Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Dearest Guruji, What is a devotee? What does a devotee do? How does one become a devotee?
Sri Sri: Now don’t try hard to become a devotee. Love combined with commitment is devotion. Love with wisdom is devotion.
Love without wisdom can turn into negativities: Love today, hate tomorrow. Love today, jealousy tomorrow. Love today, possessiveness tomorrow.
Love combined with wisdom is bliss, and that is devotion. Devotion is a strong bond, a sense of belongingness. Everybody is born with it. It’s just like becoming a child again.
Q: I have been introduced to two concepts which I find confusing. A. I am not the doer. Or B: I should take responsibility for little things even when I have little control. What's up?
Sri Sri: Life is a balance between these two things. Taking responsibility and letting go. It's both. That's a fine balance. For the present and future take responsibility, for the past know that it has to happen that way and move on. So often we do the reverse. We think that the past was free will and regret and we think the future is all destiny and we don’t do anything about it. But the wise one does you know what? The regard the future as free will, past as destiny and they are happy in the present. So you don’t regret about the past and you know what you want to do in the future and you are on it.
Q: What is the difference between Karma and Destiny?
Sri Sri: The word destiny means Vidhi, this is how it is. The word Karma has several different connotations. It can mean action or latent action. The impression of an action that might give rise to another action can also be called karma.
Q: When a loved one dies, are they reincarnated? Will we know them again? In the case of a parent, are we still connected to them?
Sri Sri: All possible...It's possible to know them if they incarnate now and you can feel that? Haven't you felt that you go somewhere and suddenly you feel someone is very close to somebody? Your gut feeling comes. It's all possible. You know, we’re all connected in some time or another. In the past, we've all been connected. Now we are connected. Whether we acknowledge or not, we are all connected.
Q: What are the qualities that the Master wants to see in an ideal devotee?
Sri Sri: None. If I name a quality, you will all try to emulate that quality. Just be your natural self. Be honest. Even if you miss a meditation one day, don’t feel guilty about it. Time is carrying you. All the good qualities you aspire for, you have them anyway. You are here and you are doing the right thing.
You can purify your body by following a proper diet. It’s good to fast for two-three days in a year. Fast on only juices. But if your system disagrees with it, don’t do it. You should listen to your body.
Mind is purified through pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya.
Intellect is purified through knowledge.
Emotions are purified through bhajans.
Actions are purified through seva.
Money is purified through charity.
You should donate at least two to three percent of your income.
Q: What is your vision for The Art of Living in the coming years?
Sri Sri: I have started it. My job is done. It’s up to you now. You have a vision, so take it where you want to take it. , We are celebrating 30 years of The Art of Living in Germany. We’ll be in the same Olympic stadium that Hitler built 75 years ago. He started the war from there. From the same place where war started, we’ll spread the message of peace.
Q: Why has religion been the reason for so many wars?
Sri Sri: Even I wonder about it. There are 10 major religions in the world: four from the Middle East and six from the Far East. The six religions from the Far East never had any conflicts. There was no war between these six religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Shintoism and Taoism – they all coexisted.
When President Nixon went to Japan, he had a Shinto priest on one side and a Buddhist priest on the other side. He asked the Shinto priest: What is the percentage of Shintos in Japan? The priest said: 80 percent. Then he turned to the Buddhist priest and asked him: What is the percentage of Buddhists in Japan? He said: 80 percent. Nixon was perplexed as to how this was possible. Shintos go to Buddhist temples and Buddhists go to Shinto temples. Similarly, Hindus go to Sikh gurudwaras and Sikhs go to Hindu temples. The same may be said of Hindus and Buddhists in India. Similarly in China, there is no war between Taoists and Buddhists.
The four religions in the Middle East were always at war. I think they should learn how to co-exist from the other six. Judaism and Christianity are friendly. Judaism and Islam have an issue.
Q: Dear Guruji I doubt myself a lot, I doubt my skills, abilities and decisions. How do you deal with self-doubt?
Sri Sri: How does one deal with self-doubt? Understand doubt: doubt is always about something that is good. Someone tells you ‘I love you’, you ask them ‘Really?’, and they say ‘I hate you’, you never ask ‘Really?’ So, a doubt is always about something good. You doubt your abilities; you never doubt your weaknesses. You doubt happiness, you never doubt misery. Isn’t it? Nobody doubts their depression. ‘But well, I’m not sure if I’m happy or not, well I'm not sure'. So when you understand that the doubt is always about something that’s positive, your mind shifts to a level, a different level altogether.
Doubt is simply low prana. If you do more pranayams you will see that you have come about that.
Sri Sri: When you say, I want nothing: that is happiness. When you are happy and are asked: 'Do you want anything?' you say ‘No, I want nothing.’
Q: Guruji, I am blessed to be here with you as I am now healing from breast cancer diagnosed last fall. Can you tell me and us how to learn from illness? With Love and gratitude.
Sri Sri: See, you don’t have to learn anything from illness. Just move on. It’s part of life. The body undergoes some illnesses. It could be many reasons. It could be due to karma, to past impressions, to the genes in the family. It could be due to violating laws of nature, eating too much when you should not eat, and it could be due to all this technology that we are having around which causes so much radiation. So it doesn’t pay us sitting and analyzing what I should learn from this.
Just keep moving with one faith, one knowledge, one sense of gratefulness. We are happy we are on this planet, as long as we are here, let's do good. One day, we'll all be gone. For sure, we'll all be gone.