Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How can one balance household duties, business and service?
Sri Sri: How do you balance a bike? When you fall more to the left, you bend right, and when you are falling more to the right, you bend to your left. There is no theory, you just do it. It balances automatically. It pinches one if one doesn't do service at all and is always bothered about oneself. If you are in your senses, it will pinch you, otherwise one is not human. If you are not touched by others' misery then you are not human but stone. Similarly, if one is only into social service, then also it bothers
Q: Dear Guruji, I heard and understood the truth, but it is not my experience, please help me realize the truth . Yours truly.
Sri Sri: Good! Good to be in space of, “I don’t know”, then you have a chance of knowing. If you think, you know then you are stuck with the concept. In the Upanishad, it is beautifully said, “one who says, ‘I don’t know’, he knows, and the one who says he knows, doesn’t know!” The space of ‘I don’t know’ opens the field of all possibilities for you.
Q: What is the importance of sankalpa (intention) and how to strengthen it? Does the world move on sankalpa?
Sri Sri: The mind is full of sankalpa and vikalpa (imagination, fancy). Each work gets done through sankalpa. Even the act of moving our arm is preceded by the sankalpa in the mind. If twenty sankalpas arise in the mind then nothing gets done. When the mind is peaceful and restful then our sankalpa is powerful. The sankalpa of a weak mind is weak and that of strong mind is strong. We can make our mind strong by sadhana (spiritual practices) and knowledge. Then the sankalpa will also be strong. The wise makes one sankalpa in fifty days whereas the ignorant makes fifty in a day.
Q: If opposite values are complementary, then am I good, bad, or am I both?
Sri Sri: Why do you put a label of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ on yourself? Remove it off and be natural, be at peace. When we assume a negative quality as our own, we feel guilty, and when we assume a positive quality as our own, then we become proud. Both of these are signs of being mentally unhealthy. Surrender both the negative and positive qualities to the Divine. A person who is surrendered will be good. Surrender brings focus and character in life. Without the development of these two, life is directionless. Even a little bit of sacrifice helps an individual to blossom. Without sacrifice, the glow does not come up. Sacrifice does not lead to a long, sorrowful face. Renunciates are joyful, whereas the kami (one filled with desires) feels burdened and sad.
Q: I started doing spiritual practices when I was 17 years old. I have tried many practices. After long practice of meditation, I have had many out of body experiences. At certain stage, my mind became dysfunctional and I was frightened. Can you please guide me?
Sri Sri: Some people try different techniques, they try to learn everything being taught anywhere, and end up making a chaos out of it. That is why, all this happens. The path which is being guided here is very safe. Do as much as needed. If you try to follow all kinds of techniques, it creates a problem.
Q: With regard to accepting people as they are, I find it very hard to accept the people who are insincere towards their work, especially those who report to me.
Sri Sri: Very good. Don’t accept them as they are. Take strict action, and handle them skillfully.People don’t change overnight, yet people do change. Nobody will remain the same as far as imperfections are concerned. Perfection remains the same. Truth is always one, lies can be many.
Q: In the present day, there is a pressure to commit fraudulent activities in corporate world. How to handle these situations?
Sri Sri: Skillfully. If your boss tells you to do fraud, avoid it skillfully. Finally, say that your consciousness does not allow you to commit fraud. The boss will escape if you do fraud, and you will be put behind bars. However, hundred percent truth is also not workable, it is only an ideal. There is an ancient Indian proverb that says that as much lies are allowed as there is salt in food. For example, if you want to sell your product, it may not be the best; still you can say that your product is the best. That much lies are permissible. Ancient people have said this, thousands of years back. It is fascinating how they handled the human mind.
Q: These practices bring so much inner comfort. If I do a lot of practice, will it make me more happy?
Sri Sri: Don’t do too much of practice. Move ahead gradually. Do only as much as needed. Do that much to which your body gets accustomed to.
Q: There are many things in my life which I think are not ok. I don’t know what to do about these things
Sri Sri: When you say, ‘It’s not ok, it’s not ok’, the seed of ‘not ok’ is not letting your mind to relax. When do you go to bed? When everything is ok, and when there is comfort. When you are hanging on to the discomfort, how can you ever be comfortable? You have to accept things as they are. ‘It’s not ok, it’s not ok’ keeps you all outside. Those imperfections are there for a cause or purpose. It is going to be ok, it will take some time. Things are ok the way they are now, They will be ok in the future Whatever happened in the past was ok. When you understand this, you relax and in that relaxation you can meditate. When you want to retire, its nivriti but when you want to come out (of rest) its pravritti. Then you can act. When you are tired but you are hanging on to what is not ok - then you cannot retire. When you have to chill out, what do you say? ‘Everything is perfect,’ otherwise you can’t chill, you can’t act! It is neither pravritti, nor nivriti. Dhyan yoga is nivriti, Karma yoga is pravritti. Most people are hanging onto the ‘not ok’ and are unable to relax, to enjoy life, to chill, to be creative. They are holding onto the seed of ‘not ok’. That person, this situation, the government, the administration - everything is not ok. Then it comes to you - I am not ok. Subtly, it reflects on you that you are not OK. Then you don't like that feeling, and to cover that up, you make up many justifications and the mind is all confused. If tamogun is too much, you don't know the pravritti or the nivriti. When there is Satva, then we know what to act, when to act, whether to act or not. When Rajogun prevails then its half way through - you regret and act. Many of us act and then we regret. Mother scolds her child, regrets it and then becomes nice. In Satva, you don't regret, you retire and relax, there is clarity. In Rajogun, there is confusion and chaos. In Tamogun, there is total inertia and lethargy. There is no strict border between the three gunas. It is very fluid, one flows into another.
Q: How do I overcome and move beyond having too much physical desires?
Sri Sri: It depends on what is your age. If you are a teenager or just out of teenage, then it is quite but natural. There is nothing you can do about it. Keep yourself busy. If you have too much free time, only sex will occupy the mind. Have you noticed in your exam times, or when you are too busy, or you have to take a challenge, or you are going on a sports trip, or when your mind is occupied and engaged, then sex is not a big issue, it is not so compelling. But when you are too free, that is when it takes over the seat. Now, sex is not bad, but the obsession is horrible. One type of sex is when you try to satisfy, and if you do not get satisfied, there is another type that starts happening. So many different distortions and tendencies would come up in the mind. The best thing is to do pranayama. Pranayama helps. Then, watching your food will help. If you eat too much, so much energy is there, and it needs an outlet to go somewhere. And if you are not creative, then it definitely takes the other root. So, a little bit say on the food. It is said if you cannot control your tongue, you can never control your genitals, because your tongue and genitals are connected. Sex and food are very much linked. So, your obsession can be controlled if your food is lighter and moderate in amount. Pranayama can help you to control excessive tendencies. Music and dance will help. Some creative art, painting, writing story, and appreciating beauty will help. When you are more happy, inclination towards sex is less. But if you are miserable, restless and unhappy then inclination towards sex is much more. So, by all these things and keeping yourself busy, you can sail through the tough time. Because when you indulge in it, later on you don’t like it, and not going into sex makes you completely nuts.
So, you are in a limbo sort of state. This is very difficult in teenage time; there is no way out of it other than keeping someone very very busy. And the middle age crisis! I am analyzing all these different age groups when one has to overcome these hurdles. Still, if none of these works, just wait for the time. As you grow older, it will simply disappear. You know, time will take care of it. When you are 60, 70 or may be 80, sometime it has to drop of you. Mind, sometime, will become cool. At least then, something will wake up from within.