Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
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: 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: 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.
Q: Please tell us what is so special about the tip of this nose?
Sri Sri: All the sensory nerves end in the tip of the nose. There are two points that are important for alertness and focus of the brain - the ear lobes and tip of the nose. They are the marma points. These are the secret points. If you keep your attention on the tip of the nose, your focus improves, especially for children. In the Jain tradition, they can multiply 100 numbers (avadhan). They focus on the tip of the nose. It’s amazing! They are faster than computers.
Shathavadhanis, as they are called. Avadhan is the technique of holding memories in your consciousness. It is like a photographic memory. People who follow this technique, Avadhanis, can tell you what date was Tuesday in 1700. This knowledge was systematically erased. That is the unfortunate part.
Q: Where do you see The Art of Living 25 years from now?
Sri Sri: I leave that vision to you. Now each of you must think about how you want The Art of Living to blossom. It’s for you to think about. Today, The Art of Living is all over the world. See it was not too long ago that cell phones were introduced. But it has reached all nooks and corners of the world. Why? Because, it is useful. Similarly, the knowledge of how to connect to one’s mind, how to handle one’s emotions - this knowledge is useful and it will spread.
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: 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: 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: 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.