Q: If God is omnipresent and one feels strong connection to the Guru, is it still needed to go to temples. What is the significance of rituals? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, you do not need to go to any temple, mosques, or churches or anything. Wherever you are, sit and meditate, there you find the presence of the Divine.But rituals are good to have in life; a little bit of them. Not too much.
Without rituals, life becomes a little dry and monotonous. It is the rituals that brings a certain flavor, a certain celebration, a certain color to life. So I would say, we must have some rituals from time to time; it is good.
In this country you will also
find this in buses. Every
bus driver, taxi drivers, car
drivers, rickshaw drivers,
the first thing in the
morning they put a small
flower or light an incense
stick and bow down. And
this little thing they do
makes a qualitative
difference in their lives.
See, walk into a house where they have no rituals at all, and then walk into a house where everyday they light a lamp, or light an incense stick, and where there is a sanctity; there is a difference in the atmosphere.How many of you have noticed this?
There is a certain difference.It creates a sort of atmosphere.The subtle becomes more alive there, isn’t it?
So a little bit of ritual is good in everyday life. In the morning when you wake up, sit and meditate.Of course you should do pranayama along with meditation.
Even if one person in a house lights a lamp somewhere; everybody does not need to do it, just one person in a home lights a lamp, it enlivens the whole atmosphere.This is what I have seen practically.
I have visited so many homes; small, big, huts, bungalows, and everywhere I have seen one thing for sure, even in a small hut, they have a little altar and they have a candle or something there, and the whole atmosphere has some subtleness to it, something nice about it.
In a home where there is nothing, no symbol of sacredness or no lamps are being lit, you get in and there is a certain dullness.
I have noticed this.That is why I would say, a little altar in a home and some ritual is good.Any one person can do it;the lady of the house can do, or the man of the home can do it. And it also good for children to see that there is something that they should do to get that flavor of religiosity, or spiritualness.
In this country you will also find this in buses.Every bus driver, taxi drivers, car drivers, rickshaw drivers, the first thing in the morning they put a small flower or light an incense stick and bow down. And this little thing they do makes a qualitative difference in their lives.
Even in shops and hotels in India they have an altar.
You can ask them, ‘Why do you do this?’ Maybe someone can do some research on it.
It gives them some sort of psychological strength. In some subtle way it enlivens the atmosphere. This is what I feel.
In India, in the government offices they do.Every officer in their office, they have an altar.
In Karnataka it is a little too much.If the chief minister has to take an oath, or get into a new office, they do a thorough puja ceremony there and everything.
World over this is there. Even in the US senate and in parliament of Canada, every day they have a moment for prayer.There is a pastor for every parliament who comes and reads from the Holy Bible.
Only in India we talk about secularism and secularism. It is a sort of disease that we try to keep away from all the wisdom, knowledge and ancient traditions. People try to do this but it does not really happen. It is so deeply embedded in everyone.
Q: Gurudev, what is the best way to deal with any kind of injustice? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Sometimes what you think as injustice may not be so from the other person’s point of view. It may not be injustice at all.
You need to stand up against injustice, but with wisdom and with awareness, because everyone who gets annoyed or angry they will always say,‘I am resisting the injustice’.
Behind the flame of anger, there is a cry for justice, or a demand for justice.But when you analyze, go deep into it, it may not be correct at all.It may not be right at all.
So that is why I would say, you should first analyze from a calm mind, and then take a stand against injustice.
Q: Gurudev it is said that on the spiritual path celibacy is an important component for progress. How to bring about celibacy in the mind? Is celibacy something physical or more in the mind? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is both.Celibacy happens, you cannot force it on yourself.
See, if you have an exam and you are studying for the exam, on those days, all students inevitably say, ‘We have no thoughts of sex, we are so busy with our exams.’
Similarly, you have a very important project to complete and you are working hard, then also celibacy happens automatically.
Also through meditation;when energy rises in you, you find such bliss, such thrill, and such ecstasy within you that celibacy happens automatically. In fact, it is a pain to be outwardly.
Celibacy is the effect of the mind being inward, when you see that all this is nothing; everything is nothing. If at all anything is happening, it is happening from the subtle plane .Connection with the subtle plane makes actions here almost irrelevant,and that is when celibacy happens.
That does not mean you should say, ‘Oh, when it happens, let it happen, right now let me be indulgent. No!’
Celibacy is the effect of the
mind being inward, when
you see that all this is
nothing; everything is
nothing. If at all anything
is happening, it is happening
from the subtle plane.
Connection with the subtle
plane makes actions here
almost irrelevant, and that is
when celibacy happens.
One professor from Middle East said something very interesting. She said that every fluid in the body is connected to the fluid in the brain, and any fluid lost causes the brain fluid to go down by 20%. It is a big research work that they have been doing.
So that is why, in the past people have said that if you are a student, and you need to do brainy work, then you must attach celibacy with it.
