In an exclusive interview with NT NETWORK, the world-renowned yogi and mystic and founder of Isha Foundation Sadhguru says if things do not happen the way you want you are not happy. However, if you are in control of your body, mind, emotion and energy you can keep yourself very joyful and blissful
Q: Joys and sorrows are an unavoidable part of one’s life. How can one be as detached to joy and sorrow as Lord Krishna wants Arjuna to be?
What is a joy, what is a sorrow is completely your psychological drama. If you are the director of your psychological drama, would you want a joyful drama or a miserable drama? Joyful.
The trouble is not that you do not know how to be joyful. The problem is you do not know how to sustain it. Or in other words, when outside situations become conducive you tend to become a little joyful. When they do not work out you go down. The outside will never happen hundred per cent the way you want it. Especially because it does not happen the way you want it, at least you should happen the way you want. If you happen the way you want, obviously you would choose joy.
If your body, mind, emotion and energy take instructions from you, you will keep yourself very joyful and blissful. Other people may decide a few things that happen around us. Nobody should decide what happens within. When you talk about detachment, you are talking about avoiding life. If you are detached from your life, can you experience it? Life is experienced only with involvement. If there was no involvement with life, you would not know life.
Right now, your involvement is only with certain people and certain aspects of life and because of this, you naturally get identified. You want to ignore the rest of life around you, so you get entangled. If you are involved with everything that you are in touch with right now, the very air that you breathe, the atmosphere around you, life around you, then there is no question of entanglement. Entanglement has come because of discriminatory involvement. Only if you show involvement with everything around you, at that moment you will know life. How profoundly you are involved, that is how profound your experience of life will be.
Krishna is an embodiment of involvement, you think he will ask you to be detached?
Q: Man must dream before achieving anything. But religious teaching demands we combat our desire. How can the two be reconciled in one’s life?
You want to give up your desire. Is that not a desire? Or if you say, “I want to attain God” is that not a very greedy desire? If somebody just desires a small piece of creation, you call that greed. If someone wants the very creator, is that not ultimate greed?
So when you talk about giving up your desires, if you create a desire to give up your desire, you are still in desire. So it is a “not-possible” teaching. Utter nonsense has been peddled for a long time. Just because it gets printed in books, just because somebody says it is holy, it does not become right or true.
If you make your process of desiring into a conscious process, then desire is no more a problem. Desire is a wonderful vehicle which will take you places. Even if you want to reach the ultimate you need a desire.
If you look at it with the necessary awareness, you will see the very process of life, whatever we refer to as the process of living, is a certain seeking, a certain urge to include, evolve and grow into our ultimate nature. If you look at the most basic desires within you, you will see that the fundamental desire is to include something or someone as a part of yourself. Fundamentally, you want to expand your way of being; and you will not settle for any amount of expansion. There is something within you which is looking for a boundless experience.
Q: Man lives in a family. Looking after the interests of one another in the family is considered a virtue. However, the society sees it as nepotism and a vice. Which is the right way?
The best thing that you can do to people around you is make yourself in the greatest possible way a human being can be. You must pursue that. The more you evolve, the more you contribute to people around. If you are identified just with yourself, then naturally your intelligence will function only for your individual well-being. If you are identified with your family, your intelligence will function for the well-being of your family. If you are identified with the community, it works for that. If you are identified with the nation, it works for that, if you are identified with the entire life on this planet, it works for that. So enlarging that identity in a human being is the work of spiritual movement.
Most of the corruption on the planet is because you are identified with something limited. Limited identity is corruption. If you make your identity yourself, you will rob the person next to you. If you make your identity for your community, you will do things for your community at the cost of some other community. If you are identified with the nation, you will do good things to your nation at the cost of another nation. That is not perceived as corruption, but it is corruption. Corruption is not a lack of morality. Corruption is essentially a limited identity. What you call as crime, evil, genocide, and whatever other horrendous acts is just limited identity. It is me versus you, my family versus your family, my community versus your community, my nation versus your nation, my religion versus your religion.
