Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Why do so many religions face east when praying? Is it good to face east when meditating?
Sri Sri: Different reasons exist. The sun rises in the east. So, in the morning, you meditate facing east. But in the evening, you face west because the sun sets in the west. Energy flows from where the sun is. So, when you face the sun, you are balanced. For prayer and meditation, you need balance - balance of mind, posture… See, it does not matter which direction you face when you meditate, as long as you are facing a direction and meditating.
Q: I feel unhappy very often. How can I get out of it?
Sri Sri: Right now are you happy or sad? Just be happy. So, the answer is within you.
Once, a woman went to a saint and asked, ’Why is the world so sad?’
If you can’t leave the world when there is unhappiness, how will you leave a world full of happiness?
You will be in a great loss if you can’t let go of the world. Just turn inwards to the Source, there is no sadness. Once you learn how to go inwards the world doesn't seem sad.
Just look at the world, where is the sadness? Birds are chirping;the river is flowing. Where is the sadness? I only see beauty in the world. Just look at all the faces (here)they are so happy!
In life, there’s 20 percent sadness and 80 percent happiness. But our mind makes the 20 percent into 2000 percent.
Sri Sri: Do you feel belonging? That is spirituality.
When this belongingness expands to include everyone, then spirituality has grown.
(A girl from the audience asks)
Q: There is a lot of poverty. How do we find a solution for that?
Sri Sri: One of the main reasons for poverty is alcoholism.
Many villagers spend 60 percent of their earnings in the toddy shop. If you think they are poor, then from where have they got toddy? Villages have risen above the poverty line just by closing the toddy shops. The poorest of the poor can earn and not stay hungry, wherever alcohol has stopped. Youngsters in rural areas are now dealing with this problem.
People of all castes should celebrate together. Everyone should come together for one meal in a week. When people in the village will come together, then the feeling of Dalit and non Dalits will be removed. In every village, ask those who can to contribute for those who don’t have enough. Such development cannot be done by the government alone. NGOs have to initiate this change.
Q: What are the qualifications to gain liberation?
Sri Sri: The fact that you are a sane human being is enough and the fact that you are a good human being. And ALL human beings are good!
Unfortunately, some scientists claim that human beings have dark and light sides. So the concept is that half of you is dark and half of you is light. That is not how it is. Just imagine someone coming up to you and saying, “You have a dark side. You could be a murderer.” You would say, “No, I didn’t even dream of something like that!” Then you start wondering, “Oh, maybe there is something like that inside me...” Then you put that seed in yourself and start nurturing that which was not there before.
There is a beautiful verse by the Indian poet Kabir, “I went to find a bad person in the universe, and I found none.” There are negative tendencies in people but that is not the basic human nature. That is only on the circumference. Why is someone behaving negatively? Because they are hurt. A happy, joyful, centered person will never do harm to anyone, even to animals. See, even lions go for prey only when they are hungry, not all the time. That too, they don’t kill other animals out of rage. They do it out of need.
So, these concepts that a person has a light and dark side are man-made, far from reality! Go into the soul, “Satchidananda”- true, blissful: the Consciousness.
A desire has arisen and I want to ask you about this. Give me a glimpse of self-knowledge.
You are getting it. Just relax. See, to catch a train, you have to hurry up, pack your things, go to the train station and get onto the train or go to the airport and catch a plane. But once you are on the plane, relax. Running between aisles holding your luggage will not get you to your destination any faster! Once you are on the path, relax.
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna after he has told him all that Arjuna had to do, “Drop all that, I will relieve you from your sins. You drop all that you are holding onto. Drop even your dharma. I will relieve you from your sins.” Instead, people try to get rid of their sins. That will never happen. The Divine will relieve you of your sins.
All that you need to do is to let go of everything you are holding on to. It is beautiful. First, Lord Krishna makes Arjuna understand Dharma. Then, Arjuna is made to drop all of it. Lord Krishna says, “Take refuge in Me and Me alone. I will relieve you of all your sins.”
Q: Could you please comment on the Naxalite issue?
Sri Sri: The Naxal problem is not of poverty. A poor man cannot lift a gun or make a bomb. These are people who have wrong education. They say,‘If people can elect us, they can bring us down also. Did Napoleon ask anyone for a vote, did Mao or Stalin ask?’ They feel that they should come to power on their own power.
This education turns people towards violence.People who walk the path of spirituality, who know history,will never go into Naxal activities. They are ignorant of spirituality. That is why spirituality is most important.
That is why I often say Krishna was the first communist. Krishna said, ‘See Me in all and all in Me’. This is the real communism.
Q: I cannot accept criticism. So I get disturbed.
Sri Sri: For how long does this happen?For some time right?So, it’s alright. If you think you shouldn't get disturbed, then you get more disturbed. The disturbance doesn't stay for all time.If there is some point in their comments, take it. Welcome the criticism. Is it for your improvement or is it the impression that you have created?
You doubt compliments. So doubt the criticism as well.
Q: What is the difference between jeeva (individual consciousness) and brahma (infinite cosmic consciousness)?
Sri Sri: Jeeva is a part of Brahma.
The balloon has air outside and inside it. Inside a vessel, there is space and outside there is space as well. The inside space is jeeva,the outside space is brahma.
The jeeva is desire, aversion, craving. All this is the balloon. That is why the Lord is not somebody separate, but it is,‘what I am.’ If the wave asks,‘Where is the ocean then what to say? The wave itself is the ocean. You have to only realize this. That is why it is said that while it takes a moment to break a flower stem, the Divine can be realized in a fraction of that moment.
Q: How do you know if you really love somebody?
Sri Sri: Suppose you sit for four–five hours. Do you get a pain in your leg? (The girl nods her head.) How do you know? (Sri Sri addresses the audience in general) Our doubt is always about something positive. Someone asks, ‘Are you happy?’ And we say,‘Well…I am not sure.’ You have never doubt your depression.
Q: What carries the samskaara through different lifetime? The body dies and the consciousness is pure.
Sri Sri: The mind carries the samskaaras.