Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Sometimes, even after doing one’s Sadhana and practices, the chattering mind does not stop. How to make it stop? How to be at peace?
Sri Sri: Dispassion (Vairagya) is the only way to make the mind stop chattering. Just realize that everything is a dream. It will all soon come to an end.
You know, the chattering (of the mind) is always with regards to a subject, a topic, or with a want. Worries and wants are responsible for the chattering of the mind. Drop your worries and your wants, that is what is called Vairagya.
Q: Dear Gurudev, is it okay if I am dependent on you, or should I be independent? I am constantly trying to improve myself, how can I be better?
Sri Sri: This is a good question to have, ‘How can I be better?’ But don’t keep dwelling on it. If you keep thinking, 'What about me', then if you do some mistake, you will keep blaming yourself. You will swing between self-blame, self-pity and over-worthiness. All these complications comes.
Just do whatever you can and relax. Needing and wanting to be needed, in both cases, you’re being self-centric. Just be!
A flower does not make an effort to spread fragrance. A flower is fragrant and the fragrance spreads. A light does not make an effort to push its rays into our eyes. It is just there and the light spreads. Same with you, you don’t need to be made to see that you are being dependent or you want to be wanted. All these complicated mind-sets, you must bundle them up and put it aside. Be available to do any good work, be creative.
I need so many creative people; every bit of creativity can be useful somewhere or the other. And whatever you can do, you do. If you talk to the housing, they need so many people to clean rooms, if you have free time, you go clean.
Talk to the gardeners, they’ll tell you to come and water the plants. So if you want to do seva there are so many avenues to do it. Otherwise simply sitting and saying ‘Will I be wanted? Am I useful? Will someone like me? Does anybody love me or not?’ is of no use.
All these complications, my goodness. It is just a sad waste of time. I want you to be happy and grow in knowledge.
Q: Gurudev, people criticize others behind their backs all the time. What happens to such people?
Sri Sri: If the criticism is superficial, then let it be.
We just talked about the Navarasas (the nine emotions, which are, love, laughter, compassion, anger, courage, terror, disgust, surprise, and peace), this is also one of them.
If you want something bad to happen to another from the core of your heart, from the depth of your being, then you are harming only yourself. The person being criticized won’t be affected.
But that doesn’t mean you should be superficially positive, and never point out mistakes. If an apple is bad, saying the apple is good is insincere.
If someone asks you, 'How was the food', and you say it was very good, but you couldn’t eat it then that is not honesty. Where there is a problem, it must be pointed out, but without any hatred in your heart, otherwise the feeling will harm only you.
If somebody else does it, then let it be. What can you do? It is their rajo guna and tamo guna which makes such negative tendencies arise in them. But if you become negative towards them because of that, they you will also be in the same basket as them.
The three gunas, rajoguna, tamoguna and sattoguna are an integral part of nature. You just be a witness to their play and display.
And if you want to explain it to somebody then do it because you care for them, do it with compassion. Tell them that you have spent two hours complaining about somebody today, this will severely affect your creative or positive energy. The more you complain the more energy you will lose.
Tell them to complain about somebody for an hour and observe how much energy they have lost.
When people start complaining about others they forget the time because they find some form of enjoyment in it. Like a patient enjoys talking about his ailments. If he has ten visitors, he’ll tell all ten people the same thing, 'All morning I have been having leg pain. I could not sleep all night because of the pain'.
All the crying and drama is repeated over and over again. He should do something else instead of harping on and on about it. Write a poem maybe, or do some other creative thing. Then he can be happy and also forget his ailment.
Anything that is repeated, gets deeper into the consciousness. That is why mantras are repeated again and again. So don’t let complaints get deeper into yourself, instead do some japa (meditative repetition of a mantra or name of a divine power).
Q: Gurudev, Ram took birth to destroy Ravana, Krishna took birth to destroy Kamsa, Ayyappa took birth to destroy Mahishi, Bhima took birth to destroy Keejakkan.
