Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
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: Gurudev, I feel I am stuck. I am unable to spread The Art of Living knowledge. What should I do?
Sri Sri: You don’t need to do that what you cannot do. Nobody expects you to do anything which you cannot do. But whatever you can do, you must do. This is because when we do service, it does good to other people, and that brings us immense satisfaction too.
Okay, before you leave, I want you to give me all your worries. I want you to go home with a big smile. And whenever you feel you are down, upset, not feeling happy or good, remember you are not alone! I am with you! And the whole Art of Living family is with you.
My dream is to see everyone with a big smile, and the whole world as one family. And I would like you all to join me in this dream to make a violence-free, stress-free, and happy society.
Q: Dear Gurudev, would you suggest people donate the body so those in need of transplants can be helped?
Sri Sri: Definitely, you can donate the organs of your body. There is nothing wrong with it.
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: Gurudev, what does it mean to be a full time Art of Living teacher? And what kind of a person can do it?
Sri Sri: Well, you don't need to be a full time teacher. You can become a part time teacher. Teaching takes up only two hours of your time.
Courses are usually held in the evenings, when people are finished with their work. You can take a course for three days, four days or five days, depending on the format. You can teach one or two courses a month.
Moreover, you can gather two or three teachers and take courses together, so you don't feel the load on you. It helps take the pressure off you. Suppose you have to take your child to do some shopping, then you don’t need to think, ‘Oh! I have a course, how can I do that.’ Then, you have another teacher who can take care. So, I would recommend that two teachers take a course together. Then you can have your job, continue with whatever you are doing professionally, and on the side, you can teach and help people around.
If you do not have any (personal) requirements, any pressure around, then you can dedicate your life. If you can say, ‘I need very little for myself, and I want to teach full time’, then you can do that also. But I would say, first become a part-time teacher, do some work.
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.
Q: Dear Gurudev, can you please explain the Eternity Process, and its benefits to us?
Sri Sri: Eternity process is just taking your memory backward, realizing and re-living the impressions there, and relieving them.
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: 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: 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.