25 July 2014 - QA 1

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.