The Mother Divine
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Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Q. Gurudev, is sexual energy and meditative energy the same energy?

A. Yes, it is only one energy in the body, but it manifests in different forms, in different chakras. Sexual energy, love energy, intellectual energy, sharpness, awareness, anger; all these are related.

You would have heard about the seven chakras (energy centers); it is One Energy that manifests itself in various forms.

In the first chakra (Muladhara), at the base of the spine, the energy manifests as enthusiasm or inertia.

When the same life force energy comes to the second chakra (Swadhisthana), it manifests as sexual energy or creative or procreative energy.

The same energy goes up to the navel region, the third chakra (Manipura), and manifests in four different forms, which relate to four different emotions - greed, jealousy, generosity and joy. That is why all these four emotions are depicted through the tummy.

Jealousy is an emotion that one feels in the stomach. Generosity is depicted with a large tummy, e.g., Santa Claus. Joy is also depicted with a big tummy, e.g., Lord Ganesha and the Laughing Buddha.

The same emotion comes to the fourth chakra (Anahata), the heart chakra; manifests as three different emotions which are love, hatred and fear.

When this energy rises to the fifth chakra (Vishuddha), at the level of the throat, it symbolizes grief and gratefulness. When you feel grief, the throat chokes, and when you feel grateful also, the throat chokes.

The same energy then goes in between the eyebrows to the sixth chakra (Ajna), and manifests as anger and alertness. Anger, alertness, knowledge, and wisdom are all related to the third eye centre.

The same energy goes to the seventh chakra (Sahasrara), at the top of the head and manifests as sheer bliss. That is why in any sanctuary experiences, when you feel total bliss, the mind immediately goes to the top of the head. Something shoots up to the top of the head and you feel blissful.

So, the upward movement and downward movements of energy are all the emotions in life.

Q. Gurudev, can wisdom happen instantly? Is it the same with enlightenment?

A. Yes, it can be gradual also! The other day, someone was telling me, “Gurudev, suddenly, I realized that I am happy all the time now, which I never was before!” A sudden realization comes that gradually you have become more and more happy. One day you find yourself saying, “I am so happy, so centered; nothing can shake me, nothing can take my smile away!” And then you are there!

Sometimes, there is a flash of lightning, and suddenly you see things, and then it disappears. Sometimes it is like when the sun rises, dawn comes first, then gradually darkness disappears, and day dawns very gradually, and that stays! So both phenomena are there. For some, it can come as an electrical transformation, for others it could be a gradual change. Sometimes you don’t even notice it, but one day, you say, “Wow! Aho!” Just like what is said in Ashtavakra, “Aho! Yes, I got it!”

Q. Gurudev, if one is content then how can quest for spirituality arise? Is contentment relevant only to the materialistic aspect of life?

A. There are levels of contentment. Frustration cannot take you anywhere, if it leads you anywhere at all, it leads you to more frustration! To get out of frustration, you need wisdom. And if wisdom doesn’t give you contentment, then it is no wisdom at all. Even a drop of wisdom should bring you contentment. Contentment does not mean lethargy or lack of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, we think contentment is a sort of a dull state of peace; that is not the case. Contentment is not opposed to dynamism or the spirit of enquiry. The spirit of enquiry is not necessarily frustration or lack of satisfaction. You can be content and still be in quest of the highest; that is possible!

Q. Gurudev, is it possible to raise our awareness to that level where we know all things at all times?

A.A lawyer has so many books on his shelf that he has studied, he doesn’t have to keep everything in his head. Whenever he needs any information, he picks up that book, isn’t it? Similarly, suppose you are a mathematics professor, you don’t have to keep all the formulae in your memory all the time. When you want Trigonometry or Algebra, at that time you take it; you only focus your attention and pick that knowledge with the memory. It is the same thing with knowledge. All knowledge is available as a possibility, but it depends on our ability to pick what we can. In order to do this, you need to have the ability for intellectual analysis and intuition.

Intuitive ability will help you get access to subjects which you have not intellectually acquired. For every innovation, you need both (intellect and intuition). It is not enough if you have just studied, and have intellectual abilities. For innovation, you need an intuitive insight as well. That intuitive insight comes when you empty your mind a few times every day.

Q. How to get rid of stress, other than practicing meditation?

A. Drive a car behind a bicycle. Slow down.

Q. What do your teaching hold for me as an atheist? I really struggle with this concept of God.

A. I would like you to be a sincere seeker of truth. Don't label yourself as a theist or an atheist. It's very difficult to be an atheist, do you know why? You say that something is not existing. When you say that something doesn't exist, you should know everything about the universe to be able to say that, and it is impossible to know everything in the universe. The same is with a theist also. Believers or non-believers, they are on the same boat because both of them think they know it all. I would say, it is better to be a seeker of truth. If you are a seeker of truth, you don't have to believe things that you don't know. You know you exist and you believe you exist, then explore who you are, forget about God, keep God aside. Let's just go with this self-inquiry ‘Who am I?’

