I am looking for a brilliant question to start with.
All questions are the same. In fact every question produces only one result when one hears the right answer.
When you hear the right answer, what do you say? ‘Yes, I agree’.
If it is not the right answer and you cannot say, ‘Yes I agree’, you will say, ‘No that is the wrong answer.’
But whenever you get the right answer what do you say? You say, ‘Yes.’
So, every answer is supposed to bring in the ‘Yes’ mind, if it is the correct answer. But if every answer creates more questions, then it is an endless journey.
In one way, it is good because it is an intellectual exercise, but beyond that it is nothing. Just some entertainment, that is all.
But then, should there be no questions at all? No, it is necessary. Intellectual stimulation is essential. The intellect is a very important part. Even in the most ancient scripture,Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna gives all the knowledge and then finally says, ‘You think, discriminate and decide what is best for you’.
Then He says, ‘But remember one thing, I will only say what is good for you, and you will only pick up what I say.’
This dialogue between the student and the master is very interesting. Everyone should read it at least once in their life.
When the great scientists of the world, including Einstein, read it, they said that their lives were transformed because they had always been told not to ask questions. Religion and faith always meant don’t ask questions but blindly follow. But the Yoga Vedanta philosophy doesn’t say that. It doesn’t shun the intellect. It says, ‘You use the intellect. Use it fully, but also know that the intellect is not all that is. The truth is beyond that; one step ahead of it.’
So don’t be stuck in the intellect but at the same time, definitely make the intellect shine. Devotion and love is going beyond the intellect by satisfying the intellect.
Q: Many people get the clarity in their mind from a young age of their passion to become doctors, engineers, teachers, etc., and they stick to it. Unfortunately I do not feel that way. I am not young anymore and this lack of direction scares me. What can I do?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: No, don’t worry. Life is all designed.
If you don’t have the clarity of what you want to do, then meditate and go by your intuition.
I tell you, all professions are the same. People of no profession are happy. Look at doctors they are so miserable, because all their lives they have to be with sick people. For 15 hours a day they have to be with sick people and listen to all their problems, and even if they give them the solution they ask the same questions again. If you tell somebody that you have no sickness and you are fine, even then they get angry at you. So many doctors even when you are healthy have to say, ‘No, you are sick.’ This makes them happy. And you say that this doctor is the right doctor. He knows my problem and he has diagnosed it very well.
The plight of doctors is not easy; they cannot take days off and go somewhere. In the middle of the night they have to take calls. They usually have to guess and give medicines, and then they are nervous all night. These are the secrets of the profession. When you have a headache they can give you an aspirin, but not always do they know what to prescribe for all the problems. Sometimes they just have to guess.
Look at engineers. Working with machines day and night they become like machines. They have to. They say this, I’m not saying this. Engineers themselves say it. ‘Oh, it’s so boring. All day and all night, machines, machines and machines.’ Even in their dreams they see machines.
If they work in a car factory, they see cars in their dreams. Cars that is moving without people in it.
Here, someone who was working at a car factory, he said, ‘Every night I dream of cars moving on the conveyor belt, or in a truck. There are no people in it!’
Lawyers; can’t even ask them of their plight. They look for some problem to happen somewhere so they can survive. If everything is peaceful the lawyers have no survival. If a fight happens between two brothers, the lawyers are happy and they are smiling. ‘Well they can come to me and I can make some money.’ Fortunately they don’t have to think much because there are already enough fights in the world and everyone has to come to them.
They say, ‘Come, I will solve your problem’. But it doesn’t get solved very quickly. They will postpone it. No lawyer solves any case quickly. Why will they? The longer the case goes on, it is better for them. For every appearance they can bill the client. They are not that foolish to make the case go away just like that.
You take any profession there are flaws in it.
Religious people, it is an even bigger problem.
There is a nice story in the Ramayan, do you want to hear the story?
There was a stray dog that was walking on the street and someone threw a stone at the dog and chased it. So the dog went to court. It is said that in Lord Rama’s court, everyone got justice, even animals.
The dog said that the road is for everybody. He said, ‘It doesn’t say anywhere on the road that dogs are not permitted here. I was walking on the road and this man hurt me; you should punish him.’ So Lord Rama asked the person if it was true. The person could not lie, and agreed that he had hurt the dog.
In those days, they used to ask the victims on what punishment should be given to the culprit.
