The Meaning of Life
Question: Sadhguru, what is the meaning of life?
Sadhguru: You are talking about life as if it is external to you. You are life. But you are so covered with a cloud of thought, emotion, ideas, ideologies, philosophies, religions and prejudices that this psychological drama has hugely overshadowed the life process. And today, largely when people say “my life,” you are supposed to understand that they are talking about their job, their business, their family, their car, their wealth, their party; they are not talking about the life that they are.
Only because you are a life and you are alive right now, all these accessories mean something. Only because you are alive, your job, your car, your home, your relationships mean something. What you wear, what you speak, what you are associated with, everything means something only because you are alive. The most fundamental thing is that you are life. But your psychological drama has become bigger than the life process. Europe made this big mistake which the entire world has taken up. Somehow, we started celebrating thought more than life, to such a point that someone dared to say, “I think, so I exist.”
Your thought is like software. Depending on what kind of data you have taken in, that is the kind of thoughts you have. You are a life that carries that software, not a product of that software. But today, your thought has become bigger than everything else. That is why you ask me, “What is life?” I am reminding you that you are life. Why the hell should you ask me about life? If you want to ask me what the weather in India is, we can discuss it, it is a relevant conversation. But if you ask me, “What is the meaning of life” when you yourself are life, then we have to tell you a story. I am calling it a story because if I speak anything that is not yet in your experience, as far as you are concerned, it is a story. If you like the story, you will believe it. If you do not like the story, you will disbelieve it. But if you believe it, will it become real? If you disbelieve it, will it become real? Both ways you do not get to truth.
Why Make Conclusions?
Why is it that you cannot at least be straight that, “What I know, I know; what I do not know, I do not know”? Whatever we do not know, we want to make it up because we have not realized the tremendous nature of “I do not know.” If you can joyfully, consciously, stay in “I do not know,” knowing is not far away. It is in the very nature of human intelligence that you cannot live with “I do not know.” The longing to know and seeking to know will be continuously on within you. You will see that your intelligence will find a way to know as much as you can.
Then what is the problem in seeing “I do not know”? Simply because you live in a society where knowledge is valued, but seeking is not valued. Knowledge is just an accumulation of a few things and largely conclusions that you have made. Even so-called science keeps changing its opinion about everything every two years. This is because you are endlessly moving from one conclusion to another conclusion. Religious people are just staying with one conclusion, scientists are moving from one conclusion to another conclusion, which seems like an evolution and it is to some extent.
Fundamentally why is there such a big need to conclude about everything? When you ask, “What is the meaning of life?” you want to conclude what life is about. The conclusion for your life, the last scene of your life is the same – for both you and me. The moment you seek conclusions, unknowingly you seek death. This is all that has happened to you from your childhood till now. When you had no conclusions, you looked at everything with great wonder and involvement. But today because you have conclusions, “Oh that’s a tree, this is a butterfly, this is this, that is that,” everything is dismissed with conclusion after conclusion.
Experience of Life
When you ask about the meaning of life, you must understand that you are only trying to draw a conclusion so that you can sleep well tonight – because without a conclusion, your intelligence bothers you. If you know how to be joyfully confused, it is very nice because your intelligence is active. The moment you conclude, the moment you believe, your intelligence goes to sleep. But when you do not know, you look at everything with absolute involvement.
Is it not important that you are involved with life? Is there some other way to know life? If you are not involved with the food that you are eating, would you really know what this food is like? For most people, it is only the first mouthful with which they are involved. After that, they are just gulping it down, without even tasting anything. So it is only in the initial childhood phase that most people experience life. After that, for everything they have an explanation and a conclusion.
The more you conclude, the less you can experience. We know everything, but we do not experience anything. Meaning is meaningful only to the psychological structure of who you are. Your mind wants meaning. The nature of this life is that if you live here for a million years, it will still excite you, and you can still be involved. The closer and closer you look at it, the more it will confound you. The life in you is not looking for meaning; it needs exuberance of experience. First you create that, then all these questions will evaporate. Without that, you can go on asking questions because you are standing on the platform of your mind which is in the quest for meaning.
Editor’s note: Read more about Sadhguru’s personal journey on the spiritual path in More Than A Life.