Friday, November 30, 2012
Heart should be soft, intellect should be sharp & mind should be pleasant
Q: How to remove depression in the mind?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Firstly, wake up and realize that life is temporary. We will live for another 15-20 years, and then we all have to die. In these 15-20 years that you live, think about spreading happiness to others, think about behaving well with others. Where is the depression then? When we keep thinking about ‘What will happen to me? What will happen to me?’ day in and day out then depression sets in. This is the sure-shot way of getting into depression: ‘What will happen to me?’
Q: When someone hurts us, we go into depression.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: How can others hurt you? Those who hurt others are foolish. Will you blame anyone who is actually foolish or is mentally ill? No. So just think that those who hurt you are either foolish or are (mentally) ill. If you think this way, then you will not feel hurt.
If you think, everyone is wise and they should act wisely, how is it possible? Everyone has their own little mind, own desires, problems and ignorance. Just accept them. No one can hurt us until we permit them to do so.
Q: Gurudev, I feel your love and affection every moment, but sometimes I am just not able to understand the divine knowledge (given by you). What should I do that I can get both your love and knowledge?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Whatever you find difficult to understand is not to be understood at all. If it is all going above your head, let it go. Take only what you can understand.
See, everyone’s capacity to gain knowledge is different, but to feel and be in devotion, there is no concept of capacity. Everyone is same and equally capable. There is no special qualification for it. But, when you talk of gaining knowledge, people have a different capacity. Some people can gain more, some less; but it doesn’t make any difference when you have devotion and a feeling of oneness.
Don’t think that God will be happy with you or be fond of you only if you are very knowledgeable. The purpose of knowledge is for your own joy.
To purify your intellect, you need knowledge;
to purify your heart, you need love;
to purify your karma, you need seva;
All three should go together.
Q: Gurudev, when we see outward we feel jealous. In the same way if we see the Guru outwardly also can we get trapped in jealousy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. When you think, ‘See, Gurudev has given him a garland but did not give me’ or ‘Gurudev talked to him/her but not to me.’ Or ‘He passed me, but did not smile at me. Is he angry with me?’ Thinking in this manner you only project your own mind.
Why should I be angry with you? If you do a mistake, why should I be angry? No way. If someone has done something wrong, he will automatically pay for it himself. So, never think that the Guru is angry with you, or is ignoring you. It is not so.
Outward appearance and behavior are like that. Don’t look at outwardly behavior, look inward and realize that you are as dear to God as anyone else. If this thought is solidified in your mind then there will be no jealousy.
Q: If we have to look at the Guru or the Guru Tattva, then what kind of sight do we need?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: One should feel that everyone belongs to him; and one should have tolerance. In one day I have to listen to 2000 to 3000 questions. Do I listen to them or not? No matter how many questions, I listen to them all. Do I listen to them with joy or not?
So, stability of the mind; sharpness of the intellect; softness of the heart. These three are important in life.
Heart should be soft,
intellect should be sharp &
mind should be pleasant.
Never lose these three.
Even if it seems to be lost, think that it is not gone away but is there and just hidden.
Q: Gurudev, what is the difference between God and the sky? How do we realize that?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First have you realized who you are? Who are you? Have you found out? No. You are here aren’t you? Are you sure? Sit down and ponder on ‘Who am I’. When you find out the real answer, you will realize that there is no answer. When you think ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’, you have to keep these concepts aside one by one and you feel only the Akash Tattva.
So, first you realize yourself, then God will follow you.
You might have heard about the couplet by Kabirdasji:
Jab main Hari Hari kehke jaa raha tha, Hari miley nahin kahin; Ab jab main apne aap mein baitha, ab laage Hari peeche Kabir Kabir.
(When I was calling out for Hari (God) I was not able to find Him anywhere; And when I stopped and looked within me, it now appears that He is following me.)
Let the Lord follow you like this.
Q: Sati was also a form of the Devi as was Parvati. What happened that Sati attained Self-realization while Parvati became His consort?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Devi (Mother Divine) does not have just one form, She has many. That is why She is known as Leela. She comes in different forms to teach different things; that is her Leela (play). Just understand this much.
Q: For a devotee, what is more important: the form or to worship the formless?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First tell me whether you have a form or not.
Devotee: I have a form.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You have a form? Where is the form? What is the form of your mind?
Devotee: The mind does not have a form.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, your body has a form but your mind does not. Aren't you a combination of both? You are both the body and the mind aren’t you? So you are a combination of the form and the formless. In the same way, the entire creation is the manifested form of the Divine, though He is formless. Consciousness is formless and the manifest creation in nature has form.
That is why in our country even cows are revered and considered holy. Peepal (sacred fig) trees are considered holy. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagawad Gita that among trees I am ‘Ashvath’ (Peepal). In the same way, He has said ‘Bhutanaam Chetanaschaas (I am Chetana (consciousness). He has said, ‘Jeevanam Sarva Bhutesu’ i.e. I am the life-force in living things.
