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.
You must first ask whether this is what every teacher wants. . Only when all desires have been wiped out, will you find mukti.
See, teachers get so much respect. You get so much respect, and when you have to face disrespect, what happens to you? You get shaken. If you are not shaken even when people are hurling abuses at you, that is when your real quality shines up.
When you are respected, your real quality does not shine up. But you say something that people don’t like and then see how much of abuse they hurl at you, and at that time if you are calm and collected, your true quality comes out. Then you can say you are centred now. How do you know whether or not you are centred? Not when you are given a lot of adoration but when you are given abuses or when you are disrespected. Then you can think that none of this touches me. I am centred, I am happy, I am content and I am committed.
You know, many times when there are hurdles or people disrespect you, for example with volunteers whose good work is not recognized, what happens? The volunteers do not feel like doing anything more, and wash their hands off. “See, I worked from morning to night and nobody has recognized me or thanked me, they even pushed me out”. These sorts of complaints may come up with volunteers, where there is an expectation - I do a good job and I should get a reward back. This is normal with people, but with teachers, you have to pass this threshold and then you can say that you are centered. Going off-center is a normal thing but if a teacher is off-center, then it is a sad thing. For a teacher, the knowledge helps you to keep to the center and adverse situations will make you realize your inner strength.
How do you connect to the different sections of society so easily and make spirituality relevant to them? Do you think that ISIS can be reformed through spirituality too?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I never lose hope in anything. I only wish that everyone gets a taste of this.
See, deep inside, everyone is a human being. If you keep aside your concepts and if you keep aside your intellect which has shrouded the beautiful soul, you will see the world from a very different angle. I have malice for none. I have hatred to nobody. I only have compassion. My dear, they are our own people.
People who are engaged in violence are mentally, emotionally and spiritually sick. A doctor never dislikes any sick people. If he hates anybody, he is no longer a doctor. He has to come out of the chair of ‘vaidya’. It is a different issue that he may not be able to heal or cure everybody, but as a doctor, he never dislikes anyone. He may say, “I am sorry, I cannot do anything about this.”
I have not yet gone to the corner of ‘sorry’ as yet, that I cannot do anything about it. I cannot say right now. There is a hope somewhere, sometime. We have done it in the past, whether it is in the north-east (of India), with the ULFA, or some people in Kashmir, or in Kosovo, or when our teachers went to the FAARC people in Columbia. We have had good experiences of bridging the gap, creating back the trust they had in each other and uplifting human values.
Today morning only, one teacher from Maharashtra has shared her experience on how ten dacoits barged into her house and how she reacted to them. She didn’t have any fear. She told them that her home is an ashram and they could have food and go. The dacoits first tried to cover her with a blanket but when they saw her courage, they asked if she was not scared or something like that. They knew that she was on the spiritual path, and so they ate the food and went away! I am not saying that everyone should try that, but faith in humanity, faith in love, faith in values is what really pays off finally.
In Russia, when it is very cold, meditation is better. Is there a connection between temperature and meditation? I have heard that many Rishis meditate in the snow in the Himalayas.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Of course, when it is cool, it is better for meditation and that is why they used to go into caves where it cooler, and not in the scorching heat. But, there are techniques and methods to do in hot climates as well. There are pranayamas you can do in warmer climates. Sheetali and sheetkari pranayama are there (to cool the system in hot weather).
You know, the ‘hot yoga’ has become quite popular in the west for some time, but I would not recommend you to do all that. I would say that you should do it in an air-conditioned room and that is good enough. Of course, this gives you temporary relief if you do in hot climate but its repercussions on your nervous system has to be studied scientifically. Before this, we cannot advise people to do asanas and pranayamas in 40 degree celsius temperatures. Cooler places are definitely more congenial.
If you see, a wild forest in the Arctic area where it is cooler, the trees grow in an orderly manner when compared to a forest in a tropical country. Have you noticed that the branches and trees? The shapes are all very orderly. So the temperature reduces and the entropy also reduces. That means more orderliness comes up. It is the same for plants, human beings and animals.
I have told my boss that I have faith in the Bhagavad Gita. So, when I work for him, I work without expecting any fruits for my actions. Since then my boss has stopped paying my salary. What should I do? Was that a mistake?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I don’t think it was because of the Bhagavad Gita. You may not have worked properly! You might have been chanting in your work place, or did not work at all. I have to hear the other side of the story as well my dear, before I give you any verdict. I cannot give a one-sided verdict.
Just because you are reading the Bhagavad Gita and saying that you do not expect any fruits for your actions is not a reason for not paying you for sure. You must not have used your brains when it should have been used. You must not have followed the Bhagavad Gita and simply read it. You may not have been skilful.
What does the Bhagavad Gita say, “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam” (yoga is excellence at work). It is an open secret that when you are a subordinate and tell your boss that he is wrong, no matter however right you are, that’s it! You will get the final order. So you have to be skilful in expressing it.
You can say that I feel like this but you know better. Just saying the last part, you know better, not with a different tone but in the right tone will help you. The whole thing is about skill in communication.