Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri: Do you feel belonging? That is spirituality.
When this belongingness expands to include everyone, then spirituality has grown.
(A girl from the audience asks)
Q: What is the difference between jeeva (individual consciousness) and brahma (infinite cosmic consciousness)?
Sri Sri: Jeeva is a part of Brahma.
The balloon has air outside and inside it. Inside a vessel, there is space and outside there is space as well. The inside space is jeeva,the outside space is brahma.
The jeeva is desire, aversion, craving. All this is the balloon. That is why the Lord is not somebody separate, but it is,‘what I am.’ If the wave asks,‘Where is the ocean then what to say? The wave itself is the ocean. You have to only realize this. That is why it is said that while it takes a moment to break a flower stem, the Divine can be realized in a fraction of that moment.
Q: Thank you for being a part of my life. I worry that I have missed my purpose, or that my purpose is not as great as the one I hoped for.
Sri Sri: You have an important role to play in this phenomenon called Art of Living. Next year, we celebrate 30 years. Drop by drop, what so many people have done has contributed to these 30 years. Be part of satsangs, seva projects. In Haiti and India there are so many seva projects. Even in Canada, Native Americans need help. There are so many things to be done here in the Ashram.
Q: Why do so many religions face east when praying? Is it good to face east when meditating?
Sri Sri: Different reasons exist. The sun rises in the east. So, in the morning, you meditate facing east. But in the evening, you face west because the sun sets in the west. Energy flows from where the sun is. So, when you face the sun, you are balanced. For prayer and meditation, you need balance - balance of mind, posture… See, it does not matter which direction you face when you meditate, as long as you are facing a direction and meditating.
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: What carries the samskaara through different lifetime? The body dies and the consciousness is pure.
Sri Sri: The mind carries the samskaaras.
Q: There is a lot of poverty. How do we find a solution for that?
Sri Sri: One of the main reasons for poverty is alcoholism.
Many villagers spend 60 percent of their earnings in the toddy shop. If you think they are poor, then from where have they got toddy? Villages have risen above the poverty line just by closing the toddy shops. The poorest of the poor can earn and not stay hungry, wherever alcohol has stopped. Youngsters in rural areas are now dealing with this problem.
People of all castes should celebrate together. Everyone should come together for one meal in a week. When people in the village will come together, then the feeling of Dalit and non Dalits will be removed. In every village, ask those who can to contribute for those who don’t have enough. Such development cannot be done by the government alone. NGOs have to initiate this change.
Q: Could you please comment on the Naxalite issue?
Sri Sri: The Naxal problem is not of poverty. A poor man cannot lift a gun or make a bomb. These are people who have wrong education. They say,‘If people can elect us, they can bring us down also. Did Napoleon ask anyone for a vote, did Mao or Stalin ask?’ They feel that they should come to power on their own power.
This education turns people towards violence.People who walk the path of spirituality, who know history,will never go into Naxal activities. They are ignorant of spirituality. That is why spirituality is most important.
That is why I often say Krishna was the first communist. Krishna said, ‘See Me in all and all in Me’. This is the real communism.
Q: How do you know if you really love somebody?
Sri Sri: Suppose you sit for four–five hours. Do you get a pain in your leg? (The girl nods her head.) How do you know? (Sri Sri addresses the audience in general) Our doubt is always about something positive. Someone asks, ‘Are you happy?’ And we say,‘Well…I am not sure.’ You have never doubt your depression.
Q: I cannot accept criticism. So I get disturbed.
Sri Sri: For how long does this happen?For some time right?So, it’s alright. If you think you shouldn't get disturbed, then you get more disturbed. The disturbance doesn't stay for all time.If there is some point in their comments, take it. Welcome the criticism. Is it for your improvement or is it the impression that you have created?
You doubt compliments. So doubt the criticism as well.