On 6 March 2017, journalist and news anchor Arnab Goswami joined Sadhguru for a conversation at the Rotary Club, New Delhi. With the typical thoroughness of a journalist, Arnab sought answers from Sadhguru on various issues, from success and spirituality to the purpose of a Guru and the possibilities of being human.
Success, Service, or Spirituality?
Arnab Goswami: You are a wonderful person, Sadhguru, because I find you straight, I find you direct. I don’t find you pretentious. I think you speak so much common sense. You say so many deep things in a very understandable way, which explains your popularity and why so many people have turned up this evening to listen to you.
I was told that the theme of Rotary has been Success, Service, and Spirituality. We will try and start off by talking about that and you can take it forward for them. What is more important: Success, Service or Spirituality? Choose one of them.
Sadhguru: Whether you are into spirituality or service, you want to be successful. The very purpose of any human activity, large or small, is you want to be successful. Even if you blow your nose and want to throw the tissue into the bin, you don’t want to do it in a goofy way. Even with something so silly, you want to be successful. And with the biggest things that you do in your life, of course you want success.
Success is key to all human activity. Success does not mean recognition or acknowledgement. Success means doing something the way it works. The purpose of activity is that it works. If you do something in a way that does not work but you think it is great, you are in the wrong place.
Spirituality as the Basis
Arnab Goswami: But what happens when a person is individually successful, but at the cost of others? I personally often think that people turn to spirituality as an alternative to their own success because they feel guilty about their own success and want to make up for it through spirituality.
Sadhguru: Let us understand what the spiritual process is. Spiritual process does not mean looking heavenward. We picked up these things only in the last few centuries. Otherwise, these ideas of looking up and Uparwala (a Hindi word meaning “the one above”) did not exist in this nation.
This is a huge problem that I am trying to change dramatically now – if little things go wrong in your life, you find someone and think it is because of him. If big things go wrong in your life, you find a big guy “up there” and you think it is because of him. But you yourself are absent. It is time to bring “this guy” into account. He has been an unaccounted man for too long.
My endeavor is to move people from religion to responsibility, and that is what a spiritual process means. What you are referring to as spirit is that which is the basis of your body. You were not born the way you are right now. You came with a small body, and now it has become this big. Whether you put a banana or a chapatti into this, it becomes part of the same body. There is an intelligence and a dimension within you that builds you from within. How can any human being know life without addressing this dimension?
For example, I always look at advertisements for automobiles – not that I am going to buy one, but because I am interested in all kinds of mechanical things. I am amazed that most ads talk about the paintwork, the leather, the woodwork, but no one tells you what kind of engine, what kind of transmission, and what kind of systems it has. This is because people only look at the paintwork – they don’t know what is under the hood.
If your life is just about your body and your psychological process, it is like a car with paintwork, leather work and woodwork, but no engine. The engine of life is the spiritual process. Without taking charge of this, you will only be a fractional human being, not a full human being. If you want success, and if you want to do something useful for yourself and everyone around you, the first step is a spiritual process. But even there, you need success – otherwise, it is no good.
Does Everyone Need a Guru?
Arnab Goswami: Do you have to be guided by someone to do that? How do you do it?
Sadhguru: If you are not influenced by anyone, you don’t need any guidance. But very few people grow up without any influence. By the time you are twelve to fifteen, you are pretty screwed up in so many ways, because there are so many adults around you who always want to teach you something that has not worked in their lives.
I was in the United States a few months ago, and a lady there was very angry with me. She said, “I have been doing yoga for the last forty years – nothing happened to me. You just went and sat on a rock, and all this happened to you!” She thought it was some special rock. The only thing I did was, right from my childhood, I never got identified with anything. Whether it was my parentage, my family, the religion and social structures around me, political stuff – whatever was happening – I never got identified with anything.
If you keep your intelligence unidentified, you will naturally become spiritual. Is it not natural for human intelligence to ask, “When I fall dead, what will happen? What is beyond this body and before this body?” Because you see people die every day somewhere or the other. But they messed you up by telling you, “You came from heaven and you will go back to heaven, and this is what will happen.”
If you are capable of bringing up your children without a single advice – it is very difficult believe me – no one needs to teach them a spiritual process. But everyone is talking with authority about things they have no clue about. Because of this, someone has to guide you to a spiritual process.
For example, my daughter was already traveling with me when she was just three-and-a-half months old. I drove across the country and she grew up like this with me till she was five and went to school. We were staying in a different home with different people every day, and everyone wanted to teach her something. But one rule I set was that no one should teach her anything. No ABC, no 1,2, 3, no “Mary had a little lamb.” No one taught her anything. By the time she was eighteen months, she started speaking three languages because she was all ears, all the time. She grasped everything around her because no one was teaching her anything.
When she was twelve or thirteen years of age, one day she had just come back from school. Disturbed about something there, she said, “You are teaching everybody so many things, but you are not telling me anything.” I replied, “I don’t do anything unsolicited. But you have come now, let’s see.” Then I said, “This is all you have to know – never look up to anyone.” She looked at me, with a “what about you” kind of expression. I said, “Not even me. Never look up to anyone, never look down on anyone. This is all the teaching.”
If you don’t look up to anything and you don’t look down on anything, you will see everything the way it is. If you see everything just the way it is, you will navigate your life effortlessly. That is all it takes.
How Human Is Sadhguru?
Arnab Goswami: What I want to know is how human you are. I want to know whether you have experienced fear, and I would also like to know whether you have attachments.
Sadhguru: How human am I? Almost everyone, everywhere I go, uses the word “human” in reference to the limitations of being human, never in reference to the immensity of being human – “Oh, I am only human.” You are human – that means you are supposed to be the top species on the planet. But people say “I am only human” because they are suffering themselves like no other creature does.
If their stomach is full, every other creature is fine. For human being, when the stomach is empty, there is only one problem. Once the stomach is full – one hundred problems! This is an evolutionary issue. In the evolutionary scale of things, human intellect is a relatively new happening. Most people have not figured out how to handle it. They are not suffering the world – they are suffering their own thought and emotion, most of the time.
Why is it that our education systems do not even teach us how to handle our thought and emotion? When someone asks me, “Are you human or not,” the next question will be, “Can you pull a gold chain from thin air? Can you pull a pigeon out of your pocket?” If I pull a pigeon out of my pocket, you will have a bird, I will have a shitty pocket. This is not going to change anyone’s life.
I will show you a miracle. I will show you people who are into full-on activity – not people sitting in some cave. We are on twenty hours a day, seven days a week. I will show you people who have not had a moment of anger, agitation or irritation for ten to fifteen years. They live joyfully and blissfully. This is the miracle humanity needs. If this happens to you, you will not refer to being “human” as a limitation, but as a huge possibility.
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A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower May 2017.