December 28, 2011
Q: Dear Guruji, a lot of times I have hurt myself because of lack of knowledge. I have not improved much but at least I see what I have done. How do I stop torturing myself?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you know what you did in the past was not correct, then you already know what you should do. Spiritual path gives you the empowerment.
But if you say, ‘Oh! I can’t do that’, then you can’t do it.
If you put this thought, ’yes, I can!’, then you can.
I have heard people say, ’I can’t leave smoking.’ If you can’t leave smoking then nobody in the world can make you leave smoking. You should get up and say, ‘yes, I will leave smoking.’ Nature has kept that will power in every human being who can think and who can act. It is present in everybody. It is like you shutting your eyes and saying, ‘I can’t see, I can’t see.’ You first open your eyes!
You say, ‘I can’t open my eyes.’ If you can’t open your eyes or don’t open your eyes, how will you see?
If you say, ‘I am hungry but I won’t open my mouth.’ Nature has given you a mouth and it is hollow and empty, and nature has given you food. You have to connect these two things.
Food is in front of you and you say, ‘I won’t open my mouth.’ Even to say that you have to open your mouth.
So, the will power is in everyone. You have to say, ’Yes I can do it; I am going to do it.’
If you are in the bad habit of smoking say, ‘Yes, I am going to leave it. I can do it.’ Because that one thought, ’I can’t leave smoking’, is giving you power to keep smoking.
Q: Dear Guruji, I feel surprised when I see some people go back to fighting and blaming each other after coming out from an advanced course session. Why does it happen? Why does the message not go beyond, even after a course sometimes?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now see, a long habit of fighting, and enjoying the fighting, takes a longer time to go.
There are a small percentage of people whose behavior cannot be changed overnight, or cannot be changed even in weeks or months. It would take them a while provided they also have the willingness to change.
So, don’t judge people, ‘Oh! They came and did the silence program, they did the advanced course and still they have not changed!’ This is impossible, definitely they have changed, but it may not have come totally in their expressions.
Ask them how they feel; ’before you used to fight and now also you fight. Do you find a qualitative difference?’ You will find the answer in the affirmative. They will say, ‘Yes! Before I used to fight and the anger, the impression used to linger on in me. Now, I fight and I forget. I move on.’
This many people have said. This gives you a chance to accept people as they are, before or after.
Q: Dear Guruji, this question has two parts. The first part is: what is the connection between mind and soul? Is mind just a collection of thoughts?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Correct. You said it right.
Q: Where do thoughts arise from in the first place?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: This is for you to discover. It is an individual discovery. It is like asking me how the food tastes.
If you ask someone, ‘how sweet is this dish?’, you have to taste it.
So, if you want to know where the thoughts arise, you better discover it. Thoughts are arising in you? So, you can discover it. The very process of discovery is a technique to understand another level of existence.
Q: Dear Guruji, sometimes I see my friends in a state of depression. They don’t believe in Art of Living, in meditation or breathing techniques. Can I take their pain and pass it on to you? Is it possible? I know you are the champion in resolving problems.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes.
But why don’t you pray that they get the sense to start meditating?
You can do that. You can relieve them by blessing their pain and suffering, but that is not a permanent solution because they may get back into it again. But if you pray for wisdom to dawn in them, then it is forever. For that wisdom will take care of them for the rest of their lives.
Q: Dearest Guruji, what are the signs that I am growing on the path? I did my first course 10 years back. I have done 10 advanced courses and I am a teacher. However, I still get angry. Sometimes I feel people who don’t do any practices are better when compared to my behavior. Please guide.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You got it all wrong. You think that just meditation is going to do it all for you.
You are just enjoying meditation.
Why would you get upset if you are deeply soaked in knowledge? You think keeping quiet for sometime is going to do everything for you and you forget the knowledge and wisdom.
Knowledge is glaring on your face saying, ‘accept situations and people as they are’, and you are not doing it.
I have said so many times, anger is a sign of attachment to perfection. If you are dispassionate why would you get so upset?
Listen, you may do ten advanced courses and you may be just hearing things, but if you don’t take it in then it is not the fault of the course or the meditation or the knowledge or wisdom.
It is like one of those rubber suits that people who go for scuba diving wear when they go into the ocean. You may get in to the water, but when you come out of it you are dry. Not a drop of water has gotten into your body because you are in that wet suit.
In the same way, you may do ten or twelve advance courses but if you don’t have dispassion, which you hear so many times then you are bound to get angry.
Discrimination and dispassion; the second pillar of knowledge. If that is not there, then you are bound to be angry and upset, you are bound to be possessive and jealous. No dispassion.
