All foolish people are there in the world to make you skillful
Q: Dear Guruji, in the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna says, ‘Bow down to me, I will free you. Follow Me!’ and a common man is also caught up in the ‘me’ and ‘mine’! So how is Krishna different from us?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: One is the person who is capable of taking the sins saying, ‘You give it to me.’
Another is someone who is incapable of taking anything and saying ‘Me.’
There is a difference.
When a doctor comes and says, ‘You have fever? I will take care of you’. It is a different issue.
But someone who has no knowledge of medicine, if they say, ‘I will take care of you,’ has no meaning.
So the space from which Krishna says, ‘Me’, that me is not the body.
That is why Krishna himself has said, ‘Avajananti Mam Mudha Manusim Tanum Asritam; Param Bhavam Ajananto Mama Bhuta-Maheshvaram’.
The ‘Me’ in me is a very different me, and not knowing that transcendental nature of mine, people think I am just a human body and mind.
So that is the difference.
Even when Arjuna asked Krishna to repeat Bhagvad Gita again after the war was over, he said, ‘No, I cannot. That moment I was in a Samadhi; in a different state of consciousness and so I said it. Now I cannot repeat it.’
Q: Guruji, what is the difference between a thought and intention?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Intention is also a thought, a stronger thought or a resolved thought. So many thoughts come and float around but some thoughts are resolved. Those resolute thoughts we call intentions.
Q: How to utilize this life properly? I feel like I have wasted twenty seven years of my life. I want to be useful now.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, it is a very good realization. You want to be useful, that is a very good intention.
So first the realization comes, ‘I have wasted’, and then the resolution comes, ‘I want to be useful’, and then nothing stops you. Go ahead, it is very good.
But there is no point in regretting the past. You should not sit and keep regretting. Move on in the future because you have learnt something very valuable to life in the past through all the mistakes.
Q: In Kena Upanishad, it is said that those who worship ignorance, they go to hell. And those who worship knowledge, they go to a darker hell. Please elaborate on this.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There are two types of knowledge, Vidya and Avidya.
Avidya does not mean ignorance; it means the knowledge of the relative.
Vidya means the knowledge of the absolute.
If one catches only the knowledge of the absolute, he will go to hell. If one catches only the knowledge of the relative, he will also go to hell.
That is what it says, ‘They will go to deeper darkness.’
It is like body and mind. If you are thinking only about the mind and ignore the body, then you will be in trouble. Similarly, if you are thinking only of the body and not attending to the mind, then also you will not be complete. Body and mind is a complex and they go together. That is life.
So it is perfect what has been said.
Q: Guruji, how can we maintain our innocence and yet be skilful. This seems very difficult these days.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: That is the whole secret, to be skilful and be innocent as well.
You know, devotion will help. When you have the devotion and the faith that there is a power which is in control then your innocence remains intact.
Even for a few moments if this awareness comes that the whole universe is ruled by some orderliness, something is governing this universe then you don’t think that you are too smart and you will come back to your innocence.
And when you are focused on work, as a by-product of it, naturally you will be skilful.
You can’t say all the time, ‘There is some power that will take care of me.’
When you have to take a proper train or bus, then you have to buy a proper ticket. If you don’t buy the right ticket and just sit thinking, ‘Oh! Someone will take care’, then the police will come and take care of you. They will find out why are you traveling without a ticket?
So that is where life is a combination of skillfulness and universal awareness.
Q: How is laziness different from the yoga of non-action?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, laziness just makes you dull. It makes you heavy. Laziness doesn’t bring you energy, happiness or dynamism.
Yoga of non-action brings lot of energy and enthusiasm. Even before you intend to do something, things are already happening and that is called Naishkarmya Siddhi.
Before you even act, you just intend and it is already done. That is a higher state. When you get into that state you won’t even get this question, whether this is laziness or not. This question even does not arise.
Q: Dear Guruji, please tell me how can I maintain individuality in a group without it being seen as ego?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Just be natural. Be considerate, be compassionate and learn team work.
Q: Dear Guruji, does the jeevatma experience anything after death? Can the jeevatma communicate with us?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes!
