still you did it.
That could be the difference. But anyway, both will go away, so do not worry about it. Drop them!
Q: Gurudev, if everything is already written then where does karma come into play? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are saying that everything is written, but it is not like that.
Some things are destiny, and some free will.
For example, it is raining, that is destiny. To get wet or not is your free will; that is your choice. If you take an umbrella, you will not get wet. If you go just like that, you will get wet.
So everything is not predetermined, you have some freedom as well.
Q: Gurudev, when it comes to parenting, which is more important, ensuring my children have all the comforts money can provide, or my time? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, there is a conflict going on in your mind because you are working and you are not able to give time to your children. It is okay, whatever time you are giving, ensure it is quality time. That is important.
When we are ready to even
accept abuse that is when
our consciousness starts
blossoming. But if we say,
‘How can you speak like
this to me, don’t abuse
me’, and we resist, then
blossoming does not happen.
Q: Gurudev, I forget very easily, how to improve my memory? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is good to take some Ayurvedic supplements like Shankhpushpi, Brahmi Rasayan, Medhya Rasayan. These are very good, and they do help the memory.
Do not spend too many hours on YouTube or watching television. You can spend some time on them but not too many hours, and that too not in one stretch.
Sometimes you sit on the internet and you go on for five to six hours. Four to five hours, you keep watching movies one after another. Do not do those things.
Q: Dearest Gurudev, how to overcome a long withstanding habit of drugs? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just make a promise before you leave from here that you will never touch it!
And if it is someone else that you are talking about, bring them here and let them do several Sudarshan Kriyas and it will be gone.
Hundreds and thousands of people have left drugs when they started doing Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and Sahaj Samadhi Meditation.