A Sense of Wonder
In this engaging conversation with award-winning actor Anupam Kher, Sadhguru looks at how the sense of wonder that used to be synonymous with childhood, is fast disappearing in today’s youngsters.
Anupam Kher: As a child, I had a great sense of wonder about everything. I don’t see that in today’s children.
Sadhguru: Because they replaced the wonder with “www.” They know the whole universe before they are six.
Anupam Kher: Exactly – they know everything. They just have to search Google and all the information comes up. But information does not necessarily translate into knowledge. But back to my question – how does one in these times retain a certain amount of innocence, a certain sense of wonder?
Sadhguru: See, wonder and innocence are two different things. Wonder does not necessarily come from innocence. For example, modern science has done a phenomenal amount of exploration. They have gone into all kinds of things that we would have never thought possible. When you were a child, you definitely looked up at the sky, didn’t you?
Anupam Kher: Absolutely.
Sadhguru: I used to sit down on the terrace, trying to make segments of the sky and meticulously counting. I went up to seventeen hundred, and then you get all mixed up. What was there is not there anymore, what was not there had come. That itself was a wonder – seventeen hundred just blew my mind. Today scientists are telling you there are over a hundred billion galaxies – not stars, a hundred billion galaxies. As you explore, as you know, the wonder will increase because you realize the nature of the existence. Scientists are so freaked out now; they don’t know which direction to go because wherever they look, it all looks deeper than it ever was. Do you know, just on your facial skin, there are billions of organisms right now. As we look closer at life, wonder will just explode in you.
A sense of wonder is gone not because of innocence or lack of innocence, but because what we call knowledge are stupid conclusions about life. Today, people are carrying their attention deficit like a qualification. Anything in this existence will yield to you only if you pay substantial attention to it. But people have become such that they can’t pay attention to anything. In this condition, there will be no wonder, only conclusions in your head. There are only monologues going on in your head; there is no perception. If there is perception, all the noise in your head will just stop. If you are looking at something absolutely beautiful and engaging, everything stops.
This is why people enjoy the cinema: you switch off the lights and they are focused on the film for those ninety minutes. Their usual monologues are gone – something else is happening. They don’t know what is going to happen next, and that is what keeps their attention. But the important thing is, their attention is engaged continuously, which makes them feel something has happened to them on that day, going to the cinema hall. If you just keep the lights on, you will see, cinema will not be effective. Or if someone is talking to them, it will not be effective. It is the attention which makes the difference – not what is playing on the screen. What is playing on the screen is instrumental in grabbing their attention, but it is the continuous attention that makes the experience what it is. This is a rudimentary form of meditation which is called dharana.
How can one deepen their attention?
Anupam Kher: So how, in today’s time, does one retain that attention span?
Sadhguru: Everyone must do something about himself. Every school should bring in a dimension that requires a child to pay attention to something continuously. It could be music; it could be dance. You cannot do music or dance unless you pay attention to it. But you can pass an examination without attention. You know, we have an Isha Home School, which is run in a very different way from most schools today. One day, I went to their Assembly Hall, and noticed that all these six, six-and-a-half year old kids were just not able to sit in one place. So I brought in this simple thing: every day in the morning, everyone must do fifteen minutes of “Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa” singing. After just two months, they were all sitting still. That’s all it takes.
If you make them walk in the forest in the darkness, you will see that their ability to pay attention and their sense of wonder will explode. If you just take them and make them walk for a night, without torches, without cell phones, without anything, in a protected atmosphere, you will see, within one night, there will be a tremendous transformation in their sense of wonder. But we are making them physically incapable of these things. Just sitting in front of the computer is making them physically incapable. When something hurts physically, they will protest; they will not do anything. This is something that parents must take care off. Bringing up your child does not mean just sending him to school so that he gets marks and grades and all that nonsense. In body and mind, your child should develop his full capabilities. That is when success will manifest in his life. Just marks will not manifest as success.