Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: During my meditations, I get sexual feelings. What do I do?
Sri Sri: This is only a stage. It happens in the beginning, when the energy is rising through the chakras. It will pass. Just observe it, honor it, and let it pass.
Q: Where do you see The Art of Living 25 years from now?
Sri Sri: I leave that vision to you. Now each of you must think about how you want The Art of Living to blossom. It’s for you to think about. Today, The Art of Living is all over the world. See it was not too long ago that cell phones were introduced. But it has reached all nooks and corners of the world. Why? Because, it is useful. Similarly, the knowledge of how to connect to one’s mind, how to handle one’s emotions - this knowledge is useful and it will spread.
Q: Please comment on animal sacrifices and tongue piercing in Hinduism.
Sri Sri: Hinduism is a way of life, and it has been around for millions of years. So many practices are just interpolations or add-ons. Imagine that in the winter you have a coat. You come into the house and hang up the coat before entering the house. This then becomes a practice and a rule comes that you can enter the house even in the summer only if you have a coat to hang up. The same applies here. Animal sacrifices have no scriptural sanction. The same thing is true for tongue piercing. Even Lord Krishna says that only a fool would torture his own body.
Q: I have gone through several relationships. I now feel detached from all relationships, but then I feel selfish. What should I do?
Sri Sri: Love can resolve all relationships. See, it does not matter that people think you are a donkey. It does not matter! Just don’t kick them and prove them right! From your side, be pleasant. Expecting nothing from anyone is the way to be happy. When we start expecting, we become miserable.
When you are sad or miserable, have the strength to sacrifice the cause of sadness. All you can pray is, “When I am happy, let me do seva; when I am sad, let me have the strength to renounce.”
A lady once asked, “Why did God make this place so sad?” So that you can turn to Him. Even though the world is so sad, you still cannot drop it! Can you imagine what would happen if it was all good? You have to turn to the Creator through the creation, recognize the Creator inside the creation. It’s like a hologram.
During moments of misery, we need the strength of sacrifice. During moments of happiness, we need to share our happiness.
Q: How can I not see ugly feelings behind ugly words?
Sri Sri: Sometimes people say words and they really don’t feel that way. Don’t you do it sometimes? As children, you say things that you don’t really mean. Kids usually say things they mean. As we grow older, our feelings and words grow apart. They are not the same. Now, don’t worry about what other people are feeling. Feelings are fleeting. One day they feel good, next day they don’t. Don’t bother about this. Simply acknowledge that that person is not feeling good and that they are here to work on it. Our being angry that someone is feeling bad doesn’t make sense. Sometimes their feelings change but your feelings remain the same. Someone puts a doubt in your head and then they forget but you hold on to it. The same is with senior citizens who complain but then forget while you hold on to the complaint.
Look at the present moment - now, now, now! Wake up NOW! Everything else is stupid. All that has happened has gone into emptiness. Everything dissolves into emptiness. Your entire past - wiped out! All the things that you felt are gone. Good or bad, they are gone. So, wake up to the truth of the present moment. Divinity is in the present moment. This is yoga. Yoga is being established in the moment. And moment does not mean fleeting moment. The moment has the depth of infinity; it has all the past and all the future.
Who cares what you feel? Throw your feelings into the ocean. A little sensation or discomfort arises. Who cares? Are you doing what you want to do? And, in doing what you want to do, are you keeping the delicacy of your consciousness or are you being like a bulldozer (I will do whatever I want)? Being like a bulldozer is being insensitive. Being oversensitive and very weak and being like a bulldozer are both not correct. The best combination is being sensitive and strong. This is wisdom and this is what we have to work on.
The effect of past actions is limited. Past actions definitely affect you e.g. you drive fast, get a ticket, and you have to pay. Get three tickets and you have to surrender your license, no doubt. But don’t brood over it. Wake up. When you wake up, even the consequences you fear will not happen. You will be forgiven in that moment. The moment we acknowledge our mistake, we are forgiven. So you are innocent every moment you are awake. Now! Now! Now!
Take the challenge. Whenever someone is nasty towards you, do something so nice that it takes them by surprise. You will suddenly find there is a shift happening. If it does not happen also it is fine. At least you have done something good.