Even the Gopis went from worshiping the form to worshiping the formless. And this happened very naturally for them. They started seeing Him in everything and every place. They were not able to live without Him even for a single moment. This is the pinnacle of devotion, the height of devotion.
Devotion always starts with the form and ends with the formless. The traditional practice itself has been like this - first worship the feet, then worship the idol, then worship the saligram (referring to the practice of worship of Lord Vishnu in the form of a sacred black stone), then worship the yantra (an metal sheet-like instrument with sacred symbols, mantras and diagrams drawn for the purpose of worship).
Without the yantra, the idol does not get any power. A specific yantra is associated with every deity. More superior to the yantra is the mantra. Without the mantra, the yantra does not work. So, without the yantra, the idol has no significance and without the mantra, the yantra has no significance. The mantra also is of no use without the presence of a saint or a seeker. If you just take a mantra from anyone, it will not work. The mantra has to be received as per the holy tradition and rituals for it to work. So everything has its own significance.
Q: I have three questions. If God is present as consciousness in everyone, then why do we search for Him within us as the Self? Why does He create the delusions? Why does He let wrong happen in the world?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes. You have asked a good question. The answer for this is that He does not like to remain quiet. Only if there is some chaos can He come down as an avatar to solve it. It is a game.
I will ask you a similar question. Why do people play football or cricket? 11 people are standing this side and 11 people are standing the other side and they are knocking the ball. What is the benefit of all this?
Devotee: He is just taking it as an experience or is enjoying it.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, He is getting joy or ananda out of it.
Devotee: But how do people get enjoyment out of doing wrong things in society like killing etc.?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Do you not watch movies like the thriller movies? Do only good things happen in the movies? Is there no chaos or no villain, nothing wrong happening? Just imagine if Ravana was not there in the Ramayan. Then Ramayana would become just another tale: There was a King named Rama. He got married and had sons, and that was it. The end. Then how will you recognize the hero? In any movie, what do you see?
When there is some hooliganism and villainy the hero jumps from the 14th floor, he makes the car fly, etc. He jumps from the car to the boat. Why do they take so much risk?
Q: What is mahat (a subtle principle or element finer than the ego) and how can we recognize the mahat tattva?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: First the mind should become subtler. Then intellect should become sharper. As this happens, the ego dissolves. When the ego dissolves, then mahat tattva reveals and manifests itself. To bring the mahat tattva to light, the ego has to disappear, it has to dissolve. Those people whose ego has dissolved are called Mahatma.
Q: How relevant are orthodox superstitions like the evil eye etc? Are they correct or wrong?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The world of thoughts is a subtle world. There is some effect of all these and there is a simple way to remove these effects. All this is based on vibrations.
There are vibrations everywhere. The whole life is a vibration. Every object is a vibration. So, maybe some negative vibration can come towards you. You might feel little discomfort. If someone abuses you, then doesn't your mind get scattered and lose its focus? Doesn’t it happen to you?
A simple solution was found by our ancient people – waving and sprinkling some salt near the body was thought to remove these vibrations. Even in foreign countries when people have some mental disturbances, they go near the beach, the ocean. They feel the salty air invigorates and energizes their consciousness. Just by using salt and water, you can cleanse your subtle aura; nothing more than this is required.
There are many superstitions and false beliefs - like holding the infant upside down in temples; burying the child in sand for a minute or so etc. All this is very wrong and should not be done. Our society has many wrong beliefs and there is absolutely no support for this in the scriptures.
It is mentioned very clearly in the scriptures that what does not appeal to your intellect or is not practical and appears to be a wrong behavior, you should not do that at all.
Sanatan Dharma is against such superstitions. But such superstitions have creeped into all religions. We have to remove the superstitions and adopt only good practices.
Q: Ravana was a learned Brahman and rushed to protect his sister, whereas Rama caused misery to his parents, unfairly defeated Bali, was a football of other people's opinions, and threw his wife out. Why do we consider Rama as good and Ravana as evil?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It appears as if this is the Ramayana of Sri Lanka! (laughter) Every story has two sides. Ramayana from a different angle shows that Ravana was a good person. Lord Rama himself said so. He never said that Ravana was bad. He told Lakshmana that Ravana was a wise scholar and that he should learn the knowledge Ravana has, before he (Lord Rama) went to him.
There is another very beautiful story. When Lord Rama wanted to install the Shivalingam in Rameshwaram to pray to Lord Shiva, he could not do it without his wife and without a Brahman priest. He requested Ravana for help. Ravana himself brought Sita and acted as the priest for the pooja ritual and helped in establishing the Shivalingam. Ravana even blessed Lord Rama with long life when Lord Rama touched his feet after the pooja. Ravana said that he was bound by his duty at that moment as a priest to bless Lord Rama. When one asks for blessings from a priest, he is obligated to grant them.
It is also a tradition that the purohit has to arrange the samagri (ingredients) of the pooja which the yajamana (one for whom the pooja is conducted or organized), and since the consort of Lord Rama was not available for the pooja, he arranged to bring Lord Rama’s wife Sita to him for the pooja. How many of you here have not heard this story?
