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.
Wherever there is truth there is Shiva. Wherever there is beauty there is Shiva. Wherever there is benevolence there is Shiva. And there is not a place where the Shiva principle is not there. It is the omnipresent, omnipotent, most benevolent divinity, that is what Shiva is all about, and we are soaking in that.
We forget that this power is there with us! Shivaratri is to remind us that we are Shiva. That is why we say, "Shivoham, Shivoham", which means 'I am Shiva, I am that principle, I am the truth, eternity, beauty, and benevolence'. So Shivaratri is an occasion to remember this.
In the daily hustle and the bustle, we forget that from which we have come, in which we are and into which we go — that eternal principle is forgotten. This is the most puzzling thing! It is so puzzling how we can forget that from which we have come, in which we live and into which we dissolve. How can we forget that? This is a big puzzle! Remembering that, true celebration happens in life, all the worries disappear; everything that is bothering you simply disappears, doesn't it? And you are all so lucky to be in silence and meditation on this day.
Shivaratri is when the manifest and unmanifest celebrate their union. The One which is so unmanifest, intangible and abstract manifests in the manifestation, in the concrete.
How does one actually keep a check on their emotions and be aware? And when one's emotions are shaken, what to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, if your emotions are shaken, let it be shaken as much as it can be. You know, there is nothing called compassion here. In higher knowledge, compassion is stupidity. Why? You can be compassionate only to somebody else, who is not you. Suppose your hand got hurt , you don't say, I am so compassionate towards my hand. Do you ever say that? When you say that everyone is part of you, where is compassion there? Okay, you got hurt, it's because of your own foolishness you got hurt. Put some ointment and forget about it.
When you get hurt, it's your karma. You must have hurt somebody sometime and so you got it back now. Nothing happens without a reason. This is the highest knowledge.
So, some Masters will always say that if you are suffering, it's not because of somebody, it's because of you only. You better suffer and get rid of it.
Instead of that, if you say, "That person is responsible for my suffering", then you are making more karma and carrying it on to the next lifetime. But if you say, "My suffering is because of me, and I take ownership of the karma", then you become free.
Saying, "My suffering is due to that person", will continue the karma because that impression will be there in your mind. Why are you not looking inside? Why are you not moving on? Why are you holding onto an event of the past and blaming the other person for your karma? If you do this then you will continue to be miserable.
Gurudev, I feel like I have reached a dead end and it is so frustrating. What should I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
That's your karma, nobody can help you. Just understand this (indicating the way the ancient masters dealt with their disciples, as he responds in a similar manner) nobody can help, finished. You are trying to find an escape, but there is no way. I will not tell you. Why should I tell you? You said already it is a dead end, so be dead and suffer!
When a master responds in such a way, see what happens: suddenly freedom arises and you get into a 'Wow' space. A space of total freedom where there is nothing to be done. There is no doer ship, there is no ego, there is no desire and the intellect which is trying to find a way out is also frozen.
I don't know whether they (Masters in the previous generation) consciously did it or not, but they always did it this way. You would have to lock your intellect up. He used to also say this in Hindi many times, "Lock your intellect and sit. Don't let your intellect wag out". I tell you, you people would not survive in such an atmosphere. Survival for even one day is really difficult. We don't have anybody of that generation now. They were all from the older generation, and one could not even understand them. That is what Deepak Chopra was telling me, "Oh, I can't understand this man, he has no compassion. Not a drop of compassion?"
I said, "Don't see it as though this person does not have compassion, otherwise your mind will go crazy. At least you save your mind".
Deepak Chopra was telling me about one incident. He was sitting with Maharishi, and there was this other person also sitting with them. After some time this person got up and left. Just a few minutes after he left, someone came and told Maharishi that the man while crossing the road was hit by a truck and died on the spot. When that news came to Maharishi, he just kept quiet for five seconds and then started doing his own work. He didn't go out and see, or ask what happened, nothing. He started continuing with his own work. Deepak said that he was so shocked with this incident.
I told him, "Look, you need not judge a person as having no compassion Why should there be compassion? When you cut your nails you don’t say, "Oh I am cutting my nails". Like that many people are being born here every day and many are dying every day. And we have come here thousands of times and we have done so many things. Seen life from a bigger angle, then you see a completely different picture".
