Preguntas & Respuestas con Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, every sip of knowledge given by you is very juicy. It is easy to digest too. Could you please talk a little on Yoga Vasishta in a simple manner?
Sri Sri: This is like asking to contain the ocean in a pot. Next to impossible.
Yoga Vasistha is like the sky, like the ocean, you know. Time and again you should explore it yourself. It is self explanatory. It is more mystical and very symbolic too.
Self is like the sky, so empty, and it is also like the ocean, so full.
What the scientists say today is that in the universe, all the planets and stars are spherical because of the pressure of the space all around them. The space around the Sun is so thick, so full of energy, it keeps the Sun in the round shape.
What you see as an empty space is filled with energy. And a million times more energy than the Sun. Can you imagine this? The dark space around, i.e., this empty sky is filled with much more energy than the stars. And this is exactly what is said in the vedas: the darkness was enveloped by the darkness in the beginning. It is all energy, what the scientists today call the dark matter and dark energy.
There is a sutra in Rigveda, the sutra of creation. People never understood this: darkness covered by darkness. They thought it might be some poet's imagination, or that the poet is trying to say something but doesn't make any sense. This is what people interpreted for a long time. But today, when scientists speak the same language, there is resonance there. That is why science and spirituality are so close! The more you go into physics and quantum mechanics, the more you go into the ancient vedic knowledge, you see that at no point in time people were deprived of knowledge. It was available, whether people understood it or not, is a different thing.
Q: Gurudev, it is said that sattva (purity) is needed for the attainment of karma (action). But is rajas not required for karma? In my case if I do a lot of sadhana then I don't feel like doing anything.
Sri Sri: There is another meaning of sattva – purity of intellect. Intellect is also called Sattva. But, to do any action rajoguna is required.
The body cannot be stable without the three gunas (Rajoguna, Tamoguna and Satoguna). There is a necessity for all three gunas in the body. Sattva will remain prominent in these. The rajoguna and tamoguna will stay suppressed, but they will be there for sure.
Once, a nuclear scientist had come here. He made a design and got it here. There were three spokes in his design, and he was saying – this world is held in balance by these three forces, which is why it has continued to exist all this time. Like the blades of a windmill, there are three spokes – they go up and down in sync. So with these three being present it will keep spinning again and again and again. In the same way, the world has always existed, and will always exist, till infinity, due to these three gunas.
Don't become lazy in the name of satoguna. Many times we think that due to sadhana there is abundance of satoguna, but if tamoguna increases then laziness comes. Be wary of this. So, along with satoguna, there should also be steadfastness in action.
When old age strikes, say you are 70 to 80 years old, then the quantities of rajoguna and tamoguna automatically decrease. Then sleep also abandons you. Then you sit and read, you engage in thinking, then also keep yourself busy.
Q: Gurudev, when we are very happy in seva, sadhana and satsang, then why do we desire enlightenment? Is there something beyond birth and death?
Sri Sri: One who doesn't want happiness, he attains moksha. One who doesn't want moksha he attains love. When there is no longing for happiness then there is moksha.
Why do people commit suicide? Because they are longing for happiness. When the fear of misery and longing for happiness doesn't end, then one becomes suicidal.
Q: Gurudev, you have mentioned a few days back that wonder is the basis of Yoga. Could you please tell us what is Yoga?
Sri Sri: Yoga is uniting; uniting the small mind with the big mind. Bringing harmony between body, breath and mind.
Mind and body are both there, but if the body and mind are not aligned then it is not Yoga. In Yoga you are bringing them in harmony, you are aligning them – breath, body and mind. And you feel so good after that.
You may just lift your hand unconsciously, but when you consciously move your hand, you see that there is a rhythm and there is dance to it. You see that there is a sense of well being. Similarly, when the small mind is united with the universal mind, that is called Yoga.
Q: Gurudev, what is the significance of using water in all our rituals?
Sri Sri: Well, more than sixty percent of your body is the water element. And water resonates with feelings and sounds. The mantras get absorbed in water.
There is a beautiful slideshow on it, maybe someone can show it, it may be on our website as well, how water responds to the different emotions.
You keep a bottle of water and say, 'I hate you. I dislike you', then the crystals of water become very different. And similarly, when a positive vibration, chanting is done and focused on the water, it produces such a harmonious, beautiful diagram. Someone from Japan has taken the pain to conduct these experiments and it is available to you online. It is amazing!
Q: Gurudev, in the world there are many paths to enlightenment. Please tell me the definitive way to be free.
Sri Sri: That's what I am doing, I think! I thought I am just telling you the definite way to be free! What is bothering you now?
Read this book 'An Intimate Note To A Sincere Seeker'. When you feel bothered, when the negative emotions take over, then you feel stifled and uncomfortable. How to handle the negative emotions? There are six of them, excessive lust, greed, jealousy, anger, arrogance and attachment or delusion. The mind is entangled, it is not giving you any joy but you cannot get away from it because getting away from it becomes even more painful, this is called delusion. We call it moha in sanskrit. It means an attachment, like something stuck in the throat. You can neither spit it nor swallow it. Such a situation is called moha.
There are a number of ways to handle these negative emotions. If you can handle these emotions, that's it. Then you are free! And pranayama, meditation is one of those ways.
Q: Gurudev, how to cultivate shraddha (faith)? The mind is fickle and wants proof before it believes.
Sri Sri: The moment you understand that your mind is fickle then you’re getting out of it. You can’t have a fickle mind for too long, some interval has to come. That brings wisdom.
‘I am being fickle minded’, with that very awareness you become more stable.
Q: Gurudev, could you please talk about the way prana prathistha is done? I have heard they put the idol into grains and water? Could you talk about the significance?
Sri Sri: Yes, the aagama literature has a lot of knowledge about it, how the prana (energy) is induced into a statue or an idol.
