Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Is there something like a good or bad being? If someone is bound by an outer problem, does the negative path follow him? How to get rid of that?
Sri Sri: There is no good or bad soul. There are strong and weak souls. Strong souls are happy, and weak ones are sad. Now, how does a soul become strong? Devotion strengthens the soul. Love strengthens the soul, hatred and sorrow weakens the soul.
Q: Dear Guruji, you say that our relationship is as old as this earth. Have we celebrated your birthday in some past live as well? I don’t remember but you would, so please tell me.
Sri Sri: Yes we have. Of course! Now tell me, the first time you met me did you feel that we are meeting for the first time? No, I also have never felt as if meeting a stranger with anybody. All those people, everyone I met, I have always felt I have met them before and I know them. As of now I have not met a single stranger.
Q: Guruji, environment is one of the most important factors today, what do we do to look after it?
Sri Sri: Yes, caring for the environment is a big part of The Art of Living. Plant trees; use less plastic, if possible, no plastic and use cloth bags. These are all very valid things to know. You have heard about that in the basic course so you all do it already.
Keep the environment clean, if you find people littering the streets you should try to educate them. If you have free time wherever you find any littering, you stand there and call a few people and tell them, “Let’s clear this place”. Do something like that.
Q: Compared to the universe, if our existence is nothing then what impact does it create if we are born or not? How does our karma effect?
Sri Sri: See, in the universe nothing matters, yet everything matters. This universe will collapse even if one species disappears. Suppose all the house flies disappear from the universe, the universe will collapse, it cannot exist. This is what scientists say today, even if a particular type of butterfly is missing or one type of flower becomes extinct, the universe cannot stay.
A house fly has no significance; how many planets are there! How many solar systems are there! Milky ways are there! Yet, if house flies are missing the universe collapses. So, though house flies are very insignificant they are very significant. Similarly, everyone is significant yet insignificant.
Q: Guruji I want to have an intense longing for u but it comes and goes and the mind moves on to other things. How do I have this consistent intense longing for you?
Sri Sri: Never mind, have some fun. If you say ‘I don’t have longing’, that also is another longing. You’re longing for the longing; it’s like when you are angry, you are then angry because you are angry. Similarly you are longing for longing, know that is also longing.
Q: I am thinking today that everything is permeated with light and when I look into myself your light is within me. In me, in him and all of them, it is you only that is present. Where ever I see everywhere it is you who are shining. Where have you come from, who are you, tell me that at least today?
Sri Sri: If you want to know who I am then there is a deal you will have to make with me. The deal is that first you have to know who you are. When you find out who you are then you will know who I am and this is also what I want, that you know who you are and then you will know who I am.
Q: In a world that is changing so fast you still seem to be the same, unchanged and so beautiful and so adorable. How is that Guruji?
Sri Sri: Some questions are to be wondered about, so this too is not a question but something you need to wonder about. Questions are always bent, crooked, but wonder is always straight. So transforming life from question to wonder is knowledge. Knowledge does not give answers to questions but changes the questions to wonder. So this is something that you should wonder about.
The Ashramities have started chanting a few shlokas of the Bhagavad Gita every day. I would like to say that everyone, wherever you are, start reading a few shlokas of the Bhagavad Gita every day. Read three to four shlokas everyday, if you don’t understand Sanskrit never mind, even the translation is good enough.
Q: What is the difference between sankalpa and desire and if there is a difference then what is the technique to transform all desire into sankalpas?
Sri Sri: You know I have already spoken about all this, about sankalpa and desire and how to change it. It is all about dispassion, dispassion works everywhere.
Q: It is said that life is a play and display of consciousness. Why does consciousness feel the need to play at all?
Sri Sri: Play is nature. When you are happy what you do is play. When you play you have no need. That is why you play. If you are full of needs you only work, you can’t play, do you get it? Games can come when you have free time. Play becomes part of your life when your needs are fulfilled. Consciousness is full and its nature is playfulness. The Divine's nature is being playful.
Q: I belong to a particular sect of Islam. I see a lot of violence associated with Islam. Why are there religious conflicts in the World today? Is there any Supreme power behind it, something supernatural? Why don’t we follow our paths, celebrating all religions? Why do there exist seemingly different words of the Masters of different ages and times and places?
Sri Sri: In those days, communication was not so good, there were no telephones. For people to go from here to there and there to here would take years, not just months. So at that time what was prevailing in that area, that is what Masters or Gurus or Saints spoke more about. Muhammad spoke about Judaism and Christianity, he didn’t speak about Hinduism or Buddhism because it had not reached that area then; but he said for every tribe a different wisdom has been given. He also said, ‘So many prophets have come before me, honor them all.’ That’s what he said, be at peace and honor everybody.
He said about one lakh prophets have come before me, if you count those hundred thousand it will include many Rishis and Maharishis, and all the Masters who have come to the planet. Unfortunately, after his demise, the religion became very much restrained and it started restricting people.
Mohammed gave so much freedom for women at that time but then later on it changed. You know it happens in every religion, as times goes, distortion happens. Whatever the original prophet said that doesn’t stay on, it doesn’t remain, things change.
See today, in Pakistan, everyday there is a bomb blast that too in mosques because one sect of Islam thinks only they are correct and everybody else is wrong. The Wahabi sect thinks everyone else, even Sufis are wrong. So it is mainly the religious leaders who create more of these problems and not the founder of the religion. The founder of all religions would have just said, go on the spiritual path, go within and connect yourself to the Divinity. They would have all recommended yoga, chanting and meditation. So, unfortunately, we leave the cream of the religion and get to the outer shell and people are fighting unnecessarily. That is why we should turn to spirituality.
The main message of the Prophets is: Have peace with yourself, peace in your environment and peace in the world. Second is love all and serve all, third is to believe in one God but in many names, that is it.
There is one Divinity in many names and in many forms. Love and compassion for everybody and peace in your heart, if these are there then you don’t have to listen to anybody who tells you that you should not do this because you are not this or that.