I have said so many times, ‘So Hum, and So What!’
You haven’t heard ‘So What’.
Many times you take it for granted. ‘Oh! So what, I have heard it, okay.’ For now you just sit and meditate, and then you go and never remember.
Recollect, let it soak into you. It is not the wisdom that is to be blamed. It is your inability to live it, to take it in and soak it into your soul.
Do you see what I am saying? You can’t say, ‘I have all this attachment and still I am going to be spiritual’, no!
Spirituality is to relieve one from the obsession of perfection. Spirituality is being centered.
In spite of ten advance courses you are getting angry. Just imagine if you had not done any advance courses, what would have been your status. My dear, please see that!
Why are you coming back again if the advance course is not effective on you? Why do you keep coming back? Why did you do then? You should have done one and said it doesn’t work, finished! If you are coming back again and again, it must be working somewhere. You must be benefiting from it.
And imagine if you had not done any of this, what a havoc it would have been.
You should sit and think about it. ‘Suppose, I had never done the basic course or never done any meditation, what would have been my status?’
Q: What are feelings?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have one? That is exactly what it is.
Q: Dear Guruji, I have a question that keeps coming to my mind. We are in the Milky Way. Like this, there are many constellations. Are people living there? Are there possibilities to be born in any of these constellations? Can you share your experience in this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I know there are many galaxies but I know very little about them. We can get a glimpse of them but that we cannot prove. If you ask me to prove it to you, I cannot prove. But, I can tell you there are many galaxies, where life is there. This much, a little bit only I know.
I am not in the habit of speaking things which I do not know, or I know only very little about.
So, this comes under the category of ‘I know very little about.’
Q: Dear Guruji, how to get or feel more self confidence in life?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How to get more self confidence in life? There is no way!! No chance for you to get it, that’s it. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it!
If a rabbit wants to have horns, I would say no chance. If you think you need to get one like those, like an antelope, you can put on such hats only during Christmas time. You can fix it on top of your head, but if you don’t have it, no way!
But, if you listen to me; carefully, I tell you, you should know you have it. You do have it. Who said, you don’t have it.
First, accept your ignorance about yourself. First accept that you don’t know anything about yourself. And then you will realize you have it.
Q: How does the thought process work? How can our needs be fulfilled?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Thoughts do come, and you encourage some, and you discourage some. When you encourage some and act on it, the result is there. If you just sit idle and keep thinking and don’t do any action, even the best of the thoughts are not going to fructify.
Q: Could you please explain ‘Yog Maya’ and its effect on spirituality. Also, how can you recognize it and not get drawn into its play?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yog Maya is some spiritual experiences which you get sometimes and they are intuitive in nature and most of the time they become correct. But when you start relying on them too much; I am adding, ‘too much’; then it will start distorting the whole thing. And if you are really not hollow and empty, your own desires, your own ambitions will come up in your vision and in your dreams, and you will hear voices, and all these things can happen, and it can distort the reality.
So, Yog Maya are those little powers, those little visions, apprehensions, aberrations and intuitive visions, which are 80% true and 20% not true. But, you don’t know whether it belongs to the 20% or 80%.
So, we just take these experiences as they come.
Q: How true is the statement that children choose their parents before they are born. Can parents pray for having children, who choose a good life for themselves?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, you can’t ask me what you should pray for. Prayer automatically happens. It’s there already! You are already praying for good children.
Should parents pray for good children is an obsolete question. It doesn’t mean anything. You are already praying and that’s why you were asking.
Q: How can a person decide his goal irrespective of his surroundings?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: For a while, just sit by yourself and think. Keep all other things aside. See, what is it that you want? Ask yourself, ‘what is it that I want?’ And then whatever goal comes up, hold on to that. Of course, whenever you want to take up a vision, a goal, a mission, the surroundings have a great impact on that. You have a mission and you are working. Suddenly something happens, one of your dear ones is not well or sick, or somebody had an accident; you need to be very flexible there. You can’t say, ‘I have this goal, I have to go’, no! You need to attend to this, because life is complex, it is not a straight line. Life is so complex, and in this complexity of life, keeping one’s goals is what determination is. And you can do that effortlessly when there is devotion and wisdom in life.
Wisdom and devotion are two important things that make life effortless.
How many of you feel that things are happening effortlessly now, after being on the path? It is no more a struggle.
Q: Dear Guruji, how can I find my way home to myself?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Who is asking this?
