Bangalore ashram, Jan. 18:
Q: Why do we need to put in so much effort to physically meet you or is it that the Guru creates unavailability for some purpose?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Not at all! I am easily available. I am most easily available. You know you enjoy putting effort and whatever you get after putting effort, you enjoy more. You don’t enjoy what you get easily. This is normal human psychology.
Heart yearns for the old. Mind yearns for the new. Ego yearns for the difficult and unique.
Ego takes pride in doing difficult things. ‘Look I did such a tough job! I achieved such a tough thing! No one has achieved what I have achieved. I did something unique.’ Just be aware of these laws of nature, how the mind and heart works. I am not saying that is good, or that is bad. That is how it is.
Heart yearns for old. Heart takes pride in old friendship. Like wine is sold when it is old. New wine has no value. You don’t say, ‘This is my latest love, my fresh love.’ We go for the latest model - latest computer, latest car. We don’t say, ‘Oh this is a two decade-old car which I bought now’ - unless it’s an antique. We take pride in having the latest model or something which is unique. Like climbing the Mount Everest.
‘Oh, I climbed the Mount Everest.’ A very tough job. What do you get after climbing the Mount Everest? You don’t know! People go in hot air balloons across the world. Very tough job. Why you want to go in hot balloon when planes are available (laughter) and create so much heart ache, anxiety? Because the media is after you for you are doing something tough. Why do you want to do the impossible because the ego wants to do something. The memory clings to the negative. If ten positive things happen and one negative thing happens, the memory just goes and holds on to it. The Self is just a witness of all this phenomenon.
Untouched, unruffled, unconcerned with what happens to the mind, intellect, ego. It is just there, just enjoying. That is why if you have got just a glimpse of the Self, it doesn’t matter. The Upanishad has also declared that once you get glimpse of that unchanging aspect in you, the very central aspect of you, then everything else is futile. Knowing this, everythingbecomes glorified.When you are centered,ego becomes all encompassing,body glows,intellect becomes sharp,memory becomes sharp.All layers of existence simply glow when the Self is realized. I don’t like to use word self realized. It has been used so many times and distorted too much. I would say when you have a glimpse of Being.
Q: How does one know when to put effort and when to have patience once we are on the spiritual path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are getting onto the spiritual path, you have to put effort. You have to put effort to come here (to the ashram). You don’t get a holiday, you don’t get train or plane ticket. When you want to come here, someone will come and distract you saying, ‘Let’s go to Goa and enjoy, have fun and this and that. Let’s go to watch movie. Why to go? What’s the fun in meditation and sitting with the eyes closed? Let’s keep our mind open and take everything from a movie.
Like this 100 obstacles and 1 million temptations will come. Then you put effort, ‘I want to go, I want to meditate, I want to be centered, I want to go within’. That much effort you need to put in. But once you reach here, no effort is to be put. You simply sit. That’s it. You don’t have to do anything.
This doesn’t apply to ashramites (ashram residents) here. (laughter) You have to get up in the morning and go for sadhana. You can’t say, ‘I have come to the ashram, now let me sleep and relax.’ I give you another example. To get into a train, you put effort. You go, stand in a queue, get to the right platform and then the right coach with all the luggage. At times you have to forcibly get your seat, especially, here, in some of the trains in India. (laughter) But once you sit inside the train or plane, then that’s it! Then there is no effort. If then, also you keep the luggage on your head and run inside the compartments, it has no meaning. You are not going to get to the station any faster. Then you either end up in a police station or a mental hospital!
To begin a practice you have to put in effort. But once you are on the path, you have to relax. You won’t reach any faster if you keep running inside the train. Know that all is done for you. You don’t have to put effort. There is effort to light a candle. Once it is lit then no effort is required to pull the light out of thecandle. Light is coming to you on its own. But you have to light the candle. You have to put that much effort to switch on the lamp. If you don’t even switch on and say, ‘There is no light’, then you have to put that much effort. (Once you do that), then you find light is pouring on you. So you have come here. Just relax.