Just before coming here, I spoke to one teacher who just lost her husband who was also an Art of Living teacher. I just waited one day before speaking to her and people said, "Gurudev, talk to her, talk to her".
I said, "No, let her be in grief for a day, let her do the funeral and then I'll talk to her". So, today, I spoke to her. You know, she is so solid with no wailing, "Why did this happen to me", and blah, blah, blah. She was talking very normally and she said, "I want to come and see you Gurudev".
I said, "Yes, come". That is the beauty in the path. The path gives so much inner strength to you, that you are able to manage. It's not that misery will come to everybody (and so you need inner strength), no! It's not like that.. Here, in The Art of Living all your desires get fulfilled, isn't it? Whatever you wish for gets fulfilled. Whatever you think happens almost immediately. In some places, that is not the case. Sometimes I wonder whether we are making our own people weaker and greedier in this sense.
How would you know who is your true disciple?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I don't care. Why should I know if someone is true or untrue? If they are truthful, they will move up. If they are untruthful, they will fall down because nobody's intellect is in their control.
Why should anyone doubt anybody, whether they are true or false? In my eyes, everybody is good, and if they do something wrong, they are definitely going to go down, but they will come back up again. It's very simple mathematics.
I don't need anything from any disciple. If they move up, very good, if they don't, let them face the music. See, even facing the music makes them good and stronger. You know, I never go to console anyone, "Oh, I am so sorry, you poor thing". You have a problem? Okay, good, deal with it!
This is intimate knowledge, not to be spoken out to the masses. This is to make one understand how to move in the knowledge, and how to move in the path. So there are very many ways.
Coming to abundance, how does one feel abundance? I was asked this same question by an employee 30 years ago. I asked him, "How much money do you have as loan?" He said, "I have 22,000 rupees as loan and I feel I am poor".
I asked him, "Do you know how much loan your company has? It has 22 crores or may be even more!"
I told him, ‘The richest country on the planet, America, do you know how much debt they have? With a debt of 22,000 you think the world has fallen upon you. So now tell me who is rich and who is poor? The one who has a debt of 22 crores or the one who has a debt of Rs. 22,000? You have a limited responsibility of four people, someone else has a responsibility of taking care of 10,000 people". Poverty is only in the mind. In North India, one day before Diwali they celebrate Dhanteras. On Dhanteras they bring out all their wealth, place it in front of God and feel the abundance. Why do they do this? It is because when we feel abundant within, it brings out a positive attitude, energy and enthusiasm, and you are able to get more. But when you are in a 'lack' consciousness, I tell you, that seed that you have sown will increase the lack and reduce abundance. Abundance first starts as a seed within you, so feel abundant. When the seed of abundance is within you, magic happens!
Abundance first starts as a seed within you, so feel abundant.
In the olden days, if some of the children would ask for sweets, the grandmothers would never say that it is not there. They would say, "There are enough sweets, but we just have to go to the shop and buy some". The concept was that, there could be certain angels which would be hovering around, and if you say, "I don’t have this", they would say, “Tathastu”, which means -- so it shall be! You never know when these angels would be hovering around so they would tell us to always keep a positive attitude. This is something beautiful. We need to have a positive attitude at all times.
When the prana (energy) increases, then doubts disappear, questions disappear and problems disappear. When the prana is low, then negativity comes up.
You’re blaming politicians of today, tell me when in the history of time were they any better? Tell me one time in the history of mankind when there was no violence, when there was no Duryodhana, or Marichi, or Ravana, or Kumbhakarna? Were there no Hiranyakashyapu and Hiranyaksha? In fact, in the ancient days, if you would say, "Hari Om", Hiranyakashyapu would come to your home and get you. At least in this age it is better, we don’t have such demons. When we focus on negativity, we harbor it in our mind and get rattled. I would like you to look at it from another angle: there are negative forces, but they are there to unite the good people together. What happened in Paris is a heinous crime, but what did it do? It united the entire nation. A million people got together and stood up for goodness; walked for solidarity. The good will always win! That is also the motto of our nation: ‘Satyameva Jayate’ (Truth alone will triumph) Let’s not forget that! We need to keep reminding ourselves that and each of us here needs to reach out to a hundred or more people and create a wave of happiness.
