Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
In life there are two situations: One is when you are comfortable and happy. Another situation is when you are upset and unhappy.
So what is needed to maintain this comfort and happiness is a willingness to do service.
When we are happy then we don’t serve. Usually the mind doesn’t go in the direction. When you are happy you just want to enjoy and don’t think about care, share or service at that time, and that is when it is very much needed. When you are happy and you do service then happiness will remain.
What we need to ask for is the willingness to do seva when we are happy, and the ability to let go and turn inward when we are unhappy. We need to ask for this, ’Give me the strength to let go and turn inward when I am unhappy.’
And learning to let go of the world when we are still here, in it, enjoying it, is wisdom.
Once an elderly lady in one satsang asked a question, ‘Why did God make this world so miserable?’
The answer was, ‘Yes, he has made it like that for you. Even when it is so miserable you don’t let go of it and turn towards God. Otherwise you will never turn inward.’
The purpose of life is not to be miserable and not make others miserable. If you make this one thing clear in the mind then what is the purpose will automatically come. Do maximum good to maximum number of people.
Q: Dear Guruji, what is the meaning of the Shiva Linga?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Lingam means an identification, a symbol through which you can identify what the truth is, what the reality is. What is not visible but yet can be identified by one thing that is Lingam. When a baby is born, how do you know whether the baby is a male or female? Only through one part of the body can you identify whether this baby is a boy or a girl. Otherwise babies look alike until a certain age. But one part tells you what the future is. And that is the reason the genital is also called Lingam.
Linga means gender. Streelinga means feminine gender and Pulinga means masculine gender. Gender means that by which you identify that which is not yet fully expressed. This is literal meaning of Lingam.
So Shiva Linga means the Divinity is not yet expressed. It is the Divine that is inexpressible actually; beyond expression; identifying that which is not yet expressed. Knowing something which is beyond with a symbol, that is what it is.
This ancient language is so powerful. Just keep a stone anywhere and it becomes a Lingam, which means, through the stone I am thinking of something which is not yet expressed.
Q: Is living a life as a celibate the middle path? How do we get to know of God’s expression in its totality without the feminine-masculine principle?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, you are made up of both, feminine and masculine. Both aspects are in you. Now, celibacy is not the only way. It is not a practice. Celibacy is something that happens, when you know that you are not the body. And the genders masculine and feminine are only to the body, it is not for the consciousness. The consciousness is beyond.
Now, when you realize this consciousness is beyond then you go beyond the gross pleasure. Otherwise we have been trying to know male and female in so many lifetimes being a cat, dog, horse, and whatever animal, and human beings as well. So if you just want to know that then keep knowing it. For how long will you want to know? At some point of time you will say, ‘Enough is enough. I want to just go inside.’ That is when the mind turns inward.
So you should not negate everything and go; but when the energy in you rises up then you want a joy that is free from feverishness and excitement. And that is what it is.
That is why it is said, a minute of Samadhi is equivalent to 1000 units of sex. How much joy you get in one unit of sex, a thousand units of sex is one Samadhi. And that one minute of Samadhi is equivalent to a billion years of rest.
So, do you want that? Then you have to go beyond these regular things. See, you have to give up something to get something.
If you want to really enjoy a nice good meal, you have to give up eating junk food all day. If you are stuffing yourself with a bag of potato chips from the morning, you can’t enjoy your lunch because you won’t have the appetite for it, right? When you are hungry, then you are able to enjoy a good meal.
Q: There are a few people in my life who I want to forgive. Many times I decide to forgive and forget, but all of a sudden I go into the past and start disliking them again. What should I do? I want to be free.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do it right away.
They just did what they had to do, they had no choice. Don’t think of them as free individuals who could go with their choice. They were programmed like that; and the programmed chip is inside. They just work like that, poor thing. Just be compassionate for them. They were compelled to do what they did to you. That is it, finished!
Q: I am torn between spirituality and sex. I feel a sense of guilt mixing both. I am married and have a good relationship with my wife
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are married you have that dharma; that is your duty.
So when you are married then you have to grow together with your spouse and help them to grow.
Have you read Yoga Vasistha? There is a story of Lila in it. Read Yoga Vasistha.
Celibacy is not a practice. It is something that happens when you know that you are not the body. The genders masculine and feminine are only to the body, it is not for the consciousness. The consciousness is beyond.
Q: Psychologists and mostly western thinkers say one should strive to find one’s own purpose and live it. Does each soul have a unique purpose in this life, outside of attaining enlightenment that is?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Each soul is doing some work here on this planet.
You can choose whatever work you want to do, whatever career you want to take. But there is a common thing that psychologists forget. What is that common thing?
Shared values, human values, happiness. These days they have started talking about it.
‘Are you happy?’ This is something we need to ask.
If you are not, then turn inward to find the happiness. Don’t look for it somewhere outside. Once you turned inward, everything starts opening up.