So when the dog was asked on what punishment should be given to the man who hurt him with the stone, the dog said, ‘Make him the head of a religious institution. Make him a Guru of some Ashram.’
The people said that this is a very strange punishment.
The dog said, ‘Why are you asking? Just make him that. I was also a Guru in my past life, see what has happened! Then before dying, I thought that I should have been a stray dog that would have been better than being a Guru. See, that is why I have become a dog now. I had so much trouble. He too should become the head of an Ashram, and then he will experience what is trouble in life, and what is pain, and what is suffering.’
It is a very funny story in the Ramayan.
Every job, every profession, every work on this planet is not easy. Every profession is tough. No work is easy. And being the head of a religious organization is even worse because you have to take care of everybody.
If you do not look at any person then that person will complain that you did not look at me. Yesterday, you made me sad. You have come to make everybody happy but in the process you have made somebody sad. When you look at them they are looking elsewhere, and then they want you to look at them when they look at you; or they will become unhappy! What to do? And technology has made it worse! Do you know how many e-mails I have received? About 101,000 in the last couple of weeks, and I have to go through them. Every week, about 10,000 e-mails come. Sometimes 8,000 and sometimes 2,000, it varies, but they all pile up.
So, do not worry about any profession. All professions are the same. Find some job to make your life livable. You don’t have to become too greedy and you don’t have to feel a sense of lack. We need to feel abundance in our mind, in our heart. Money is something which can never be enough.
If you see, even billionaires are also wondering how they can make their money grow by two-folds and three-folds. This race never ends. I was in Davos this year and all the multi-billionaires were there. Just look into their eyes and their faces, there is no fulfillment there, there is no joy or contentment, there is no serenity and there is no sense of elevation.
Do you see what I’m saying? You can find a smile in a small hut, but you might not find a smile in a palace. You might not even find a calm mind in a palace.
Q: How can we clear our bad karma? I feel so much self-judgment? How can I learn to love myself?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that you cannot get rid of your karma. I will do that for you.
You just do your work and don’t worry about your bad karma. That is what a Guru is there for. Don’t worry about your cleansing or your own bad karma of the past. It will automatically go when you live in knowledge, when you are in Satsang, when you meditate and when you do Sudarshan Kriya.
Why do you do all these things? All these can erase your bad karma. What is bad karma? It is the bad impressions in your mind; in the consciousness. If you still feel something, you can say, ‘Guruji, I give these botherations to you, please take care of it.’ And it will all just go, okay!
Q: Why do you have so much compassion? Why do you not get angry at me knowing that I have repeatedly committed the same mistake and let you down. I feel disgusted with myself.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Don’t worry. Don’t sit and brood over the past.
You know when a child starts walking it falls many times. But it doesn’t stop standing up just because it fell ten times. It keeps making the effort till it can stand up.
So I want to tell you that you are doing very well, just keep walking. At least you have the pain of the mistake; this will prevent you from doing it frequently.
Do you know why you do a mistake? Because you think that you are getting some joy out of it. Taking drugs, or alcohol or smoking is bad and injurious but still you do it, why? Because you feel that it is giving you some joy. In fact, it does not give you joy, it just promises you joy.
There is another story. A gentleman went to a market and got a conch blessed by a saint. It was a special conch, a mystic conch. You could ask it for anything and it would give that to you.
A friend of this gentleman saw the conch and got very enthused, and he also wanted such a conch.
Many times you want to get something, not because you need it, but just because someone else has got it. Your friend got it and so you also want to get it. Your friend got an Audi or Benz car and now you also want to get an Audi or Benz. What difference does it make? You just need a car to go? But since your friend got a bigger car you also want to get a better car.
So he went to the market to get a conch. The shopkeeper showed him a conch and said that the specialty of this conch is that, you can ask it anything and it will offer you double of it.
Suppose you want one car, the conch will say, ‘Why only one, you can take two.’
Has anyone heard the story? No? You are not reading my books or listening to my tapes?!
So he got the conch and took it home. He asked the conch for one kilo of gold. The conch said, ‘Why one kilo, take two kilos.’
So he said, ‘Okay, give me two kilos.’
The conch said, ‘Why two kilos, take four kilos.’
So he said, ‘Okay give me four.’
The conch said, ‘Why four kilos, take eight.’
Then he said, ‘Okay, just give me eight, I don’t want anymore.’
