Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: We came to know that you are coming to Malaysia after 11 years? What made you come now to Malaysia?
Sri Sri: The love and affection of the people from Malaysia who have been coming to India all these years…and I had promised them that I will come this year and I had to keep my Promise.
Sri Sri: It comes by practice and by having a broader vision that things are going to be resolved in a very positive manner. See, we have very little time and we have lots of things to do. How can we do all this with low energy? So, we have to increase our energy, be efficient in our work and good time management. For all this, we teach this course called the ‘Art of Living’. It helps in all these three dimensions. It adds more time to your life-Quality time- and increases your energy level and improves intuition.
Q: Guruji, as reporters we are going through lot of stress. We have to collect news and report and write articles. Other than doing meditation, which consumes time, what else can we do to relieve the stress that we get in front of computers and in front of our boss?
Sri Sri: Few deep breaths! You can’t say that you don’t have time to take breaths! Take deep breaths and know that you have the capacity to handle the crisis or situation that you are in now, have confidence that ‘’I can handle any tough situation, I can handle any stress, I have the capacity’’, then faith in yourself comes up.
Q: I joined the ‘Art of Living’ in the beginning of this year and my health improved. I feel much better doing the exercises. I was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and treated myself with good results.
Sri Sri: You know what they have found through research is that we have 300 genes in the body, we have 300 DNA genes in the body which are responsible for heart problem, cancer, diabetes and all this, and when we do Sudarshan Kriya and pranayama, this suppresses those genes from being active.
The scientists have come out with this. Just before coming here, I went through an article that somebody has sent. In a hospital in New York, they have asked to chant ‘OM’. They’ll make you chant ‘OM’, make you relax and do some meditation before they treat anybody for heart problem.
Q: You always travel all over the world. How do you see the changes happening in the world?
Sri Sri: You know world means changes. There are some changes for good and there is deterioration as well. If you see , the human values have deteriorated, stress is increasing on one side, pollution and environmental problems, families are breaking up into smaller families, more insecurity in financial sector, crash in the world market has affected people a lot….
At the same time, there are lot of positive developments as well. People have become much more sensitive towards environment, compassion has increased, people are coming out and helping in the times of disaster. So, you should see both happening and what is needed is to aid the positive aspects in the society and to reduce stress – these breathing exercises are necessary to do this and brings a sense of belongingness among people of various communities and age groups.
Q: What is the secret to keep a healthy relationship?
Sri Sri: I have no experience in this field! (Laughter). But I can give some advice.
First for women: Never step on your man's ego. You should always pump and encourage his ego. You know, the whole world may say that your husband has no brains, but you should not say that! You should tell your husband that he has the best brains in the world and just because of the fact that he doesn't use it, doesn't mean that he doesn't have it! You should always tell him that he is the best man. Always pump the ego of a man .If you call him a vegetable, I tell you he will become one.
Now one advice for men: Never step on the emotions of a woman. You know, she may sometimes complaint about her family, about her brother or her father or her mother. You should not agree with that. If you do, then she will take a U turn. Never insult her family. Don’t stop her to go for shopping, or going to a spiritual or religious program. If she wants to go for shopping, give her your credit card.
Now for both: Never ask for proof of someone's love for you. Don't ask each other, “Do you really love me? You don't love me these days just like old days”. You know, it is such a big load for someone to prove their love for others. If someone asks you to prove your love, you would say "Oh my God! How do I prove that to this person?” Do everything with some style and some smile.
Q: Do you find any changes here in Malaysia now since you are coming after 11 years?
Sri Sri: Lots of changes…infrastructural development…rest I have to find out, I have just arrived last night. I can’t form an opinion overnight, I have just arrived. Today I will be meeting people and we are having a meeting of all the teachers from all over south east Asia in Penang tomorrow, we have a workshop with all the teachers for four days and also a Silence Retreat meditation programmer.
Of course, lots of people from Malaysia have been regular visitors to our headquarters in Bangalore, India. I keep seeing them everywhere else in Europe, in America etc and they will always ask me “when are you coming to KL, when are you coming to Malaysia?’’, so this time I could squeeze in!
Q: Do you have some special diet and do you exercise?
Sri Sri: I do exercise for 20 minutes and follow a vegetarian diet.
Q: How do you fan the fire of spirituality and not allow it to be inundated by day to day life. You don’t want to abdicate your responsibilities. What do you suggest, simple steps you as an enlightened person to keep spirituality alive in us. What I understood the way u expressed was very beautiful, to spread happiness, to be simple at the same time keep giving.
Sri Sri: I would give you 3 suggestions. One is spend 10-15 mins with yourself. What is it that you want? What is life all about? 50- 60 yrs ago, where I was and where I will be 50 years later? What is my origin? What is my definition? Just don’t look for an immediate answer. Even questioning yourself – ‘what is life all about?’ uplifts the spirit. This is what I would call as knowledge. Dwelling sometime with knowledge, you can read books like Yoga Vashista, Ashtavakra or even Geeta. Just few lines or any other uplifting knowledge books. And then 10-15 minutes of meditation. We will do a short meditation now. 10-15 minutes of meditation will give so much energy that it can refresh the brain, Refresh the spirit and energize the body. Fantastic! And the third thing is do some act of kindness, don’t have to be in the routine. Take some time out. Do some Random acts of kindness. Spend some time with music or art. These 3 things can bring you a lot of fulfillment and keep you away from stress.
You would’ve seen in the last month, a month ago, there was a program in News 24 channel about a village Kathewadi in Maharashtra, near Nanded. One of our teachers went there. He stayed there for 3 months in the village. Transformed the entire village. 700 families. In this village, everyone removed the locks from the door. And they have a shop without a shopkeeper. People go and put the money in a box and take whatever goods they want to take. And the village is so self sufficient. The entire village went organic. All the farmers went organic. Everyday they come together and sing, they removed all the caste boards. Here now in the country, they are contemplating about reintroducing caste census. In this village first thing is they removed all the caste boards, Dalit, Kshatriya, Brahmin. All the caste boards were removed. Govt of India also gave them an award. It is a crime free village. This was the most notorious village which had so many cases. Today in 3 years time this village has stood up to be most self sufficient. Everybody has water. Roads are there. Every home has a toilet. And they have smokeless chullahs. Most honest village. This village inspired 118 villages to follow.
Not one person smokes or drinks in the village. Everybody abandoned the tobacco, tambaku, alcohol and drugs. So it gave a new energy and enthusiasm to all our teachers and workers. It is possible what Mahatma Gandhi had dreamt - Ram rajya. Where there is no dacoity, no crime. Today it is possible.
You can see in the youtube. They have done a beautiful program about that. I wish we can do many such, if all different corporate could take 10 villages each. It doesn’t cost much. It is just a matter of educating people on hygiene, educating them to keep their homes clean. Every home got painted in pink.
Q: The global warming issue is so serious now days, disasters happen everywhere. As a resident in this planet what should we do? I feel sad when I see people suffer, what can I do more?
Sri Sri: We have to create awareness. Join the ‘Art of Living’ band wagon, we are everyday going and planting more trees, creating awareness about plastics, creating awareness in people. To check global warming, more and more people need to turn vegetarian. You know, what they say is even if 10 percent of the population turns vegetarian, 10 percent more; the issue of global warming will be completely gone.
The methane that is produced in the slaughter houses is so much responsible for global warming. With the price and the energy spend to produce one pound of meat, you can feed four hundred people. So more and more people should turn vegetarians, and that will bring change in the environment.