Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: A little more on the Mind! Mind – in want of new! What is the nature of the mind?
Sri Sri: The mind needs something new constantly, every minute, every second… It wants something today, something else tomorrow or an entirely different thing the day after tomorrow. You get bored if you have to eat the same vegetable everyday. You want to taste different varieties of food everyday. Why? Mind wants something new all the time. Homework for you! But how much newness can exist? Is there any stop to this more of the mind?
Q: How important is prana (life force energy)? Of course, it gives life. How does one improve one’s prana?
Sri Sri: Prana is present in everything. In fact, we are floating in an ocean of prana. When the unit of expression varies, it makes a difference. Stones have got one unit of prana. Water has got two units of prana. Fire has got three units of prana. Air has got four units of prana. Plants have got five units of prana. Animals have got six units of prana. Human beings are capable of holding from seven to 16 units of prana. The expression of prana is the whole universe. When prana is lower than, that’s when you feel depressed. When prana goes further low, then you feel suicidal. When prana is normal, you feel normal. When prana is higher, you feel enthusiastic. When prana is very high, you feel energetic and blissful. That is why, when people are depressed, or feeling low just giving counselling doesn’t work, what needs to be done is to raise the level of prana. When prana is high there is joy, vibrancy and understanding. When prana is low, the mind starts complaining and then depression, lethargy, suicidal tendencies arise. All is play and display of prana. Now how do we increase prana? This is where meditation, practices, Satsang, yoga, Satvic diet etc all come into play.
Q: What do I do when I close my eyes for meditation?
Sri Sri: Whole time you keep on doing something or the other. Your body is involved in some function or the other, thoughts keep passing and bombarding the mind. Good news is that, you need not do anything – meditation is not an act, it happens. You simply sit and let it happen. There are three steps to meditation:
Step 1: Relax
Step 2: Relax more
Step 3: Relax more and more
Meditation happens with effortlessness!
Q: Can you please talk in a little detail about the Mind and intellect, and how are they related?
Q: I was wondering what exactly the mind is? Is it a little space in our brain or is it universal?
Sri Sri: Mind is energy which is all over the body. See, every cell in your body is emitting some energy and the totality of all that energy around you is what you call the mind. What happens in mind reflects in the body, what you put in the body, reflects in the mind. Mind is not present at some point in the brain, but mind is all over the body. There is so much deep knowledge about consciousness;
The vibrations around the body make things happen around us. Have noticed, sometimes you see some people and you feel like talking and, sometimes for no reason you feel like avoiding some people. So, one of the best ways to have good interpersonal skills is to cleanse one’s presence, one’s aura.
On a more gross level, Mind has got two dimensions. One is open mind and one is closed mind. An open mind is receptive, ready to learn, ready to catch the moment. A closed mind says, “I know it all”. Mind that has confined itself under the boundary of ‘I know it all’ doesn’t let one’s personality to blossom fully. In one of the traditions in East, the name given to a religion is Sikh. Sikh means one who is always ready to learn, and the knowledge of the self is so vast that there cannot be end to learning.
Q: How can I overcome anger and resentment?
Sri Sri: Don’t try to overcome both. Tackle them one by one. I say, stop the resentment and agree to be angry. Anger and resentment have a chain reaction – you get angry and then you resent; resentment will then turn to anger. Either you are angry with somebody or you are angry with yourself. You are angry with yourself and this causes anger towards somebody else. You may be angry with somebody else but then, as soon as your anger fades, you resent yourself and feel, “How could I lose my temper like that?” So, first decide to be just angry. It does not matter. Just get rid of resentment. This is the first step you can take. Anger is part of your life. As a child you would get very angry. Look at a small child who is holding a toy; just take the toy away from him and see his reaction. His whole body shakes and he gets angry. He yells and shouts, but he is normal the next instant. It doesn’t take a child very long to do this. You get angry but the next moment bring the smile back to your face. Don’t resent. Laugh at your own anger – “Oh, I had a big blow-up today! It was fantastic. It is such fun to watch others’ faces when I get angry! How they reacted to my anger! How soon they caught on to it!” You will soon see that the anger in you turns into alertness; into awareness. That is where pranayama and kriya will come to your aid over a period of time. The resentment had stopped earlier, now the anger will gradually disappear.
Q: The golden rules of meditation?
Sri Sri: There are three golden rules for meditation. The first is you say “I want nothing, I want nothing for next 15-20 minutes.” If you say “I need to drink water or change my position,” then meditation cannot happen. When you want nothing, then you also do nothing. The second golden rule is “I do nothing.” You only breathe. Do not make an effort to think “I want nothing” and “I do nothing” - Just an effortless attention. Then the last one is even more important, “I am nothing.” While meditating we drop all notions about ourselves of being rich, poor, intelligent, stupid, male, female or any other. So what are you? Nothing! After meditation you can again be something. It is your choice, but if you think, during meditation, that you are somebody great or somebody hopeless, there is no way you can settle down to that deepest core of the being. This must be our initial step to settle into that infinity, the consciousness of which we are all made up of. It is the journey from sound to the inner joyful silence.
Q: Is meditation concentrating on tip of nose or centre of forehead?
Sri Sri: Meditation is not concentration. Meditation is the simple art of doing absolutely nothing, not even thinking, so you don’t concentrate but you de-concentrate. If you are asked to concentrate on something, just a gentle attention works. Effortlessness is the key. Using the breath as a tool, bringing the mind to a standstill state is possible. You just let meditation happen effortlessly.
Q: I learnt some techniques of meditation where I was told to concentrate on a point or imagine something. I have practiced that for a long time but to no avail. I feel something is missing. Can you please talk about that?
Sri Sri: Meditation is not concentrating on any point. It is neither about imagining anything. That involves effort and meditation is effortless. You don’t do meditation, but you let meditation happen.
Q: I start to do a lot of things, but I don’t get to complete. Can you tell me a way how can I improve the situation?
Sri Sri: If you want to do, you can do anything. It has to come from within. With the determination, ‘I will do this job, and I will see to it that it gets completed’. This commitment from within will help you, and get you through. Got it? Nobody can do the job other than you.
So, take up with small things and follow it through, and then you will get the confidence. That prepares you to take up big tasks. You know, why do you drop things? Because you think they are not important. But there is nothing important or unimportant in life, everything has importance. So, even if something looks unimportant, you say, “I want to finish it, and I will finish it”. Then you will be able to enhance your commitment.