Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How do you define success in life?
Sri Sri: Only in moments of true confidence do you recognize true success.
Q: Why do good people suffer?
Sri Sri: Everyone has something good in them and everyone has something foolish in them. And it is because of the foolishness that you suffer.
Q: You are amazing. Just a few minutes with you and all my worries are gone. Thank you for everything. How do you fit with Jesus and his message?
Sri Sri: His message was love. The ’Art of Living’ is also about the same. Jesus said to serve people, and the’Art of Living’ is about service. It fits in 100 percent. It may not fit with the methodology of the church, but it definitely fits with the ideals of Jesus. Jesus never said, ”you are a sinner”. In the old times, when people were crude, the church used guilt and fear in its methodology, which is perhaps not suitable for this age. For today’s age we are sophisticated and friendly, we do not have to carry guilt and sadness. We fit 100 percent with Jesus’ philosophy. The first priority is not to blame others or yourself. If you do, you will never be able to settle your mind, you will want to run away from people, and you’ll run away from yourself as well. Stop blaming yourself and others too.
Q: I have become aware of people who want to take control of our food and water supply, putting a great burden on it. What to do?
Sri Sri: The ’Art of Living’ is putting a lot of attention on this. In India some people wanted to produce genetically modified plants. This has been banned in France and other countries. The ’Art of Living’ stood firmly together and opposed it, and the government had to stop it. You cannot do it alone, you have to stand against it as a mass movement, and bring justice to the human planet. The greed of a few people gets into their heads. We are not against scientific experiments, but without proper testing and making sure that it does not have any side effects, and producing it on a mass scale for commercial purpose is not acceptable. For example, genetically modified cotton yielded three times more crops in the first year, andalso good cropin the 2nd year. However, it completely wiped out the crop in the third year and many farmers committed suicide. The ’Art of Living’ worked to give farmers hope and helped them see the value of their lives. The cattle ,which ate the genetically modified cotton, died, and the virus emitted by these crops attacked the trees. The whole area became a desert. The company earned huge profits. This is called economic violence. There are many forms of terrorism. Economic terrorism is that where greed of a few people make other people suffer, they make a mess of the economic system, and devastate so many families.
Q: Why is it so difficult to let go and surrender the past, what should I do?
Sri Sri: Don’t do anything. Just live in the past. It’s not easy to live in the past. Accept it. Encounter it. You are in the right place. Surrendering the past is not trying to run away from it. Alright, move on. Embrace the past with both arms. It is ok to have had the experiences. Don’t be afraid of it. You can handle it. It won’t go if you are tying to avoid it or being averse to it. Somebody is making a book that describes the five levels of surrender. How do you define surrender? Surrender has been misused so many times. First type of surrender comes into play when there is failure. When you are defeated, or you are miserable, you let go. Letting go, when life is a burden or mainly associated with defeat, is one type of surrender. Another type of surrender, which happens out of love, like a mother’s love for a child. Nothing else is important to her. If it is a choice between her own pleasure and that of the child, she will choose the child’s pleasure. In a love relationship between husband and wife, they feel completely at ease, fearless, with no concerns. A mother is so attached to the child; She willingly gives up small inconveniences or pleasures because she loves the child so dearly. Third type of surender mostly happens with knowledge. There is nothing anyways. It happens when you surrender to God. Fourth type is knowing that it is an illusion. Thinking that you have to give up something which you do not have is an illusion. This is the surrender of wisdom, it is just a sense of ease, knowing it all belongs to the one. This very state of surrender leads to the same place - the small mind opening to the big Self.
Q: How do I get over my fear of losing a loved one?
Sri Sri: Through meditation.
Q: If love is all around us, why do we seek far and wide to find it?
Sri Sri: Because you don’t know it. Once you know it, you won’t search.
Q: How do you balance confidence with humility?
Sri Sri: Confidence and arrogance do not go together. With true confidence, you are relaxed, you feel at home and you make others feel at home. When you are arrogant, you try to show people that you are better than them. There are two types of teachers. The first type makes you feel small or inadequate so that you learn to feel large or adequate. The second type of teachers will tell you that you are great, you wake up; you can do a lot. Both are essential in different circumstances.
Q: How do I get over addictions?
Sri Sri: Love, fear and greed. If you have an alcohol and cigarette addiction, and I tell you that you will get one million dollars if you don’t smoke for one month, you will stop. Won’t you? Greed can check your bad habit. If you promise someone love, even then they will get over addictions. There is a Catholic tradition as well as in India, that of confession. You confess and say, ”This is my habit, how can I change it?” Third is fear. If I say, you will die in a month if you do this, you will not do it. Fear can stop an addiction. I prefer love over other two.
Q: What is love and truth? How do I decide to continue a relationship or not?
Sri Sri: There is a strange relationship between love and truth? If there is a competition between love and truth, it is the love that will win. It is the fear of losing love that makes someone tell lies to the most loved ones. They are afraid of losing their love if they tell the truth. So which is powerful? Love is powerful. And it should be that way. What is love? If you have not known, there is no way you will know. Even a single creature on this planet cannot say that it doesn’t know love. Because that is our second experience. Our first experience was pain. The first nine months were easy, we were fed for 9 months in a comfortable warm environment. Then suddenly you have to come through a narrow passage which was so painful, with your head getting stuck. It was very painful experience. They cry because of this pain. A baby makes so many funny gestures and faces the first few days, because they did such a great job of getting out like moving a mountain. After the pain, they look into the mother’s face and catch the love of the mother. They realize that they are love, and know that there is nothing but love. By the age of three they start to forget. That is when the intellect starts to form, asking 101 questions. They keep asking questions. Half the time they don’t even listen to the answers. So what is truth? This is the most mature question. You can know love but you cannot tell the truth. Truth is that which is unaffected by time. With this definition, all that you see is not truth, isn’t it? This building is not the truth. It didn’t exist in the past and it may not exit in the future. Same for the body. It was not there in the past and will not be there in future. Everything that is changing is not true. That which is true is not affected by time. Truth is that that existed, that exists and that will exist. The spirit of inquiry into what is that which is not affected by time, leads you to one substance that doesn’t change at all.