Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: I am centered on the Divine, yet there is restlessness, though on the outside everything seems perfect.
Sri Sri: In every seeker’s life there comes a time when the heart is at unease, and there is restlessness. In the West, it is known as the “dark day of the soul”. There comes a time when satvik shakti (positive energy) is less and rajogun and tamogun are high, that leads to the restlessness. There are three kinds of taap (penance) and one such taap is known as adhyatmic taap (spiritual misery). Yet it is for a short while. Therefore satsang is very important, especially when you don’t feel like doing it. Once in twelve years a lack in spirituality comes up. There will arise a doubt on the self, the path and the Guru. This is what the Scriptures say. Therefore the Kumbh festival takes place once in twelve years and all the saints get together to clear all their sins. This tradition is very old. A place where seekers do satsang and where Vedas are recited - kalyuga* never comes there.
Q: How to achieve excellence while following the middle path?
Sri Sri: It will happen. Your intention is enough. Main thing is Sadhna (Practices and self effort), next is awareness, and third is - no feverishness.
Q: A little more on the Mind! Mind – in want of new! What is the nature of the mind?
Sri Sri: The mind needs something new constantly, every minute, every second… It wants something today, something else tomorrow or an entirely different thing the day after tomorrow. You get bored if you have to eat the same vegetable everyday. You want to taste different varieties of food everyday. Why? Mind wants something new all the time. Homework for you! But how much newness can exist? Is there any stop to this more of the mind?
Q: I was wondering what exactly the mind is? Is it a little space in our brain or is it universal?
Sri Sri: Mind is energy which is all over the body. See, every cell in your body is emitting some energy and the totality of all that energy around you is what you call the mind. What happens in mind reflects in the body, what you put in the body, reflects in the mind. Mind is not present at some point in the brain, but mind is all over the body. There is so much deep knowledge about consciousness;
The vibrations around the body make things happen around us. Have noticed, sometimes you see some people and you feel like talking and, sometimes for no reason you feel like avoiding some people. So, one of the best ways to have good interpersonal skills is to cleanse one’s presence, one’s aura.
On a more gross level, Mind has got two dimensions. One is open mind and one is closed mind. An open mind is receptive, ready to learn, ready to catch the moment. A closed mind says, “I know it all”. Mind that has confined itself under the boundary of ‘I know it all’ doesn’t let one’s personality to blossom fully. In one of the traditions in East, the name given to a religion is Sikh. Sikh means one who is always ready to learn, and the knowledge of the self is so vast that there cannot be end to learning.
Q: I start to do a lot of things, but I don’t get to complete. Can you tell me a way how can I improve the situation?
Sri Sri: If you want to do, you can do anything. It has to come from within. With the determination, ‘I will do this job, and I will see to it that it gets completed’. This commitment from within will help you, and get you through. Got it? Nobody can do the job other than you.
So, take up with small things and follow it through, and then you will get the confidence. That prepares you to take up big tasks. You know, why do you drop things? Because you think they are not important. But there is nothing important or unimportant in life, everything has importance. So, even if something looks unimportant, you say, “I want to finish it, and I will finish it”. Then you will be able to enhance your commitment.
Q: What would be your best memory of happiness?
Sri Sri: Happiness is when you want nothing, and you want to give. Where the wanting and desires end, and the sharing begin, happiness is exactly there. Memory is not happiness. When you are happy, you forget everything. It is when happiness is gone that you dwell in its memory. In the world, people are either dreaming of happiness or remembering happiness. That is either being in the past or the future. But happiness is that which is in the present. And it is your very nature.
Q: How can I overcome anger and resentment?
Sri Sri: Don’t try to overcome both. Tackle them one by one. I say, stop the resentment and agree to be angry. Anger and resentment have a chain reaction – you get angry and then you resent; resentment will then turn to anger. Either you are angry with somebody or you are angry with yourself. You are angry with yourself and this causes anger towards somebody else. You may be angry with somebody else but then, as soon as your anger fades, you resent yourself and feel, “How could I lose my temper like that?” So, first decide to be just angry. It does not matter. Just get rid of resentment. This is the first step you can take. Anger is part of your life. As a child you would get very angry. Look at a small child who is holding a toy; just take the toy away from him and see his reaction. His whole body shakes and he gets angry. He yells and shouts, but he is normal the next instant. It doesn’t take a child very long to do this. You get angry but the next moment bring the smile back to your face. Don’t resent. Laugh at your own anger – “Oh, I had a big blow-up today! It was fantastic. It is such fun to watch others’ faces when I get angry! How they reacted to my anger! How soon they caught on to it!” You will soon see that the anger in you turns into alertness; into awareness. That is where pranayama and kriya will come to your aid over a period of time. The resentment had stopped earlier, now the anger will gradually disappear.
Q: How important is prana (life force energy)? Of course, it gives life. How does one improve one’s prana?
Sri Sri: Prana is present in everything. In fact, we are floating in an ocean of prana. When the unit of expression varies, it makes a difference. Stones have got one unit of prana. Water has got two units of prana. Fire has got three units of prana. Air has got four units of prana. Plants have got five units of prana. Animals have got six units of prana. Human beings are capable of holding from seven to 16 units of prana. The expression of prana is the whole universe. When prana is lower than, that’s when you feel depressed. When prana goes further low, then you feel suicidal. When prana is normal, you feel normal. When prana is higher, you feel enthusiastic. When prana is very high, you feel energetic and blissful. That is why, when people are depressed, or feeling low just giving counselling doesn’t work, what needs to be done is to raise the level of prana. When prana is high there is joy, vibrancy and understanding. When prana is low, the mind starts complaining and then depression, lethargy, suicidal tendencies arise. All is play and display of prana. Now how do we increase prana? This is where meditation, practices, Satsang, yoga, Satvic diet etc all come into play.
Q: Can you please talk in a little detail about the Mind and intellect, and how are they related?
Q: How to overcome self pity?
Sri Sri: The moment you recognize, you stop it. That is it. If you are asking for someone else, then they (themselves) only can come out of it. Only meditation can help. Do advance course.