If you ask anyone, why they are doing what they are doing, what would they say? For happiness, isn’t it? Anyone on this planet does anything for happiness, but do they really find it? Very few find it. So, our duty is to find true, long-lasting happiness and an unshakable smile, and that is called spirituality, and the means is through meditation. Meditation is that which brings intuition, which heightens your intelligence and which brings innovation inside you. This is what is most essential for society today.
Stress means too much to do, too little time and no energy. Stress overshadows our intuition, blurs our innovative spirit and destroys our intelligence. That which is an enemy of all the three (intelligence, innovation and intuition) is stress and mistrust. These we need to eliminate and to do that we have to raise our energy. When our energy is raised, stress is eliminated and intuition appears.
An intellect free from prejudice is one which is really intelligent.
I never paid too much attention to young children, but recently I thought, why don’t we do something for kids and so we conducted an intuition program for children. These kids are able to read with blind-folds on. This knowledge is going to revolutionize education. You cannot fool your kids anymore! You can’t hide things from kids, they know exactly where you have hidden it.
Just day before yesterday a gentlemen messaged me saying that he misplaced an important file and they were searching everywhere for it. His daughter tells him, "Dad, why are you searching for it here and there. It is in the box under your bed". Children have become so intuitive that they can see through the walls. If you keep something in the next room they can tell you what it is.
In Baroda we did a program for about 200 blind children and they were able to see. This is possible through the eyes of the mind. It is amazing! You can find more information and videos on Face book and on YouTube. Even adults can develop this intuitive power but it will take a little longer, do you know why? It is because as adults we have cravings and aversions. We like this, we don’t like that, we like these people, we don’t like these people; we have all types of prejudice clogging our mind. First, we need to be free from that. An intellect free from prejudice is one which is really intelligent. I don't consider the so-called intelligent people of today as intelligent because they are prejudiced. If you have prejudice it means your intelligence is covered. You may have it but you’re not using it.
I want to listen to you speak Sanskrit a little more.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
You better learn to listen to my silence more, I am an expert on it. I am not an expert in any language per se.
(Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressed the inaugural session of The Great Chennai Dialogue on the 10 February 2016 held at 'The Le Meridian Hotel' – where he met a wide audience of professionals consisting of CEOs, Business Heads, Managers, Entrepreneurs, Educationalists, intellectuals and other leaders working in the fields of Marketing, Engineering, information Technology, Banking, Hr, Media and Creativity. Below is the transcript of what Gurudev said at this event :)
We communicate more through our vibes than through our words. When we get off an airplane, the air hostess says, "Have a nice day", but does she mean it? When the same thing is said by your mother or your grandmother, it carries some vibes along with it. Our ability to grasp these vibes depends on our ability to be calm. If we are stuck with one topic in our mind then we lose out on many things. Many times people sit with one question and they become deaf to everything else. Are you getting what I am saying? When you’re holding on to one question then your cup is overflowing, then there is nothing more to put into it.
Once a disciple went to his Guru with many questions and asked him for knowledge. The Guru said, "Come, sit and have a cup of coffee first", and the Guru poured coffee into the cup till it started overflowing and splattered onto the table and then on to the floor. The disciple said, "Gurudev, what are you doing?"
The Guru said, "You have come to me like an overflowing cup. Your capacity to hold is very small but you want answers to some very big questions. You will not be able to hold what I pour. I am ready to give, but are you ready to receive? If you have to receive then first you have to become empty".
Krishna has said in the Gita, "Na hy asannyasta-sankalpo yogi bhavati kascana", if you hold on to one thought in your mind then you will not be able to receive new knowledge.
See, if a mother tells the child, "You get lost", does she really mean it? No! She never means it. She just says it out of anger. We give words their meaning and we give it their meaning from the depth of our being. When we relate from the level of vibrations, that is Aatmasamvadan -- soul to soul communication, and only in this level of communication real knowledge dawns.
In the ancient days, in this country, there was the tradition of Upanayanam where the teacher would make the disciple sit close to him and looks into the eyes of the disciple and passes on the knowledge to him. The disciple in-turn would have faith in his teacher.
