Sri Sri in US
Love is the mother of all negative emotions. All those who lose their temper are perfectionists. They want everything perfect, they simply love perfection. They have high Pitta (a characteristic of the body as per the ancient science of Ayurveda). They seek perfection in everything. Jealousy is because of love. You love somebody so jealousy arises. Greed is when you love objects more than people. Arrogance is when you love yourself too much. Arrogance is to love oneself in a distorted manner. Not even a single object on this planet wants not to be loved or be away from love. Yet we don’t want any of the pain or suffering that comes along with love. How can one achieve this? Only through cleansing and uplifting our spirit which is possible through spirituality. We are made up of both matter and spirit. Our body needs vitamins. If any nutrient is missing, then we have a deficiency. Similarly, we are made up of spirit. Spirit is beauty, truth, joy, happiness, love, and peace. For me, spirituality is that which enhances all these qualities and removes the boundaries. We can bring up our children and youth in this spiritual way. Nowadays violence in college campuses is common. This is unfortunate. If there is violence, then there is something fundamentally wrong. There was so much pride attached to non-violence and equanimity when I was growing up. Schools and colleges will have to bring about peace, happiness, celebration and joy. But if we are miserable, we cannot bring happiness to anybody. First we need to attend to our misery. It’s a catch 22. If you are not happy, you can’t do anything to make others happy. So how can you be happy? Unless you think from a broader perspective, you cannot be happy. There is a technique to get depressed. If you just sit and think about yourself all the time, “what about me, what about me?” you will get depressed. We need to engage ourselves in some service activities and spiritual practices that eliminate negative vibes and make our presence lighter, happier, more content and more intuitive. Intuition is essential. If you are a businessman, you need intuition to know which stocks to invest in. If you are poet or a literary person, you need intuition. If you are a doctor, you need intuition. Doctors don’t base the prescription just on observation. There is something else that also contributes to the prescription. All doctors here will agree with me. Intuition can come when we look deep inside. Without intuition and a spiritual connection, it is like using a cell phone without a sim card in it. We pray, but we are not connected at all. Then we wonder why our prayers are not answered. Because there is no spirituality and values inside, and hence no connectivity is there. This is how many people become atheists. An incident happens in their life, their prayers didn’t work, and they get illusioned. Each one of us has enormous potential. Your thoughts are very powerful; you can create what you want. It’s not like you can go to the moon tomorrow, but for that to happen the vision has to come first. The intuitive power has to come. First, believe that it is possible for you to live in a state of unconditional love, peace and tranquility. As a child you have lived in this state. As children we all have done it. We were bubbling with enthusiasm.
Sri Sri then led the audience through a meditation
Q: Is little bit of ego ok?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: If you recognize that you have ego, for God's sake don’t try to get rid of it. If you get rid of your ego, that itself will become the cause of a bigger ego trip. So if you find that there is ego, just keep it in your pocket. You know the only antidote for ego is being natural, or naturalness. Why do you want to get rid of your ego? Because it bothers you. More than others, your ego is bothering you. You are constrained, restrained and uncomfortable. You feel others don’t respect you or you are better than others. You compare yourself with others. So I would say, if you find that there is ego in you, let it be. We will not meddle with it. If it comes, let it come.
Q: We hear a lot about corruption these days in governments and other situations around the world. How can we do something to reduce corruption?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Corruption starts when the sense of belongingness ends. When we have a sense of belongingness, we can’t be corrupt. When we expand our sense of belongingness, corruption will disappear. Does this make sense? Corruption begins outside the boundary of belongingness.
Q. How does one stay happy every day?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, you need a reason to be unhappy. You don’t need a reason to be happy.
Q. When someone has an aversion towards you, and their presence makes you uncomfortable, how do we deal with that kind of situation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just bless them. When your mind is calm and serene, it becomes like a laser beam. Then you get the power to bless. There is a tradition in India and China. Whenever there is a wedding or any ceremony in the house, you go to the eldest in the family and take their blessings. There is a scientific reason behind this. As you grow older, you are supposed to become more serene and contended. A contented mind has the power to bless. If you are not content, you don’t have the energy to bless, and then how can you bless someone else? When you are grateful for what life has offered you, when you have contentment within you, then you gain that ability to bless people. So serenity and contentment gives you the ability to bless others. First you become centered. If they are averse to you, so what? You be happy and then bless them that they get rid of their hatred. Often we try to correct somebody because their actions disturb us. But if your intention is to correct them because what they are doing is harming them, they get corrected. Do you see what I am saying?
Q. I am 63+ years. Can a good art of living lead to a decent art of dying?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You forget that you are 65. Wake up, it’s not late. There is something deep inside you which has not aged. It is pure and dynamic. Don’t underestimate yourself. Don’t think that you are useless. I tell you, you can sit and meditate, and you can bless the world. Things will happen much differently then. I am with you. You are not alone. If anyone anytime feels lonely, depressed, unhappy or sad, just remember that you are not alone. You are not alone at all. Ok?
Q. Can you comment on the shifts happening in the coming years, around the year 2012. What will it be afterwards?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I want to assure you that we will be able to see 2013. Just remember all the chaos that happened in 1999. Some people started storing food for six months in their basements. Even then I said things would be as usual. Things will be as usual in 2012 also. Actually spirituality will become more fashionable in the coming years; people will become more spiritual. Everyone will understand more about the consciousness. Right here, there are so many layers of the universe and existence. More and more of it will come to light. People will understand; science will also discover.
Q: What to do when we start doubting ourselves or our relationships?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Doubt is always about something that is positive. You know, if someone tells you that they love you, you say, "Really?” Isn't it so? But you take it for granted when someone expresses their hatred towards you. If someone asks you, "Are you happy?" you say, "Well, I am not sure". We doubt all that is positive. We doubt in love. We doubt in the goodness of people. We doubt honesty. We never doubt dishonesty. Isn't it so? We doubt our capabilities. We never doubt our weaknesses. You never doubt your depression, but you always doubt your happiness. So a doubt is always about something that is positive.
Q: First, how can we be of service. Second, how can I be a good human being of the society?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are many ways. You can become a teacher or volunteer of the ‘Art of Living’. You can help in schools for rural children. Thousands of them are studying and thousands are waiting to get admission. You can participate in the ‘Dollar a Day’ project. One dollar a day can educate and provide medical, food and clothing for a child. We are 1000 people right here in this auditorium. If each one of us sponsors a child, 1000 more children will get access to education. These children are otherwise forced to work at a young age, and they get into violence without a value based education. If you want to take up any other projects, you are welcome. If you want to give your time, say six months or one year, you can go to places where you can bring peace to people. You are most welcome to come to India.
Q: Sometimes I don’t know whether I am doing the right thing. I lose courage. How do I handle such a situation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: At those moments, just relax. The right thing will happen to you.
Q: If each person on this earth would do one thing to make the world a better place, what would that one thing be?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why are you limiting to only one thing? We are all so different. Each one can serve in their own area of expertise. But if you really insist on one thing, I would say, "Smile more". Do some service and see how much you can stretch. That much you can serve more. And I tell you, the more you serve, the more you will receive.
Sri Sri then suggested that everyone read Celebrating Silence, Celebrating Love, or An Intimate Note to a Sincere Seeker for answers to all other Qs!