Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Dearest Gurudev, most of the times I am conscious not to hurt anybody when I am working in a team. But often, I end up hurting people. It looks like I am a very dominating and aggressive person. What should I do? Should I take a back seat or be focused on my goal? Or do I maintain harmony by dropping my ambitions?
Sri Sri: Be focused on your goals but also improve your people skills. It may not happen overnight, but slowly and gradually you will be able to do that.
Q: Gurudev, you have said that a devotee never questions anything (meaning a devotee’s total faith is in the Divine). But many questions arise in my mind. Does this mean that there is a lack of devotion in me?
Sri Sri: This you need to figure out for yourself. Do you feel that there is a lack of devotion in you? If you feel there is a lack, then there is a lack.
If you are feeling hungry, how can I tell, whether you are hungry or not? Will you come and ask me, ‘Gurudev, am I feeling hungry?’
If you are feeling thirsty, then you are feeling thirsty. That’s it. You just know it when you are feeling thirsty, isn’t it? When you are hungry, you know it by yourself instantly, isn’t it? So this also you will have to find out for yourself.
See, questions do arise in the mind. But questions that arise out of curiosity or inquisitiveness are of a different kind. So inquisitive questions are of one kind.
Then there are the useless questions, which are merely doubts about something. There is a difference between doubt and curiosity. When you question out of curiosity, it is because you genuinely want to know about something.
Doubts put a question mark on what you know. This is the difference between doubt and curiosity. What is doubt? You know something, but you doubt that which you already know. Curiosity is when you want to know something that you do not know.
So questions that arise out of curiosity are alright. A devotee usually never doubts or questions that which he already knows.
Q: Gurudev, are bodily diseases or disorders linked to our karmas?
Sri Sri: Yes, some of them are linked, but not all. Some are linked to your actions of the past, and some are a result of your own wrong deeds that you have done now. That is why it is called Prajnapradha (a wrong deed committed despite having the knowledge or discretion of right and wrong).
So when you are not fully attentive or in awareness, and commit some wrong deed, then your health also suffers due to that.
Q: Gurudev, if I experience sorrow without any reason, then how can I be free of it? What kind of sorrow is this and why does one experience it?
Sri Sri: When you do not find enjoyment in anything, then you experience such sorrow and feel dejected. This is a kind of obstacle on the path. That is why, when you find joy in sadhana, seva and satsang then all such kinds of sorrow and dejection simply disappears from your life.
When we only think about ourselves and keep wondering, ‘What about me? What will happen to me?’, then you are sure to feel sad.
When we expand our thinking and think about the well-being of everybody around us, about our country, then where is the time to think for oneself and be sad? Is it not so?
We need to start taking interest in music, in doing seva and in working together with others for everybody’s well-being.
When you do this, all your disappointments in life will simply disappear.
Q: Gurudev, have you ever wanted to become someone else or experience their life just for a day? If you have a choice now, would you want to become a Guru again?
Sri Sri: I am nobody and everybody at the same time. So I do not have to think about changing a role or assuming a role.
Q: Gurudev, why does it feel that staying apart from my loved ones has now created a distance between our hearts and not just a distance between places? I feel scared of this distance between the hearts.
Sri Sri: No, do not be afraid at all. See, when there is low tide in the ocean, the water recedes from the shore, and when there is high tide, there is so much water that comes to the shore. But this ebbing and flowing of tides does not change the (quantity) of water in ocean in any way (here, ‘water’ symbolizes love).
Love and fear both come in the mind and at times one feels lonely also. But all these feelings come and go. So there are always some ups and downs that one experiences in life. What is there to it? It is useless to sit and worry about all these things. It is wasting precious time. Where do you have the time to worry about your feelings? Today you will say, ‘I am feeling like this’, tomorrow you say, ‘I am feeling like that’. So it’s ok to feel whatever you are feeling.
Life goes on regardless of how one feels. From the cradle to the grave, life goes on. Feelings come and go. So just bundle up all your feelings and put them aside.
You should be happy and simply march ahead in life. Do you understand what I am saying?
