Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How do you let go of someone you love?
Sri Sri: You must know that love is your nature. Love doesn’t mean possessiveness. Love is not “Oh I love you so much, don’t go anywhere. Sit next to me all the time.” That is not love.
Q: Guruji, I did the Eternity Process and I saw many things from past lives. I experienced a lot of devotion and I even saw you. How much of it is true? Am I just making stuff up?
Sri Sri: You don’t have to doubt it. As I said, these experiences are a mixture. One is from your consciousness and your deep experiences. Sometimes it could also be through your fantasy. So, sometimes fantasy gets into it. Then the experience comes up. You know, it’s usually mixture of it. Even if 20 percent of fantasy is mixed with 80 percent of reality, you don’t need to think or do anything. It’s an experience. Take it as it has come and move on.You are much more than all the experiences. You are much more than all the identities and the roles that you play. That is the Self-knowledge. That is the real spiritual knowledge. This is the Upanishadik knowledge.
Q: Dear guruji, how do I achieve balance and moderation? When I live my life 100 percent, I get passionate and attached to the events. When I live dispassionately, I become somewhat slow. Also, how to feel connected? I still feel the void and longing. Nothing seems to be an answer for these.
Sri Sri: That’s very good. You are fortunate. When you feel the longing, you are really getting on the path. Very good. Don’t worry about it.
Q: Jai gurudev. Would you please explain about 2011? We are worried.
Sri Sri: If you remember, many people were so afraid and paranoid in 1999. In 1999, it was said that computers were going to crash. They were asking, ‘What do we do? We are not going to get food’. People started storing milk and food-grains in their basements! I think I was in Halifax at that time and people there asked me the same question, and they were also storing food! They said we have stored milk powder for three months, grains and stuff. I said, ”nothing is going to happen. There is going to be business as usual”. And I am telling you now, we will see 2010, 2013.. It will be business as usual. Only thing is people will be more and more spiritual. Have you noticed how young children, the Yes+ kids were asking questions? I think the older generation would be surprised to see how spiritual the younger generation is becoming. You know what questions you got in 40’s or 50’s, What is the meaning of life?, these kids are getting at the age of 15 now . I am asking this question to those of you who are above 50. Did you ever get this question at that age? The kids today are so much spiritual! As the time comes, you will see that more and more kids become more aware. They are not so much about showoff or buying things like you used to feel. The younger generation is completely off the clothes or jewellery or showoff. Of course, they have little bit more craze about gadgets and the cars. But even that is not as much as you would expect the things to be. Right? You find such difference in people! See in the beginning days of video games every body was so much on those video games. All those violent ones. But as times passed, it’s fading out. I feel that it is fading away. Isn’t it? It’ll happen. More people will be more inclined towards spirituality.
Q: Dear guruji, This might sound like a silly question, but I don’t understand money at all. Can you explain it to me? How important is it? Thank you for having me here.
Sri Sri: It is said in the Vedic literature, Dharma is righteousness. Then comes artha, which means- the means, money. And then Kama, desire. And then liberation, moksha. So, Dharmasya moolam artha. That is, righteousness is based on prosperity. If everybody is prosperous, nobody will steal anything. The root of dharma or righteousness is prosperity, is money. So, it is all linked. Money is important, but money is only the means. It is not everything.
Never link money with happiness. Even the poorest people are happy, if you see. In fact they are more happy. But money can create a false notion of security to you: You think if you have money, you have everything. The idea of money is for comfort. Isn’t it? Why do you want money? For comfort. But money can give you only one type of comfort.
There are three types of comfort: Physical comfort, emotional and mental comfort, and spiritual comfort - the inner comfort. Whereas money provides only one type of comfort, it doesn’t give emotional and spiritual comfort. It is essential. Like, we all eat to live. But if we live only to eat (laughs), then something is very wrong with us. Basically wrong.
Scriptures and ancient people beautifully describe how to make best use of money. You make five equal portions of the money. You use one portion for yourself, you save twenty percent, you use another twenty percent for your family, and immediate needs, and you make use of one portion for the society .One is called Aapad dhan. It is for emergency, for any need in the future. And there is another school of thought which says you spend 10 percent on charity, you save 30 percent, and you use 60 percent the way you want.
I would say, you don’t need to spend even 10 percent on charity. Keep aside at least 2% or 3% of your income. If you don’t do charity at all, your money will be spent on court cases and on hospitals. You keep aside 2 – 10 percent for the world. Then the greed will not happen in our mind. Greed kills the person and then kills his business also.
But ambition is ok. You should have ambition. You should aspire to create more wealth. Creating more wealth is not a bad thing at all. So, that balanced attitude for money must be there. Money should not be everything in life. It should be to sustain, and to give you physical comfort. And it’s only spirituality that is absolute comfort. When you are connected with the divinity, mental and spiritual comfort is there, you don’t even think about money. Things come automatically.Next year, this ashram will have completed 20 years. Before we had this ashram in North America, we used to hire places here and there. So many people used to come, and we needed our own kitchen for vegetarian food. It was difficult to have advanced courses in hotels here and there.Then I said that the next time I come, we should have a place where we can keep the atmosphere pure, where only meditation happens and where the vibrations of the place become more saatvik, more congenial and more in harmony with nature. Then some of our devotees went around and looked at places, but we didn’t have that much money.
