Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Fear, anxiety and insecurity are same shades of the same color. One is slightly brown, another is dark and the third one is the darkest brown. Grey is a better color, light, medium and dark grey. Meditation, pranayama and the faith that you are not alone, faith in the Divine will definitely help. Divine faith is very abstract, at least faith in the Guru, teacher is there, Master is there, faith in yourself, faith in the universal spirit, faith in the goodness of people around. There are good people in the world. When you think everybody is wrong, everybody is bad then insecurity dawns. Suppose this is not your experience and you have found wrong people, who had deceived you all the time then at least look for good, enlightened people. Ok, now if you understand all this intellectual stuff and still anxiety comes, then what to do? Sudarshan Kriya, pranayama and meditation. After the tsunami (in South-east Asia, 2004), so many people could not sleep, they couldn’t even see the ocean. A lady witnessed her three to four children being washed away, she had a child in her arms and she couldn’t do anything for she had to look for her own self. Such incidents happened in front of so many people. So many families, somebody’s children, somebody’s wife, somebody’s parents were flooded away. All people were saying, ‘Take us anywhere but not the ocean’. And all those were fishermen. What would a fisherman do on mid land? After the earthquake, people couldn’t get into their homes. For days, people slept outside their houses on roads till our workers, our volunteers went there and taught them Pranayama, bhastrika and meditation, and then they went to their homes. That is where trauma relief, meditation, pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya helps tremendously. We have hundreds and thousands of such experiences and you should go through their experiences. In a matter of two days fishermen said, ‘Give us boats and we want to go out into the ocean’. They had come out of fear, anxiety. This has happened with thousands of people. I am telling you we have such beautiful knowledge, practices that can take us out of misery, worries, anxiety, conflicts and suicidal tendencies. Just in the recent past, 20 students in Bombay alone committed suicide. In Bombay, Maharashtra, suicidal tendency among youngsters is so high that we have announced that anybody having the slightest tendency to commit suicide, call us at the Art of Living helpline. Our volunteers and teachers are working 24x7 to help them out.
The YES+ program (Youth empowerment seminar) has helped 1000s of youth to come out of suicidal tendencies. All this happens because we don’t see life from a bigger, broader perspective; A girl got 92 percent and committed suicide for she could not get admission in the college of her choice. Because you don’t give them spiritual education, a bigger vision and ask them to only perform and perform that the pressure of performing better, pressure of marks becomes bigger than life itself. Don’t pressurize children too much, we have to give them a broader vision. Never mind you lose one year. Life is more precious than your profession, your success, your so-called success, your finance, and your prestige in society. Finance is for life and not life for finance. These all are only periphery, accessories for life and not the core of life, existence. This vision has to be brought to children.
Wake up and see everybody is caught up in their own things. Whether your financial status goes up or down, whether your relation is going good or bad, who cares in society? I tell you, nobody cares. Don’t worry about what others may think, what will my status in society be? If you are doing well they are jealous of you, if you are not doing well they don’t even count you. In either case, you don’t have to worry about others’ opinion about you, to show yourself up. And these inter cast marriages; parents are worried what others will think of their children. Who has got time to think to whom your son or daughter got married to? Whether it is in outcast or same, let it be, let it be outcast, you be more free, happy. (laughter and applause) These are silly, insignificant things that people have put in their minds and worry. Wake up and see, there is so much love in life, there is so much wisdom in life.
Q: Do impressions in the mind have a role to play in the next birth?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, your impressions in the mind are responsible for your next birth. Your strongest impression is the factor.
Q: Yesterday, you said there is no significant purpose for the universe but it is also said that every individual is born for some purpose. Isn’t it contradictory?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Truth is contradictory. Every little thing has a purpose, at the same time, it has no purpose because this whole thing is a game. If you consider the world as a game, then there is no purpose. A game has no purpose, it is an expression of joy. Dance doesn’t have a goal because dance in itself is an expression of happiness. What is the purpose of you laughing? Does laughter have any purpose? You are happy, so you laugh. You don’t have to wait for a joke to laugh. You know, children don’t understand jokes but they laugh, babies do laugh. If you think jokes are the only reason for one to laugh then babies would never laugh till they understand your jokes. You have an illusion that you have to listen to a joke to laugh. Laughter has no purpose because it is an expression of being, an expression of joy.
