Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
Dear Gurudev, what is the key to keep a good friendship?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Not demanding anything from the friends, and telling them I’m here to support you.
Just believe in one thing: what you need you will get. The giver is somebody else, so don’t demand love. When you demand love you are destroying love. So you should never demand love or attention from people.
If you are there only to give love and attention, then anyone will feel comfortable with you. But if you are expecting something then you are putting people in a very uncomfortable position. Do you see what I’m saying? You can’t say this to everybody in the world, but intelligent people if they understand this, they can make their way.
Tell your friends, 'I’m here for you', I don’t want anything from you other than friendship. That will make your friendship long lasting. When you come from that space, you think your friend will not help you? They will help you when you need help. Not one but ten will come to help you.
Also when you do something good for them then don’t keep on talking about it. Don’t keep reminding them of it. How do you feel when someone helps you and keeps on telling you about it all the time? You feel nauseated, isn’t it? You want to get away from them. Nobody wants to be under obligation, so don’t make people feel obligated.
Also, don’t make people feel small. Suppose you have done a lot of good to somebody, then sometimes ask them for something, a little help like taking you to the railway station or airport. Some small thing, so that you maintain the self respect of the other person as well.
There are people who do a lot of charity but they rob the other of their self-respect. That is no good.
One gentleman came to me and said, 'I’ve not taken a dime from anybody, I’ve only given to all my brothers, and all my friends. I have done so much but nobody wants to be with me, nobody wants to meet with me, nobody wants to talk to me. This is strange, I never wanted anything from anybody'.
I asked him, 'Did you anytime ask them to do something for you?'
He replied, 'Never, and I asserted that I wanted nothing from anybody'.
What happened? He put down the self-respect of people. When the self-respect is in danger, nobody wants to be with that person.
Friendship has two things. You may feel it’s very confusing. On one hand I’m saying don’t want anything from them, and on the other hand I’m saying, ask them for something to keep their self respect. That is the skill. They are completely two opposite positions. Keeping the self respect of the other person is number one and second is not demanding anything from them.
Just keep these two things in your mind:
- Firmness with humility: Do not assert your own ego by saying you’ve never taken anything from anybody or don’t want anything from anybody. It may be true, but you should not come out like that. Do you see what I’m saying? So first firmness with humility.
What is humility? Saying, 'Oh, I’m so humble', is not humility. Its firmness with humility.
- Dignity with cordiality: Many people who are very dignified they keep so aloof. They are not warm and cordial. People who are warm and cordial they don’t have any dignity. They just look so mushy mushy and wiggly wiggly, like noodles. Just imagine noodles all joined together, you can't even take it in a fork, it’s like a paste. That is of no use. Noodles are a good example. They are soft yet separate, not mushy nor hard. That middle path: cordiality with dignity, this is the secret of friendship.
Whenever a person is down uplift them. When you go to a true friend with a problem and you feel lighter when you walk away from them, then that’s a good friend, that is good company. However, if you have a problem and you go to a friend but you come away with your problem appearing much bigger than you ever thought, then that’s not a good friend.
How do I live with a husband who is a mama’s boy? How and when does a man switch from being a devoted son to also being a husband and a father?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
See this from a long term perspective. What would you like your son to be?Do you want your son, as soon as he gets married, to be only a good husband and good father and stop being a good son? This is a question in front of you. If you answer this question you will get an answer for your question also.
Nothing stops someone from being a good husband and a good father, he just needs a little orientation. Maybe it’s such a new role for him and he has not yet adjusted to the new role. With patience, educate him and don’t ask him not to listen to their mother. This could be a way.
Sometimes people buy new cars and they don’t know how to drive it very well. If there are too many gadgets and too many buttons they look around in order to get oriented with the car.
Often mothers feel very insecure the moment their children, daughter or son get married. So they need some reassurance that everything will be as usual. This could be one issue.
Secondly, one person can play all roles devotedly without getting into conflict. This is a skill, and one can get this skill when one is free from stress and has good support. So after sometime a wife should also treat the husband like a son, in the sense she has to have a lot of patience. How much patience you have till your child starts learning, that much patience you need to have. A child teaches a mother lot of patience because she has to teach him how to brush his teeth, how to wash himself, how to use the toilet, how to eat, how to wash his hands, everything she has to teach him. How much patience you have had with your child, so you keep at least 50 percent of that patience with your husband.
Since I am in Art of Living I try to overcome my aggression. I do all the practises but sometimes I again feel very strong aggression. Could you tell me what to do.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
When the cloth is very clean, even a little dirt appears very big on it. Similarly, when the mind is very calm, even if a little bit of something comes up it is very over powering. This is normal. If the cloth is all dirty one more dot, some more dust does not make a big difference. But it makes a difference when it is getting much cleaner.
So in this sense, when you have moved away from aggression, sometimes if an old impression pops up notice the quality of it, it will be different. Before you were aggressive and the aggression stayed for long. Now also, some time you get that but you immediately become aware and you move away from it, isn't it?
This is a stage and to move away from this stage, more meditation will help. No need to worry.
What to do to stop being demanding? It comes and goes. Where does such a tendency arise from?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Just wonder about it. When you get attention it gives you some energy and you feel elevated. When you are so centered within, then it doesn’t matter whether people’s attention is there or not, you don’t care about it.
But normally people’s attention somehow makes you feel little better. That’s why people do so many things just to draw attention from others.
Don’t worry about where this tendency arises from. If it is arising and you have watched it, then just let go and move on.
What is faith?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
That which withstands all doubts is faith. Your doubt is always about something that is POSITIVE. You doubt the honesty of somebody, you never doubt the dishonesty of someone. You doubt the love of somebody, not the hate of anyone. You doubt your happiness, you never doubt your depression. Has anybody ever doubted their depression? Have you ever said, 'Wait, let me see, am I depressed or not'. You are so sure of depression! This is the nature of doubt. And faith is that something which even doubt cannot overshadow.
Once a journalist asked me, 'Don’t beat around the bush, I want to ask a direct question. Are you enlightened?'
I just looked at him and smiled. If I say 'Yes' I have to prove it, so why take the headache of proving it. So I said 'No'.
He said, 'You are kidding. I want a serious answer'.
I said, 'When I say no, it is finished, no more conversation', yet he kept on insisting.
I then said, 'Ask your heart. Is your heart telling you that I am not telling the truth?'
He said, 'Yes'.
'So, what is that something inside you that is telling you this? Listen to that voice. Why do you ask me?'