Sadhguru answers a question about the nature of a human being, where we come from and where we go. He looks at how this is a fundamental question that should not be looked at as philosophy, but as a practical method to explore the nature of human existence.
Vinita Bali: You know, in the spirit of a freewheeling conversation, I’m reminded of a film I saw about – I think it was fifteen years ago the film was made – which was a series of conversations with quantum physicists and some mystics, to use that word. And the whole premise of the film was that the mystic and the quantum physicist is seeking an answer to the three basic questions, which are, “Who am I, where have I come from and where am I going?” I did not understand the film then (Sadhguru laughs). I am hoping that you would be able to throw some light on the three questions and you know, what the physicists and the mystics are seeking?
Sadhguru: So, you are asking me who you are (Laughter)?
Vinita Bali: Kind of.
Sadhguru: (Laughs) See, it’s all right to walk on the street, point at one of you and say, “Who are you?” It’s okay. You go to somebody and say, “Who am I” (Laughter)? This happened in the Cincinnati airport. People had lined up to check in at the check-in counter. One man came briskly, jumped the line, went straight to the counter and thrust his ticket. The lady at the counter said, “Sir, there is a line, please.” He said, “No, no, I’m in a hurry.” “Well,” she said, “Everybody is in a hurry, you are all getting on the same plane. So, please stand in the line.” Then he raised his voice, “Do you know who I am?” She looked at him, promptly picked up the microphone and said, “There is a man here who does not know who he is, can somebody help him, please” (Laughter/Applause)? So, you should never address this question to someone else (Laughter). All this so-called whatever – I don’t know, I don’t want to make comments – they all picked it up because that Ramana Maharishi’s book I think became famous in California, okay? Because Romain Role… Ronald… Ronald Romain (Referring to author Romain Rolland) wrote that book and it became popular in California, everywhere you go, everybody is talking, “Who am I? Who I… Who are you?” “Who am I?” is a question that should be addressed within you, digging… every time you ask it, digging it deeper and deeper and deeper into yourself. You never go and ask somebody, “Who am I?” That smacks of something else.
I was (Laughs)… I was teaching a program in Los Angeles and this is of… like maybe hundred and fifty, two hundred people. Half of them all are Hollywood types and a whole lot of them look alike, many… especially women, not because they are sisters, because they have the same doctor (Laughter/Applause). And I am teaching them an extremely simple process that they need to do every day, which is just twenty-one minutes, extremely simple. Just that, they are saying, “Sadhguru, you’re teaching us all these things but Ramana Maharishi said, ‘You don’t have to do anything.’” Tch, ohh, Ramana came all this way from Thiruvannamalai (Laughter/Applause)? I said, “Yes, he is absolutely correct. You don’t have to do anything and he did nothing. He simply sit… sat in one place like this (Gestures), fourteen years. Rats came and bit into his thighs, festering wounds, worms came out of it but he did nothing, simply sat,” I said, “You people are made like this – if a mosquito bites you, you’ll call 911 (Laughter). You don’t talk about doing nothing” (Laughs). I said, “Ramana talks about doing nothing, leave that, that’s not your business. You are made like this, you don’t talk about doing nothing.” Ramana talked about “Who am I? who am I?” You never utter this to anybody. Don’t ever go and… Please all of you (Laughter), don’t go somewhere and ask them… someone, “Who am I?” You can ask them, “Who are you” (Laughs)?
So, “Who am I?” is not even a question that you need to articulate. When… I just said, the more you know about it, the better you can exist here. Not necessarily… Don’t always think about a human being like he is some kind of a machine, how much he has to produce, there’s no such thing but how he exists is important. When you sit here, how are you within yourself is important, what you wear may be socially important, what you drive may be important somewhere else, what you… what kind of home you live in may be important for some other reason but existentially, there’s only one thing important – how are you within yourself? Are you pleasant or unpleasant every moment of your life? In twenty-four hours, how many moments of pleasantness, how many moments of unpleasantness and how much support does it need to keep you pleasant – that’s the question.
