Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, we can see mistake of others very easily, but keep on repeating our mistakes as we don’t see them. Many times we are not able to apply knowledge on ourselves, but we give knowledge very easily to others. Why is it so?
Sri Sri: That is a good realization. Once we recognize that we are not applying the knowledge. Once we realize it then we start turning around.
Do you know why mistakes are tempting? It is because we think we are going to get some great pleasure and joy out of it. But over a period of time, it will drop.
Q: Gurudev, you say in the Yoga Sutras that those who are not doing good, one should educate and ignore them. But Gurudev, what to do if that person is our life partner and we have to live with him? How do I ignore him or improve him?
Sri Sri: We have to ask him also, what’s his opinion about you.
I am not qualified to answer this question, I have no experience, I don't talk about subjects in which I have no experience, still I would say create a space for him as he is. Don’t try to become his teacher.
The biggest issue with men is if you step on their ego, then that is it, he is not going to learn from you. He’ll become like a rebellious kid. A woman should always take care that she does not step on the ego of her man, but keeps pumping his ego. Making him feel good about himself.
When a person doesn’t feel good about himself that is when he creates trouble for everybody around him. You should realize this. You have to teach him in such a way that he doesn’t feel like he is being taught; you have to do it in a good mood, in a good way.
We need to have patience, that’s the thing. Accept people with so much patience. Or indirectly, through his friends you have to teach him. Not directly but through someone else.
Use your smartness. I know you are very smart.
And finally, if there is an intention in your heart, if there is pain in your heart, ‘Oh, this person is going in a wrong way,’ that pain, that intention, that prayer in your heart can impact a person’s life. This I have seen. Pray for their betterment.
Mahatma Gandhi used to sing this prayer every day, ‘Sabko sanmati de bhagwan’. Give a good mind to everybody.
Q: Gurudev, how does a master decide, how much truth is to be revealed and how much to be concealed as the listeners may be on different stages of their spiritual growth.
Sri Sri: Real master does not make any effort at all. He has purity in heart, clarity in mind and spontaneity in action.
Q: Gurudev, how to be diplomatic and what is the art of getting your work done?
Sri Sri: Being diplomatic is seeing the point from the other person’s angle as well. Getting into the other person’s shoes and looking at the situation. Being a little more sensible. Diplomacy is being sensitive and sensible at the same time.
Many people are very sensitive. When they are too sensitive they lose their sensibility. When they speak they don’t make sense. And there are many people who make perfect sense but they are not sensitive. They say correct things but emotionally they are not sensitive about how what they are saying is being taken. We need that beautiful combination of sensitivity and sensibility.
Often people who are rude and rough swear on their correctness. They say, 'I am correct’. When you’re angry, even though you are saying the correct thing, nobody wants to take it. You’re correctness is rejected though you are correct, because you’re not sensible, you’re not diplomatic. You are not putting it in their mind. So what happens is, your communication breaks down even though you’re saying the most correct thing. The listener is putting a wall in front of him or her.
Your purpose of communicating the right thing to them is gone.
It is not how correct, what you are saying, that is important, it is how you make the other person understand, that what you are saying, is correct. That is the skill..
Simple things, you have a correct idea but you’re dad doesn’t have. Your father doesn’t have the right vision and you have the right vision. How many of you think like this? (Audience raise hands) See!
‘I know how to do business. I know the correct idea but dad doesn’t know!’ Right? Raise your hands, don’t feel shy! (audience raise hands)
Youngsters think differently. ‘This is how we can make better business and dad doesn’t agree with this!’
Then you tell dad, ‘Dad you’re wrong. This is not the right thing to do!’ That’s it! His ego is hurt and he is not going to listen to you, even though you are saying the right thing he will not listen.
He is ready to let go of his business but not his ego! He is ready to suffer the loss, but he doesn’t like to be humiliated.
That is where you need the skill. How will you say? ‘Dad, I think this would be a better idea, but you know best.’
Just this one thing, ‘Dad, you know the best, but I think this may work, what do you say?’
Then he’ll say, ‘Oh, okay beta (son), I think you are right, I’m wrong.’
Then he will accept that he is wrong and you are right. You need to create that space.
Whether at work or at home, when people feel comfortable talking to you, they talk to you and they feel that their view points are heard. You may be very caring and loving person, but if you don’t have that communication skill, you will only suffer more.
You’ll think, ‘Oh I’m so good. I only think for the good for the company, I think only good for the family, but everything has gone topsy-turvy!’ How many of you agree with me? (audience raise hands)
This is where you need this wisdom of sensitivity and sensibility. Keep these two things.
There is a way to tackle the ego. I have seen big companies, big institutions completely collapse just because of this. I wouldn’t name the company, but there was a great man in India who put a factory for anything he needed. If he needed a needle, he wouldn’t buy one, he would put a needle factory. From cars, to steel, iron, clothes, fans, everything! He had a 150 different businesses. This elderly man who had not even been to high school built a big business empire and gave it to two of his sons. Probably you’re guessing already! (audience laughs)
Your guess is not correct! It is not the Mumbai based one, it’s a different company. He had two sons and six daughters. It’s not two sons and one daughter which you all know!
