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(Sri Sri Ravi Shankar took to Facebook with a live event, turning the modern social network into a lively global platform for seeking solace, guidance and action from the ancient Indian spiritual wisdom. Lakhs of people also participated in a meditation led by Sri Sri.
The interaction focused on issues ranging from love, relationships, maintaining faith in times of calamities, addictions, depression, success and societal violence. Live stream reported that 148 countries were logged in to chat for Face 2 Face with Sri Sri.
Below is a transcript of what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said at the event: )
Questions & Answers
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Sri Sri, did you dream of growing up to become a humanitarian?
Sri Sri: I wish I never grew up (laughs), and I still feel that I am a teenager who refuses to grow up.
When I was a teenager, I could not accept conflicts. I always wanted to bring peace. Whenever people fought with each other, I would want to intervene and do something about it. Inner peace opens doors to an unseen, unknown universe where many more levels of reality are revealed to us. But the basis is peace. So my challenge was, how to convey to people that there is a bigger dimension within you and you can get access to it when you become calm and serene within yourself.
Who were the people in your childhood that you looked up to or got inspired by?
Sri Sri: First it was my mother. She always said that I can improve. To me she was the embodiment of perfection. She was perfect in anything she did.
Second was my teacher, who was also the teacher of Mahatma Gandhi,Pandit Sudhakar Chaturved. He is still alive and he is 118 years old. From him I learnt some Vedic hymns in my free time during my school days. He is a great inspirational figure. He dedicated his life for freedom and spent nearly forty years with Mahatma Gandhi.
When he was a bachelor, he adopted eight Dalit and Harijan (lower members of the traditional Indian caste system) children, brought them up and made them IAS officers. His life and dedication to humanity is a great inspiration.
Sri Sri, The Art of Living is a 32 years old organization that spans across 152 countries and has touched the lives of 370 million people. What is the biggest challenge that you had to face?
Sri Sri: I do not really recollect or keep a count of these challenges. Many challenges do come but when your goal is clear to you, you keep walking.
Fundamentalists don’t like this because it is eroding their base as people become more accepting and more broad-visioned. Some people just think about themselves, what they would gain by doing petty things and have different prejudices. They have different prejudice against religion.
In the beginning when I would go around teaching meditation, some people thought that it was like voodoo; not a normal person’s cup of tea. They thought that if anybody meditates then they are someone abnormal. Today times have changed. Prejudices are lesser.
Earlier the dress I wore and the way I looked, race and religion, everything mattered. Everything was an obstacle at one point of time as it was not a universally accepted norm, but now the prejudice is far lesser.
We have heard that you have a 20 hour day, where do you get the drive and the inspiration from?
Sri Sri: When you want to do some work, energy is there. There is an old saying, ‘Where there is a will there is a way’.
One thing I always believed in was that, never do anything that is not in your nature, that doesn't feel natural to you. When I work, I am still connected to my higher self. So perhaps I do not feel drained that easily.
I think love is the biggest force on the planet, and when we connect ourselves we find an enormous source of energy within us and then action is just spontaneous, it is not an effort. Whenever there is effort, it drains energy. But when action is spontaneous you will see that enthusiasm and energy remains with you all through.
Sri Sri, how do I explain the idea of success to my children in simple straight words?
Sri Sri: Children do not mind success or failure. For kids I would say leave them as they are and don’t try to put a concept of success or failure in their minds. Let them experience life in totality; as it comes to them.
For adults I have a different formula. For adults, measure your success by the numbers of hours you smile. Your smile and your confidence indicates your success. Your fearlessness and ability to share and care for people indicate your success.
As far as kids are concerned, tell them that whatever is the result, it is fine. Whether they win a prize or they lose, its okay. If they pass an exam or if they do not do so well, it’s okay. Just remind them that they need to pass the exam, need to study little more, and put a little more effort. Do not try to impose this idea that they have to be successful in life. This can become a big tension. Many teenagers have this tremendous pressure to be successful and they land up with many psychosomatic illnesses. So I would say that the natural and creative tendency that children have should be protected.
How can I prepare myself to achieve success in life?
Sri Sri: Smart working, hard working and be open to new ideas and don’t get stuck. The most important of all this is to be relaxed deep within.
What to do if people close to me have a different idea of success than mine?
Sri Sri: Let them have their own idea. Anybody can have their own idea of success. You can’t change their idea about success. You hold on to your vision, your view. Suppose you want to achieve something in life, a particular target or goal, you may face several failures, never mind. Your goal is important and you should keep working towards it. Every failure is a stepping stone towards success.
We should not be too feverish about success then that becomes an impediment to be successful. Improve the perfection in your action, in your attitude and you will see that the result will be there automatically, and effortlessly.
When taking risk is so essential to be successful, how does one feel secure in life?
Sri Sri: Confidence, and you get confidence by going deep within. A few minutes of meditation will give you that confidence.
Look back at your own life and see, you have had many incidences where you were anxious of how you would be able to overcome a particular situation, and you were able to cross them all quite successfully. If you look at your past, every incident has made you strong. The bad incidents have somewhere contributed to your inner strength. And the good incidences have given you more confidence in your ability and in your creativity.
So we simply have to make use of situations, good or bad for our growth, and I tell you, it is for our growth.
How do we know that we have given our best at something?
Sri Sri: How do you know when your tummy is full? How do you know that you ran to the best of your ability? It’s obvious! It’s like the pain in your leg, and you do not need anybody else to tell you that you have pain in your leg! You do not need anyone else to tell you that you have eaten enough. In the same way, when you put your hundred percent there is a certain contentment that comes from within and you are able to say, 'I have done my best and I cannot do any more'.
But if there is any lack in your action, in your output then the mind says that I should have done little better. Instead of sitting and regretting the past you simply have to move forward, accept the past and take a resolve that next time you will put your hundred present. This very resolution to put hundred percent will make you put that hundred percent.
What are the signs of true love?
Sri Sri: It does not need any proof. Love can only be felt in heart not explained in head. Love is something that cannot be hidden or expressed. This is the pain of lovers around the world, they cannot express it hundred percent and so they feel incomplete. And they cannot hide it, it just shows up. The more you try to hide it the more it shows up in your actions.
With deep love comes the feeling of losing the person we love. How to overcome it?
Sri Sri: Somewhere love, fear and hatred are all connected, so it is only through wisdom that you can keep the purity of love; not making it turn into hatred or into fear. That is why knowledge, wisdom, and spirituality is essential. It helps to keep both the head and the heart in its rightful place.
Sri Sri if love is our existence why do we feel loving only towards some people?
Sri Sri: The expression of love is different with different age groups. With children your love is different, with adults your love is different, and with elders your affection is different. There are many colors to love. Love for God, love for country, love for planet earth, love for trees, they are all different expressions of one thing that is your very existence, which is love.
Sri Sri often love dies after a few years of marriage. How to stay in love forever?
Sri Sri: Never doubt the love of your spouse or ask them to prove their love for you. The burden to prove something is very big, it is terrible. If someone tells you to prove it to them that you really love them or not, it weighs very heavy on your heart. Never ask for proof of someone’s love.
At time, their expressions may change, it may become a little different. If you find that their attention towards you is getting lesser, ask them, 'Why you love me so much', instead of complaining that they don’t love you. Then even if they do not love you so much they will start loving you more. One must take a positive outlook towards the expression of love. It’s a delicate thing. You cannot force someone to love you. It’s impossible. It’s also impossible to force yourself to love somebody. It all has to dawn from within you in a natural and delicate manner. This is where you need skill and the skill comes to you from wisdom