It was 11 in the morning when I was sitting in my house, cross-legged in a half-lotus posture with my hands over my thighs. There was a Yajna (Havan) in our house and most of my family, members, including me, were sitting next to each other in the hall. On my left was my 18 year old cousin sister. The Yajna ceremony lasts for about 1.5 hours.
When we were on the 20 minute mark, unbeknown to me, she took both my hands and put them from above my thighs over to my knees. My eyes were closed, and without any warning or intimation, she changed my hands posture from half-lotus Buddha-like to Shiva-like posture by placing my hands over my knees. I was surprised to know what happened. Being comfortable in my original posture, I shook my head and changed my hands posture back to half-lotus.
After the Yajna was over, she came to me to explain the ‘scientific benefits’ of having the hands on the knees. It was interesting because she does not sit for meditation herself, let alone keep hands on the knees or otherwise. She was basing her actions on what she has seen or heard, basically knowledge.
Although I didn’t pay a lot of attention to this incident initially, it made me think of my own actions. Do I also do the same thing? Do I also correct people, by physical or by vocal action, rather forcefully, without their consent? Am I now or have I been in the past, into the same habit?
This led me to connect my thoughts to the following two important conditions I heard from OSHO one day. Two things which I or you or anyone must keep in mind before giving advice to someone:
1. Give only Experiential Advice
Absolutely essential. Anything which is not on my experience, and is therefore, merely, knowledge acquired on the basis of reading/hearing is only superficial. Consider, for example, a friend has asked me for advice on what it takes to run a business, and I myself, have only read about running a business. Do you think I will be able to tell anything useful to that person? It will surely help boost my self-esteem to feel that I am more learned than the other guy, but that self-esteem itself is falsified since it is based on information rather than experience. On the other hand, such information itself may be wrong or misjudged by me I may end up harming the other person by telling him something which is outright incorrect.
Make sure the advice is based on your experience. If it’s not, politely say No, or I don’t know. It will not make you small and may save the day for the other person.
2. Give Advice only When Asked
I cannot stress on it more. Imagine how you would feel if you are cooking food and suddenly your brother or sister comes in the kitchen (who is more experienced than you in cooking) and says, “Oh you’re doing this wrong. You’re doing that wrong. You have no idea how to cook. You should do it this way.” Nothing irritates me more than someone telling me what I should and should not do when I have not asked it from them, no matter how experienced they really are.
Every person has a sense of self-esteem. So does I, so does you, so does everyone else in the world. It is best not to harm anybody’s self-esteem by giving advice to someone when they have not asked for it.
So what to do when someone asks for your advice on a particular topic and you don’t have experience on it?
You can simply say, I don’t have experience on this particular topic you ask, however, these are certain books/references which I have come across which tell me such and such thing is true. You may go through them. Further, for this particular topic, please go to such and such person. They would certainly know more about this particular topic than I do.
This will not only help the other person, but also prevent them from any harm inflicted by giving any incorrect advice.
“No Advice is better than Wrong/Forced Advice.” ~Anonymous