Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Can it be said that in the Art of Meditation, the mind leads the body and in kriya, the
body leads the mind to the same end? Can you please elaborate?
Sri Sri: You can’t say that the body leads the mind or the mind leads the body. What you can say is that the body, breath and mind getting into the rhythm is Sudarshan kriya. Finding that inner harmony and depth, and manifesting it on the surface, on the physical level of the body and breath is meditation. Through mantra, you go to the deepest level of your consciousness and bring that to expression in your day-to-day activity. That is meditation.
Q: In the Udhava Gita, Krishna says when a man is close to enlightenment, the gods or devas (Specific Divine energies) send him a woman. This is the ultimate distraction. In this life, do we always look
at women as a barrier to spiritual growth? What about the sanctity of male-female love?
Does it have no place in the space of divine love?
Sri Sri: So, what is your question? Why Krishna said that to Udhava? Well, Krishna said many different things to different people at different times. Now, I am not going to be an advocate for Krishna right now. But if he has said this to Udhava, it must be at a particular stage of time, right? But for you, if you have fallen in love with somebody, there is no problem. You can definitely get married. Don’t think there is no place for romance or romance is against spirituality. No, it is not. Promiscuity is against spirituality. Unethical exploitation of others is against spirituality. But if you are genuinely in love with a girl, and she is in love with you, it’s okay. But if you are in love with somebody and she is in love with someone else, then you are in trouble and she is in trouble. The only person who would benefit in this case is the telephone company! And if you are in love, and your parents agree then it’s great. But your romance should continue later too with the same person.
Last month, a boy got married here and he said, I’m getting married to the same girl forthe third time – first time was in America, then in Delhi and now, here. This way, youcan celebrate your romance every day. Spirituality is against any type of corruption. Inthe name of romance, if we are getting into lust and exploiting people, that is not right.
Romance is 'I am here for you. I want to share whatever I have with you.' It should comefrom a space of giving rather than grabbing. That romance is spiritual. In fact, in India the concept of romance with the divine was brought out. Radha-Krishna are very well known throughout the country.
Krishna told Udhava that this is all a distraction for you. At that time, Udhava was also quite old. If you also come here after 50 years and tell me that you have fallen in love with someone, I will say this is a distraction. Right now at 25, if you come here and tell me that you are in love, I’llsay go ahead. But at the age of 55!
Q: Why does one marry? What is the secret of a successful marriage?
Sri Sri: A successful marriage is when both are happy. Then the children will also be happy. You choose! Choice is yours and blessings are mine. This is something that you don’t choose with your head. If something clicks in the future, make a choice.
Q: Guruji, how does it differ from techniques involving concentration or contemplation?
Sri Sri: Usually, we sit and contemplate on some knowledge, on some scriptures. We are keeping our mind active. The mind is thinking and thinking and thinking. Thinking is also an activity and does not bring any rest to the mind. So contemplation should never be called meditation.
Concentration involves a lot of effort. You are trying to focus your mind to stay in one place, which is not its nature. Mind jumps from one thing to another and it goes from something which is charming to something which is even more charming.
Mind always flows towards something that is even more charming. When you are having very good food then you are attentive with the food. However when something on television comes or a beautiful scenery comes, you forget about the food and watch the scenery.
You mind goes from this to that. You mind always goes from one thing to another and it always goes to something that is more enjoyable. At least, it perceives that something is more joyful. It may not really be the source of joy. In fact, it is not.
Concentration is – trying to focus the mind on one point against its nature. So we are forcing our mind. Children get into so much stress and tension because their mind is forced on something which is not in their natural taste. They are forced to study such topics for which they have the least inclination. Then, it causes so much strain.
Concentration again is tremendous effort. So, it can’t be meditation. Though, you willneed concentration in life. Now, both concentration and contemplation are results of meditation – they are not meditation itself. Meditation is effortless!
When the mind takes the deepest rest, it becomes so fresh and alive. And after that deep rest, your concentration is spontaneous. It’s natural. Concentration becomes effortless.
You are able to contemplate well without strain. Meditation unfortunately is understoodto be another concentration or contemplation in many parts of the world. But it is not.
Meditation is the art of doing nothing. It’s the skill by which you make your mindbecome quiet and do nothing and experience the vastness of space deep within.
So, effortlessness is the key to meditation. And if we can do a few minutes of meditation, you will find that concentration has improved and your intellectual abilities are boosted.