So the purpose of life is not to be miserable and not make others miserable. If you make this one thing clear in the mind then what is the purpose will automatically come.
Do maximum good to maximum number of people. Wherever you are, be the one who is wanted there.
Have you given your 100%? Are you that type of personality where people want to have you back in their team? Are you a team player? If not, then we have to tune ourselves to be team players. When we smoothen these rough edges in our life then the purpose in life becomes very clear.
Do you know why you want a purpose? It is because that brings you satisfaction.
What is the point of doing a purposeful thing? It is because it brings satisfaction. You do something which is not purposeful and it does not bring you satisfaction. So, wanting to have a purpose or no purpose is centered on attaining satisfaction.
If you attain satisfaction, every little thing you do will become very useful.
When you say, ‘I want a purpose’, you are the center of it and you are always thinking what you will gain from this. But when you are satisfied, your whole life becomes useful.
And if being useful is the purpose of your life, then be it, and that is it. Got it? You feel very satisfied when you are being useful. This is something that people have to keep in mind, to be useful. And when you say I want to be useful, then wherever you are whatever you do, automatically you will find yourself to be very useful.
Q: Is it possible to attain self-realization even if I am stuck in a dysfunctional marriage? My spouse’s negativity and anger floods my system. Do I still have a chance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, yes, yes, yes! Thank your spouse. You can grow very well and you can become really solid. They are negative and you are positive, in spite of whatever they accuse you of you keep smiling. You have all the chances.
Q: According to the textbooks of University of Toronto it says that a woman has to reincarnate in the body of man to attain enlightenment. The text book says that this is written in the Vedas.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Totally wrong! Immediately write to them a letter telling them this is wrong. It is not said like that anywhere in the Vedas. Let them give me a quotation. It is simply not true.
Yes, it is what is called the Smritis, but the Smritis are not the Vedas, they were written by different Kings of different times. In the ancient times, different Kings of different kingdoms wrote the rules and regulations for the society. One of those is Manu Smriti, in which he has written only one thing, that women are not fit for freedom because she needs protection by the father, and then by the husband, and later on by the son. All through her life she needs protection, so she is not fit for freedom.
But this is only in the Smritis, which means it is only a King’s opinion. Nowhere in the Vedas is it said that women cannot attain enlightenment. There are women saints! Gargi and Maitri, they are enlightened ones.
Tell them to read Yoga Vasishta. Lessons of the Vedas are in the Yoga Vasistha. It is a woman who attained enlightenment first, Chudala. And then another woman called Leela.
Leela and Chudala, these are the women who have attained enlightenment first, and then had their husbands attain through them. We should ask them to change their text.
Q: Dearest Guruji, I am not interested in spirituality or attaining enlightenment. I am only interested in you! How can I attain you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You are saying the same thing in a different manner that is all. I am spirituality and you can’t separate spirituality or enlightenment from me. That is impossible.
In the ancient texts it’s called Dravya Guna Sambandha, the relation between a substance and its quality. It is through the quality only that you identify a substance.
Sugar powder and salt powder they both look like, it is only through the taste that you know whether it is sugar or salt; through the sweetness or the saltiness.
I know many times many women in their blissful state or in their worried state put salt in the pudding. Honestly tell me, how many of you have done this before? (Many raise their hands)
It is milk pudding and it tastes very salty.
So, it is the quality in a substance that makes that substance. They are related very closely.
Q: I want to lose my mind, what do I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just sit here when the hollow and empty meditation is happening and the mind automatically dissolves. Your wanting to lose it is the problem. Just be! However the mind is let it be. If it is full of garbage say, ‘Okay, let it be.’
All the garbage in your head is organic compost, let it be. You’re trying to get rid of it is a biggest problem. It is a big work, so for God’s sake, don’t do such work. Mind has been given by God, let it be. This is the sutra – Let it be.
There is only one thing that is worth relying on and that is the being, the truth, the consciousness, and that is what everything is.
Q: How to deal with negative, controlling, political people? In short our bosses.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: With 3 things, skill, patience, and positivity. This should work. If this doesn’t work, then team up, this is the easiest thing most people do. Team up against somebody and very easily it can work. But success is not guaranteed there. For success, skill, patience and positivity, all these are needed. And if you ask me, prayer, that is the best.
As I said yesterday, everything is just made up of one substance. If you just have that intention, let this man change today, and when you go with that intention you will see, he will behave completely different.
See, in this world many times your friends behave like enemies, hasn’t this happened to you? Someone whom you do everything for they behave like enemies, and sometimes those whom you considered enemies they come to your rescue. This is a fact in history. Turn the pages of history and you will find that in every continent, in every country, in every village such things have been happening in the past. So, there is only one thing that is worth relying on and that is the being, the truth, the consciousness, and that is what everything is.