‘Spirituality is essential to keep politics away from corruption, war’ Sydney, August 5 (Sunday): Sri Sri guided a large group, comprising people from different parts of the world, into meditation. Participants of the advanced meditation programme, this group is observing silence. As is the tradition, participants write their queries on pieces of paper and drop them into a basket. These questions are then read out at the satsang. Excerpts of this evening’s session with Sri Sri:
Q: This is my first part 2 course, and first time being in silence. What am I to find within? So far, I’ve found some empty space and sorrow. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When an instruction is given, at first you are unsure whether you are following it correctly. Even to find the tip of your nose can be hard, so when you are told to look within, you’re not sure what exactly to do. You will find that different types of thoughts and emotions come up, but over time you should find that your meditations improve. We have shoved lots of things under the carpet in our minds, and in the first meditations, while we are in silence, they all come out. It is like the first time you do Kriya. You feel rebellious and think you are wasting your time. In the same way, you may think that why should I be in silence? Let me go out and have fun. But remember, you are doing this in order to have real fun. When the system is cleansed, real fun happens.
Q: If the thing that steers us through changing emotion is commitment, how do we develop this commitment? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Firstly, be committed to lead a good life and make the world around us a better place. These two things are connected because we can only be really happy when those around us are happy. Commitment is taking responsibility for our own life. I’m responsible for feeling what I feel. Come what may, I’ll keep my calmness, serenity and alertness. (Someone from the audience asks a question about relationships.)
A. There are many questions about relationships. I’ll say the following things ... one piece of advice for women, one for men. For women - Never step on the ego of your man. The whole world may say that your spouse has no brain, but you should say, ‘You have the best brain. Just because you never use your brain doesn’t mean you don’t have one!’ A man shouldn’t have to prove himself to his wife. He always has to prove himself outside, and if he also has to prove himself at home, he has no place to call home. Don’t make him repeatedly prove his love to you, and don’t call him a vegetable ... he will become one with your blessings!
In the Indian ceremony, man holds the toe of the woman and drags it onto a stone. He says, ‘I put all my life and my honour at your feet. I know your emotions are always changing, but you be stable and support me. The stone symbolises this stability and solidity.’ Now some advice for men: Women are more emotional and all the more about their family. She may complain about her family, but you never do that. Even if she’s complaining about her mother, don’t even nod your head in agreement, or she will turn right around. When it comes to her family, you keep your mouth sealed. Also, when she wants to participate in singing or shopping, just give her the credit card. Always nurture her emotions.
Q: Why do some cry when singing bhajans, while others are strong enough to sing or chant without crying? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is natural to cry when the heart opens and tears flow. You’ve seen the video about the chakras, haven’t you? Grief and gratitude are in the throat chakra. When love moves up, gratitude comes. But different people get it at different times. So don’t look around and compare yourself to others and think that something is wrong just because others are crying and you are not.
Q: Do spirituality and politics go hand in hand? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Spirituality is essential to keep politics away from corruption and war. Politics without spirituality will lead to narrow-mindedness. Mahatma Gandhi was an extremely spiritual man, and that’s why he was able to lead a non-violent revolution in India.
On the African continent, there is so much corruption. 200 billion dollars is kept away in English banks. This is the money of various presidents and Prime Ministers in Africa. 200 billion dollars at a time when many people are starving and suffering! With an iota of spirituality, they wouldn’t do this. Spirituality that doesn’t care about people is no good. So service projects are an essential part of any spiritual path. Charity is a part of spirituality.
Q: How can I believe in God when some people are so privileged, and others are so poor? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You think God is a person sitting there. (Sri Sri points upwards.) That is only in Michelangelo’s painting. God is not a person. God is a field of energy, like a magnetic field. The whole universe is pervaded by this field and made up of that substance. In meditation, we are in communion with this. But this is not a dead field like a magnetic field. It has life, consciousness. There are five attributes of God – God created this world, sustained it, dissolved it, he also blesses and veils it. Like air, although it is all around us, we only feel it when a fan is switched on. In the same way, we sometimes experience the blessing, but at other times God’s presence is veiled from us. Spiritual practices unveil God.
Q: What’s older, Tamil or Sanskrit? Why don’t you sing Thevarams in Tamil? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I only know one language. The language of the heart. How does it matter? Whether Sanskrit is older or Tamil is older? There is a feeling that oldest is best... is that the thing?
In New Delhi, there is a 99-year-old man. But he is very alert. He has written 220 books on a wide range of topics like Ayurveda and history. He once attended a debate where historians were arguing on the location of the first man. There were three days of debate and discussion. Some people said Africa, some people said Mongolia. Eventually this elderly man, who was respected by all, walked up to the stage. He claimed that the first man was definitely born in India. Everyone was surprised that he was speaking with so much authority. He went on to say that the man was born in Punjab. People were even more surprised. ‘Not only that, I know which town in Punjab he was born in, and which street, and which house,’ he said. Now the others started to suspect something. He eventually said, “I was born there!” But the historians understood his point. It was all speculation and hypothesis.
The heart seeks the old, and the head seeks the new, the latest and greatest. When in love, we feel that our connection is for ever. Life is a combination of the two – old and new. Both Tamil and Sanskrit are very old. English, Italian, German are very close to Sanskrit. Russian, even closer. Sanskrit is the mother of all these Indo-European languages.
Q: In your presence, all the Knowledge makes sense. But when I go back to the real world, things return to normalcy. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is not the real world, this is not unreal. It is difficult to keep equanimity in the midst of the world’s problems. But have you noticed a qualitative difference in your life since you started on this path? All you need is re-enforcement. This is required up to a certain point. It’s like watering and nurturing a small plant. This is very important, but when the small plant becomes a tree, this is no longer required.
Q: Should my first responsibility be to the Guru or the mother and spouse? If a conflict arises, who should I choose? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Guru is already happy. If you are happy, the Guru is happy.
But there is a Sanskrit saying: Kashtasya Sukhasya Na Kopi Vaa (It is impossible to make someone else joyful). How much can you prove to your wife that you love her? The more you do, the more suspicious she becomes. It is next to impossible to make someone else happy.
So, you must engage in a service project. Ten percent of your income must go to spiritual and social causes. If not, the money is said to be impure. There was a wealthy industrialist in India. He didn’t believe in charity and said he would do it when he got older. He became bankrupt six months later,. Even the greatest fortunes can disappear. See companies like GM and Citibank. What stays with us is our good heart.
Q: There have been lots of questions about choosing Gurus etc. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: My advice is follow one path, but honour everybody.
Why should you follow one path? If you go to different teachers, you will get different opinions. One person will say chant ‘So Ham’, another will say chant ‘Ham Sa’. Another will say, ‘No no, chant ‘Dasoham’ (I am a servant). Another will say ‘Sada soham’. So this will create spiritual confusion. Stick to one path and try it for some time. If it is not getting you anywhere, then reconsider. Spiritual shopping will not help in your growth. Listen to the Yoga Sutras, Ashtavakra Geeta and Narada Bhakti Sutras.There is no need for confusion even if you were following another path earlier. Take that as a gift, as a stepping stone that brought you here.