Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Why do masters sometimes ignore disciples? Can a Guru ever forsake or get fed up with a disciple?
Sri Sri: If you think you are very important, then you will be ignored. Got it? There is no question of forsaking. Does air forsake you? Does the sun forsake you?
There is nothing called forsaking. If anyone feels like that, it is all in the mind.
It is very strange but true, even if there is nothing to worry and complain about, the mind will create something to worry and complain about.
The nature of the mind is such that if you have nothing to be miserable about, you will think about something that happened ten days ago, or ten years ago with somebody, and think that there is injustice. Then you get into a sense of victim consciousness. You need to watch out for this!
Two things are detrimental on the spiritual path:
1. Culprit consciousness
In the past, religion pushed you into feeling like a culprit. It made you think that you are a sinner, you must repent. This sense of being a sinner pushes you down, away from spirituality. It rattles your mind and brings such a sense of guilt deep within you.
Unfortunately, many people lived their lives in guilt and died with this feeling. That guilt consciousness never allowed them to come out of the small mind. People lived without realizing that oneness with the Divinity, that innermost peace and joy.
Jesus said, ‘I and my father are one’ (implying oneness with the Divine). He never said that you repent, you are a sinner. In fact, Jesus stood against it if someone said that anyone was a sinner. Later on, religious people used guilt as it was very convenient to enroll others.
2. Victim consciousness
‘Oh, I am victimized! I am right and you owe me an explanation. If nothing, at least an explanation!’ The mind rattles on being a victim.
Victim consciousness is on the other end of guilt or culprit consciousness. It is another big issue that the human race has fallen prey to.
Both, victim consciousness and guilt consciousness are detrimental on the spiritual path, they make you miserable. Whenever you think you are a victim, you cannot have proper rest. Then you keep crying or getting angry at others.
Q: Gurudev, my wife always complains that I do not tell her ‘I love you’. But it is not in my nature to express love through words. Is it necessary to express love?
Sri Sri: See, there are different ways of saying and expressing love. Just find a way that suits you and say it. If you cannot say it in words, then express it by making some hand gestures. Or you can write it and give it to her.
If you are away, in another place, you can send her a SMS. Nowadays you do not even have to write complete words in the SMS. Just sending those smileys and emoticons does the job! So just send those to her, one in the morning, then one in the afternoon and one in the evening.
See, it is our duty to try and keep everyone happy. Whether they choose to be happy or not is up to them.
Some people will not believe it, even if you express. After receiving your SMS they will ask, ‘Do you really mean what you sent?’ They might even ask you this. The mind is really very mysterious.
Love is said to be Anirvachaniya (that which is beyond words or cannot be expressed completely through words). You go ahead and do it. Good luck! (Laughter)
Q: If the world is an illusion, are we all having the same illusion?
Sri Sri: Partially. In each one of your minds, a different world is happening. Each one of you has your own little bubble of thoughts, ideas and concepts. The way you look at the world is very different from the other person. Thus, each one of you has a world in yourself, yet all of you share something.
Q: Gurudev, what is the meaning of Sankhya Yoga?
Sri Sri: Sankhya Yoga is to wake up and see that all this does not exist. There is only One, and everything works through that. See that even thoughts are nothing, everything is just vibrations.
Sankhya Yoga means the soul is eternal. Knowing that there is an element in me, which does not perish, diminish, or age. Relax knowing that I am not the body.
Just knowing this, and relaxing within the Self is called Sankhya Yoga.
Q: Gurudev, it is said that creativity is born out of silence. But many creative works also arises out of deep despair and anguish. Please explain this.
Sri Sri: Yes, that is also right. Temporarily for a moment or so, there can be anguish or despair, and creativity comes out of that. But if the despair and anguish continues, then nothing comes out of it.
If despair and anguish alone were the reason for creativity, then places like Afghanistan, Lebanon and Sudan where there is so much despair, such places would have been very creative by now. No such thing has happened though.
You should all remember one thing. Do not think of yourself as insects. You are all great, and you are connected to the Creator of the whole world. Just walk ahead in life with full enthusiasm, and with the faith that the Creator of this creation belongs to you.
Once you have this strong enthusiasm in life, I tell you, no one will ever be able to shake you in life.
You get so upset over small and trivial events in life. You start crying for trivial happenings, and become afraid for such small things. You are spoiling your own life by doing this.
