It’s all about changing the hats you wear. You have to keep changing your hats, and keep saying, ‘Hats Off’, to that which is making everything happen.
On a second thought, I would say, ‘Hats Off’, to this which is making everything happen. By saying that, it would seem somewhere outside and far off. By saying this, it means, right here!
Questions & Answers
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Dear Gurudev, you have spoken about letting go. But if a person goes on making the same mistake day after day, what to do? I can let go the first time, the second time, but not the third time. So should I tell them, or teach them, or do something about it? Please help.
Sri Sri: Yes, you should tell them, teach them, but keep them out of your mind. Letting go does not mean keeping quiet.
You know, if someone is committing a mistake and you tell them, ‘Do not do this, because it hurts me’, then they are never going to stop. But instead if you tell them this, ‘Your making this mistake is going to hurt you’, then they will not do it.
This is the difference between a teacher and a victim.
A victim says, ‘I am a victim. You are a culprit so you better not do this wrong-doing’. A victim can never correct a culprit. But if you are a teacher, then you can.
What does a teacher do? He tells the other person, ‘Look my dear, what you are doing will hurt you. So don’t do it. I am telling you this out of love and compassion for you, so please do not make this mistake because it is going to hurt you even more’.
Then something stirs within the other person and they listen to you. They change their ways.
So just remember this, a victim can never correct a culprit. And if you wish to correct somebody or teach them a lesson, you need to have that magnanimity of a teacher. You have to have compassion, a broad vision and equanimity within you.
Three things are essential, magnanimity, equanimity, and skill. Then you can digest their mistakes with ease.
See, mistakes keep happening on this planet. You cannot stop mistakes from happening. It will continue to happen, and has been happening through the ages. When you do not want a particular person to commit a mistake because you see them as a part of you, when you see them suffering and you feel that they should come out of it because it is not good for them, then you guide them out of it. Got it?
You cannot say that there should not be any drainage, or that there should not be any dirty swamps in the world. Swamps do exist on the planet, but you do not want your friend or dear one to fall into it. So you should simply guide them away or out of it. That needs compassion.
See, how do you help someone when they have fallen in a ditch?
Just by your standing there and telling them, ‘Hey! Come out of that ditch’, is not going to help at all. You have to give them your hand, and they should trust you that you are surely going to help them out of it before they give their hand in yours.
You can pull them out of that situation only when you can catch hold of their hand. Only then can you transform people. Just by pointing someone’s mistakes to them is not going to work. You need to have that magnanimity, equanimity and that skill.
You may have the skill and magnanimity, but you also need to have equanimity.
You may have the equanimity and be able to keep your calm when someone makes a mistake, and you may also have the skill to correct them, but if you do not have the magnanimity of accepting them and uplifting them, then also it will not work. This is what has been my observation.
So you can change a culprit with the help of three things together: magnanimity, equanimity and skill.
This point may actually be good for all of you, because some of you are Art of Living teachers, and some of you are organizers in different places.
I want to share an incident with you all.
Once, there was a program conducted in Mumbai. We have a few senior teachers in Mumbai, and we have an Apex body also which was organizing the event and taking care of all the arrangements.
Now the senior teachers had been organizing such events there for many years, and the new members there did not like the way they were going about organizing things.
The senior teachers had always been in charge of such events, and these new members wanted a chance to contribute and take responsibility of the work. So the new members started to empower the others but found that the senior members were not giving them a chance to do their job properly. So they all had a meeting, and the senior teachers came together and in one voice scolded the new junior members.
Following this, all the organizers resigned. This happened just two weeks prior to the event. So I called up the senior teachers on the phone and said, ‘Look, did they take your advice by your scolding them?’
They said ‘No’.
So I said, ‘You know that they will not take your advice. So why do you give them advice? And they will never take your advice by scolding them. No doubt you poured out your heart to them. But what was the impact of doing so? Did things become more constructive or did they get worse?’
They said, ‘Yes it became worse’.
So this is what I want you to see.
For example, let us say, you are working in a company, and you get a brilliant idea. If you go to your boss and tell him that what he is doing is wrong and scold him, do you think he will listen to your idea? No, he will not listen. Then why do you do something which is not going to be productive? It consumes so much of your energy and time.
