Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: What is surrender? Does that mean doing nothing and letting nature do whatever it wants to?
Sri Sri: This word surrender has been used, misused and confused so many times. I think we should use some other word (laughter). Just relax, be in your element, feel the connection, have a sense of belongingness. In fact, the connection is already there, you simply have to feel it. This is a better word. What is it you have that you can surrender? Worries, anxiety, tension, and depression! And that too you don’t know how to surrender. I want to be done away with this word surrender. I want none of you to use this word hereafter. It’s like a straw out of which juice has already been taken out, like sugarcane straw that you keep chewing and nothing comes out of it. Some better word is to be used now. Let go, relax, feel connection and that’s it.
Q: Guruji it is hard to see people you love harm and victimize themselves. So do we take their responsibility? Where do we draw that fine line?
Sri Sri: Love is not that mushy mushy stuff. Often we confuse our emotional entanglement or mess and give it a name ‘love’. No. Hurt is a part of love. Whenever you love somebody even if they don’t do anything against you, you may still feel hurt. This is because you want to express love fully but love can’t be fully expressed. You can’t and when you can’t you feel something is lacking. And when you feel there is something lacking to commune, you feel hurt. It needs just a little trigger from other person and then you say ‘you don’t care’, ‘you are insensitive’ and ‘let’s sort it out’, and when you talk it out, you make whole mess of it.
In the beginning days of Ashram here, there was a German student who was divorced three times. He came here and fell in love with Italian girl. She didn’t know German and he didn’t know Italian, and both didn’t know English. They came to me to seek blessings, and I said surely but with one condition that the boy shouldn’t learn Italian and the girl shouldn’t learn German. Now they are already happily married for 20 years. It is talking too much that makes a mess of everything. Love is not to be expressed but felt. Dimension of love is different from intellectual talking or expression.
In west love is over expressed. While sitting, standing you keep on telling each other how much do you love, and no love remains in the end. In the beginning you say, “I can’t live without you”, and you end up saying, “I can’t live with you” (laughter). It is entirely opposite in the east. They don’t express it at all. They keep everything inside to boil, but never express love. Both are at loss. I often give example of a seed. Love is like a seed. If you sow it too deeply, it won’t get sprouted. Also, if you put it on the top of ground then also nothing is sprouted. When a little soil is dug and seed is sown, it sprouts up. Same is with love. Don’t express it too much and end up with ‘let’s sort it out’. That middle path is the way.
Q: I am an ‘Art of Living’ teacher. How do I feel I have done enough service? I always feel I could do more for society?
Sri Sri: Parents never feel that they have given enough to their child, especially to the girl child. The nature of love is like that. Whatever you do in love, you feel you have not done enough. Know that there is something lacking if you feel you have done enough. It is manifestation of love which makes you feel that you can do more. Love is continuous and it never ends.
Q: There are so many attractions and distractions but still the youth is so bored.
Sri Sri: Youth is bored and it’s their fortune. If they were satisfied then growth would have stopped. When they are bored then the quest comes in them. They are not satisfied with the things available around. And this is the stage when they can take a step to look within, a leap in their inner journey, a step towards spirituality. An interest in higher growth gets kindled when you are bored with things around. When you find source of joy within, then obviously everything around is also reflecting the same source of joy, then you find interest in everything. Continuous bombardment of senses by stimuli can cause inertia. Inertia is boredom, is a form of boredom. Again when prana level goes up, you move from inertia to enthusiasm.
Q: Guruji this question has bothered me for a long time. Billions of people have been born and billions have died. I am born and I will die. Then what is the purpose of life? Why are we here if all are going to die?
Sri Sri: Why not? So many people were born and died, so many are living and they will die and so many will be born in future and they will also die. You are thinking from a business mind – what am I going to get? - What is the aim? What is the purpose? There should be something coming out of everything. So when you think from a business mind, this whole exercise appears totally uneconomical and futile. Biggest disadvantage is that it seems God hasn’t studied economics (Laughter); else Einstein would be given another 100 years so that he could perform some more experiments, discoveries. So many leaves are coming up every spring and then they fall. Such an economical disaster! People are dying and new babies are born, go to school, college – job – get married – have children – and then die again. It appears to be completely bizarre. But that’s how it is.
Q: You have talked about hidden meanings behind symbols in Hinduism which seem to be very illogical. Could you please talk about many crores of devtas.
Sri Sri: Crore, Koti means types. 33 crores means 33 types of divine impulses. In our body also there are 33 types of divine impulses. In our genes also there are 33 types. A particular type makes the eye, a particular type makes the nose, and like that a particular type makes eardrums, hair, nails. Like this there are 33 rays of divinity. One light, one God, one Parmatma but there are 33 aspects. Devas are the 33 different aspects of divinity. Here crore is not referred to as a number. Divine has no form but ancient saints have said you can adore him in any form or names. All the thousand names belong to God only. This is very deep science or deep knowledge. It’s amazing. When you go more and more deep into this, then you feel wow. People who have discovered this and written this have simply stupendous knowledge. The universe is not so simple. It’s very complex. Modern physics also says that deeper and deeper there are so many different type of particles. So the diverse universe and the divinity which manages, rules and has made this diverse universe is devta. The English name David is a Sanskrit word. Dev + vid, dev means divinity, vid means to know. David means one who knows the divinity. Divinity is not somewhere up in the heaven. It is present in the world, universe, everywhere. And it has to be realized that when the mind is calm, serene and settled in our heart and when emotion and intellect merge into a serene blend in silence, then you are able to perceive the subtle reality of Universe and that is devta.
Q: What to do with choices when both choices seem to be difficult? In the short run and in the long run you don’t know?
Sri Sri: Choice is always between bad and worse. So worse is just a little step more than bad. So never mind (Laughter). Why to struggle so much!!
Q: In my country most people are of the opinion that you can’t raise a child without a non - vegetarian diet, as the body will lack in amino acids and the brain won’t function properly. What should I do?
Sri Sri: Ample research has been done to the contrary of this theory. Look into that. There are millions of people who are vegetarian in the west, and they are very brilliant. In fact all the genius people in west including Einstein were vegetarian. Many of the top scientists like Novel Lorex have been vegetarian. This theory that brain doesn’t work needs to be questioned big time.
Q: What to do with negative thoughts?
Sri Sri: It is ok to have negative thoughts at times. When you think a negative thought should never arise, then you encourage it. Accept even the most negative thoughts that come to you. Then you find it is not even there. It is just dim energy.
Q: How to be one pointed on path? There are so many distractions pulling us back.
Sri Sri: With wisdom you come back. This very question indicates you are coming back, in fact you have already come back, and you are not distracted. Through wisdom or misery you are brought back to the center. When you go away from the center, you are beaten; you start crying and then come back to your center. Wise come back to the center through wisdom. The not- so- wise face problems here and there and then come back to the center. This is the law of nature. This is how things are.