Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How do we stop blaming ourselves for failures?
Sri Sri: First of all, don’t pay any attention at all to the mind. If we pay attention, that's it. Instead, pranayama, meditation and yoga are very good solutions.
Q: What is the place of thought in a free mind?
Sri Sri: Where does thought come from? It comes from a free mind or an un-free mind? Thoughts are not free. So, you have answered the question. Free your mind of thoughts for a few moments. When astonished, shocked, in deep love, samadhi, meditation or deep sleep, your mind is free from thoughts. You get energized then.
Q: Dear Guruji, many of us who are on the spiritual path desire self-realization not only for ourselves but for society at large. Has such an enlightened human society ever existed on this planet, and is it utopian for one to desire this for our society in the future?
Sri Sri: You should desire for utopia, you should have dream. You know, what you think impossible, you should really dream for it and make it possible. We did one village like that in India. There was a notorious village, notorious in the sense that nobody would go into the village after five or six o’ clock, because of robbers, thieves, full of crime and a lot of problems. This village was adopted by one of our teachers, and you know, what he turned that whole place into in three months? Unbelievable! He took this village and made everyone do the course. Now, everybody in the village, Young and old, sing and dance in the satsang everyday. They have made a rule that anybody, who smokes or drinks or any substance abuse, will be fined. So, the village is free of smoking and drinking, the entire village has become organic, and they have a shop without a shopkeeper. I have also brought a CD of this village.
In my last trip, Swami Pragyapalji told me that we have such a village, and that there is a shop without any shopkeeper but the shop runs very well. People take the needed stuff and put the money in the basket there. People were all astonished that the village has been running like this since the last two and half years. A shop without a shopkeeper and nobody steals. And they have removed locks from all the doors. No door has any locks, no house has any locks and it has become the most self-sufficient village. It has pure drinking water and the entire village is painted in pink color. Everybody chose to have pink color on their walls as a symbol of unity. Both the government of India and government of Maharashtra gave this village cash awards calling it the most ideal village. So, one teacher, if you could imagine something that is thought of as utopia, made it possible.
After seeing this, 180 villages are on the way to become ideal villages.
In New Delhi, few volunteers thought to clean the Delhi for Asian games are coming. In India, there is lot of garbage here and there, and people don’t keep streets clean. They would take things out and dump those in streets. So, they started with this idea to clean Delhi.
They thought to forget about government for everyone keep blaming the government. You cannot imagine what a group of few ‘Art of Living’ volunteers have achieved? They inspired one million people to come up and take the brooms, take the plastic bags and segregate the garbage, and clean the whole city. They could gather one million volunteers in a city of 15 million people, and they are doing this from 12th of September. The Delhi government, who was never cooperative with the ‘Art of Living’, in the sense they never came to any of our functions, suddenly woke up and decided to help them. Now, the government is announcing the great job done by the ‘Art of Living’ volunteers.
So, you should think, plan and dream what you really want. It may not happen immediately but you can achieve that.
Q: How can one conquer the ego?
Sri Sri: The tendency of the ego is to say “I am not crazy, I am proper. Ego is the biggest problem. Yet it is very easy to overcome. It is a one-day job. Just act like a crazy person. Can you do that? For one day. Done! Make people believe you have gone completely crazy. It is the best antidote for ego.” If you cannot do this, can you simply behave as a child for the rest of your life? No third option. Be a baby for the rest of your life or a crazy person. Be one who has attained the essence. Apart from this, keep the ego. Don’t try to get rid of it. Do this slowly. Otherwise it is impossible.
When people laugh at you, can you relax? When people point at you, just relax. Smile and accept it. A mother has no ego. Whatever the children say, she accepts. If they kick , does the mother get perturbed? If you are unperturbed, you have conquered the ego. Ego is just a feeling of having a wall between you and others. There is no wall. You belong to me and I belong to you. You are accepted the way you are.
Naturalness is the antidote for you. Be spontaneous! Ego cannot stand spontaneity. Ego wants to present everything properly and prepare beforehand. Children are so spontaneous. They make mistakes. Never mind making mistakes. Just be like a child. Anybody can say anything about you.
