Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: I understand that everything is going to change. It gives me so much relief. But if everything is going to change, then why am I here? What is it that we need to do? I cannot continue without the answer to this question.
Sri Sri: The question or the idea that ‘everything is changing’ has done its job. It has created the spirit of enquiry. What am I here for? What is it that I am to do? What is the purpose of life? These questions are important to arise. These scratch the brain and opens a new avenue for you. Don’t be in a hurry to get the answer. Everything is impermanent that means everything is changing, and vice versa. For everything to be changing, there must be something that is not changing. Realizing it and living it is all life about. That is the reference point. So wonder about these questions. This will take away all the unnecesaary things like worrying about trivial issues. It helps you not to be jealous or greedy or angry.
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: 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.
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: Praying for peace does not seem to work. Is there a more practical way to achieve peace?
Sri Sri: Praying for peace does work! In 2004, there was a war between India and Pakistan. The chief of the Indian army called me and asked me to pray for the soldiers. We prayed for both the sides. The war did not happen at all. Action, education and prayer are all necessary for peace.
Q: I consulted a non ’Art of Living’ doctor, and the doctor says that tomatoes, potatoes, bell pepper and eggplant are deadly night shades, and should not be eaten. Does Sri Sri Ayurveda also prescribe this school of thought. I really love these vegetables. What to do?
Sri Sri: Don’t worry, you can have them. It is said usually but don’t just eat only those vegetables. Mix with beans, greens and lentils. You can have them but not in excess. Everything in excess is harmful. Just don’t eat them too much, and don’t make them a daily routine. Our system is strong. It can counter the ill affects of lower prana.
Q: Is there a practice that one can follow that does not cause suffering? Is there a joyful methodology?
Sri Sri: Waking up to the reality. Knowing of this ’I’ can lead to a state of devotion, of love. It is spontaneous. There is no need of surrender because it is already there. It does not have to mean a painful part of the ego. It is knowing that everything belongs to the divine, the thorn as well as the roses belong to the divine. What happens when you surrender? A permanent peace dawns in you, a smile that no one can take away from you. You wonder that there was such an illusion. You smile and realize that there is nothing to give away. Suppose you fill a pot from the lake, and you are carrying that pot of water. Then you pour it back into the lake. What can you tell the person when he/she thinks that he/she is giving water to the lake? It brings back a feeling of connectedness, and annihilates the sense of separation which causes pain and suffering. Sense of connectedness always brings peace and joy. So with this self knowledge, practice of meditation, singing, becoming one with the sound of satsang, you become one and merge into one consciousness. Satsang is everyone sharing together the consciousness and energy, everyone is sharing the sound. In Satsang, the mind gets united, all minds get united with the cosmic energy. It brings more benefit in singing when your awareness is focused, and you have one pointed attention.
Q: This is the first time you are reading my question. I get sad sometimes because I feel guys do not like me. No one has asked me out on a date or wants a relationship with me, and I do want to be in a loving relationship.
Sri Sri: Well, I have no experience. Are you sure that no one has asked you out? Sometimes people are shy and you are too. When you feel worthless, then that type of vibration comes up. But you are worth more. Beauty is in your confidence and smile, the peace you have is real beauty. You feel confident and connected to the universe and cosmos, then see how things change.
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: 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.