Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How can we remove the physical desires that harm us and our relationships?
Sri Sri: By enhancing your prana.
When there is lust, there is a feeling of wanting to grab. When there is love, there is a feeling of wanting to give.
How can the feeling of lust be transformed to love? By raising the energy level in our system.
When energy is stuck in the lower chakra (two-three inches above the base of the spine), there is a feeling of lust. However, when the energy channels open up, the energy rises. Then there is more love, compassion, awareness. All these other beautiful, finer emotions also get opened up. Then violence disappears from the system.
Q: Is being gay an impression of the mind?
Sri Sri: It could be, or it could also be biological.
You are made up of both, male and female, chromosomes. If the female chromosomes in you are active, but the body is male, then the tendencies can change. However, it is not for a lifetime. These tendencies may come for some time, and disappear. You can see many people who are straight, suddenly turn gay. And many people who are gay for a long time, they start getting married. I have seen all these different permutations, combinations, mindsets in people. So, it is best not to label yourself.
Get out of labeling yourself
based on some tendency of
the body. Know that you
are consciousness. You are
love. You are scintillating
energy. Your identification
as energy, as love, and as a
beautiful person is far, far
better than identifying and
labelling yourself with the
physical tendencies that may
arise in you.
Sometimes, people force themselves to fit into particular categories. They say, ‘Okay, I am lesbian’, or, ‘I am gay’, and when these tendencies change, they get shattered later on. Sometimes, people become so homophobic that they start hating people with such tendencies, which is no good.
My advice would be to get out of labeling yourself based on some tendency of the body. Know that you are consciousness. You are love. You are scintillating energy. Your identification as energy, as love, and as a beautiful person is far, far better than identifying and labeling yourself with the physical tendencies that may arise in you.
When such tendencies come, you don't have to feel bad or guilty or anything. That is how it is! Accept it! It is a phenomenon in nature - there are different male or female tendencies, or emotions or attractions that are arising within you. There is nothing wrong about it.
You have to go beyond that! Beyond that is the spirit.
The spirit has no gender, it is beyond gender. The spirit is love, and that is what you are.
When you know this, you become very solid.
Q: Dear Gurudev, how to manage a woman who is irritated at me for everything! Please help, I love her very much.
Sri Sri: I am so inexperienced in this matter! You are asking a wrong person!
What do you do with a person who is irritated at you, and you love them so much? I guess you have to just accept it, and simply move on.
There is a story of a gentleman who was so bothered by his wife. Everything she did, was the opposite of what he wanted. If he said, 'I do not want to eat pasta today', she ensured he had only pasta that day.
If he said, 'I don’t like blue jeans’, she made sure that she wore blue jeans that day.
Anything he asked of her, she did just the opposite. If he said, 'I don’t want to go out', she would say, 'No, I want to go out'. When he would want to go out, she would say, 'I don't want to step out of the house!'
He was so bothered, so worried, and had a very long face.
One morning, as he went for a walk, he bumped into a Guru. The Guru asked him, 'My dear, are you happy? You don’t look happy. What do you want?'
The man said, 'I have a big problem. Anything I say, my wife does just the opposite.’
So the wise man whispered something in his ears.
Three months later, as the man was walking happily one morning, he bumped into the Guru again. The Guru said, 'Hey, you look happier!'
He said, 'Yes, your trick worked.’
Now what was the trick?
The Guru advised him, 'Don’t speak your heart to your wife. Whatever you want, say the opposite of it! If you want to go out, tell her that you don’t want to step out of the house. If you want apple pie, tell her not to make apple pie. If you don’t want her to wear blue jeans, tell her to wear blue jeans that day.’
The man said to the Guru, 'I did what you said, and it worked. I say the opposite of everything I want, and we are happy now'.
Similarly, you find out what would make her happy, and keep her from getting irritated.
Sometimes, it becomes people’s nature to be irritated. They keep complaining, come what may. No matter what you do, they will find something to complain about. Especially after they cross the age of 70 or 80, it is even more. Since all their life they have programmed their mind and brain in such a manner - complain, complain, complain, and complain. Then it becomes the prominent behavioral pattern in their life.
You simply have to swallow it. Accept it. And don’t try to please them.
Sometimes, it becomes
people’s nature to be irritated.
They keep complaining, come
what may. Your biggest
difficulty is that you try to
please people, when they are
actually happy in their
complaining mode. If others
are complaining, let it be! If
you cannot correct them, you
simply accept them, and move
Your biggest difficulty is that you try to please people, when they are actually happy in their complaining mode. You try to change them, make them happy, and it doesn’t work! You should simply let them do what they want, but don’t let their complaints enter into your head. You don’t complain that they are complaining. Got it? At any cost, save your mind.
If others are complaining, let it be! If you cannot correct them, you simply accept them, and move on.
