Gurudev, what is the role of pain in personal and spiritual transformation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional; you have heard that before, right? Pain is nothing but an intense sensation. Yet, do not justify or encourage pain. Some people start justifying and encouraging pain, and that is where masochism starts. You need to stay clear of masochism, and that is why I would say if pain comes, it has come due to some karma, that's it, move on.
The principle of karma is such a healthy thing to save the mind. It's such a good vaccination for the mind. When you say karma, then you are able to let go and move on, otherwise you brood over whatever has happened in the past,and you try to link things with some cause. If you look back, whatever you thought as cause is also an effect, it is not the cause. Every time you fix something as the cause of an effect, you have erred. You have seen that it is not true; it has not stood the test of time. No cause has stood the test of time because every cause is an effect. This is the spiritual way. When you think in this direction and go deeper to the ultimate cause, you find that there is only one thing that is the cause of the entire existence. With this one realization, your peace can never be taken away by anybody or any incident on the planet; nothing can move you if you know the cause!
That is why there is a beautiful verse in Sanskrit,"Tasmai nama parama karana karanaya", Shiva, you are the cause of all causes, the grand time that is beyond time, otherwise we keep going round in this cycle of karma.
Yes, it can be little confusing if you don't pay very keen attention to what I am saying. One is karma, i.e., cause and effect. Another is going beyond karma; how do you get out of the cycle of karma? Are you getting this? You have to ponder on this once more. This principle of karma is a big blessing for you to let go and move further.
Dear Gurudev, if this whole existence is Maya or illusion, then what is the importance of being in action? Aren’t our actions just illusions as well?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, yes, yes absolutely.
Once Adi Shankara was saying that the whole world is all illusion, everything is maya, it is not real, it is dream-like. Just now, wake up and see, all that has happened until this moment, is it there anymore? It is all gone, everything. This morning, when you had breakfast, is it not like a dream for you now? Just think of this morning, is it not like a dream? It’s all gone. Could this be a dream? Just project your mind on the future. You are going to go sleep, and then come back tomorrow, this is all like a dream.
Another 10-20 years will pass, one day you will be under the ground or as ashes, everything will be done. Is it not like a dream? That is what Adi Shankara was saying - life, the whole universe is all made up of one thing. He was talking Quantum Physics.
Do you know what Maya means? It means that which can be measured. This whole world can be measured. Thus, whatever you can measure is all temporary, it is not permanent, because measurement is always relative. You may measure something here, you measure the same thing on the moon or in another space, it will measure differently. Vedanta said the same thing, what science says, millenniums ago.
Once, when Adi Shankara was walking, a crazy elephant started chasing him, so Shankara ran for shelter. Someone asked him, "Why are you running, the elephant is Maya, it is an illusion!" Do you know what he said? He said, "Yes, the elephant is an illusion, my running is also an illusion". So, different levels of reality exist. You need a dream gun to shoot a dream tiger, from a real gun you cannot shoot a dream tiger.
I am tempted to share another incident. There is a very well known psychic and astrologer who came to our program one day. On the second day he came with bandages on his legs. When I asked if he got into an accident, he said, "No, I didn’t go anywhere". At night, he saw a dog or a tiger in his dream, and kicked the wall so hard to run away from the animal, that he woke up with a fractured leg. The psychic had a fractured leg the next morning when he tried to kick the dream tiger with his real leg. So be careful on that count, okay? (Laugher)
When does the intensity of intention become feverishness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Never mind, don’t examine this too much and think, "Oh, am I feverish?" If you have passion, just go with it, okay? Where do you have time to sit and think whether it is feverishness, or what? Just be spontaneous, my dear. Never mind, even if mistakes happen, I don’t mind it!
Spontaneity is the sign of a vibrant life. When you are spontaneous, you don't chew on the past, you don’t chew on yourself or others. If you get upset, I don’t mind it, but it should be a spontaneous anger, not a stale one that goes on in your mind for months together, and then one day you burst! You can give fresh anger; your anger should be like fire and ice, fresh! It’s okay if it goes off also, otherwise you will keep some stale thing in mind when you are angry. Children are like that, they are angry for a moment when you take a toy away from them, they are so angry, and then the next moment they are okay. Just stick to those tendencies that we came with to this Earth.
Many times the ideals, principles and beliefs taught to us by our parents and grandparents are in conflict with the teachings of The Art of Living. We feel responsible to carry forward their teachings but are in confusion after listening to some of your knowledge. Please help.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I don't see what you are referring to? How could this be confusing with any knowledge, or what parents have said about anything?
Which parent will say no to celebrate life, or to adopt violence as the core value in your life? Which parent would tell their children to go and be violent? Yes, if some people are saying, "My God is the only God, my way is the only way, everyone else is going to hell", or, "Those people who do not subscribe to my God have no right to exist, they are traitors", then I would say do not follow that path. It is only ignorance. If any parent is saying that you will go to hell if you do meditation, they are ignorant. You don't have to tread the path of ignorance. You educate them, and if you cannot, you walk your path.
The whole world is one family. Uplift yourself beyond race, gender, religions, skin color, and all that. We are all part of one divinity -- which parent will say we are not? Okay, may be your parents want you to follow some rituals, then do it for their sake. Why do you want to resist that? You don't need to behave like a communist. If your parents say that you have to go to church or the temple, go visit it, even if you do not feel much devotion or any such thing. Listen to them and make them happy. If you follow what they want, i.e., to have a certain celebration at home, it can make them happy. But when it comes to your breathing exercises, your food habits and whatever your personal things are, I think you have to take a call, and you cannot say this is all in conflict. Do you see what I am saying?
In life you will have 101 reasons to get frustrated. However it is up to you keep the enthusiasm alive without allowing the frustration to seep in. Here are some pointers to help you keep frustration at bay.