Q. When everything is changing then how can it still be meaningful.

A. Everything is changing and that change is meaningful. Everything is changing, and there is something which is not changing. And the changing and non-changing are two sides of the same coin. The non-changing has become the changing, that is the meaning of it. If you are confused, that means you got it. If you feel you have understood it, then you have not got it.

Keep the aspiration for higher knowledge. Be content, happy and yet have aspiration for higher knowledge. These are two opposite things – one side is contentment and on the other side is longing for higher knowledge.

If you are simply longing for higher knowledge without any contentment, then you will go all over the place, you will go spiritual shopping and hear and do so many things and get thoroughly confused. If you have only contentment and you feel ‘I have learnt it all’, then you will allow the passion for knowledge to die out. The skill that you need to develop is to keep the passion for knowledge, and at the same time maintain the contentment; a balance – this is the bicycle that you have to ride! Longing or craving with frustration will do you no good. The scriptures very clearly say this. If you are longing, craving and running with frustration, you will get more frustrated. You won’t get anywhere. At the same time, if you are contented, inert and laid back, and you think, ‘Anyways whatever has to happen will happen. Anyways it is all karma’, then too, you will not get anywhere.

In India this is what has happened. When it comes to doing something good, people say, “God willing, it will happen”. To do anything wrong, we don’t say, “If God is willing let it happen”.

When I was in Israel, they showed me two groups of people – one group of society are working hard. The other side of the society keeps saying,” If God willing it will happen”, and they haven’t ploughed the field at all. Nothing is growing on the field. On the other side, the people are finding innovative ways of farming through drip irrigation, and other things, and they are growing.

In India also, it is like this. People say, “If God calls me to do meditation, then I will come.” You think God is going to call you, “Come, do meditation.” So this is a sense of contentment with no passion. And there are some who have passion with no contentment. Both are two extremes. But the one who succeeds will have passion and contentment, together.

If you look at Mahatma Gandhi’s life, this was there – he was content at every step and he had passion as well. He would do satsang every day, meditate, listen to the Bhagavad Gita. Contentment and passion was both part of his routine. You will also see this in all those who are successful.

(To the crowd attending the satsang): Keep in mind, that you already have both contentment and passion. I see the contentment in all your faces, and it is because you have passion that you are all here. So, don’t doubt yourself. If you have no passion, you wouldn’t come here. You have all the virtues. You don’t have to cultivate any of these. Go with this confidence!

Q. Gurudev, why there is pain in longingness?

A. The pain is good will make you very creative. It will bring out the poet from within you, or it will make you an artist. It can also bring out the sevak in you. It can bring out the warrior in you. You have so many good qualities, and longing will bring them all out.

There was one generation of Masters who were very tough. Tough in the sense, if you desire something, that will not happen. They would nip desire in the bud. If the you would say. “I want to go to California”, then forget about it, you will never go to California. To come to a state of no-mind, they would use this tactic of crushing every desire that would arise. At some point of time, you would have to give-up, and then you go to the no-mind state when you are unconditionally happy. If you would go to them and say, “Oh, I have this problem”, they would say, “It’s your karma, bear it. You must have done something terrible, so experience it and finish it off”. That was the attitude – no compassion. Just imagine if there is no compassion, then what do you need to do? You have to stand up.

A creeper needs a tree to stand up, but a tree doesn’t need another tree to stand up. So, they would completely destroy all that is delicate in you. If you are emotional, they would take a hammer. If you complain, they would say, ‘Let it be’. If you say, “Some people are blaming me”. They would say, “Yes, more people should blame you”. They would push all your buttons and make you so numb to everything in the world, till you realize that everything is nothing. It was a very tough journey. I don’t think anyone of you can survive for even one day, it was such a tough atmosphere.

All that you identify yourself as would be simply ripped off. It was a long and tough journey. which very few could survive. And there would be a million chances to doubt and run away, only the very strong could survive such conditions.

In The Art of Living, we have taken a complete 180 degree turn and adopted a completely different route. Here we say, “What is your desire? Okay, let it be fulfilled”. Sometimes I wonder, “Am I making everyone weak?” But there is no option. At least this has put you on the path of knowledge.

I see you all are growing. Everyone is growing but I tell you, don’t get stuck in small little things. This world is Maya. There are always some issues that will prop up in life. You will have some excuse or some incidences to worry about. When such things come, you have to remember that this is all Maya, this is all ephemeral, this is all impermanent and stand up.

Your wants and desires are getting fulfilled. For some people it takes longer time, for some people it happens in a shorter time, and for some people it happens immediately. Many times, we only have put thought-constraints in our own mind. We put the sankalpa and we put the vikalpa as well. And to come out of this mess I don’t see any other path which is as effective as ours right now. If I find something better, I will myself ask you to do it. But the other generations of masters were very different.