If you think that the teacher does not know, then what is the point of asking a question? If I think you don’t know how to go to Guindy, why will I ask you? I ask you because you are from Chennai. But if you are from Bihar and are just a visitor, I would not bother to ask you, isn't that so? So, the faith is important there. Faith is part of our life. We are born with faith. A child does not know the mother but when it looks at the eyes of the mother, it feels the love. It doesn’t ask the mother, "What is your name? Where did you study? Who are your parents? Where are you from? What do you do?" The child knows nothing, but it feels the love. The child doesn’t make the mother an object of knowing. Similarly, something which is so big and great, you cannot make it an object of your knowing. Only when you experience the love, can you receive knowledge. Some people think, only if you have knowledge you can feel the love, even that is ok.
Some people say, "I want to realize God", but why do you want to realize God? My dear, you cannot go away from God. It is impossible! There is air everywhere, but you are able to feel the intensity of it when you sit next to a fan. Similarly, to feel the presence of God you need meditation, satsang and a Master.
How many of you have thought about doubt? (Many in the audience raise hands). How many of you have not thought about doubt? (Few in the audience raise hands). Doubt is always about something that is positive. Have you observed this? If someone tells you, "He’s a very bad person", you agree and take it for granted. There is no doubt about it. But if someone says, "He is a good person", you say, "That’s what you think. Let’s see".
We doubt the honesty of a person, but we never doubt the dishonesty of a person. Similarly, we doubt our own happiness. If someone asks you, "Are you happy?" You say, "Well, I am not sure". But we never ever doubt our depression. Have you ever said, "I am not sure If I am depressed". No! We are very sure about our depression and about our anger, but we are not sure about our love.
We ask people, "Do you really love me?" But we never ask someone, "Are you really angry with me?"
So, we doubt anything that is positive and that’s why we doubt the existence of a power called God. It is very normal to doubt. You doubt in the goodness of people, even that is natural. You also doubt the goodness inside you or something good that is happening to you, isn’t it? Once we know what this doubt is, we jump to a level which is much higher and stronger and that is real faith.
You cannot separate love and faith. You can’t say, "I have faith in you but I don’t love you", and you also can’t say, "I love you but I don’t have faith in you". Love and faith are two sides of the same coin.
The true nature of our soul is obscured by three things:
1. Desire: It could be any desire. 'I don't want to have any desire', is also a desire.
2. Intellect: Which means the judging, discriminating, knowing faculty in us.
3. Ego: Ego is 'I am somebody'.
These three things obscure the self, and meditation is where you just freeze these three things for a few moments – freezing the intellect, the ego and the desires. It is just for some time, so don't be afraid or scared. Later on you can have any number of desires.
Not that all desires are bad, some desires are good, some desires are okay and some other ones are really bad. So all types are there, but if you learn to freeze them, then stillness dawns and that is Samadhi.
Children have all the three things, yet they freeze them very easily. That's why when you ask children, "What do you want", they will say, "Nothing". Have you noticed this? They don't judge anything. In children, the ego is not prominent enough, the intellect is not mature enough and their desires are not strong enough to obscure the self.
This is nice knowledge. Some other time we will go deeper into it.
Are desires connected to fate?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
What you call fate is that which you think you cannot change, right? Now, some Masters from ancient times, what they would do is they would cut your desires off. See, there are two ways:
1. You fulfill the desire.
2. You completely cut it off.
In Art of Living we say, "Okay, little bit of desire, let it be fulfilled", but if you see the previous generation of Masters, they would cut your desires. With Maharishi for example, if you say you want to do something, for example, express a desire to go to Milano, he will see to it that you never get to go there.
With most people, of course, he would tell them to leave all their desires to be fulfilled, but with real disciples he would see to it that their desires never get fulfilled, so that they learn to drop them. It is desires that create anger and misery in you, and presses you to hold on to them. You know, some children, you give them something and they just hold on to it so tight that you have to give them something else to get it out of them, isn't it? Otherwise they make a huge noise. So Masters in the previous generation would make sure that you just dropped your desires. You can't say, "I like this or I like that". If you say it, then finished, you will never get that. You will have to drop it because any desire, even after being fulfilled, leaves you at the same spot that you were in before it arose. So if you go to the Master and say, "That person is blaming me", then he would say, "Good, let them blame you more". I also do this. Suppose someone says, "This person is troubling me", I say, "I will ask them to trouble you even more". Why? That is how you get rid of your ego.