Which demon are you going to destroy?
Sri Sri: Ignorance, corruption, dishonesty, cunningness; these are the things that clog society today.
We don’t need to make an effort to destroy it, just spread the knowledge. Spread the light and the darkness will disappear.
There are two things: one is, trying to get rid of darkness, here your attention is on darkness. But if you turn towards light and say you would like to light more lights, then darkness automatically goes away. This is what we need to do. Take a positive attitude.
People often say their religion is in danger. They create this fear-psychosis. This alarm-bell propels people to take some action and those actions are never so palatable. Actions induced through fear can only cause bitterness, but actions which are positive in attitude will bring happiness in the society.
Q: Gurudev, in my life nowadays I feel that I have forgotten everything that happened to me in the past. Even if I try to remember certain events, I cannot remember them. My mind is at peace, and I feel as if all my past has been erased. Is it alright?
Sri Sri: It is very good actually. You should forget things after sometime (and not hold on to anything). Yes, do not forget your way back home; or your keys to the car, etc.
Q: Gurudev, I am young and smoke to relax my mind. People taunting me makes me sad. How can I change my mind-set. I find meditation very boring, so please don’t suggest that?
Sri Sri: You want to change, isn't it? The process has already started.
If you find meditation boring then do Yoga. If you find that boring then stand up and dance. Dance so much that you feel tired, after that when you lie down and relax, meditation happens.
I know your mind is such a tricky thing that it escapes from any little gap it gets. That is why we have so many ways to arrest the mind and bring it to the present moment.
Also, engage yourself in some meaningful seva. If you’re putting your 100%, then also you will find that have harnessed your mind.
Q: Gurudev, if I am enlightened, would I still continue to do my work;?
Sri Sri: Yes, absolutely. You have to be very ordinary only. If you think that you are someone very special, then that is not enlightenment.
Q: Dearest Gurudev, what should one do when one feels lonely despite being among people?
Sri Sri: I would say that is very good. If you feel lonely, just remember that everything is a dream. Then the next step you take is one where you find that everything is yours (meaning: everything belongs to you). This feeling of loneliness among people, is one step towards the expanded state of realization.
Q: Dear Gurudev, could you please guide me on the path of what I need rather than the path of what I want?
Sri Sri: You should simply believe that whatever you need will surely be provided to you. And you should chase the laziness out of your life. These are two things that you need to do.
If you are lazy and say, 'What I need will be provided', that is not right. And if you are afraid of not getting what you need, that also is no good. So, you should not be lazy and you should have the faith that what you need will come to you.
Q: Gurudev, in the Iranian or Parsi tradition, Gods are called Ahura and demons Daiva, whereas in the Indian tradition, it’s exactly the opposite. Could you talk on this.
Sri Sri: Daitya is also in the Indian tradition. The Asuras are also called Daityas, and Devtas are also called Adityas (means those born out of Aditi).
Devas and Asuras share the same father, their mothers were Aditi and Diti. The father was Rishi Kashyap. So from Aditi came all the Suras or Adityas, and from Diti came all the Daityas or Asuras. So there are lots of similarities in the names of Gods and Goddesses in the Indian and the Parsi tradition.
If you really go into the details, originally the Vedic tradition has only fire ceremonies. They didn’t have idols of deities in temples.
Without fire nothing will move. The first mantra of the oldest scripture known today to mankind, in the Rig Veda is Agni, the sacred fire. Not a day passed without worshipping Agni.
Trikaala Agni-kaarya means morning, afternoon, evening they had to worship the fire.
Fire and life are synonymous, both survive on oxygen. If you put a glass case on top of you, you will live only as long as there is oxygen in the case, and same goes for the fire. So fire is the closest visible symbol for life; of atman.
So to reach the Gods, you must go through fire. Fire is the doorway to the Divinity.