Q: Gurudev, the desire for Moksha (liberation) is itself a desire itself and is a necessity too. But as long as there are desires, one cannot realize God. Please guide.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is very natural to have a desire for liberation. After all your desires are fulfilled, it is only this one that remains. In a state of total surrender; in a state of Samadhi (a state of bliss and equanimity, with awareness), the desire for liberation blossoms by itself (effortlessly).
Saint Kabir would often ask people to renounce or give up everything and devote themselves to the Divine. Some disciples went to Saint Kabir one day. These disciples tried to be very clever. They told him, ‘If we have to renounce everything, then why should we keep doing Naam-Japa (or Japa, meaning to chant God’s name) also? We should renounce that as well’. So they gave up everything - their home, their parents, their Guru and even chanting God’s name (Japa). Then Saint Kabir said, ‘You gave up chanting the Lord’s holy names, but you could not give up your anger, your lust. What have you done, my dear?’ See, when you let go of Japa effortlessly by yourself, then it is alright (meaning to reach an intense state of devotion and feeling one with the Divine at all times).
The disciples told Saint Kabir that they felt lazy in chanting God’s names. I spoke about this just yesterday. People often say, ‘Oh! I got so bored doing this’. You do not feel lazy or bored while eating food. But you feel lazy in doing something good. Why do you not give up eating? You bathe every day but you do not get bored by it. You do not get bored by brushing your teeth. Just observe yourself! What are you saying, what are you doing and where it is are you going.
That is why Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita,
Na hi kascit ksanam api jatu tisthaty akarma-akrt |
Karyate hy-avasah karma sarvah prakrti-jair gunaih || (3.5)
It means that nobody in the world can remain without doing anything. We have to do at least something. And whatever we do, we should do using our Viveka (discretion) or discrimination, and we should not be guided by the impulses of the mind. When you have come to this world, do something good that benefits everybody. Do not stay entangled in thinking only what you will get. There is nothing for you to take away from this world. There is nothing to take away from here. You have come to give. You have come here to do something beneficial for everybody. And you should all get together in doing service. Do not complain that ‘I do not get any fun or pleasure in doing Seva’. Doing Seva for the sake of deriving pleasure or some sort of satisfaction too is a very poor approach in life. If you are doing Seva because you get some sort of pleasure or enjoyment from it, then you will not sustain it for long. You serve because you have to. There is no other choice. There are so many teachers sitting here. If you teach because you get pleasure from doing that, then it will not sustain for long because after a time you will not enjoy it. But if you do it because people need it and can be benefitted by it, then you will surely sustain it. If you serve only to enjoy, then you are being selfish.
Many people come to serve. They say ‘we feel happy, that is why we serve’. Then after a while, they start demanding or complaining about everything. If somebody is doing better Seva than them, then they criticize and start pulling the other person down. Such people say, ‘I do such good Seva but nobody appreciates me or recognizes me’. See, the mind traps you in so many ways in the web of its logic that you do not even know about it.
That is why it is said that when the Guru is present, the mind is not there. And when mind is present then Guru is not there (here meaning that one loses sight of the broader vision and the Infinite when one gets entangled with the limited desires and cravings of the mind and the intellect). So either listen to your mind or to you Guru. The Gurus in earlier times used to destroy the mind. The student’s will was not accepted at all. If you wanted to go to Mysore, the Gurus in earlier times would instead ask you to go to Hyderabad. They used to destroy any desire that you expressed, even the small ones. If you are hungry then they would sit and start talking for at least an hour. Just to destroy desires. Because the guiding belief was that when desires are overcome then you have conquered this material world.
The mind makes you so restless, it makes you go aimlessly from one places to another (seeking contentment). Some people switch their jobs. In America and other foreign countries people even keep on changing their girlfriends. At the end of their sixties, they say that they did not find a soul mate even after searching around the whole world. They ask me that when they will ever find a soul mate. I tell them to wait for another 20 years when you go to heaven. You will get married there only (Laughter). If you always go by what your mind says then you will continue to feel restless.