Another block we often have is to feel something is not practical. No need to practice anything. Our own mind is saying it is not practical. We wanted 2,000 Hindustani classical musicians to perform together. Every teacher said it was impossible. A choir in India! It is not like here with so many people and that many styles. They have their own octaves. We had a program called Antarnaad. You should see it on Youtube. There were 2,750 singers. Only one day of practice! Make the impossible possible. We should remove the block in our own mind. Top musicians were spellbound at the Antarnaad event.
Q: How do we locate the queen bee within us?
Sri Sri: Meditate, meditate, meditate, meditate, and meditate.
To be continued in the next post..
Q: In Celebrating Silence you say that ambition indicates lack of self-confidence. Is this so?
Sri Sri: If I say, “I have successfully lifted this bottle of water”, this indicates I was not confident that I could have done it. Being ambitious is when you are not confident of achieving something. ‘I ran ten miles. I did not think I would do it’ - Claiming success indicates your limitation. You are unaware of your huge potential. But the attitude should be ‘ I ran ten miles? I don’t realize that I can also do 100 miles’!
Q: Many Indians, settled here in the States, are not happy because they feel their children or families are being prevented from making progress in life. They are not coming up for whatever reason. What is the solution for handling this stress?
Sri Sri: Is your question that people are not happy in spite of prosperity? Bring them to me. Bring them to the teachers. They will have no choice but to smile. Stress can be eliminated through stress management, dispassion and through a broader outlook to life. When you are 90 yrs old what do you want from this life? What do you want to take? What do you want to give? What impressions do you want to give to the world? What impressions do you want to take from the world? Just ponder. Just be with these few questions and the stress will leave you. Dispassion and breath uplift you. A little bit of devotion or bhakti uplifts you.
Q: Guruji, what importance, if any, should we hold on to what the Pundits, Astrologers and the Psychics say about our future and its course?
Sri Sri: Take it with a pinch of salt. Take it lightly, everything will change. You know, what your Astrologer says, you don’t have to believe one hundred percent. Astrology is a science, but not all astrologers are scientists. You have to take it with a pinch of salt. It can change also.
Q: Beloved Guruji, I have been practicing to give a percentage of my income to uplift the society for the last twenty years. Would you please elaborate on the idea and power of charity as a spiritual practice? Love and Gratitude!
Sri Sri: Ya ya, giving something back to the society is very important. You know, there is a proverb that says, “Rice is purified by a drop of ghee on it”. You know ghee, butter, a little fat. It was a practice in India, but we didn’t see any scientific basis for it.
Lately, when we spoke to a scientist doctor, he said it is good to have a spoon of ghee, the clarified butter, on rice, because that prevents one from having diabetes. You know why? Rice or any food, starch or carbohydrates quickly gets digested, but it takes a little longer to digest that if it has a little bit fat. Then there is less chance of you getting diabetic or heart problems. So, a cardiologist said, “it is necessary to have a little fat in carbohydrates so that it becomes complex to digest it”. I said, “look, this was said some thousands of years ago. They said, ‘rice gets purified with a drop of ghee.’ ”.
In the same way the money gets purified by charity. When you give a portion of what you have earned for a good cause then the rest of the money that you have is pure money. Similarly, the mind becomes pure by meditation, body get pure by bathing, by a shower; mind becomes pure by prana, pranayama and meditation; Intellect becomes purer by knowledge, by wisdom. See, what we are listening make us pure. There is something that happens in you when you are listening to knowledge or read Yoga Vasistha. Right? You listen to Ashtavakra and that wow sprouts from within. Knowledge makes the intellect pure. And life becomes pure when there is dedication.
Q: Do you ever get angry? What is the solution to anger?
Sri Sri: This is a very important question. In the 55 years of my life, I have never said a harsh word. I could not do it. The worst I have ever said is, “You stupid.”
Sometimes I want to show anger and people don’t believe me. That is my problem. Things work better with some anger. Anger is good if you are aware of it. It should last only as long as a line drawn on a water surface lasts. Some carry over anger from the previous day, previous month, or ten years ago. The mind suffers. Get out of anger, frustration, jealousy and greed. Meditation will help. Pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and yoga are the answers.