The questions I receive range from expression of deep gratitude to gossip, outpour to hatred, and everything in between. Some of the most common ones are listed below.
1. How can I see you in person?
You can visit me at my ashram in Himachal Pradesh. Please note that I am not available throughout the year. You can check my schedule here.
2. It’s quite frustrating that I can’t email you directly. There’s a lot I want to share. Please give me your email address.
I know it can be annoying but the truth is I’ve absolutely no bandwidth to attend to personal queries. If my posts and discourses have failed to address your question, chances are I’ll disappoint you too. You can email me using this form. Please note, however, that your email will be read by a small team of volunteers and prioritized.
3. I emailed on the link provided on your website but never got a reply back.
Those emails are handled by a group of people. If you sent too long an email or too generic a question, it probably got filtered. Please read my posts first and hear my talks. If your question is still unanswered, you can then write in and someone will get back to you.
4. Will I get to see you in person if I visit your ashram?
If you follow the schedule, yes. I do try my best to give a private audience to everyone who visits. I’ll keep this tradition till whenever it’s practical.
5. How do I reach your ashram?
Please visit the ashram website (here) for directions etc..
6. Who writes your blog posts?
I do. I write all my posts myself. Every single word. For nearly five years, I wrote a post every week. Beginning, July 2, 2016, I write on the first and the third Saturday of every month. Saturday 6 a.m. IST.
7. Who writes your books?
You will be surprised how many times I get asked this question. The answer is: I do. First, second, third draft, from start to finish, I write my own books.
8. You are a monk. Why don’t you give away your books for free?
Traditional monks are supported by the organizations/monasteries they are associated with. Or, they accept donations. I don’t function that way. Every penny that’s donated for an ashram cause goes for that cause. To support myself, I write books. I’ve priced the books as cheap as possible but if you still can’t afford to buy, drop us a note and we’ll see what we can do.
9. Why are you hankering after money by giving your books to publishers? Why don’t you self-publish?
This one always makes me laugh. I don’t go with publishers because of money but for the value they bring to the table. My books go through rigorous editing process, they have their own quality assurance team, the covers get professionally designed, the print quality is wonderful and I don’t have to think about distribution and all that.
As far as money is concerned, do you know, on an average, how much I get paid per copy when it’s sold through the publisher’s channel? About twenty-five rupees (45 cents).
The return is greater when the books are sold directly. I make more on my self-published ebooks and physical books outside India (between $1 and 2.50 per book on amazon.com). Even though many hundreds and thousands of people read this blog on a monthly basis, only about 10 copies sell daily on amazon.com (including ebooks and print books).
10. Visiting ashram used to be free. Why is now a charge for the same?
From Oct 2011 till Jun 2015, we left it to visitors and devotees to put in the temple donation box whatever they wanted to contribute towards paying for meals and stay. There was always a huge shortfall. We were barely meeting ashram expenses. Even more importantly, when the visits were free more than 40% people would just book for the entire permissible duration and yet only turn up for the days convenient to them and sometimes not at all. This led to so much wastage. You can read more on this here.
11. Will you just build up ashrams like all the other big gurus?
I have no such plans. I would have scores of ashrams already all over the world if I wanted to do that.
12. I really like your discourses and writings. You should interact more with the world. Why don’t you start something like the Art of Living or Isha Foundation? It’ll help many more.
I have no such plans. I do meditation retreats every year, you are welcome to be a part of that. If you can’t afford that, sometimes I do a camp at the ashram at 1/4th the price of a retreat. If someone can’t even manage that then all my retreat discourses are eventually published on YouTube.
13. Why do you charge for meditation retreats?
Because food, accommodation, arrangements cost money. Retreats are done in exclusive places with five-star facilities. Those who wish to just hear me live and practice in my presence are welcome to join the camps at the ashram which are at a fraction of the cost. Even at all the ashram events, I do at least one discourse and a Q&A session every day. Besides, this year, I’ll be launching Pin Prick Effect app. It’ll be a free app where you can join me for meditation with other participants around the globe.
14. Why don’t you share your knowledge for free?
If you are referring to meditation retreats, you are welcome to join a camp at the ashram. If you can’t afford that, we have a number of generous people who sponsor seats for the needy. And if you are talking about books, I’ve already shared my thoughts above. Besides, there are 300+ articles on this blog and 200+ discourses on YouTube. No advertising, no subscription, no charge, no solicitation, yours for the taking.
15. I would like to attend your meditation retreats but they get booked out so fast. Will you continue to do at least one retreat every year so people like me get a chance in the future?
I honestly can’t promise about doing a retreat every year. I would go with the flow.
16. I’ve benefited immensely from your blog and writings. How can I help you? Please don’t say “take care of yourself and be happy”. I wish to do something tangible for you.
I thank you for the thought. You could spread the word by sharing my posts with your friends and family. Or you could participate in any of the ashram causes. More details here.
17. I know any donations to the ashram don’t benefit you directly. I want to do something for you personally. What can I do?
You could get my books and imbibe what works for you. Trust me, that’ll be a tangible help to me. If you want to go even a step further, you can post a review on Amazon.
18. Would you be open to speaking at a corporate event?
I generally don’t speak at corporate events, big or small.
19. While overall I find your talks good, I don’t agree with many things you say or do. What do I do in that situation?
You follow your heart. I never expect anyone to agree with me. If what I say benefits you, good. If it doesn’t sit well, simply put it aside. If it’s the truth, it’ll eventually make way into your mind and life. And if it isn’t, you would have one less thing to worry about.
20. How can I become your disciple?
Please read my writings thoroughly and let a lot of time pass. If you still feel the same way, approach me and I’ll guide you. A lot of the time, people read my works or hear my talks and become sentimental. They take me on as their guru but as time goes by, they start to wonder if it was the right decision. They gossip about me, judge me, even accuse me and also expect me to change so I fit in their frame of what makes a good guru. This spoils the most beautiful ancient tradition of guru-disciple. When I accept someone, I accept them exactly as they are. I’ve chosen my life after arriving at my own truth so my ways of working will remain more or less as they are. It’s important that you examine me, test me and accept me before you think of me as your guru. And as I said, let a lot of time pass from the moment you first have this thought to the one when you actually ask me. I am not in any hurry. I have no desire to have a following, be known or go far and wide. Truth just flows wherever it finds an avenue.
21. What are the conditions of becoming your disciple?
I don’t impart any rituals or routine or set any conditions, not in the first level of initiation at least. The only thing I ask is to stay true to your voice. There’s little wisdom in having a messy guru-disciple relationship. If you feel you are done with me, I’m very happy for you. Go, make your life and this world more beautiful. If you feel I’m not the same person to you now that I once was, please leave me and move on. It’ll help you retain the purity of your mind and this bond. As I said, if your thinking was right you’d end up in a better place and if it wasn’t, you would come back. If you do, Swami will welcome you with open arms again. Either way, you win.
22. Who was your guru?
Read my memoir for that please.
23. I like you but I also like listening to other gurus. Is that okay?
Of course, it is. Like a bee extracts honey from many flowers but eventually deposits it in the hive, feel free to benefit from whoever’s teachings as long as you become a better person. Ultimately, at a divine moment in your life, you’ll discover that all this hopping around is mostly pointless. Your heart and mind will settle at one place with one person. That person will be your guru.
24. Can you please give me a mantra?
Live. Love. Laugh. Give.
25. In one word?