Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: As per research statistics, there is major portion of population which is depressed in the West. Comparatively, it is much less in the East. It is so pinching to see such a condition, in spite of having so many comforts and electronic lifestyle. What is the reason and under these circumstances, where are we heading to?
Sri Sri: Yes, and that is why we all have to work together. The planet is facing a kind of stagnation; and it is only through youth, the transformation will happen. An empowered youthful heart, free from alcohol, drugs and other addictions is the hope of the world.
Q: Why does a desire arise? Where does it come from? What is the purpose?
Sri Sri: All desires have got one goal, and that is happiness. If a desire brings unhappiness, it has not reached its goal. The goal of desires is to bring happiness. So, that is the purpose.
Where does it come from? It comes when you are not aware of your Being, your Self. Desire is your wanting to stay in the moment. Desire is to experience joy. Joy is only in the moment. And when you are in the moment, there is no desire. Have you noticed when you are joyful and satisfied, there is no burning desire at that time.
Q: How to learn from experience? Often we keep doing same thing but don’t learn.
Sri Sri: If you keep doing the same thing again and again knowing that it brings you misery, you really don’t understand that it brings you misery, or you think it brings you some pleasure. Craving for pleasure and non awareness that it is going to cause you misery are two things which makes you commit same mistake again and again. That’s why it is called habit. Habits don’t give you pleasure but they inflict pain by not following them.
Q: How does one stop the flow of negative thoughts?
Sri Sri: Negative thoughts are due to three reasons. If your blood circulation is not good, if the lymphatic system is not ok or if bowel movement is irregular. In all these cases negative thoughts are likely to come. You can check the reason, and then take appropriate measures.
Q: What do I do when I close my eyes for meditation?
Sri Sri: Whole time you keep on doing something or the other. Your body is involved in some function or the other, thoughts keep passing and bombarding the mind. Good news is that, you need not do anything – meditation is not an act, it happens. You simply sit and let it happen. There are three steps to meditation:
Step 1: Relax
Step 2: Relax more
Step 3: Relax more and more
Meditation happens with effortlessness!
Q: What is driving many people away from faith and religion, and why do faith and power to pull people from doing good towards the society exist? Can you please talk about the destruction and dimensioning in the world about Maris in NZ and aborigine in Australia, all the native loving traditions are getting destroyed?
Sri Sri: I am for preserving the natives around the world, and I always encourage them to preserve it. I have seen similarities between aborigine in Australia, Maori in NZ, Arunachal Pradesh in India and British Columbia in Canada. The way they welcome a guest is so loving. They all have similar traditions and cultures. In the past, there was some connection or similar culture all over the world. You know, we need to celebrate the diversity and not think that everybody should be like us. We should take good things from every culture and I feel that is the way we can overcome the terrorism in the world.
If every child knows a little bit about all the wisdom in the world then they grow up much wiser. They don’t become fanatics or fundamentalist or terrorist. You know, terrorists think that only they know the truth, only they will go to heaven and everybody else will go to hell but they create hell for everybody else. No sense of global wisdom and we have to take responsibility because we haven’t globalised wisdom. We have globalised everything else on the planet from eatables to equipments to cold drinks but we haven’t given a comprehensive wisdom for youth of the world, don’t you think so?
Once a child asked me a question, Guruji dogs can communicate with any other dog in the world, but why not human beings? I still remember, this is some 25 years ago, in Manchester, UK. A small girl came to me and asked me, “Guruji, Why not human beings connect with everyone else in the world”. This is because we are so stuck in our identities, we have to grow beyond that, it’s good to have identity but we have to grow beyond that. Don’t you think so?
Q: What do you say about the eastern and western cultures?
Sri Sri: Pick up good things like cleanliness and following the rules from the Western society. Western Civilization has such cleanliness and the sense of following rules. Learn the Human values from the East. Every country or tradition has something good to offer. We need to learn hospitality from the Japanese, precision from Germans, etiquette from the English and marketing from America and from India, human values.
We can also learn, what not to learn or what to unlearn? Too much formality! At some places, the mother has to take permission to go to her daughter, or the daughter has to take appointment from the mother. This has started to happen somewhere in urban society here also. The naturalness, sense of belongingness is disappearing from the society. That has given rise to depression and other disorders in so many countries in the west. There is such a sense of belongingness and human values even in a village in the east, and that is to be maintained.
Q: The golden rules of meditation?
Sri Sri: There are three golden rules for meditation. The first is you say “I want nothing, I want nothing for next 15-20 minutes.” If you say “I need to drink water or change my position,” then meditation cannot happen. When you want nothing, then you also do nothing. The second golden rule is “I do nothing.” You only breathe. Do not make an effort to think “I want nothing” and “I do nothing” - Just an effortless attention. Then the last one is even more important, “I am nothing.” While meditating we drop all notions about ourselves of being rich, poor, intelligent, stupid, male, female or any other. So what are you? Nothing! After meditation you can again be something. It is your choice, but if you think, during meditation, that you are somebody great or somebody hopeless, there is no way you can settle down to that deepest core of the being. This must be our initial step to settle into that infinity, the consciousness of which we are all made up of. It is the journey from sound to the inner joyful silence.
Q: I learnt some techniques of meditation where I was told to concentrate on a point or imagine something. I have practiced that for a long time but to no avail. I feel something is missing. Can you please talk about that?
Sri Sri: Meditation is not concentrating on any point. It is neither about imagining anything. That involves effort and meditation is effortless. You don’t do meditation, but you let meditation happen.
Q: Is meditation concentrating on tip of nose or centre of forehead?
Sri Sri: Meditation is not concentration. Meditation is the simple art of doing absolutely nothing, not even thinking, so you don’t concentrate but you de-concentrate. If you are asked to concentrate on something, just a gentle attention works. Effortlessness is the key. Using the breath as a tool, bringing the mind to a standstill state is possible. You just let meditation happen effortlessly.