Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, we have heard such beautiful knowledge from you over the years. But I am not able to implement it. What should I do?
Sri Sri: You are stuck in making efforts to implement the knowledge. Just relax. You do not need to do anything! Everything is happening by itself.
Q: Gurudev, can you tell us more about Rishi Kapila? Very little is known about him.
Sri Sri: Rishi Kapila lived in California. That is how the name California has come. Kapilaranea is the Vedic name of California.
At one point of time, Vedic knowledge was prevalent in all of South America and North America. In the scriptures, it is said, the time difference between Kapilaranea and India is 12 hours. When it is day there, it will be night here, and vice-versa; that exactly fits California, which is called Kapilaranea.
Kapila was the son of a lady called Devahuti. Today’s Detroit has some connection with Devahuti, and that is where Detroit gets its name from – Devahuti.
Devahuti’s son, Kapilaranea, lived in California. He was the previous incarnation of Lord Krishna. He is the founder of the philosophy called Sankhya Darshana.
Sankhya means counting the different elements and principles that the whole universe is made up of, i.e., Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Mind, Intellect, etc. Like that, 24 different tatvas or principles are present in his philosophy, which is why it is called Sankhya Yoga.
He speaks about how consciousness and matter are different, and the relationship between consciousness and matter is discussed in detail.
The second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita also is called Sankhya Yoga, where Lord Krishna speaks about how the mind and the spirit are different from matter, and self is immortal. This knowledge of self is given.
Q: What do you do when the one you love is in love with someone else?
Sri Sri: Know that it is a test for your love to be unconditional. They are giving you an opportunity to be unconditionally in love.
You can use it for your benefit to become stronger and grow in love, or you can get upset, angry, frustrated and jealous.
What would you prefer? To grow in jealousy and get all those jealous feelings inside of you; feel bad, upset and spoil your vibrations, or to be happy for someone else, wish the best for the person you love!
I know the second option is difficult, but the first is not easy either. It is even more difficult to bear the jealousy and walk around with it, isn’t it? Think about it.
Anyways, life is short. Everything is going to finish one day. Think about it, you will have more peace.
Whenever anything disturbs you, you feel injustice, uncomfortable, or you feel you can’t sleep or can’t handle it, remember it is all going to end! Everything is going to finish, and you will be gone from here. You will be able to sleep well. Again, this is dispassion.
Q: I was told when a Guru sees a person, he doesn’t see the person, and instead he sees their aura, is this true?
Sri Sri: I’d like you to keep guessing.
Q: Gurudev, neither Mirabai (a great female saint of India and a devotee of Lord Krishna) nor Sant Tukaram (a great saint from Maharashtra in India) had learnt classical music. Yet they are remembered even today for their bhajans (devotional songs). I also do not know how to sing. Please tell me if I will ever get a chance to express my devotion.
Sri Sri: Yes, of course! It is already done.
A flower never asks or waits for a chance for its fragrance to spread. Where the flower is, its fragrance will spread, that is inevitable. So wherever there is love and devotion, it cannot be hidden from anyone.
See, love is something that cannot be hidden. You cannot hide love, nor can you express it fully. Every time we try to express our love, we feel we have not been able to express it fully, and this is the problem of every lover. No matter how much they try to express their love, they find it is incomplete.
Q: The beginning of a task or a relationship is always fantastic; sustaining it is difficult. I tend to detach myself from the person or the situation right when it is about to end. How do I sustain my energy throughout?
Sri Sri: Drop that whole past, wake up now! Don’t label yourself, ‘Oh, I am weak, I cannot do this, I could not do that.’ That was all the past!
Accept that you don’t know what you are, or who you are. You don’t know how much energy you have; you don’t know what you can do, and that’s it! You will see a new wave of energy gush through you, and your whole attitude, your behavior, your perception and your expression, all will change.
You must simply remove all the labels that you have, voluntarily or involuntarily, put on yourself. Got it?
Q: Gurudev, can you please talk on dispassion?
Sri Sri: See, our senses are naturally outgoing. The natural tendency, when you wake up from sleep is, the eyes want to see, the ears want to hear, the nose wants to smell, the skin wants to touch, and the tongue wants to taste. So, the natural tendency of the senses is to go outwards, and enjoy the whole creation. But the ability of the senses to enjoy is limited.