So, the first 25 years, one should practice Brahmacharya(An educational period which starts before the age of puberty, characterized by the practice of strict celibacy).
And then from 25 to 50 years - Grihasthashram (Family life). Then you can have the pleasure and enjoyment of family life, but not after 50.
After 50, slowly you have to come down, otherwise it will become an obsession for you.
When people have this obsession, the body cannot perform, but the mind is feverish about it.Body and mind should go together. Otherwise, this is a sort of disease I would say, like bulimia.Your body says no more food, but the mind says, no, stuff more in.
Like this, people who are 70 or 80, they go and sit and watch pornography, even though they cannot do anything!This is a sorry state of affairs.This is not Brahmacharya.It is the mind that is not in the right sense.
Moderation is what is called Brahmacharya; moderation is celibacy.
Q: Dear Gurudev, the food that we eat today have so much chemicals and the government policies promote these. How to tackle this?
Please also talk about organic food and organic farming. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Organic farming is the future of Earth.
If we want the earth to sustain itself, we have to go organic. There is no other way.
There are people who are so greedy and selfish that they do not care for the planet, and so they promote these harmful things to the farmers. One or two crops come very good, and that tempts the famers and they take it. Once they take it, then from the third or fourth crop, everything goes down and even the land gets spoilt. The land becomes unfit for cultivation. This is the problem.
That is why we have established an agricultural institute to teach farmers organic farming; the ancient type of farming.
In ancient days, they would put three crops together. So even if one crop dies the other two crops are there. So people were never starving. They never went bankrupt, or never went into loss.
They would put, let us say, sugarcane along with some pulse, so that if one crop fails, the other two will be there. Usually all three crops would yield and it would fix the content of nitrogen in the soil all by itself, because of the variety. This is the kind of farming that one has to revert to.
We have to do Agnihotra (a Vedic yagna) and that will take care of harmful insects and pests. So you do not need to put pesticides.Then there are natural pesticides like cow urine, Neem leaves and several other things like that.
So we need to revert to this type of farming which does not spoil the water, the Earth and the health of the people.
Q: Gurudev, I lost three people in my family because we went to three wrong doctors. What are we doing wrong with the medical services, and how can we improve it? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This doctors should sit and discuss.
First of all I would say, doctors should meditate.When they meditate, their minds will become clear and they can tap into the intuitive ability deep inside them.
This is what Ayurveda doctors do, they just hold your pulse and they diagnose what is wrong with you.Even to do this, they should meditate, that is very important.The mind should be vibrant to tap into the inner source of intuition.
See if they do not have intuition, then they are groping in the dark seeing what medication is to be given.That is why, though many have become doctors, only some doctors have the reputation of healing people. Why? This is because they have this gift of tapping into their intuitive ability and giving the patient the right medicine.
Doctors should meditate and then from a calm mindthey should diagnose and take a decision.
When you want an arrow
to go forward, you pull it
backward, right? Similarly,
effortlessness gives you
deep rest, and that helps
you to tap into the source
of intuition, creativity, and
energy. Then you come out
and act from that.
Recently I read a survey by AIMS where they found that 60% of the doctors are themselves sick.Their attention span is so less.That is why the nurse has to count the number of instrument that they give the doctor for the operation, and then count again how many they have received back.Many times they leave the forceps, knives or needles inside the body and stitch it.
So they make a list of how manyinstruments they gave and how many came back.
So, every doctor needs to take some time out and relax, they cannot afford to be stressed.
Pilots, people working in the air control towers, doctors, these are the professions which need a lot of mental energy. They need to be on their toes all the time. They need to be alert. They cannot afford to make even one small mistake.
Someone sitting in the air control tower cannot just doze off even for a minute, he has to be very precise and very alert. But how can they do it if they do not have the mental energy or meditative awareness?That is why meditation is a must for these people who have high pressure and high risk jobs.
Q: Gurudev, how can being effortless make me successful in life? Please elaborate. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Like when you want an arrow to go forward, you pull it backward, right? Similarly, effortlessness gives you deep rest, and that helps you to tap into the source of intuition, creativity, and energy. Then you come out and act from that.
You cannot say, ‘I will not put any effort to learn sitar or guitar, but I want to be a great sitar player’, it is impossible. You have to put effort. At the same time, effortlessness helps you to put effort.
Q: Would every soul attain Moksha some day? How long will this earth continue and will we all have grace in next birth also? Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You ask about yourself. Why do you ask about all the souls in the world? Do all the souls want moksha first of all? They may not even want; correct!
You know, sometimes we make generalized statements and we ask these generalized questions also.I have no idea whether all the souls will find moksha, but if you want to have it, yes, it is possible.You have all the chances.
Let us finish it in this life, why do you drag me to the next life also.
God is in every form. There is no place where God is not there. So God is everywhere.