Preguntas & Respuestas con Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How is ignorance of God still God? If violence, stress, ignorance, hatred, etc., are also forms of God, then why do we need to move away from them towards peace? Why do we move towards some part of God, and away from some other part of God?
Sri Sri: As a human being, it is natural to do so. Suppose there is a piece of bread and a bundle of hay kept before you. If you are a cow you will move towards the hay. If you are human, you will move towards the bread. It is as natural as that. But the cow is also God, the hay is also God, the bread is also God and you are also God. It is just the way things are.
Fire moves upwards, water flows downwards, but both are God. As fire, it moves up; as water the same thing moves down. This is the nature of things.
You are made up of both Prakriti (the Divine energy and intelligence that governs the existence and functioning of the Creation) and Purusha (the Universal Self that pervades all of Creation). Now this takes us to another topic altogether. So there are certain qualities (GunasSattva, Rajas and Tamas, and you act according to these qualities.
If you have more of Tamoguna, you will move towards violence. If you have more of Sattva, you will move towards harmony. If you have more Rajoguna, you will struggle with activity; in between the other two states, so there might be a little peace and a little violence. That is just how things are.
Q: Gurudev, can you elaborate more about Space and the Brahman?
Sri Sri: That from which our words and the mind retrieve (their source and essence); that which the words and the mind fail to capture – that is the Brahman.
I have always explained this by comparing it to the taste of a dumb person. When a dumb person eats something, how can he express how it was? He is dumb, but he has tasted something. How can he express it? In the same way, the words and the mind cannot reach the Brahman. You can describe space to some extent, but even words fail to describe the Brahman, for it is untouched by words and beyond description.
Q: Dear Gurudev, how to manage a woman who is irritated at me for everything! Please help, I love her very much.
Sri Sri: I am so inexperienced in this matter! You are asking a wrong person!
What do you do with a person who is irritated at you, and you love them so much? I guess you have to just accept it, and simply move on.
There is a story of a gentleman who was so bothered by his wife. Everything she did, was the opposite of what he wanted. If he said, 'I do not want to eat pasta today', she ensured he had only pasta that day.
If he said, 'I don’t like blue jeans’, she made sure that she wore blue jeans that day.
Anything he asked of her, she did just the opposite. If he said, 'I don’t want to go out', she would say, 'No, I want to go out'. When he would want to go out, she would say, 'I don't want to step out of the house!'
He was so bothered, so worried, and had a very long face.
One morning, as he went for a walk, he bumped into a Guru. The Guru asked him, 'My dear, are you happy? You don’t look happy. What do you want?'
The man said, 'I have a big problem. Anything I say, my wife does just the opposite.’
So the wise man whispered something in his ears.
Three months later, as the man was walking happily one morning, he bumped into the Guru again. The Guru said, 'Hey, you look happier!'
He said, 'Yes, your trick worked.’
Now what was the trick?
The Guru advised him, 'Don’t speak your heart to your wife. Whatever you want, say the opposite of it! If you want to go out, tell her that you don’t want to step out of the house. If you want apple pie, tell her not to make apple pie. If you don’t want her to wear blue jeans, tell her to wear blue jeans that day.’
The man said to the Guru, 'I did what you said, and it worked. I say the opposite of everything I want, and we are happy now'.
Similarly, you find out what would make her happy, and keep her from getting irritated.
Sometimes, it becomes people’s nature to be irritated. They keep complaining, come what may. No matter what you do, they will find something to complain about. Especially after they cross the age of 70 or 80, it is even more. Since all their life they have programmed their mind and brain in such a manner - complain, complain, complain, and complain. Then it becomes the prominent behavioral pattern in their life.
You simply have to swallow it. Accept it. And don’t try to please them.
Sometimes, it becomes
people’s nature to be irritated.
They keep complaining, come
what may. Your biggest
difficulty is that you try to
please people, when they are
actually happy in their
complaining mode. If others
are complaining, let it be! If
you cannot correct them, you
simply accept them, and move
Your biggest difficulty is that you try to please people, when they are actually happy in their complaining mode. You try to change them, make them happy, and it doesn’t work! You should simply let them do what they want, but don’t let their complaints enter into your head. You don’t complain that they are complaining. Got it? At any cost, save your mind.
If others are complaining, let it be! If you cannot correct them, you simply accept them, and move on.
See there isn’t much time! Everything is moving towards the final end; we are all moving towards death. How long can you go on trying to placate somebody? That does not mean you be rude to anybody. You be nice to people, however, don't get stuck, ‘Oh, they are irritated, what do I do?’ You can’t do much! Keep walking!
I find this problem everywhere, in every part of the world. Almost in every home, there is somebody who irritates everybody, and everybody gets irritated by somebody. Then there is a war of words. That is why I said the world is such! That is why it is called maya
, it appears to be something, and it is really not that.
Q: For how long should shraadh ceremonies be performed?
