Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Dear Guruji, in the Ashtavakra Gita, it is said that we should only speak when a question is asked. How does this go together with our wish to bring more people into this knowledge?
Sri Sri: No, no, you do it. "Talk only when a question is asked" is for sensitive and evolved people. Different instructions are given for different level, and different sections of society. It’s not the same for everybody.
Q: Please tell about relationships and why they are often so difficult.
Sri Sri: Well! You should again start reading celebrating love. Why do you think relationship is difficult?
Q: What is the connection between being like a child and taking a responsibility?
Sri Sri: You take the responsibility, that’s another thing ; being like a child does not hinder your responsibility. In fact it helps you take a responsibility.
What is the difference between being like a child and being childish? In childishness, you don’t take responsibility! Being like a child you take responsibility, yet you are natural, be connected with every body, take feedback from every one, and not get upset about someone’s comment about you or a criticism. You know, we explode when someone makes a negative remark on us or someone criticizes us. So, we should stand up to the criticism, and take criticism freely. If it is useful, inculcate it. And if not, ignore it without losing your cool.
Q: How to deal with and work with the people who have negative qualities like aggression, jealousy, instability and so on?
Sri Sri: Skillfully. See that you don’t react to them but with compassion, see how you can work with them. Yeah? One thing is it can improve your skills. Second is it can improve your patience. You can gain patience. Third is it will make you realize that the person is not constantly jealous or angry. They also change! You will see and wonder on how people change.
Q: How important is it that we act for planet? What can we do? How do we sustain?
Sri Sri: We need to wake up and see that planet is our home and when you go higher, you don’t see borders. Borders are our understanding, our illusions. There really is no border. Sky knows no border, clouds know no border, wind knows no border. The elements of this earth have no borders. The planet is one home for every one. We are all one family. So, we need to think from a broader perspective. Which is the correct perspective? That the whole planet belongs to us. We cannot dump our nuclear waste into some other place.
Any place in the earth will again come back to us! We cannot keep one place clean and pure in isolation. It is not possible. We have to care for the whole planet. We have to make the entire planet organic. When it comes to making food, growing food; you cannot say, “ok, I’ll grow organic food only in this part and rest other parts can be pollute with chemicals!” Because the air will carry! We have created so many types of viruses on this planet. Because we meddled with nature. We have destroyed many species on this planet because we have not taken good care of it and our food production has gone so low. That it’s going to be a very heavy thing on the coming generation, you know! I think every individual, every human being on the planet will have to take responsibility of not polluting the planet, of continuing sustainable development by planting more trees, preserving our lakes, preserving water. It is so important!
Water scarcity is another big issue in the world. Millions of people are into starvation! So, we need to have a global picture and care for the whole planet. Of course, we need to care for our immediate home, our immediate neighbors, the place where we live in. This is most important! But at the same time, we should have the idea about the whole planet and the entire humanity being a family.
Q: Where is the line between accepting things as they are, and action to change them?
Sri Sri: There is no line. These are two sides of the same coin.
Q: Dear Guruji, It’s very hard to see my father in negativity. The more we, my brother, sister and I go into spirituality, the harder and worse it becomes for him. He thinks we have not achieved much in life. None of us have married. He craves for grand children, which we understand. He suffers a lot and that makes it hard for me to see. God has given me all that I need and want. How can I help my parents?
Sri Sri: We can do whatever we can do in our capacity. Spend quality time with them, don’t teach them. When you are with them, don’t give them lessons, or tell them what they should be, what they should not do. Don't tell them, "You should be spiritual like me." Don’t give them such sermons. You know, elderly people just need your company. When you are with them, just sing, just play with them, crack jokes and bring them food or have food with them. Talk something which is of interest to them. They are not interested in listening to wisdom from you, or learning any new techniques from you. Don’t behave like a teacher with your elderly parents. Casually, you may give a few words of wisdom. Observe if they are absorbing it. Otherwise, just being with them is good enough.
Q: After some ‘Art of Living’ Courses, I have felt so happy. I thought I would explode. After a while, I realized that it was not only happiness, but also feverishness. Then I got depressed. It was like an emotional roller-coaster. How can I handle feverishness?
Sri Sri: You have already become a witness to it. You have observed that you are on a roller-coaster. You observe these emotions are coming and going. Notice, earlier too the emotions were there. But now it is reducing. Before you were not aware, at least now you are aware of it. Just persistence on this path, in this knowledge makes you stronger, hmm!
Q: Dear Guruji, it is easy for me to shut my mouth, but it is difficult for me to shut my thoughts. How can I do it? Please help me.
Sri Sri: You don’t need to do anything. Everything is done here for you. Hiren is giving all the courses, he will lead you at different times to different types of meditations and processes, and it’ll happen. That’s why you need to be here. If it’s your first Advanced Meditation Course, you may find it a little difficult but when you continue, you will definitely find it very useful.
Q: I want to understand about desires and how we are meant to deal with them. I feel that I shouldn’t be in desires, yet, I want to achieve things or find myself attracted to another person. If we don’t have desires, where do motivations in life come from? Thank you.
Sri Sri: Fine, have desires. Who said no? Have desires. But the desires should not have you, you should have desires. It is like the horse is in control of you, and you are not in control of the horse. If you are not, then it’s a difficulty.
There is a story of Mulla Nasruddin. He was on the horse. And the horse was going round in circles, on the same streets! So people asked him, “Mulla, where are you going?” He said, “I don’t know, ask the horse!”
Most of the time in our life, we are in similar situation. Our desires have us and they ruin us. Instead, you should have desires. You should be able to drop them any time you want to, and have them any time you want to! You should be able to get on to the horse when you want to, and get out of the horse when you don’t want! Rather than getting stuck in the horse, or allowing the horse to throw you down. That is more misery.