Today we went to the park and the scenery was beautiful, but for how long are you going to watch the beautiful scenery?
The desire to enjoy through the senses first comes in the mind, but the capacity of the senses to enjoy is limited.
Suppose you love pudding, or apple-pie; how much can you eat? One piece, two pieces, three servings? By the time you have the third serving, the same thing that was giving you pleasure, becomes painful. This is because our ability to enjoy is limited to our senses.
Often one finds this imbalance – of the mind wanting more but the senses not having the capacity to enjoy.
There can be three situations:
1. Things are not available; the mind wants to have food but it is not available
2. Food is available but there is no desire in the mind to enjoy it
3. There is desire in the mind, food is also available, but the senses are not capable of enjoying it
Do you see these three situations?
A gentleman came to me and said, ‘Gurudev, I am 50 years old and I am looking for a relationship, but I am not finding the right person.’
I said, ‘Wait, and look for another 20 years!’
If you are so choosy about it, and keep looking for something, then when you get it also, you don’t enjoy it. Why? This is because your mind is not there. There is an imbalance between the things that are available, the attitude in the mind, and the ability of the senses; all these have to match. Only then are you able to enjoy anything in the planet.
The feverishness in the mind, the availability of the goods, and the strength of the senses, they all often don’t match.
Now suppose everything is available. You are hungry, you want to have food, and you can enjoy it, but even that is momentary. It stays for a few moments and then again, you are back to square one. This is how things are! And what does it cause? Frustration!
A desire fulfilled causes frustration, a desire unfulfilled also causes frustration. What do we need to do? What is the answer?
The answer is to look inside. Go to the source of happiness, from where joy comes.
When you go to the source of happiness, the senses are strengthened, contentment comes to the mind, and things become available the way you want them. All three happen when the senses are turned inwards, and that inward turning of senses is called dispassion.
We need three things in life, Dispassion, Passion and Compassion.
Often, we think dispassion is being so dull, boring, and uninteresting; that is how these so-called dispassionate people are, lifeless. No, that is not dispassion. To me, dispassion is that which is full of life, full of enthusiasm.
There is an old saying in Sanskrit, ‘What pleasure, what joy is there that dispassion will not bring to you?’
This means that dispassion will bring to you all the joy that you would ever want in life.
You need passion. Your breathing in is passion, your breathing out is dispassion, and in between is compassion.
If you have only passion, you get burnt out and frustrated. People who have too much passion, they do things and get burnt out. Do you know why? It is because they are holding onto it. They put their heart and soul into it. They put so much strain, and still they don’t get anything in their hands. That is a sorry state of affairs.
This can change with dispassion, and that is why dispassion will make a big difference.
So, passion when you work, dispassion when you turn inward, and compassion all the time, is the key.
Q: Please discuss the fifth to thirteenth dimension, and the relation of quantum physics and spirituality.
Sri Sri: Vedanta is pure Quantum Physics.
What Vedanta says, or the knowledge from the Vedas say is, the entire creation is made up of only one thing, there is no two. And that is exactly what Quantum Physics says, everything is a wave function. Thus, what appears to be different, it only appears to be different, but in reality, it is all only one.
One of the top physicists of the world today spoke at the Bangalore ashram. He said, ‘I studied matter for 40 years, only to discover that it does not exist. It is not there!’
He used to say, ‘When I speak, people think I am speaking some ancient philosophy, which is correct, because all this is nothing! This is what spiritual knowledge says, that everything is nothing, and nothing is everything.’
Your meditation is an appointment with nothing!
Q: Gurudev, it is said that speech is of four types: Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari. What is their significance in Sadhana (spiritual practices)?
Sri Sri: This conversation that we are having now is what Vaikhari is.
Human beings are capable of interacting only by using this Vaikhari mode of speech.
It is said, ‘Chatvaari vaak parimitaa padaani taani vidur braahmaanaa ye manishinaah. Guhaa trini nihitaa neaengayanti turiyam vaacho manushyaa vadanti.’ (Rigveda Samhita (1.164.45))
So human beings speak to each other using the fourth type of speech. The other three: Para, Madhyama and Pashyanti are used in communications which are at a much deeper level, where no language is used.
