Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, how can I intensify and speed up my spiritual quest? Is it possible to bring it on the fast track?
Sri Sri: Just wanting to be on fast track is itself is good enough. It means you are already there. The fact that there is passion and desire to grow spiritually is what makes a big difference.
Q: Gurudev, a few days back I saw you wearing glares. Then I thought that to shield us from the harsh sunlight of life, you have given us the goggle of Sudarshan Kriya. I want to know when I can wear the hat of enlightenment.
Sri Sri: Enlightenment is not like some hat, that you can wear when you like and take off when you like. Neither is it like the hair on your head that you can trim and cut off when it grows too long. It is the glow of the light within you which can never diminish or disappear. It neither grows nor diminishes. It simply ‘is’. You just have to become aware and recognize it. The moment you become still and repose within your Self, you will recognize it instantly.
That is why there is a saying in Sanskrit – ‘Pratya-bhigya Hridaya’. It means to recognize that inner light, to become aware of the light from within.
Q: Gurudev, today the problem of Insomnia has become quite prevalent, especially in the developed countries. Is there some solution to this problem to be found through Yoga and meditation? I have started to experience this nowadays.
Sri Sri: Yes, of course there is a remedy to this through Yoga and meditation. You should practice Yoga Nidra and the Yogasanas (Yoga postures) regularly. It will definitely help. You also have Ayurvedic medicines such as Shankhapushpi and Medhya Rasayana that will help. Even Khus-Khus (Cous Cous) can help. It is called Adirasam in Tamil Nadu. So you can crush one or one-and-a-half table spoon of that and take it with milk or with water. You will get a sound sleep. If there is anything else you are suffering from, you can refer the medicine kit that is available in Ghar Ka Doctor (a medicinal kit containing Ayurvedic medicines for common ailments and disorders at home).
Q: Gurudev, do Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva switch their roles from time to time? Do they not get bored doing the same role again and again over time?
Sri Sri: Well, this is why at one point in time they all came together as one and became Lord Dattatreya (a form or incarnation of the Divine shown as having all three aspects of Divinity together). All three of them are Gurus.
Q: Over the years, the Santana Dharma has been defined by so many Rishis. How can one maintain the purity of Dharma?
Sri Sri: By keeping away the superstitions and by being progressive. Dharma is always scientific in nature. Dharma never contradicts Science. Science is a growing subject though. And purity of dharma is maintained by pure intentions.
Q: Gurudev, how can I overcome laziness? It took me one month to even come up and ask this question!
Sri Sri: I will answer this question next year! (Laughter) Why should I hurry in giving you the answer? Anyway there is no use of giving you the answer immediately. Stay lazy as long as you like to be. One day or the other you will get fed up of it. Man gets bored very easily; and a lazy person gets bored even faster. The moment you are fed up of it, new paths will open to you. Why should I say anything and strain my throat? I will also keep forwarding the time ahead for your answer.
Maharishi Ashtavakra says, ‘There is no one happier than a lazy person’. He makes such lofty praises about laziness. He says, ‘Become so lazy that you stop desiring for anything in your mind’. You will run towards the kitchen or a restaurant only when you feel hungry. I would say stop doing even that! (Laughter) Even if you feel hungry today, you (postpone) and eat food tomorrow, or may be even next month. If you feel thirsty now, what is the hurry to drink and quench it? You can drink water later. Relax and keep lying down. Water will come to your mouth by itself! (Laughter) Similarly, be lazy even in getting angry or cursing someone. If you feel like doing some wrong deed or a scandal out of greed, then be lazy about that. But you do not act lazily in such things. In fact you do such things so quickly. If you have to curse someone, you do not think even for a moment. You do it immediately. You do not feel lazy at all in such moments. Is it not so? So if you become 100% lazy (in all aspects of life), then you have truly become wise. Then you have become a Nishkaam-Karma Yogi (one who acts without getting attached to the action or its results). But I tell you, this is the most difficult thing to do. It is very difficult to become totally and 100% lazy. Just as you cannot become an atheist 100%, in the same way you cannot become 100% lazy. It is next to impossible.
Q: Dear Gurudev, the Vedas are said to be eternal yet the mantras are attributed to some Rishis (wise sages or seers). How can the Vedas be eternal if they have been discovered by the Rishis?
Sri Sri: See, Newton’s law is eternal. It has been in existence all the time. But it was Newton who brought it forth. He discovered it (the existence of the law). Similarly the mantras (chants) were always there in the records in Aakash (Space). The Rishis were just the ones who downloaded it from Space. So they brought it (to Earth and to mankind) and recognized the Mantras. That is why it is never said that the Rishis wrote these mantras. It happened through cognition, which means they only saw and heard the mantras. Then they brought them out. The Rishis do not take any more credit that for bringing it and manifesting them. They do not say that ‘We created the mantras’. Nobody created the mantras.
That is why it is said Apaureshya (that which is achieved without human effort or intervention). Paureshya means that which is done by human beings. So the Mantras were always present in existence. Newton’s laws are not made or created by Newton. They have always been there. These were only discovered by Newton. So mantras were always there. It is the Rishis brought it to light.
Q: Gurudev, can too much knowledge make a person sad? I think that is what is happening to my father.
