Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
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: What advice would you give to a skeptical non-believer?
Sri Sri: A very good beginning point. See that you don’t become cynical and frustrated. Skepticism is perfectly alright, but not cynicism. That drains your energy. One can be skeptical to begin one’s journey and I would very much appreciate and welcome that. Because you would have gone through skepticism, the faith will be strongly built.
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: They say we must dare to dream big. But what follows is desire. How does one handle this desire?
Sri Sri: With discrimination! Desires just come up. You should have your dreams but remain grounded.
Q: Is there such a thing life after death? If there is no life after death what is the meaning of our existence?
Sri Sri: It is good to have some suspense!
Q: Sometimes it seems all this is untruth, we running after things knowingly or unknowingly. Sometimes I feel I am compulsorily driven away with the flow and that distresses me. What is it that doesn’t change? What is the truth?
Sri Sri: Truth cannot be spoken. Only in Silence, in deep meditation you can experience the truth!
Q: In the Isha Vasya Upanishad it is said, “tena tyaktena bhunjitha” enjoy the world by renouncing. How can we do this?
Sri Sri: This is a skill! If there is no feverishness, it happens. Have you seen how a child behaves when he sees chocolates? He eats a couple, then stuffs some in one pocket and tries stuffing more in the other. The child is in a frenzy. An adult does not have this feverishness. When such feverishness for the objects is missing, then only you actually enjoy the object of senses.
You experience, you enjoy, but without craving for it, knowing that the joy comes from within you. The object is only a reflection. When you realize that joy is within and not in the object outside then only you can enjoy.
This is little profound and it clicks to a mature mind.
Q: Krishna tells Arjuna - Don’t think you’re killing them - they’re already dead. If a terrorist also gives you the same reason in the name of their faith or religion, what would you say?
Sri Sri: These are completely different situations and you cannot mix them up. A terrorist does with hatred, with ignorance, right? You cannot take a policeman or an army man and a terrorist as same. They both shoot with guns, but a policeman does it for a different reason and a terrorist does it for an entirely different reason. The intention, the state of mind, is totally different. That is why Arjuna was told, “Fight the war for justice, but not with anger, hatred, jealousy or greed. Do it to protect the dharma, the righteousness.”
Q: Guruji, I appreciate the Sun and the Moon and the Nature, why can’t God appreciate when I do something good?
Sri Sri: He doesn't appreciate you, because he knows you can do better. If he starts appreciating you every moment, then your desire to perform better will not be there.
Knowledge Byte:Truth is that which does not change. Examine your life and identify all that changes as "not truth." With this outlook, you will find that you are surrounded by only untruth.
When you identify untruth, then you will become free from it. When you do not identify the untruth, you cannot become free from it. Your own experiences in life make you identify your own untruth.
As you mature in life, you find everything is untruth - events, situations, people, emotions, thoughts, opinions, concepts, your body - everything is untruth. It is only then that Satsang – the company of truth - happens in the real sense. A mother cannot see the child as untruth until the child becomes an adult. For a baby, sweetness is not untruth, and for a teenager, sex is not untruth.
Knowledge is untruth if it is only words. But as existence, it is truth. Love as an emotion is not truth; as existence, it is truth.
Q: Why aren’t you hitting the world just like that? Why so slow?
Sri Sri: You all need a job too!