Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Gurudev, the world is spending billions of dollars to create peace, by creating structures and systems. However, they cannot reach the heart, and they don't know the mind of human beings. To answer your call for peace in the world; my vision and idea is to bring this knowledge of the mind and the heart to reach everyone in the world. So we can go along with you to the United Nations, to all the areas where people are suffering from violence.
Sri Sri: Good, good, good. On 3 February, in New Delhi, India, I launched a ‘Volunteer for a Better India’ program, along with 10 different UN agencies. It was a very successful launch, and we will continue working with UNICEF and many other UN agencies to create such an atmosphere.
I would like many of you here, in Split, to become teachers of the Art of Living, and spread the message in Croatia.
I would also like to invite you to come to India. When you come to India, you can go sight-seeing, do meditations, and get deeper experiences. In addition, you can also experience Ayurevda.
Do you know we have the best Ayurvedic hospital in the world, in Bangalore, which can heal things like Vericose Veins, that otherwise has no remedy in Allopathy. Also, the dental work is very good. The doctors can remove your teeth, without pain, without a drop of blood and anaesthesia; at one fifth or one tenth of regular costs. Ayurvedic treatment is very effective and low-cost. There are many things that you can learn from the ancient medical sciences.
Before you go, give me all your worries, and go with a big smile.
Q: I want to thank you for being here and the precious things that you have said. When you said ‘serving society’ did you mean a particular person, or serving like volunteering for Red Cross or something similar?
Sri Sri: Yes. Whatever and wherever it is needed, and in whatever manner it is needed.
Q: Dear Gurudev, if every formless is Shiva and every form is Shakti, then what is breath, which is both form and formless?
Sri Sri: Yes, the formless is Shiva and the form is Shakti. You can define it in any manner.
Prana (life force energy obtained from breath) is also known as Mukhyaprana.
Hanuman is connected with prana, air (Vayu Tattva) is connected with prana, Omkar is connected with prana. So everything is prana in the universe. We are in an ocean of prana, and prana is both Shiva and Shakti.
A point comes where you cannot distinguish between Shiva and Shakti. The border vanishes, it becomes invisible. Shiva and Shakti become one. That is when it is called Brahman, which means it is all one; there is no second.
Advaita means, no second, no two (even to count to one, there must be two. That is why it is said, ‘There are no two things, just one’). It is one field of energy. Nothing other than that exists. Advaita means non-dual, it is the non-dual power in the universe.
This is the ultimate knowledge, i.e., non-dual, there are no two things. The whole universe is made up of one thing.
When you come one step below; it is like Quantum Physics. One more step below, and then it is like the Periodic Table in Chemistry. Do you know the Periodic Table? You have different elements, different aspects; these are all the different devas and devatas (specific divine energies).
Q: Gurudev, do you have any plans to start an Art of Living channel?
Sri Sri: See, starting one positive channel will not work. We need to have all the channels becoming positive.
Are you doing media studies? I would like many of you to go in to media, and change the media.
Q: Krishna says, ‘The desire that is not opposed to Dharma, is me.’ Can you please tell us how to identify which desires are in alignment and which are opposed to Dharma?
Sri Sri: The desires which are common, natural, and do not produce any guilt, fear or discomfort in you, or take you away from your naturalness is called Dharmic (in line with Dharma). Anything that shakes you, burns you, or makes you uncomfortable; the discomfort in that desire indicates that it is not Dharma. If it is Dharmic, it is very comfortable. If it is not Dharmic, then there is fear, guilt, or discomfort in the desire.
Q: What is real seva? How can my every action become seva?
Sri Sri: Seva mean, doing like him. ‘Him’ means the creator. He does everything for you and he doesn't expect anything from you. So to do whatever you can, not expecting anything in return; is called seva.
There is definitely a payoff. There is certainly a return from that, but when you're expecting the result, it doesn't become seva. Without expecting anything, wanting anything, just do for doing sake is called seva.
Q: Gurudev, earlier ignorance was leading me to fear, but now, sometimes, knowledge is bringing me more confusion. What should I do?
Sri Sri: That is good! The purpose of knowledge is to confuse you again, and again, and again. It is not to bring clarity. At every level of confusion, you jump one more step higher. So, never mind.
When there is no confusion, it is like a ramp walk, where there is no jumping. But sometimes, it is like steps, where you have to leave one step, and go one step higher. And that is when confusion happens.
Now don't ask me, ‘Does that mean that if there is no confusion and I'm clear in my life, then is there no growth? Or am I not progressing? Is knowledge not working for me?’ Nothing like that! You are on a ramp walk, on a cake walk. When that is not there then you are in a Mr. Toad’s wild ride; a bumpy road, and it is good.
