Bangalore (India), May 25: HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was the key note speaker at the centenary celebrations of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.
“Are you feeling at home?” asked Sri Sri right at the onset. He then shared: “Our ancient scriptures have always said that true learning happens in a relaxed environment where an exchange of ideas takes place through enquiry and questioning.”
A Q&A session followed in the relaxed atmosphere of the auditorium. Excerpts:
Q. Is life governed by free-will or destiny?
Sri Sri: Life is a combination of both. There are some things which are beyond your control. That is your destiny. Then there are things where you have a choice. That is free-will. If it’s raining outside, it’s your destiny as you have no control over the weather. However, to be wet or remain dry is your free-will.
Past is your destiny, future is your free-will. And be happy in the present. A foolish person looks at the past as free-will with regret, future as destiny and is miserable in the present.
Q. What is true love?
Sri Sri: If you have a doubt, it is true love. We always doubt the positives. We doubt our capabilities. We doubt our happiness but are 100 percent sure of our depression. We doubt a person’s honesty and doubt the existence of higher power. So what is true love? Time will tell you.
Love is what we are made up of. All negative emotions are off springs of true love.
Love without wisdom makes life miserable…love with wisdom is bliss.
Q. How can we attain that wisdom?
Sri Sri: By adopting an attitude of enquiring.
Q. How can love move science?
Sri Sri: When love for science is intense, it is already moving the world.
The ultimate aim of a researcher is not to earn a livelihood. If the main aim of a researcher is to earn a livelihood, it is not a best quality research. It has to lead to a soul-search. Research is to know. The joy of knowing is itself the goal. Getting recognition is immaterial.
Q. How do you know what level of spirituality you are at?
Sri Sri: It depends on how often your buttons can be pushed. If you have no buttons to be pushed then you are very strong.
Q. Who am ‘I’? And what ‘that’ is? Can these two questions coexist?
Sri Sri: Of course. Yes. The theory of relativity has already accepted this. The observer has an impact on the observed. This was taught some thousands of years ago. But people kept it a secret. This is where we missed out.
Q. What is true happiness?
Sri Sri: Know the reason of your unhappiness. If you remove it, then there will be happiness. Meditate. Just do the Sudarshan Kriya and you will find out.
Q. Why do thoughts come and where do they originate from? Why do the thoughts rule us?
Sri Sri: Where do the thoughts come from? From the mind, or the body? Close your eyes and think about it. That itself becomes a meditation. Then you will reach the point or space within you from where all the thoughts come. And that is fantastic.
Q. Some people have positive thoughts, while some have negative thoughts. How does one control this?
Sri Sri: By keeping a stress-free mind. If you have a stress-free mind, your thoughts will be positive.
Q. How do you know all these things?
Sri Sri: Life is a journey from an angry “I don’t know” to a beautiful “I don’t know!”
Q. What is wrong and what is right?
Sri Sri: Which gives you short term pleasure and long term misery is wrong and vice-versa.
Q. Why do other people’s feelings inflict us?
Sri Sri: Because you are not a single individual but a part of a single collective consciousness.
Q. In spite of having so many great saints why is there so much of communal violence, cascades, conflicts. What is the problem with India? Are we going wrong somewhere?
Sri Sri: People who have been involved in these activities have never been in touch with any of these spiritual leaders.
Q. Why don’t you suggest government to include spiritual knowledge at the level of class 10th, at least in India?
Sri Sri: I have been telling it. Now, you all should give voice too.
Q. How to forgive and let go of things?
Sri Sri: When you see a culprit from a broader perspective, forgiveness becomes natural.
Q. What do you consider success?
Sri Sri: A smile that nobody will take away from you - that is the greatest achievement.
‘In a free mind, there is always heaven’
Q. Why are we attracted to objects we should not be attached to, even though we know this is unhealthy?
Sri Sri: We don't understand this aspect well enough. We still feel there is some joy in those objects, and this misleads us.
Q. Should we believe in superstition?
Sri Sri: Once you know that it is superstition, then how can you believe it? If your brain and reasoning says it is illogical and not good, then what is the point of it? You should move away from it.
Q. What is pooja? You said that giving a big smile in the morning is pooja. Is it ok to smile instead of washing the idol and offering it incense and flowers?
Sri Sri: Absolutely, there is no need to wash the idol and decorate it, and in the night you needn’t put it to sleep.
Just do sadhana and feel the Divinity within yourself.
However this doesn't mean that you stop doing pooja on special occasions. Doing meditation is important, but on special days, make sure you do pooja.