Just have deep faith, and remember that the Creator of the world belongs to you.
'I will surely get whatever I need, and my life will be wonderful. There is no second choice to this at all!’ This is the kind of courage with which you must walk in life. This is the Sankalpa (firm resolve) and the prayer that you should have. Nothing else is needed in life.
Don’t behave like a beggar, always saying, ‘I want this kind of success; I want that kind of fame and money’. It is all useless. Feel that deep connection with the Divine.
At all times, remind yourself that 'I am connected with the Divine at all times. I do not know what God is, or where He is, but I have a deep and unshakeable connection with Him, and that is all I know, and that is all that matters!'
Just have total faith in this. This is like a fish which has that total and utter faith that 'I am in the water (here signifying being surrounded by the Divine)’.
You must just believe that ‘Regardless of the play of events, I have a deep connection with God’.
Now, you have never seen or understood God, but the Guru is seen, and he is available to you. This is why the Master is like the door to the Divine.
When you have this complete faith that ‘My connection to the Divine is strong and unshakeable’ then you receive so many siddhis (extraordinary abilities) in life, by way of unshakeable devotion. Then you shall get whatever it is that you desire, and whatever you wish will happen.
A plane ticket that was earlier out of your reach suddenly becomes available to you.
If you want the pouring rain to stop, it will stop. How many of you have experienced this? (Many in the audience raise their hands).
I know that there are four people who have come here who were not able to book their flight tickets a few months ago (because of no availability), but they got the tickets just a few days ago. (Sri Sri looks at the crowd for the four people who were unable to get their flight tickets). Raise your hands (the four devotees in the audience raise their hands).
Just see! They were all very tense earlier, when they had not got their tickets. But they were able to book it and have reached here safely.
So it is not a difficult thing to get what you desire.
There is nothing great in asking for small trivial things in life. You should ask for something big in life. Whenever you ask, ask for something big and the best for yourself (from the Divine).
There are so many people in the world who are so miserable, I tell you. Despite many people having a lot of money, there is no happiness on their faces. Despite having fame and prestige, there is no enthusiasm in their lives. So, all these (money, fame, power, etc.) are useless. If you want juice in your life, there is only way: make that strong and unshakeable bond with the Divine. Then you realize that your whole life is such a blessing, that everything in life is such a blessing. Your breath is a blessing, and your mind is also a blessing.
When you accept everything in life as a blessing, then you will have abundance in life, and then you will get what you want, even before asking for it.
How many of you have had this experience, that even before your wanting something, it has arrived at your doorstep? (Many raise hands in the audience) That’s it! This is the sign of knowledge.
The sign of being in wisdom, is having this firm belief, that before you need anything, it is already there, right at your doorstep.
There is no use of getting something after struggling for it all your life. Getting something that you wanted after praying a lot, or getting it late, or not at the right time, is no good.
If you get something the moment you ask for it, then that is good. And the best is, when you get something without even having to ask for it. It is like getting water even before the thirst for it has arisen in you. That is Siddhavastha (having the ability to manifest wishes effortlessly). This shows that you are a Sharanagati (one who has surrendered totally to the Divine). That deep feeling of faith is what you should have.
That is why Lord Krishna has said, ‘Come take total refuge in Me, and I shall liberate you from all your sins’.
If there is some misery or suffering in someone’s life, it is because of sin (wrong deeds). If there is no sin, there can be no misery or suffering.
One suffers because they have done some wrong deed sometime earlier. And there is only one way to be free of this, and that is to surrender everything to the Divine.
Just know that there is someone or some power that is there to look after you all the time. So simply surrender all your problems. Have that faith that the Divine will take care of everything.
When a small child gets himself dirty in the mud, he comes to the mother, and shows her how his hands and feet are all dirty, because he knows she will take care. Children who are one or two years old cannot take a bath themselves, so they come to the mother.
Even if they need their diaper to be changed, it is the mother who has to do it, isn’t it so? You know why the child does this? It is because the child knows that there is someone who loves it very dearly, and who will take care of it at all times.
In the same way, we too should have this deep faith that there is someone who loves us totally and will take care of everything for us. Then we can be free of all our worries and difficulties.
