How can I fully accept and commit to my profession when I feel spending my life doing seva (service).
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You can balance between seva (service) and your personal and professional life. You can do both.
At one point in time, when you feel you don’t want to do anything but just want to dedicate (your life) for the sake of the world, then do it.
What are your needs? You need some bread, butter, jam, a nice quilt, a good car. All this will be provided. Nature will provide it.
I never thought how will I get the resources, how will I get money? We in The Art of Living simply start a project and then money comes.
When we started The Art of Living we had no money. I just took the commitment that I will take care of these 175 kids. We had to clothe them, feed them and do everything. People wondered, ‘Gurudev you never ask anybody for money, how are you going to manage this school?’
I said, ‘I don’t know!’
So, my father housed them for some time. Then a little later somebody said, ‘I am going to America Gurudev. This is the key to my house. You can use it for whatever purpose you want.’
Someone else said, ‘I want to send three bags of dal’.
Another person said, ‘I want to send three bags of rice’.
Somebody came and gave me an envelope with some money. I didn’t even wonder or worry for one single day, how this is going to run. That is how Art of Living started. I had a choice to start The Art of Living and I said, ‘Yes'.
First we went from village to village, then to cities. Then I went to Delhi. In Delhi there was a course for all the different embassies. One gentleman from the United Nations and his wife took the course. I didn’t even teach Sudarshan Kriya those days. We would just sit and do some guided meditation. I used to speak very little. Just a few words. They felt so thrilled. Everybody enjoyed it. And this time when I was in America, the wife of the UN (representative), Mr. Cooper, she was in there too. She was the first American lady to take the course with me. She was there in Boone ashram, after 32 years.
Then someone from England invited me and then I went to England. Then I went to Italy, someone invited me to Italy. Then Germany, Switzerland, and like that I just kept going.
I never calculated, ‘Oh, how to go, what to do’, everything just happened.
People called me to London, so I went there. The house I would stay in, we would just do satsang in the evening and a short meditation. There would be a queue of people outside. The people who would come would feel good; some healings would happen. They told their friends who then told their friends.
For 10 years we did not print any advertisement. In the initial days I would not permit any advertisement. Not even any pictures, or posters. No banners, nothing. Only word of mouth. If you benefit, tell your friends. If they benefit, they tell their friends. We were doing it like that.
Only later, in 1989, when the group was growing bigger, then we started giving ads in the paper for people to know that there is satsang, meditation and Kriya. Art of Living took those tiny steps and today we are very big.
We should know that we are a part of a grand universal plan. Our needs will be taken care of, but nobody’s greed can never be quenched. Greed is different. Needs will always be taken care of. If you have an intense need and you pray for that, it will come. It may take time, but not always.
Is Sanskrit spoken on all the planets in the Universe, or only on Earth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, I don’t know in which planets they are speaking, but certainly not on this planet. All the languages, even though they have come from Sanskrit, it is not spoken anywhere. Even in India, it has almost disappeared; 99.9% disappeared. Somewhere, 0.01% people know just a little bit. Sanskrit needs to be revived and it is happening now. Slowly people are doing this. They now know that it is a very good language for computers.
Neurolinguistic functions are best with the Sanskrit syllables. Italian language has about 50-60% of Sanskrit words. Russian has so many, English has so many as well. All the Indian languages also have many words in common. Chinese and Japanese also. Recently when I was in Japan, one scholar had written a book that said that 80% of Japanese language has roots in Tamil which is again close to Sanskrit but not exactly Sanskrit. I will say, whatever language you speak, speak the language of the heart. Sincere, clear. No malice to anybody. No ill feeling towards anybody. Speak with a pure heart and a clear mind, and success will be yours. Success is sure for you.