Right now, in pursuit of human well-being, we’ve ripped the planet apart and still, well-being is not happening. Comfort has happened, convenience has happened, well-being for sure has not happened, isn’t it? As a generation of people, we are the most comfortable generation ever, never before anybody could even imagine these things. But we cannot say we are the most joyful or blissful or ecstatic generation. No! Are we worse than others? I don’t believe so, every generation – same nonsense. Some people lived fantastic within themselves, others went through all the nonsense they had to go through. This is not because of what’s happening to them. See there are two kinds of suffering – physical pain can happen to you because somebody may cause something to you, somebody has no food, the… you’re in a war zone or somebody is poking you. I’m asking all of you – in the last twenty-five years, how many times it happened to you, somebody took a knife and poked you? For most of you, it didn’t happen. Maybe when you are in… in your school, somebody poked you with a pin at the most or you were not even worth that, nobody poked you (Laughter).
Vinita Bali: They simply poked fun.
Vinita Bali: They simply poked fun at you.
Sadhguru: Whichever way. Physically, how many times suffering entered you from outside? Very, very minimal, rest is all self-help (Laughter). You know, in Tamil Nadu, the government has a scheme, “Namakku name” (Laughter). “Namagae naavae” (in Kannada), it means. That means people are on self-help, busy, causing suffering to themselves daily (Laughter) – sit, stand, whatever happens. See, you will see people, most of them are driving their dream machines on Bangalore streets, all right? How many are driving joyfully? If we… If the traffic light takes ten more seconds, they are freaking in their dream machine (Laughter). Is it not a blessing that you bought this dream machine after working for whatever number of years, why don’t you… The traffic is making sure, you stay in your dream machine for a little longer, what’s your problem (Laughter/Applause)? I am saying, just about anything people are suffering. So suffering is not happening because of something else, it’s simply because people do not know how to manage their body, their mind, their energies, their emotion, nothing because no attention has been paid. No attention to the nature of who you are, has not been paid. So who you are, “Who am I?” question is internally… entirely internalized question. Never to be uttered, never to be written down. Unfortunately, somebody printed it and the whole world is talking, “Who am I? Who am I” (Laughs)?
You (Laughs)… o… This is okay if you’re a (an?) inpatient. If you’re an inpatient, in NIMHANS (Referring to National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore) you ask, “Who am I?” (Laughter), that’s allowed, that’s allowed. If you are out on the street, you are not allowed to ask, “Who am I” (Laughs)? You get me (Laughs)?
Vinita Bali: You’ve also talked about…
Sadhguru: No, there are other two questions in that (Laughter/Applause).
Vinita Bali: Yes. Yes, yes, I’m waiting for those two questions.
Sadhguru: Please repeat those questions (Laughter).
Vinita Bali: So those questions were “Who am I?” which you have answered.
Sadhguru: Mhmm (Indicating agreement). I did not answer, I demolished the question (Laughter).
Vinita Bali: I am going to go and think about it, that is homework for me. So, “Where did I come from and where am I going?” were the other two questions that…
Sadhguru: Where are you going (Laughter)? There’s only one way to find out, you must go and see (Laughter). As I was saying just now, some things are best known only by experience. People want to know, “After my death, what will happen?” I tell them, you must know by experience (Laughter). Are you ready? No. Then don’t worry, wait (Laughter). “Where did I come from?” See essentially, what you are asking is, all three… three questions put together, you are asking “What is the nature of my existence? Am I this body, am I this, am I that, what am I, what is the nature?” Because whichever way you look at it, you can prove “I’m that”, because for everything there’s some substance. You can prove yourself to be a woman, you can say, “I’m not this, I’m a human being,” you can say, “I’m just a piece of life,” you can say, “I’m god,” somebody may think you are something else. Doesn’t matter (Laughs) but for everything, there is some substance, so you can argue for it but that’s not the point. Really, what is the nature of your existence? Don’t take this as some kind of a great philosophical or spiritual question. Please see it as a practical thing. If you want to know how to use this camera well, the more you know about it, the better it is. You agree with me? Hello?