See there isn’t much time! Everything is moving towards the final end; we are all moving towards death. How long can you go on trying to placate somebody? That does not mean you be rude to anybody. You be nice to people, however, don't get stuck, ‘Oh, they are irritated, what do I do?’ You can’t do much! Keep walking!
I find this problem everywhere, in every part of the world. Almost in every home, there is somebody who irritates everybody, and everybody gets irritated by somebody. Then there is a war of words. That is why I said the world is such! That is why it is called maya
, it appears to be something, and it is really not that.
Q: Dear Gurudev, whatever you have said, I have at some time experienced it before. But I am now not able to experience it any more. What is the reason for that, and what should I do?
Sri Sri: Just relax. You are in the right space at the right time. See, these experiences come and go. Just take them as they come. Neither should you hanker for them, nor should you try to avoid them also. This is our golden principle.
Q: I have so much fear of my own death and of my loved ones. Please suggest something to overcome this fear.
Sri Sri: Nothing at all! Just be with the fear, and see how it evaporates. It is like a bubble. You try to get rid of fear, and it increases even more. Just breathe. Kriya and meditation are good enough. And all this wisdom is good enough to take you out of it.
Q: What is the purpose of so many Upanishads when they all say the same thing?
Sri Sri: There are little differences amongst each. Though they all say the same thing, yet the style is very unique and it is not the same thing.
Each one has its own specific flavour. It is like when you go to an ice cream shop and ask, ‘Why have you kept so many flavours of ice cream?’ So, basically they are ice cream but each is a different flavour. One is chocolate, one is pistachio, another is butterscotch, etc. Essentially it is all sugar and cream. The ingredients are essentially the same, but each has a different flavour.
Q: Dear Gurudev, I am shattered by the rape victim’s death in India. Why do such brutal rape crimes happen in India?
Sri Sri: Listen, it is not just in one place, and it is not only in India. This incident just caught so much publicity. There are so many such crimes happening all over the world. Not just on women, but on children, and even on old people!
One of our volunteers just told me about what is happening in Nairobi, Kenya. It is horrible; people are not safe there. Listening to her, I said that people should not move out of their homes. To which she said, ‘People feel even more scared being inside their homes, because so many robberies happen there. They feel safer going out, in their cars’.
You are not safe inside your own home! Such incidents are increasing; even in Mumbai. People sight older people who are living alone, and then target them. Such crimes are happening almost everywhere.
So many crimes are reported, in Italy, Spain, and Turkey; even here in Germany, isn’t it? I was told it is so much more in Russia, that it isn’t even safe to walk on the streets there.
We have so much to do in
the world, to make this
world a better place for the
Otherwise your children, your
grandchildren will not forgive
you. They will say, ‘What type
of a world have you given us?’
They want you to give them a
better world - a world with
more love and free from
When I hear such things, I wonder where we are heading. This one incident created such a big wave. Do you know, The Art of Living was a pioneer in creating awareness about this incident? On the very first day, it was the YES+ students who took a candle light march to India Gate. See, whatever we began has taken a bigger dimension, a bigger magnitude; everywhere people are aware now. I am sure, and hope that this will help reduce such crimes everywhere. That is why we all should work for a violence free and stress free society.
I know people are demanding that the accused should be hanged. But, ten other people will rise who have no control over their lust and emotions. They become so violent in their tendencies. What do you do? How many people will you go on hanging; punishing? We need to reform.
Thousands of youngsters see so many violent movies, and play violent video games. They are also responsible for the rising crime in the world. When children start shooting in video games, they fail to see the difference between the virtual world and the real world. In their mind, there is a very thin line between the two. If they can shoot people in the virtual world, they don’t find it a big deal to shoot people with a gun in the real world. This is what happened in Connecticut, America. A very pious boy shot his mother, so many children, and then shot himself!
See what happened in Norway also last year. It is horrible! Such crimes are happening all over the world.
In Mexico, two taxi drivers had an argument at a traffic light. They got out of the car and shot each other, while their passengers were still sitting in the cars! They simply had an argument! Our tolerance level has stooped so low.
In Pakistan, today, again, so many people are hurt, so many people died in a car bomb. So many people are dying in Pakistan.
In Iraq, people have become numb to these numbers now. Forty people died in Iraq. Nobody cares, although they are dying every day! See what is happening in Syria? In Egypt? Half the population is being wiped out.
It is at times like this that we should realize that what we are doing is so important!
It is so important to create a violence free and stress free society. We need to have more teachers in more localities. We need to spread out and change the mindset of people.
I am so glad that our teachers are working in prisons. Recently, I went to a prison in Argentina. There was a lot of violence and crime there, even in the cells. Ever since The Art of Living course was conducted there, all the prisoners have started wearing a band that says, ‘We will not engage in any violent activity’. There were tears in the eyes of the 5,200 macho men in the Argentinean prison! They said, ‘Our lives have changed! Why did we not get this knowledge before?’
