Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Dear Gurudev, for the past 9 months, I have been feeling spiritually disconnected. There is no interest, no practice, no seva, and no longing. This has become quite painful. Any advice?
Sri Sri: Such things can happen to people, this is called the Dark night of the soul. Suddenly, you lose interest in spirituality, or anything that is good. Your mind goes into things which are really not evolutionary, or may get into a destructive mode.
Such things can occur once in 12 years or 30 years. If it comes once in 12 years, it stays for a year, and if it comes once in 30 years, it stays for nearly 2.5 years.
The best way to overcome this is to hang on to your sadhana, and chant Om Namah Shivaya. It is the best chant to sail through such unpleasant vibrations or mindsets.
Q: Dear Gurudev, how do I attract abundance in my life?
Sri Sri: When you don’t crave for abundance, it comes to you. If you’re hankering for it, saying, ‘Oh, I want abundance’, then it remains far away. Just relax! Know that what you need, you will get.
There is a saying in Sanskrit on how to make abundance comes to you. It says, ‘Udyoginam purushasimham upaiti Lakshmi.’
Udyoginam means putting 100% effort. Purushasimham upaiti Lakshmi, means having the confidence and centeredness, like a lion.
See, a lion does not run around like a chicken; have you seen how a lion sits? You should have that centeredness and confidence. The one thing a lion does not do is, put effort; it is not hardworking.
Udyoginam purushasimham upaiti Lakshmi. If you are hardworking and centered, when you are in touch with your inner spiritual strength, then Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, will simply come to you.
So, abundance comes when you are centered, confident, in touch with your inner spiritual strength, and hardworking, rather smart working.
Q: What are the five koshas? What is their spiritual significance?
Sri Sri: Kosha means sheath, covering.
The first sheath is the environment. If the atmosphere is filled with poisonous gas, can your body exist? No! Because there is air, your body can exist. So, the environment is your first body. Annarasamaya kosha, anna means food, and rasa means juicy. The outer environment is juicy; it attracts your eyes, captures your nose by fragrance, and enthralls you with sound. All this is rasa, means juicy. The environment is full of juice and food. They are also food for the body; for example, sight is food for eyes.
So, our environment, annarasamaya kosha, is the first kosha. Some people think it is the physical body, but I think it is the environment that is the first kosha.
The second sheath is the physical body, Pranamaya kosha.
The third sheath is Manomaya kosha, which is the mind, thoughts, and emotions.
The fourth sheath is Vignyanmaya kosha, which is subtler than the mind, the intuitive feelings. It is something that is beyond thought, beyond reason. There is a body inside you, from where all innovation and creativity comes from. It is from the Vignyanmaya kosha that every discovery, innovation, new art, poems, come from, and not from the Manomaya kosha.
The fifth sheath is Anandamaya kosha, the blissful body. Actually, the blissful body is much bigger than the physical body, which is why whenever you are happy you feel a sense of expansion. Isn’t it? When you are unhappy, what do you feel? You feel like you are being crushed.
Q: Gurudev when will all the negative thoughts go away?
Sri Sri: They won’t go away, they will stay! What are you going to do? You have to live with them! There is no chance to get rid of them. The best thing to do is to make friends with them, shake hands with them, and make them sit next to you.
If they are on your lap, tell them, ‘Please sit next to me, not on my head or my lap. It is too heavy, too long.’
There is no chance to get rid of them. What do you do?
Q: How to control the anger?
Sri Sri: Do you know why you get angry? It is because you want perfection, or you want certain things to be in a certain way.
When you know that not everything can be that way; let’s face it this is life, then suddenly the brain starts relaxing.
By your getting angry, it is not going to help you in any way. It is not going to make the work happen, isn’t it? But if you show anger, and it works, that is good, then use it. There is nothing wrong in it.
There is nothing wrong in using anger as a weapon, but if it is cutting your own peace of mind, then you should use wisdom to safeguard yourself.
Wisdom is to give some room for imperfection as well.
In a house, don’t you keep a dustbin? Yes, you do. So there is a place for the dustbin as well. In the same way, give some room for imperfection, by which at least your mind will be at peace.
What is the point of keeping your mind disturbed? There are all types of people in the world.
I have made a policy in The Art of Living, not to send anybody away. Accept people as they are. With this, now I am stuck! Just wonder, how many different types of people come to The Art of Living, and I make room for everybody.
You know, society is made up of 12 people, not just the apostles of Jesus. What are those? Four good, four mediocre and four hopeless. Hopeless people help you maintain the satva guna in you. In front of hopeless people, your mind should be at peace. Mediocre people bring out the skills in you, and good people always help you.
So these 12 kind of people are always there in the society. We have to accept them as they are and move ahead.
Somebody asked me, ‘Gurudev why are corrupt people coming to your ashram, when you are talking about anti-corruption. You are a symbol of honesty and truth, why these corrupt people are coming to you.’
I said, ‘I want all the corrupt people to come to me. Only if they come to me can they become better.’
So I don’t close my door to anybody. I am telling you the same, imperfect people are there, they push your buttons and make you get angry. Know that they are there to make you strong. How you can keep your equanimity and yet help them from where they are to where they could be, is what you need to see.
Q: Dear Gurudev, why do people seem to love your feet so much? Is it a cultural thing?