Sadhguru: Similarly if you want to use this (Referring to oneself), if you want to use this human being properly, the more you know about it, the better it is. So, self reasi… reali… realization is a very practical thing, not an esoteric thing. What you think is esoteric is… All the things that you don’t have an understanding of, you want to make it esoteric or you want to make it mystical. Let’s understand this word mysticism or mystical. Anything that you don’t understand will look mystical to you, isn’t it? Suppose you don’t know what’s electricity, you have no concept of that, now I press something here (Gestures), boom, lights come on. Very mystical for you, isn’t it? See, if I just had a light bulb a thousand years ago, I could have claimed, “I am god” and it would have worked. Tch, came too late, you know (Laughter)? So, the more you know about it, the better you will live. This is not something that you seek at the end your life, this should be the first step of your life, if you value your life. Yes? Knowing this (Referring to oneself) should be the first step of your life. Very beginning of your life, this question should be asked. Can I tell you a story?
Vinita Bali: Please.
Sadhguru: There was a… a Bishop in the Greek Catholic order. The Greek Orthodox church believes they are the only real Christians, others are not really Christians. They think they are the only pure Christians, others are not really that. They have their own pope in Istanbul. So, it became a very small group over a period of time (Laughs) for whatever reasons. So, being on the Silk Route, many fantastic stories from India are wafting across the Bosporus and these stories are going on about the mystics and the yogis and the magic of India, which the Indians have not seen and everybody else has seen (Laughter). So, he always wanted to go to India but being a man of cloth, he could not really choose where to go. After sixty years of age, when his… when he is semi-retired, he got an opportunity and he came to southern India and he found the right kind of guides, somebody told him, “You go up this mountain,” and they gave him the landmarks and “Here, there’s one yogi, he is the right one to meet for you.” So he climbed up the mountain. The man is not made for mountains, you know? Mountains demand certain things from you (Laughs). So, he went up and as they had said, there was a yogi, sitting in front of a cave, blissed out. He went and he had heard that if you see a (an?) Indian yogi, you have to prostrate, tch, but for that also you need some phys… fitness. This is a part of the Indian thing because that’s the only exercise most Indians do (Laughter). So, whatever you see, you just bow down but now they have learnt (Gestures) (Laughter).
Vinita Bali: A short cut there too.
Sadhguru: Yes, the idea is to touch the floor. Every time, every time you keep doing it through the day, it’s a good exercise, you don’t have to spend extra time for exercise. So, he struggled and scraping himself and sat up. All this commotion, the yogi opened his eyes and smiled. So, the bishop asked, “Can I ask you a question?” The yogi said, “By all means.” The bishop asked, “What is life?” Tch, this is after sixty (Laughter), the damn question you should have asked when you were six, at least sixteen. you must have asked. No, sixty, all right, better late than never, some time you asked. So, when he asked this question, “What is life?” the yogi went into raptures and then he said, “Life… Life is like the fragrance of jasmine upon gentle spring breeze.” The bishop looked like this (Gestures), “What! Fragrance of jasmine on gentle spring breeze but our teacher told us, ‘Life is like a thorn. Once it gets into you. If you sit, it hurts, if you lie down, it hurts, if you stand up, it hurts’ (Laughter) and you are saying it is fragrance of jasmine, spring breeze and all this stuff.” The yogi smiled and said, “Well! That’s his life” (Laughter/Applause).
So, we have never paid attention to the most important dimension of who you are and you do not know life any other way than the way it happens within you, yes? You are the only doorway to the existence for yourself, you can only experience through this mechanism and no other way. If you don’t know this (Referring to oneself), what the hell are you doing here? And just because you know this (Referring to oneself), people label you as a mystic, as this, he is that and many people mispronounce it (Laughs), as a mistake, you know (Laughter)?
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