Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Is it possible for business people to integrate ethics with their daily work?
Sri Sri: “The reason why unethical things are happening in business is because there is fear within individuals and that fear needs to be addressed by these spiritual practices. Thus, when you fear less; when you want to be trustworthy; when you want to be committed and adhere to the values, you would never commit acts of wrong doing that have the potential to affect the lives of thousands and millions of people. That is why business needs to embrace corporate social responsibility (CSR). It is not just an intellectual thing, it is something that has to come from the heart of every human being”.
“Programme such as ours are designed to facilitate that process. We host ‘business and ethics’ conferences with successful business people who have completed the corporate programme. They come to share their experience on how to be successful and ethical. This inspires other business people to follow in their footsteps. Yet, often people think that if you want to be successful, you cannot be honest, but this is not the case. It is a bubble of illusion.
However, balance is required; you cannot embrace CSR while allowing your company to sink. Equally, you can’t gain at the expense of your employees, who suffer and eventually leave the company. Both strategies rock the boat. You have to achieve perfect balance. You have to look at your gains and how much you care about the people in the company, as well as how much you dedicate to CSR”.
Q: Dear Guruji, I desperately need one good job and visa for some country, please help me!
Sri Sri: Yeah, you pray, you do meditation. Whatever you ask for, you are getting it, right! How many of you are getting whatever you desire? You wish and you are getting, your work is getting done. How many of your wishes are coming true? (many raise hands)
Q: In order for people to feel better, is it a simple case of breathing, meditation and embracing intuition?
Sri Sri: “Correct!. We are not taught at school or at home how to manage negative emotions, like feeling unhappy, sad, jealous or angry. This knowledge has not been provided. But if you are taught how to manage your anger and your own emotions using your own breath, then it does a lot of good. Acquiring that knowledge is possible with the help of breathing and meditation.
I have been in Buddhist and Hindu traditions for centuries, in China, Japan and India, through breathing and meditation. But the difference between our techniques and these old techniques is that ours suit modern-day people who have less time. This technique is so handy, useful and accessible in today’s modern society”.
Q: How do I let go of the past?
Sri Sri: We must always see the past as destiny, future as free will and live happily in the present moment. We do the other way round, what we do? We think the past was free will and the future is all destiny, and you remain in the present inactive and miserable, this is what foolish people do. What do intelligent people do? The intelligent people see the past as it is gone, done, finished and that was meant to be, it was destiny. Something good has happened and you have learnt something, and something bad has happened and you have learnt. Both ways you have learnt, so past is destiny. We can create future now, our spirit has the capacity to see what we want. Future is free will, we are happy and one with everybody in the present. We should find every reason to be happy but what we do, we do the other way round, we find every reason to be unhappy.
Yeah of course challenges come in life, pleasant things happen; unpleasant things happen so what, huh!
Q: I have a very nice family, a lovely and caring husband and three lovely daughters, no financial problem, but on and off I have disturbed moods and emotions without reason! Is this problem inherited from my father as he is a major depression patient? And my grandfather committed suicide long long ago; my father hated my grandfather so much!
Sri Sri: Listen, everything changes! Every cell in your body changes in one year and when you are on the spiritual path, this is accelerated. However the past has been, you simply dump it, drop it, okay!
Yeah, people didn’t know how to handle their mind in those days, but now you know, okay!
The concept, ‘Because of my hereditary problem I am having this mood swing’ will not let your mind be free.
It can all change and it is changing. With the practice of pranayama, you must have already noticed a change. It will continue to improve. Few more advanced courses and little more meditation will also help.
Q: I take a lot of allopathic medicines for body aches, but still I suffer pain here and there in the body.
Sri Sri: We don’t take care of our body, we don’t do enough exercise. We eat all this food with so many chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and all that… all those pesticides get into the body and they cause all this pain, once you detoxify yourself, you will see how this pain will go.
Q: Your organization has touched more than 30 million people in 25 years, yet you have undergone tremendous growth. How did you achieve and organize that?
Sri Sri: “I never organized anything; I just let it grow organically. I was not a stumbling block. The organization is run by volunteers and we have leaders. I lend my name to the projects, and everyone else does the work!
On a serious note, the product that we offer is very useful to people, and we organize a wide range of activities. Our intuition works and any project we take on is a success. We now operate in 151 countries, with 41 main centers, and many local city centers. We also have 100 fee-paying schools and 108 tuition-free schools for the poorest people”.
“The prerequisites for such an organic growth are patience, perseverance and clear intention! This includes clarity of purpose, flexibility to accommodate errors and a long-term vision with good intentions. For any business to grow organically, the leaders must also put a check on any feverishness and not indulge in blame games. This means that they must learn! Learn from the past, have a vision for the future and sustain enthusiasm. They must also have a sense of respect for all, performers and non-performers”.
Q: How can the workplace be improved?
Sri Sri: “One of our programme components is entitled ‘Let out the steam and get into the team’ - that is our slogan. In other words, take off your management shoes and sit with others in your company. Sit and talk to them and share your point of view. This type of interaction is an education. It empowers people and facilitates cooperation. We combine this with breathing techniques and exercises, where participants independently eradicate feelings of stress and take a fresh look at the situation.
For any business, you need intuition-and successful business is directly proportional to the intuition of the boss. Greater intuition translates into greater business success, if your intuition is wrong, you cannot be successful. Our programme is aimed at lessening the stress and enhancing intuition-this also brings out creativity and enthusiasm in the workplace.
In today’s hectic world, people are often exhausted, and there is so much illness. Mental ill health costs the European Union an estimated 3 to 4% of its GDP, and this cost runs into hundreds of billions of euros. According to the World Health Organization, mental ill health accounts for 20% of the burden of disease in Europe, and mental health problems, including depression, affect one in four individuals at some time in their life. These techniques, taught in the course, of lifestyle change can help people enormously to overcome their illness”.
Q: Dear Guruji, I like a person C and E. The problem is I do not know whom to choose. C loves me a lot where as I find it a challenge to love E. So whom should I chose?
Sri Sri: you know what I say in all these cases, choice is yours, blessing is mine!
If I make a choice for you, then anytime you will have any fight with that person , you will say, “I did not choose you. Its only because of Guruji that I married you”. Then not only you but I will also be in trouble! So, the best thing is you choose, okay and know that you will choose only the best. Whomsoever you choose will be the best for you. The other one which you have not chosen is never going to be best for you. This much I assure you.
Q: What is the starting point for leaders?
Sri Sri: “I believe the starting point for leaders is the boardroom; the office. To create an atmosphere of celebration, you need the right attitude and you have to bring in that attitude. This may require some form of teamwork, others need to instill it. An atmosphere of celebration, of trust, cooperation and a sense of belonging, all have to come. I have no doubt that there is a willingness among people to refresh themselves, they just need to have it put in front of them in an effective, viable way. They need to be given the opportunity.
A business won’t last if it focuses only on productivity and net result. The company ultimately suffers because the creativity, the strength and the sense of belonging will ebb away. Similarly, the ‘command and control’ system-the military system-no longer works. Only inspiration and motivation are effective tools. For that, one can apply some of the ancient principle from different parts of the world in the workplace, to make the work more enjoyable.”