Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How to compete in a business world which is so corrupt and when the corrupt have a clear edge over all your deals?
Sri Sri: It is difficult for a single person to fight against corruption, that too for a business man. For a monk it is easy, because a monk has nothing to lose, but for a business man it is difficult and that is why you need the civil society. When the civil society gets together in a group, they can act against corruption easily.
I will tell you an example. It so happened that in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, there was a road only on paper, but in reality there was no road. So 50 of our Art of Living youths got together and they went to the Mayor's office. The first thing they did was smile at the Mayor. All of them smilingly sat in front of the Mayor and said, 'Madam, please tell us, when will this road be made? Please give us the date. Until you tell us the date we are not going to go from here.'
The Mayor got shaken, and she said, 'Yes it will be done', and in twenty four hours the road got done.
Similarly, in Hyderabad, some young entrepreneurs who were making a factory needed a license for their factory, and every inspector they went to were asking for bribe. Now these people said, 'Look, we have taken a pledge that we will not give or take any bribe. You can tell us to come here fifty times and we will come, but please be sure that we will not give even one rupee of bribe.'
Looking at this conviction of the youth, they granted all the ten licenses that they needed. Everyone else in that industrial park was surprised. They said, 'We have been trying for two years to get these licenses and we could not get it, how did these three young boys get all the licenses done?'
So once we have the conviction, we can change the system, we can make a difference.
As youth, you must have this conviction in your mind, 'I can make a change.' If you think, 'The world is corrupt and it is never going to change, and nothing can ever change', then your own thought, and your own vibration will bring these kind of situations around you. So you need to come up with an idealistic dream, and then you will find things do happen.
Again I am telling you, it is difficult to fight corruption alone. You have work in a group to fight against corruption.
Behind anger is the demand
for justice, and intolerance
for injustice. So anger is
good, it is essential, but
only to wake you up.
After that the anger needs
to be given a direction of
creativity, otherwise the
same anger can burn you.
Q: Gurudev, please talk on the art of asking questions since, at times, I am not satisfied with an answer I get, or I get more confused with the answer.
Sri Sri: Meditation!
When the mind is restless, no matter what the answer is, it does not get in. When your mind is quiet, just a sign is good enough and you will pick up the answer, for you are the source of all answers. When you are quiet, then, from within you the answers come up. That is why, a few moments of relaxation is essential.
Whatever you tell a restless person, he will say, ‘But’. You give them an answer, even then they will say, ‘Okay! But…’, and then they go on changing the topics.
This is the sign of a mind which is so filled with ideas and concepts, that there is no place for new wisdom or knowledge to enter in.
The same thing happened with a Master and a disciple.
A disciple came to a Master, and he was asking some questions,(a very similar situation as you are in.) He was asking question after question, but was not satisfied with any answer that the master gave. So, the master said, ‘Okay, come! Let us have tea.’
The master asked, ‘You like tea?’
He said, ‘Yes.’
So the master started pouring tea in the cup of the disciple. The cup got full but still he kept pouring. The tea overflowed from the cup and spilled on the table, and the floor.
The student asked, ‘Master, why are you doing this? The cup is full. You can see the tea spilling all over the carpet!’
The Master smiled and said, ‘That is what the situation is. Your cup is so full that it has no more space to take anymore, but you are wanting more. First, empty your cup, drink what you have.’
The ancient Rishis in the Vedas have said, ‘Shravana’, first listen, and then ‘Manana’, i.e., contemplate about it, or think about it. You listen to an answer, and you think about it. Then make it your own. See if it is in your own experience? Don’t believe anything because someone says it. This is the basic thing that one has to remember.
My experience is my own and your experience is your own. Don’t take anything just because I am saying it. Simultaneously, don’t discard what anyone says; you should be a good listener. First, listen, and then contemplate on it. Then, make it your own experience. Then, that becomes wisdom. Knowledge turns, and becomes wisdom – Shravana, Manana, Nidhidhyasa.
After speaking all the 700 verses of Gita, Lord Krishna says, ‘Look Arjuna, I have said it all. You think about it. If you find it suitable, take it.’
That is what needs to be given, freedom of thought, freedom of opinion, freedom of belief and faith. You can’t force a thing on everybody’s head. Faith has to be developed from within one’s self.
Q: Gurudev, India today has two parts, one is Rural India and the other is Urban India. How to bring a balance between these two?
