Sadhguru was interviewed by the lifestyle magazine Hello! in which he responded to a range of interesting questions. In a three-part series, we bring you excerpts from the piece which appeared in the magazine’s May 2013 issue. In this part, Sadhguru answers queries on materialism and spirituality.
Questioner: You have talked about attaining spirituality while being in the material world and enjoying its benefits. Is there anything one must give up to experience a higher state of being?
Sadhguru: These questions are always being asked: “If I follow a spiritual path, can I live with my family? Can I wear good clothes and eat well?” Distinguishing between material and spiritual life has come from a certain level of ignorance. The earth you walk upon, the air you breathe and the food you eat are material. The body itself is material. Can we separate whatever you refer to as the spirit in you from your body? So, how can you separate the material and the spiritual?
What we need to change is not the content of our life. We need to change the context of our life. Even if you go to a Himalayan cave, you are still the same person, aren’t you? So, this is not about changing our world, we are changing the way we experience it.
As far as I can see, everyone is striving for happiness, everyone is striving to be free. That means every human being is seeking spirituality. A few are striving consciously, most are striving unconsciously. If you find unconscious expression to it, it gets labeled as materialism. If you find conscious expression to it, we call it a spiritual process. Isn’t it better to seek consciously with eyes open rather than closed?
Questioner: In times when not managing a front-row invite, the latest designer bag/car or a fancy holiday can cause stress to many, how does one justify material want when it is likely to come with much angst?
Sadhguru: Essentially, every human being is trying to have a larger slice of life. If he knows only money, he is thinking of a little more money; if he knows power, a little more power; if he knows love, a little more love. But if you apply your awareness and look at it, you can clearly see that you are not seeking money, property, love or pleasure; what you are seeking is expansion. How much expansion would settle you for good? If you look at this, you can see that you are looking for infinite expansion. It is definitely time to stop and look at what is driving us like crazy, to possess more and do more because it is not the “things” that we are after. There is something within you which does not like boundaries, which is looking for a boundless experience.
It is wonderful that you are seeking the infinite itself but the problem is you are seeking it in installments. You can never reach the infinite by counting 1 2 3… Unless you use the right instrument, it will not happen. If you are looking for something boundless, it has to be non-physical. The moment you seek that which is not physical, we say you are spiritual.
Questioner: Some critics have often termed new-age spirituality as a fad. How would you respond to them?
Sadhguru: Unfortunately, today, spirituality is the most misunderstood and misrepresented aspect of life. The way it is being presented worldwide, some of it is utterly ridiculous, a lot of it is crooked, much more of it is well-meaning but stupid. Sometime ago in the US, someone took me to a spiritual expo where they were selling spiritual bath soap, spiritual toothpaste, and what not! This is like an Indian village shandy where they sell you a root which makes you invisible. People are desperately trying to make simple situations of life mystical. Any number of things have become spiritual except the human being – that’s the whole problem.
Spirituality is not about right and wrong or about God and heaven. Spirituality is about exploring the ultimate limits of who you are. Once you come here as a human being, all that is possible in this human being, every dimension that exists as “you” must be experienced, isn’t it? If you go without experiencing yourself, that’s a wasted life. If there was a possibility that every moment of your life, no matter what is happening with the outside situation, you could be bursting with ecstasy within yourself, wouldn’t you want it?