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Questions & Answers
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Gurudev, if your perception is your reality, then what is truth?
Sri Sri: What is the truth, is a very individual journey. Nobody can even answer this question. If anyone answers, then the answer will not be correct.
So, what is truth, is an individual personal journey that you have to go on. It is like, you have to have your own breakfast to fulfill your hunger, to quench your thirst you have to drink, nobody can drink for you. Same with the truth.
What is the truth is a very important question. It is a sign of very mature intellect. Meditate more, go deep in silence, and you will discover. If you want to read intellectually, you may read very ancient book on yoga, such as, Yoga Vasistha. Yoga Vasistha is a book worth reading. Ten thousand years ago, people wrote about what is said in quantum mechanics today, that everything is but one thing. It is amazing.
I was invited to CERN in Switzerland. There, they took me on a guided tour, and showed me where they found God Particle. It was so interesting to see the scientists, and to listen to their understanding.
There was this one scientist who said, 'Gurudev, I studied matter for the last 45 years only to realize that it does not exist. Now when I give a talk, people ask me if I am talking Buddhist philosophy'.
So scientists say the same thing that is said in Vedanta, the ancient knowledge. I handed over them a book of Yoga Vasistha. They said it was startling. 'What we thought we discovered now, people knew of it ten thousand years ago; that all is made up of one thing'.
Science and spirituality are never at loggerheads. At least in this part of the world, science was always encouraged.
The first step to spirituality is to understand the material science. First understand Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether. After Ether comes the mind, and then comes the intellect, and then the ego. This is the eight fold nature. After that comes the Self and beyond the Self is God.
To get to God you must know the elements. The elements are God’s creation. To serve God, you have to serve the people; God’s people. If you understand the world, then you understand God.
Where is God? God is like the oil present in a sesame seed. A sesame seed is dry, but if you squeeze the sesame seed, you get oil. So, just like oil is present in a sesame seed, God is present in the whole creation. So never ever think about high or low, good or bad, etc., a person is. All people are good people. Love everybody. This is the whole message.
Gurudev, why only one Guru? What is his/her purpose?
Sri Sri: You forget about the Guru. Just walk your path and grow in knowledge. When you benefit and have someone to thank, that is your Guru.
The word guide in English came from Sanskrit word Guru.
If you want to play soccer, you need a coach. If you want to play violin, you need a coach. Similarly, in life, one needs a coach for managing the mind, and relieving you of the tensions, stress, fear uncertainty, jealousy, greed, hatred and all these negative emotions. So this is the role of a Guru - to relieve you from all negativity and infuse positivity in you.
Gurudev, I have been having a lot of anger rise in me since the past few days? I have been regular with my Sadhana (practices). What do I do?
Sri Sri: You are at the right place. Somewhere, there is some deep stress, there are certain things which you have put under the carpet that are causing the anger to come.
You know, the main cause of anger is that you want perfection. We get angry over imperfections; but the world does have levels of perfection.
Give a little space for imperfection. When you give some space for imperfection, the patience in you increases.
At home we keep a garbage can, isn't it. You cannot say, 'I won’t keep a garbage can at home'. Then there would be garbage all over the place. Anger is that garbage all over the house. When you give space for imperfection, you will put all the garbage in a can and let it be. Then you will see how you can manage your anger.
Have patience over imperfections. It takes time for imperfection to become perfection. How can you give that time? When you give space for it. Then compassion arises and anger disappears.
Gurudev, we the French think that reason and logic is the ultimate tool of understanding. But in India, there are so many things that we cannot understand with our logic. How do you explain that?
Sri Sri: That is what is called wonder. In wonderland there is no explanation. You wonder anything and go, 'Wow'. And when you go into wonder with deep faith, then comes great understanding. It gives you an insight of another dimension of existence.
There are many dimensions to existence, but these are totally logical. Something new appears to be wonder. When you go deep into it, it is perfectly normal.