This gentleman made all this and gave it to his two sons, and one manager played between the two sons. He would tell the elder brother that your younger brother said this to me, and to the younger one he would say, your elder brother said this to me. He broke their communication. They would not communicate with each other. Their ego came in-between and first they bifurcated the companies, and then it collapsed. Everything collapsed.
Couple of the 150 different companies are working today, everything else is absolutely gone! Ego clash! Simply that! Just a manager, or an employee can create this rift between two brothers.
Similarly, a servant maid at home can create a drift between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. Does it happen? How many say yes? (audience raise hands)
The servant would say the mother-in-law said not to listen to you, and she will tell the mother-in-law, you know you’re daughter-in-law said not to listen to you. That’s enough! Just one thing is good enough.
The manager would say, your brother asked me not to tell you this. Finished! You’ve sown a seed of mistrust. A simple thing, the elder boss said not to tell this thing to you. What not to tell is not important. That one seed of mistrust sown and a rift starts happening.
A rift happened and big business houses have collapsed totally. We have seen this in this country. Not one or two times, but dozens of them. Why? That bonding was not there.
That’s where spirituality makes a very big difference. Here, every day, we resolve many such issues! Every day! Not one or two, hundreds! Sensitivity and sensibility.
Like yesterday, I said that the mind always goes for something new, latest fashion. But the heart yearns for old. You never say this is my latest friendship! You don’t take pride in a fresh friendship. ‘I became friends two hours ago.’ It has no value, but when you say, he’s my old friend, that has value.
Your heart yearns for the old, takes pride in the old. That’s why when you’re in love you feel you’ve been in love for ages. You feel like that. It’s an ancient love. It’s an old friendship. You don’t say that’s an old fashion. You don’t take pride in old fashion. Mind goes for new, heart goes for ancient and life is a combination of old and new. We need both. (audience claps)
Q: Gurudev, when I teach, I teach from the space of ‘I know’. But in reality, sometimes I don’t know. I am a seeker, how to be in the ‘I know’ and ‘I want to know’ at the same time. How to teach and remain a seeker at the same time?
Sri Sri: You know some things, at the same time, you don’t know many other things. It is as simple as that. Whatever you know, you convey with certainty, and whatever you don’t know, you simply wait in the hollow and empty space.
Life is a journey from an angry ‘I don’t know’ to a beautiful ‘I don’t know’.
Whenever someone is upset or frustrated, he says ‘I don’t know. I don’t care. Don’t ask me’. From this ugly ‘I don’t know' to a beautiful ‘I don’t know’, that is wonder. From frustration to wonder is the real journey.
As a child, we are all born with this beautiful ‘I don’t know’; wonder. Unfortunately it is moving from the beautiful space of ‘I don’t know’ to an ugly ‘I don’t know’. This should be reversed.
Q: Gurudev, I am a victim of one sided love, always. Please give me some idea or tips to make it two sided.
Sri Sri: I have no experience in this.
Let’s think. All problems are caused by love only. There are two things. One is people express their love too much, and then there are others who do not express it at all. Both are no good.
If you express your love too much, the person who is receiving it doesn’t know how to respond. Just imagine yourself in that place, if someone gives you too much love, you will feel like running away. You don’t know how to respond, unless and until you are so centered and you have one pointed love towards the Divinity.
If you are connected with the universal spirit of one pointed love, it doesn’t matter. Then there is only one thing, that is one sided love.
I think God also feels the same thing: one sided love. The biggest victim of one sided love is God. He loves you so much and you don’t even recognize it. So he must be feeling the same way.
God loves you, this creation loves you, and you seldom recognize it. If you recognize this and be quiet in yourself, then you'll see. The universe pours so much love on you. You can't handle it, the universe pours that much love on you.
The world always loves you more than you love the world.
You should know this, the universe loves you more than you love the universe. God loves you more than you can ever think or can ever imagine.
As I said, a seed will not sprout if put on the surface of the mud. And also if it is too deep inside the mud, then it won’t grow. So it should be somewhere in between. It should not be deep inside the soil or in air, just a little bit covered. In the same way, expression of love should be somewhere in the middle. When you don’t express it verbally, it shows in your actions.
Q: Gurudev, how does the spiritual growth of people help a country prosper? Please give an example. How can spiritually inclined people help save the country?
Sri Sri: The spiritually inclined people will have a better attitude in life. They will not have prejudice. They will work with humility, dignity, protect others' dignity, care for others, and have compassion. All these things naturally come to spiritually inclined people.
Spirituality creates sense of belongingness. When there is sense of belongingness, corruption will go down. Corruption begins where this sense of belongingness ends.
Q: Gurudev, how do I see through people’s intention. Because of my trusting nature both my personal and professional life are in a mess.
Sri Sri: See, you are thinking about something else and you’re asking a different question. First, don’t label yourself, that I am trusting by nature. The moment you put that label, somewhere inside, you don’t really trust. Trust is something that just comes up inside of you, naturally.
