Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, you say that the human birth is precious and one gets this birth after passing through 84 lakh yonis (births or incarnations of the physical body). But the human beings today have to wake up early in the morning, rush to work on a scooter or in a local train, and face lots of problems, only to come back home tired, and goes to sleep. Sometimes one cannot even sleep due to stress. I am thinking if it was worth going through 84 lakh yonis to face all this.
Sri Sri: It’s a good thought. There is a saying in Hindi: ‘Ajgar kare na chaakri, panchhi kare na kaam. Daas Maluka keh gayye, sabb ka daata Ram’ (One need not make efforts for anything as God provides for everyone).
When one has this faith, that God is the one who provides everyone with everything, then you will never lose your enthusiasm, come what may. When you go to office or travel in the local train, just look around you and see, there are so many good people who have such good and positive thoughts, as they go about their daily routines.
Work never gets done by worrying about it. It gets done by intelligent thinking and clever action. For that your mind needs to be calm and happy. And how do you bring that calmness and happiness to your mind when there are so many difficulties at work? It is by having that faith that God is there to look after and provide for everything that I need.
Tell me, how many of you here feel that whatever you wish for gets fulfilled? (Many devotees in the audience raise hands).
Q: Guruji, how can I be a blessing to this planet? I mean, as humans, we are so destructive to this earth, even a tree is more useful than us. I feel that my duty is to save this earth, any idea?
Sri Sri: You are in the right gang. We are all in the same boat, so let us keep doing what we are doing. If we save the mind, then we save the planet earth.
First let us save our mind. Also, millions of people on this planet need this knowledge. Let us reach out to them.
Do you know that 40% of Europe is suffering from depression? 40% of the school teachers, and 30% of the population. 40% is what I read of the school teachers in Germany alone.
With this economic downfall, I am sure it has shot up by another 30% to 40%. People are so insecure and are using Prozac (an anti-depressant). We need to reach out to them with this beautiful knowledge that we have. I was also thinking if some of you can take some time off, we make groups of four and five and go to all these different cities, different towns and do some celebrations.
They did this program in Berlin, where our volunteers would invite their friends and family to their homes, just around twenty to thirty people and the teachers would go and give them a meditation and then walk away. The people felt so uplifted and so many requests started pouring in.
In just two months time, three hundred people learnt meditation in one city Berlin, just by four teachers. So many people came for Satsangs and they meditated and enjoyed.
Like that, many other teachers here did the same work. Swami Jyotirmaya went all over Europe and created a big wave. So I would like some of you, who can take two or three months off and we can tour all over Europe. Maybe we can start from January or February and bring a wave everywhere so that people can meditate.
Those who cannot take time off, but who have resources, you can fund for that project. And those who cannot fund but who have time, you can spend your time.
We can create a wave. Go to small and big towns, put posters saying, ‘Come! Let us meditate.’ Meditation to uplift the spirit, get rid of depression and all sorts of things. What do you think? Is it a good idea?
As I was sitting here, the thought just came to my mind that I should sit with all the European countries and bring more teachers and send them everywhere in groups of two and three.
Sometimes when someone comes from outside they are more successful. Like the proverb, ‘Nobody is a prophet in their own town’, that proverb may work.
Similarly, teachers from Europe should go to the far East, Africa and some other countries. Teachers from Africa and America should come here. We should just swap or do something like that. It may also be a good idea so I am thinking how we can do that.
Alex from Netherlands went to Sri Lanka and India. In India they went to so many villages and had so many Satsangs and blessing programs, and lots of people joined in.
The world needs a healing touch.
No government can ever give this human touch or healing touch. No economic institution can bring that inner solace and peace. No economic institution can instill that confidence in the mind and make depression go away. It is only our effort, this spiritual effect. A human touch is needed, the wave of human concern, human care can uplift the people and bring the happiness factor. Don’t you think so?! That’s what we need to do.
Our aim, our job is to create waves of happiness, like what you see here. How many of you feel the mantra chanting makes you happy and uplifts you? The moment you come into this place, don’t you feel happy already? Some people say their energy completely shifted, and they feel uplifted.
You will not find a face that is not happy or not smiling or depressed. One has to be extremely unfortunate to be unhappy even in such an atmosphere. God only will have to help them if there is one such.
So let us do this and think of more ideas.
We can go on Twitter and Facebook.
How many of you are following me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/srisrispeaks) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/srisriravishankar)
Q: Gurudev, I am not able to behave intelligently or cleverly before the one whom I love and respect a lot. I do too many silly things because of this. What should I do?
Sri Sri: Never mind, it is alright. There is some beauty even in behaving foolishly. That silly behavior also amuses people.
Sometimes an intelligent person cannot give the joy and amusement that a foolish person gives because of his ways.
Q: Gurudev, you have said that everything changes in this world. I want to know if knowledge also changes from time to time. We have been reading the same Bhagavad Gita for several years. Is it still relevant?
Sri Sri: Knowledge has different levels of understanding.
At different states of consciousness knowledge reveals a different aspect (of itself). Knowledge does not change, it is there, but it gives you a higher meaning when your consciousness opens up; when your consciousness blossoms.
Q: Gurudev, why is a mantra given as a whisper; so secretly? Does the mantra loses its power if given in open?
