Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: For fifteen years I’ve been with the same job and my boss doesn’t respect me at all. Should Iquit and start my own business? Please give me some direction.
Sri Sri: Choice is yours, blessings are mine.
Q: I have recently begun meditating. Through this I have experienced God and power of spirituality. I don’t realize what is happening when I meditate. How can I continue to progress on this path? Can you be my Guru?
Sri Sri: I think I am doing my job. If you face any issues, have questions related to energy, yoga or meditation, you can contact me or one of the teachers at any time. It is good to follow one technique at a time. It is not good to mix techniques. When you have a deep experience, it is better to consult a trained teacher. And you can always email me.
Q: How can one conquer the ego?
Sri Sri: The tendency of the ego is to say “I am not crazy, I am proper. Ego is the biggest problem. Yet it is very easy to overcome. It is a one-day job. Just act like a crazy person. Can you do that? For one day. Done! Make people believe you have gone completely crazy. It is the best antidote for ego.” If you cannot do this, can you simply behave as a child for the rest of your life? No third option. Be a baby for the rest of your life or a crazy person. Be one who has attained the essence. Apart from this, keep the ego. Don’t try to get rid of it. Do this slowly. Otherwise it is impossible.
When people laugh at you, can you relax? When people point at you, just relax. Smile and accept it. A mother has no ego. Whatever the children say, she accepts. If they kick , does the mother get perturbed? If you are unperturbed, you have conquered the ego. Ego is just a feeling of having a wall between you and others. There is no wall. You belong to me and I belong to you. You are accepted the way you are.
Naturalness is the antidote for you. Be spontaneous! Ego cannot stand spontaneity. Ego wants to present everything properly and prepare beforehand. Children are so spontaneous. They make mistakes. Never mind making mistakes. Just be like a child. Anybody can say anything about you.
Another block we often have is to feel something is not practical. No need to practice anything. Our own mind is saying it is not practical. We wanted 2,000 Hindustani classical musicians to perform together. Every teacher said it was impossible. A choir in India! It is not like here with so many people and that many styles. They have their own octaves. We had a program called Antarnaad. You should see it on Youtube. There were 2,750 singers. Only one day of practice! Make the impossible possible. We should remove the block in our own mind. Top musicians were spellbound at the Antarnaad event.
Q: Silence, music and logic are the three essential ingredients you have spoken of. How does logic relate to knowledge or consciousness?
Sri Sri: Logic is essential. If you see an idol of Goddess Saraswati she is sitting on solid rock. She has a book in one hand which is logic. In the others she has rosemary beads for meditation and veena (a musical instrument). Logic, music, mauna (silence) are all essential for total development of consciousness. Knowledge is logical understanding of existence.
Q: What happens to the soul after we pass away?
Sri Sri: What happens when a television set is switched off? The screen will go blank but TV waves are still being projected. Our bodies are like a TV screen. Of course the relay station is elsewhere. (laughter)
Q: The knowledge in the Vedas contains the truth and laws of nature. Is modern science also apart of this body of knowledge?
Sri Sri: Yes. Knowledge is infinite. Many scientists of modern age are the rishis (sages) of today. They explore the universe. All are to be honored, whether ancient or modern.
Today’s quantum physics discoveries are startling. There is so much similarity to Vedic knowledge. For instance, darkmatter and String Theory are both present in the ancient knowledge. Dr.Hans-Peter Dürr, thephysicist has told me that whenever he is giving a lecture, he feels as if he is speaking on Vedanta. The whole universe is made up of one substance, and not two. This is Vedanta. Ancient rishis and modern physicists both say the same thing.
Q: In Celebrating Silence you say that ambition indicates lack of self-confidence. Is this so?
Sri Sri: If I say, “I have successfully lifted this bottle of water”, this indicates I was not confident that I could have done it. Being ambitious is when you are not confident of achieving something. ‘I ran ten miles. I did not think I would do it’ - Claiming success indicates your limitation. You are unaware of your huge potential. But the attitude should be ‘ I ran ten miles? I don’t realize that I can also do 100 miles’!
Q: Why are there so many different philosophies?
Sri Sri: Why not? God loves diversity. What if there was only okra to eat? But you have potatoes, tomatoes, beans, all kinds of fruits, vegetables and flowers. God seems to love diversity. He has created so many of us in different shapes, features and colors. He is definitely not a military person, an army general. A spirit that loves diversity must be diverse in itself too. That is what the rishis (Ancient saints) found in meditation. There is only one Ganesh and one Vishnu, but in so many different forms. See unity in diversity and celebrate diversity. Our rishis in the past had spoken of tolerance, acceptance, diversity and equal opportunity.
Why the difference? Find the common thread in different religions. According to different places, there are different customs. Time has created differences. There was one Buddha, now we have thirty-two forms of Buddhism, one Jesus Christ and now seventy-two sects of Christianity, and one Prophet Mohamed and now five different sects of Islam. In Hinduism, the variations cannot even be counted! But everyone believes in the Vedas, the Upanishads. How many different sects? Why should they not be there? Let it be there. See unity in diversity.
Q: Please say something about spiritual materialism.
Sri Sri: I am hearing a new word today. Well, don’t divide life: this is spiritual or this is materialistic. Take a holistic view of life. In a temple there is food. In that sense both material and spiritual aspects are there. Music is both a form of entertainment and spirituality. We even put ornate clothes on our deities. Ancient people never separated the spiritual and material. They enjoyed putting precious jewels in temples.
In South India, in Madurai, kings gave away most of their precious jewels to the temples. Everything co-existed. In the same way you can treat work as worship. It is sacred. Spirituality has entered our material life. Action is sacred. Lord Krishna says, “Janma karma samay divya”. All actions are divine.Lord Krishna himself was very much of the material world except for his discourse to Arjuna. All he did was materialistic. He ruled the country, advised as a minister, and so on. Life should not be compartmentalized. Materialism and spirituality are not opposed to each other.
However, money earned through unethical means is never spiritual. It will pinch your heart. The spirit is awake in you. It is your natural instinct. If you have a plate full of food and someone comes to you, you will not be able to eat it alone. It is such a natural part of your life that you cannot renounce one for the other. Every spiritual person has to do charity. You want to be compassionate, but how can you be when you have nothing to give away. Charity cannot happen with an empty bowl.
Narayana is the pinnacle of spiritual life and Laxmi is the symbol of wealth. Both Narayana and Laxmi go together. Saraswati sat on a rock. The knowledge that you have gained will always be with you. Laxmi sits on a lotus which floats on water. You will never believe what happens in the share market. Wealth is unsteady just as a lotus floating on water. These are the eternal symbols that convey truth. Grasp what is needed. This is very important.
Q: What is the place of thought in a free mind?
Sri Sri: Where does thought come from? It comes from a free mind or an un-free mind? Thoughts are not free. So, you have answered the question. Free your mind of thoughts for a few moments. When astonished, shocked, in deep love, samadhi, meditation or deep sleep, your mind is free from thoughts. You get energized then.