In hindi, it is said:Shamma jali hai tere liye,Tujhko kuch nahin karna hai.
(The candle is lit for you, you don’t have to do anything)
Q: Guruji, the Master and the Self are most charming. Obviously, the mind moves towards that which is most attractive. How to effortlessly establish the mind on the experience of the Self?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I think I have already answered this.
Q: Guruji, even after being on the spiritual path, feverishness is still there. What to do to get rid of this feverishness?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It’s good to have little bit of that feverishness. That’s ok. Maharishi Patanjali also said in the yogasutras ‘tivra savenganam asana’If there is little feverishness, there is intensity of longing. It’s easy. It’sgood. It takes away laziness in you. It takes away procrastination in you. That is why the path needs to be attractive so that it takes away lethargy in you. The Master has to be attractive. That is a professional need. (laughter) So that you are able to handle distractions, so that worldly, small things don’t hold you back. Movies and little pleasure hold you back and keep you in the same circle. I am not saying don’t watch pictures. But prioritize your life from small material gains to higher values. That is what spirituality is all about. That is what the Master is all about. Higher values have to be more attractive to keep you on the higher plane,higher path.
Q: What can we do on our level to get people of all cultures and religions together in celebration?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: We are already doing it. We continue doing the same thing. Call everybody and say, ‘Let’s sing together, let’s do service together, let’s sit together in silence.’ Silence is the best form of prayer. Often prayer is in some language – German, Hindi, English, Spanish. In fact, they all mean the same. But silence is one step further, one step beyond the barriers of language which the whole universe can understand. Nature resonates with it. Silent prayer! Prayer in words also has to lead you to silence in the heart. Purpose of words is to create silence. Purpose of action is to bring deep rest. Purpose of deep rest is to bring you fulfillment. In fulfillment you find joy, bliss. Purpose of love is to create blissful state deep within.
Q: What is the difference between prayer and meditation?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I have already said it. Prayer is asking, meditation is listening. In prayer, you ask, ‘Give me this, give me that, giving instructions,demanding.’ In meditation you say, ‘I am here to listen, what is it that you want to tell?’ Listening to God is meditation. Asking God is Prayer.
Q: How to be non-judgmental?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: By studying your own past. Look at how many times you have been judgmental. Every time you have been judgmental, you have been on the wrong foot. So just be aware of that. The moment you are aware that you are judgmental, you are already out of it. You can’t be judgmental in the present moment. You are judgmental in the past.
Q: Guruji, you say, ‘I am you and you are me’. But I feel a difference. How to realize that I am you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: In silence, in service.
Q: I don’t have a job and parents and relatives worry about it and keep on asking, ‘Where am I? When am I going to have a job?’ What to do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You don’t have a job (Yes, came the reply). Keep looking for a job. Don’t be too choosy. Once you get a job that they won’t ask the same question. They will ask something else. (laughter) When are you getting married? And once you get married, the question will be, ‘When will you have kids?’ One after another,people will keep asking questions and you are not to satisfy them all. Count on those paths, status.(Then the person asks, ‘Guruji, I am contented but my parents…’ to which Sri Sri replies: There is no but - if you are contented - the ‘but’ disappears!)
Q: Why does our mind run after fame money and glamour? Is it necessary?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, you got this question! First, you understand that the mind is running. Then you get this question, ‘Is it necessary?’ I leave this question to you. It is very personal, very individual. I don't think it is necessary. But myanswer will not necessarily suffice for you. It is has to come from within. Otherwise, it will be just a mood making. ‘Oh, I don’t want money’, but one part of the mind will say, ‘No, I need money.’ One mind will say, ‘I don’t need fame andanother will say, ‘No, I need fame’. Like this, the conflict starts happening. But when you wake up and see, and see those people who have had all this - how shallow and hollow they are, then naturally you find there is no significance in all this. Then neither will you crave for it, nor will you make any effort to renounce it. People who say, ‘I don’t want fame’, inside, somewhere, the mind is saying, ‘Oh, I want fame, I want fame’. When the sun hasarisen, what is the use of a torchlight? You are moving with a torchlight and suddenly you realize there is no meaning in moving with the torchlight, when the sun is there.Then that is your experience, your true experience. So when you run behind things which are illusive - you will realize that it is causing more pain, more suffering and ‘it is not giving me what I really want’.
