Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, why are Hindu Gods depicted in blue colour, while Goddesses are not?
Sri Sri: Goddesses are also depicted in blue, sometimes Durga Mata is depicted in blue. Goddesses are usually made from the Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Ether elements. The blue colour is a symbol of the vastness inside; the infinity, transparency.
Q: Gurudev, how should we handle the love and concern of the other people, if at one point we feel it has become excess for us?
Sri Sri: Sometimes it is difficult to even take love, let alone give love.
If you say, ‘I love you so much’, to somebody, they don’t know how to respond to it. They look back like a pale dog, ‘Okay, you love me so much, now what?’
The mind is used to dwelling in small things. Unless and until it gets that magnanimity, the realization that all this is made up of love. That ‘I am that’ realization will make you stable and make you capable of receiving love and reciprocating it unconditionally. That is why knowledge is important; the knowledge about the self.
Q: Gurudev, how to deal with failure? No learning, or advice is helpful in that state of mind. What do I do?
Sri Sri: Remember that you’re going to die one day. You are going to leave everything behind. All your degrees, awards, necklaces and diamonds, everything will remain here, of which you’ve been so possessive. So when you know that one day you have to leave everything behind and go, you’ll say, ‘Failure, okay failed, what to do? I offer that to the Divine as well’.
Remember that every failure is a step towards success. It is a learning process. You should see it this way perhaps. There are only two situations: either you win or you make others win. You should be proud of making others win.
When elders play with children at home, they don’t always win, sometimes they make the children win and feel happy in their happiness. So making others win is a sign of a big mind. Finding joy in the happiness of others is a sign of a big mind.
There is a beautiful story in the Ramayan. In the chapter called Bharat Milaap, when Bharat meets Ram, both of them forget their Sankalpas (vows).
Ram says to Bharat, ‘I’ll do whatever you want’.
Upon hearing this, Bharat is overcome with happiness and emotion. Ram had left the kingdom to keep his father’s vow and he had himself vowed that he would not return till 14 years had passed. If he were to return on Bharat’s request, he would be accused of breaking his vow. And Ram took his vows very seriously. He believed in ‘Praan jaaye par vachan na jaye’ (It’s okay if I lose my life, but may I never break my vow).
So, Bharat on realizing that Ram, who valued his vow more than even his own life, was ready to break his vow for him and said, ‘No brother, you please carry on as you wish’.
So it is said that their minds got swapped. Ram’s mind went to Bharat and vice versa. This is what we call a sign of love.
It’s a very unique story where there is no desire for oneself. All these are ideals. These ideals help in preventing us from deviating from our principles.
Q: Dear Gurudev, spirituality is all about giving up, business is all about accumulating, how can being spiritual help me be a good businessman?
Sri Sri: When you want to shoot an arrow, what do you do? You pull the string backward, to make it to go forward. Similarly, the higher you need to construct a building, the deeper you need make its foundation. They all may seem opposite, but they’re complementary. Even today, the previous generation, whenever they were prosperous, they say that it is the good deed, the good karma of our elders. Whenever a business prospered, people have said that these are the merits of our elders. This is true.
The good work you do gives you merit. When you do something, it brings back to you something more. Nature always gives you. If you give misery to others, you get that back, if you give happiness, you get that back, and if you share a little bit of what you have with others, it comes to you multi-fold. So, spirituality is not about giving up this world, it is about letting the mind free. That is it.
Q: Gurudev, how do we grow higher in evolution and how do we get there?
Sri Sri: When trivial things, unimportant things lose their significance in life. When you wake up and realize, ‘Oh, these are small things’, and you stop complaining and talking behind others back, and all these little little tricks of the mind.
When you are tired of negativity, you are already growing. And when you accept the world as it is, then you’re growing one step higher.
Q: Gurudev, is it true that Mira Bai drank poison in the name of Lord Krishna and it did not harm her? What is the meaning of this?
Sri Sri: Yes. There are many miracles which occur in the world and this is one such. You don’t try that. You can call yourself Mira Bai, but don’t try drinking poison.
That means that the consciousness which makes the body grow – the love and light in her was so much, that the poison did not matter, it just went through.
Q: How does one introduce emotional intelligence in kids and help them get better at that?
Sri Sri: You don’t need to introduce it to them. They already have it.
It is not a tablet that you make them swallow from the outside. They do have it.
First, there is emotional development in children, later on the intelligence comes. Emotion is already there. That is why a child screams, yells, laughs and gives you a hug, expresses its love. Emotion is in the very core of every human being. It just needs a little nurturing through random acts of kindness; nurturing through inspiring stories, not just putting them in front of the television and making them watch Donald duck all day long! Human interaction is essential.
Q: When I pray, my prayer takes its own time to be answered. In spite of being in difficulties, when we do not receive any help at that time, I become very upset. What to do at that time?
Sri Sri: When you are upset, you are upset. You cannot apply wisdom at that time. Even if you know all the knowledge, all the wisdom, when a gush of emotion comes, they all fail. All the wisdom fails. I would say, just relax. Take it as it comes. It’s okay to be upset sometimes in life. Never mind. You make life more colorful, more dramatic. Ask people around you, how they enjoyed when you really got upset!
Q: Gurudev, if faith is the only thing that matters, then a person who does not believe in God but only in himself is also correct, is that so?
Sri Sri: Yes, but, belief in self implies that somewhere inside there is a higher self and that higher self is what is called God. You may not label it, but you’ll definitely believe in a higher power.
Q: Jai Guru Dev, guide me to turn to spirituality again and again, because laziness blocks me to do this. Please advice how can I tackle laziness.
Sri Sri: To tackle laziness, you should take a vow for a limited period of time. Next 20 days I am not going to be lazy. In between, if you become lazy then from that day onwards for another 20 days take a vow again, ‘I am not going to be lazy.’
Whenever you break a vow, you say from that time you will continue with double the enthusiasm, and double the vigor. That seems to have worked for many people.
Number one, taking a vow, taking a determination.
Second would be attending to your food.
Third would be to do some pranayama. When there is energy, when there is prana, it doesn’t allow you to simply sit and be lazy.
Fourth, check vitamin levels in your body. If D3 is low, which more people seem to be having these days, or B12 is low in your body, then you don’t feel like doing anything. Morning you wake up and you feel too tired. This is the sign of vitamin D3 going very low in your body, because we eat all this fast food.
E series of preservatives from food block the sun rays from getting processed into the system. Though you’re in the sun, the D3 doesn’t get into your blood stream. This happens.
That is why we must avoid all these preservatives, ketchups which has all these chemical preservatives. What do you say? How many of you agree with me on this? (Many in the audience raise hands)
We should go back to organic natural food.