Sage Agasthya advised Lord Rama that without praying to Lord Shiva he could not win the war. He had to install the idol (Shivalingam) of Lord Shiva at Rameshwaram for this. So Lord Rama made the arrangements for this. Lord Hanuman said that he would bring Shivalingam from Kashi (Varanasi). A purohit was needed before Lord Hanuman returned for themuharat (auspicious time for the pooja). And it was believed that there was no greater devotee and purohit than Ravana at that time.
Have you seen the picture/image of Rameshwaram? In that image, Ravana is present, Vibheeshan (Ravana’s younger brother who moved to Lord Rama’s camp before the war) is also present. The pictures are sold there locally. So, after the prana pratishthan (ritual act of installing the shrine or idol of the deity to be worshipped), when Lord Rama sought the blessing of the purohit, i.e. Ravana, he blessed him with ‘Vijayi Bhava’ (May you be victorious!) After the pooja was over, Lord Hanuman arrived and was upset that though he had brought the Shivalingam from Kashi, the puja was already over. So then Lord Rama, in order to pacify Lord Hanuman, installed the Shivalingam brought by him also. So there are two Shivalingams – One is Rameshwaram and the other is known as Hanumathlingam. This is the story.
So, you should imbibe and take only good virtues from everyone. If you look only for vices then you will find only vices. You will see faults in Lord Rama and even more faults in Lord Krishna. That is why the Jains have kept Lord Krishna’s place in hell. They say that he will not remain there forever. The next time he will be the first Tirthankar. He is such a great Atmagyani (a Self-realized Soul).
Our culture is very unique. One should not be caught in the negativity of cravings and aversions. Overcome them and search for the Truth.
Q: Gurudev, there is a positive effect on the people around us when we meditate. Do our ancestors and coming generations also benefit from meditation? How to comprehend this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes when we meditate, it influences everybody. Encourage those who are living now to meditate. Merely indulging in karma kaand (rituals and worship) will not suffice.
Those who have died and crossed over will be very pleased when you meditate.
Q: How to keep a balance of intelligence and innocence? We tend to lose our innocence.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, no, you cannot lose your innocence, it is in your nature. If it appears that you have lost, come back to it. It doesn't take more than a minute. The moment you are aware of it, you are back. The innocence is always there in the present moment. We are innocent in the present moment.
Q: In Jainism it is said that yagnas should not be performed because fire kills living organisms. I have attended the yagnas (ritual offering and sacrifices to the sacred fire) here and they were very good, beyond words. How do I understand what the scriptures say in Jainism ?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The main essence of Jainism is meditation - dhyaan. The second is ahimsa (non-violence). They both go together – ahimsa and meditation.
Religions blossomed at different times and at different places. According to the time, space and place, knowledge was given. Like, in the desert, there were no trees, nothing to make fire with, and in areas where there was not enough wood, the tradition (of not having yagnas) became congenial to that place at that time.
In Jainism it is said that you have to filter the water with a cloth before drinking it. It is a perfect science. But today what do people do? They tie a cloth around the mouth of the tap (to filter the water). I remember once in Surat I stayed with a Jain family. They had a cloth tied to all the taps in the house. Flies and dust would come on the cloth and when you open the tap, the water would come along with all the dust and dirt. The purpose (of tying the cloth) was different, but we interpreted the scripture in a different way and made the good water more polluted for drinking. So sometimes we stretch ahimsa too much. In the same way, people have stretched yagna too much. They spend too much and burn so many things which are not necessary. There is something in every tradition that is worth appreciating, which is valuable.
In Jainism also there is not just one tradition. In one particular Jain tradition they do some hawan (another term for yagna). Hawan is a part of some Jain tradition also. In Buddhism also.
In Jainism there are some differences like Sthanakvasi (a sect of Jainism that believes the soul to be formless and hence shuns idol worship), Terapanthi (a sect of Jainism), Deravasi or Moortipoojak (a sect of Jainism that practices idol worship) etc.
Some people worship the form, some people do not. So there are many different notions, aren’t there? In some particular Jain traditions, they do not keep any moortis (idols) and in other Jain traditions like Digambar, Shwetambar,Sthanakvasi etc., their tradition and worship rituals are different.
But the main essence is meditation. And yagnas are done for creating a subtle vibration, a subtle energy, which has its own value. In some Jain traditions you cannot even speak without a cover for your mouth. It is not possible. It is not practical. Just imagine if all the people in the world are putting a cover on the mouth.
Some sects in Jainism do not use electricity at all. No mike or light or anything. I would say this is stretching too much what Lord Mahavir has said. We are going beyond the real meaning of what the Tirthankaras (enlightened Self-realized souls) have said.
These are the things which need to be reformed. It is very good that some Jain munis (saints) have already started reforming. They have started moving in cars and planes. In ancient days it was said that you should not use any vehicle because vehicles were driven by animals. It is torturing the animal. That is very true. But today vehicles are not driven by animals, it is driven by petrol. That much Viveka (discretion), we must use in traditions.