Jeevatma or the individual soul after death remains in a plane with all its deepest impressions till it finds another suitable body to come back and to get rid of all those impressions. And in the process of getting rid of all those impressions, it collects more impressions and then goes back, and the cycle continues. That is why to break this cycle – yoga, meditation, devotion, all these are the ways.
Contentment is essential, deep contentment brings liberation.
Q: Guruji, you tell us to seek mukti (liberation) in life. How can I seek something without tasting it? Isn’t it just blind faith?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: See, don’t you want freedom? A sort of inner freedom where you feel so content and happy. That is mukti.
You know it somewhere deep inside, but what clouds it is one desire after another and so on. One desire gets fulfilled and another desire comes. So your spirit gets covered by requirements and desires and you will keep going round and round in circles, and you don’t realize that there is something much deeper inside.
Q: Guruji, I did my advance course last week and I am feeling energetic right now. But as soon as I join my office back again, I lose my temper due to my boss. Either tell me how to get rid of my temper or please get rid of my boss.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Both are there for a reason.
Observe how the irritation begins when your boss behaves the way he behaves.
What happens? If inside something starts boiling up then take a deep breath in, and instead of focusing on your boss, focus on the sensations in your body.
Work on yourself, you can become more skilful.
All foolish and stupid people are there in the world to make you skilful. They bring out the skills within you. How to handle them, how to behave, all these skills come out of you.
Q: Dear Guruji, how can I know if it is the right time to separate from someone? I have been struggling with one relationship for almost five years now. It has become one of the biggest struggles of my life.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, I can’t advice you on this because I have no experience of separation from anybody.
I would say, ask yourself, have you given 100% to your relationship. If you feel that you haven’t, then give it and try. If it doesn’t work and if it has only been a struggle in hope of getting some pleasure or some joy, it is better you move your way. Don’t waste your life, move on.
There are so many things to do in life besides a relationship, so don’t get stuck.
Q: Guruji, we in this life or some other lifetimes have done some bad karma either by thoughts, words or deeds. Which karma can be erased and which ones do we have to suffer for?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t sit and analyse these things, just move on in life. You never know.
Even in the Bhagavad Gita it is said, ’Gahana Karmano Gatih’, even the greatest man on earth is confused on which karma does what. So, best is to surrender all the karma.
Drop thinking about all the karmas and do your dharma and move on.
If you do your dharma, automatically those karmas which can be erased will get erased.
Of course sadhana definitely erases some bad karma and for some karma we will have to go through it. There is no choice or option; you have to go through it.
Q: Guruji, amongst the politicians of this time, some are good but they are very few in number. Can you open some good schools and colleges where they can be trained to become better politicians?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, in our university in Orissa, we are opening a college of ’Good Governance’.
This college of Good Governance that we are starting is to train people for all the different leadership positions in society, like the Gram Panchayat, Bloc Presidents, District President, Zila Adhyaksha.
All those who stand in the elections for Nagar Nigam and Nagar Palika will qualify from the university we are opening up. The work has already started.
These days anybody becomes part of the Gram Panchayat, regardless of whether they know what their responsibilities are or not. Many of them don’t know their responsibilities, or what the work involves or how to conduct themselves.
I am thinking on similar lines for journalists and lawyers. Training them on how to conduct themselves is very important.
See what is happening in Bangalore these days. Lawyers behave in one way, the media in another way and the journalists in completely different way and everything combined are making simple problems all the more complex. To solve this complex problem, attention needs to be drawn to individual behaviour.
That is why it is said in the Gita, 'Svalpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt’, even a little bit of dharma, a little bit of knowledge is good enough. If one takes a single step towards this direction it is assured that he will be rid of all his fears. He will not fear even the greatest terror. This is what Lord Krishna has said in the Bhagvad Gita.
Q: Guruji, I am a student and I feel that I should study more. Yesterday, you asked us to drop our desire to want more and more. What to drop and for what should I put in more effort?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: For a student I will say you should study more.