In a temple, there are statues all over, everywhere, but they are not really worshipped. The one which is worshiped is in the center chamber, and they do a lot of ceremonies. First they chant mantras, keep the idol in the water for x number of days, then the grains. And the place where they build the temple, first they will cultivate something on the land. It should sprout with some seeds. So there are a number of steps to do this.
It's a whole ritual, and then from air, ether, fire, water, and sound the energy is instilled in a statue. That's how it is done.
The statue is not important. Underneath it is a diagram on a copper plate called mandalas or yantra. That is the most important thing. It is like the circuit diagram. If you open any transistor or TV, there's a circuit diagram. It doesn't mean anything to you, the lines on copper or aluminum, are going this way and that way in some diagrammatic manner.
What do you find inside a radio? The same thing, they put diagrams. These diagrams are the most important thing, and not the shape of whichever idol there is. The diagram is kept underneath that so that it retains the positive energy. Whatever the energy, it is retained there. And so the people go and pray that they get those vibrations.
It's an ancient system, but unfortunately a lot of it is lost. Only very few people here and there have this knowledge.
Q: (A member of the audience asked a question which was inaudible)
Sri Sri: See, acceptance means what? What do you want to accept? Something that is beautiful, do you say, 'I accept, this is so beautiful?'
Acceptance has meaning when you cannot accept something. What is that you cannot accept? Imperfections. You find something is imperfect and you don't want to accept it.
Suppose someone sitting next to you is acting in a way which you cannot accept. They may be sneezing, or they may be doing some weird thing. Suppose someone sitting next to you is burping and you are meditating. You say, 'My god, I want to meditate. I have not come here to hear this guy's burping!'
Now you want perfection but the guy sitting next to you is producing noise from all over his body, and he is creating disturbance for you. At that time, when you create a space in your mind and say, 'Okay, that is what he is. Let's do something, after meditation let me ask him, maybe he wants some triphala churna, his stomach is not okay. Or something is wrong with his body, too much vaata. Or he is having too many potatoes'.
So, if you can help him to get over his unpleasant state or imperfection, you do it. Otherwise you create a space for imperfection. That brings you patience. That is what is acceptance.
Acceptance simply means creating a little space for imperfection.
Create a little space for imperfection in life, that gives you a lot of strength. That increases your patience. It helps you not to lose your temper for nothing.
Every time anyone gets angry, it is only because they don't accept something.
Now, I am not saying you should always accept everything.
When there is injustice done, I would say no, you should stand up for injustice. But after accepting, after recognizing there is injustice, then you fight for it.
Now, about ego. If you find there is ego, let it be. Don't try to smash your ego, or destroy your ego. Why do you want to do it? Let the ego be there. But keep it in its place. Don't show it off to everybody. Then you get beaten. Do you see what I'm saying?
Ego means creating a barrier between you and the other. The antidote to that is being natural and being friendly. Just being natural, that is the antidote.
If you think your ego is bothering you, it is easy to get over it, do you know how? Just act like a fool for one day, or as a crazy person for a day. One day you behave like a crazy man. And let everybody clap and laugh. When they laugh at you, and if you feel comfortable with that, next day you will feel at home. Feeling at home and feeling natural is the only antidote for something that bothers you about yourself.
Q: Gurudev, what is stronger, mind, body or soul? How can I use these three in a good way?
Sri Sri: The soul has its own strength, the mind has its own strength and the body has its own position. Everything has its own strength. Keep the three balanced in their own respect.
Just today, there was a youth who hadn't eaten since morning and was sitting here, thinking that Gurudev is meeting so many people, he's so busy, I will not eat till I meet him. How will it work if you do this? You shouldn't do this.
You should take care of the body the way it has to be taken care of. Do exercise and eat on time.
We are busy with something or the other, I always say this – you should eat on time. Otherwise it is an extra burden for me, I will have to take care of this also – whether you have eaten on time or not. Don't do this, be self sufficient. Eat on time and then engage in your work. Eating on time, exercising on time, doing sadhana on time – keeping the body healthy – this is essential.
For the strengthening of the mind, there is knowledge. Listen to knowledge again and again.
Being engrossed in our day-to-day duties and work, meeting people, etc., gives rise to many thoughts in the mind. The mind is troubled. Cravings, aversions, envy, greed, temptations – many different things bog the mind down. So keeping the mind clear every single day is important – the way you brush your teeth once or twice every day, you take a bath every day, in the same way, every day we must read or listen to some knowledge. Then the mind and intellect stays pure.
You keep blaming the mind; why don't you remember of death? You are going to die one day! Just by the thought of death, the disorders of the mind go away. The minute you realize that life is momentary, the mind becomes happy. Life is fleeting, we will live for a few days and bear whatever difficulties there are. And whatever good work is there to be done, we will do that and go.
We have not come here to sit idle. We have come in this world to do something, and we will do it! This feeling should arise.
If we keep ourselves busy in doing something or the other, then also the worries of the mind reduce.
Okay, then how do we strengthen the soul? The soul is already strong! And with this confidence that God is mine, the strength of the soul increases. Whatever will happen will be good for me – this kind of strong determination is necessary.
Things will be good for me always. If something is not working today, then something better is in store; that is why it is not happening now – this surety should be in our mind.
And then this place (the ashram) is always there, you come whenever you feel like. Whenever you are sad come here and engage in service.
Daas kabhi udaas nahi hote (one who serves is never unhappy). When the strength increases within you, when the petrol is filled in your tank, then you can drive your car in the world! When it begins to empty then come back here!
The body is a vehicle after all, isn't it? The body has been called a ratha (chariot) in all the shastras (scriptures). The mind is the sarathi (charioteer), and the soul is the passenger.