Then there is fulfillment, centeredness, a subtle solid strength comes from within. Then if fame comes, money comes, it doesn’t touch you. It comes or doesn’t come, doesn’t matter to you. ‘I want it’ or ‘I don’t want it’ are two sides of the same coin. Somewhat we need to be – let it be.
Q: How does one handle disappointment when something undesirable happens or you lose a dear one? How one can still smile and be centered?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Come on, wake up and see. It’s all a dream. Things happen or don’t happen. It is still a dream. An intelligent person won’t sit and cry, ‘Oh,yesterday this happened in the dream, I was the Prime Minister’.
Just imagine someone is very happy because yesterday, (in his dreams), he was the prime minister or became the richest man in the world. What will you say? What to tell them? It’s foolishness, stupidity. You are overjoyed about a good dream and you are miserable about a bad dream. A dream is a dream. Come on. Wake up. Have a cup of tea. (laughter) Herbal tea. (Huge Laughter and applause) By the way, I don’t drink any tea, not as a habit. Sometimes, if I go somewhere and they only have tea and nothing else, just to satisfy them I will have.
Q: When to use dispassion and when to use compassion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you are bothered about an attachment, use dispassion. And at all other times, use compassion. In fact, you can’t use compassion. Either you are compassionate or you are not. It is not a screwdriver which you can use at sometimes and keep aside some other times. Compassion is like your nose. To realize it is there you have to be there and if it is not there, you are also not there. (Huge laughter) Got it? To realize you have a nose, you have to be there and to realize it is not there, you won’t be there.
Q: What is the alternative solution for white sugar and tea?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You know, don’t be too fussy about anything. You can’t go to a restaurant and say, ‘You can bring me only jaggery tea and no white sugar tea’. Your body has got enough capability to adjust itself. So, sometimes you have to have white sugar, it’s ok. Your immune system is strong. But don’t make it a habit. Every day, eating a lot of white sugar. Jaggery is the most desirable one.
Organic food is the most desirable one. But sometimes you don’t get organic food, don’t think you are immediately going to fall sick. People who are too finicky about food, their immune system keeps going down and down and down. People who are too fussy about food and all that, they don’t have thestrength to defend themselves. When do you give your immune system a chance to work? When something challenging is given to the immune system. So now and then, once in a while, the immune system should be challenged. Then the self defense will come up from within. Otherwise, you become so finicky and you become so weak and then anger comes in the mind. ‘Oh ah.. I want only organic food. I want only this. I can’t have junk food.’ Your system should be flexible, adjustable. And that can happen when you make itmentally strong. You resolve mentally that ‘this is not going effect my body so much’. I am not saying eat unhealthy food. No, not at all, but I am saying, ‘Don’t be too finicky about food, quality of food and this food.
Chose a middle path. You know, people in India live or are born in slum areas, and their immune system is so strong. They don’t get affected by diseases easily because their immune system is getting to work. They can come out of any illness. Chose that middle path.I suggest internationals who have come here not to go for hawker food unless you find it hygienic. Don’t have cut fruits on the street for knives may not be sterilized. You better not go for that. You can go for whole food.
Q: When do we know we are on the middle path?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: When you don’t fall off, you are on the middle path.“That which you cannot express is Love.
That which you cannot reject/renounce is Beauty.
That which you cannot avoid is the Truth.”
~ Sri Sri Ravishankar
© The Art of Living Foundation
For Global Spirituality