Is Saying NO a Spiritual Quality?


Is the ability to say no a spiritual quality? At times we are confronted with people who insist a lot to receive a a particular help, which however is inconvenient for us. But in spite of explaining the reasons for our inability to help, they keep insisting from time to time, in the hope that some day we may give in. What is the way to say no to such people?

—S., India


Dear S.,

Saying NO can indeed be considered a spiritual quality, in the sense that doing it well requires awareness: whom am I dealing with? What response will he/she listen to?

Swami Kriyananda established a Maturity Principle: “Maturity is the ability to relate appropriately to other realities than one’s own.” So your maturity will lie in understanding the person you are dealing with. Some people need only a hint, others a hiss, still others a hammer. Some people might need a good rational reason for your NO (why it doesn’t work for you), others simply need an honest communication: “You really disturb me by asking again and again.”

The important thing, if the person you are dealing with needs a rather strong response, is that inwardly you remain calm, in peace and harmony. Otherwise it will not be a spiritual “NO”.

But in case your “NO” so far hasn’t been convincingly firm, simply because you feared that it is not spiritual, then know that both Yogananda and Kriyananda at times said “NO” very powerfully: “This far and no further!”

In short, saying NO in certain situations is absolutely spiritual and dharmic, but what is not spiritual is when our feelings (chitta) get agitated. Saying “NO” forcefully when needed, while inwardly remaining harmonious and peaceful, is a very spiritual training.

In divine friendship, Jayadev