During his first, official Africa visit in June 2016, Sadhguru met with Kenyan journalist and news anchor Julie Gichuru for an In Conversation with the Mystic event titled “Future of the Feminine.” Here is an excerpt of their stimulating discussion.

Sadhguru chants Sanskrit chant “Jananam Sukhadam.”

Julie Gichuru: For those of us who don’t understand – what did you sing?

Sadhguru: It’s a chant that in some way describes the human condition. It says “birth is a pleasure.” You can see it in the face of newborns – there is a pleasure in being alive. But “death is compassion.” We are glad that we can all die one day. Right now, if I mention that, it may cause a lot of anxiety in people, but the compassion of life is that everyone passes. Just imagine if, because you did not do life well enough, they detained you! That wouldn’t be good.

The next part of the chant means, we have come here, we will go to many places, we will do many things in life. But as far as our physical self, the body, is concerned, it goes straight towards the grave. Or in other words, time is ticking away all the time. Whether you live great or lousy, whatever you do – time is ticking away. As I’m speaking, we are one minute closer to death. Only because human beings are not conscious of their mortal nature, they can invest their time in so many things that don’t really mean a thing to them. If they were conscious that they are mortal and that time is ticking away, they would do only what really matters. If all of us did only what truly matters to every one of us, this world would be a fantastic place.

Julie Gichuru: That’s so powerful. I am stunned by the reality of it, especially when we look at society and the fact that so many people are unconscious of this. But I want to bring us to the main topic of this conversation, which is the future of the feminine.

Sadhguru: They’ve ruled the past. They’re ruling the present. They’ll rule the future.

Julie Gichuru: The women! Let me start with a deep question. I think I embody two different cultures. My father’s family was from Kashmir. My mother’s family is Kenyan African. I grew up in a family where, when a girl said something at the table, no one noticed it. If five minutes later, one of your brothers said the same thing, everyone said, “Oh, what an intelligent thing!” How many ladies went through that growing up? I see hands. And you are wondering, “Am I not present? What’s going on?” What is the problem with our society and our culture? Why do we hold women down so much?

Sadhguru: Instead of looking at men and women as if they were two separate species – they are not – if we address life in the sense of the feminine and the masculine, we must understand that the feminine will have a significant role to play and find respect and regard only if we structure our society in a balanced way. But we have structured our societies in such a way today that economics is the most important thing in our lives. Today, if you speak about someone as “a big man,” it does not mean he has a big brain or a huge heart – it means he has a big pocket. In other words, our entire consciousness is ruled by economics. By placing such great importance on economics, we are glorifying and complicating the survival process like never before.

We have to make certain arrangements for our survival, wellbeing, comfort, and convenience. But these arrangements are rising sky-high now. When economics is the driving force, the role of the feminine will inevitably be diminished. Only when in our lives and societies, there is equal significance to art, music, love, aesthetics, and other subtler aspects of life, then the feminine will have an equal role. The way society is structured today, women can succeed only if they are like men. There is no other way to succeed than becoming masculine because the focus of human societies has shifted from the subtleties of life to the crudeness of economics. Wherever you go today, the topic of conversation is economy. Can you beat it? Earlier, at least they were talking about the weather.

Julie Gichuru: So it’s a no-win situation.

Sadhguru: Women may win, but the feminine will lose out – unless we restructure our societies, giving equal significance to all the subtler aspects of life, where naturally, the feminine will be prominent and important. Our priorities have to change.

Julie Gichuru: Yeah, and we have to start with everyone, but I’ll come to that later. Back to the family, and to gender. If you look at many of our societies in Africa, Asia, and all over the world, we do see a high prevalence of gender violence. For instance, fighting ills such as female genital mutilation and trying to re-educate people is a huge issue in our homes. How do we bring up young men who respect and love women, and how do we bring up young women who are confident and demand love and respect?

Sadhguru: It’s very important that in childhood, the homes manage this well, because if they do not pick up these things at an early age, later, it will be very difficult. I think it is already changing, in many ways. At least in India, it is very common today that girls are doing better than boys in educational institutions. And a whole lot of parents choose to have girls rather than boys. There’s an ulterior motive in this sometimes because if you have a girl, you just have to take care of her till she is maybe twenty-five. With a boy, you don’t know – he may sit at your table forever. Parents want to be done with the “Project Children” at some point.

Only when in our lives and societies, there is equal significance to art, music, love, aesthetics, and other subtler aspects of life, then the feminine will have an equal role.

So, things are changing. But the violence within families is unfortunate. Once again, I would say it is not essentially against women. Right now, there is a lot of violence against children, irrespective of their gender. People beat up anyone who is a little weaker than them. This is because society is essentially focused on the identification with the physical body. When that is the case and you have a stronger body than someone else, naturally you will think you can do things with them.

This is why spiritual process is important, because it means your experience of life touches a dimension beyond physical nature. Once your identification shifts to something beyond your physicality, then your physical dominance is not of any significance to you anymore. Consequently, you will not try to manifest it in the world. Because people are so identified with the body, they try to dominate physically, which those who are at the receiving end experience as violence. But the one who is doing it thinks it is his right because he is bigger.

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A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.