Question: When a new disciple leaves our path within the first year after you accept that person, we all have a tendency to look for the reason. We ask ourselves, "Did we do something wrong?" What is the best attitude for us to have when we are dealing with new disciples?

Sri Chinmoy: If they do something discouraging, immediately say, “When we joined the path, we were no better.” If somebody has done something that is disheartening, if somebody is not disciplined or in some respect is not good according to your standard, just say,“We were also like that at one time.” Do not be discouraged. And if they do something good, immediately appreciate them and say, “What you have done will add so much glory to our Centre! This will give so much joy to our Guru inwardly.” If they do disheartening things, you will simply say, “Do not worry. We also had the same problem.” Then immediately your sympathy will come to the fore — even if you have not done the same unfortunate thing. This kind of lie does not hurt anyone; it only helps the person. But if you bark at the person, if you say, “What have you done! I never made that kind of mistake,” then he will be finished! You have to play a sympathetic role.

Twice I failed my driving examination. The first two examiners were impossible, but the third one was sympathetic in every way. I sat down in the car and I did not show any nervousness, but immediately he said, “Do not be nervous! I also had the same difficulty.” I had not even started showing nervousness, but he was so compassionate! When I did the parallel parking, he said, “I could not have done better.” The previous two examiners were simply impossible, but how much sympathy this man had!

Like that, our attitude always has to be encouraging. According to the third examiner, everything that I did was good, very good. From sixty metres away another car was approaching slowly, and I waited. The other examiners would have scolded me. They would have said, “Why are you not going ahead?” But this one said, “You did the right thing. I would have done the same.” In every way he was encouraging me. The previous examiner failed me because somebody made a left turn in front of me when I had the right of way. He said, “You had the right of way. You should have gone!” He was so mad at me! If I had gone, immediately I would have collided with the other fellow. But just because the other driver made a left turn, the examiner was scolding me.

When it came to parallel parking, the previous examiner said I touched the sidewalk. I said, “May I see where I touched it?” He did not want to show me! What kind of examiner was he if he could not show me how I had failed? At the starting point he said, “Make a left turn.” I saw behind that other cars were coming, so I did not obey him. I did not listen to him, so I failed! If they want to fail someone, they can. They just say, “You are going slowly, you are doing this, you are not doing that.”

At one point I made a left turn from the wrong lane. I felt absolutely miserable, but the examiner said, “Go back.” My examination was over. So much discouragement! He was only looking for my mistakes. Even if he did not find mistakes, he would make you nervous and say nasty things. But according to the third examiner, everything I was doing to his satisfaction. So his encouragement I will never forget.

So, kindly take an encouraging attitude. If somebody in your Centre has done something that is not good, just say, “I also would have done the same thing, but over the years I have improved, so do not be discouraged.” And if somebody has done something good, immediately appreciate them.