If you don't do this, then children won't get the sanskaar (culture) of prayer. Children should feel the sense of belongingness with God. If you don’t do that, then the first thing they will do in the morning is to turn on the television. This is because there is no memory of God. You should have God’s pictures in the house. After seeing God's pictures, children light incense, and offer flowers.
Life is a celebration, sit, pray, light lamps and incense and do kirtan (singing in a group). This is important.
Read some mantras, say, “Om Namo Bhagvate”, “Om Namo Narayanaya”, “Om Namah Shivaya”, then the prana shakti (life energy) in the environment will get awaken.
Q. At my workplace, I have to listen to seniors who tell me to commit morally wrong acts. I am in a dilemma whether to follow them or not. If I follow them, I cheat myself. If I don’t, I am afraid of offending them.
Sri Sri: You should work with skill and intelligence. You should pray: “Let this man not force me to do any such acts.” Then your prayer will be answered.
Q. Should we follow the advice we get in dreams?
Sri Sri: There are five sources for dreams:
1. Your dreams may come from your desires
2. Your dreams may come from your fears
3. Your dreams may be delusions
4. Your dreams may be premonitions of future events
5. Your dreams may be a result of the place you are sleeping in
We experience different things in our dreams. Usually, our dreams are a mixture of the above. Our dreams are of things from the past, future, and of various types.
Don't analyze your dreams too much. If a dream comes, let it come, and just go ahead with your life.
Q. What should be done to end the cycle of karmas?
Sri Sri: By seva, sadhana, and satsang.
Q. I am a college student. After following spiritual practices, all the excitement in me seems to have been spent. Now I am only calm. Am I making a mistake?
Sri Sri: Absolutely not. Though you are calm, you are also enthusiastic, and happy. Isn’t it? Then it’s fine.
Q. Nowadays, youth marry without their parent's consent. They do this blindly, without thinking. Is this acceptable?
Sri Sri: Your question already has the answer. Nobody will tell someone to do anything blindly or without thinking.
As a parent, look at the matter from the children’s point of view. First, examine your reason for refusal. If the reason is good, then it's fine. But if you refuse because of differences in economic status or differences in caste, then it’s a different thing.
Parents can give guidance to children. Explain to them not to take a hasty step, acting on a whirlpool of emotions.
Q. Why don’t Muslims believe in yoga? How can we teach them the Art of living?
Sri Sri: Sure, we should teach them yoga as well. We conduct programs in many Islamic countries, such as Iraq and Pakistan.
There are even Hindu people who resist yoga and spiritual practices. There are temples that don’t allow yoga camps to be conducted.
So also in Islam. The few people who resist yoga change their perspective when they understand yoga. When people learn yoga, and understand the benefits, they won’t stop it.
This resistance is due to lack of knowledge and information.
Q. When we insult others, is it true that their karma decreases? What should we do if someone blames us for no reason?
Sri Sri: If someone blames us without reason, what can we do? Try explaining to them, and then forget about it.
Q. What is knowledge for? To earn money or social good? What should we do if someone uses knowledge to earn more money?
Sri Sri: That is wrong. If knowledge is used to earn money, it will give not benefits, either to the receiver or to the giver.
Q. What is Paramatma? Who are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (Hindu Gods)?
Sri Sri: Just like a rainbow, where all the colors merge to form a single white light, the Paramatma (Supreme Consciousness) is white and all the forms of Gods are the various colors.
This world is full of names and forms. Fruits, flowers all have a name and form. Our ancestors realized this, and said that there were 1008 names and forms, all belonging to the One who had no name.
Q. You have told us that there is no heaven or hell. But in our ancient texts there are pictures of hell where people are suffering.
Sri Sri: True. Heaven or hell is the state of mind. If the mind is in difficulty then hell is right here. If Sanskaar is absent, then hell is right here.
For a mukt (free) mind, there is always bliss, it is always heaven.
Q. What is mumukshtatvam?
Sri Sri: Mumukshtatvam is asking God for mukti (freedom). When you tell God that you have done everything, met people, talked to people, eaten enough, gone to enough parties, and now you want to be free, that is mumukshtatvam.
Q. What is right? A truth that brings tears or a lie that brings a smile?
Sri Sri: There is a saying:
Satyam bruyaat, priyam bruyaat,
Na bruyaat satyam apriyam
Na priyam cha nanrutam bruyaat
‘Speak the truth, speak pleasantly,
do not speak unpleasant truths
nor speak pleasant lies.’
This is sanatana dharma . If someone is blind, don’t say “Hey blind fellow come here!” This is not pleasant, though it may be the truth. Don't say unpleasant truths and pleasant lies.
(From the Office of HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bangalore, India)
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