Q: After a lot of struggle I found you as my Master. In my next birth, I don’t want to get lost and then get picked up by a Master. Is there a way out?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a lot to worry about right now. Why are you postponing things for the next lifetime? Right now, here, you have a chance. Become free, become happy and serve, yes!
We will see about the next life later.
Q: Dear Guruji, why do I cry in satsangs and in some of The Art of Living Courses?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Why do you cry? I think you should laugh, isn’t it? Smile!
There is a shloka (verse) in the Upanishad which says, ’Bidhyanti hridaya granthi, Chidyanthe sarva samshayaha. Ksheenatechaasya karmani, Yasmin driste paraavare.’ – (Mandukya Upanishad)
When you see the Beloved, the knots in your heart open and tears come. All doubts and questions vanish from the mind, and all bad karmas vanish. This is what has been said in the Upanishads.
So you don’t know why you are crying, it is because some knot in the heart is getting loosened up; getting opened – this is one thing. And there is s nothing wrong, when the heart blossoms tears come and emotions well up. Gratitude and love are also associated with tears, not only misery. These are called sweet tears.
It is said in the Bhakti Sutras – The angels long for those drops of tears that come out of love. So you are very fortunate to have such tears.
Now if some of you are not getting tears, don’t think that, ‘Oh! I am not fortunate, I can’t cry.’ No, nothing like that! Only if you get tears you are evolved – nothing like that. It is just the makeup of some people. For some there is more emotion, a wider experience of hollow and empty in the mind. Some feel more waves of emotions taking over.
These are different experiences. And at different times people get these different experiences. Not everybody needs to get those.
And that is not a particular sign of any higher evolution. It is one of the signs, but not the only sign.
Q: Guruji, can you please talk about Ahimsa (non-violence)? Also, how can a vegetarian answer a non-vegetarian when he say, ’You vegetarians also kill plants and plants feel pain and scream too!’
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Well, ask those non-vegetarians, if they have a puppy at home would they put the puppy on the dining table? No, they won’t! Nobody will.
See, our human physiology is made to consume a vegetarian diet. There are a number of research works on this. You go onto Google and search, ‘Why should I be vegetarian?’ You will get a number of different answers on this. You will find all the answers in Google.
Ahimsa is the intention.
The state of mind in which you go and destroy something is Hinsaa (violence or killing).
Ahimsa is when the mind is totally non-violent, it does not want to destroy or kill anything. That is Ahimsa.
There was a Rishi (wise sage) called Kanad. He would not cut the crops; he would go and pick up the seeds from the field. So Kanad Maharishi also said that one needs to understand the substances. Padaarth Gyananad Mokshaha – if you can understand the substances by which the world is made, you feel the liberation.
With plants you are only plucking the fruits, you are plucking the vegetables. Lesser harm is what is appreciated.
Q: Dear Guruji, why is the Vishalakshi Mantap designed like a lotus flower? Is it because you like the lotus flower? What is the meaning of Vishalakshi and Sumeru?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is nice, isn’t it? (Laughter).
You can come up with a hundred different reasons. We just decided to do something like this, and it looks nice, that is it!
If I had it shaped like a hibiscus, you would have asked me the same question! Why hibiscus? So there is no need to justify why this flower and that flower. I don’t want to make any other flower get upset or angry. (Laughter).
Vishal means broad, Akshi means eyes; so it means broad vision. So, when everybody goes in there, their vision gets broadened and they start seeing things in a bigger way. Isn’t it? (Audience respond with clapping).
That is what meditation does – broadens your vision and deepens your roots.
Q: Guruji, I used to experience a lot of devotion, but it seems to have diminished with time. After listening to your talks on the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, I realized that it is not my nature. Could you please tell me how I can feel the same devotion again?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Devotion is always there, but sometimes the clouds come in. Faith goes down and up with time. But if it goes down don’t think that it is going to be down there forever. It will go up again.
This is the nature of the mind because the mind goes up and down, and it projects love and faith as if to be going up and down. And it is related to Prana (life force energy). If the Prana is high, then faith is high. If the Prana is low, then the mind will say, ‘Oh, what is this? Am I at the right place? Am I doing the right thing?’ A million doubts come to the mind.
So, when you are anchored to the centre core of your being, when you are so well anchored to the knowledge, only then that stability comes. That is why the saints in the past have prayed, ‘Dear Lord, give me Achal Shraddha; unshakable faith.’
So many saints have sung and have asked for Achal Shraddha, Atoot Bhakti (uninterrupted devotion), unbroken love.
This is all that we can ask for because even that is a gift! When you have love and devotion see what a transformation happens in life. And when they breakdown, see what happens – a sort of inertia sets in. A feeling of hopelessness comes and life appears to be meaningless. It looks like every door is shut and everywhere one finds darkness. It is called asThe Dark Night of the Soul in the Christian tradition. The soul has to pass through such a dark night.
But I would say it doesn’t have to pass through it if you are a Yogi (a seeker on the spiritual path).
In the Yoga Sutras, I have spoken about the Nine Obstacles on the Path of Yoga. And how you can overcome them?
Ekatattva abhyaasa – when you are adhering to one principle then you are able to sail through these obstacles; or what are appearing to be obstacles.