A state in which no language is used, yet the entire essence is understood completely is called the Para Vaani.
After death, when a person leaves his body, he also drops his ability to communicate using language. At that state, he simply observes all that happens, and by observation he gains knowledge. This is called Pashyanti (derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Pashya’ meaning to see or observe).
The Madhyama mode of speech is in-between the states of Para and Pashyanti.
Many times it happens that someone is speaking in a language that you do not know, yet you are able to understand what they are trying to say. Madhyama is such a state.
For example, when the child is in the mother’s womb, neither has the child seen the mother, and nor has the mother seen the child. Yet they understand each other completely. There is no exchange of language in that state, then too, communication happens that is beyond language. This is Madhyama.
That is why this entire creation is called as the Hiranyagarbha (meaning the Golden Egg or Golden Womb). We are all present inside this Cosmic Womb and do not know what exists outside it.
Just like how the mother knows the child within her womb but the child does not know the mother; in the same way God knows us yet we do not know Him. That is why He is referred to as Agyeya (that which is ever-present but is unknown). You can never know the Divine, but you can experience it. And how can you experience it? By reposing in yourself.
So Para Vaani is that speech in which no language is used, and it is also beyond feelings. In Pashyanti we communicate using our feelings also.
When we go into deeper levels of Consciousness, every sense organ of our body becomes capable of performing all functions. That means the functions of all the five senses happen through one organ.
So in such a state, by a single touch you are able to feel, see, taste and also gain complete knowledge about the object.
So every organ becomes capable of performing all the functions of the five senses (see, smell, taste, hear, and feel). So when the Panchendriya (five senses) dissolve and become one (sense organ), then that state is the state of Para-Chetna (pure Consciousness). That is the speech of Para Vaani.
That is why it is said, ‘Jaanat tum hi tum hi ho jaaye’ (when the knower, knowledge and the known all become One). That is why we say, one who is deeply devoted to the Lord becomes the Lord himself.
Similarly, one who has attained the knowledge of the Brahman becomes the Brahman. In such a state, the lover, the beloved and the love are not separate from one another. They all dissolve and become one. This is the state of Para Vaani.
When you think of language, then there has to be one who speaks and another who listens. Two are needed for this (meaning a sense of duality). This is where you need Vaikhari. Vaikhari means the diversity that is present all around you. That is why there are so many languages in the world, and not just one. But there is only one Para Vaani, and everything is contained in that.
In Para Vaani, even before a word is formed you have instantly understood the meaning. So words are not needed at all.
All this appears very technical to understand. So when you have a scientific outlook, then it is easy to understand.
Q: Why do cultures clash? Why does humanity disappear? Can you please throw some light?
Sri Sri: That is a good question. Today there was a bomb blast in Bangalore and Boston. This is intolerance; the culture of non-violence is missing. That is why we all have to do our work. Don’t you think so? Shall we all together do some work?
In India also, unfortunately, the politicians have spoilt this situation. Instead of providing general education to people, they encourage communal-based educational institutions, which only nurture such extremism. It is so unfortunate.
This kind of religious extremism has to end, otherwise the world will not be a safe place.
Respect every religion, honor everybody. You don’t have to say that only my way is the way to God, everyone else is going to hell, only I go to heaven.
These kind of people create hell for everybody else. These are the people who think they are doing service to God by eliminating the not-religious. This is so unfortunate.
Children need to be educated. Otherwise, they grow up thinking only this is the truth, that everybody else are non-believers, and they don’t have right to exist. This type of mindset is dangerous.
How many of you think this is the problem? We need to change this mindset, bring in a broad spectrum of understanding, and we all have to work for it.
As we are speaking, there is a program happening in Iraq. The Health Minister and Sports Ministers came, inaugurated our course in Iraq that the youth organized.
Today, they did the second Sudarshan Kriya, and there has been a complete transformation in their understanding. These youth now want to reach out to the public, make them undergo yoga, meditation, and Sudarshan Kriya. This is very good news. We have to do this; we have to reach out to more people.