Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: The Bhagavad Gita is very close to my heart. And yet there is a passage in it that confuses me. It is when Arjuna wishes to flee the battle and renounce the world. But Krishna urges him to fulfill his duty by staying put and fighting.How is this advice understood with the principle of non-violence, a concept also central to the Gita? Is it similar to the notion of a just war in Christian and Islamic theology?
Sri Sri: The whole essence of the Gita is to act without being attached to the action. It's all about yoga, not about war but your attitude. When you are faced with a situation like war, how do you manage yourself? The worst situation in life is when you have to face a war and when you have to fight not with an enemy, but with some of your own people. When you have to fight with your own brothers and sisters, how do you handle the situation? It's easy to fight a war with an enemy, someone you don’t like. But fighting with someone who is part of your own family is the worst thing.
If you can manage your mind in the worst scenario, then you can manage yourself in any situation. Given the extreme example of how you can manage the mind, the consciousness, yourself, that’s the whole essence of the Gita, not the war. Skill in action is yoga.
A similar knowledge was taught by Ashtavakra, in the palace. When your spirit is very high and you want liberation, that was Ashtavakra's state. And when your spirit is so low, totally desperate, completely broken and depressed, that was Arjuna’s state. At that time the same knowledge of the Self was given to him in the Bhagavad Gita.
Q: Is there life on any other planet in the universe?
Q: I have a strong tendency to be future-oriented. Always planning, imagining and having expectations from the future, clearly this doesn’t serve me. Despite my best efforts, I have not been able to free myself of this tendency. Please advice.
Q: Guruji, please promise to come to Vancouver every year now.
Sri Sri: You know, my year has 700 days. (laughter)
Q: How do you know if an answer is coming from within or from the rational mind?
Sri Sri: There is no criteria. The calmer and serene the mind is, the right answer will come to you.
Q: Can you please say something about Sri Aurobindo and what his message and life were about?
Sri Sri: You know, when you are asking about Sri Aurobindo, you already know. He wished more and more people would meditate. So the seed he had sown meant greater access to the collective consciousness. It's happening now. Those days it was very dull, although a few French people really caught on to it.
Q: As a young person I look forward to growing old. Yet one of my greatest fears is some of the mental illnesses which afflict the elderly. Is it possible for the human condition to transcend such illnesses? If so, what are the steps one should take to master them?
Sri Sri: You are doing the right thing already - This knowledge, this path, yoga. As you keep growing older, keep practicing yoga, take proper food, proper rest, proper attitude in life and yoga.
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. You can go on a fruit diet and cleanse your intestines. Then, pranayama will help. Take Triphala (an ayurvedic supplement) for a few days. Do yoga, pranayama and meditation. You will definitely find a difference. Group sadhana (practice) will also help.
Q: How to get rid of fatigue and headache?
Sri Sri: Yoga and pranayama.
Q: Can you explain the meaning of accidents and illness in our life? What does it mean when they keep happening to us, even when we do actions to take care of ourselves, like coming to this course?
Sri Sri: See, whether you come to the course or go shopping, it is the same. If you don’t stop at a red light or stop at a green light, someone will hit you. They don’t see you. When you falter with the traffic rules, or someone else falters, then you are in trouble. You are not in isolation; you are in connection with many other factors in life.