Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Why do we experience death and rebirth again and again? What does it do for us?
Sri Sri: Well, Ground hug day!
Q: I was wondering what exactly the mind is. Is it a little space in our brain or is it universal? And yes, I want to tell you that you rock.
Sri Sri: Mind is energy which is all over the body. See, every cell in your body is emitting some energy and the totality of all that energy around you is what you call the mind. Mind is not present at some point in the brain, but mind is all over the body. There is so much deep knowledge about consciousness; we should sometime go much deeper into it. We will understand more. The more you understand, the more wonder-struck you are. Wow!
You know, people have phantom hand, that means they really don’t have a hand, but they feel they have a hand and they feel sensations like itching or paining in that hand. People who have lost their hand or leg in a war or accident, later sometimes, they feel they have a phantom hand or a leg. Though, they don’t have it physically. That explains or gives a clue that the mind is not just in one spot, it is all around the body. The aura of body is mind. We think that mind is inside the body, it is the other way around - Body is inside the mind. Body is like the wick of the candle and mind is like the glow all around.
Q: Dear Guruji, we have come here to appreciate silence more and more. I love it here but there are times when I would rather be alone and stay in silence. When I go to office or any social place like that, do you think too much silence is a bad thing?
Sri Sri: Balance! Balance in life. Anything too much is no good. Too much talking is no good; too much silence is not for you now.
Q: Where do negative thoughts come from? If they come in me, does that mean I am negative or bad? I refocus on thoughts again and again, but they come back. I judge them, I don’t like them and I think about judgment, but I am not able to get rid of those? What should I do?
Sri Sri: Now, there is a problem. You chase them and they come to you multiplied. Just give them a tight hug and you will suddenly find they have disappeared. They are scared of your hug, but they are fond of you chasing them. So, they come back again for you to chase them again, again and again.
If too many negative thoughts are coming, reason is lack of circulation in you. Do a lot of exercises. I think you have too much free time to sit and think. If you keep yourself busy, less of negative thoughts will come. If you are constipated, for sure you will have negative thoughts. So, set your bowel movements correct. That will also help you. If vatta, pitta or kapha imbalance comes, then also you will have too many negative thoughts. Ayurveda herbs will help for that. You can take 2-3 triphla tablets in night, and something to soothe your nervous system, like shatavari. These herbs calms and soothes the system.
The company you are in can also affect the mind. Company of people who are negative, can also affect the mind.
One last thing that affect is time. Certain times, certain planetary positions and certain cosmic energies can all affect your mind. But all this will pass. Don’t be paranoid about anything. Just know that time moves on.
Q: An ‘Art of Living’ teacher once said that God created us and He is perfect. So, we are perfect. That’s believable. We are perfect, so shouldn’t an engineer’s work be perfect? How come it is not?
Sri Sri: The question is perfect and the answer is even more perfect. Everything in the universe is moving from one level of perfection to another level. Milk is perfect and when it turns into yogurt, yogurt is perfect. You take out cream from yogurt, and that is perfect, and then you make butter, and that is also perfect. This is one way of looking at it. The other side of looking at it is, the milk got spoil and you make cheese out of it. When yogurt got spoil, it became imperfect and you took butter out of it. This is another way to look at it. It all depends on how you look at it. It’s imperfection that gives value to perfection. Isn’t it so? How can you call something perfect? Because there is something which is not perfect. So, the existence of something which is not perfect is absolutely essential to understand something that is perfect. So, the imperfect makes the perfect, perfect!
Q: Beloved Guruji, I see you in my thoughts and my dreams. I am free and completely surrendered in my thoughts and dreams. But why is my experience different when I meet you here. Also why don’t I get to spend time with you in person?
Sri Sri: You are spending time with me here. You take up some project and you will definitely get to spend time with me.
Q: Dear Guruji, many of us who are on the spiritual path desire self-realization not only for ourselves but for society at large. Has such an enlightened human society ever existed on this planet, and is it utopian for one to desire this for our society in the future?