So India is a large country and an ancient land. For thousands of years, research has been done here on consciousness, on meditation, on the Self, and on the world. Also, it is said, first to experience, then the belief will come. You can believe whatever you want to believe, but experience is what has been given priority in India.
Gurudev, why does the breath slow down and even stop while meditating when we are still alive. Can you please explain?
Sri Sri: While meditating, the breath becomes slower as activity goes down in the body and deep rest comes to both body and mind. This leads to the fourth state of consciousness.
There are three states of consciousness: waking dreaming and sleeping. But other than that there is a state where you are awake and yet fully at rest, and that is meditation. In that state the breath is almost feeble, and almost not there for few seconds. After that activity comes up, and stress gets released and the mind becomes more active. When the mind becomes calmer, physical activity increases, it is a phenomenon.
Similarly, if you see, when you breathe in, you are accumulating energy. When you breathe out, you are relaxing the whole system. So the in breath and out breath also has a specific impact.
Gurudev, my father is always after me because I am trying to become a vegetarian. What should I tell him?
Sri Sri: Choice of food is yours. You are free individuals. If you are eating healthy then convince your dad that your choice is vegetarian.
We all have freedom to choose what we want to eat.
Tell him that vegetarian food does not make me weak because elephants are vegetarian. Horses, elephants, bulls are vegetarian and are very powerful.
Our immediate ancestors, Monkeys are also vegetarian. And a large population today around the world is following vegetarianism for health reasons. If you go over the material available on the internet, there are so many articles and scientific researches on the benefits of being vegetarian.
Gurudev, what do you think of the caste system. Can the caste of untouchables be integrated into The Art of Living?
Sri Sri: It is already done.
Do you know, the constitution of India and all the scriptures do not allow untouchability? Our main two scriptures Ramayana and Mahabharta are written by so called untouchables.
Untouchability increased after the British arrived in India. They had this policy of divide and rule. Only two hundred years back it became more compounded. Now only in politics it is there.
If anybody wants to go to a doctor, they don’t ask, 'What caste you are'. The caste system is only for the convenience of profession. That’s all. If you go to any European country, they have the chamber of commerce where only people dealing with commerce will go. And they have a philosophers club, where only intellectuals will go. They also have labour unions where only the labour class will go. Then there are the members of Parliament, they have their own club. Like these professional clubs, families got attached to a hereditary system. And then the walls became rigid at some point of time.
If you really go back to history, or go to different places, you will find that it is much different than ground reality.
In Art of Living there is no caste. Everybody is one; one humanity. You will find people of all religion here, of all castes, races and from every part of the world. And we believe in one human family, One World.
You can see, in the dining hall here, and everywhere, the people of all castes are working in harmony. If you go to Delhi, you will find people doing the lowest jobs are from the uppermost castes. There are many research articles, videos, and films on it. This myth has to be broken that people from lower caste are doing lower jobs. It is no more the same from last 60 years. Everything has turned around and become much different.
Gurudev, how do we Muslims, who come upon your knowledge help Islam?
Sri Sri: I would like you to ponder on it. You will get many answers, apply them all. It is the wrong interpretation of Islam, intolerance, stress, anger and impatience that has compounded and cause the present scenario in the world today. So you can play a very pivotal role.
You can come here with a Divine interpretation that you can take back to your country and your land, and spread inner peace.
I remember, it must be some seven to eight years ago, the king of Morocco sent 50 youth leaders to Ashram. He wanted them to be given training to be ambassadors of peace. And they did a wonderful job.
Even recently, some of them came here asking me to come there. I promised them sometime in near future I’ll come there. We have people working in Iraq, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon and even in Egypt. They are very enthusiastic and effective at their work.
You are most welcome to come up with creative ideas and spread the message of peace. I am with you. We all support you.
Recently there was a big riot that happened in Muzaffarnagar, and Art of Living volunteers did a lot of work there. The transformation they brought there and the experience of people has been put on YouTube. You can get a lot of inspiration on what you can do.