Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Uncertainty – The Only Certainty
Boone, North Carolina
You know, in life there is always some botheration, about one thing or another. That is why it is called as Maya(delusion). It is such an illusion.
Anything can become a botheration for you. If someone loves you, it becomes a botheration, and if they do not love you, then also it becomes a botheration.
Your friends are a source of botheration, and so are your enemies. Is it not so? That is why, in the Yoga Sutras, Maharishi Patanjali says, ‘Parinama tapa samskara duhkhaih guna vrittih, Virodhatcha dukhham eva sarvam vivekinah.’ (Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Ch. 2, V. 15)
This means that the one who has sharp discrimination finds that everything in this world is a problem. If you speak it is a problem; if you do not speak, then too it becomes a problem. And when the wise one knows this, then he does not mind it, for he knows he has no choice. So no matter what happens, he is happy.
He thinks, ‘Come what may, let me not lose my happiness’. This is what one should hold on to – come what may, I must not lose my happiness. For example, you are doing something and it does not go well. Why should you lose your happiness over it as well? It is a double loss then, is it not?
Say you suffer a loss in your business. Now anyway the loss has happened. At least you should not lose your happiness with it also. This is wisdom. That is the state this spiritual knowledge should bring you to. This is the measure of your growth.
Whether you suffer a loss in your business, or in a relationship; or a loss in any other sphere of life; you should not lose your happiness. Then you are catching on to the real thing.
Swami Ramdas was invited to Tokyo to give a talk on Vedanta (a school of thought of Indian Philosophy, literally meaning ‘The goal or the end of Vedas’).
So he travelled all the way from India by ship, because in those days you could travel such large distances by ship alone, and it would take a month. He was a sanyasi (an ascetic who has renounced the world) and just carried a pair of clothes with him wherever he went.
When he reached there, the organizer of the event had vanished, and there was no audience! So he stood near the ocean shores there and gave a talk to himself. He gave a discourse to himself and happily came back (laughter). He did not blame anybody, neither the organizers nor the audience who did not show up. There was no one to listen to him, and he did not know Japanese.
This happened so many decades back, and at that time, there were no frequent traveller programs like the ones we have now. So he bore the cost of his ticket and went there by himself. This incident is a popular anecdote in the circles of Swamis – how Swami Ramdas gave a discourse to himself on the Vedanta and returned to India.
Something similar happened in India also.
We keep having many conferences from time to time. Conferences help in building PR (Public Relations) by bringing people together and in networking. People come, they get to know each other, they discuss and then they bid each other good bye. Nothing much comes out of these conferences, because there is no deep knowledge that is discussed.
So it happened one time, that there was this panel of people in a conference and a gentleman was addressing the gathering. The MC (Master of Ceremonies) was ringing the bell but the speaker ignored it and continued speaking. For some people, once they get the mike they just do not let it go. For such speakers, it takes half an hour to warm up, and then the real speech starts. So the MC then went and tugged at the speaker’s shirt from behind, but the gentleman still did not stop. When the MC did this for the third time, the speaker took off his shirt and gave it to the MC, and continued speaking! (Laughter)
He was ready to part with his shirt but not with the mike.
Q: Beloved Gurudev, I usually feel complete only when I am in a relationship. How do I overcome this tendency because I suffer?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, this is very difficult. When you are in a difficult state, then any advice appears to prick you like thorns, and nothing really makes much sense. You have simply asked a question; we sympathize with you.
You know, there are five types of questions that people usually ask. You have heard me speak about this earlier also. We shall take it up some other time.
Whenever anyone is miserable, they repeatedly ask this question, ‘Why me? Why this suffering for me? Why is God so unfair to me? I am so miserable’, etc.
` When someone is in such a state, even if you try to tell them anything, they will behave as if they are deaf. They will not listen to you.
Have you had this experience with people at home? When elderly people are very unhappy, they ask questions, but any answer you give them, they look somewhere else. They do not take your answer at all.
So people who are miserable have a question inside them. In such a case, it is better that you keep quiet.
The second type of question is the one that people ask when they are angry. They will ask, ‘Why this injustice towards me?’ They are very logical, but they are angry. So they also have a big question. Again, there is no point answering them.
The third type of question is asked by people who already know the answer but still want to ask. They do this to check out whether you also know it or not. They will ask you questions like, ‘Tell me what has been said in the third stanza of so-and-so Upanishad’.
They do this to check out if you know or not, although they know the answer.
The fourth type of question is asked by people who simply want to make their presence felt. They will stand up and ask you the question, and when you start answering the question sincerely, they will start doing something else. They are least bothered about your answer. They just stood up and made their point, so that everyone notices that they are there, and that you also know that they are there.
The fifth type of question is asked by people who sincerely want the answer; and they know that you know it. They will take the answer you are going to give them.
See, there is no point in someone asking a question without their believing that you know the answer.
Say you are from North Carolina, and someone asks you, ‘How long will it take to travel to Rayleigh?’ You will know the answer. So when they ask the question, they know for sure that you know the answer, and they ask this with the sincerity of getting the answer. This is the question that is worth answering. For the other four types of questions, simply respond with a smile. And that smile should be a measured smile. You should not give the same smile for all the four questions.
For the first type of question, the smile should be just a little, like 2%. When someone is miserable, do not give a big smile, otherwise you will get something ‘big’ in return as well (laughter). When someone is angry, then your smile should be just 3%, or so. Your smile should convey an innocent sense of ‘I do not know’. But for the third and fourth type of question, you can smile a little bigger.
Q: Dear Gurudev, whatever you have said, I have at some time experienced it before. But I am now not able to experience it any more. What is the reason for that, and what should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just relax. You are in the right space at the right time. See, these experiences come and go. Just take them as they come. Neither should you hanker for them, nor should you try to avoid them also. This is our golden principle.
Q: What is the purpose of so many Upanishads when they all say the same thing?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are little differences amongst each. Though they all say the same thing, yet the style is very unique and it is not the same thing.
Each one has its own specific flavour. It is like when you go to an ice cream shop and ask, ‘Why have you kept so many flavours of ice cream?’ So, basically they are ice cream but each is a different flavour. One is chocolate, one is pistachio, another is butterscotch, etc. Essentially it is all sugar and cream. The ingredients are essentially the same, but each has a different flavour.