Q: Guruji, how is it different from the meditative state that comes with the practice of Sudarshan kriya?
Sri Sri: Sudarshan kriya leads you to that inner space - a state of thoughtlessness, a state of stillness and the art of meditation helps you go deep into that state. So, they complement each other. If you meditate after the Sudarshan kriya, your meditation is deeper. And ifyou are meditating regularly, the kriya becomes easier and more natural.
Q: Could you talk about the sound OM and its significance?
Sri Sri: It is also called the sound of one-hand clapping. The sound which is generated in the universe, not out of friction! Om is universal sound, so when people went deep in meditation, they heard it and they’ve been using it for millions of years. Recently, scientists who mapped the sound on the computer said that it has the same frequency as earth’s rotation around its own axis.
In the sound Om, our Prana covers our whole body. Om has such a resonance with nature - if you stand by the ocean and listen to the waves rolling, you will hear the sound Om. You go on top of a mountain and just listen to the wind blowing, you will hear the sound Om.
Maharishi Patanjali - the profounder of yoga said to ward away all the obstacles in life, Om can be practiced. It is one of the methods that he enunciates. Before meditation, when we sit and chant Om three times, and then use our mantra – whatever mantra we have been given, then, meditation goes very deep.
In China there is a very famous doctor who was suffering from seven major illnesses and he shared his experience. He said that it was his experience that he used to have 500 grams of medication everyday to no avail. Then, he started singing Om for one to two hours every day and in two years he was relieved of all diseases that were thought to be incurable. And his colleagues were surprised. Now this gentleman is calling it the music therapy and he is teaching this to people in China on national television.
When he shared his experience, I thought it is exactly what Maharishi Patanjali has said in the yoga sutras - Ek tatva abhyasa (practice the one tatva, one principle that is Om). It’s called music therapy in China, singing Om. Sound is nothing but energy. It’s nothing but electricity. Our whole body is nothing but electricity. And it can make a big impact on the cells of our body.
Q: Guruji, how does Om differ from other forms of meditation?
Sri Sri: There are so many different kinds of meditation. Each one is unique in their own fashion. No need to compare them. For many this may suit, for many others, that may suit. And different times, different meditations may suit. Omkar is always good to begin with, however don’t use it as a mantra in meditation.
Q: These days most Gurus have long hair and long beard. Is it a dress code?
Sri Sri: 'Yes, you can call it as dress code. The long hair is like an antenna to receive messages from God and the long beard is like an earthing to transmit those messages to the people.
Q: How does it differ from our guided meditation?
Sri Sri: In guided meditation, you don’t have to do anything. Meditation will be done for you. Just feel, "Divinity is doing meditation for me, let me just relax". Someone else is piloting the plane and you simply have to fasten the seat-belt, sit back and relax.
Don’t use Om as a mantra for meditation be cause then there is an effort. It is good to enhance the prana as pranayama in the beginning or in the end. But don’t sit and say, om om om. It may shoot up your energy too much and you may not know how to handle it. You may not get sleep.
In the beginning we chant Om three times, five times or seven times, and relax.
Q: Could you please discuss the value of Vedic tradition of masters who have preserved
this meditation for thousands of years in its purity? Why is this important? Can we
describe the Art of Meditation as a gift from the masters of the holy tradition?
Sri Sri: From thousands of years, many sages down the line have preserved this art of meditation and it is a gift to the humanity. In the middle ages, people thoughtit should only be given to a very qualified student and real seeker. They used to give it only to a sincere seeker. But I thought, on the contrary, if you give meditation to somebody, sincerity will blossom in their lives. So, I thought (I should) give it to everybody and it will bring a change in the quality of their life. And when they want higher knowledge, they will go deeper into it. So, for everyone it brings some benefit or the other. To whatever extent they go into it! I usually give the example of the ocean. Some people take a walk along the beach and they get good oxygen, fresh air and they are happy with that.
Others would put their feet in the water and feel that scintillating impact of the ocean.
Some others go surfing or scuba-diving and they find corals and precious things. So, it’sup to you – if you want to take a walk on the beach or go for a swim or go deeper and go scuba-diving, Ocean is there available to you. It is the same with meditation. You can do meditation to improve your health or your mental faculties or further if you want to go, spiritual elevation can happen in the same meditation.