Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Having been given an instruction by someone we put faith in or a mentor, should I follow just the essence of it or word to word?
Sri Sri: See, you’re asking a very general question. And you will selectively use it the way you want, isn’t it? I’m not going to get caught up in this whole thing. (Laughs).
Q: Should the student take the whole responsibility for not scoring good marks?
Sri Sri: It is better if he takes full responsibility. You could blame the teacher, the environment, the parents and everything else and finally you blame yourself. It’s better to take responsibility than go on a blame game.
Q: In spite of doing Sudarshan Kriya daily , still some emotions keep bothering me, lust, greed and jealousy. How do I get free of them?
Sri Sri: Your desire to be free indicates that you’re already on the way out. It is already going away. Do not be too hard on yourself. Practices will help you a lot.
Q: Is there a masculine and feminine side to everything? Then why do we categorize things as male or female?
Sri Sri: Yes! There is a neutral gender also.There are 3 genders. Some things fall under the neutral gender too. In fact, there is a whole scripture on the gender of stones as well as trees. The Shilpa Shastra or Book on Sculptures elaborates on this. Hawaiians also say that different stones have different genders! They can identify those. But it doesn’t matter. The Self, or the Spirit is beyond gender.
Q: How does one strengthen vairagya (dispassion) when desires arise in us?
Sri Sri: Know the impermanence of everything. Okay, you get a desire. It will be fulfilled. So what? Time will devour all. Time will change everything, so keep moving. When you know everything is impermanent and can still enjoy everything at the same time, that is vairagya or detachment.
Q: Is it true that some places have negative and positive vibes? I have experienced that our group working in our suburb doesn’t get the success it does outside. What should we do to increase the sattwa of a place?
Sri Sri: Keep working, keep doing. Everywhere it is possible to make a change. It’s just a matter of time.
Q: What is the best way to make someone aware of their responsibilities?
Sri Sri: Anything that works! Anything that makes them aware is good. Don’t sit and think what is the best way? Whatever ideas occur, you apply those and see which one works. The one that works is the best.
Q: Distractions and problems of everyday life come up again and again. Is it better to lead a detached, quiet life?
Sri Sri: Life is a combination of both: dynamism and silence, chaos and quietness. You shouldn’t be afraid of either. Those who are used to chaos, are scared of silence. Many times, in my public talks I have observed that some people can't even close their eyes, they’re so scared. Sometimes politicians and even professors can’t sit for 10 minutes with eyes closed. They’re scared to do so. People are so scared of silence, of stillness, of closing their own eyes. Similarly people used to their silence, to their comfort zone are so scared of chaos and disturbance. Both are incomplete. You should feel as comfortable with silence as you are with chaos, and that is the art of living. We see dynamism in silence and silence in chaos. When you are at home with both of them you are able to contribute in both situations.
Q: What’s the value of sacrifice on the spiritual path?
Sri Sri: It is essential. On the spiritual path you need to have that zeal and enthusiasm for sacrifice. Just today I met several swamis - all young people - computer engineers and highly qualified people. They’ve sacrificed their whole career, life, everything to bring education to poor people, to do service in society. They’re doing service day and night. They’re not wishing anything for themselves. They’re not thinking, “Oh, what will happen to me?” They have dedicated their lives to build schools and colleges and to bring education to millions. So, it is necessary for a bigger cause. Sacrifice brings a bigger joy! It doesn’t reduce your joy. When our needs are more, our responsibilities are less. When our needs are less we are able to take up bigger responsibilities. That is the happiest life!
Q: Guruji, how come you radiate so much peace and serene beauty?
Sri Sri: Because you are beautiful too, that’s why I appear peaceful to you. If you were not beautiful then you would know nothing about my beauty. Whatever quality you have, only that gets projected onto the world outside. So, what you see in me, take that as your own. If you don't feel beautiful, become beautiful. What is stopping you? Become that.