Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How do you define success in life?
Sri Sri: Only in moments of true confidence do you recognize true success.
Q: Is there a practice that one can follow that does not cause suffering? Is there a joyful methodology?
Sri Sri: Waking up to the reality. Knowing of this ’I’ can lead to a state of devotion, of love. It is spontaneous. There is no need of surrender because it is already there. It does not have to mean a painful part of the ego. It is knowing that everything belongs to the divine, the thorn as well as the roses belong to the divine. What happens when you surrender? A permanent peace dawns in you, a smile that no one can take away from you. You wonder that there was such an illusion. You smile and realize that there is nothing to give away. Suppose you fill a pot from the lake, and you are carrying that pot of water. Then you pour it back into the lake. What can you tell the person when he/she thinks that he/she is giving water to the lake? It brings back a feeling of connectedness, and annihilates the sense of separation which causes pain and suffering. Sense of connectedness always brings peace and joy. So with this self knowledge, practice of meditation, singing, becoming one with the sound of satsang, you become one and merge into one consciousness. Satsang is everyone sharing together the consciousness and energy, everyone is sharing the sound. In Satsang, the mind gets united, all minds get united with the cosmic energy. It brings more benefit in singing when your awareness is focused, and you have one pointed attention.
Q: If love is all around us, why do we seek far and wide to find it?
Sri Sri: Because you don’t know it. Once you know it, you won’t search.
Q: Praying for peace does not seem to work. Is there a more practical way to achieve peace?
Sri Sri: Praying for peace does work! In 2004, there was a war between India and Pakistan. The chief of the Indian army called me and asked me to pray for the soldiers. We prayed for both the sides. The war did not happen at all. Action, education and prayer are all necessary for peace.
Q: How do I get over addictions?
Sri Sri: Love, fear and greed. If you have an alcohol and cigarette addiction, and I tell you that you will get one million dollars if you don’t smoke for one month, you will stop. Won’t you? Greed can check your bad habit. If you promise someone love, even then they will get over addictions. There is a Catholic tradition as well as in India, that of confession. You confess and say, ”This is my habit, how can I change it?” Third is fear. If I say, you will die in a month if you do this, you will not do it. Fear can stop an addiction. I prefer love over other two.
Q: I consulted a non ’Art of Living’ doctor, and the doctor says that tomatoes, potatoes, bell pepper and eggplant are deadly night shades, and should not be eaten. Does Sri Sri Ayurveda also prescribe this school of thought. I really love these vegetables. What to do?
Sri Sri: Don’t worry, you can have them. It is said usually but don’t just eat only those vegetables. Mix with beans, greens and lentils. You can have them but not in excess. Everything in excess is harmful. Just don’t eat them too much, and don’t make them a daily routine. Our system is strong. It can counter the ill affects of lower prana.
Q: How do I get over my fear of losing a loved one?
Sri Sri: Through meditation.
Q: How do you balance confidence with humility?
Sri Sri: Confidence and arrogance do not go together. With true confidence, you are relaxed, you feel at home and you make others feel at home. When you are arrogant, you try to show people that you are better than them. There are two types of teachers. The first type makes you feel small or inadequate so that you learn to feel large or adequate. The second type of teachers will tell you that you are great, you wake up; you can do a lot. Both are essential in different circumstances.
Q: What is love and truth? How do I decide to continue a relationship or not?
Sri Sri: There is a strange relationship between love and truth? If there is a competition between love and truth, it is the love that will win. It is the fear of losing love that makes someone tell lies to the most loved ones. They are afraid of losing their love if they tell the truth. So which is powerful? Love is powerful. And it should be that way. What is love? If you have not known, there is no way you will know. Even a single creature on this planet cannot say that it doesn’t know love. Because that is our second experience. Our first experience was pain. The first nine months were easy, we were fed for 9 months in a comfortable warm environment. Then suddenly you have to come through a narrow passage which was so painful, with your head getting stuck. It was very painful experience. They cry because of this pain. A baby makes so many funny gestures and faces the first few days, because they did such a great job of getting out like moving a mountain. After the pain, they look into the mother’s face and catch the love of the mother. They realize that they are love, and know that there is nothing but love. By the age of three they start to forget. That is when the intellect starts to form, asking 101 questions. They keep asking questions. Half the time they don’t even listen to the answers. So what is truth? This is the most mature question. You can know love but you cannot tell the truth. Truth is that which is unaffected by time. With this definition, all that you see is not truth, isn’t it? This building is not the truth. It didn’t exist in the past and it may not exit in the future. Same for the body. It was not there in the past and will not be there in future. Everything that is changing is not true. That which is true is not affected by time. Truth is that that existed, that exists and that will exist. The spirit of inquiry into what is that which is not affected by time, leads you to one substance that doesn’t change at all.
Q: Why is it so difficult to let go and surrender the past, what should I do?
Sri Sri: Don’t do anything. Just live in the past. It’s not easy to live in the past. Accept it. Encounter it. You are in the right place. Surrendering the past is not trying to run away from it. Alright, move on. Embrace the past with both arms. It is ok to have had the experiences. Don’t be afraid of it. You can handle it. It won’t go if you are tying to avoid it or being averse to it. Somebody is making a book that describes the five levels of surrender. How do you define surrender? Surrender has been misused so many times. First type of surrender comes into play when there is failure. When you are defeated, or you are miserable, you let go. Letting go, when life is a burden or mainly associated with defeat, is one type of surrender. Another type of surrender, which happens out of love, like a mother’s love for a child. Nothing else is important to her. If it is a choice between her own pleasure and that of the child, she will choose the child’s pleasure. In a love relationship between husband and wife, they feel completely at ease, fearless, with no concerns. A mother is so attached to the child; She willingly gives up small inconveniences or pleasures because she loves the child so dearly. Third type of surender mostly happens with knowledge. There is nothing anyways. It happens when you surrender to God. Fourth type is knowing that it is an illusion. Thinking that you have to give up something which you do not have is an illusion. This is the surrender of wisdom, it is just a sense of ease, knowing it all belongs to the one. This very state of surrender leads to the same place - the small mind opening to the big Self.