First we put up some tents, and all the tents flew away. It rained. They had a kitchen here and wooden things. Everyone started doing a little bit here and there, and the place became beautiful. So, the whole place come up in some time.This is what is called siddhi. Siddhi means you get what is needed. In India, there is a proverb which says you really wished for nuts and it came to you when you lost all the teeth (laughs). You were praying for nuts, ‘Oh, I need nuts, I need nuts, I need nuts.’ And then when you got nuts, all the teeth were gone! That’s no use. You are praying for husband or wife, and they appeared when you are 75! It makes no sense!
We never ever worry for how things will be done! This is what is siddhi. When the spiritual power is there, spiritual energy is there, everything happens effortlessly. Move with faith and confidence. At the same time, don’t live too much in the air. Be a little practical also. Till you get to that level of spiritual inner dependence, you have to have the reasoning. Reasonably, you should be aware of how you should manage funds.
So, it’s like dance. How dance will happen? When one foot is on the ground, and one is up. If both legs are buried in the mud, can you dance? And if both feet are in the air, then also you cannot dance. You’ll fall. So, dance happens when there is one foot on the ground, and one up in the air. This is what is whole knowledge – practical yet ethereal, spiritual in approach. But I have seen some people who are too ethereal. They don’t do any work but they simply sit, ‘I want 20 million dollars, I want 100 million dollars.’ They don’t even think about small numbers. (laughs) They Pray for it every day. Nothing is going to happen that way also.Know that balance.
Q: What is your inspiration?
Sri Sri: There are two ways of going about work. One is wanting to do something for which you can always find an inspiration. Another is since you already have something, so you want to do it as an expression of joy. It makes all the difference whether work is done as an expression of joy versus expecting some joy. So, I’m not expecting joy in doing something. Rather, I am doing everything as an expression of joy. Everything is happening spontaneously. People find it very hard to understand this. These people ask me, “What is your motivation?, What is it that you want by doing all of this?”. I say, "nothing. I want nothing". It’s a little hard to understand at that time. For instance, suppose you have seen a nice movie. So many people who saw Avatar told me, “Guruji, you must go.” By canvassing for a movie you enjoyed, you are not getting anything. You are not getting paid for canvassing for that movie. You go around telling everybody, “oh, that movie is so good, you should watch it.” What do you get by that? You just tell people because you enjoyed watching it, and you want to share that happiness with everybody. Infinite joy is what we’ve all been born with. I give joy by sharing myself with everybody. So, we need to bring this shift from the joy of receiving to the joy of giving.
Q: If God is omniscient, why do we praise Him or pray to Him?
Sri Sri: Your praise is not for God’s sake. It is for your sake. You praise God, and that praising uplifts your own spirit. You imbibe all those good qualities in you. It’s not that God, when praised, becomes very happy and places those boons on you. You cannot bribe God like that. We pray to God. We do it in every religion. We seem to think that by praying we are appeasing God and by not praying we are annoying God. I don’t think so. Prayer is your innate call. You want something and you pray. Meditation is even better than prayer. The culmination of prayer must be meditation. Meditation is telling God, “I am here to listen to you. What do you want to tell me? Let thy will be done". That is meditation.
Q: Is homosexuality evil?
Sri Sri: I don’t think so. Eastern philosophy does not even say that it is evil because you are made up of both male and female DNA. In your DNA, you are half your mother and half your father. Both male and female aspects are in you. In some people the male is more dominant, though your physical body is female. Then you become lesbian. And if your female aspect becomes more dominant and you have a male body, these tendencies may come up at different times. So don’t label yourself as wrong or feel guilty. These tendencies come and go. Many people, who are straight, suddenly have these feelings, and then they are so shaken within themselves. Many people come and talk to me about this problem. Similarly, people who label themselves as gays or lesbians suddenly find their preferences changing. So, all this is fluid. Our tendencies and mind are fluid. I tell you, we should not blame ourselves at any cost. Self-blame is a sin. When you blame yourself, you can never settle down. When you haven’t settled down, you can never focus on anything.
Q: Are you frustrated with what has been happening on Wall Street?
Sri Sri: Wall Street has lost the trust of people, as have the government and the church. We need to bring spirituality, the type of spirituality that Mahatma Gandhi spoke about, into politics. We need to spiritualize politics, socialize business and secularize religion. Religious leaders need to worry more about people than their institutions. They should care for people more. At the same time politicians should think about the values that leaders like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and George Washington had. This country had Lincoln. He was a great visionary. There have been leaders who have given their whole lives in service to the people rather than out of a desire to achieve something. There is the Lincoln Memorial here, but it was not Lincoln who asked for it to be built. He stood for justice, equality and truth. That is real spirituality. I consider the founders of this nation and also the founders of India, South America and South Africa as people who had zeal. They were innately spiritual in their nature. This indicates how spirituality relates to politics. The backbone of business is trust. If lost, it cannot survive too long. So businesses should practice corporate social responsibility. We should care for one another. Otherwise, when we lose love for people, when we have no friends, we think money brings us happiness. It doesn’t.
Q: What does it mean to live completely in the present moment?
Sri Sri: Drop the wanting of this answer because the question is already in the past.