Why Absence Is Higher than Presence
While people around the world are seeking his presence, Sadhguru makes the surprising statement that the most valuable thing in existence is absence. Find out why and in which context.
Question: Namaskaram, Sadhguru. In your poem named “Absence,” you said that “O you should taste my absence.” What does this mean?Sadhguru: This is the nature of existence: What is present, or what is there as creation or manifestation is small. It becomes impactful only because of the nature of our visual apparatus. But in terms of impact on your life, what you do not have always rules and directs your life. You may call it desire, ambition, longing, or seeking, but what you do not have is what dominates, directs, and rules your life in every possible way.
Do not understand presence and absence as someone being here or not being here. I am who I am only because of my absence, not because of my presence. People around me who have been here long enough, are either always confused about me, or they think I am becoming corrupt, because in a very strategic way, I am constantly making changes to my life. As it will be necessary for tomorrow, not today. Today is a done thing for me. I am making my persona, my appearance, my speech, my everything as it will be necessary for tomorrow.
Some who are looking at the Guru for stability are getting confused. Some who have chosen the Guru because they thought at a particular moment that he is a good thing, are thinking he is becoming corrupt, because this is not how he was ten years ago. He is not the same for sure, because he is not a dead rock – he is a living possibility.
Would you like a coconut tree or your child to be just the way they were ten years ago, or do you want them to be something totally different? But you want your Guru to be the way he was ten years ago, because you are looking for a rock that you can hang on to. If you need that, I will hang a rock around your neck. You carry the rock around with you so that you will always be stable and steady.
Do not try to settle down. When we first came here, and we inaugurated the first small building here, some of the ladies who come from small towns in Tamil Nadu said, “Ithu amma veedu mari nammaku,” which means, “This is like my mother’s place.” They said “mother’s place” because for them the husband’s place means endless work and child bearing. That was their life. Mother’s place means rest from both.
I reminded them that this is not a mother’s place. The ashram is not an escape, not a vacation place – this is a place to strive. This is not a place to identify with or feel emotionally comfortable with. This is a place to learn how to be joyfully homeless. Because we need shelter, we have shelter. If we have to move tomorrow morning, we will move – there is no issue about that at all.
Now the ashram is not just a shelter – it is a mission, it is a possibility for millions of people, so we care for it. But this is not a home for anyone. Home means you are looking for identity, for comfort, and to settle down. I do not like people who settle down. When we bury or cremate you, you settle. Until then, you must be on. That is the purpose of life – to be on and on until you fall dead.
I am valuable to you only because of my absence, because I am like a vacuum, not because I am burning like a sun. I can burn like a sun when I need to, but largely, I am like an empty space, and that is the most valuable thing. In this hall, there is a structure, there are roofing sheets, there is a flooring, but the most valuable thing is the empty space. That is why you are here. That is true with this hall; that is true with this universe, that is true with me, and that should become true with you.
You have heard the term, “Someone is full of themselves.” If you are not full of yourself, you are absent. It is a wonderful way to be. Enjoy the absence.
If you are enamored with my presence
O you should taste my absence
If my presence has made some sense
In my absence you would know the true essence
In my presence if you did find some romance
My absence would bring you to utter obeisance
In my presence if you have been swept by my grace
My absence will take you beyond grace and disgrace
If my presence has been an intoxicating wine
My absence will drown you in Divine