Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: What made God alive? When did you start believing in God, Have you seen God, what does God look like?
Sri Sri: This same question was asked 10000 years ago by a little boy to his dad.
He asked his father, “Dad, what is God, how is God, how does God Look like?” Dad takes him by hand, brings him out of his house and asks him, “What was here before this house was built?” The boy says Space.
Dad: Where the house is built?
He says in the space.
Dad: When this house will demolish what will exist, what will remain?
He says space.
Dad says that is God.
God is not a person sitting somewhere and showing little finger and as you try to catch him he runs away. It’s only so in some paintings. God is love, God is the space in which everything exists. God is from which everything has come and into which everything dissolves. And that is what is said in Upanishads, it says God is Brahman. God is like a space, joy and love that is all pervading. The space around you is not dead space, it is filled with energy, intelligence and that energy, that intelligence is divinity and it is inside you, outside you, and everywhere.
If you see the native cultures of all parts of the world, most of the countries in the world have this concept; they say God is in the mountain, in the river, in the flowers, in the trees, in the animals, in the human beings, God is everywhere all pervading. Love is god, you can feel it and not see it, but you can experience this enormous energy when you go deep in meditation.
Q: How do I forgive? I find it difficult to let lose off the grudges.
Sri Sri: There are 6.5 billion people on this planet. Don’t forgive the 6.5 billon but just forgive this one person.
You know, inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help. You must know they are victim of situation and circumstances. They might have done something wrong, but this is because they don’t have that knowledge. They were never exposed to higher knowledge, so they make mistake. See what is happening today, all the church scandals are coming out. It is so painful, so pity of a condition because just reading books and understanding doesn’t help violent tendencies or any kind of tendencies to be fixed. These can only be fixed through meditation, through breathing exercise and yoga. Only through that the violent aggressive energy doesn’t surround.
Prisoners say, “AOL is responsible for our being in the prison, because if you had given us this knowledge earlier, we wouldn’t have landed in the prison. You are responsible and you should have given the knowledge much earlier. So, our life would have been much different”, and I agree with them.
Q: I’ve read you’re supposed to be one of the three wisest people in the world, you are so intelligent there is no doubt about that but why do you look so innocent?
Sri Sri: Because I can’t hide it and I have no habit of hiding anything. I am just as I am, if you like it, thank you, and if you don’t like it, thank you.
Q: How can I concentrate on my workload? I get so upset and disturb at times with customers complaints, which are totally not true.
Sri Sri: what’s great is when you can smile at complaints. You have achieved something if you can smile at Complaints. Complaints are opinions. Listen to them carefully and if there is something good in it then you can take or if it’s an outcome of prejudiced or biased mind, smile at them. That’s my policy. You can take something on board. I say you should take criticism with open mind and also give criticism with open mind; you should never be shy about criticism.
Q: How do you distinguish between intuitive powers and ego driven power while making a decision?
Sri Sri: Intuitive power is like a gut feeling and to get clear intuitive power you must mediate. Without meditation, your intuition will go haywire; it won’t be intuition at all.
Q: Man creates wealth for security or insecurity?
Sri Sri: wealth is the means but if it becomes a means in itself then it becomes insecurity. If it is used as means then it definitely will help people more.
Q: Are spirituality and science related?
Sri Sri: Yes, Spirituality is asking ‘who am I?’ and Science is asking ‘What is this? Objective analysis is science and subjective understanding is spirituality. And they go hand in hand. They were never in conflict in the east, because the paradigm was same. Science says understanding follows the experience and then the concept arises. But occidental philosophy says first you believe and then you can get experience in the future, which science wasn’t comfortable with. That’s why science and spirituality was always in conflict in the west, where as it never was in the east because science was always encouraged. It is said in Bhagvat geeta ‘Gyan Vigyana triptatma’, subjective knowledge and the scientific knowledge both should go together, and then only you will find fulfillment.
Q: What is driving many people away from faith and religion, and why do faith and power to pull people from doing good towards the society exist? Can you please talk about the destruction and dimensioning in the world about Maris in NZ and aborigine in Australia, all the native loving traditions are getting destroyed.
Sri Sri: I am for preserving the natives around the world, and I always encourage them to preserve it. I have seen similarities between aborigine in Australia, Maori in NZ, Arunachal Pradesh in India and British Columbia in Canada. The way they welcome a guest is so loving. They all have similar traditions and cultures. In the past, there was some connection or similar culture all over the world. You know, we need to celebrate the diversity and not think that everybody should be like us. We should take good things from every culture and I feel that is the way we can overcome the terrorism in the world.
If every child knows a little bit about all the wisdom in the world then they grow up much wiser. They don’t become fanatics or fundamentalist or terrorist. You know, terrorists think that only they know the truth, only they will go to heaven and everybody else will go to hell but they create hell for everybody else. No sense of global wisdom and we have to take responsibility because we haven’t globalised wisdom. We have globalised everything else on the planet from Potato Chips to Coco cola but we haven’t given a comprehensive wisdom for youth of the world, don’t you think so?
Every child should know a little about all cultures and religions in the world and they will start to feel connecting with all the cultures. Every child should know little bit about Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, little bit about Hinduism, Shantoism... They will grow up with a broad mindset with the sense of belongingness to the whole world. I feel at home wherever I go in the world. I feel connected and everyone can do that because we all have that need of connection. In fact you don’t have to make an effort we are connected.
Once a child asked me a question, Guruji dogs can communicate with any other dog in the world, but why not human beings? I still remember, this is some 25 years ago, in Manchester, UK. A small girl came to me and asked me, “Guruji, Why not human beings connect with everyone else in the world”. This is because we are so stuck in our identities, we have to grow beyond that, it’s good to have identity but we have to grow beyond that. Don’t you think
Q: It is quoted in every spiritual book that only that happens what god has decided then where does doing good or bad come from. If everything is decided by him then what are we doing here, and what are our duties?
Sri Sri: Everything is decided for animals. But humans have Viveka, the sense of discretion. God gave choice to human beings, to chose the right or the wrong. Right is something that gives you long term happiness, which may be at the cost of short term sufferings, and the wrong is something that gives you short term joy at the cost of long term sufferings.
Q: what is the purpose of life and what is the definition of a successful life?
Sri Sri: One who knows won’t tell you and anybody who tells you, they don’t know. It’s very important question; keep it with yourself, ‘what is the purpose of life’? You should ask yourself again at times. The question will clear all the cobwebs around you and will keep you on track of what you want and where do you want to go.