The Mother Divine
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Question & Answers with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Q. What is Art? Where does poetry come from and what does it do?

A. Oh! Anything that you appreciate becomes art. You see a heap of stones lying somewhere and you think it is just a heap of stones. But if it is arranged a little bit, you start appreciating it. Then it becomes an Art. On a piece of paper when you start putting or splashing some colors and then start appreciating it as a painting, it becomes an Art. It gives you some meaning, isn’t it?

And for poetry, it comes from a subtle level of the mind. When your breath flows in a particular rhythm, when a particular Nadi or channel in you gets opened, in that particular moment, something comes up and you write. Then the words rhyme. So it is a gift! Imagination is a gift. It is all how the consciousness expresses itself; how your mind expresses itself. And when you appreciate, it becomes Art.

If you don’t appreciate and just blabber some words then that is not it. See the modern poetry needs certain intelligence to appreciate it. Have you read modern poetry? Let me read you something.

A leaf ruffles on the ground; Water carries it along.

That is it. (Laughter)

And the way you write it – ruffles on the ground; water carries it along – this is poetry. Now this can have so many meanings, instantaneously.
A leaf is on the ground or a leaf was in the air and it came to the ground. It was on the ground could mean it is almost dead. It fell on the ground and it is love that carries it along – water is synonymous to love.
Water carries it along, yes! So it could mean with every desperate moment there is hope.
So you can interpret it in so many ways.
Poetry is like that. Words carrying the feelings, a little exposed and little covered.
Poetry is words capsuling feelings, a little exposed and a little hidden or covered.
That is what it is – a little mystic and a little obvious.

A poet said to God, ‘You are in control of the world. But make it more obvious.’ (Laughter). To those for whom it is obvious, became saints. Those who don’t see that You are in control of the world, they struggle. You can understand it this way, isn’t it?!

If someone appreciates you then you say, ’Oh, that person is trying to hook me in.’ And if they don’t appreciate you, then you think, ‘They are jealous.’ Same thing if you are rich, you think, ‘They are attending to me because I am rich. They are interested in my purse.’ If they don’t, then you say that they are arrogant, they are jealous. My God, the mind plays so many tricks.

Similarly, someone can get into the labor union mind-set. Do you know what is the labor union mind-set? ‘I don’t want to listen to anybody! Everybody is against me.’ Who is against you?! The mind makes a whole bubble about it. They think, ‘Oh, someone is trying to control me, dominate me, and harass me.’

The other day one person came and said, ‘Everyone is harassing me at work.’ How could everyone harass you? You must be doing something really horrible. ’Everyone is harassing me at my work place’ – you know, this is labor union mentality. Because one does not feel good about oneself, they project it on everybody else thinking, ‘Everybody is bad, everybody is after me!’ Who is after you? What do they get by harassing you and making you miserable? You make yourself miserable. Got it?

In many companies, the establishment suffers because there is one manager sitting there who is like that. He wants to show his or her power and he plays all sorts of tricks. He doesn’t realize that he is cutting the tree which he is sitting on.

The victim consciousness haunts this world and that is why many countries remain poor. Because the people think, ‘Oh I am a victim.’ When you find yourself as a victim, you don’t have power and you feel weak.

It is the same with women empowerment. Don’t ask anybody to empower you. You have a place, you ascertain your place. Don’t go and ask people, ‘You should empower us.’ Many women activists are so angry, isn’t it? Women activists are so uptight and angry. There is always rebelliousness and anger in them, and it doesn’t lead you anywhere. I’m not saying all are like that, but some women activists are so agitated and angry. I tell you, anger is not going to lead you anywhere. With a calm serene mind ascertain your place. You have a position, climb it! It is all in our own mind.

See, if you are not looking beautiful, don’t feel low because someone else is beautiful. They may have a beautiful body, you have a beautiful mind. Remember that. Not everyone with a beautiful body has a beautiful mind. Sometimes when you look at their face, it looks so dull. Somebody may have a beautiful mind but they may not have a sharp intellect. You have a sharp intellect. So look into what you have.

Someone may have lot of money, so what? You have talent, you have a good heart, you have something. So when you start comparing with somebody else, you forget there is a dimension inside you which is much bigger than anything else, and which gives everything to everybody. When you latch on to that then you will get over all these complexes. Do you see what I am saying? The world is full of so many complexes in the mind. You should overcome those complexes. And what can make you come out of complexes? Not psychotherapy, but spirituality. Latching on to the inner space will lift you from all complexes – inferior, superior, exterior, interior, all of them. All types of ‘rior’ and irritating complexes will go away! You will find that, ‘Ah! So nice, and so peaceful.’

In Hindi there is a saying – Mann Meetha Toh Jag Meetha. When there is sweetness inside of you then everything around you is also sweet.

Q. What is the ultimate and greatest truth of life? Is it to be happy, or to make one’s family happy, or to serve humankind, or to reach the Divine?

A. The ultimate journey starts with one step. Just do not sit and dream about the ultimate. Instead, begin your journey towards the ultimate. Take small steps towards the Truth; towards this inquiry into life – “What is the goal of life?” This very inquiry can take you far. Everything has some significance in life.

Just eating alone is not the goal of life. Yet eating is essential for sustaining life. Isn’t it? Similarly, sleeping is not the goal of life. But can you discard sleep altogether? No, you cannot. No, you cannot. In the same way, you have to be happy and you also have to make others happy. This is the journey towards the Ultimate.

What is the ultimate Truth, or the ultimate purpose of life? I tell you, one who really knows will not tell you, and anyone who does tell you, simply does not know. That is the secret.

Q. Gurudev, what is vairagya and how can I continue to live in it?

A. Let us take vairagya to mean contentment. Whenever you are content, that is vairagya. If you have had a full meal, and someone brings more food, you will say, "No I am full", that is vairagya. You cannot exist without vairagya. Just as you breathe in, at some point, you have to breathe out. Breathing in is raga, passion, and breathing out is vairagya, dispassion. Breathing in is passion and breathing out is dispassion, and both are essential in life.

Q. I want to be 'Sthita Pragna' not get drifted by cravings and aversions. What should I do?

A. The moment you recognize that there is craving and aversion, I am getting disturbed by it and I don't want to be disturbed by it, you are already on track. See, when a person wakes up from sleep, only then he realizes, "Oh, I was sleeping!" In the same way, when you remember something, then you realize that you had forgotten. If you don't remember, then you can't say that you forgot. And when you remember, your memory is already back.

In the same way, this very intention that I don't want to be caught up in craving and aversion, you have woken up. Have patience, and don't be too hard on yourself.