Sri Sri: You should desire for utopia, you should have dream. You know, what you think impossible, you should really dream for it and make it possible. We did one village like that in India. There was a notorious village, notorious in the sense that nobody would go into the village after five or six o’ clock, because of robbers, thieves, full of crime and a lot of problems. This village was adopted by one of our teachers, and you know, what he turned that whole place into in three months? Unbelievable! He took this village and made everyone do the course. Now, everybody in the village, Young and old, sing and dance in the satsang everyday. They have made a rule that anybody, who smokes or drinks or any substance abuse, will be fined. So, the village is free of smoking and drinking, the entire village has become organic, and they have a shop without a shopkeeper. I have also brought a CD of this village.
In my last trip, Swami Pragyapalji told me that we have such a village, and that there is a shop without any shopkeeper but the shop runs very well. People take the needed stuff and put the money in the basket there. People were all astonished that the village has been running like this since the last two and half years. A shop without a shopkeeper and nobody steals. And they have removed locks from all the doors. No door has any locks, no house has any locks and it has become the most self-sufficient village. It has pure drinking water and the entire village is painted in pink color. Everybody chose to have pink color on their walls as a symbol of unity. Both the government of India and government of Maharashtra gave this village cash awards calling it the most ideal village. So, one teacher, if you could imagine something that is thought of as utopia, made it possible.
After seeing this, 180 villages are on the way to become ideal villages.
In New Delhi, few volunteers thought to clean the Delhi for Asian games are coming. In India, there is lot of garbage here and there, and people don’t keep streets clean. They would take things out and dump those in streets. So, they started with this idea to clean Delhi.
They thought to forget about government for everyone keep blaming the government. You cannot imagine what a group of few ‘Art of Living’ volunteers have achieved? They inspired one million people to come up and take the brooms, take the plastic bags and segregate the garbage, and clean the whole city. They could gather one million volunteers in a city of 15 million people, and they are doing this from 12th of September. The Delhi government, who was never cooperative with the ‘Art of Living’, in the sense they never came to any of our functions, suddenly woke up and decided to help them. Now, the government is announcing the great job done by the ‘Art of Living’ volunteers.
So, you should think, plan and dream what you really want. It may not happen immediately but you can achieve that.
Q: What is the relationship between seeker, guru and the Divine?
Sri Sri: The beginning, middle and end of a same line. It is the seed, the plant and the tree.
Q: Please, please, please, please answer my question. Dear Sri Sri, when there is love, why suffering is also there in a relationship?
Sri Sri: Love with wisdom is bliss. Love without knowledge or wisdom is pain. Why is there pain in love? That is what you are wondering or questioning about! It is not love which is giving you pain. If it is just purely love, that means you just care for someone, you want the best for them, and then there is no pain. But when you want something in return from them or you have demands from them, then there is pain. Small things like you love somebody and they didn’t smile at you, that is enough! You love somebody and they are interested in someone else, they flirt around or complement someone, good enough for you to burn the next 24 hours or days. Jealousy, hatred, greed, arrogance and attachment are all love’s distortions. Love by itself doesn’t bring a misery. That is why knowledge and centered-ness are so important. If you centered, you can handle all these distortions, they come for a while and they disappear.
Doesn’t matter, I will handle! I can easily manage people from falling!
Q: Guruji, is there any particularly good direction to sit in to practice our spiritual practices, and also when you are sleeping?
Sri Sri: Any direction is OK. Usually, you face the sun if the sun is there, east and west during sunrise and sunset respectively. When sun has already set and it’s dark, usually we face the north.
But that is not so important.
Why do we face the sun in the morning or evening? This is because force of energy is from one direction. So, if you are sitting facing one side and force is from the other side that means there is no balance on the other side. Suppose, you have one light here, and no light there, then there is an imbalance between the right and the left. So, sitting accordingly balances the right and the left. You are to balance right and left for meditation. So, it is said that way. But it is secondary, not even secondary, it is tertiary. It is not that important.