Love has no purpose because it is your very nature. The sun has no purpose to send its rays. If you ask me, why does sun shine, what does it achieve? I’ll say, ‘Oh my God, you are such a businessman, you need a purpose for everything!’ The sun shines because it is its nature. It can’t but shine. So, in this context, I said, ‘Whenever you think, ‘what is the purpose?’ you are caught up in the cause and effect phenomenon. No doubt, the cause and effect phenomenon is there, it is a law of nature but truth is beyond the cause and effect phenomenon. Divinity is much bigger, more vaster, Divinity is beyond that. It is much bigger and vaster, so in this sense I said, there is no purpose. Sun shines because it is its nature, wind blows because it is its nature. What is the purpose of the tsunami? Was it just to kill people? If it’s purpose was to kill people only then it must have hit only those areas in which people lived. But it hit those areas also where there were no people. Nature is beyond cause and effect or conclusion, theory, understanding or misunderstanding. It is the existence which is total, beyond purpose. So you can say, virtually there is no purpose. If at all you have to pin down to a purpose then the purpose of nature is to take you to the Source, is to remind you of the Source, connect you to your Source.
Q: How can the Self be love, joy and peace? Aren’t they all different?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Can there be joy without peace? (No, said the audience). If you want to make a distinction, then peace is very mild and always connected to disturbances, love is more to the heart and could be hate or love. Then joy, you find small or big joy. But they are all your nature. Like you can see, you can hear, you can smell, you can taste, but it is all you. There is something deep inside you which unifies all. All emotions are part of you. Their functions and expressions are different but all are in you. All arise in your mind. In this sense, they all are one, in another sense they are all different. When you smile you are different, when you sleep you are different, when you eat you are different but all are you. In this sense, they all are one. When someone dies, people stand up and say, ‘Let’s have a moment of peace’. Certainly that is not a joyous occasion and nobody will say, ‘Let’s have a moment of joy, somebody has died’. In some joyful celebration, like marriage, people don’t say, ‘Let’s have a moment of peace’, that will always be called a moment of joy. My dear, all are part of you, all arise in you and in that sense all are one, all are linked.
Q: What is thought, Why it comes and from where it comes?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Is this a thought? It came in you? Why did it come? Now find out. As soon as you realize this, the question is, itself, a thought and it has come in you, you have answers for the first two questions. And why does it come? Because of a lack of any other questions.Now I want you find its source. When you start finding source of thought, you have started on a journey for which you are here. Our journey is to find the source, from where this thought has arisen. I want all of you to be scientists. Scientist goes on experimenting, asking questions. It’s a very good opportunity to find out where it comes from? What is its origin? Since it comes in you, you find its answer. If it doesn’t come in you and somebody else, then I’ll answer.
Q: There is so much conflict and violence in world in the name of religion. Is there a need of religion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Communists opposed religion for 50 years. They didn’t get success. Communist people think religious people, especially in Russia and China are very authoritarian, they don’t give freedom. So they want to be done with religion but did they not unleash much more violence? In Stalin, Lenin and Mao Zedong, millions were massacred in the name of communism. Religion ruled with fear, fear of you being sent to hell. Religious leaders were authoritarian, trying to get hold of society by creating guilt and fear in people. Communist also did the same thing but not with guilt but with fear. They remove only guilt but they couldn’t remove fear, instead they instill more fear and violence in society. I don’t think communism did any better. It didn’t make people rich. After 50 years, people have come back. A big church in Moscow was demolished and a swimming pool was made instead of it. Today that swimming pool is demolished and a church is made again. I think it is humanism which is most important. If humanism is there in religion, it does good. And when humanism disappears from religion, it becomes like a mafia. In the same way, communism also ignored humanism. So when humanism went away, violence and fear dominated even in communism. These Maoists party! Did it do any good in the country, in all 213 districts? It didn’t make anybody rich. So you can’t be done away with religion.
