Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Why is communism opposed to spirituality?
Sri Sri: Whichever direction you take, you will meet at some point as the earth is spherical. Communism and spirituality may seem to be opposing to each other but they will meet eventually.
Did you know that the Chinese government has added the need for spirituality in the Chinese Constitution? Prosperity, development and spirituality must be made available to every person in China.
You know, very few people hate spirituality. Look into the depth of your heart. Either there is faith or fear in the Divine. What is the most important principle of communism? That everybody should get everything. Spirituality also says the same thing. See others as yourself. See the same good in all.
Q: How do you initiate your disciples? Do you choose your disciples?
Sri Sri: Don’t limit our relationship. Let love be love, don’t give it a name. For a master, no disciples exist. But for a disciple, the Master exists. See, if you do the Sudarshan Kriya, you are initiated.
Q: Why is it that even when I follow good things, bad things follow me?
Sri Sri: If you sow a neem tree, will mangoes grow in it? You have to be intelligent. You may be a good person, yet are you intelligent? If you’re good and you put your hand in fire, you will still get burnt. You have to be good and intelligent. Use your buddhi (intelligence) and use it well. We use our intelligence only for corruption and not to be a good person. We think we are good, others are bad. It’s not like that. There is some goodness in everybody. Spirituality increases it. Even when problems are there, they teach us something – we get a depth. Happiness brings expansion, Difficulties bring depth.
Q: What is your advice for our youth?
Sri Sri: Take both, the modern and the ancient, and move ahead. The roots are spirituality, our tradition and culture. The leaves and branches are science. When you take science and spirituality together, then you will progress in life.
Sometimes in the name of spirituality, we follow superstitions or thinking we are scientific, we ignore our traditions. That is not the way. You must take the middle path. Honor and respect our traditions, have a scientific outlook and whatever good we can do for others, keep doing.
Q: When everything is God’s will, why is there a need for spirituality?
Sri Sri: We are made up of both, matter and spirit. The spirit needs spirituality, the body (matter) has some material needs and our spirit is nourished by spirituality. You cannot live life without spirituality. Do you want peace? Do you want joy? Do you want happiness? We think spirituality means going to a temple, church or a mosque. Spirituality is human values. Without human values, life is meaningless. If someone asks, why do you need human values, you would say, it is a silly question. There is no point in living like an animal, when you are a human being. Living with human values is being human.
Man has some needs and takes responsibilities. When needs are less and responsibilities are more, life is good. When needs are more and responsibilities are few, life is not so good. Some needs could be there but if you take very few responsibilities, then you are unhappy. It is not a spiritual life. Bharathiyaar, Kamraj and Gandhi took responsibility for the whole country and see the way they lived - their needs were minimum.
Take more responsibility. If the father does not take responsibility for the children and their needs, will they listen to him? Only those who take responsibility, gain authority. People in politics ought to take responsibility for the whole nation. But if they rise in power by corrupt means, the fall is certain.
When we take more responsibility, how do we manage them? The ability to take responsibility beyond our capacity and manage it comes from spirituality.
Q: How does one come to embrace nature? Especially the terrible rain, snow in this country?
Sri Sri: I enjoy this weather. Maybe you should go to the Sahara desert and see how nice it is to be in such a cool country. It is in your mind. Accept it, or move to Florida!
Q: I have been on the path for so long, but I still get attracted to violent and non sattvic partners. What can I do? The attraction is almost irresistible.
Sri Sri: What can I say? Go for it! It will be beneficial to the nearby doctors and hospitals if you keep breaking parts of your body with violent partners! See, it’s about patterns… when you recognize that this is your pattern, wake up and say, “I will not be a victim of this pattern!” You have that strength! You will be given that strength.
Q: Why do disasters and natural calamities happen?
Sri Sri: We are exploiting the planet, using atom bombs, bursting them under water - so many nuclear weapons are being tested secretly under the water like this. The earth cannot bear it. Trees are being cut, so many toxins are being pumped into the ground, the earth is being mined and all the minerals are being removed – all this has to change. We must promote chemical-free farming methods. Our country’s corn is small. Imported corn is bigger. Our rice grains are small, imported grains are larger. But our grains are much more healthy. We must protect our indigenous seeds. Our cow’s dung and urine has medicinal properties. Protect desi cows and seeds. Imported hybrid seeds give good yield for the first two or three years but deplete the soil completely. Thousands of farmers in Maharashtra committed suicide because of this. We must encourage natural methods of farming.
Q: What is man’s highest duty?
Sri Sri: If you think something is your duty, there is no love in it. Sometimes you even get headaches because you feel burdened by the duty. When you do something with love, that is the best. When you take responsibility with love, then it is not a burden to you. It becomes like a puja and that is the best. If you think that doing puja itself is a duty, then there is no benefit in doing it at all.
If a father thinks, ‘I have to get my daughter married somehow and get rid of my responsibilities’ then it becomes a burden. But if he thinks of her marriage with love, then the whole event is a celebration and there is joy for everybody. So, take responsibility with love and take responsibility for the whole world. Start with small steps. First your family, then neighbors, society, village - nobody should be sad in your village! This attitude will make your heart blossom. When the heart blossoms, there is happiness. Divinity resides in a blossomed heart. You don’t have to go anywhere and search for the Divine. His home will be in your heart.
Q: Does one have to become a teacher to progress on the spiritual path? Knowledge, experience or faith, which comes first?
Sri Sri: See, from a little experience knowledge develops, and then faith happens. They are all intertwined. In The Art of Living, we say first experience and then you go up, step by step. It’s good to become a teacher because then you can teach others and there is so much joy. But don’t think you must become a teacher. You still hold the same status whether you are a teacher or not. Don’t think that you are more evolved because you are a teacher.