Q: Gurudev, you were talking about Chanakya, he is known for his skill and intelligence. Was he born like that or did he build it over time? Are skillful people born like that or they build it over time?
Sri Sri: I can’t tell you about Chanakya, whether he was born skillful or he developed skills; but, I can tell about you. If you want to be skilled, you can always develop on your skills. Otherwise, there is nothing called skills training. You have potential in you. Recognize the potential in you, and then develop on it. The basic ingredient is already present.
You light a candle and
turn it upside down, the
flame always goes up,
and it never goes down.
In the same way, if we
can have the enthusiasm
to say, ‘I can make it, I
can rebuild my business’;
that is what I would
consider a sign of success.
Q: Gurudev, success to this world means money, power and fame. How does one know if we are successful? Is there any measure?
Sri Sri: To me, the sign of success is a smile. The number of smiles that one has in their day-to-day life indicates how successful one is.
To me, the sign of
success is a smile. The
number of smiles that
one has in their
day-to-day life indicates
how successful one is.
You may have a big bank balance, a lot of money. But, if you can’t smile, if you are tensed, upset and angry, would you call such a person successful?
Someone who is unfriendly, tensed, worried, can’t sleep, can’t even eat because of cholesterol, diabetes; would you call him a successful person?
Often, people spend half of their health to gain their wealth. Then they spend half their wealth, to gain back their health (which does not come). This is not a sign of success. To me, a sign of success is confidence. Even if you lose everything, if you have confidence, then you can recreate everything again, and that is success.
There are ample of examples. There are businessmen, who rose to the top, and with one uncalculated movement, they lost it all. They came way down, and still, they built their businesses again.
You can see this in the Sindhi community; they were living in Karachi with such comforts. Similarly, the Kashmiri pundits in the valley had huge bungalows, apple gardens, saffron gardens; suddenly, they had to leave everything.
The same with the Asian migrants from Uganda, they had nothing when they left the country. Generations together lived in Uganda, and owned big factories. One fine morning, they had to leave the country with one suitcase.
I met a Gujarati gentleman in London. This man had a huge television factory, about 15 to 20 years ago, in Uganda. He had many Rolls Royce cars, and lived a very comfortable life. One morning, the Asians were asked to leave the country. With just one suitcase, they arrived in London, as refugees. This man and his wife, in their fifties, were selling hot dogs on the streets. He said, ‘Gurudev, we have never worked so hard.’ Look at this!
Now this successful businessman rose again to be an industrialist there. Once you have the zeal, you can gain back the wealth.
The same situation occurred for the Sindhi community. They were rendered as homeless refugees in India after the partition. Today, the Sindhi’s are governing and managing all the wealth, wherever they are. The same with the Kashmiri pundits; they were rendered homeless. Many of them who had the zeal to do business came to Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, and started something.
Success is an attitude, it is not a phenomenon.
When you agree to be bogged down, that is the sign of failure. Resist getting bogged down. Just like a candle. You light a candle and turn it upside down, the flame always goes up, and it never goes down. In the same way, if we can have the enthusiasm to say, ‘I can make it, I can rebuild my business’; that is what I would consider a sign of success.
Often, people spend half
of their health to gain their
wealth. Then they spend
half their wealth, to gain
back their health. This is
not a sign of success. To
me, a sign of success is
confidence. Even if you
lose everything, if you
have confidence, then
you can recreate
everything again, and
that is success.
Q: : Gurudev, on 3 February, you inaugurated the ‘Volunteer for a Better India' program in Ram Lila Maidan, New Delhi. There were lakhs of people who came together, and pledged for a better India. So many NGOs came together. However, there was hardly any media coverage. Would you want the media to be more involved?
Sri Sri: Sensational news is what the media is interested in. Unfortunately, that is what the state of affairs is; good news is no news. If there is a problematic thing, or anything that is controversial, then it draws more attention.
I often tell the media that they have a responsibility to keep the facts as they are; at the same time, not lead the society towards depression.
You have seen, just one event in Delhi was played for 24 hours, for a whole month, and it still continues.
I have heard hundreds of calls from people who said, ‘I can’t sleep, I feel so much anxiety’, or, ‘I feel like I can’t even walk in the streets of Delhi’. People became sick listening to it.
I told them, ‘Stop watching news before going to bed’, because it is the negative news you hear that creates fear in you.
So, media has this responsibility to project something positive also; that is essential.