Sri Sri: In ancient days, shraadh ceremonies were performed until the soul was re-born. So, they would do it for 15 years, and then they knew that the soul was re-born, so they would stop doing it.
Today, since we have lost the ability to know whether they are still there or reborn, we keep doing it.
Q: What is the purpose of so many Upanishads when they all say the same thing?
Sri Sri: There are little differences amongst each. Though they all say the same thing, yet the style is very unique and it is not the same thing.
Each one has its own specific flavour. It is like when you go to an ice cream shop and ask, ‘Why have you kept so many flavours of ice cream?’ So, basically they are ice cream but each is a different flavour. One is chocolate, one is pistachio, another is butterscotch, etc. Essentially it is all sugar and cream. The ingredients are essentially the same, but each has a different flavour.
Q: Dear Gurudev, whatever you have said, I have at some time experienced it before. But I am now not able to experience it any more. What is the reason for that, and what should I do?
Sri Sri: Just relax. You are in the right space at the right time. See, these experiences come and go. Just take them as they come. Neither should you hanker for them, nor should you try to avoid them also. This is our golden principle.
Q: Dear Gurudev, I have heard a little about reflections. How many reflections do we have, and what does that mean?
Sri Sri: When you have said a word, you have also attached a meaning to it.
Reflection is simply reflection. Whatever you see on the outside. Action is a reflection of what you are. Your thoughts, your mind, your emotions are a reflection of what you are. In some sense even your body is a reflection of what you are.
When you reflect on this truth, it becomes very clear.
We say, ‘Asangoham asangoham punah punaha’ (Unattached, unattached, am I again and again).
It means, ‘I am not this. I am not this. I am untouched and separate from all this. I am not my body, my thoughts, my emotions, and all the actions that I have done’.
Then we start becoming a witness, and distance ourselves from all that happens.
Q: What are the names of the Saptarishis?
Sri Sri: Sapta or the seven rishis are, Kashyapa, Athri, Vashishta, Bharadvaja, Gautama, Jamadagni and Vishwamitra.
Q: Can you speak about how different parts of the body are connected to the subtle Devas?
Sri Sri: Each part of the body is connected to a particular Deva.
They say, ‘Prajanane Brahma tishtatu’, meaning Lord Brahma resides in the genitals (the seat of procreation in the body).
Then, it is said, ‘Padayo Vishnu tishtatu’, meaning Lord Vishnu is present in the feet.
Like that, we say, ‘Hastayo Hara tishtatu’, Hara (a form of Lord Shiva) is present in the hands. ‘Karneyo Ashvino tishtatu’, means that the twin Ashvin Kumars (Vedic gods symbolizing the rising and setting sun, associated with bringing treasures and medicines to man) are present in the two ears. The Ashvin Kumaras are gods responsible for medicinal gifts and the science of Ayurveda. They are said to have propounded the science of Ayurveda. Similarly, our eyes are connected with the Sun god.
The forehead is said to be the seat of Rudra (one of the many forms of Lord Shiva).
Lord Rama is said to be present in the naval region, the seat of Agni (here, referring to the digestive fire).
Rudra and Shiva are two forms of the same god (Shiva), but Rudra is said to be present in the forehead, while Lord Shiva resides in the heart.
So like that, each part of the human body is associated with a particular god.
Q: Is being gay an impression of the mind?
Sri Sri: It could be, or it could also be biological.
You are made up of both, male and female, chromosomes. If the female chromosomes in you are active, but the body is male, then the tendencies can change. However, it is not for a lifetime. These tendencies may come for some time, and disappear. You can see many people who are straight, suddenly turn gay. And many people who are gay for a long time, they start getting married. I have seen all these different permutations, combinations, mindsets in people. So, it is best not to label yourself.
Get out of labeling yourself
based on some tendency of
the body. Know that you
are consciousness. You are
love. You are scintillating
energy. Your identification
as energy, as love, and as a
beautiful person is far, far
better than identifying and
labelling yourself with the
physical tendencies that may
arise in you.
Sometimes, people force themselves to fit into particular categories. They say, ‘Okay, I am lesbian’, or, ‘I am gay’, and when these tendencies change, they get shattered later on. Sometimes, people become so homophobic that they start hating people with such tendencies, which is no good.
My advice would be to get out of labeling yourself based on some tendency of the body. Know that you are consciousness. You are love. You are scintillating energy. Your identification as energy, as love, and as a beautiful person is far, far better than identifying and labeling yourself with the physical tendencies that may arise in you.
When such tendencies come, you don't have to feel bad or guilty or anything. That is how it is! Accept it! It is a phenomenon in nature - there are different male or female tendencies, or emotions or attractions that are arising within you. There is nothing wrong about it.
You have to go beyond that! Beyond that is the spirit.
The spirit has no gender, it is beyond gender. The spirit is love, and that is what you are.
When you know this, you become very solid.