In this culture, it used to be that before we gave education, we taught the child ‘Aham Brahmasmi’, which means, ‘I am everything’. ‘I am everything’ is a cosmic, unlimited identity and before empowering your intelligence it is very important that you have a boundless identity so that your intelligence will work for your well-being and everybody’s well-being. When you are identified you can only be biased. If you are truly virtuous you must be beyond all bias.
So please expand your idea of the family. The whole spiritual process is to take an individual from a limited identity to an all-inclusive possibility, not just intellectually but experientially. Yoga is not something that you do; it is a certain way to be. It is a certain way of being within yourself. Literally the word ‘yoga’ means union. When you are one with the existence, when you experience everything as a part of yourself, then we say you are in yoga.
Q: How does one cope with fear and frustration?
Your fear is always about what’s going to happen next. That means your fear is always about that which does not exist. If your fear is about the non-existent, your fear is hundred per cent imaginary. If you are suffering the non-existential, we call that insanity. People are always suffering either what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow. Your suffering is always about that which does not exist, simply because you are not rooted in reality, you are always rooted in your mind. You are lost in your imagination; that is the basis of your fear. If you were rooted in reality, there would be no fear.
If you want to deal with your frustration, I would say don’t get frustrated – that is the simple way to deal with it. When you are frustrated, your intelligence, physical strength, energy – everything – will not be at its optimum. Your life is banging against an imaginary wall that you created – that is frustration. When things are not going the way you want them to go, that is when your capability is most needed. A human being should always focus on how to enhance their way of being. Then, everything else gets managed naturally. Whether it is your profession, your relationship or whatever else in your life, it will happen to its best only when who you are is enhanced. When you fine tune yourself to such a point where everything functions so beautifully within you, naturally the best of your abilities will flow out of you.
Q: Should we not abide by nature’s law of birth and death? Is not science being unethical in working to develop a longevity pill?
In India, the average life expectancy in 1947, when the British left, was twenty eight years. Today, it is around sixty-eight. Medical science has reduced infant mortality and improved longevity, which is a great blessing because human beings are living a fuller life. This is a good thing; it means we took death into our hands. The simple arithmetic of life is, if we take death into our hands we have to take birth also into our hands. If we just take death into our hands and do not take birth into our hands, then we are too many.
In early 20th century, the human population was only 1.6 billion people. Today we are 7.7 billion people. They are now estimating by 2050 we will be 9.8 billion people. So this is irresponsible reproduction. We are producing human populations far larger than what the planet can support, for the kind of lifestyles we are seeking.
If we do not postpone birth, then the population pressure will become such that, over a period of time, we will lose all our humanity. We will start behaving in cruel ways to each other. If we consciously correct it now, if we make up our minds by 2050, instead of being nearly 10 billion, we will be 3.5 billion, everybody can live well. If it touches 10 billion, it does not matter what you have, nobody can live well.
Everybody in the world wants to have their own children because essentially our whole identification is with the body. Unless it comes out of our body we cannot recognise it as ours – that is our problem. So essentially a wave of spiritual process needs to hit the world where peoples’ identification is not limited to your biological self, that you identify yourself with a larger dimension of who you are. Unless that happens, this compulsiveness to go on producing children is endless. It is my wish, as human beings, we handle this problem consciously.
Q: How does one balance spirituality with normal life?
The very mention of the word “spirituality” raises a galore of misconceptions, unfortunately. Spirituality essentially means one’s ability to experience life by transcending the limitations of the physical.
The very nature of a human being is such that there is one part of him which is the instinct of self-preservation – constantly defining boundaries and protecting them. There is another dimension of the human being which always longs to be something more than what he is right now. It does not matter who you are, how big you are, what you have become in your life, you still long to become something more than who you are right now.
This means that there is something within you which does not like boundaries. There is something within you constantly longing to become boundless.
People have tried all kinds of pacifist philosophies to quell this longing, to somehow put it to sleep by teaching you not to be greedy, teaching you how to be content with your existing limitations. But no matter what they have taught you, this longing to be something more than who you are has not stopped even in a single human being on this planet because the longing to be boundless is eternally on.
If this longing of a human being finds a very gross physical expression, we call this sexuality. If it finds an emotional expression, we call it love. If it finds a mental expression, generally, socially it gets labelled as greed, ambition, conquest, and so on. Only when it finds a conscious expression, it is a spiritual process.