April 8, 2010
The audience asked Sri Sri questions on love, self realization, letting go, peace of mind & the purpose of life.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Shall we start with letting go of all the topics? Shall we?
When we were babies, when we were very young, we communicated without words. One glance could convey all our heart and soul. Some people can speak about love, and when they do so you will still not feel it. Yet one glance from a baby’s eyes and you can feel the whole message.
If someone is angry, upset, you can feel it. Their smile does not come from their eyes. Presence can convey so much. Presence speaks but we do very little to cleanse our presence. We must meditate and relax ourselves. Allowing the mind to expand, we lose all negativity.
When we are stressed we feel restricted and crushed. In happiness our consciousness expands. When we are happy there is something deep in us that expands. It’s worth knowing this fact; that consciousness expands, pulsates when we are happy.
So, who are you? Mind, body or emotion?
These are changing all the time. Mind is changing, body is changing, and emotions are changing. Yet there is something that doesn’t change, that is you. It is very simple. It is so easy. You don’t have to go somewhere else.
For meditation, there are three golden rules. When you sit to meditate, for the next 15 minutes say to yourself “I want nothing” - if you want enlightenment, you are not going to get it. Say to yourself “I do nothing” - any thoughts, just give them a hug and they will disappear, they don’t stay. Then say to yourself “I am nothing” - just because I think I am rich, I am not. I think I am poor, I am not. You have these three key principles, just let go.
* Sri Sri led the audience into a 20 minute guided meditation.
Kauai (an Island in Hawaii) is a great place to sit and just let go. There are oceans and mountains. The spirit is up; in nature the spirit rises and is celebrated. When the heart rises up in nature it becomes a mountain.
“Parva” , a Sanskrit word, means both mountain and celebration. The water celebrates and turns into rain. When the whole world celebrates, all of nature is celebrating its diversity. It is very necessary to preserve this nature.
How many people among the audience do farming? In farming, growing multiple crops through the year is most beneficial. In India, we grow three crops a year so the process doesn’t deplete the soil. Don’t just plant corn by itself but put corn and other vegetables as well. Multiple crops gives more yield and are even better in taste.
I will share my experience concerning GM (genetically modified) foods. Proponents of GMOs went to 5,000 villages in India. People took to GMOs because it is very lucrative economically. The first year there were good crops and people were really impressed. They made several times the money they would have otherwise. The second year however there was devastation. The GMOs completely destroyed both the soil and the environment. Large numbers in the farming community committed suicide. The Art of Living Foundation worked in many of those villages, helping people recover from depression, trauma and suicidal tendencies.
Recently the Government of India wanted to introduce GMOs in other villages. The Art of Living stood with the villagers and educated the government and farmers. The government reconsidered their plan. It was a success.
Q. In Sri Lanka they are giving chemicals to farmers who can’t read. The farmers don’t know how toxic the chemicals are. They could get cancer if they even touched them. Developed nations are sending banned chemicals to these places. The farmers need to be educated.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is exactly what we are doing. We have 65,000 youth volunteers who are working in various areas of India and parts of Africa. Yes, the US and Europe have banned DDT powder. It is sent to Third World countries where they think this white powder is good because it kills the bugs. This education is needed.
Like we preserve the seeds, we must preserve our mind by keeping the mind calm and pleasant. Activists are so worked up and so agitated. The mind is upset so their project does not take off. Some people are happy and peaceful and do nothing at all. This is not the way either. We need to preserve the mind through meditative practice and breathing and help our environment.
Every soul has five sheaths around it.
The first is the environment. The second is Prana or energy. Prana is life force. The third is mind force. The fourth is intuition. The fifth is bliss and we are naturally blissful.
So we are actively floating in the ocean of Prana. Prana is the life force, our body is like shells.
