Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India

May 25: "The observer has an impact on the observed’ - Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was the key note speaker at the centenary celebrations “Are you feeling at home?” asked Gurudev right at the onset. He then shared - “Our ancient scriptures have always said that true learning happens in a relaxed environment where an exchange of ideas takes place through enquiry and questioning.”

Q and A followed in the relaxed atmosphere of the auditorium. Excerpts:

Q:Is life governed by free-will or destiny?
Gurudev: Life is a combination of both. There are some things which are beyond your control. That is your destiny. Then there are things where you have a choice. That is free-will. If it’s raining outside, it’s your destiny as you have no control over the weather. However, to be wet or remain dry is your free-will. Past is your destiny, future is your free-will. And be happy in the present. A foolish person looks at the past as free-will with regret, future as destiny and is miserable in the present.
Q:What is true love?
Gurudev: If you have a doubt, it is true love. We always doubt the positives. We doubt our capabilities. We doubt our happiness but are 100 percent sure of our depression. We doubt a person’s honesty and doubt the existence of higher power. So what is true love? Time will tell you. Love is what we are made up of. All negative emotions are offsprings of true love. Love without wisdom makes life miserable. Love with wisdom is bliss.
Q:How can we attain that wisdom?
Gurudev: By adopting an attitude of enquiring.
Q:How can love move science?
Gurudev: When love for science is intense, it is already moving the world. The ultimate aim of a researcher is not to earn a livelihood. If the main aim of a researcher is to earn a livelihood, it is not a best quality research. It has to lead to a soul-search. Research is to know. The joy of knowing is itself the goal. Getting recognition is immaterial.
Q:How do you know what level of spirituality you are at?
Gurudev: It depends on how often your buttons can be pushed. If you have no buttons to be pushed then you are very strong.
Q:Who am ‘I’? And what ‘that’ is? Can these two questions coexist?
Gurudev: Of course yes. The theory of relativity has already accepted this. The observer has an impact on the observed. This was taught some thousands of years ago. But people kept it a secret. This is where we missed out.
Q:What is true happiness?
Gurudev: Know the reason of your unhappiness. If you remove it, then there will be happiness. Meditate. Just do the Sudarshan Kriya and you will find out.
Q:Why do thoughts come and where do they originate from? Why do the thoughts rule us?
Gurudev: Where do the thoughts come from? From the mind, or the body? Close your eyes and think about it. That itself becomes a meditation. Then you will reach the point or space within you from where all the thoughts come. And that is fantastic.
Q:Some people have positive thoughts, while some have negative thoughts. How does one control this?
Gurudev: By keeping a stress-free mind. If you have a stress-free mind, your thoughts will be positive.
Q:How do you know all these things?
Gurudev: Life is a journey from an angry “I don’t know” to a beautiful “I don’t know!”
Q:What is wrong and what is right?
Gurudev: Which gives you short term pleasure and long term misery is wrong and vice-versa.
Q:Why do other people’s feelings inflict us?
Gurudev: Because you are not a single individual but a part of a single collective consciousness.
Q: In spite of having so many great saints why is there so much of communal violence, cascades, conflicts. What is the problem with India? Are we going wrong somewhere?
Gurudev: People who have been involved in these activities have never been in touch with any of these spiritual leaders.
Q:Why don’t you suggest government to include spiritual knowledge at the level of class 10th, at least in India?
Gurudev: I have been telling it. Now, you all should give voice too.
Q:How to forgive and let go of things?
Gurudev: When you see a culprit from a broader perspective, forgiveness becomes naturally.
Q:What do you consider success?
Gurudev: A smile that nobody will take away from you - that is the greatest achievement.