13 February 2014 - QA 3

Gurudev, in Brazil a lot of people are looking for the meaning to life. But most of them don’t know the difference between religion and spirituality, and many a times, it creates a resistance. What to say to these people so as to not to create a resistance and bring them to love?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

That is why we have kept the name The Art of Living. It is very neutral, very acceptable to everybody. We are not talking about God unless someone asks.

The prejudice in the world is what is eating up the cohesive culture in the world. The cohesiveness of all cultures is being destroyed by prejudice and fanaticism. Some religious people think, 'My religion is the only religion on Earth. Only this will take me to heaven. Everybody else is in hell'.
If they think that only their religion takes one to heaven and everybody else will be going to hell, they create hell for everybody. You don’t need to find another hell anywhere else.

It is man's mind, it’s expression and behavior that creates hell on the planet. This is unfortunate. Unfortunately in many major religions of the world, many people think that way and behave that way. They are fearful.
If religion is based on guilt and fear, I tell you people are not going to blossom.
You are made to feel guilty, you are repenting all the time, and you’re always afraid, ‘Oh, God is going to punish me. If I sit with a man of another religion next to me, I don’t know what will happen. Satan is going to enter my head'.
Satan is already sitting as fear inside you, he doesn’t have to enter you. He is already there.

Same with thoughts like, ‘I cannot stand with women', or 'I cannot stand with men. They are different. They look different. They dress different'. Or 'That person believes in many Gods, or another God’.
Things like this are destroying the fabric of the planet Earth. It’s destroying the human fabric. Isn’t it?

In this country, there are many people who are coming and converting people. In this country, Hinduism was only a way of life. It was never called a religion.
In earlier days, people had their way of life, and it was so diverse. Some people honored the trees, and thought of God in the form of tree. Some think God is in the Moon, or in the Sun.

In Arunachal Pradesh (in the North-East of India, bordering China and Tibet), that province, they have a religion called Donyi-Polo.
Donyi-Polo means the Sun and Moon are their Gods. They honor the Sun and the Moon. They honor the mountains and the rivers. People go there (to Arunachal Pradesh) and convert them saying, ‘Hey, what are you doing? You’re worshipping nature. This is no good. You should worship my God.’
They impose it on them. For centuries they have been following a particular religion, and they tell them their religion is bad and try to convert them, and say, ‘You have to believe only in this book and only then you can go to heaven otherwise God is angry at you’.
They instill guilt in the hearts and the minds of these people. Families are broken, I tell you. These people who try to convert, they get a lot of money from abroad. They put conditions for medical, for education, everything. If you convert then you get all this. And these poor people are brainwashed and they pulled away from their traditions, and their religion.

If there are no good things in a religion, that should be done away with. Things that are not good should be dropped. But if there are good things, then why to destroy that culture?
Honoring nature or respecting nature is a beautiful thing to do.

Here in the Hindu tradition, there is this belief that if you want to cut a tree, first you have to ask permission from the tree. Then promise the tree that you are going to plant five of the same kind elsewhere.
People would say, 'I have to cut you because I have to build my home here'. They would talk to trees. They would talk with feelings and promise to plan five of the same kind.
So they would bring five small saplings, and keep it there and ask the tree permission and then cut it. This is such a good tradition. Shouldn’t this be honored and welcomed?
People who are educated in Harvard come and say, ‘You are foolish, you are talking to trees. These are all superstitions. You should not do all this. What is this ceremony? Why do you want to do this?’ And the village man is completely at loss. He’s been believing for so many years and suddenly someone comes and says you’re superstitious.
That is why I would say, we must respect some of the old traditions. This converting of people and saying, ‘Only my God will take you to heaven and other things will take you to hell’, this sort of fear psychosis in this country is increasing.

Even yesterday a gentleman was telling me how this sort of induction is happening. It is so sad. We should convert from religion to spirituality. Graduate from being stuck in the religious mindset to spirituality, where you recognize good things from everywhere and honor them all. We need to see how we can break this ice of the fanatic mindset. I am sure slowly and surely we will succeed.