Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: These practices bring so much inner comfort. If I do a lot of practice, will it make me more happy?
Sri Sri: Don’t do too much of practice. Move ahead gradually. Do only as much as needed. Do that much to which your body gets accustomed to.
Q: What is the role of surrender in fulfillment of desires? And what is the difference between desires and intentions? Which is more important – putting effort or relying on the God?
Sri Sri: There are two schools of thought. One is you visualize dream and work for it. Other school of thought says surrender everything to God, whatever God gives you is the best, and God will take care of everything for you. Where is the compatibility? They appear to be completely opposite. One is your own visualization, your own dream and your perseverance, and another is having trust in God and leaving everything on God. They appear to be incompatible but I would say they are very much compatible. It is good to have an intention or a goal. You don’t need to keep on visualizing your goal 24*7. But continuing to work for that, you leave it to the Divine. Only the combination of two will work. It is beautifully described in scriptures: You take a vision or goal and then you offer it to the Divine while working for that – “This is what I want and you know what is best for me. If this or anything better, I am ready to accept.” Sometimes you don’t know what you want. If you know what you want, it is not difficult to get it. Half the time we are unsure of what we want. Often you find if you are persistent to get something, you don’t want the same thing the next week, the next month or the next year. So, before you take an intention, you expand your awareness. So, put an intention in the universe - I want this or anything better. Now, what is the difference between a desire and an intention? Suppose you want to go to Mumbai from Bangalore. You buy a ticket and travel for around three hours and go there. But you don’t keep chanting in your mind all this time that you want to go to Mumbai and you are going to Mumbai. You may even land up in a mental Hospital like this! Desire is the feverishness that clogs on to an intention. An intention is a desire free from feverishness. And then working towards your intention, this faith is to be there that whatever nature brings back is for my growth.
Q: With regard to accepting people as they are, I find it very hard to accept the people who are insincere towards their work, especially those who report to me.
Sri Sri: Very good. Don’t accept them as they are. Take strict action, and handle them skillfully.People don’t change overnight, yet people do change. Nobody will remain the same as far as imperfections are concerned. Perfection remains the same. Truth is always one, lies can be many.
Q: Is there any maximum limit to how much we can meditate?
Sri Sri: Just do as much is necessary. There is no need to do too much. Meditation is like taking a bath. To wash the mind, you need meditation. And once the mind is clean, you will be well. You take shower in the morning to clean your body. After that you do all the daily activities. You don’t have to keep on taking a shower throughout the day. It is like that. You meditate and calm your mind, then go on with other activities.
Q: I started doing spiritual practices when I was 17 years old. I have tried many practices. After long practice of meditation, I have had many out of body experiences. At certain stage, my mind became dysfunctional and I was frightened. Can you please guide me?
Sri Sri: Some people try different techniques, they try to learn everything being taught anywhere, and end up making a chaos out of it. That is why, all this happens. The path which is being guided here is very safe. Do as much as needed. If you try to follow all kinds of techniques, it creates a problem.
Q: In the present day, there is a pressure to commit fraudulent activities in corporate world. How to handle these situations?
Sri Sri: Skillfully. If your boss tells you to do fraud, avoid it skillfully. Finally, say that your consciousness does not allow you to commit fraud. The boss will escape if you do fraud, and you will be put behind bars. However, hundred percent truth is also not workable, it is only an ideal. There is an ancient Indian proverb that says that as much lies are allowed as there is salt in food. For example, if you want to sell your product, it may not be the best; still you can say that your product is the best. That much lies are permissible. Ancient people have said this, thousands of years back. It is fascinating how they handled the human mind.
Q: If opposite values are complementary, then am I good, bad, or am I both?
Sri Sri: Why do you put a label of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ on yourself? Remove it off and be natural, be at peace. When we assume a negative quality as our own, we feel guilty, and when we assume a positive quality as our own, then we become proud. Both of these are signs of being mentally unhealthy. Surrender both the negative and positive qualities to the Divine. A person who is surrendered will be good. Surrender brings focus and character in life. Without the development of these two, life is directionless. Even a little bit of sacrifice helps an individual to blossom. Without sacrifice, the glow does not come up. Sacrifice does not lead to a long, sorrowful face. Renunciates are joyful, whereas the kami (one filled with desires) feels burdened and sad.
Q: I want to quit addiction to intoxicants and have come to you with a lot of hope.
Sri Sri: Good. You have come to the right place. If you wish to get rid of a bad habit then there are only three ways for it. The first is your love for knowledge, the Divine or some dear one - whether parents or Guru. By promising some dear one that you will quit the habit, you will be able to get rid of it. This is the best way out. The second way is greed. If you will not consume intoxicants for six months, then you will get ten million rupees, or that your luck will shine and you will succeed in everything. The third is fear - if one day you do consume intoxicants, then you will suffer a loss of one million, or you will have to suffer from a major ailment. If such a greed or fear enters you, even then you will be rid of your addiction. Along with these three ways, do yoga and pranayama. The best is that along with yoga and sadhana (spiritual practices), you take a vow that you will not indulge in addictions. Take a vow for forty days, then six months and then a year. After that, you would have come out of the habit and won’t look back at it.
Q: What is the importance of sankalpa (intention) and how to strengthen it? Does the world move on sankalpa?
Sri Sri: The mind is full of sankalpa and vikalpa (imagination, fancy). Each work gets done through sankalpa. Even the act of moving our arm is preceded by the sankalpa in the mind. If twenty sankalpas arise in the mind then nothing gets done. When the mind is peaceful and restful then our sankalpa is powerful. The sankalpa of a weak mind is weak and that of strong mind is strong. We can make our mind strong by sadhana (spiritual practices) and knowledge. Then the sankalpa will also be strong. The wise makes one sankalpa in fifty days whereas the ignorant makes fifty in a day.
Q: There are many things in my life which I think are not ok. I don’t know what to do about these things
Sri Sri: When you say, ‘It’s not ok, it’s not ok’, the seed of ‘not ok’ is not letting your mind to relax. When do you go to bed? When everything is ok, and when there is comfort. When you are hanging on to the discomfort, how can you ever be comfortable? You have to accept things as they are. ‘It’s not ok, it’s not ok’ keeps you all outside. Those imperfections are there for a cause or purpose. It is going to be ok, it will take some time. Things are ok the way they are now, They will be ok in the future Whatever happened in the past was ok. When you understand this, you relax and in that relaxation you can meditate. When you want to retire, its nivriti but when you want to come out (of rest) its pravritti. Then you can act. When you are tired but you are hanging on to what is not ok - then you cannot retire. When you have to chill out, what do you say? ‘Everything is perfect,’ otherwise you can’t chill, you can’t act! It is neither pravritti, nor nivriti. Dhyan yoga is nivriti, Karma yoga is pravritti. Most people are hanging onto the ‘not ok’ and are unable to relax, to enjoy life, to chill, to be creative. They are holding onto the seed of ‘not ok’. That person, this situation, the government, the administration - everything is not ok. Then it comes to you - I am not ok. Subtly, it reflects on you that you are not OK. Then you don't like that feeling, and to cover that up, you make up many justifications and the mind is all confused. If tamogun is too much, you don't know the pravritti or the nivriti. When there is Satva, then we know what to act, when to act, whether to act or not. When Rajogun prevails then its half way through - you regret and act. Many of us act and then we regret. Mother scolds her child, regrets it and then becomes nice. In Satva, you don't regret, you retire and relax, there is clarity. In Rajogun, there is confusion and chaos. In Tamogun, there is total inertia and lethargy. There is no strict border between the three gunas. It is very fluid, one flows into another.