The world is a very funny place, I tell you. Either it is very entertaining or it is such a pain and so miserable! You can’t take it. Sometimes, you do so much for someone and they turn their back and do things that harm you. Many parents say, ‘I did so much for my children and now they are dissociating from me.’ Not just with parents, but same with employers, friends, siblings, and even spouse. Speaking of spouse, there are four stages of marriage. First stage is mad for each other. Second stage is made for each other. Third stage is mad at each other. The fourth stage is mad because of each other.
Q: Are we all part of the Divine Light Source?
Sri Sri: Of course. But until it becomes your experience, keep it at the back of your mind.
Q: Why did God create so many galaxies, universes, people etc? What was His purpose?
Sri Sri: Well, he couldn’t find a better job to do (smiles)!
It’s obvious - you ask someone who is playing soccer. When so many people are fighting over that little ball, if an alien comes and watches 22 people fighting over one ball, he will ask, “This world has so many things, why don’t you just give a ball to each player? They are busy falling over each other and kicking that one ball into the net, and so many people are happy about this. Why cause such a commotion? Just give them a ball and let them put it through the net.”
For an alien, this appears unintelligent and purposeless. But fans of soccer will say, “Oh we had such a fantastic time!” The one purpose of everything that man created is happiness. It is for the same purpose that God created all this. And He is enjoying it like He is watching a soccer game. No other purpose.
Q: What are the qualifications to gain liberation?
Sri Sri: The fact that you are a sane human being is enough and the fact that you are a good human being. And ALL human beings are good!
Unfortunately, some scientists claim that human beings have dark and light sides. So the concept is that half of you is dark and half of you is light. That is not how it is. Just imagine someone coming up to you and saying, “You have a dark side. You could be a murderer.” You would say, “No, I didn’t even dream of something like that!” Then you start wondering, “Oh, maybe there is something like that inside me...” Then you put that seed in yourself and start nurturing that which was not there before.
There is a beautiful verse by the Indian poet Kabir, “I went to find a bad person in the universe, and I found none.” There are negative tendencies in people but that is not the basic human nature. That is only on the circumference. Why is someone behaving negatively? Because they are hurt. A happy, joyful, centered person will never do harm to anyone, even to animals. See, even lions go for prey only when they are hungry, not all the time. That too, they don’t kill other animals out of rage. They do it out of need.
So, these concepts that a person has a light and dark side are man-made, far from reality! Go into the soul, “Satchidananda”- true, blissful: the Consciousness.
A desire has arisen and I want to ask you about this. Give me a glimpse of self-knowledge.
You are getting it. Just relax. See, to catch a train, you have to hurry up, pack your things, go to the train station and get onto the train or go to the airport and catch a plane. But once you are on the plane, relax. Running between aisles holding your luggage will not get you to your destination any faster! Once you are on the path, relax.
Lord Krishna tells Arjuna after he has told him all that Arjuna had to do, “Drop all that, I will relieve you from your sins. You drop all that you are holding onto. Drop even your dharma. I will relieve you from your sins.” Instead, people try to get rid of their sins. That will never happen. The Divine will relieve you of your sins.
All that you need to do is to let go of everything you are holding on to. It is beautiful. First, Lord Krishna makes Arjuna understand Dharma. Then, Arjuna is made to drop all of it. Lord Krishna says, “Take refuge in Me and Me alone. I will relieve you of all your sins.”
Q: I think the biggest botheration I have is my laziness. I don’t feel motivated. I want to do so much.
Sri Sri: Pay someone to be after you when you are lazy. Tell them, “If I am lazy, don’t let me sit and lie down. Come get me with a stick.” Laziness goes away when you have a buddy who is after you. Your spouse would be good here (laughs)!
There are three ways to get over laziness:
One, greed. If you are greedy for something, it will take you out of laziness. If someone tells you, “If you do this pranayama for 40 days, you will get $1 million.” You will say, “I will do for 45 days, just to be sure!”
Two, fear. Fear makes people fall into hoaxes. Some hoaxes even claim to cleanse Karmas. Karmas go away when you meditate. When you are in love, and serve, Karmas are erased. It is unfortunate that people don’t know anything about spirituality - they have neither the experience nor have they read scriptures. This is where the Vedic tradition is important. So many seers laid down the rules. And then authenticated it to make sure it’s not an illusion. But people still go into hoaxes, because of fear.
Three, love. When you are deeply in love, where is the question of laziness?
If none of these three work, revert to my first option. Pay someone to be after you!
Q: Can you equate knowledge with wisdom?
Sri Sri: When knowledge lodges itself firmly in your heart, then it is wisdom.