True that by pouring out your emotions you became empty. But that is not going to help in any way.
So I told the new members that the senior members were not going to listen to them since they were all accomplished people in the society. They are all big business people and they know what they are doing. Or they think they know what they are doing. And they are not going to listen to someone else even if they are wrong. They will not take it from some other person, or from the youngsters.
You know, there are different levels and barriers in the society. There is the age barrier, the status barrier, etc. If nothing else, there is the ego barrier.
So the next day, they got together and again had a meeting. Since everyone wanted me to visit Mumbai and I was going there after a gap of two years, there was such a strong yearning for this among the people, and so in the end, everything worked out well.
What I am trying to say is that, all the three, magnanimity, equanimity and skill, need to be there. This incident suddenly opened up the minds of all our senior teachers. They also agreed that it was the correct way, and that there is no point in pointing out a mistake which has already happened. People will not listen to you and they will only justify their mistakes.
So when the situation is such, what is the point in behaving this way? You should put your point forward as a positive suggestion instead of telling the other person that what he or she did was wrong. Tell them like this instead, ‘May be this way would be a better idea’.
Let me tell you another story about an astrologer.
Once an astrologer went to a king. The king showed great reverence to the astrologer, made him sit and honoured him with gifts. The king then showed his palm and the charts to astrologer. The astrologer examined everything and then said to the king, ‘O King! You will lose your entire family. Everybody is going to die before you. You will be the last to die’.
The king got very upset upon hearing this and put the astrologer in the jail.
This news shook the entire astrologers’ community. They thought, ‘We cannot tell the truth to the king. If we do so, he will simply put us in jail. What do we do?’
When someone hears some negative prediction, they don’t like it. They obviously want to hear something nice and positive instead. And so it was for the king as well.
The king then called for another astrologer to appear before him. Many tried to escape this request but one senior astrologer agreed to meet the king. So, he went before the king, and the king welcomed him in the same way with gestures and gifts. The king then showed his palm to the astrologer. The astrologer said, ‘Oh King! What a great fortune you are blessed with! You have a very good horoscope. Nobody in history has had such longevity of age as you are going to have. In fact, nobody in your dynasty has had such great longevity’.
The astrologer never said to the king that he was going to outlive everybody else in the royal family. Instead, he told the king that he was blessed with great longevity and that he had a great horoscope.
The king was so flattered upon hearing the news of his long life and good health. He told the astrologer, ‘Ask whatever gift you want from me and I shall give’.
The astrologer said, ‘Please release my poor colleague who is in the jail’.
So that skill in communication makes a huge difference.
There is a couplet in Kannada which means ‘Through words, fun and laughter happen, and it is through words that enmity can also happen’. So it is speech that creates conflict.
What is the conflict between North Korea and South Korea, and between them and America today? It is all because of the words that have been used; all because of the speech. There is no trade issue or anything else.
There is a song in Kannada which says, ‘Your speech should be so wonderful and sweet, that even Lord Shiva should simply listen and nod happily in agreement, saying ‘Oh yes, Oh yes’. So that is how lovely your speech should be.’
Dear Gurudev, can you please explain how to overcome attachment, and what to do about the attachment for you? These days it has become very painful.
Sri Sri: You cannot hide love. Nor can you express it fully. This has been the story of love since ages. When there is love, it oozes out and you see it in your eyes, and in your actions. Love can never be hidden, and yet it can never be expressed fully. However much you try to express it, you find you have not been able to express it the way you want to. This is the problem, and the pain comes with it.
It is the same for truth also. You cannot avoid truth, and at the same time you cannot define it either.
Similarly, beauty is something that you cannot renounce. And yet you cannot possess it also. That is why the human race is in such a problem. They want all these things – love, truth and beauty.
Tell me, who does not want the truth? Can you tolerate it if everyone around you tells lies to you? You will boil from inside. You cannot accept it. You expect everyone to be truthful to you. Don’t you? If not everybody, you expect at least some people to be truthful to you. When you feel that too is lacking, you feel devastated. But are you truthful to everybody else around you? That is a big question mark. Which is why truth is something you cannot avoid or get rid of. Yet you cannot define, what truth is.