Sri Sri: You know what psychology says, if there is anything in your mind that is bothering you, speak it out. Bring it to the field of expression. Then you are free of it.
We want the mantra to stay inside. We don’t want it to be in the field of expression. We want that mantra to remain in the mind and take the mind deeper. So for your mind to go deeper, you need to have a mantra which is not in the field of expression; which is secret. That is why it is given secretly. A secret stays deeper in your heart, deep in your consciousness.
So mantra is a vehicle for the mind to dwell deeper into the consciousness. That is why it needs to be given secretly.
The mantra given to me may be a very open (common) mantra, but my mantra (the one given to me), I keep it a secret so that I can go deeper into meditation.
This is the idea from ancient times. It is so scientific.
There are mahamantras that everybody can chant loudly. But a personal mantra is what one has to keep secret. That is what we give you in the meditation course, i.e., the Sahaj Mantra. You keep it to yourself and don’t bring it into the field of expression. But other mantras like ‘Om Namah Shivay’, and 'Om', these can be chanted loudly. They enhance the vibrations.
Q: Gurudev, what is atma and paramatma and what is the relation between the two? And who are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva?
Sri Sri: It is said that in the beginning there was just energy. That one energy, that one Divine light thought, I am alone, let me multiply into many. Eko'ham bahu syam (I am one, may I be many), and it assumed the form of Para Shakti (Mother Divine). Then from that came out three energies, i.e., Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The creative impulse, the protective impulse and the transformative or destructive impulse. So three streams of energy that are called Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.
That is why it is said, in the beginning there was just one Omkar (the primordial sound). And the Omkar became 'Aa', 'Uu' and 'Ma'. We think 'Aa', 'Uu' and 'Ma' together made Omkar, no! Om was the beginning, and this one impulse expanded into three different impulses or devtas (deities).
So one paramathma or one divinity multiplied into many so that this diverse creation can come into play.
All the scientists say in the beginning there was only one amoebiasis. From one amoebiasis all the species in the universe have sprung up.
Q: Gurudev, you had tweeted two days back, ‘Celebrate with the inner stillness amidst all chaos and take full responsibility. Awaken the little Krishna in deep rest, because it is time to get witty, seriously! Inculcate wisdom playfully’. Please speak about this.
Sri Sri: Yes, celebrate with the inner stillness amidst all the chaos outside. So when there is chaos outside, you find that inner stillness.
Wisdom should not be a burden on the head. It should be very natural. So you should become playful through wisdom. Got it?
Q: Gurudev, you have said that our ancient scholars never allowed our sacred scriptures to become limited or relevant only to one particular place or time. In that case, are these scriptures just stories told by these scholars, or are they real life events?
Sri Sri: They are all true events. But even while writing about these true events, our scholars did not allow the narratives to become specific or relevant to one place or time alone. This is the specialty of our scriptures.
It is like how someone was asked to write a poem that would hold true for all time and be relevant everywhere. If you write a poem only for a particular event or festival, such as Diwali or Holi, then you can sing that poem only during that time. You cannot sing the songs for Holi during any other festival, isn’t it? Such songs are for special times and specific occasions.
But some songs are such that they can be sung at any time. So our scriptures were written keeping in mind that they should be relevant everywhere and at all times.
Q: Gurudev, in today’s world, America is going through an economic upheaval which is affecting so many other countries. Is there some karma that affects nations as a whole as well?
Sri Sri: America took a very wrong step when it went to war with Iraq. It spent one billion dollars every day for so many years. For five to six years, America kept spending one billion dollars per day. Can you imagine, trillions of dollars were spent in this war on Iraq to find the weapon of mass destruction which was never there? So it drained itself of a lot of resources. Naturally there is a big crisis now.
But I want to assure you, America will come out of this crisis. We don’t need to be too worried or concerned about it.
Only thing is, America should not venture for another war somewhere.
See, dialogue is the way. Iraq has gone from bad to worse. Today Iraq is in such a bad shape. There is bomb blast every single day. People are killed every day. Is this democracy? Is this a new change that anybody would have welcomed or liked?
These are the lessons. These are the big questions we need to look into.
America lost so many soldiers, and so many soldiers who were in the war are so traumatized. Nobody has gained from this war. World has not gained. America has not gained. Iraq has certainly not gained anything out of this war. Instead if there was a dialogue, countries like India could have played a big mediation role. Could have cleared many misunderstandings.
Anyways that is a thing of the past. But learn from this past mistake. In future, know that weapons or war is not an answer for peace. In fact, the intention of war is to bring peace. But it becomes completely opposite.
Q: Gurudev, in Gita, Lord Krishna speaks about swadharma and paradharma, whereas in Mahabharata period, there was no religion other than Sanatana Dharma. Could you please explain this?
Sri Sri: Mat and Sampradaaya (sects) are different and Dharma is different. You are confusing the two. Sampradaaya means traditions.
Dharma cannot not be translated into any other language. It is the nature of the individual. If one had to translated, the closest translation is one's righteous nature.
So Dharma is your innate tendencies, your inborn qualities. So when Lord Krishna says, 'Swadharme nidhanam shreyah', he is saying, be with your inborn tendencies and inborn qualities and don't just imitating others. Being natural, being in your own nature is Swadharma.