Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: There is so much competition in society that kids have no time to relax. There is a fear that they will not fit into society. How do we handle this situation? What is the mantra for excellence?
Sri Sri: I think you shouldn’t push them too much. You should teach them to relax. That is why I said music, meditation, some games will all help.
Q: Where do you get courage from?
Sri Sri: From Advaita - Knowing that there is something in you that is not changing. A little experience of silence, calmness and meditation will give you enormous courage from within.
Q: Children don’t care about their parents when they grow up. So many old age homes are there. Where do we fail as parents and what is your advice to parents so that this situation could be controlled?
Sri Sri: That is why I am saying these three types of trust are very important – Trust in oneself, in goodness of others and in the Divine. A little bit of religion, moral and spiritual values, and the way you treat your parents and ask them to treat their grandparents can make an impact on them. So, you tell your children to take care of their grandparents. They will start doing that way.
Q: I have lost my trust, how can I regain it?
Sri Sri: Don’t make an effort to regain it. Listen to your heart. Trust can never be lost. Doubt as much as possible, but truth always stands up to the doubt. Truth is so strong that doubt cannot destroy it. So, it is good to doubt. And the trust which moves through the doubt and stands, that is true trust.
How many of you here have not visited India yet? How many of you would like to come to India? Oh, very good. You know, we will organize a group from here. You have a home there in India. All of you come for a week, ten days, 15 days…whatever is possible. You can all come to India, and have a glimpse of all the service activity.
Q: Today, children are getting more attracted to western culture. My son gets annoyed if jeans is washed after one wear. We have to pay an extra amount to get torn jeans, that is how he loves to wear it. How can we bring a change in this attitude?
Sri Sri: You know, all these fashions keep on changing. So, don’t worry. None of the fashion can stay forever. You create such awareness in your children and their friends. You inspire them to adopt some different styles. That is why I am telling every parent has to be a good uncle and aunt. You can’t care for your children only. You have to care for their friends. You should have at least six parties for your children at home in a year where you should interact with friends of your children. Call them all over to your house, have a pajama party, sit with them, talk to them, share stories, find out from them. If you spend one Saturday evening in two months, you can make a great difference.
Q: ‘Art of Living’ is doing a great job. But with 30 percent of population in depression, and this figure being expected to reach 50 percent in the coming decade, do you still see a hope for mankind? Do we still have hope?
Sri Sri: Yes, and we all have to work for it. You know, when we started in India, it was a small program. We had no resources and manpower. But we had a vision – We have to reach many people in the world. So, in these 30 years we have reached millions of people. So, it is possible.
You know, the cell phone has reached the whole world. If cell phone could reach the whole world, do you think wisdom and compassion cannot reach the whole world? We must make an effort. Ok?
Q: How do we know children are into drugs or just moody?
Sri Sri: This you can find out. That’s why it is important for you to know them and their friend circle. You will get to know what they do, where they go, keep a tab on them, especially teenage. It is very difficult time. They are undergoing such a biological change. So, they are not just satisfied with the love of their parents, their body is discovering new things. They are looking for some love from outside – an emotional support, a physical pleasure. Their mind is in such confusion. So, to deal with teenage children is a big task. That’s why we have this yes and yes+ course, which is for teens. I tell you, these courses have opened up children in such a way which I cannot even describe.
In one of the courses in New Delhi, 1000 youths participated. We asked a question, “whom do you hate foremost?” 80 percent said their professor, 75 percent of them said the second most hated is their parents. In this country where we say,Maatra devo bhava, pitra devo bhava, aacharya devo bhava, atithi devi bhava, Mother, father, teachers and guests are considered such ideals and manifestations of Divine. It is appalling to see them start hating them. We don’t want violence and stress in our education system at any cost. We do not want gun culture as is happening in America. There is so much violence in class rooms there. Present year report says that campus violence have tripled in America from what it was in 90’s. So, it is very dangerous and we do not want this thing in India. That is why we need to bring moral and spiritual values, ethical values of compassion, friendliness and love.
Q: Please give guidance on parenting special children. What can be done for them through the ‘Art of living’?
Sri Sri: You simply serve them. Don’t pity them. You know, people with special needs, their soul is in a different state. They are not in a sorry state. They have come to this planet just to take service. With this attitude, you do service. Never have sympathy – ‘oh poor child’. Children with special needs have come just to take service from you.
Q: How to cope up with child’s expectation when they compare themselves with others and demand those things that others have? They say that so and so is groomed well and they also want same kind of stuff.
Sri Sri: You have to tell children that you can only give that much and they shouldn’t compare themselves with others. But it is important that you don’t give them any false hope. At the same time, we can give them a dream. If you pass or do this, may be you will get it. Here lies the importance of bringing them up with that sensitivity and belongingness. That is why I said if you participate instead of teaching them, they will not even ask you. They should be a participant in your life. Then they will be sensitive towards you, rather than putting a demand on you. Before you become a good father or mother, you need to become a good uncle or aunt. Are you getting what I am saying? You should communicate more with friends of your children. They will listen to you. Suppose, if your son’s/daughter’s friends have any wrong habit, you can influence them to change. They listen to you more than their own parents. Similarly, other parents can take care of other’s children better than their own children.
Q: What is role of service in order to have inner contentment?
Sri Sri: You know, we should have a goal in life. My goal is to bring happiness to more and more people. If we sit and keep thinking of ourselves all the time, we’ll be depressed. We should see, ‘How can I be of service? How can I be of use to others?’ This thought is very useful. Very, very, very useful. Ya?
So, ‘Art of Living’ provides a platform for everyone to come together and do some service. You know, when United Nations announced, ‘Stand up and take action’ - they wanted tree planting; ‘Art of Living’ volunteers have planted 55 million trees around the globe.
We all can jointly do some service activity. Reduce violence, reduce stress, create a sense of belongingness, and spread the positive vibration of love and peace. Shall we all do this together? Is everyone committed to do this? (A resonating yes from the audience.)