On Respect

Question: What do you do if people don't respect you?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Thank them. They have given you freedom. (Laughter and amazement) When people respect you, they often take away your freedom. They expect you to smile at them, recognize them, behave in a certain way with them. If they don't respect you, you are not obliged to answer their questions and you can drop all the formalities. Either you will be naturally smiling or frowning. So you will be complete.

When people love and respect you, you are obliged to return their courtesies because you don't want to hurt them. When they don't respect or love you, they will not be hurt by your actions and expressions. So they set you free. When you gain respect, you often do it at the cost of your freedom. Wisdom is to put the freedom first and not bother about respect.

Q: Will freedom not bring arrogance?

A: True freedom is not an "I don't care" attitude. It is lightness from within, a genuine smile and not stiffness. When someone is stiff and arrogant, they are not really free. True love blossoms only in such freedom. And when there is genuine love, respect simply follows you.