The conch said, ‘Why eight, take sixteen.’
It just kept multiplying, but it didn’t give anything.
‘Give me something’, he said, and it said, ‘Why just something, take many things.’
So that man pulled his ears and said, ‘Wow!’
This is exactly what habits do to you. Habits only promise you joy but never deliver the joy to you.
To get rid of bad habits you need one of these three things, i.e., love, fear or greed.
Deep love for something, or a promise to a loved one that you will not look that way, can pull you out of bad habits.
When the doctor tells you that if you take alcohol your liver will get damaged and you will die, you will not touch alcohol.
And if someone promises you that if you don’t drink for 40 days, they will give you a million dollars, you will say, ’Why 40 days, I will do it for 45 days, just to be on the safe side.’
So greed, fear or love can pull you out of your bad habits.
My nature is to be compassionate. All these years, i.e., for about 56 years, I have not said one bad word to anybody. It is not an achievement. This body is made like that. I am made like that. I can never say bad words, even when I am upset. I can only say, ‘You stupid’, and nothing beyond that.
Even that I must have said only about seven to eight times; I can count them on my fingers.
It is not possible for me to swear, curse or blame somebody. I’ve never ever done that. Never hurt anybody from my side by any bad words, ever. But still if people have felt hurt then it is their problem, what can I do?
Q: The love of my life with whom I’ve been with for four years has told me that she is in love with someone else. She met him about five months ago. What should I do? I love her dearly and I don’t want to lose her. She has asked me to wait for her while she makes up her mind. Should I wait or should I let go?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I can understand your problem in one way. But in another way, I have no experience on this. So I can’t advise you.
All that I can say is take some time out and be silent. Think about your life, about how it was in the past.
When that person was not there in your life, even then you were happy? If that person had kindled some spark in you, made you experience some love, just thank her. In the future without her also your life will continue.
I tell you, you will only go up. If that person goes away, you will get a better person. This is for sure. Know that you are the centre, okay!
Don’t put your soul into the other person, keep it in yourself. And if that person comes back, fine, otherwise, move on.
This wisdom will help you not to have that love turn into hatred. Often people love somebody and that turns into such bitterness and hatred that it is unbelievable. So don’t let that happen.
If you love somebody, let go. If it is yours, it will come back to you. If it doesn’t come back, it never was yours. Know this and move on.
Q: I have grown up with the concept that God cannot be alive. Now I have met you in person and have heard all the beautiful knowledge, and it feels like I am meeting a living God.
But God cannot be alive. My mind does not understand. I know you are there through the knowledge and love, but I cannot embrace you fully while you are a person.
I can see, I can feel the Divine, it even hurts but I cannot understand. Please advice.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: God is love and love is God, and it is in every one of us. There is nothing that is not God because the whole creation is made up of love. So God is not a person. it is a field. If it is everywhere, it is in you as well.
If it is there at all times, it is there now and here.
You are correct; some people think God is somebody in heaven. He created everything and is now dead and gone. Like the way you sometimes do thanksgiving to the people who have died, you treat God as someone who has gone and thank him.
People don’t understand; God is a living presence, alive right now and here. Only in the depth of silence you can experience this. When the mind is quiet and when you say, ‘I want nothing.’ All that is, is only You. With this feeling when you sit, that energy, that silence, the love, that is here and now, you experience it.
That is why when people went to Lord Buddha and asked him about God, he never said anything, he kept silent.
Lord Buddha never spoke about God. In his Satsang, this was one of the conditions that people should not ask him about God.
Eleven questions were forbidden there. One of that was God. Even if you asked, he would not answer, because people have concepts, and they think they know about God a lot. They think that they know and then they argue.
Best is to leave to God to Himself, He wants a break. He wants to rest a little bit.
In India, God is depicted to be resting on a serpent, happily, and creation goes on.
So I would say, be a good human being, and time to time be still and experience the inner peace. You will find the secret of secrets; the doors open to you, so naturally. And then you will realize that this is what people everywhere were talking about; this is what is written in all the scriptures. Bible, Koran or Vedas, everywhere they say the same thing. This is true, it is here, now, in me; that realization.
Again don’t think that one day some realization is going to happen. It is right now!
Be at peace. Peace is the first step towards God. Second is joy and happiness. Third is love. These are the three steps to the home of God.