Q: Gurudev, many books have been written about positive thinking. What is the difference between positive thinking and Sankalpa (a firm resolve or pledge)?
Sri Sri: Sankalpa is a thought or wish, with which there is no feverishness attached. When you desire without feverishness for something, then it becomes a Sankalpa.
Q: Gurudev, my mind is very disturbed and I am not able to find a way out. What should I do? Where should I put my focus so that I can walk the path with conviction?
Sri Sri: Stop worrying. Just sit and relax. All your sorrow and sins will get washed away with Gaan (Satsang or singing devotional songs), Jnana (knowledge) and Dhyana (meditation).
How many people here feel fresh after the Satsang? (Many raise hands in the audience).
See, so many are feeling refreshed and energized.
Q: Gurudev, how can I gain control over fear?
Sri Sri: This is what we were discussing just now. It is like asking how can you control or get rid of your own shadow. How will you trap your shadow? Catch hold of your own neck, not your shadow.
Who tries to catch a shadow? When you turn away from the Light (of the Self), that is when you see your shadow. When you turn inwards to the Self, then where is the question of the shadow any longer?
When you have love, devotion and a sense of surrender (to the Divine), then where is the space left for any fear? When you have surrendered totally to the Divine, there can be no fear. When your life is filled with love for everyone, there can be no fear.
If there is unshakeable love for something, be it any object, aim, person or a greater cause, such as that of your country, then there is no place for fear.
Recently, some 350 ULFA militants had come to the Ashram and they stayed here for a month. Each one had a very touching and surprising life story. They were just 17 to 18 year old kids who left their homes and families to liberate Assam (from the Indian Union) and give it a separate statehood
They had been misled for years by being told that there was so much oppression and injustice being done to the people of Assam. They went into hiding in the jungles and dedicated their lives to the cause of liberating Assam. Such was the dedication with which they had set out for this cause. They would many times get food only once in a week. Their stories of struggle and survival are worth listening.
They would many times cook the same rice four times and drink the water of it. They would have no idea where they would get place to sleep in the jungle. Such were their days. They would keep wandering from one place to another.
These so-called terrorists too did such a great penance for the cause. They were only 17 to 18 years of age. They showed pictures of themselves holding guns in uniforms. Many times they did not have food or water to survive. Yet there was no fear.
When they did the Sudarshan Kriya, they experienced such a profound change within themselves. The look on their faces changed, their whole lives were transformed.
Q: Gurudev, I am not able to put an end to the doubts and suspicions in my relationship, and I do not want to end my relationship because of this. What should I do?
Sri Sri: That’s it. Knowing this is enough. Now you know that no matter how much you have doubted your relationship, it has brought you no results at all. This much you are convinced about. So just move ahead now. Everything in life moves according to some mysterious law of karma, according to some rule of nature.
How many people here have had this experience that even though you did nothing wrong, people become your enemies? Raise your hands. You would have only done something good, yet they became your enemies. And how many people have experiences that you have not done any special favour or help for someone else, yet they have become your close friends? (Many people raise hands in the audience). See! So sometimes, the best of friends become your worst enemies, and sometimes your enemies become your close friends. All this happens due to some strange karma. These are the ways of the world.
Saint Meera Bai has rightly said, ‘Karm ki gati nyaari hai’ (The ways of karma are mysterious).
So you should keep your friends and enemies aside and just move ahead in life. Do good work. For whatever time you are here on this planet, do some good beneficial deeds. This is the prayer you should make for yourself.
Who has the time to think and worry how so-and-so is feeling or thinking, or how you are feeling? Let people feel the way they want to feel. Do not get entangled in all this. Let them do what they wish. You do what you are supposed to do (your duty).
Now this does not mean that you stop caring about other people’s feelings, or hurt them. Do not do that. From your side, do not hurt or bring misery to people around you.
See, from our side we do not wish to hurt someone. But despite that if they are miserable, then there is nothing that we can do. It is not in your hands to make someone happy or miserable. Just know this. People experience happiness and sorrow by their own actions.