One aspect is making your ego bigger and the other aspect is breaking your ego. When I say, "You are so great", and I praise you, your ego bloats up and becomes bigger. But if I say, "You are so stupid, you are a blue star", and many people laugh at you, then your ego breaks. Humiliation and laughter smashes your ego. One is by praising, another is by smashing the ego. So it was a tough path in those days as this is what they would do.
Maharishi would ask someone to go and enroll 10,000 people for some program, and they would go enroll. A month later they would say, "I have enrolled 10,000 people", and Maharishi would say, "Who asked you to do that". At this time, one can't say, "Oh Maharishi, you only asked me to do it". There is no way one can give any explanation.
This man had done so much work to enroll 10,000 administrators, promising them all the money, heaven on earth and everything, and then suddenly what happened to his ego? It got totally shattered. He can't say anything now, he can't complain, he can't say, "How will I face those people", because the Master will say, "That's your problem, you face them, it's not my problem".
You cannot complain to the Master about anything. It's sometimes completely crazy, but this gives you a good solid training so that you don't ever become a weak person crying over things that are immaterial.
If it is told to you before, like in the DSN course (a rigorous transformational course that empowers participants to break through personal inhibitions and barriers and access inner stability and power) that this is what you have to do, then I think it's effectiveness is less. But when the person doesn't know, and you also don't know, and things happen in such a way (as it happened in the above example), then it is very powerful. You cannot say that they are doing it with some intention. From your side also, you are not even aware, and so you are totally torn apart, and that makes your personality so strong and flexible.
See, what throws you off your balance is your ego. Ego is the reason many things are broken and many things are made. If you pump someone's ego, they can do some good work, and if you smash someone's ego they can break other things also. Ego can create havoc. It can break and it can make, and when your ego is just nicely kneaded like dough, then it is like a croissant with layers and layers and layers. Do you know how a croissant is made, and how the layers come? When you knead it and knead it, the layers come, and that is how the ego is transformed (by kneading it).
I remember, when we were in Saltsburg, I was 20 or 21 years old at that time. Someone came and complained to Maharishi that so-and-so did this. He turned the whole thing around and pinned it on this person saying, "You are hand in glove with him, and you are part of all of this". The person could not say anything. Maharishi said, "You were waiting for that person to make a mistake so that you can come and complain to me, and so you are also a part of it". The man was so shaken and completely taken aback. It was like shock treatment. So the ego, desire and intellect were dealt with like that.
When it came to the intellect, all these Nobel scientists and intellectual people would be there and Maharishi would talk on something which nobody would understand. He would say, "'Aa' became 'Ga' and 'Ga' became 'Na' and 'Na' became 'Ya'". He would say some such thing and nobody would get it. We had to simply sit, including the Vedic pundits. It was such an exercise for the intellect to just let go of the position it takes.
Dear Gurudev, is it possible to be your devotee and a devotee of Jesus at the same time?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Listen, if you are a devotee, it is good enough. There is only one consciousness, that’s it. See one in all and all in one.
I remember a catholic nun who met with me in England way back, 30 years ago. She was very old at that time, and do you know what she said? She said, "If you don’t see Jesus in the first person you see in the morning, you are never going to see him".
So the whole principle is love, oneness and compassion, and that is what Art of living is all about.
Gurudev, I have heard that there is a drug called Ayahuasca that aids in spiritual growth. Apparently, it lets out fears and stumbling blocks that keeps us away from God. It is found mostly in South America. Do you recommend such a thing? It is a natural herb.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Yes, even cocaine is all natural only. It is also a herb, but stay away from it.
Look at people who have taken drugs, do they look like they are in ecstasy? Not at all. If you look at them, you pity them. All their energy gets drained. And moreover, on a subtle level, their aura gets totally broken. People who use drugs, their subtle body (pranic body) gets shattered, and their aura is all cut. So never ever use those things. Just use your breath. With pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation you can go high up and be healthier. And many people have come out of drugs with this. They realize they don’t have to spend money to do this. Wherever you sit and meditate, you are in bliss. This is a very good antidote.
If you have not done Shakti Kriya, you should do it. In 20 minutes of Shakti Kriya you can find yourself in a high and pleasant state of energy.