We need to have interreligious communication, inter-religion faith. Every child should know a little bit about other religions also. Yes, we don’t need religions if all become spiritual. If we can transform this world into a higher plane of religion, which is spirituality then it will really be an intelligent thing to do. But just opposing religion as communists do, can’t serve any purpose. It is like throwing the baby with the bath water. Because religion has some moral values, some human values, it gives some strength and solace, and if you also take solace without replacing it with spirituality then you are doing injustice in the society
Q: Why are love marriages and arranged marriages increasingly leading to divorces?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, divorce is happening day by day while family values are eroding, the generation gap is widening and interdependence is being forgotten. Husband and wife forget that they are interdependent. They need each other and both look for independence. I haven’t done any research on this why this is happening. (laughter) but if some of you do that research and publish a paper it will be good. Atleast people will be aware of these pitfalls. Whether it is a love marriage or arranged marriage, marriage is always a chance, if it clicks it is a chance. Sometimes it may appear to have clicked for a short period of time but in the long run, it becomes a question mark. And vice versa also. Sometimes in the beginning it may appear to be completely incompatible but as time goes it becomes very compatible. It is like a chameleon – changing colors all the time. If someone can see this, they have a hope. And if it appears to be not so, then move on without guilt because there is no point in suffering life long. If you have given 100 percent then you better move on your path and let the other move on his/her path rather making the whole live of both, miserable. But the question is whether you have given your 100 percent, have you made all the effort to make it work? That is important.
Q: What is the importance of horoscope matching when it comes to marriage?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Astrology is a science but all astrologers are not scientists. (laughter) First of all, you don’t know whether the time of your birth and all other factors are right or not. Sometimes, we don’t keep records and there are various factors. There is probability in all those factors. So, if you find someone who is good, the astrologer says, ‘Good, it does have a value but it is always with a pinch of salt.’ It is said that there was a great astrologer of this country and he made all the horoscopes of his daughter. But his daughter’s marriage didn’t work. It was quoted as a probability factor. In all scientific experiments, there is always a probability factor – may be, may not be.So we must take it with that probability and not as definite.
Q: What is the difference between God (Parmatma) and Devta?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Parmatma is the sun, devta is its ray. Without the sun, there is no ray and without the ray, there is no sun. A ray has all seven colors, these all different devtas. God is the combination of all the seven colors. God is certainly not made of one color. When all colors combine, white is obtained and that is Parmatma. You can understand this like different organs - eyes, ears, nose, all combine to form you. Your eyes are different from ears, your nose is different from tongue but all is part of you. The totality of the whole creation, with all the energies is given a name and it is called Parmatma, Parampita (supreme father). In ancient terminology, God is called Parmatma, Parampita.
Why only Parampit , He is also Parammata (Supreme mother).Why should God be called father only? God is also the mother. God is father, mother and God is also the Self. All Gods, goddesses are like rays of the sun, one sunlight and all the rays together is God but these are all different aspects of God. All are different aspects of the one Divine like in one human being, one cell somewhere becomes the eyes, somewhere the ears, somewhere the nose, and all this has happened from one fertilized cell, embryo. So, God is the sum total of all Divine elements and in the Vedic times, ancient rishis identified all these elements and called then devtas. They designated 33 types of Divine energy and called them devta and they tell how these are connected with the cosmos, like the eyes are connected with the sun. They established connection between the micro cosmos and macro cosmos. …It is very amazing analysis, amazing science of unity of the universe. It is not too many Gods, it is aspects of God. Though you are one, you have different functions. When you sleep you are different, when you smile you are different, when you eat, you are different. Crore means category, 33 crores means 33 categories of devas. Crore is also a number, 10 million but here it is not referred to as a number. 33 crore means 330 million and so people started taking that way.
Q: What is difference between prayer and meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Prayer is asking, meditation is listening. In prayer, you ask, ‘Give me this, give me that’, giving instructions, demanding. In meditation, you say, ‘I am here to listen, what is it that you want to tell? Tell me, whenever you are free, I am here. Culmination of prayer is meditation. Prayer goes to the peak and that is meditation.