Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Can you equate knowledge with wisdom?
Sri Sri: When knowledge lodges itself firmly in your heart, then it is wisdom.
Q: Thank you for being a part of my life. I worry that I have missed my purpose, or that my purpose is not as great as the one I hoped for.
Sri Sri: You have an important role to play in this phenomenon called Art of Living. Next year, we celebrate 30 years. Drop by drop, what so many people have done has contributed to these 30 years. Be part of satsangs, seva projects. In Haiti and India there are so many seva projects. Even in Canada, Native Americans need help. There are so many things to be done here in the Ashram.
Q: What are the qualifications to gain liberation?
Sri Sri: The fact that you are a sane human being is enough and the fact that you are a good human being. And ALL human beings are good!
Unfortunately, some scientists claim that human beings have dark and light sides. So the concept is that half of you is dark and half of you is light. That is not how it is. Just imagine someone coming up to you and saying, “You have a dark side. You could be a murderer.” You would say, “No, I didn’t even dream of something like that!” Then you start wondering, “Oh, maybe there is something like that inside me...” Then you put that seed in yourself and start nurturing that which was not there before.
There is a beautiful verse by the Indian poet Kabir, “I went to find a bad person in the universe, and I found none.” There are negative tendencies in people but that is not the basic human nature. That is only on the circumference. Why is someone behaving negatively? Because they are hurt. A happy, joyful, centered person will never do harm to anyone, even to animals. See, even lions go for prey only when they are hungry, not all the time. That too, they don’t kill other animals out of rage. They do it out of need.
So, these concepts that a person has a light and dark side are man-made, far from reality! Go into the soul, “Satchidananda”- true, blissful: the Consciousness.
A desire has arisen and I want to ask you about this. Give me a glimpse of self-knowledge.
You are getting it. Just relax. See, to catch a train, you have to hurry up, pack your things, go to the train station and get onto the train or go to the airport and catch a plane. But once you are on the plane, relax. Running between aisles holding your luggage will not get you to your destination any faster! Once you are on the path, relax.
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna after he has told him all that Arjuna had to do, “Drop all that, I will relieve you from your sins. You drop all that you are holding onto. Drop even your dharma. I will relieve you from your sins.” Instead, people try to get rid of their sins. That will never happen. The Divine will relieve you of your sins.
All that you need to do is to let go of everything you are holding on to. It is beautiful. First, Lord Krishna makes Arjuna understand Dharma. Then, Arjuna is made to drop all of it. Lord Krishna says, “Take refuge in Me and Me alone. I will relieve you of all your sins.”
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: I think the biggest botheration I have is my laziness. I don’t feel motivated. I want to do so much.
Sri Sri: Pay someone to be after you when you are lazy. Tell them, “If I am lazy, don’t let me sit and lie down. Come get me with a stick.” Laziness goes away when you have a buddy who is after you. Your spouse would be good here (laughs)!
There are three ways to get over laziness:
One, greed. If you are greedy for something, it will take you out of laziness. If someone tells you, “If you do this pranayama for 40 days, you will get $1 million.” You will say, “I will do for 45 days, just to be sure!”
Two, fear. Fear makes people fall into hoaxes. Some hoaxes even claim to cleanse Karmas. Karmas go away when you meditate. When you are in love, and serve, Karmas are erased. It is unfortunate that people don’t know anything about spirituality - they have neither the experience nor have they read scriptures. This is where the Vedic tradition is important. So many seers laid down the rules. And then authenticated it to make sure it’s not an illusion. But people still go into hoaxes, because of fear.
Three, love. When you are deeply in love, where is the question of laziness?
If none of these three work, revert to my first option. Pay someone to be after you!
Q: I am practicing awareness all the time. Will it bring me peace?
Sri Sri: Just be natural. For God’s sake, relax. Don’t practice awareness all the time. Awareness is essential, but don’t practice it. Even The Gita says no extremities. Just relax.
Imagine listening to music being completely aware. No, music is to be enjoyed in relaxation. Doing is always limited. This applies to anything you do, including meditation. That is why meditation is something that must be allowed to just happen.
All the techniques create a situation for the mind to experience and go beyond its limitation. Even music creates an atmosphere to boost consciousness. Music is “Laya Yoga.” Laya is dissolving. This is the highest form of Samadhi (unity with the Divine) that should also happen.
Bring a balance between awareness and this dissolution.
Q: I have gone through several relationships. I now feel detached from all relationships, but then I feel selfish. What should I do?
Sri Sri: Love can resolve all relationships. See, it does not matter that people think you are a donkey. It does not matter! Just don’t kick them and prove them right! From your side, be pleasant. Expecting nothing from anyone is the way to be happy. When we start expecting, we become miserable.
When you are sad or miserable, have the strength to sacrifice the cause of sadness. All you can pray is, “When I am happy, let me do seva; when I am sad, let me have the strength to renounce.”
A lady once asked, “Why did God make this place so sad?” So that you can turn to Him. Even though the world is so sad, you still cannot drop it! Can you imagine what would happen if it was all good? You have to turn to the Creator through the creation, recognize the Creator inside the creation. It’s like a hologram.
During moments of misery, we need the strength of sacrifice. During moments of happiness, we need to share our happiness.
Q: During my meditations, I get sexual feelings. What do I do?
Sri Sri: This is only a stage. It happens in the beginning, when the energy is rising through the chakras. It will pass. Just observe it, honor it, and let it pass.
Q: Please comment on animal sacrifices and tongue piercing in Hinduism.
Sri Sri: Hinduism is a way of life, and it has been around for millions of years. So many practices are just interpolations or add-ons. Imagine that in the winter you have a coat. You come into the house and hang up the coat before entering the house. This then becomes a practice and a rule comes that you can enter the house even in the summer only if you have a coat to hang up. The same applies here. Animal sacrifices have no scriptural sanction. The same thing is true for tongue piercing. Even Lord Krishna says that only a fool would torture his own body.
Q: Are we all part of the Divine Light Source?
Sri Sri: Of course. But until it becomes your experience, keep it at the back of your mind.