Gurudev, why is self-love so difficult?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
It is not difficult at all. Self is love, do you get it?
From childhood you have been told that you are bad, and it is the mind which is the enemy of the self. Through this knowledge the mind understands that 'I am love and I don’t need to love myself'. You don’t need a torch to look at a torch. Do you need a candle to look at a candle? The candle itself shows itself. Similarly, you are love. You don’t need to sit and say. "I love myself".
However you are, offer it all to the Divine; your thoughts, your emotions, your mind, positive or negative, however it is, offer it all and be free. Know that this is not your mind, these are not your thoughts. Actually, you might have experienced this -- sometimes for no reason you get angry or upset. Just being with some people or in a certain place suddenly gets you angry. How many of you have experienced this? Suddenly you get angry. It’s not yours. That place had these vibes and when you went, you started reflecting that.
Many times you don’t want to say things, but some people’s vibes make you say things and then you regret it. How many of you have had this experience? (Many in the audience raise their hands).
So you are not living in an island. We affect others and others affect us. Can you say this is my air? No, the air that you breathe out goes into others' lungs as well. We exchange air. When you can’t even protect your air, mind is thousand times subtler than air. And definitely the thoughts affect you, and this is where mantras are very useful. For thousands of years people have chanted these mantras, so when you sit and chant 'Om Namah Shivaya' for a few minutes, it somehow strengthens the mind and energy, and it keeps you away from depression.
You know, your subtle body is bigger than your gross body. Your pranic body is one and half feet bigger than your gross body. Have you heard of phantom pain where a person whose hand or leg has been amputated experiences pain in the part that has been amputated? The doctors don’t know what to do with this. If there is a physical hand, you can apply some balm on it, but the hand is not there and they have a phantom pain in it. This is in the pranic or subtle body. When you do pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation, you can snap out of it in no time.
So our subtle body is bigger than the gross body, and when the subtle body shrinks, that is when you feel depressed. When it shrinks a little you feel sad, when it shrinks more you feel depressed, and when it becomes smaller than the physical body, then suicidal tendencies come.
Suicidal tendency is what? If this dress gets too tight for me, I just want to get out of it. See, if you are putting on a coat which is two or three sizes smaller than yours, can you be comfortable? What do you want to do? You just want to get out of it. This is exactly what happens when people have suicidal tendencies. The subtle body has shrunk and become smaller than the physical body, and that is why the suicidal tendency comes up. But when you do Sudarshan Kriya, or meditation, or pranayama, the subtle body increases and becomes normal, and this tendency disappears.
You know, recently when I went to Tampa, a psychologist told me that every 30 seconds one person is committing suicide. That’s a lot. I was so stunned. Then I felt we must reach this knowledge to people. When they do yoga, pranayama, Sudarshan Kriya and meditation the subtle body becomes stronger and bigger. First you feel normal and happier, then the subtle body becomes even bigger and you feel more happy. Then if it becomes one with the causal body which is even bigger, then you become blissful and are very happy all the time.
Can you speak on the new phenomenon in the United States of Gay marriage which has been legalized?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Why do you want to draw me into a controversy? I feel marriage is an individual thing, and whatever an individual feels or likes, is to be respected. Individual’s choice should be respected. God accepts you and respects your choice, and that’s why he gives you a choice. Otherwise he would have not even given you a choice. So I think we must respect an individual’s choice as long as it doesn’t harm the society. We can’t say the same thing in the case of a terrorist who wants to gun down everybody -- we can’t say that God has given him that choice, no!
Whenever I want to do something, I am stopped by the fear of what might come of it. I always fear the worst possible outcome. How do I stop this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Never mind. Take a deep breath in and know that only the best will happen to you. Take it as my word, that Gurudev has said only the best will happen to me.
All the knowledge that I have listened to, seems to vanish out of my being when my mother-in-law comes to visit. How can one forget and forgive someone who is constantly behaving in a harsh manner? Please give the advice to the mother-in-law.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Listen, I want you to just take a look at how your mother behaves. How many times did you have arguments with your own mother, and how many times was she frustrated with you? Haven’t you gotten scolding from your own mother? I don’t think any girl or boy has grown up without being scolded by their mother. I have gotten many scoldings from my mother. She used to always think that I was not doing things as well as her and that she always knew better.
