Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras very little is explained about Asanas (yoga postures). Then why do people connect Asanas to Yoga?
Sri Sri: Because that is what is visible on the outside. So people go on speaking and relating about what is visible to them. Hatha yoga (a branch or limb of Yoga dealing mostly with postures) is only a very small part of the Ashtanga Yoga (Eight fold path of Yoga). People misunderstand that alone to be what Yoga is all about. It is alright. That is also good for keeping the body healthy and free from diseases.
Q: Gurudev, Will India ever get good leadership? Is it that difficult to get good leader in India?
Sri Sri: No, it is not so. India will definitely have good leaders. There are very talented and good people in India. But you all have to work for that. You stand up and rise to the occasion, the need of the hour. The reason why our country is in such a bad state today is not because of the bad people, but due to the silence of the good and noble ones. Today we have this situation in the country because good people remain silent, laid-back, dejected and lazy. First, good people must become political candidates and a vote bank of good citizens must be created, then you will see that no party will give ticket to a criminal. The Supreme Court says that convicted criminals should not be allowed to sit in Parliament. But all the politicians in Parliament today say that convicted criminals should be allowed to sit there.
All the parties are united against the decision of Supreme Court’s denial to deny convicted criminals entry into Parliament. Does this not surprise you all? The parties want the convicted criminals to stay. This is very strange. It is hard to understand what goes on in the minds (of politicians). There needs to be some major research in this area. We see that the people of same party go against their own people and party members. They do not care about their party, let alone the country. They do not care about the future of country. We should ask psychologist to research upon these politicians. Why do their minds work in this fashion? Why do they do such acts which do not benefit anybody? They cut the roots and branches of the very tree on which they sit. Why?
Q: Gurudev, when we do Puja, who is praying? Are the one who is praying and the one who to whom the Puja is being offered to, the same? Then what is the difference and what is the need to pray?
Sri Sri: A river is also water and a lake is also water. Both are water. But one receives the water (the lake) and another is water flowing into it (the river). Similarly the small mind in you prays and the big mind in you accepts it. So both are there together - the big mind or the Atma (Soul) and the small mind (the limited mind). So you see the small mind which is the little self, and the big mind that is the Higher Self. Everything is water. Do you understand what I am saying? The river (little self) is water, and the ocean (Higher Self) is also water. The river flows into the ocean. In the same way, the small mind which is troubled and which is experiencing the world, which has desires and fears, prays to the bigger mind, which is present like an ocean, constant, joyful, and full of energy and the smaller mind comes closer to that.
Sri Sri: I think you have not read the book - ‘Celebrating Silence’ or ‘Intimate note to the sincere seeker’. I have given many ideas in the book. You should apply all of them. If any of them works then that is good. If nothing works, then wait for the time when you get a little older and it will disappear. It should, but if it does not then there is some serious problem. Then we have to look for an Endocrinologist (a doctor who treats hormonal disorders). For Hormonal imbalances in the body do cause that sometimes. If you follow the language of moderation, then you are saved. If it is in excess, then I have given you a number of things that you can follow. You can watch your food. You can watch your company. You can keep yourself busy. See, there is no end to its satisfaction (of lust).
When all the available sources and ways to satisfy lust are exhausted, then the mind latches on to non-available source. It wants to have that which is not available, and that is when you find so many distortions of lust in the world. It is really frightening for people to see all sorts of distortions. People try to have sex with animals and what not! You can’t imagine. There are different distortions like paedophiles (people who derive sexual satisfaction from young children) etc., and all these distortions cause mental sickness in a person. That is why you need to go deep in wisdom. Read those things in the ‘Intimate note to the Sincere seeker’.
Q: Gurudev, your answer turns an apparently ridiculous question into a great one. Can I ever answer like you? What do I need do to answer like you?
Sri Sri: Just relax. Don’t bother about the questions. When you don’t bother spontaneity comes.
Q: Gurudev, I have a lot of knowledge but very little devotion. How do I go from knowledge towards devotion?
Sri Sri: First stop thinking that you have little devotion. Who says that you do not have devotion? It is there and in abundance. It can never be less. If you want it grow more, read the Narada Bhakti Sutra (A scripture on aphorisms of Divine Love by Sage Narada), sing bhajans, dance and celebrate. If you are reading too much then you should reduce that. Instead, do more Seva and Serve people.
Q: Gurudev, on the spiritual path I hear this term ‘presence’ very often. What is presence? Is it just a state of mind?
Sri Sri: See, presence is presence. If you ask me, what is the ear and how does it compare with the eyes, what can I say? Suppose someone is talking and your mind is elsewhere then you are not present. I can explain your absence. When you are present that means you listen and hear every word - that is presence. When you are afraid, you are fully present (referring to being fully aware and in the present moment). When you are deeply in love with someone or something, then your focus is there so totally. Similarly this is the nearest you can go to. So ‘presence’ is the feel that there is something around you. Suppose you close your eyes and you know someone has come close to you. You have not seen them but you still feel they are there. So ‘presence’ means that feeling which is beyond sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste
Q: Gurudev, when a person loves somebody then it is called Moha (attachment). But when God or a liberated person loves somebody then it is not called attachment. What is the difference between two? How can we change our worldly love to be as acceptable as Divine love?
Sri Sri: You have already answered your question. It seems like you are asking a question, but you are just giving your opinion. I can differentiate between a genuine question and a statement.
Q: Gurudev, those who are happy, positive and without problems in life normally do not seek God fervently and join courses like Art of Living. On the other hand, those who are bad tempered and negative in thinking cannot deal with problems in life and get addicted. Such people seek God and turn to yoga and meditation. Why is this so?
Sri Sri: Listen, there are all types of people in this world. Do not think that only sick, the weak and the meek will seek the Truth. There are people who are happy, very healthy and very comfortable too have great passion (to become spiritual). Maybe it is a little less or little more. But you can never brand that this is how people are in general.
Q: Gurudev, for my marriage should I listen to my heart or to astrology?
Sri Sri: You should use a little bit of both.