Gurudev, I am pregnant and I eat vegetarian food only. I was told that I should eat non-vegetarian food during my pregnancy to have a healthy baby. What do you say?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I don’t agree to that. Most of the children born today and born in India, and people are vegetarian there, and in America also. Millions of people in America are turning vegetarians. Even in Europe they have started to turn vegetarian. We have doctors that say that you should be vegetarian, and that the body cannot digest animal protein.
It is a wrong notion to think that we must eat meat in order to be healthy. It is not necessary. This is a wrong notion, ‘Oh if you don’t eat meat you will be very weak’. Come on, look at a horse! You say horse power, yet a horse is vegetarian. Elephants are vegetarian. Giraffes, Zebras are vegetarian. The big fives except the lion are all vegetarian. They are not weak. Even cows are vegetarian. Bulls are so strong. This is a wrong notion in people’s mind that only if you eat meat you will become strong. Meat causes so many diseases. Go on the internet and you can find a lot about it.
Gurudev, I read recently that in India a new political party has come up that is against corruption and VIP culture, etc., in Delhi. I sometimes see this VIP culture in The Art of Living. Gurudev, do you encourage VIP culture?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Absolutely not. There is no VIP culture, but does that mean everybody gets to do the same thing? No! They should play their roles properly. VIP culture is a preferential treatment that went on in Delhi. I even tell them in our satsangs that we shouldn’t put the board, 'VIPs'. Of course they put it because they have to give passes to people, so that the VIPs who come, come from a different entrance. They come and sit there.
I tell you, though this party has started, they are very new. Let us see for a couple of months if they will be able to be that way. Sometimes practically it may not be possible. Imagine the President of Germany come here. Do you think he'll be able to just sit anywhere? No! There will be security guards, there will be sniffing dogs.
I even advised Arvind (Leader of the new political party against corruption). I told him that this ideal is very good, but don’t be a soft target for people who may want to create disturbance. The world still has criminal elements. We should be practical. Though from my eyes, everyone is good, but there are still some criminal tendencies. We are not still in what is called Ram Rajya. Ram rajya means where there is no crime. It is written in the scriptures that during Lord Rama’s time there was no crime. There was justice for everybody. Everyone was equal and everyone was loved. This was a great dream of Mahatma Gandhi. He took the name of Rama and united India. He said, ‘Do you want the kingdom of Rama? Then let us unite’, With the ideal of Ram Rajya, he united India.
Today, we are not yet a Ram Rajya. Where there is crime you need to be safe, protected. Either you have spiritual power and say, ‘I don’t need protection’, or you have to take protection. It is a good step. But if you ask me, 'Why do you meet some people and not everyone', I meet everybody. Some people come with projects and I spend time with them. They have done some seva, done some work. If you want me to only come and sit with you, then I’ll say, 'I have no time for you. No time for gossip'. But if you have some project, yes, I’ll give you some time. That is there, but not VIP culture.
(A member of the audience asked a question which was inaudible)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
In my eyes, it is we who create these boundaries. Way back in the 80s, if I had to come to Europe I had to take so many visas. One visa for Germany, one for France, one for Italy, one for Switzerland, one for Holland and one for Scandinavia also. So many visas! My goodness! It would take me 4-5 days to get the visa of each country. So I had to plan well in advance. At that time I had wished and said, ‘These borders between all the countries in Europe should all go’. I even loudly expressed this and said, ‘Why are there so much visa restrictions? It should all go’, and boom, that’s it, a couple of years later it happened. Now with one Schengen visa you can go everywhere. Still Switzerland was the last one to join. They usually push other people in the water and see how deep it is and then they get inside (laughter); to be very safe you know! Finally Switzerland also has joined. So now we don’t have that issue. One visa and that’s it, you can go all over. Poland also has joined. Earlier, we could come to Germany but could not go to Poland without a particular visa. Those borders are now becoming obsolete, and that is nature’s way. That is coming closer to nature. The border between cultures, borders between races, languages, nations should just be dropped. It is time! One world family. We must understand this. Vasudeva Kutumbakam!
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