Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: I have been on the path for so long, but I still get attracted to violent and non sattvic partners. What can I do? The attraction is almost irresistible.
Sri Sri: What can I say? Go for it! It will be beneficial to the nearby doctors and hospitals if you keep breaking parts of your body with violent partners! See, it’s about patterns… when you recognize that this is your pattern, wake up and say, “I will not be a victim of this pattern!” You have that strength! You will be given that strength.
Q: What does ayurveda have to do with meditation?
Sri Sri: Ayurveda is a complete science. It describes dincharaya (daily routine) and ritucharya (seasonal routine). Dinacharya includes meditation for balancing of the three doshas (mind or body type). The mind has an impact on the body and all its doshas and gunas (three qualities of nature: sattva, rajas and tamas). So, the mind, breath, herbs - they are all linked. Similarly, ayurveda helps one to meditate deeply. Too many thoughts indicates high pitta (one of the three doshas). So pitta must be treated. In ayurveda, combinations are referred to as ‘yoga’. For example, when two herbs are put together it is called yoga. So that concept of yoga is similar to meditation and to ayurveda.
Q: When everything is God’s will, why is there a need for spirituality?
Sri Sri: We are made up of both, matter and spirit. The spirit needs spirituality, the body (matter) has some material needs and our spirit is nourished by spirituality. You cannot live life without spirituality. Do you want peace? Do you want joy? Do you want happiness? We think spirituality means going to a temple, church or a mosque. Spirituality is human values. Without human values, life is meaningless. If someone asks, why do you need human values, you would say, it is a silly question. There is no point in living like an animal, when you are a human being. Living with human values is being human.
Man has some needs and takes responsibilities. When needs are less and responsibilities are more, life is good. When needs are more and responsibilities are few, life is not so good. Some needs could be there but if you take very few responsibilities, then you are unhappy. It is not a spiritual life. Bharathiyaar, Kamraj and Gandhi took responsibility for the whole country and see the way they lived - their needs were minimum.
Take more responsibility. If the father does not take responsibility for the children and their needs, will they listen to him? Only those who take responsibility, gain authority. People in politics ought to take responsibility for the whole nation. But if they rise in power by corrupt means, the fall is certain.
When we take more responsibility, how do we manage them? The ability to take responsibility beyond our capacity and manage it comes from spirituality.
Q: How do you initiate your disciples? Do you choose your disciples?
Sri Sri: Don’t limit our relationship. Let love be love, don’t give it a name. For a master, no disciples exist. But for a disciple, the Master exists. See, if you do the Sudarshan Kriya, you are initiated.
Q: How can I not see ugly feelings behind ugly words?
Sri Sri: Sometimes people say words and they really don’t feel that way. Don’t you do it sometimes? As children, you say things that you don’t really mean. Kids usually say things they mean. As we grow older, our feelings and words grow apart. They are not the same. Now, don’t worry about what other people are feeling. Feelings are fleeting. One day they feel good, next day they don’t. Don’t bother about this. Simply acknowledge that that person is not feeling good and that they are here to work on it. Our being angry that someone is feeling bad doesn’t make sense. Sometimes their feelings change but your feelings remain the same. Someone puts a doubt in your head and then they forget but you hold on to it. The same is with senior citizens who complain but then forget while you hold on to the complaint.
Look at the present moment - now, now, now! Wake up NOW! Everything else is stupid. All that has happened has gone into emptiness. Everything dissolves into emptiness. Your entire past - wiped out! All the things that you felt are gone. Good or bad, they are gone. So, wake up to the truth of the present moment. Divinity is in the present moment. This is yoga. Yoga is being established in the moment. And moment does not mean fleeting moment. The moment has the depth of infinity; it has all the past and all the future.
Who cares what you feel? Throw your feelings into the ocean. A little sensation or discomfort arises. Who cares? Are you doing what you want to do? And, in doing what you want to do, are you keeping the delicacy of your consciousness or are you being like a bulldozer (I will do whatever I want)? Being like a bulldozer is being insensitive. Being oversensitive and very weak and being like a bulldozer are both not correct. The best combination is being sensitive and strong. This is wisdom and this is what we have to work on.
The effect of past actions is limited. Past actions definitely affect you e.g. you drive fast, get a ticket, and you have to pay. Get three tickets and you have to surrender your license, no doubt. But don’t brood over it. Wake up. When you wake up, even the consequences you fear will not happen. You will be forgiven in that moment. The moment we acknowledge our mistake, we are forgiven. So you are innocent every moment you are awake. Now! Now! Now!
Take the challenge. Whenever someone is nasty towards you, do something so nice that it takes them by surprise. You will suddenly find there is a shift happening. If it does not happen also it is fine. At least you have done something good.
The world is a very funny place, I tell you. Either it is very entertaining or it is such a pain and so miserable! You can’t take it. Sometimes, you do so much for someone and they turn their back and do things that harm you. Many parents say, ‘I did so much for my children and now they are dissociating from me.’ Not just with parents, but same with employers, friends, siblings, and even spouse. Speaking of spouse, there are four stages of marriage. First stage is mad for each other. Second stage is made for each other. Third stage is mad at each other. The fourth stage is mad because of each other.
Q: What is your advice for our youth?
Sri Sri: Take both, the modern and the ancient, and move ahead. The roots are spirituality, our tradition and culture. The leaves and branches are science. When you take science and spirituality together, then you will progress in life.
Sometimes in the name of spirituality, we follow superstitions or thinking we are scientific, we ignore our traditions. That is not the way. You must take the middle path. Honor and respect our traditions, have a scientific outlook and whatever good we can do for others, keep doing.
Q: How does one come to embrace nature? Especially the terrible rain, snow in this country?
Sri Sri: I enjoy this weather. Maybe you should go to the Sahara desert and see how nice it is to be in such a cool country. It is in your mind. Accept it, or move to Florida!
Q: Some days I feel so much love for the Divine. Other days, I feel like praying for desires.
Sri Sri: Just be natural. When prayer is happening, don’t create a conflict and confusion in yourself. Don’t say, “Oh it will happen anyways!” But prayer does not have to happen by compulsion.
Q: Why is it that even when I follow good things, bad things follow me?
Sri Sri: If you sow a neem tree, will mangoes grow in it? You have to be intelligent. You may be a good person, yet are you intelligent? If you’re good and you put your hand in fire, you will still get burnt. You have to be good and intelligent. Use your buddhi (intelligence) and use it well. We use our intelligence only for corruption and not to be a good person. We think we are good, others are bad. It’s not like that. There is some goodness in everybody. Spirituality increases it. Even when problems are there, they teach us something – we get a depth. Happiness brings expansion, Difficulties bring depth.
Q: Does one have to become a teacher to progress on the spiritual path? Knowledge, experience or faith, which comes first?
Sri Sri: See, from a little experience knowledge develops, and then faith happens. They are all intertwined. In The Art of Living, we say first experience and then you go up, step by step. It’s good to become a teacher because then you can teach others and there is so much joy. But don’t think you must become a teacher. You still hold the same status whether you are a teacher or not. Don’t think that you are more evolved because you are a teacher.