Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Something binds the body to the soul. What is this binding factor and what prompts it to part ways after sometime?
Sri Sri: Impressions in the soul binds it to the body. That is what is called Karma.
Q: Guruji, why is the opening of the third eye associated with the destruction of desires?
Sri Sri: You know the third eye is associated with alertness and awareness. When you are alert, awake, more into knowledge then naturally the energy has moved from the lowest chakra to the highest. The lower things no more interest you. You know when you are very alert and awake the sexual energy has transformed itself into a different quality of consciousness. The sexual energy is when the back portion of our brain, our head is activated. Alertness, perception and awareness happen when the front portion of the brain is activated; the pituitary and pineal glands are getting activated. In the brain also they are on the opposite sides of each other. So it is mythologically said when the third eye opens then the gross desires simply evaporate, not that it is bad but they simply don’t make much sense anymore. That is why the intellectuals and the highly spiritual oriented practitioners always put something on the forehead, some sandal wood paste because they are focusing; doing some yoga and meditation so they put some sandal wood to cool the forehead, to cool it a little bit.
When the frontal lobe of the brain becomes more active, more alert, then thinking, intellectual work, creativity, memory they are all enhanced because all of these things are in the frontal lobe of the brain and sensory pleasures are all at the back of the brain.
Q: What is the meaning of the opening of the third eye and what do I feel when I experience this happening?
Sri Sri: It is intuition, don’t think there is an eye opening like this and something is popping up from your head. You get a bump or a hole in your forehead, no! You know you close your eyes still you feel some light; you may see or you may feel, it can be both ways. If someone says I am going to open your third eye and this and that, just don’t go into those things. I tell you, definitely not, it is simply hoax because I have seen so many people claiming to open the third eye and nothing happens really, people get a headache, an incurable headaches many times and you get into problems. You know many such cases come to us for repair, so if someone says I want to open your third eye tell them, thank you very much, I am happy with two eyes. The deeper you go in meditation your intuitive ability develops.
Q: Why is there so much unhappiness in the world today?
Sri Sri: Unhappiness is due to two things, one in lack of resources in some parts of the world; if they get water they will be happy, if they get food they will be happy. In the other part of the world it is lack of spirituality. In one place the body is starving so there is unhappiness, and in another place the soul is starving and so there is unhappiness. We at The ‘Art of Living’ have to do both jobs, provide food to the body and food to the soul and that’s what we are doing.
Q: Dearest Guruji, you are my favorite in the whole world and my world revolves around you. How do I become your favorite?
Q: How can I balance peace while fighting for justice?
Sri Sri: That is the whole essence of The Bhagavat Gita. Be calm from the inside and act whenever required. You should stand up and fight if necessary; but don’t keep the fight inside yourself. Usually we fight inside and keep quiet on the outside. We should do the opposite. With meditation, it becomes easy to bring about this change. The power of satva and the power of meditation make it easy.
Today is Shri Ramanavami (Lord Rama’s Birthday). Ra means radiance, Ma means myself. Rama means ‘the light inside me’. Rama was born to Dasharath and Kousalya. Dasharath means ‘Ten Chariots’. The ten chariots symbolize the five organs of perception (the five senses) and five organs of knowledge and action (For instance: reproduction, legs, hands and so on). Kousalya means ‘skill’. Ayodhya means ‘a society in which there is no violence’. If you skillfully observe what goes on inside the body, light dawns inside you. That is meditation. You need some skill to relax the tension. Then you start expanding.
You know you are here now, yet you are not. With this realization, there is a certain lightness that comes spontaneously. Rama is when the inner light shines through. Sita the mind/intellect was robbed by the ego, Ravana. Ravana had ten heads. Ravana (ego) was one who wouldn’t listen to others. He was too much in the head. Hanuman means breath. With the help of Hanuman (the breath), Sita (the mind) was able to go back to Rama (the source).
Ramayana happened around 7,500 years ago. It had an impact on Germany and many other countries in Europe and Far East. Thousands of cities are named after Rama. Cities like Rambaugh in Germany, Rome in Italy have their roots in the word Ram. Indonesia, Bali and Japan were all influenced by Ramayana. Though Ramayana is history, it is also an eternal phenomenon happening all the time.