If you have experienced this feeling even one, you will simply walk ahead in life with your head held high, and full enthusiasm. You will walk just like a lion and not like some small insect. You will no longer cry over your problems thinking ‘Oh, I do not have this, I do not have that’. You will find that everything you desire will simply fall at your feet.
This feeling is not born out of arrogance. If you have this feeling, it means that you become so natural and blossom so totally from within. Your heart and mind have become open and full of joy, and you carry a sense of centeredness with yourself at all times.
So you should walk like a King and be the perfect servant. Be supple and sensitive, but also be strong (from within).
Often people who are very sensitive are also very weak. They get so affected by what others say. They keep weeping over what others think, or say about them. That is not how you should be. Be strong from within, and know that you can do what you want to do. You can overcome the hurdles that come in life, because you know are not alone, there is someone to take care of you. This confidence has to come from within.
Actually, it is already there. You already have that.
I would suggest you to read Yoga Vashishtha (a sacred scripture narrating the enlightening dialogue between Lord Rama and Sage Vashishtha). There are many audio recordings for it also. It is in both English and Hindi. So just sit back and listen to it. Whenever your mind is troubled because of something, just sit back and listen to Yoga Vashishtha. All your troubles will vanish in a matter of a few minutes.
That is why it is said in the Bhagavad Gita, 'Na hi jnanena sadrusham pavitram iha vidyate. Tat svayam yoga-samsiddhah kalenatmani vindati'. (4.38)
There is nothing that can purify the mind as knowledge.
Q: Gurudev, what is Kundalini Shakti? What happens when it rises during Hollow and Empty meditations?
Sri Sri: Kunda means pot, kundalini means energy in the pot. The body is like a pot. When the energy in the body rises up, it has many manifestations. All different emotions are just manifestations of one beautiful energy.
It is one energy that manifests in different regions of the body. At the bottom of the spine, it is inertia or enthusiasm. When it moves up, it is creative or procreative energy (sex drive). When it moves up, then the energy manifests as joy, generosity or greed or jealousy. As it goes up to the heart region, it manifest as love, fear or hatred. Then in the throat, the energy manifests as grief or gratefulness, and so on.
Q: Gurudev, very often people become excited or aggressive during times of revolution and lose their presence of mind. Today we see minor waves of change in the society but they soon disappear because there is no sense of awareness in people. How can we maintain both dynamism and a sense of peaceful awareness at the same time?
Sri Sri: It is a bit difficult for everyone to have that state of peaceful awareness. But if our political leaders develop this sense of awareness, then our job of bringing about a positive change in society is done.
When those in leadership positions work with awareness, they will not resort to inciting people in the wrong way. They will be able to channel the enthusiasm and spirit of the people in the right direction. This is what is needed.
So even if a few people start becoming more aware, then they will be able to give the right direction to the energy and enthusiasm of all the people around them. If the politicians themselves do not have awareness and continue to be entangled in petty conflicts and issues, then the country will surely be headed in the wrong direction.
Q: Gurudev, in the Agama tradition, it is said that the Asana (here meaning holy or revered seat of a deity) for the Devi (Mother Divine) is both Dharma (righteous conduct) and Adharma (immoral conduct or deeds). Can you please explain this?
Sri Sri: Yes, Shakti (here referring to the Mother Divine as the source of all energy) is present in both Dharma and Adharma. Otherwise, Ravana (the demon king of Lanka) would not have had the power to stand up against Lord Rama. He was strong and powerful, which is why he could gather might to stand against Lord Rama.
In the same way, if the demon Mahishasura did not have any power, he would not have been able to face Goddess Durga. Is it not so?
A war always takes place between opponents of equal power and skill. A 50-year old man would not wrestle or fight a five year old child.
When the Samudra Manthan (referring to the event of the churning of Kshirsagar, the great ocean by the demigods and the demons) took place, there were the Devas (demigods) on one side, and the Asuras (demons) on the other side. It is because they were both equal to each other in power that they could churn the ocean using the great serpent Vasuki. If the power of the Asuras had been greater than that of the Devas, then they would have simply pulled the Devas to their side. And if the Devas had been mightier, then the Asuras would have gotten pulled to their side. But that is not so. They are both equal in strength, which is why sometimes the Devas (representing righteousness and virtue) win, and sometimes it is the Asuras (representing negativity and immorality) win.
