Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Dearest Guruji, what is ambition and what is greed? What is the line differentiating both? With love and pranams…
Sri Sri: Greed is when nothing matters to you - no people matter to you. Only money matters, only you matter, that is greed. Greed is beyond your capability, beyond what you deserve. Even at the cost of suffering for others or yourself, you want to have it.You aspire and you want it by hook or crook, that is greed. Ambition is you have set a goal, you want to achieve it. That is ok.
Q: It is said that Lord Krishna was embodied with all sixteen arts, Lord Rama with twelve, and Hanuman with fourteen. If it is like this, then how can we call Lord Rama as incarnation of God?
Sri Sri: A devotee is higher than the God. This has been said to sing the glory of devotees. In reality, both Guru and disciple are God. To sing the glory of a devotee and to raise the level of a devotee, God himself bends. It is like a father carrying his son on his shoulder, higher than him.If Hanuman was not stronger than Sri Rama, then how would he have helped Sri Rama. It is like the one who is stronger than me can carry my suitcase.
Sri Rama also needed help from Hanuman. Same way, God also wants your help. So, we should do work to uplift society. The one who does work of God, works for the good of society, is also taken care of by the God. Working for the God, for the good of society, is an indication of divinity blossoming in you. So, Hanumanji helped Sri Rama, but he never got into the state of ego or arrogance that he’s helping Sri Rama. He knew that such thoughts are only illusionary and he had got that luck to work for Sri Rama. So, he worked under Sri Rama all his life while doing all Sri Rama’s work.
Q: Is memory a blessing or curse?
Sri Sri: Forgetting bad things is a blessing. Forgetting good things can be a curse.
Q: I feel contented when I am alone. But mind stucks to the outside events and people while interacting with others. Is there any way that I can experience the serene solitude even when I am with people?
Sri Sri: You are at the right place. We will see in sometime how it is possible. (Ashtavakra Talk continued the session)
Q: Dear guruji, Last night you said that, ‘If you don’t do all that you can do, then your consciousness will prick you. I know I am capable of a lot, but sometimes it feels like such hard work. I always do my best, and always serve. How do I keep service from feeling like a burden?
Sri Sri: No, do only as much as you can. Sometimes you take commitment. At that moment, it appears too much. But that will be over. Finish that commitment. And don’t think about it. You know, It becomes a burden if you think, ‘Oh, how much I worked’. You recuperate everyday. So, you should never count how much service you did. It will be very small as compared to what we have consumed!
Q: Dear guruji, This might sound like a silly question, but I don’t understand money at all. Can you explain it to me? How important is it? Thank you for having me here.
Sri Sri: It is said in the Vedic literature, Dharma is righteousness. Then comes artha, which means- the means, money. And then Kama, desire. And then liberation, moksha. So, Dharmasya moolam artha. That is, righteousness is based on prosperity. If everybody is prosperous, nobody will steal anything. The root of dharma or righteousness is prosperity, is money. So, it is all linked. Money is important, but money is only the means. It is not everything.
Never link money with happiness. Even the poorest people are happy, if you see. In fact they are more happy. But money can create a false notion of security to you: You think if you have money, you have everything. The idea of money is for comfort. Isn’t it? Why do you want money? For comfort. But money can give you only one type of comfort.
There are three types of comfort: Physical comfort, emotional and mental comfort, and spiritual comfort - the inner comfort. Whereas money provides only one type of comfort, it doesn’t give emotional and spiritual comfort. It is essential. Like, we all eat to live. But if we live only to eat (laughs), then something is very wrong with us. Basically wrong.
Scriptures and ancient people beautifully describe how to make best use of money. You make five equal portions of the money. You use one portion for yourself, you save twenty percent, you use another twenty percent for your family, and immediate needs, and you make use of one portion for the society .One is called Aapad dhan. It is for emergency, for any need in the future. And there is another school of thought which says you spend 10 percent on charity, you save 30 percent, and you use 60 percent the way you want.