Q: What is the difference between intuition and wishful thinking?
Sri Sri: When the thing has already happened then you know whether it was a wishful thinking or an intuition. Time will tell you whether it was wishful thinking or intuition. There is no definite criterion to know, yes! Wishful thinking is motivated by desire where as intuition just happens.
Q: Dearest Guruji, Jai Gurudev! Once I am on this path is my spiritual progress your responsibility or my responsibility? If it is yours then why is my progress full of obstacles and slow, and if it is mine then why is my effort so poor. Please help me!
Sri Sri: Now that you are asking this question it is both of our responsibility. Yes, do your 100% and relax and when you feel that you can do a little better or a little more that indicates that you have been responsible. When you feel you are doing everything that you can then the responsibility shifts away from you.
Q: Even after putting 100 percent effort, the work doesn’t get done. What does one do then?
Sri Sri: For success or work to get done there are five things you require. First the intention of the person who is doing, then availability of the instruments or things needed to do the work, third is the willingness or mindset to do the work. Then doing the work at the right time, there is a time to do the work, if you don’t do it at the right time then there is no use. If you sow seeds in February then there is no use, you then cannot say that I sowed the seeds but nothing has come. You have to wait till April after the rain and then you sow the seeds and yield the results. So time is a very important factor. When we came to this Ashram this whole land was barren, there was not one leaf or one tree on this land. Today see how many trees and plants are there and these trees did not come in one day, so many people have put lots of effort and after some time the trees grew. So this is how time is an important factor and then grace. Without grace of the divine there will be no success, that is why you do Seva, Sadhana, Satsang and in time you will get the fruits of all your efforts. Okay! None of your efforts will go waste that you should be assured about, if not now you will see the results later.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Wealth is not just having money. You can have a big balance, you can have a big estate but on your face if you are stressed and you’re so miserable, no one can call you prosperous. Prosperity is not just having a fat bank balance. Prosperity is in acknowledging the magnanimity of life, honoring life. The confidence in a person shows his richness. What is wealth suppose to do to you? Enhance confidence right but if wealth has created weakness then it is no wealth, if wealth has created sickness then it’s no wealth, if wealth has created conflicts then it is no wealth, right! So one type of wealth is wisdom, knowledge is wealth, health is wealth, confidence is wealth, valor is wealth. If you have confidence you can manage anything, you can handle any situation that is wealth.
Q: Dear Guruji, in the Buddhist tradition it is said that there is no such thing as God, the creator where as in Christianity there is the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. I am therefore wondering what is God?
Sri Sri: Lord Buddha never said there is no God, he simply refused to speak on it because in those days there were so many traditions. The Vedic tradition was so alive and there was Jain tradition. There were so many other traditions and people knew it all by books and they could give great talks on peace and meditation but forgot the experience of meditation. So Buddha didn’t want to get into controversy like what we do, we don’t want to get into any controversy. We have a simple message to say, here is the way to become peaceful. Do this breathing and you will become peaceful.
So similarly Buddha said I am not going to speak on God but I want to speak about sorrow and there is a way to get rid of sorrow. It is possible to be free from sorrow. So his focus was very practical and very simple. He spoke on liberation, Moksha which is common to all different sects of Hinduism.
Two and half thousand years after Krishna’s time there was nobody to reform the knowledge, so Buddha came and reformed it. Then later on Buddhism also became into so many sects. Five hundred years after Buddha the whole knowledge got misinterpreted, they started making everybody a monk, the whole system started collapsing then Adi Shankara came and he reestablished the knowledge. So that is why it is said time and again whenever people start forgetting the knowledge then the nature brings on the path someone to revive the knowledge and bring people back on the path of light. So this is happening, so whatever Jesus has said that is again the same ancient truth what is said in the Vedas, the trinity, all those things Jesus has said. Love is God, is said in the Vedas, in the Upanishad, same thing Jesus said.
What is most essential is to find the harmony among all the different traditions. Traditions are one side but humanity, spirituality is most important. No Hinduism, Vedic religion, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism nothing is of any good if humanity, human values and spiritual values are missing.