This I said for the adults, to drop their desire to have more of happiness in life. But when it comes to knowledge, sadhana and seva, for that you can desire for more, that is no problem.
Q: Guruji, my elder brother got married a few years back. Now, he says just like how the TV is controlled by a remote, similarly a wife is controlled by currency notes. These days, to maintain a wife has become a costly affair. What is the remedy for this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, you will have to do it. There is no way out. If the maintenance cost is high then put in more effort.
Q: Guruji, I love you a lot. But whenever I come in front of you, tears start rolling down my eyes. Is there something wrong with me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, it is absolutely fine. There is nothing wrong with tears rolling down your eyes. It is very natural and good. There is no problem with it.
When the heart blossoms then tears come, this is very natural.
What happens when you come close to one who is dear to you, close to the Guru?
There is a shloka in the Upanishads which says, 'Bhidhyathe hridaya granthi, Chidhyanthe sarva samshayaah, Ksheeyanthe cha asya karmaani, Tasmin drista paraavare’
The knots in the hearts are undone, questions and doubts in the mind vanish, karmas are washed away, by being the presence of a loved one or a Guru or a Gyaani.
This has been said. This means what is written in the Upanishad is true!
Q: Guruji, we have heard that there are some enlightened beings present in this world to help people, just like you help us. But they prefer to stay away from people. Are such people present today as well?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There could be some people like that, some sadhaks who keep doing sadhana. And some feel, ‘why should I get caught up, what is the need ’, they think like that.
There are all kinds of people in the world. There aren’t just one or two great people in the world, but plenty in number.
But that does not mean that those who live in the jungles are superior to those who live in cities.
Q: Guruji, you always say, ‘choice is yours and blessing is mine’. But all troubles lie in making a choice. How to make the right choice? Is there any formula or does it come with the blessings?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Time will tell you what the right choice is. A little while after choosing you will get to know whether you made the right choice or not.
Why do you leave everything for me do? You also do something.
Q: Guruji, when I see certain men I get very fearful. Sometimes the fear I experience is intolerable. What do I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is quite natural for a lady to feel this way, and especially if you are alone and you find some really not right intended men around, you should feel afraid, naturally.
Good, that keeps you safe as you would not go there alone.
The society is not yet that refined and that sattvik that everybody is good. One should be scared of people who are not very good and without good intentions, that’s fine!
Crime against women is so much today, all over the world. This has to go.
Only through a wave of spirituality can we change this situation.
Q: Parmahansa Yoganandaji initiated people into something called Kriya Yoga. I always wanted to know if Sudarshan Kriya is different from Kriya Yoga and how?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, Kriya Yoga is meditating on different chakras. Similar to what we do in ‘Hari Om’ meditation. But Sudarshan Kriya is completely different. In Sudarshan Kriya, the breath, rhythm of the soul, rhythm of the mind and rhythm of the spirit, all this is involved. So that gives you a deeper experience, and it helps one to go deep in meditation.
Only when you do it, you will understand.
Q: The policies that the government is making these days is taking away the values from the society at a very fast pace. To work to understand these policies and fight for the right of the people takes a lot of time and can get one very involved. If I work towards this will it take me away from you?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No! Not at all.
You can really be a reformer in the society but you will have to balance your life. Do this work and also take time out for yourself. Do your practices, do your pranayama, do your meditation and then be involved in the activity and in the reforming the society.
Q: Guruji, in the 7 layers of existence, mind and ego have been classified as different entities, but isn’t ego a thought or an emotion?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, ego is an awareness of ‘I’. All the four (mind, intellect, memory, ego) have different functions. However, they belong to the same consciousness.
Mind is thoughts.
Memory is that which appears to record them.
Intellect does the decision-making, to decide between right and wrong.
Ego is the one that experiences everything. It is the awareness that ‘I exist’.
During sleep, the intellect rests, the ego exists, there are thoughts in the mind and memory is present too. Since the intellect is not present during sleep there is no reasoning and so the thoughts are not coherent.
The mind is calm during sleep and the memory just knows that, ‘I am sleeping’.
During meditation all of them dissolve.
As you meditate you will know more about this.