Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
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.
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: 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, is there really some power such as intuition? And if yes, how can we gain that power? What is the secret?
Sri Sri: Yes, of course you can. You can develop your intuition through regular meditation. When the mind is free of cravings, aversions and distortions, then it settles and becomes sharper. That is when intuition develops. But if your mind is constantly stuck in desires about something or another, then it does not happen.
When your mind settles and becomes still, then these abilities develop in you.
Just today I remembered that towards the end of August 2011, I had said that Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal will not stay together (in the fight against corruption in India), and they will soon part ways.
In those days when the anti-corruption movement had just begun, no one had even imagined that they would ever part ways. But I felt that they would not stick together for too long.
The Guru (here referring to Anna Hazare) and the disciple (Arvind Kejriwal) soon parted ways. Whoever heard me did not believe even for one moment that it could be true. There seemed no possibility of it coming true at all. And just look at the state of affairs today.
One is heading North and the other is headed down South of India.
So, when we are still and quiet, whatever thoughts come in our mind become true and manifest. Everyone has experienced this at some time or another in their life. When you do not desire anything and repose within your Self, then this power simply dawns within you.
Now not desiring anything does not mean you should not wish for everyone’s well-being. No, this you can surely wish and pray for. You should wish and pray for the progress and well-being of everyone around you. This deep desire is equal to having no desire at all.
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: 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, 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: 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: 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: 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.