I would say, you don’t need to spend even 10 percent on charity. Keep aside at least 2% or 3% of your income. If you don’t do charity at all, your money will be spent on court cases and on hospitals. You keep aside 2 – 10 percent for the world. Then the greed will not happen in our mind. Greed kills the person and then kills his business also.
But ambition is ok. You should have ambition. You should aspire to create more wealth. Creating more wealth is not a bad thing at all. So, that balanced attitude for money must be there. Money should not be everything in life. It should be to sustain, and to give you physical comfort. And it’s only spirituality that is absolute comfort. When you are connected with the divinity, mental and spiritual comfort is there, you don’t even think about money. Things come automatically.Next year, this ashram will have completed 20 years. Before we had this ashram in North America, we used to hire places here and there. So many people used to come, and we needed our own kitchen for vegetarian food. It was difficult to have advanced courses in hotels here and there.Then I said that the next time I come, we should have a place where we can keep the atmosphere pure, where only meditation happens and where the vibrations of the place become more saatvik, more congenial and more in harmony with nature. Then some of our devotees went around and looked at places, but we didn’t have that much money.
First we put up some tents, and all the tents flew away. It rained. They had a kitchen here and wooden things. Everyone started doing a little bit here and there, and the place became beautiful. So, the whole place come up in some time.This is what is called siddhi. Siddhi means you get what is needed. In India, there is a proverb which says you really wished for nuts and it came to you when you lost all the teeth (laughs). You were praying for nuts, ‘Oh, I need nuts, I need nuts, I need nuts.’ And then when you got nuts, all the teeth were gone! That’s no use. You are praying for husband or wife, and they appeared when you are 75! It makes no sense!
We never ever worry for how things will be done! This is what is siddhi. When the spiritual power is there, spiritual energy is there, everything happens effortlessly. Move with faith and confidence. At the same time, don’t live too much in the air. Be a little practical also. Till you get to that level of spiritual inner dependence, you have to have the reasoning. Reasonably, you should be aware of how you should manage funds.
So, it’s like dance. How dance will happen? When one foot is on the ground, and one is up. If both legs are buried in the mud, can you dance? And if both feet are in the air, then also you cannot dance. You’ll fall. So, dance happens when there is one foot on the ground, and one up in the air. This is what is whole knowledge – practical yet ethereal, spiritual in approach. But I have seen some people who are too ethereal. They don’t do any work but they simply sit, ‘I want 20 million dollars, I want 100 million dollars.’ They don’t even think about small numbers. (laughs) They Pray for it every day. Nothing is going to happen that way also.Know that balance.
Q: Dear Guruji, I noticed that I am unconsciously always comparing myself with others. Tell me how to stop it please?
Sri Sri: If you are unconsciously stopping it, it will unconsciously stop also. Why do you consciously want to stop? Let it be. Got it? Your trying to stop it consciously becomes a problem. You get stuck. So just relax. Just relax and continue more meditation, more Advanced and Silence programmes. These will de-programme you from that thing.
Q: What is sin and virtue?
Sri Sri: Sin is that which inflicts pain on yourself and also on others. Virtuous action is that which brings peace and happiness to you and also to others.
Q: Sometimes I feel tired of doing service. I feel like stopping then. I also feel frustrated then. Guruji, Why does this happen, and what should I do when I face this?
Sri Sri: When your body and mind are tired, you should relax then. Don’t get stuck with the thoughts of doing service at that time. Relax and meditate.
Q: Dearest guruji, sometimes I feel that I have not got over a death in my immediate family , and it prevents me from moving forward in my own relationships, and starting my own family. I’d want to move on but sometimes I feel I’m my own worst enemy. Please help me guruji. I am waiting patiently for you to read, and answer my question.
Sri Sri: You meditate, you do bhajan. These vibrations reach them also. You be peaceful and peaceful vibrations from you go across to the other side. That is why spirituality is called ’Sadhana’ in Sanskrit, which means the real wealth, the real currency that can go even here and there (laughs). The other dollar currency cannot be used on the other side. That’s why we say when you do satsang, sing and meditate, these positive vibrations reach them. And then, these emotions when they come up just observe them, watch them. They will come, evaporate and disappear. Don’t make a big issue about it. Move on.