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.
Q: You are so busy traveling all over the world. How do you stay healthy?
Sri Sri: I just don’t worry! I don’t worry at all. And when you are in a field of high energy, everybody is happy and, when you are connected to the source of energy within, then you can manage a tough routine.
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: I have one classical question. When we put lots of passion in our work, we develop attachment to the result. But same attachment and clinging of result gives stress when we do not achieve it, and happiness when we achieve it. Going by my limited understanding of Bhagwad Geeta, they say do your work with dispassion. But if we do that we see that results can go haywire. How do we resolve this?
Sri Sri: Ya, I think it’s little bit different understanding of Geeta. Actually the understanding of Geeta should be, ‘you work hard, you put your 100%, you look for the goals, you look to achieve the goals. But at the same time you should have that faith, that confidence and relax’.
You know to achieve anything you need 3 type of confidence. First is confidence in yourself, Then you have no anxiety. It’s very easy for me to handle this issue. I can do this. Second is confidence in the society around, people around. If you know that your team is good and they will achieve it, or if you have faith in the system that the system is continual and justice will be done to you. You know, if you have done well then you will definitely get well.
But if you don’t have trust or faith in the system, if it’s very corrupt then you will not pass it. So, we have to have faith and trust in system. Third is trust in a power which is compassionate, higher power, the higher self, and this faith that it will always do best to people. These 3 types of trust can take us out of anxiety. For this, I would say take out few minutes for yourself. Relax and Look back. How many times in the past you got stressed? You got some failures? You went through some failures and you achieved something. So, in the same way, now also you will achieve. That gives you that inner strength which is more needed at the time.
I would say it’s like the cell phone. You know, for a cell phone you need to have the sim card. Correct? And you need the battery to be charged and you should be close to a tower. (Laughter) Should be within the range. If any of this is missing then you can go on dialing, say hello and nothing, there’ll be no response
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: From the ‘Art of Living’ to the Art of giving, we hear that in arguably lesser spiritual society, people are giving more and more. We just heard what’s going on in the US where many billionaires can’t recall the number, giving away at least 50% of their wealth for the betterment of society. So that concept, that nature of giving, “more spiritual society” has still not seeped in. How do you reconcile that?
Sri Sri: I would say America is very spiritual. There is 500% increase in spiritual interest in past 10 yrs. If you go to California, there is a lot of awareness about spirituality, especially eastern spirituality. In India, there has been this tradition of giving from long back. All the hospitals are built by business families. Every dharamshalas, it was called dharamshala, talabs or the ponds are made by the business houses. Temples are built by business houses. Not by the government, but business houses. If at all Indian spirituality is sustaining, it is being sustained by the business rather than the state throughout the country. Yes, there has been a decline in giving in the past few years. It is lack of spirituality. Maybe they are going down in spiritual values.
Maybe in some places, they are becoming more religious than spiritual. That could be a reason also. But still even today if you go to villages, the amount of caring and sharing the people have is amazing. You go to any village, they may have just 1 glass of lassi but they will share half with you. They do value these values of sharing. It’s in the villages but is disappearing from the urban areas as you say. And it has to be brought back.
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: 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.
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.