Let go! What are you holding on to? You are home! Wake up! Wake up, it is your cravings, which is giving you an illusion that you are far away from your home. And what are the cravings – for pleasure, for recognition. And what did you get in all those pleasures? Five minutes or ten minutes of some sensations and some stimulation; other than that what is it? NOTHING WHATSOEVER! Absolutely nothing!
It left your hands burned down, your head and heart devastated. What else do you want?
Come on! When you want to be back home, it does not take more than a wink of the eye. That means it doesn’t take more than a second.
Wake up and Shake up! Wake up and realize you are already there. The cobwebs around your mind are your own making. You know how the spider makes its own cobweb. Who has done it? Not somebody else. From its own saliva, it made the cobweb and it is all caught up in it and feels,’ I am dying!’
You blame it on the world; blame it on people, blame it on situations and blame it on your own mind.
Stop blaming even your mind. You simply have to shake and wake up. Done!
Death can anytime rob you of all of it, in one minute. Not even a minute it takes. In one minute death will rob all of what you have. Before death robs you, let go I tell you. Then you are free and you will feel I am home.
One day death is going to rob you of everything; your home, your kith and kin, your car, jewellery, your fridge, all will be gone. In fact, they will all be here, you will be gone. It is the other way around.
Wake up and see nothing is yours. Can’t you say this – ‘Nothing is mine!’
‘Nothing is mine’, and you are home. It is such a freedom I tell you, such a freedom!
I don’t mean you should go and empty your bank balance and give it all away. Keep the money in the bank, but not in your head. Got it?
You will not be greedy, you will not be angry, you will not be possessive or jealous. Just one remembrance of an inevitable truth that is going to happen in your life, you are going to die one day! You don’t need to read books to know this. It is such an obvious truth. You don’t need to quote from scriptures to know that you are going to die.
This one thing in sight is good enough to bring a transformation in life.
That sense of courage, conviction and realization is what wisdom is. First realization, and then courage and conviction, brings so much freedom. Only then real meditation happens. Till then you sit with your eyes open and closed and again open and closed. Yes, there is some quietness in the mind, but nothing beyond.
Q: As a teacher, how to overcome my frustration with people who do the course and do not practice. Is it okay to force them to practice or is it better to let go?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, there is no need to force them to practice, but gently encourage them to practice. If you force, it will be counterproductive. But it is good to encourage.
You always need to encourage people to do something good. These days, it has not become their second nature to do good. You need to propel them, encourage them. You can definitely do that.
But then, there is no point in you getting frustrated. You feel for them – ‘oh, let them all do their practice.’ That attitude in you itself can help them. That blessing or prayer itself will help.
One thing you must remember, there are many people who do the course, and are satisfied. They enjoy it, they are happy and then they go away.
It is like someone who was hungry had good food in a restaurant. If their tummy is full they don’t think about food again till the next few hours, right? In the same way, when people are so satisfied after doing the course, they are so fulfilled, they don’t think about doing their practice for some time. Till they start feeling some emptiness, then they come back. It is just this!
When you have had a good meal, you don’t think about food for the next seven to ten hours, or maybe one day. This is exactly what happens. You are giving them a full meal, so nurturing, so satisfying, so tasty and they eat that and they don’t come back for some time. But they will definitely be back.
But if you make them feel guilty for not practicing it again and again, that will keep them away also. Don’t make them feel guilty.
Tell them, ‘what you have learnt here, it is good to do it, but if you don’t do it also, it does not matter. Come sometime at least.’
Otherwise they will feel, ‘oh I have learnt this and I have not done the practice. How can I go and face the teacher?’ And if they come and meet you and you again take a stick and tell them, ‘look, you have not done your practice.’
Just remember, in school you never liked to meet the teacher who would take a ruler and say, ‘you have not done your homework.’ I remember there were a couple of teachers like this. Especially one teacher who would always ask the students if they have done their homework or not, and punish them. So the kids would try to avoid that particular teacher, because every time the teacher would ask, ‘hey, have you done your homework?’
The other teachers would not ask that so much.
You would like to avoid that particular teacher who holds you against what you have not done. So don’t create guilt in anybody. When they are hungry they will come back.
I have seen people who have not attended the meditation program for ten years or who did the course ten years ago, they come back. When there is a need, they definitely will be back. And you have the tastiest menu with you!
Q: Opposite values are complimentary. Does love have a compliment or does it have the opposite?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think you have not heard my Bhakti Sutra talk. You must hear it. There is one love that has hatred. There is another level of love that has no opposite – that is the Divine Love; that is the Spiritual Love.
There is one, that emotional love – ‘Oh, I love you, love you’, and then later you say, ‘I can’t stand you!’
You say, ‘honey, honey, honey’, and then you become diabetic.