Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Q: Why are there so many different philosophies?
Sri Sri: Why not? God loves diversity. What if there was only okra to eat? But you have potatoes, tomatoes, beans, all kinds of fruits, vegetables and flowers. God seems to love diversity. He has created so many of us in different shapes, features and colors. He is definitely not a military person, an army general. A spirit that loves diversity must be diverse in itself too. That is what the rishis (Ancient saints) found in meditation. There is only one Ganesh and one Vishnu, but in so many different forms. See unity in diversity and celebrate diversity. Our rishis in the past had spoken of tolerance, acceptance, diversity and equal opportunity. Why the difference? Find the common thread in different religions. According to different places, there are different customs. Time has created differences. There was one Buddha, now we have thirty-two forms of Buddhism, one Jesus Christ and now seventy-two sects of Christianity, and one Prophet Mohammed and now five different sects of Islam. In Hinduism, the variations cannot even be counted! But everyone believes in the Vedas, the Upanishads. How many different sects? Why should they not be there? Let it be there. See unity in diversity.
Q: How do we know that our past karmas have been burnt?
Sri Sri: Just assume it. Just like assuming, 'I am free' makes one free. Believing that past karma has been burnt makes it so.
Q: How does one stop the flow of negative thoughts?
Sri Sri: Negative thoughts are due to three reasons. If your blood circulation is not good, if the lymphatic system is not ok or if bowel movement is irregular. In all these cases negative thoughts are likely. You can go on a fruit diet and cleanse your intestines. Then, pranayama will help. Take Triphala (an ayurvedic supplement) for a few days. Do yoga, pranayama and meditation. You will definitely find a difference. Spiritual practices will also help.
Q: Why does a desire arise? Where does it come from? What is the purpose?
Sri Sri: All desires have got one goal, and that is happiness. If a desire brings unhappiness, it has not reached its goal. The goal of desires is to bring happiness. So, that is the purpose. Where does it come from? It comes when you are not aware of your Being, your Self. Desire is your wanting to stay in the moment. Desire is to experience joy. Joy is only in the moment. And when you are in the moment, there is no desire. When you are joyful, when you are satisfied, there is no burning desire at that time.
Q: Is genetically modified food really dangerous?
Sri Sri: The scientists, who are not employed by these companies, will tell you. The scientists who are not employee of these seed companies can give you the right opinion.
Q: Dear Guruji, I have never been a spiritual or a true religious person. How can I learn to let go and believe?
Sri Sri: You don’t have to label yourself- I am spiritual, religious person etc. No need for it. Just be natural, beautiful, good human being. That’s it!
Q: How does one handle fear of death?
Sri Sri: If you isolate and think only of yourself then you will have the fear of death. Once you are in service, there is no fear of death. Terrorists are committed to something so they are not afraid of life or death. If you want to do good for others, your commitment to it will take care of this fear.
Q: What are effects of Past life karma on the present life? I feel I have done sins in past.
Sri Sri: Don’t waste your energy thinking too much on past life karmas. Use your energy to come out of the present problems. ‘Om Namah Shivaye’ mantra, pranayama, Satsang.. – All these take care of your previous karmas. Surrender all your sins and move further in life.
Sri Sri: First off, don’t make a big deal out of it. To get over it, there are four things that really help a lot 1. Do some creative stuff, lust will simply not bother you when you have a hobby, you do Seva, you cook a meal for someone, or you organize a picnic, whatever. 2. Physical exercise: go jogging, swimming; to the gym, do Suryanamaskars. Sweat it out! It is good for your body and mind, and definitely great to get over any obsession 3. Dancing - Dance to some devotional music, even some soft pop or rock is fine. Move your body with abandon. With eyes closed surrender to the music. 4. And finally Cold water baths!!
Q: I am very interested in working on one of my academic work. It is a big task requiring at least two months of concentrated effort. I need to focus. Although my mind does not wander, I am also not able to focus. I feel as if I my mind is walking around the lake instead of taking a plunge into it. I am confident that I will be able to do the work, but I am not able to achieve that single-minded focus. How to achieve that “meditative focus” or “single-mindedness” about this work? Any light?
Sri Sri: Do you love your work? Once you fall in love with something or are passionate about it, focus comes all by itself. There is nothing to do! And the decision to like something is totally yours. Get it?!