Sometimes Dharma triumphs, and sometimes Adharma triumphs. It depends on who wins. When Dharma wins over Adharma, we say that it is Satyuga (the Golden Age; referring to the epoch of time characterized by goodness and prevalence of morality). When Adharma triumphs, we say that it is Kaliyuga (the Dark Age; referring to the epoch of time characterized by immorality and downfall of human values).
Who wins in the end of this conflict is decided by Kaal (here implying Time).
When the Sattva (one of the three gunas characterizing wisdom and righteousness) is more, then surely Dharma wins over Adharma. When there is predominance of Rajoguna (one of the three gunas characterizing attributes such as activity and passion) and Tamoguna (the guna characterizing negativity and inertia), then Adharma wins in the end.
A conflict implies a battle between two equals. Now, the Para-Shakti (referring to the Mother Divine as the primordial energy that creates and sustains all of creation) transcends this conflict and is much higher than it. What is Para-Shakti? It is One without duality or conflict. All are equal and the same before that divine power.
Q: If Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the sustainer, and Shiva is the dissolver, who is hiding and who is blessing?
Sri Sri: It is a function of the same; the five actions are of one God. All of them are blessing. It does not matter what name you call it.
God is in control of the whole world. We only wish He makes it a little more obvious, then you would feel free from your worries.
Q: In The Ashtavakra Gita, we heard that we are not the doer. Is this not in conflict with self-effort? Please advise as to how self-effort should be utilized, especially in meditation.
Sri Sri: You will realize that I am not the doer only when you put your 100% in self-effort, not before. If you have not done anything, you are only sitting there with your hands folded, you can never realize that I am not the doer.
Meditation is effortless, yet to get into meditation, you need to put in a little effort.
Did you notice yesterday, at the beginning, we put in some effort? There was an ache in the back, the shoulders, and then a few minutes later, it all disappeared. Effort is needed in the beginning, and then you have to let go.
he Ashtavakra (Gita) is like moving or rather flying through rockets.
There are different ways (of flying), one way is to map the road first, and then you know where to go. Another way is to sky-rocket, direct to the source.
Similarly, there are different levels to knowledge; that is the richness of this literary tradition. It is so rich that it can guide anyone, from a beginner to a nuclear scientist. It has something to give everybody. (In the past, no generation was ever deprived of the ultimate knowledge. If you did not tap into it, that was your problem, but the knowledge was available to all.)
When you go deep into this knowledge, you realize it is mind-boggling. You can understand the whole of Quantum Mechanics when you understand the Self, the consciousness. What scientists say today, that there is one field (of energy), this is exactly what the ancient people also said.
God is not a person yet God can be called he, she or it, because it is conscious, it is lively. God is not an object, it is alive. The mind can be called he, she or it.
There is the small mind and the big mind, the big mind is the presence, in which all the small minds exist.
When you go deep in meditation, do you have any gender? No, gender is only related to the body. As a person, as a life, you are not male or female. You transcend the identity; Divinity transcends identity. That is why it is not that God is a person sitting up there.
Most people have a concept of God as somebody sitting out there, and you are having a conversation with Him. You are conversing with your own mind.
You can feel the presence of God; you can be God. Feeling is secondary, being is first. Knowing there is nothing other than this. What is right now, that is all there is (i.e., Truth, Existence and Bliss). Everything else, all the thoughts that went through our mind, all the interactions that we have had, all that has happened, are not there right now! Are they there now? They exist only in the video tapes in the library, where nobody bothers to look.
At this moment, thousands of channels are working. Seven billion minds and multiple trillions of thoughts are being emitted out, and it is all gone!
Can you wake up and see the grandeur of creation? There are billions of planets, billions of stars, and (we are) a tiny solar system in that galaxy.
In the ancient days, it was said, ‘Ananta vai loka’, an infinite number of worlds, such that you cannot even count them. This grandeur of creation baffles the mind and brings it to the present.
All that is right now is what is, the rest is just a play. That is the essence of The Ashtavakra Gita: everything is like waves in the ocean.
Have you ever counted how many waves arise in the ocean? There are waves throughout the ocean, not just on the shore. Let alone how many waves are there in this second, think about how many waves have arisen in the ocean since the beginning of creation? Similarly, all these phenomena are just happening in the ocean of consciousness, and that ocean is Sat Chit Ananda.