The Travails of Modern Life
Sadhguru was recently 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. While the first post dealt with the material and the spiritual, in this part Sadhguru addresses some issues facing us in the modern world.
What can you do about stress? You need not do anything about it. Stress is like friction in a machine. There is friction either because the parts aren’t moving properly or there isn’t enough lubrication. The less friction you have, the more efficient the machine becomes.
I am not talking about managing stress or keeping it under the surface. I am talking about how not to create it, because stress is your creation. If you start a simple yogic process, you will find your whole system begins functioning at a certain ease. Then there is no such thing as stress. You can be most effective in your life only when everything is at complete ease within yourself. If your ability to act becomes effortless, then naturally there is no such thing as stress.
Q: Divorces are becoming common. What is the right approach towards a peaceful marriage, especially when couples complain of boredom in marriages?
Sadhguru: Relationships have become a problem because we are not using it to enhance our lives, we are trying to fill the gaps in our lives. If relationships have to be really beautiful, it is very important that a human being turns inward and looks at himself or herself in a very deep way before looking at someone else. If you become a source of joy by yourself and your relationships are about sharing your joy, not squeezing joy out of someone, you would have wonderful relationships with anyone. Is there anyone in the world who would have any problem with you if you are going to share your joy with them? No. You are trying to extract joy from them. That is where the problem is. If your relationship is about extracting something out of someone, it does not matter how much you manage, there will be constant trouble. If your relationship was an offering to the person who is next to you right now, everything would be fantastic.
Q: Petty crimes as well as heinous ones such as rape and murder are on the rise. We have leaders with blood on their hands. Can we change this fabric of society with individual effort?
Sadhguru: It has become a fashion to talk about how horrible the politicians are. Politicians did not land here from the sky. They are one among us who stood up to do something. Now, for whatever reasons, they have become the way they have become – and we cannot generalize that because you do not know how many have become like that and how many haven’t. Whenever I go to public meetings, people say “The politicians are corrupt.” I ask a simple question, “If you are driving in your city, and there is no policeman, how many of you will stop at a red light? Not even 10%! So if I make you the Minister, what kind of Minister will you be?” We only have the kind of leaders we deserve. No better, no worse.
Democracy is a people’s government. It cannot be a spectator sport, it is a participatory process. Participation does not mean you come out once in five years to vote and your responsibility is over. Democracy has various instruments through which you can participate on a daily basis in the governance of your country, state, city and street. People have not educated themselves about this because they have not cared. Only when people are actively involved in implementing government policies, those in power will also be in line.
Q: These days babies are born with iPads and mobile phones next to them. What is your opinion of this generation of children that is so tech-savvy that they learn to operate remotes before they learn to walk?
Sadhguru: Today, there are so many forces influencing children – friends, Facebook advisors, televisions; three-year-old kids are glued to the screen and we don't know what they understand or take in. This moment there is a toothpaste advertisement, the next moment somebody is talking about creating a beautiful world, the next moment there is a bombing. We don’t know how a three-year-old is drinking it up.
Would you give a sharp knife to an infant? No. I am telling you, the technology that you have today is sharper than a knife. You must choose an appropriate age and level of maturity before a child handles it. Unfortunately, society has moved in a certain way in imitation of what somebody else is doing in the West. Statistics say that there are 25-year-old video game addicts in the United States who spend more than six hours a day playing video games. Twenty-five is the age when a man makes his life. But they are playing video games, which are just ridiculous kids’ stuff, six hours a day. They can't come off it, they’re just on it.
Technology has no quality of its own. How we use it can make us or break us. It is left to the individual and the culture to bring this awareness into the child that technology is made for our wellbeing, not to destroy ourselves. If this is taught to every child, I think they will use it in a positive way.