Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: I am an ‘Art of Living’ teacher. How do I feel I have done enough service? I always feel I could do more for society?
Sri Sri: Parents never feel that they have given enough to their child, especially to the girl child. The nature of love is like that. Whatever you do in love, you feel you have not done enough. Know that there is something lacking if you feel you have done enough. It is manifestation of love which makes you feel that you can do more. Love is continuous and it never ends.
Q: Guruji it is hard to see people you love harm and victimize themselves. So do we take their responsibility? Where do we draw that fine line?
Sri Sri: Love is not that mushy mushy stuff. Often we confuse our emotional entanglement or mess and give it a name ‘love’. No. Hurt is a part of love. Whenever you love somebody even if they don’t do anything against you, you may still feel hurt. This is because you want to express love fully but love can’t be fully expressed. You can’t and when you can’t you feel something is lacking. And when you feel there is something lacking to commune, you feel hurt. It needs just a little trigger from other person and then you say ‘you don’t care’, ‘you are insensitive’ and ‘let’s sort it out’, and when you talk it out, you make whole mess of it.
In the beginning days of Ashram here, there was a German student who was divorced three times. He came here and fell in love with Italian girl. She didn’t know German and he didn’t know Italian, and both didn’t know English. They came to me to seek blessings, and I said surely but with one condition that the boy shouldn’t learn Italian and the girl shouldn’t learn German. Now they are already happily married for 20 years. It is talking too much that makes a mess of everything. Love is not to be expressed but felt. Dimension of love is different from intellectual talking or expression.
In west love is over expressed. While sitting, standing you keep on telling each other how much do you love, and no love remains in the end. In the beginning you say, “I can’t live without you”, and you end up saying, “I can’t live with you” (laughter). It is entirely opposite in the east. They don’t express it at all. They keep everything inside to boil, but never express love. Both are at loss. I often give example of a seed. Love is like a seed. If you sow it too deeply, it won’t get sprouted. Also, if you put it on the top of ground then also nothing is sprouted. When a little soil is dug and seed is sown, it sprouts up. Same is with love. Don’t express it too much and end up with ‘let’s sort it out’. That middle path is the way.
Q: Why does the divine answer and reward some while prayers of others go unanswered?
Sri Sri: Well, I don’t know why some prayers get answered and some are not. I have no idea. Perhaps it is good for you. Perhaps you may change your mind about what you want. People go to shopping, this often happens at least in India, and ask shopkeeper, “Can I come later and exchange it if I don’t like it”. They go home and don’t like it and get it exchanged next day. Most unreliable thing you have is your own mind because you don’t know what it likes and when it doesn’t like that. That is why bringing mind to its source is so important. Its centeredness is the most important thing in spiritual evolution. Understanding what is transient and what is permanent, what brings you permanent joy and what causes temporary convenience and long term misery, what causes temporary discomfort and permanent joy, and what causes long term discomfort. That is what is called viveka, sense of discretion, wisdom – knowing this from that.
Q: Guruji this question has bothered me for a long time. Billions of people have been born and billions have died. I am born and I will die. Then what is the purpose of life? Why are we here if all are going to die?
Sri Sri: Why not? So many people were born and died, so many are living and they will die and so many will be born in future and they will also die. You are thinking from a business mind – what am I going to get? - What is the aim? What is the purpose? There should be something coming out of everything. So when you think from a business mind, this whole exercise appears totally uneconomical and futile. Biggest disadvantage is that it seems God hasn’t studied economics (Laughter); else Einstein would be given another 100 years so that he could perform some more experiments, discoveries. So many leaves are coming up every spring and then they fall. Such an economical disaster! People are dying and new babies are born, go to school, college – job – get married – have children – and then die again. It appears to be completely bizarre. But that’s how it is.
Q: While Ayurveda is considered to be indigenous system of medicine then why do English medicine has a government take over Ayurvedic medicines. Also English medicine claims to have faster recovery rate?
Sri Sri: You know statistics show contrary to this. Even in modern medicine, the probability factor of medicine not affecting is very high. Research says Placebo effect with modern medicines is nearly 40%. Modern medicines are being discovered every day and those which were used 10 – 12 years ago are being discarded. Problem is that these pharmaceutical companies have lot of economical interest. It is economy which is ruling modern medicine rather than effectiveness. I feel we should have a combined, holistic approach. Ayurveda has some very good qualities, allopathic medicines also have some very good aspects and also homeopathic. Holistic medicine is the best. It is wrong to completely discard modern medicine and it is equally wrong to discard natural cures, ayurveda. Allopathy does well in case of emergency, and ayurveda has a unique way of attending to the root cause of disease and not only symptoms, and healing without side effects. Today many such researches have been done on this and many have experienced this. E.g. Probability of remission of piles by allopathic treatment is very high but in case of ayurveda it is less than one percent. These are the things one should adopt about ayurveda. Ayurveda is anyway adopting modern methods of investigation. So best is to adopt a holistic approach. Our aim is not to benefit pharmaceutical companies but people.
Q: In my country most people are of the opinion that you can’t raise a child without a non - vegetarian diet, as the body will lack in amino acids and the brain won’t function properly. What should I do?
Sri Sri: Ample research has been done to the contrary of this theory. Look into that. There are millions of people who are vegetarian in the west, and they are very brilliant. In fact all the genius people in west including Einstein were vegetarian. Many of the top scientists like Novel Lorex have been vegetarian. This theory that brain doesn’t work needs to be questioned big time.
Q: How to be one pointed on path? There are so many distractions pulling us back.
Sri Sri: With wisdom you come back. This very question indicates you are coming back, in fact you have already come back, and you are not distracted. Through wisdom or misery you are brought back to the center. When you go away from the center, you are beaten; you start crying and then come back to your center. Wise come back to the center through wisdom. The not- so- wise face problems here and there and then come back to the center. This is the law of nature. This is how things are.
Q: What is surrender? Does that mean doing nothing and letting nature do whatever it wants to?
Sri Sri: This word surrender has been used, misused and confused so many times. I think we should use some other word (laughter). Just relax, be in your element, feel the connection, have a sense of belongingness. In fact, the connection is already there, you simply have to feel it. This is a better word. What is it you have that you can surrender? Worries, anxiety, tension, and depression! And that too you don’t know how to surrender. I want to be done away with this word surrender. I want none of you to use this word hereafter. It’s like a straw out of which juice has already been taken out, like sugarcane straw that you keep chewing and nothing comes out of it. Some better word is to be used now. Let go, relax, feel connection and that’s it.
Q: What to do with negative thoughts?
Sri Sri: It is ok to have negative thoughts at times. When you think a negative thought should never arise, then you encourage it. Accept even the most negative thoughts that come to you. Then you find it is not even there. It is just dim energy.
Sri Sri: That which is born from Fullness is worship. When gratitude is overwhelming, the throat chokes in gratitude, and then whatever action you perform in such a state is worship. We surrender everything – that feeling is worship.