Sri Sri: Rural India has its unique qualities that needs to be preserved, and the self-esteem of the people needs to be kept intact. Usually the self-esteem of the rural people go down and they want to emulate what the urban youth do, which is not necessary at all.
You have to give them their dignity, and tell them that the way they dress, and the food they eat is all okay. They can adopt whatever healthy practices they want to.
I have been to some of the tribal areas in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, and surprisingly you will see that they keep their village absolutely clean. There is no garbage dump anywhere.
In these tribal regions, they don't have electricity, but they have kept their little villages so clean. Every home is kept so clean. You will not find gutters here and there, none of that.
It is like the forest. If you see, the forest is so clean. You will not find dead bodies in the forest, even though so many animals die. Somehow nature keeps a balance.
In the same way, the tribal people and tribal areas, where literacy is almost zero, they have that sense of protecting the environment and cleanliness, which urban people need to learn.
Of course we have many schools in these tribal areas, where more than 30,000 kids are studying. These schools are in such remote areas where you can only go by walk; there are no roads there. And these rural people have such a vibrancy in them, a certain joy which is really worth noticing.
Q: Dear Gurudev, is having a Guru mandatory to experience the state of enlightenment?
Sri Sri: Is it necessary for you to ask this question and for me to answer? You have asked the question, now if I answer, then we are caught! Got it?
If you ask a question and you think I know the answer, then I am already a Guru and you are already a student.
Some people say, 'I am not a Guru', and some others say, 'I am not a student'. This is like saying, 'I am not a doctor but I will anyway give you some medicine.' Or someone saying, 'I am not a patient, but I want some medicine.' Both these statements have no meaning.
See, some guidance is needed. Guru is not a person, it is wisdom, it is a light, it is an energy, it is love; all of it combined. Something as abstract as spirituality needs a little guidance.
When your mind is very still, you can get all the guidance. But when the mind is not still, it is good to take guidance from one whose mind is absolutely still.
happen when both sides
cooperate to fight. If the
one side does not
cooperate to fight, there
will be no arguments.
Flow with her for some
time and then you will
see that you can win
Q: Gurudev, how did a handful of British people rule a spiritual giant like India? Is there something to learn from this?
Sri Sri: Well, you can wonder about it! One speciality of India is that there was never any unity here.
Once I was in Europe and a journalist asked me, ‘Gurudev, tell me, how come the Indian journalists criticize India more than anybody else?’
I said, ‘This is our speciality, we fight with each other.’
It was the internal fight between many kingdoms, and the selfishness of the kings that led to that sort of thing. In some way, it was good; the British did some good also to colonial India. You should see the positive side of everything. Of course, there are many negative aspects of the colonial rule, but there was also some positivity, you have to see that also. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been speaking in English today, and India would have never gotten into computers at all. It would be like China. We would have all had our own different languages; 600 dialects, 24 languages, and India would have been really fragmented.
Today English, somehow, has become a very common language, and India can connect itself with the entire world. So there are advantages, there are some good things.
Of course, there were many bad things too. Many laws from those times that are obsolete today, are still in place. So all the young people, like you, should become law makers, and change all these laws.
Women have already taken the reins in their hands, and have started changing some of the laws. I am sure more will happen.
Q: Gurudev, I am not able to achieve excellence, so I remain unsatisfied. Is satisfaction possible without achieving excellence? If yes, please guide.
Sri Sri: : If frustration is the mother of excellence, then there are many countries which are so frustrated, and we don’t find excellence there.
People say, ‘Oh, satisfaction can make you dull, and inactive.’ If frustration can bring creativity, then Lebanon, Afghanistan, and all these places should have been the most creative parts of the world. But it is not so, isn’t it?
So, satisfaction is one thing, and then creativity is another thing. When you are calm, serene and quiet, deep inside, then you get access to the source of creativity.
Q: Gurudev, today in every field, whether it is Corporate or Social Service, it is very difficult to make out the good from the bad. Now that CSR is a compulsory aspect of corporate entities; how to choose the right NGO to work with?
Sri Sri: See whether the NGOs are transparent and they have no religious bias; this is very important.
Sometimes people do CSR activity, but their motivation is different. They want to convert people from one religion to another religion, or from one ideology to another ideology; one set of vote bank to another set of vote bank. These should be avoided, because it is not really charity, it is a business in the garb of charity and should not happen. There should be pure intentions; the heart should be clean and pure.