Even about the running of the ashram, she would say, "No, you don’t run the ashram properly". My biggest critic was my own mother. So you have this experience. When your mom criticizes you, you just fight with her and then you forget it. It doesn’t really touch you. My dear remember your mother and mother-in-law are of the same age, the same kind and the same category. She scolds you only 10% of what your mother used to scold you, then why does it hurt you deeply? So just accept her. You can’t change her.
If you forget your knowledge at other times, it is okay. But when your mother-in-law comes, that is exactly when all your knowledge is needed. Those days don’t forget to listen to knowledge talks.
People who are tough to handle, whether at office or at home, only help you to develop your skills. You should really thank them. They make you more skilfull, more refined, more compassionate and all your good qualities can start manifesting. Instead your ugly face starts manifesting.
See, this is the difference. If you have knowledge, in tough situations, wisdom manifests and good things manifest out of it. If you lack skills, the worst things come out of it. So this one thing we need to master. What? Master the skill of expressing and communication, and grab this as an opportunity to do that.
Gurudev, I once read your post that said we must not exit this world without knowing who we are and where we have come from. Please guide me and show me the path to know my purpose.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
This very desire of self enquiry and wanting to know who I am makes us human. This is very important. This question turns our mind into wonder and gives depth and width to our life. So first of all, feel happy that you even got this question. Then you need to have a little patience. That is very important.
Do you know the proverb, "Well begun is half done"? It is more than half done, it is three fourths done.
You once said in a course, "Don’t meditate for a reason", then why meditate?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
In the beginning, it is okay to meditate for some reason, but as you move on, you should drop it. It is like, you have to carry your luggage to get into the train or the plane. Once you get into the plane, you must put it into the luggage compartment and relax. That is why on this spiritual path, there are different instructions at different times. They may all seem contradictory but they are all right, and they have to be followed.
Truth is spherical. It is complex and yet it is simple. And so instructions could be very confusing, but that is right.
As an enlightened soul, you are able to focus your attention 100% without distractions or racing thoughts. Is there anything we can do to emulate that, at work or in school?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Centredness, a little bit of dispassion, a little bit of spiritual practices and a little bit of confidence thats all it is going to be fine. That confidence doesn’t let the mind rattle. Even if it rattles here and there, it comes back quickly.
Gurudev, I understand grace and surrender completely, and I want to surrender but I am not able to. Please tell me how to.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Listen, don’t worry about surrender and all. What is there to surrender? Why do you struggle with this word surrender? No need to surrender anything I tell you, hold on to everything. God loves you the way you are, and wherever you are, you are anyway with God. You cannot go away from God at all. So what is there for you to surrender? Everything anyway belongs to nature; belongs to God. Yes, when you feel your negativity and your worries are too much, and you can’t stand it anymore, then this idea was given -- that you should surrender it.
Even surrender I tell you, is a drama. You simply have to wake up and realize that 'I don’t possess anything. Everything anyway belongs to the one divinity'. So don’t worry about it.
You say, "I give up", when you are frustrated. If you can happily say, "I give up", then you don’t reach the point of frustration. You simply realize everything is anyway run by 'UP' and that’s it. Anyway, everything belongs to someone up there or someone deep inside you, that’s it. Main thing is to relax and repose in yourself.
Dear Gurudev, so many kids these days are being diagnosed with autism. Why is this so?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
I would like some of the scientists here to do research on that. What is the cause of this autism? Is it the diet of a lady when she is pregnant, or is it all the GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) and MSG (Mono sodium glutamate) that we consume? Is it all the fertilizers and remnants of the fertilizers we consume that causes this? You don’t see this too much in poor countries where people have very little. When we have everything here, then why is this problem cropping up? We must look into this.
Is it due to fast food? Is it due to microwave ovens? What is causing this? I would like some scientist to do some study on this. Don’t you think it will be a good idea? An independent study would help, not through a company which has its own vested interest.
Where is our soul located in our body?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Listen, you are the soul right? Is soul different from you? And you have a body. So why don’t you look at it and see where you are in your body? This question could be a very good homework for you. If you just sit and say 'Where am I in my body?' it will be very good.