If you’re over ambitious and when you are greedy, your greed sometimes lands you in a mess. Some investor comes and tells you, ‘You invest and every month I’ll give you 20% of your investment’.
You say, ‘Ah, this is good. Okay let’s go for it’, it’s your greed.
Then you’ll say, ‘Oh I trusted this guy’.
Come on use your intellect! Use your brains! Why do you want to return your brain unused back to nature? Use it well.
Use your intuitive ability. You have something called intuition, from that you can find out whether someone is genuine or not. But if you’re too ambitious, too greedy, then there is a curtain on your eye. Then you can’t see through the intentions of people, because your greed is holding you back. You should have inner contentment, ‘Okay, I’m living my life. I’ll get the best'.
When you’re on the running race, you should only look at your track. Don’t look to the left or right. If you look here and there, you’ll lose! Same way with jealousy and greed. When you look at others, then jealousy comes, greed comes. Let them do what they want, you move ahead. Fix your goal. You run in your track, and for that you need dispassion and wisdom.
I’m on this planet today with 7 billion people, and I belong to them all. I should do something for everybody. If I restrict my life to a small family, small circle of friends, sometime or the other it is going to stifle people.
When you are spending all your time only for few individuals, then there will be cravings and aversions, anger, hatred, jealousy; everything will happen in this circle only. You have to open yourself up. Take a bigger responsibility. Care more for the planet. Then you’ll see there is so much happiness in life. There is such a flow of beauty, happiness, and love. All these things come up in our life.
Don't keep thinking all the time, ‘What about me! What I can do!’
Once a businessman came to Mahatma Gandhi and said, 'What do you want? I will do it'.
So Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘No, I want everyone to be a part of this'.
That’s how the movement was built. Everyone contributed and a movement happened. Participation, make everyone feel a part of you.
Same with your business, at work situations, have that little rapport. Leave that little room for imperfection. Don’t think everybody has to be perfect all the time. It’s okay for someone to make a little mistake. Do you see what I’m saying? You should give a little space for making mistakes.
A guitar, or sitar, if the strings are too tight, no music will come. If it’s too loose, then also music won’t come. It should have the right tension.
In the same way, when dealing with your kids, don’t give them too much freedom. That’s no good at all. Tomorrow, they will become very weak individuals. Because parents have never scolded them, they cannot accept one unpleasant comment from anyone. It shakes them.
When parents are there behind them, pulling them now and then, they gain the strength to withstand any assault from the world outside. This is a sort of a vaccine.
Mothers feel very guilty when they scold their children. I tell you, don’t feel guilty. It’s good. You must scold your children. That’s like vaccination! They become strong.
My mother used to scold me most of the time. My mother never thought I do things very well. She would always tell that she would do it better than me.
‘What are you running the ashram like this?' She would say, ‘I will run it better’.
When we buy vegetables, she would say, ‘What, you have bought vegetables? I‘ll buy it much cheaper’.
She’ll buy at home and then send it in a bag here at the ashram. Then the ashram was much smaller.
So, mothers should not feel guilty when you are sometimes harsh with the children. Sometimes, not all the time! You should not scold the children all the time also. This is where we need a very fine balance in life.
Q: Gurudev, can all spiritual organization get together and start a political party? I am sure this party can change the face of politics, and the plight of people in the country.
Sri Sri: Spiritual organizations are there to give solace to people of all political parties. Spiritual organizations cannot attach itself to one political party. They have to be neutral. Like the supreme court is for everyone. The court of justice is for everyone. Similarly, the entertainment industry is for everybody. It cannot belong to a party.
Spiritual organizations is where people go when they burn out, when they have problems. They come for advice, they come for solace, they come for rejuvenation. That is needed for all political parties.
Like in the games, an umpire is neutral, he is for everybody. Spiritual organizations have their own code of conduct, their own laws. They need to be neutral. They need to advice. Of course we will also advice people to go and vote 100 percent.
I have been advising all the people not to vote for the criminal and corrupt elements. This much we have to do. We have to point out. The trend in this country is so bad.
There are very few bad elements but they have a vote bank for themselves. There is a corrupt man and he has bought a set of people around him and he buys votes and so he has a vote bank. So every political party gives them a ticket and makes them run for elections. For this trend to reverse, the people, who are apathetic, who just sit at home and don’t go to vote should become more proactive. And this is what we have been doing. It is changing now.
Q: I am a student and there are so many distractions around me. When I start studying I easily get distracted. Is there any permanent solution this?
Sri Sri: No way! Why do you want a permanent solution? There is no permanent medicine in life.
Whenever you get distracted, see what is distracting you? When you’re watching an interesting movie, the mind is not distracted.
There is some craving, there is something that you want. And when you’re a student the real distraction is your boyfriend or girlfriend. That’s a distraction. At that time you have to take a stand, ‘Okay, now for the next few days I am going to focus on my studies as exams are nearing. I have to prepare myself, look at my career.’
The very fact that you feel you are getting distracted, you’re already coming out of it. So you don’t have to be too concerned about it. Definitely do some pranayama, yoga, some exercises.