There are many such NGOs who work with the mere intention of bringing happiness and smiles on the faces of people. So look into that; whether their intentions are correct, whether their balance sheet is correct, whether they are transparent in the spending of their money, and their administrative cost is low.
Their administrative cost should not be too much. Sometimes administrative cost is so high that very little goes to the beneficiaries; that should not happen.
Many NGOs, have said that 40% to 50% goes towards administrative expenditure .That is not desirable .It should be kept to a minimum of 5% to 10%, or a maximum of 15%. So look at that, and then see people who are working with that NGO, and take their help.
Q: Gurudev, being on the spiritual path, sometimes makes me inefficient at my work place. How do I balance the two?
Sri Sri: Then drop the spiritual path; be efficient in your working place.
Why do you want to do something that would make you inefficient? The spiritual path is meant to make you more efficient. If it is making you inefficient, just wash your hands off. Say ‘Bye Bye’ to the spiritual path and focus on your work and see, whether you can do it. Don’t put the tag of inefficiency to your rest or your meditation. It is not possible as far as I am concerned, but you should try and make an experiment.
Q: Gurudev, I have a boss who is manipulative, unethical, and very difficult to work with. I am a dedicated employee but I am not able to work with my boss, what should I do?
Sri Sri: Again I tell you, it is all about vibes.
Have you noticed, for no reason, you feel aversion towards some people, and for no reason you feel pulled towards some people. It is our vibes that speak, it is our vibes that changes the minds of people. It is through vibes that thoughts and emotions change. So you be strong.
Also, the tougher the boss the more skilful you can become. It bring out skills in you which you did not see before.
It is very easy to be direct, but to be able to have skill and convey what you really want to convey is more appreciable. So you can develop those skills.
Silence can bring skill in communication.
Every person who gets angry, has some justification for their anger. They think that they are correct. Do you see what I am saying?
Behind anger is the demand for justice, and intolerance for injustice. So anger is good, it is essential, but only to wake you up. After that the anger needs to be given a direction of creativity, otherwise the same anger can burn you.
It is good to have a stove at home. One should have fire in the house, but the house should not be on fire.
Last Sunday, I was in Delhi, and we had around a 100,000 youths in Ramlila Maidan. I said, 'I am happy that finally all the youth of the country stood up against a crime. There is so much anger in the people of Delhi, but this anger should be channelized in a proper direction.'
Do you see what I am saying? Anger is essential, one needs to stand up against injustice, but that anger needs to be directed skilfully, otherwise it will create chaos.
Q: Please give me some tips to improve my relationship with my mother-in-law.
Sri Sri: Listen, you have a different scale for your mother and a different scale for your mother-in-law. Now why do you do that?
When your mother used to scold you, it never really touched you. You are thick skinned when your mother shouts at you or scolds you. But when your mother-in-law scolds you, it shakes you very deeply, isn't it?
How many of you have this experience? Come on, tell me! Some of you are shy to raise your hands.
See, we have two standards, one for our mother and one for our mother-in-law. If you have the same standard for your mother-in-law as you have for your mother then the problem will be gone.
The second tip is, just don't argue with her. Win her over with love. Whatever she may say, if you say, 'Yes', what will happen to you? Arguments and misunderstandings happen when both sides cooperate to fight. If the one side does not cooperate to fight, there will be no arguments.
If your mother in law says, 'It is very hot', you say, 'Yes mother-in-law, it is.'
If she says, 'Day is night and night is day', say, 'Yes mother-in-law, you are right. I totally agree with you.'
Flow with her for some time and then you will see that you can win her over.
So, win her over with love and agreement.
See, when you agree, how can someone fight with you. Become soft from inside. This is the skill.
So you first try this and then you tell me.
This problem between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is an ancient, eternal problem I would say.
In the ashram, there is a general rule, that you can bring your problems here, but you cannot take them back with you.
So one lady stood up and said, 'Then can I leave my mother-in-law here.'
I said, 'Let me ask your mother-in-law first, what is her problem.'
Getting rid of people and things is not the answer, but dealing with them with skill is the answer. And silence is the mother of all skills - silencing this chattering mind with a few minutes of deep meditation. Then you will see that everything changes.