Whatever is the truth for you at this moment may not be the truth for someone else. Do you see what I am saying?
Say you believe in something as the truth. If you go a little beyond, you find ‘Oh, what I believed as the truth was false’.
How many of you have had this experience, where you thought something as the truth, only to find out that it was not the way you thought about it. Raise your hands. (Many raise their hands)
So how can you ascertain what is truth? Can you define what truth is? No.
Have you heard the story of Akbar and Birbal (referring to the famous Mughal emperor Akbar and his intelligent minister Birbal)?
I have told that story before. There was this emperor in India whose name was Akbar. One day he got an idea to pass a law that anyone who tells lies will be hanged and sent to the gallows. So when this law was announced, there was panic in the kingdom.
First, all the merchants got together, and said, ‘This is a draconian law. Whenever we sell our fare, we always say that this is the best product available. When we sell silk, we sell it by saying that this is the best silk available, knowing fully well that it is not the best. You get better quality silk down south. But we have to sell our products also. What do we do? We cannot run our business otherwise’.
Then came the doctors’ community. The doctors discussed among themselves, ‘Whenever we give some medicine, it is after guessing the problem. We give the medicine hoping it will cure the patient, but still we assure the patient that it will certainly cure him of his problem and make him better. Suppose it does not work, then we too will be sent to the gallows’.
So the doctors said thought the king has gone crazy. They could not carry on with this law; so the entire medical community was shaken as well.
Then came the astrologers. They said, ‘This man is out to destroy our business. While making predictions, we understand some things and guess certain things and then give the prediction’.
So the astrologers in Akbar’s kingdom also got terrified. They thought this law would be disastrous and they would have to run away somewhere to make their living, probably to America!
Then came the lawyers’ group. They thought to themselves, ‘This law is unfair. We always make a living by proving black is white and white is black. That is why people come to us’. So the lawyers too were in trouble.
Then the priests were also in trouble.
So every community was in great trouble because of this law. They all thought, ‘Now who will bell the cat and save us from this law?’
Then they caught hold of Birbal, who was a wise man and also a court jester. He was very dear to the emperor. Birbal heard all their troubles.
So one day, Birbal was walking into the king’s inner chamber and the guards stopped him. They asked him, ‘Where are you going?’
He replied, ‘I am going to get myself hanged’, which was obviously not true.
This news soon reached the emperor. Birbal had indeed lied by saying that he was going into the king’s chamber to get hanged. But if they hanged him now, then what he had said would have been true, and by hanging him, they would have actually punished an innocent guy.
In those days, if a king punished an innocent person, then he too would have to suffer the punishment as well. This was the rule in those days. It was the biggest crime.
Now, if the king allowed him to go free without any punishment, then it would be breaking his own law. And if he punished him, he would be breaking another law. So the emperor was in a state of confusion. He called all his scholars and debated this.
‘What do we do about Birbal in this case?’ The emperor asked them.
‘Birbal had indeed lied in this case. So do you punish him or not?’
Then Birbal came and said, ‘See, truth is not what is expressed or what is said. Truth is what is. And to know what is, is a different thing altogether’.
So they removed the law and everyone lived happily thereafter. That is the end of the story.
So, truth is not that which you speak (it is not limited by words). It is that which is beyond time - past, present and future. That which stands the test of time is what truth is. That is why truth can never be defined.
You also cannot avoid the truth. The same is the case with beauty. Beauty cannot be renounced. If there is something you can renounce, then that can never be beauty. And beauty cannot be possessed also. Got it?
These are the three essential components of human existence.
Dear Gurudev, I have heard a little about reflections. How many reflections do we have, and what does that mean?
Sri Sri: When you have said a word, you have also attached a meaning to it. Reflection is simply reflection. Whatever you see on the outside. Action is a reflection of what you are. Your thoughts, your mind, your emotions are a reflection of what you are. In some sense even your body is a reflection of what you are.
When you reflect on this truth, it becomes very clear.
We say, ‘Asangoham asangoham punah punaha’ (Unattached, unattached, am I again and again).
It means, ‘I am not this. I am not this. I am untouched and separate from all this. I am not my body, my thoughts, my emotions, and all the actions that I have done’.
Then we start becoming a witness, and distance ourselves from all that happens.