Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, when you are present before me, it all looks surreal like a dream. And when you are not there before me, then too everything appears like a dream. Why is it so?
Sri Sri: It is good that you understand all of it to be a dream. And you should wake up (to the reality) from this dream.
Q: Dear Gurudev, I have read about the Sankhya Yoga but have not been able to understand it. Please explain. Also, can we follow it while being involved in worldly affairs?
Sri Sri: Yes, of course you can. Sankhya Yoga is to wake up and see that all this does not exist. There is only One, and everything works through that. See that even thoughts are nothing, everything is just vibrations.
Sankhya Yoga means the soul is eternal. Knowing that there is an element in me, which does not perish, diminish, or age. Relax knowing that I am not the body.
Just knowing this, and relaxing within the Self is called Sankhya Yoga.
Q: Gurudev, I live alone. I am not living with my family. I am 76 years old now. I want something of yours to keep with me until my last breath. You have to give me something! What will you give me?
Sri Sri: All these people are my family, they are now yours too. You have the whole world now.
Listen, don’t get into collecting things. Grasp the knowledge that is being given. Don’t bother about getting some piece of clothing, or some object of mine. Drop that.
There is such deep knowledge being given. Grasp the knowledge, because that stays with you for many lifetimes.
Q: Gurudev, please explain how the relationship between Guru and disciple begins and how should it develop?
Sri Sri: What is your relationship with yourself? Do you hide anything from your own self? No, so the same is the relationship between the Guru and the disciple.
Who are you to yourself? Are you a son, father, brother? What are you to yourself?
(Ans: I am everything)
Yes, so the same is with the Guru also.
Q: Gurudev, how can I find my inner destination, my real passion? Or should I just stop searching?
Sri Sri: I think that is a good idea, stop searching and just relax. Go deep within.
See, the nature of the mind is to go towards newer things. Newer things are always outside, so the mind goes on searching outside. However, when the mind starts taking an inward journey, it starts recognising even new things as ancient ones.
You have a new experience till it feels not new, but very familiar and ancient. That is why it is called Nitya Nutan, which means ever new, and yet it is also Sanatan, which means lasting beyond time immemorial.
The soul, the consciousness, is Nitya Nutan (ever new). Every moment it is new, yet it is most ancient, like the sun.
Today the sun is very new. Fresh sun rays are coming. You are not getting old, stale or antique sunrays. Yet, is the sun new? No, the sun is ancient.
In the same way, rivers are ancient but the water in the river is absolutely fresh, and new.
The moon is ancient, yet the rays of the moon are ever fresh.
It is the same with our spirit, our self. It is nitya nutan; ever new, and yet ancient. It is an oxymoron, ever-new and yet ancient.
Q: Gurudev, the Bhagavad Gita says that we are not the doer. Somebody else is acting through us, we are the medium. We say that the future is free will and the past is destiny. I feel this is a little contradictory. Can you please clarify?
Sri Sri: There are two things: one is the doer, and the other is the enjoyer, and they both go together. If you are a doer, then you are also the enjoyer. If you're not the doer, then you are also not enjoying.
So, when you say, ‘I have not done it’, there is one aspect in you that remains untouched by the consequences as well as the actions. And there is another aspect in you that is doing everything, and also suffering or enjoying the consequences. So, there are two things inside you.
There is a beautiful analogy in the Upanishad.
On this tree of the universe, two birds are sitting. One is enjoying the fruits of action, and the other is just witnessing it. This is the depth of the philosophy.
As you go deep in meditation and understand more and more, you will find these things happening. Whether it is very good work, or the worst job ever done, somewhere inside, you will feel that I didn’t do it, it has just happened.
Have you felt that? It has happened to me, I didn't do it. That is what it is. That is one thing which makes it happen. And the other thing is, feeling that I am not the doer. This ‘not-doing’ one, is the director.
Q: Dear Gurudev, those who are Art of Living teachers get to be so close to you and meet you so frequently. Are they not more fortunate than those of us who are not teachers?
Sri Sri: See, do not think this way that those who are teachers are more fortunate than others who are not, because they get to be near me. Everyone here is very fortunate. Some of you stay nearby and some stay far away. But this does not mean that some are luckier than are others. Everyone belongs to me.
Q: Gurudev, What is the technique to be followed daily so that impressions don't remain in the mind, intellect or the memory?
Sri Sri: Just relax, be natural. If you say that I do not want this impression to remain in my mind, then you are making that impression even stronger. If it is there it is there, and if it is not there it is not there. So just relax.
You will see that whatever is the right thing will stay on.
Q: Gurudev, what is the significance of taking Sankalpa (an earnest wish or firm resolve) during Mahashivaratri?
Sri Sri: Sankalpa means taking our consciousness to the universe, to the infinite; and then bringing the mind to the present moment, and making a wish for something that you long for in your mind. That is what Sankalpa is.
In taking Sankalpa, you keep something and then you pray for something. All the Yagnas and Poojas start with the taking of the Sankalpa.
Yagna means that which is performed by everyone together. So everybody is a part of it. Whoever does any Seva naturally becomes a part of it.
When anyone does any service for the yagna, they become part of the yagna. Even if they are serving in the kitchen or taking care of the devotees, then also they become a part of the yagna.
But if you have some wish for somebody in your mind; a friend or family member, and if you want some of the merits (of the yagna) to go to them, then you can take a Sankalpa.
When you take the Sankalpa, you take your name and mentally remember your wish, or the person for whom you want some merit, and then there are little rituals that they (the priests) do for you. So that is also possible.
This custom has been there for many years. It is not that someone will get a special benefit by doing this. Everyone who participates in the Yagna and has faith will be benefited. But if you want to do it with a special Sankalpa, a provision for that is also given.
Q: Dear Gurudev, I have a wish in my heart, which I will not say out loud. I know you know it all and so I want you to fulfill it.
Sri Sri: That is good. How many of you have felt that your wishes have been fulfilled? This is called as Siddhatva (acquiring Siddhis or extraordinary capabilities to fulfill wishes). When we do Pranayama and meditate regularly, our wishes are fulfilled even before we think of them.
Just see, it is happening for everybody. So you should pay attention to what it is that you ask for and desire.
Have desires for the bigger and better things. Pray that our country continues to be prosperous and that no one suffers from unemployment. Pray that the women of our country feel secure and do not live in fear. Move forward with this thinking. Your wishes will anyways be fulfilled. This experiment proves your wishes indeed do get fulfilled. Now, you should wish for the greater good of the whole society.