28 Dec 2011 - QA 15

As a teacher, how to overcome my frustration with people who do the course and do not practice. Is it okay to force them to practice or is it better to let go?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

See, there is no need to force them to practice, but gently encourage them to practice. If you force, it will be counterproductive. But it is good to encourage.

You always need to encourage people to do something good. These days, it has not become their second nature to do good. You need to propel them, encourage them. You can definitely do that.

But then, there is no point in you getting frustrated. You feel for them – ‘oh, let them all do their practice.’ That attitude in you itself can help them. That blessing or prayer itself will help.

One thing you must remember, there are many people who do the course, and are satisfied. They enjoy it, they are happy and then they go away.

It is like someone who was hungry had good food in a restaurant. If their tummy is full they don’t think about food again till the next few hours, right? In the same way, when people are so satisfied after doing the course, they are so fulfilled, they don’t think about doing their practice for some time. Till they start feeling some emptiness, then they come back. It is just this!

When you have had a good meal, you don’t think about food for the next seven to ten hours, or maybe one day. This is exactly what happens. You are giving them a full meal, so nurturing, so satisfying, so tasty and they eat that and they don’t come back for some time. But they will definitely be back.

But if you make them feel guilty for not practicing it again and again, that will keep them away also. Don’t make them feel guilty.

Tell them, ‘what you have learnt here, it is good to do it, but if you don’t do it also, it does not matter. Come sometime at least.’

Otherwise they will feel, ‘oh I have learnt this and I have not done the practice. How can I go and face the teacher?’ And if they come and meet you and you again take a stick and tell them, ‘look, you have not done your practice.’

Just remember, in school you never liked to meet the teacher who would take a ruler and say, ‘you have not done your homework.’
I remember there were a couple of teachers like this. Especially one teacher who would always ask the students if they have done their homework or not, and punish them. So the kids would try to avoid that particular teacher, because every time the teacher would ask, ‘hey, have you done your homework?’

The other teachers would not ask that so much.

You would like to avoid that particular teacher who holds you against what you have not done. So don’t create guilt in anybody. When they are hungry they will come back.

I have seen people who have not attended the meditation program for ten years or who did the course ten years ago, they come back. When there is a need, they definitely will be back. And you have the tastiest menu with you!