Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: How do we increase willpower?
Sri Sri: Meditation and breathing enhance the inner power. These practices get us in touch with ourselves. You know, willpower comes to you with three things.
First, when you love something then you follow through with it. The commitment is there.
Second, where there is some fear there is commitment. If someone says that if you don’t follow this diet you have to have an operation, then you will follow.
Third is greed. If someone tells you, “You do this for a month then you will get a million dollars,” I tell you, you will not miss a single day!
Either through greed or fear or love you follow your commitment. And I feel the last one is better than the other two.
Q: Can you talk about how not to see intention behind others actions?
Sri Sri: Yes. I say don’t see intention behind others’ mistakes. When somebody does something wrong often we say they intentionally did this wrong to me. So when we see from a broader perspective, every culprit is also a victim. Inside every culprit there is a victim crying for help. They may be a victim of lack of education or lack of information, stress, narrow-mindedness. All these would cause someone to become a culprit. And we are simply looking at the culprit part of them. We don’t see that the person is also a victim.
Every child should study a little bit about different religions and cultures. If people knew just a little bit about what Jesus said, what the Upanishads say, what the Vedas say, what Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam say, there would not be a single terrorist in the world. Today’s terrorism is a result of Puritanism: i.e. when people say, “Only my religion is pure. I should keep away from other religious books or I should not be educated in those things. Only this is the way.” That type of religious indoctrination in children has given rise to Taliban sort of movements in the world. We have lost so many people to terrorism.
We have globalized Pepsi, Coke and potato chips but we have not globalized wisdom! It should be compulsory for every nation to give a multi-religious, multi-cultural education to all children. Then not one terrorist will be there in the world.
Q: If happiness is already inside us, what is the role of a spiritual teacher or teaching?
Sri Sri: You want an answer for this question? You have answered your own question my dear! You want an answer. You want someone who answers. Anyone who answers this question for you becomes a teacher! If the question is not there, then no need of an answer. The moment you have come with a question, you are looking for an answer and anyone who gives the answer becomes a teacher. Right? Oh and you can say, “I have a question but I am not a student,” and a teacher can say, “I will give you an answer but I am not a teacher.” Then I would say both are not sincere. It’s like a doctor saying, “I give you medicine but I’m not a doctor, don’t call me a doctor.” It is like a patient saying, “I want medicine but I’m not a patient.”
Q: Can you talk to us about realizing our purpose in life?
Sri Sri: This is something everyone has to find for themselves. What is the purpose of our life? You can ask this question but don’t take an answer from anybody. One who knows will not give you an answer and anyone who tries to give you, does not know. That’s the criteria. The very question “What’s the purpose of life?” is very precious. It means a lot to you. If this question has arisen in your mind you can give a big pat to your back because this question can remove the cobwebs from your mind, your confusion. It can remove all those unnecessary things and put you on track again and again and again. There is no single answer. It is a path on which we need to travel. “Who am I, what do I want, what is the purpose of my life?” It will move you forward in life. So give a big pat on your back, “Oh I am so lucky this question came to my mind.” What’s the purpose of life? You know, many don’t even think about this question. They simply exist. They eat, sleep, watch television and then they die.
Q: How can senior management get the most out of their teams for maximum performance?
Sri Sri: The Art of Living Foundation teaches the APEX course in corporate environments. It has been appreciated all over including the World Bank.
Q: How do we deal with extreme grief and loss?
Sri Sri: Through meditation and Sudarshan Kriya, you will see how the grief gets vaporized.
Q: Why is it becoming increasingly important to save the planet earth?
Sri Sri: Because we are increasingly exploiting the planet earth more than what it can recuperate from. As individuals we can each do something to help the planet. You can be part of some service project like planting more trees, creating awareness about not using plastic bags. You can meditate everyday and put your attention on these issues. When we have an intention and put our attention on that, it will start manifesting. We don't use the mind power that has been bestowed on us by nature. It is the greatest gift we have been given.
Q: Is violent action ever appropriate?
Sri Sri: A conscious action taken to curb violence may appear to be violent itself. In fact it is not. However, I am not for capital punishment. I feel there is a chance to bring reformation in every body. Have compassion for the ones who do hurtful things and have no remorse. Have compassion for their lack of education and recognize that there is a victim inside the culprit.
Q: Is it really possible to be stress-free in this world?
Sri Sri: I am stress-free here in this world and so are many others. It is possible. You would have been like that as a child. I tell you, you can have this. You don’t have to wait till old age. I tell you it is possible now.
Q: What are some habits that would promote success?
Sri Sri: First you need to define success. Having a big bank balance and no sleep is not success. You may have lots of money but have diabetes, high blood pressure and all other health problems. That is not success. You may have lots of money but be filled with fear and anxiety, you may not have friends and that is not success. To me success is measured by your smile. How much of your life is filled with smiles and how much can you contribute to others? How much courage and confidence do you have in your own ability? You mustn’t be worried only about your own future. Money is needed in life but life is not all about money.