Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Sometimes I think I live in a world surrounded by formalities and exchanging superficial words. But the question is I feel that there is more to it, life cannot be just being nice and living in this cordial way but there is more because I worry that when I die, I wouldn’t even remember where to start again?
Sri Sri: Now I understand there is a longing, there is emptiness, and there is a craving for something higher. Right! And that gives that pain. So, that pain to attain something very fast is in a way good, but what is needed along with this is a little patience.
Q: Are you my Guru? But they said Gurus find their devotees!
Sri Sri: : That you have to decide!
Yes, Gurus find their devotees, this is usually said. You know when was this said? In ancient days, when children would go to the Gurukul, the teacher would come and test the aptitude of all the children - this child is good in engineering, this child is good in music, this child will be good for this, for this, for this… Then the teachers would say, ‘Okay, you come and you do Veda, you study Ayurveda, you study music’; so teacher used to pick up. That was when parents would bring their children to the Gurukul and then the Guru would pick up which student would study what.
Once you are here in the knowledge, once you are on the path, your heart will tell you,” This is the place for me and I have to get here”, and that is when you accept someone as your teacher. Not that someone comes to you and says ‘I am your teacher, I am your Guru’. If so happens then don’t believe that, okay! Nobody can impose that; it should come from within. Your heart tells you that this is genuine, this is right, this is good. So once you accept someone as your Guru or teacher then this anguish disappears to a great extent, and know that you are not alone!
Q: What advice would you give to a skepticalnon-believer?
Sri Sri: A very good beginning point. See that you don’t becomecynical and frustrated. Skepticism is perfectly alright, but not cynicism. Thatdrains your energy. One can be skeptical to begin one’s journey and I wouldvery much appreciate and welcome that. Because you would have gone throughskepticism, the faith will be strongly built.
Q: How are science and spirituality related?
Sri Sri: Science and spirituality were never in conflict; in fact theyare very complimentary. In India, it is always said, ‘Before you try tounderstand the nature of your spirit, you should understand the five elementsof creation Earth, water, fire, air and ether’. So once you understandthefive elements then you understand intellect, ego and self. All is the nature ofthe spirit. Spirituality is knowing who am I, the subject analysis. Objectiveanalysis is science, and they go together. Scientists were always encouraged.
Q: Guruji, What is Bhakti (devotion)?
Sri Sri: : Listen to Bhakti Sutras talk, I have spoken in that, yeah!
Q: People around the world need these stress relieving techniques. How canwe contribute?
Sri Sri: That is why I keep traveling. So, we have to keep practicing,have to sit in groups and do some pranayamaand some meditation. We have to renew our energy time to time. When you eat,your stomach becomes empty again, it is quite natural. Like that when you arehappy and joyful, sometime when being so busy and engaged in so manyactivities, you seem to collect all that dust and your energy seems to go down.Then it is the time to recharge again. So we will meditate now for few minutes.
Q: What to do with the doubts that come in the mind?
Sri Sri: You know, the doubt is always about something positive, if not then the doubt will not come at all. The doubt comes because something is right, something inside says yes this is good. So in the initial stages, that type of doubt comes. You move on and from your feeling you decide, oh this is my teacher, I respect and love, then that’s it! Understand what I am saying?!
Q: Can you please talk about greed?
Sri Sri: See, there is greed inside us that we don’t recognize. One is when we want to accumulate so many things in life and the second greed is for experiences; oh I want to experience this and that, so many spiritual experiences. This greed is okay to a little extent, little bit but if it becomes too much then what happens, it makes you so unstable, makes you run around and not go deep enough. A little bit of greed to do seva is okay but too much greed to do seva, is no good! Do you understand what I am saying? So a little bit greed for knowledge is okay, but when you want to know more, you want to learn, you want to quickly attain the highest, that propels you but if it is too much then you know you are spoiling it, in the sense you are in too much of a hurry, do you see what I am saying?
What happens yesterday while cooking rice? What happened when you were in too much hurry? Rice remained uncooked. So it has to be put again and similarly, we should act dynamically, quickly, but not too much! That’s a little, little at a time. So you have to hurry to get to the railway station but once you got into the compartment, no more hurrying! Relax! Once you have boarded the train, don’t run inside the compartment with your luggage up and down, you’re not going to reach any earlier; then I would say relax, relax, relax. Don’t worry; you will reach at the right time, okay!
Catch more in the next post..
Q: I feel afraid at times whether I will be enlightened. What should I do?
Sri Sri: Once you are on the train, you know that this train will reach. Suppose you are sitting in a car and this car is being driven to Karlsruhe, you don’t ask after every minute if you are going to Karlsruhe, no! You relax! You know the driver is going to take you to Karlsruhe. You won’t be dropped somewhere in the middle. That much of faith that comes from within you is there in you; otherwise, you would not even come here. The very fact that you have come here indicates that there is faith. Otherwise your heart would block you, but your heart says, ‘no, go there’. That means you are doing the right thing. So once you are here, you relax.
Relax and you will always find your life will move in the right direction. Not just here, life after this also, definitely, because the moment we die, the first person we meet is our Guru, our teacher, second person we meet is our mother and then the person whom we loved most. The three people we meet and then later on we meet everybody else. So there will be that assurance, you will be fine, you are moving ahead, so don’t worry.
Arjuna also had this doubt in the Bhagvad Gita, “what will happen to me? He was in the same pain, I may not succeed in these spiritual practices, I may not go anywhere, what will happen to my life, I will be neither enjoying anything here nor will I get the other world. I’ll get confused, I’ll go back into the same stuff in my world, Krishna what do I do then?”Krishna says “Nahi Kalyana Krit Kaschit Durgatim Taata Gachchati”. My dear you will never go down, you will never be miserable, I guarantee you this. You will never go down in life, and you will only go up. When you have done good things in your life, when you are on this path, in this knowledge, you will only progress forward and forward. You will only go up in life here and here after. He says ‘svalpa mapyasya dharmasya trayate’, a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of love, a little bit of dharma, little bit of it is good enough to take you away from fear. So relax.
That is why it is said you need a teacher on the spiritual path, you need a Guru, and you need a personal feeling, connectedness from your side, not from the other side. Why? Because otherwise you have the anguish, uncertainty, fear, but once you have that feeling when you have the trust, ‘okay my Guru is there, he will guide me, he’ll take me on the right path then you are relaxed’. And there is that peace that dawn in your heart and mind. Even if you stumble a little bit here and there, doubts may come, but then they just vanish, they just come for a few hours, at the most for a couple of days, and then they disappear. So there is that assurance that you are not alone.
See how soon the tears are turning into a smile!
Q: We have individualized ourselves too much, and have createdseparations around us. We have forgotten our human behavior of being awakened.How can we get back to that oneness? There are so many ways. How is this way unique and different?
Sri Sri: It is very simple and all you need to do is toattend to the seven levels of our existence – body, breath, mind, intellect,memory, ego and then the Self.
I have spokenextensively about love in the NaradaBhakti Sutras
, about awareness and consciousness in the Ashtavakra Geeta
, and about mindfulnessin the Patanjali Yogasutras
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