Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: What’s the value of sacrifice on the spiritual path?
Sri Sri: It is essential. On the spiritual path you need to have that zeal and enthusiasm for sacrifice. Just today I met several swamis - all young people - computer engineers and highly qualified people. They’ve sacrificed their whole career, life, everything to bring education to poor people, to do service in society. They’re doing service day and night. They’re not wishing anything for themselves. They’re not thinking, “Oh, what will happen to me?” They have dedicated their lives to build schools and colleges and to bring education to millions. So, it is necessary for a bigger cause. Sacrifice brings a bigger joy! It doesn’t reduce your joy. When our needs are more, our responsibilities are less. When our needs are less we are able to take up bigger responsibilities. That is the happiest life!
Q: Is it true that some places have negative and positive vibes? I have experienced that our group working in our suburb doesn’t get the success it does outside. What should we do to increase the sattwa of a place?
Sri Sri: Keep working, keep doing. Everywhere it is possible to make a change. It’s just a matter of time.
Q: Does the cycle of life and death never end?
Sri Sri: The whole world is like that. It’s all spherical: everything moves in cycles. You have to come back, but you have a choice. If you are born out of compulsion then it's the same old story again and again. But if you get liberated, then you have the choice and the will to be born when you want. When you come back liberated, it is joyful.
Q: They say we must dare to dream big. But what follows is desire. How does one handle this desire?
Sri Sri: With discrimination! Desires just come up. You should have your dreams but remain grounded.
Q: Guruji, how come you radiate so much peace and serene beauty?
Sri Sri: Because you are beautiful too, that’s why I appear peaceful to you. If you were not beautiful then you would know nothing about my beauty. Whatever quality you have, only that gets projected onto the world outside. So, what you see in me, take that as your own. If you don't feel beautiful, become beautiful. What is stopping you? Become that.
Q: Is there a masculine and feminine side to everything? Then why do we categorize things as male or female?
Sri Sri: Yes! There is a neutral gender also.There are 3 genders. Some things fall under the neutral gender too. In fact, there is a whole scripture on the gender of stones as well as trees. The Shilpa Shastra or Book on Sculptures elaborates on this. Hawaiians also say that different stones have different genders! They can identify those. But it doesn’t matter. The Self, or the Spirit is beyond gender.
Q: What advice would you give to a skeptical non-believer?
Sri Sri: A very good beginning point. See that you don’t become cynical and frustrated. Skepticism is perfectly alright, but not cynicism. That drains your energy. One can be skeptical to begin one’s journey and I would very much appreciate and welcome that. Because you would have gone through skepticism, the faith will be strongly built.
Q: Should the student take the whole responsibility for not scoring good marks?
Sri Sri: It is better if he takes full responsibility. You could blame the teacher, the environment, the parents and everything else and finally you blame yourself. It’s better to take responsibility than go on a blame game.
Q: Guruji, I appreciate the Sun and the Moon and the Nature, why can’t God appreciate when I do something good?
Sri Sri: He doesn't appreciate you, because he knows you can do better. If he starts appreciating you every moment, then your desire to perform better will not be there.
Knowledge Byte:Truth is that which does not change. Examine your life and identify all that changes as "not truth." With this outlook, you will find that you are surrounded by only untruth.
When you identify untruth, then you will become free from it. When you do not identify the untruth, you cannot become free from it. Your own experiences in life make you identify your own untruth.
As you mature in life, you find everything is untruth - events, situations, people, emotions, thoughts, opinions, concepts, your body - everything is untruth. It is only then that Satsang – the company of truth - happens in the real sense. A mother cannot see the child as untruth until the child becomes an adult. For a baby, sweetness is not untruth, and for a teenager, sex is not untruth.
Knowledge is untruth if it is only words. But as existence, it is truth. Love as an emotion is not truth; as existence, it is truth.
Q: How do I control my anger? I get angry over very, very small things.
Sri Sri: If you have to get angry, get angry at bigger things, not the small usual mundane stuff. Get angry at corruption in the system and injustice happening around you. Give a bigger dimension to your anger and see all the small things become simply insignificant. I want you to go and talk to every youth in this country and in the world. Talk to them. Tell them to take action against corruption. If the head of the government is shielding corrupt people, what can you do? People have to wake up. That’s what we all have to do. Everyone should speak out against corruption.