Sri Sri: No, that is not possible. First of all, there is no such thing as too much knowledge. For example, if it is raining, then that is knowledge. What is more knowledge or less knowledge about that? If it stops raining, does any person know more or any less about the rain having stopped? There is no such thing as excess knowledge. Yes, if you use your intellect too much (in over-analyzing everything that happens), then life becomes very dry and you become devoid of any emotions. Then you only work through your intellect and nothing else. This makes a person restless and insecure from within.
Q: Gurudev, I am a journalist. Please explain what should the qualities of a good journalist be?
Sri Sri: The first thing is to present the truth before the people. Sometimes the truth can be so bitter and terrifying that it can shatter the people’s hearts, and put an end to their enthusiasm. They may get totally gripped by fear and insecurity. So along with presenting the truth to the people, also ensure that you help keep up their faith and enthusiasm, and that you can keep their hopes alive for something better. So on one hand you have to present the truth as it is without distorting it, and on the other hand you also have to ensure that there is always a ray of hope that is kindled in the people at all times. Otherwise, people will fall prey to mental diseases and depression.
You know, there was no such thing such as depression in India. This is why there is no corresponding word for it in Hindi or in Sanskrit. Neither is there any disease by that name in the Indian system. This goes to show how highly evolved and rich our culture and heritage has been.
Q: Gurudev, the desire for Moksha (liberation) is itself a desire itself and is a necessity too. But as long as there are desires, one cannot realize God. Please guide.
Sri Sri: It is very natural to have a desire for liberation. After all your desires are fulfilled, it is only this one that remains. In a state of total surrender; in a state of Samadhi (a state of bliss and equanimity, with awareness), the desire for liberation blossoms by itself (effortlessly).
Saint Kabir would often ask people to renounce or give up everything and devote themselves to the Divine. Some disciples went to Saint Kabir one day. These disciples tried to be very clever. They told him, ‘If we have to renounce everything, then why should we keep doing Naam-Japa (or Japa, meaning to chant God’s name) also? We should renounce that as well’. So they gave up everything - their home, their parents, their Guru and even chanting God’s name (Japa). Then Saint Kabir said, ‘You gave up chanting the Lord’s holy names, but you could not give up your anger, your lust. What have you done, my dear?’ See, when you let go of Japa effortlessly by yourself, then it is alright (meaning to reach an intense state of devotion and feeling one with the Divine at all times).
The disciples told Saint Kabir that they felt lazy in chanting God’s names. I spoke about this just yesterday. People often say, ‘Oh! I got so bored doing this’. You do not feel lazy or bored while eating food. But you feel lazy in doing something good. Why do you not give up eating? You bathe every day but you do not get bored by it. You do not get bored by brushing your teeth. Just observe yourself! What are you saying, what are you doing and where it is are you going.
That is why Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita,
Na hi kascit ksanam api jatu tisthaty akarma-akrt |
Karyate hy-avasah karma sarvah prakrti-jair gunaih || (3.5)
It means that nobody in the world can remain without doing anything. We have to do at least something. And whatever we do, we should do using our Viveka (discretion) or discrimination, and we should not be guided by the impulses of the mind. When you have come to this world, do something good that benefits everybody. Do not stay entangled in thinking only what you will get. There is nothing for you to take away from this world. There is nothing to take away from here. You have come to give. You have come here to do something beneficial for everybody. And you should all get together in doing service. Do not complain that ‘I do not get any fun or pleasure in doing Seva’. Doing Seva for the sake of deriving pleasure or some sort of satisfaction too is a very poor approach in life. If you are doing Seva because you get some sort of pleasure or enjoyment from it, then you will not sustain it for long. You serve because you have to. There is no other choice. There are so many teachers sitting here. If you teach because you get pleasure from doing that, then it will not sustain for long because after a time you will not enjoy it. But if you do it because people need it and can be benefitted by it, then you will surely sustain it. If you serve only to enjoy, then you are being selfish.
Many people come to serve. They say ‘we feel happy, that is why we serve’. Then after a while, they start demanding or complaining about everything. If somebody is doing better Seva than them, then they criticize and start pulling the other person down. Such people say, ‘I do such good Seva but nobody appreciates me or recognizes me’. See, the mind traps you in so many ways in the web of its logic that you do not even know about it.
That is why it is said that when the Guru is present, the mind is not there. And when mind is present then Guru is not there (here meaning that one loses sight of the broader vision and the Infinite when one gets entangled with the limited desires and cravings of the mind and the intellect). So either listen to your mind or to you Guru. The Gurus in earlier times used to destroy the mind. The student’s will was not accepted at all. If you wanted to go to Mysore, the Gurus in earlier times would instead ask you to go to Hyderabad. They used to destroy any desire that you expressed, even the small ones. If you are hungry then they would sit and start talking for at least an hour. Just to destroy desires. Because the guiding belief was that when desires are overcome then you have conquered this material world.
The mind makes you so restless, it makes you go aimlessly from one places to another (seeking contentment). Some people switch their jobs. In America and other foreign countries people even keep on changing their girlfriends. At the end of their sixties, they say that they did not find a soul mate even after searching around the whole world. They ask me that when they will ever find a soul mate. I tell them to wait for another 20 years when you go to heaven. You will get married there only (Laughter). If you always go by what your mind says then you will continue to feel restless.