QA with Sri Sri
Q: Is the nature of enlightened beings and non-enlightened beings the same? How do you tell when one is enlightened? What do we have to look for, if anything?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no criteria. It is the most difficult thing to do. You can’t judge by your head. Something in your heart tells you.
Once I was in Sweden and there was a bunch of journalists. They were asking many questions and I was just answering. There was lot of fun and everyone was laughing, and then one person said, ‘now, it is not a joke, tell me, are you enlightened?’
He stood up right in front. ‘I want the answer. Don’t turn them all around, are you enlightened?’
I just looked at him. I didn’t say anything.
He said, ‘I am asking, are you enlightened?’ I didn’t say anything.
Third time he said, ‘can you hear me, I am asking you a straight question, are you enlightened?’
I said, ‘no’.
He wouldn’t leave. If one says ‘no’, that should be finished. If one says ‘yes’, then you have a headache of proving!
But he said, ‘no, you are not telling me the truth. You are kidding, tell me.’
I said, ‘look, I said no and you should take the answer. But if your heart says something different then you listen to your heart’.
If you ask a man who is sleeping, ‘are you sleeping?’ If he says, ‘yes’, that means no.
If they don’t answer, you should take it.
You can’t wake them up and say ‘are you sleeping?’
So sometimes, ‘yes’ means ‘no’ and ‘no’ means ‘yes’.
You cannot judge enlightenment like that.
I said, ‘if you know yourself then you can know me better.’
Because the person would not keep quiet, he said, ‘no, you are not telling the truth.’
I said, ‘what makes you say that? Your heart is saying it.’
Only the eyes can see, your ears cannot see. Similarly, only your heart can recognize.
When Jesus was asked, ‘are you the son of God?’ He did not say anything; he had to keep quiet because there is no point in telling them, ‘yes, I am the son of God and you too’. They wouldn’t understand, so he kept quiet. He couldn’t say ‘I am not the son of God’, when all his prayers were about ‘our Father in heaven’.
All his prayers started with, ‘our Father in heaven’, not ‘my Father’. It is plural, ‘our Father in heaven’. Jesus established that relationship with the divinity, that closeness; like how you feel close to your father, your mother, your friend. Only that closeness can bring love. And this is what He was trying to establish in those days.
The same happened with Buddha. Someone very close to Buddha didn’t think he was enlightened and tried to throw a boulder on top of his head when he was sitting and meditating.
One of his own disciple and relative went with a few people and pushed a big boulder, a big stone from behind. It just fell a few inches, a few millimetres short in front of him. Otherwise, if it would have fallen, then that was it, done.
When other disciples around him got so angry, Buddha said, ‘no, it was some karma, don’t get angry, be compassionate.’
So the essence of all teachings is love, compassion and self-awareness.
Once I was in Washington D.C. in a satsang where three to four hundred people were sitting. One gentleman came from the back, a very tall, hefty man. He said, ‘I curse you in the name of Jesus, you are Satan and this yoga is all satanic’.
He came to attack me. Everybody was frozen because it was a shock, nobody thought this could happen. He came in front of me and I just looked into his eyes and said, ‘wait!’
He just dropped down and sat there. A few minutes later, tears started coming out of his eyes.
A man with so much anger and hatred, he just came close, and he lost all that anger and he started sobbing, crying. Love has the power to transform people.
I have seen so many people getting transformed in their life. You can do that when you have no hatred towards anybody. You are not angry or afraid. You can bring about a change in your atmosphere.
The same person later on took the course and also became a teacher!
Why am I saying this? The point is that inside every culprit also, there is a nice person, a good person; there is a human hiding. We need to bring out that humanness.
If you see through my eyes, I don’t see a single bad person on this planet. They are only misguided, ignorant, or hurt and suffering people. And you will never get angry with those who are suffering. How can you be angry with those who are suffering? Tell me? Isn’t it? They are suffering inside and we need to reach out, we need to help. This is what we need to do.