Q: What is the source of happiness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: What is the source of space? It is everywhere. Space is an element. Happiness has a source, it is our nature. When a baby has sorrow there is always a reason for sorrow. With that reason there is always a way to eliminate sorrow. But a baby is happy without reason. You can be happy without a particular reason. There is always a way to eliminate sadness. Bliss, joy, happiness is our nature when you have no reason to be unhappy. Unfortunately people always look for a reason to be unhappy.
Q: Does the Art of Living work with Native American tribes?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We are working with the Native Americans in Canada but not in the US. We would very much like to do some work here. There is so much alcoholism in this community.
Q: Life has a dual nature. How do you feel oneness in that duality?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Like high tide and low tide in an ocean, they come and go but the ocean remains. How was it five, ten, fifteen years ago? You went through a down time and a high time. It came and it went. Looking back in time you gain strength. “This will pass.”
Q: 90% of people don’t have clean drinking water, enough food or any hope. What can a simple person do about it?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In some villages where there is dirty water, the water filters run on electricity. Some people came to see me two, three years ago about this issue. The water filters were expensive and half the villages don’t have access to electricity(in India). So the villagers couldn’t use them. They invented a water filter. It costs only $10 for one year. You can filter as much water as you want. Very dirty water runs through it, and it comes out clean. It just costs $10 to change every year. This is one breakthrough. 90% of all diseases are waterborne. When one has good drinking water, there is a shift. Just with one filter, you can run dirty water through it and get pure water.
Q: Share your thoughts on over-population.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In some parts of the world, there is over population and in some parts of the world this is dwindling. It is good to have family planning, definitely.
Q: What do you think of 2012?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Let me remind you of 1999. There was a hue and cry in North America. The world is going to shut down. There was going to be a big disaster. But nothing happened. I think it will be the same in 2012 as well. Business as usual. But people will be more creative. Children will be more spiritual. People will imbibe human values more. The amount of violence, the sense of aggression and violence will decrease. We will make more sustainable choices. Naturally we will become more spiritual. There will be less addiction and sickness.
Q: What is the purpose of life? Is it to serve?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The one who knows the purpose of life would not tell you. Someone who tells you the purpose of life doesn’t know it. This question is like a vehicle that moves us forward. It is something we should ask ourselves many times. It clears the path, the cobwebs in life. Don’t be in a hurry to answer this question.
The source of the English word “service” is “seva,” i.e to be like him, nature, God. Service is when someone does everything without expecting something back. It is our very nature and basic instinct to serve. When your mind is stress-free, calm, collected, happy, what you do is service.
Q: What are your thoughts on vegetarianism?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is so much research in the US on vegetarianism. I have always been a vegetarian; I don’t know anything other than being a vegetarian. Some people say you must eat fish and meat for protein but if you have the proper balance of protein you are fine without it. If you don’t, you should eat some. I eat a little yogurt at least once a week. Vegetarianism is very essential for spiritual practice.
Q: How do you find the ability to switch back into happiness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The ability to switch into happiness comes with practice. When you are thirsty, you need to drink. When you are unhappy, tired, lost and out of energy, you must do some breathing and meditation. Watch the emotion, leave it and observe. Look at the sky for a second. Observe the sensation. If you are tight in the throat, chest, somewhere, take a deep breath and relax.
Q: How do you break an addiction?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: To begin, look at it in the short term. Say for the next one month I am not going to do it. What gets us over an addiction?
Greed – you will get $10 million if you don’t smoke for one month. Greed will make you keep the vow.
Fear – fear keeps you out of addiction if you are afraid of sickness or death.
Love – if someone promises someone they love then they will not do it.
And of course, meditation.
Q: How do you live with someone who has a lot of anger?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Meditation. Learn breathing techniques. You can manifest change.
Q: What are the end results of the economic situation? How do you think it will end?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is no end to it. These sorts of things go up and down. That is the way of the world. America is coming out of it.
Sri Sri then invited the audience to visit India and participate in service projects.
Mahalo (a Hawaiian word meaning thanks)