Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Dearest Guruji, 19th of March is the day that people are calling the day of the super moon. That is when the moon will be the closest to the earth. Is there a connection with what happened with Japan?
Sri Sri: It’s not exactly that but last year you remember we published a book on the three eclipses by D.K. Hari on consecutive eclipses and how from the history, from Mahabharata times, five thousand years ago, when such a celestial position occur a lot of disasters happen.
Q: Dearest Guruji, Jai Gurudev! Once I am on this path, is my spiritual progress your responsibility or my responsibility?
Sri Sri: Now that you are asking this question, it is both of our responsibility. Yes, do your 100% and relax and when you feel that you can do a little better or a little more that indicates that you have been responsible. When you feel you are doing everything that you can then the responsibility shifts away from you.
Q: Guruji love should be fearless yet why does one experience fear in love?
Sri Sri: Yeah because fear is love upside down. If you do the Advanced course, you will get all these answers. What are these three emotions, love, fear and hatred, how they are all formed of one energy, and how you can turn fear and hatred into love.
Q: I did the ‘Art of Living’ course to become sharp and focused but Guruji now you have become my biggest distraction but I love this distraction. I hope it is okay?
Sri Sri: For sometime it is okay. It is said when you put alum in water, it removes all the impurities, purifies all the water and then dissolves itself, yeah!
Q: Guruji, the concept of death is bothering me a lot. If death is inevitable then what is the point in living. Please kindly enlighten me on this?
Sri Sri: If a bud feels anywhere I have to wither away why I should blossom, what will you think? A bud has to blossom and bring joy and fragrance in this world, and then it withers away, right. If a tree thinks anyways a fruit has to become a seed so why should I bear fruit? So, nature is such; as long as you are here on the planet, see how much guidance you can give.
Q: Guruji, how to maintain the purity of teaching Yoga in today’s commercial world?
Sri Sri: First of all we shouldn’t blame the world and we should not blame the cause. Purity of Yoga is there when your intention is clear, you are here to serve. If you count that there are twenty people and I will get this much money, if you think that then it can spoil the purity. That is why we have kept our courses in such a way that the teacher gets a very little amount to cover whatever expenses are there. You know you are doing it as a service and you are keeping a charge because without any charges people don’t value it, and of course you need some finances to make arrangements like the durries and the microphone and all this stuff. So if your intention is pure, if you are financially and otherwise okay and this is only an added support or income to you, then it is okay but if you are thinking only on these lines that I want to make money out of teaching yoga then your whole attitude is changed. Just imagine a school teacher is teaching the children only to get money and not to see that the students are passing or they should get better. A teacher comes for tuition for an hour and he keeps looking at the watch then within fifteen minutes he runs away, what is the quality of such a teacher. So there is no individual, personal attention that is given, so if the commercial thing doesn’t enter your mind then you are there for the cause, you are there for others.
Q: Do you get moksha by effort or without any effort?
Sri Sri: Both! It is like catching a train. Once you get into the train you have to rest. You cannot keep thinking that I have to get down at this station all the time. You need to rest. You don't have to do anything then. Just sit and relax!
Q: Bible claims – ‘Jesus Christ is the only living God and Thou shall not worship any idol or God except me’. If the almighty is one, then what should it be?
Sri Sri: Yes, these words are said in almost all scriptures. Lord Krishna also says- ‘Maam ekam sharanam.’ you take refuge in me and nobody else. So Lord Krishna’s words are exactly the same what Jesus said- ‘I am only the way.’
There is only one God and not many. One God is worshipped in different languages, in different ways, in different forms, that’s all. When people see others worshipping another form of God, they say that there is another God but there is no another God, there is just only one God! And whether it is said in Gurumukhi (Panjabi), or in Pali or in Latin- it is said the same thing. You may see even some of the names as same. There may be different ways of languages, expressions but the essence is the same. It should not be misinterpreted to believe that only if you are a Christian then you will go to heaven otherwise you will go to hell, or that only if you are a Muslim you will go to heaven otherwise you will go to hell. This sort of fundamentalism comes when you don’t have understanding of others’ ways of religion and wisdom.
All the fanatics and terrorists, they quote from the scriptures that theirs is the only way. One gentle man, whom I met in USA, said that heaven is like where only one religion followers go and rest all go to hell, then heaven must be a very lonely place and not so colorful! And that too they say – if you follow our denomination then you will go to heaven and not by following the other denominations of the same religion. This is true for almost all the religions, the concepts are wrongly understood and misinterpreted. In Vaishnava sect also they say- only worship Krishna and not Shiva, for if you worship Shiva you will not find ‘mukti’ or liberation. Krishna has very clearly said- ‘Sarva dharma tyaja ….’, “you drop every thing and take refuge in me alone. I will relieve you of all the sins. You can’t relieve yourself from your sins, I will relieve you. Don’t worry, don’t be upset and don’t be sad, I will relieve you of all the sins”. Same way Lord Buddha also said- all the devas are coming and protecting you, similar things said in Jain religion also.
So you need to have a proper understanding otherwise misinterpretation happens. Know that there is only one God, one consciousness though spoken in different words, and wisdom given by different people in many different ways. This wisdom has to be understood and grasped properly, otherwise fanaticism will grow. One sect of Christianity will say- this is the only way to go to heaven, and talk to some sect of Islam , they will say- there is no other way, our is the only way! So why different people were saying- ‘this is the only way’- was with the purpose of bringing the focus in the students at that time.
Q: Guruji, what is Nirvana? Or better, give it to us right now!
Sri Sri: Nirvana is bringing the balance and having no feverishness for any desire. Desire means a lack. When you say, I want nothing, I am content, that is nirvana. But that doesn't mean you shun your duties. You perform your duties well but you are with your center. Even craving for enlightenment is an hindrance to enlightenment.
All emotions are linked with people, objects and events. Catching on to objects, people or relationships hinders freedom, liberation. When the mind is free from all impressions and concepts, you are liberated. The state of nothingness is called Nirvana, enlightenment, Samadhi. Nirvana is getting back to me from mine. Who am I? When you go deep inside you, layer after layer, that is nirvana. It is like peeling an onion! What do you find in the center of an onion? Nothing!
When you know that everything is changing - all relationships, people, body, feelings - suddenly the mind which clings on to misery comes back to you. The return from mine to me, gives you contentment and freedom from misery. Reposing in that state of contentment is nirvana.
Q: Dear Guruji, what is the meaning of being natural? Is it doing whatever comes to the mind and doing whatever one feels like?
Sri Sri: No it is not doing whatever that comes to your mind. Doing whatever comes to your mind without any attention, awareness or thought would be foolish. Whatever comes to your mind should pass through the test of intellect or wisdom. Being natural is feeling at home; feeling at home even in adverse situations. You know when everything is good you feel at home but when things do not go your way you don’t feel at home and you want to run away. So feeling at home in every situation, yeah!