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.
Gurudev, why do I have to take on so many responsibilities. I have the responsibility of my happiness, my husband’s happiness, family’s happiness, etc. Why all this when ultimately I have to die?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Well, that is because you are born! When you are born you have to take care of all this.
There are two ways of looking at life:
1. Either you take it as a burden and a drag and make your whole life a long drawn misery, or 2. You take it with enthusiasm, thinking, 'I have all these responsibilities and challenges, and I can do it'. And you move on with celebration.
When you are tired that is when you feel that all this is too much for you to handle. When this happens, I would say, sit back and relax. Think that you have no responsibility whatsoever. Find the deepest of the rest within you, and then you will get the strength you need to move on.
Just say one thing to yourself, 'I want nothing!' This wanting nothing gives you the deepest of the rests.
Rest is not just physically lying in bed, it is the mode of the mind which says, 'I am satisfied, I am content'. Its only contentment which can give you rest and this contentment is not going to come to you by doing something or by engaging in any activity. It will come to you only through knowledge. And the knowledge is:
1. Everything is impermanent
2. I am satisfied
3. I want nothing
This is the essence of the knowledge.
Often when you ask children what do they want, they will say, 'Nothing'.
The seed of wanting nothing is there in every child. They only don’t know that everything is impermanent because they have not fully caught on to anything around them.
Even for a few moments every day, if you say, 'Everything is impermanent, I want nothing', and you sit and take that deep rest, then you come up with the energy and enthusiasm with which you can take up a million jobs in the world, and you can make a million people happy. Then no work appears to be significant or insignificant.
This is the language of the Upanishad: it is neither significant nor insignificant.
You can’t call even small things as insignificant, nor do you have to give so much importance to something very significant. Instead, you can keep doing any work, any action, anywhere, and each and every one of them will be beneficial to the world.
Gurudev, when you see all this crowd that worships you, don’t you have the temptation to become a living God? How do you manage to keep a balance?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The way people greet each other in India is different from the way people greet each other in the West, and in the Far East. In India and the Far East we bow down, we touch the feet. This is the normal way of greeting.
When we were kids we were supposed to bow down and touch our mother’s feet every day. We were all tuned to do it. If our grandmother came home or any elderly person came, all the children were asked to prostrate in front of them. This is a cultural thing. Don’t think that everyone has to do it. In fact, many times it’s a botheration! People come and fall at your feet, and while one is bending down the other bends over him and falls. It becomes difficult to manage a crowd.
Many times when I’m walking I get into different postures. I keep one foot behind because somebody is pulling it, wanting to touch my leg. It’s a tradition in the country and a way of showing reverence, what to do!
People praise, give adulation, but it is all going to that One source. Do you see what I’m saying? If someone says this painting is so beautiful, to whom does the credit go to? To the one who painted it, isn't it?
This is what we train our teachers for. It is not just me, all our teachers, wherever they are teaching, they get so much adulation and praise, yet they are all centered, it doesn’t disturb them.
In fact I say, if you have to praise someone, praise a fool. Then it is more useful. An intelligent person does his job, whether you praise them or not. But if you praise a fool it is of more value, as he may do something! Got it?
Gurudev, your Prime Minister has a reputation of being a Hindu ultra nationalist in France. What does it mean?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Newspapers say many things. One thing I know is, there is a right wing, left wing and the centre in politics. But what is important is that – once a person occupies a seat of responsibility, he has to care for everybody.
As far as I know the Prime Minister is a nice person. From being a tea seller he rose to the top most post of this country and he is for the development of the country. Let’s see and hope he does a good job; he seems to be taking things in the right direction.
As far as I know, he is not one of those right wing extremist type of person. He is very sensible and a dynamic person which he has proved by his administrative abilities for 15 years. He has shown to the world how he can take people away from poverty. So we hope he does a good job for the whole country and he contributes to the international community in a very positive way.
Gurudev, there are many inequalities in this world, one of them is between women and men. Women are suffering from different types of discrimination. Why is it so and what do you suggest for the countries both in the East and West? What do we do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Three things: women empowerment, women empowerment and women empowerment! Women should feel empowered, they should never feel like a victim. When you feel like a victim, you lose energy, you lose enthusiasm and you lose power. The spiritual path is where you get rid of both, victim consciousness and culprit consciousness.
As a victim you remain in the small mind and you can never reach the self. As a culprit also the same thing happens, you come into doership and you can’t reach the self. So stop blaming yourself and start praising because praising is a divine quality. So stop being a victim. Don’t think that you being a lady are being discriminated against. Nobody can do anything if you stand up! You have all the power to stand up and ascertain your rights. Of course we need to bring a lot of change in the society. But you can do that without having to feel that you are a victim.