Similarly, in Brazil, when I was in Rio, I visited a cell. They have an Art of Living Centre inside the prison. In one room, they have put my picture and a lot of Art of Living literature. Nobody is allowed in there with shoes. They have put yoga mats. People go sit there, do yoga, meditations, paintings, and their lives are so touched!
We have so much to do in the world, to make this world a better place for the coming generation! Otherwise your children, your grandchildren will not forgive you. They will say, ‘What type of a world have you given us?’ They want you to give them a better world - a world with more love and free from violence.
Don’t get caught up in your small little needs and small little altercations with friends and other people. Think big, and see what you can do to reduce the violence, the stress and tension in the world. This is what we need to look into!
People with extreme sexual tendencies, who are blinded towards the welfare of others, need a lesson. It is hormonal imbalance and stress that makes a person do such heinous crimes. It blinds their minds, their eyes and their wisdom. Rape in the bus, so many people together! I think we need to address all these things on a more human level. We need to bring back the human values in society. Educate people in spirituality. Then their attitude will change. People who are spiritual would never-ever engage in such violent activities.
We may not be able to achieve a world totally free from violence in this generation, but we should always work towards it. I am sure we can definitely reduce the violence in the world.
Recently, in one part of Delhi, the police put together 756 criminals and made them do The Art of Living course for five days. They did pranayama, and Sudarshan Kriya. You should have heard the experiences these people shared, it was so touching. There were people who were using drugs, and they developed an aversion towards drugs in five days.
People who used to snatch chains and engage in other such activities, completely changed and started doing social work in slums. Our teachers could train these people.
I went and visited them on the last day of the course. Their experiences indicate that we still have hope to make the world a better place. We can create a better society.
Q: Gurudev, there is amazing energy during and after the course. It is like an explosion. But then I do things that bring my energy down in 2-3 days. What can I do to avoid it this time?
Sri Sri: Energy fluctuates, but don't be concerned about it too much.
You seem to have too much free time, looking at your own energy, whether it is going up or down. Keep yourself busy. When you are busy, everything falls in place.
Where is the time to be unhappy when you are so busy? When you wake up, you have something to do. When you come back, you are so tired, you fall back to sleep. If you keep yourself busy, you have no time to complain, no time to be unhappy. People who are active don’t have time to be depressed. It is only people who are free that feel depressed.
Sit and spend time on some wisdom.
If you have imbibed wisdom,
there is no way you can be
miserable. Wisdom is such
that you know there will be
pleasant days, and there will
be unpleasant days. There
will be good people, and bad
people. Sometimes your
friends behave like your
enemies, and sometimes your
enemies become your good
friends. All this is a way of life,
these things happen. They help
you become centered, and solid.
Then, no storm can shake you.
Read Yoga Vasishta, it is such great knowledge. Listen to the Narada Bhakti Sutra tapes, or Ashtavakra Gita. All this knowledge will keep your energy high all the time, and sing!
You can sing alone, or take five minutes longer in the shower and sing. Nobody can prevent you from singing when you are taking a shower!
Now, I have given you so many options to be happy. In spite of all this, if you are determined to be unhappy, then what can I say?
You add color to the world; opposite values are complementary. Keep it up. Be the way you are, I accept you!
If you have imbibed wisdom, there is no way you can be miserable.
Wisdom is such that you know there will be pleasant days, and there will be unpleasant days. There will be good people, and bad people. Sometimes your friends behave like your enemies, and sometimes your enemies become your good friends. All this is a way of life, these things happen. They help you become centered, and solid. Then, no storm can shake you.
Even if you can forget all my other talks, if these five lines that I have said stays with you, I tell you, you have done it! You have won! That is why it is called Maya. All these thoughts and emotions, which we think are real, they are unreal, an illusion. Our concepts about others, about ourselves, they are all unreal. Shake them all, and wake up! You will see, you are just the bubbling energy, bubbling enthusiasm! You are the fountain of love!
Q: Dear Gurudev, when I hear words of wisdom, something inside me shivers. What is that which is shivering?
Sri Sri: That is what is Shakti, the real energy, the real you. It is what is called the consciousness; that something inside you that moves; the energy. You are made up of that energy.
Q: Where and when will self-realization happen?
Sri Sri: Self-realization is experienced right here!
When I say, ‘Close your eyes’, and we meditate, at that time, do you remember your identity? Are you a man, a woman, or a professor? Do you know your age? Do you see that you are ageless? You are beyond your age, beyond your personality. That is what self-realization is. Slowly, step by step, you move in this direction. Then you realize, ‘I am not just the body, I am pure energy.’
Is this your first advance course? It will take a couple of more advance courses for you. It doesn’t matter. Did you notice that the first day the mind was all over the place? On the second day, it started settling down. On the third day, today, the meditation was even better. So, slowly, you will move in that direction.