Sri Sri: Yes, it is a cultural thing.
In Japan, they bend half to greet people. In India, they bend fully and touch the feet.
It is said that radiation, energy, comes from the feet. That is the old belief system, which is why they do it. Sometimes, that makes it very difficult for me to walk.
Once as I was walking in a crowd, two people caught my feet from the back. I was in the diving pose, in vedavadrasan, my hands hanging in space. Luckily, I didn’t fall, otherwise they would have found a Guru walking with crutches.
See, I balance myself in every situation. It happens quite often, as it is a cultural thing.
Q: What is the origin of life? How did life begin? How is it that the population of human beings keep increasing? Are souls being divided?
Sri Sri: There are two words that are used from the ancient times. One is called Anadhi which means beginning-less, and the other is Anantha which means endless.
If you show me a straight line and ask me, where it began? I can say it began here and ended here. Or it began this side and ended that side. But if you show me a sphere and ask me, where is the beginning point of the sphere, what can I say?
I will give you a tennis ball, and you tell me, where is the beginning point of the tennis ball. Is there any point? No!
So similarly, three things are eternal: One is life, the other is matter, and third is the supreme energy which you call God or Aatma. These three things neither begin nor end, but its permutation and combination makes this whole universe.
So, how come new souls are coming? You know, there are many species which are getting extinct. There used to be so many snakes and scorpions, they have all disappeared, and now have come as people.
There were so many buffaloes and donkeys on the planet, they have all disappeared. Every continent at some point of time had monkeys, where are they now? You don’t find any in Antwerp. I don’t think so.
So, souls are many, they take many forms, and they come and they go.
There are five secrets, and one of them is the secret of creation. To know more about it, you have to go deep in meditation.
Q: My dearest Gurudev, how can I be more like you? What tips can you give me to grow more into my true nature?
Sri Sri: Just turn back and see how much you have grown. Look back and see, what the state of your mind was before you took the Basic Course. Can you relate to that person who never did meditation and who you are now? Notice that big difference! This is good enough for you to move forward. And with a smile, relax, repose in yourself, and be dynamic. That is it. Keep doing seva, sadhna, and satsang.
Q: Dear Gurudev, how do we help people accept their sickness, or the sickness of their close ones, or family members?
Sri Sri: Don’t do anything about it; just be there with peace in your mind. Through words you cannot bring comfort to people who are sick, nor can you make them accept their sickness. However, your positive vibrations can change the atmosphere.
Q: Please tell us about some of the changes that the Earth is presently undergoing.
Sri Sri: Yes, Earth constantly changes. But what humankind has done with the environment is unfortunate. We have put so many dynamites to make mines, to extract from the depth of the Earth. Earthquakes, tsunami, and all these disasters have started because of this. So, we need to care for the environment. If we don’t care for the environment and take care for of our planet, it will create more and more challenges for us.
See, there are few issues that we all have to take responsibility for.
1.Environment: We put so many chemicals into our fields, that the food we grow has really become unfit for our consumption. How many of you have aches and pains in your body? Do you know why? The food we eat has too many pesticides and chemicals.
Just to make vegetables grow bigger, we put so many chemical fertilizers which are not good for our body. I would like the planet to go organic.
You know, there are some very, which now I am promoting very vigorously in India. It has brought so much change. It has increased the productivity almost three-and-a-half times, with zero budget. We call it zero-budget farming. The farmer does not have to borrow money, put fertilizer, and chemicals. Just out of certain natural things, certain natural plants and natural manure, he can grow vegetables and grains at a much cheaper price, at a higher quality, and a higher quantity.
The Art of Living would love to share this knowledge with anybody here in Croatia who would like to do farming. We would love to share with them and show them how we can make a model farm; one with low cost and higher productivity.
You know, we have a record of farmers who were getting Rs.40000 before, and have now started getting Rs.400000 within one year. They could generate a 10 times higher income with organic farming, that too at a lower cost.
2.Corruption: It is a very big issue. There is corruption all over the world. I don’t know how it is here in Croatia, but in India, it is a big issue. Also in the Asian continent.
Do you know, corruption begins where the sense of belonging ends? Nobody is corrupt with people whom they feel connected to. They ask for bribe only from those who they feel are not their own, isn’t it so? We need to change this. We need to create a higher sense of belongingness.
If everyone here in Croatia takes a vow, ‘Neither will I give bribe, nor take bribe’, at least for one year, you will see the whole face of the nation will change. Can we do this? Let us all present here, talk to everybody else in the country.
See, we have four million people here. It is not too big when compared to India. In the city which I come from, Bangalore, we have eight million people right now, i.e., double the population of Croatia. So I am very confident that you can make Croatia a very ideal state when people participate.
If someone has a great craving for taking bribe, wait for one year, you can do it later. If you all take this oath, that for one year, neither will you give bribe nor take bribe, it will make a big difference.
A law, or enforcement will not rule out corruption. It has to come from the heart. When the human values are blossoming in society, the evil elements in society will go away.
3.Addiction: People are addicted to so many things; addicted to pornography, addicted to alcohol, addicted to drugs. We should help them come out of these addictions.
The prisons here, and elsewhere in the world are filled with people because of these addictions. Of course we are already doing work in the prisons here, but we have to help people to not go into the prison.
So we can all dream about, and work towards a crime-free, violence-free society.