No Weekend, No Life?
Sadhguru contrasts today’s culture of living for the weekend with the relentless dedication that his father displayed as a physician in the Indian Railways.
Sadhguru’s Father: An Epitome of Dedication
My father was a very ardent physician all his life. He became a doctor because he lost his mother to tuberculosis when he was four-and-a-half years of age. There are very touching stories of how he used to go to see his mother. She would put a towel on his face and kiss him, because she was afraid she would infect him. In those days, there was not much treatment. So they just built a house for her on a hillock, thinking that fresh air would cure her tuberculosis. But she passed away at the age of twenty-one or twenty-two – a young woman. This was a very rich merchant family where naturally, by the time you were twelve, you were into business. Before she died, she told him, “You must become a doctor,” because she felt if some other kind of doctor had been there, he would have saved her life.
So my father committed to become a doctor. And at the age of twelve, when his father tried to force him into business, he left his very wealthy family and studied outside on the streets. He excelled academically and became a doctor. The first thing he did was serve in the Mysore sanatorium for tuberculosis. For three years, he worked in the sanatorium for fifty rupees a month. He was that kind of a doctor – totally dedicated. Later on, he served in the government. His idea of success was that you must become a doctor – if you are not a doctor, you are no good for anything. At least when it came to his children, this was the expectation. I did not want to disappoint him later, so when I was ten, I told him, “This is one thing that I’m not going to be.”
Career Choices Based on Social Considerations?
All along, my father was always worried that I am not getting trained for anything specific. After much struggle within himself when I said “no” to being a doctor, he said, “Okay, at least take up engineering.” Then I said, “When I said I don’t want to be a doctor, if you told me ‘be a veterinary doctor, be an Ayurvedic doctor, be a witch doctor’, something – I would consider it. But when I say ‘no’ to being doctor, you say ‘engineer’ – yours is a social problem. It’s not an existential issue.” So he said, “What will you do? You’re not trained for anything.” I said, “If I’m not trained for anything, I can do whatever I want.”
I am not saying this with any disregard for him. He was such a dedicated doctor, people literally worshipped him wherever he went. I looked at his profession with great respect, but not with regard. I respected it immensely because it made a huge difference for people, as I saw many times with my own eyes. My mother would always complain, because we were always in those kind of stations where calls would come anytime, even in the middle of the night, and he would just go away. Any number of times, he would be having his dinner, the phone would ring, and halfway through the meal, he would get up and go away.
My mother would beg him, “Just three minutes; finish your meal and go.” But he would say “no” and go away. And sometimes, he would come home at 2:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. in the morning. That was the most impressive thing for me about him – this man was committed to whatever he was doing.
Is Making a Living the Primary Criteria?
This kind of commitment is what made me very proud of him. But at the same time, he talked to me in terms of how to make a living. “Become a doctor; make a living.” I said, “I don’t want to make a living like that.” Then he said, “Become an engineer; make a living.” I said, “I don’t want to make a living like that.” Then they said, “At least go to business, make a living.” I said, “No.” I said, “Making a living is never a concern for me.”
I traveled across the country on my motorcycle when I was very young. I lived in the jungles by myself for weeks on end, survived in the forest, without any outside support. I said, “I can live anywhere.” I did not know what I was looking for at that time. All I knew is I will not sit behind a table and earn a living – that much was one hundred percent clear to me. What I will do, I did not know. I just knew one thing – I am here to live. Every living thing here is here to live. Only human beings think they are here for some other purpose.
Looking for Something More?
All other creatures know they are here to live. It is just that, for them, living means eating, sleeping, reproducing, and dying – their life is complete. Once you come as a human being, you can eat as much as you want, sleep as much as you want, you can reproduce as much as you want – still, somehow life is not complete. The life within you is longing for something else. If that “something else” does not happen, you feel incomplete.
Right now, the weekend people – those who live on the weekend – ingest spirits because there is not enough spirit in them. I am so loaded with spirit it never occurred to me that I need any outside infusion. Only those who lost their spirit have to ingest spirits. They need a break – that is perfectly fine. But it is very important that you do not make this distinction between work and life.
Nothing but Life
If what you are doing is not your life, please do not do it. What you are doing must be your life. It is your life. Most of you spend more time at work than with your family. So why is this not life and that is life? Work is also life. This is one dimension of life – that is another dimension of life. The requirements of how to distribute time, how much of a break you need, may be different for different people. If you are at home every weekend, maybe your family enjoys it. In another family, they may not want you to be home every weekend. It varies from person to person, from situation to situation.
It is very important to understand that from the moment we are born until we fall dead, we are doing only life, life, and life alone – nothing else but life.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the December 2019 edition of Forest Flower magazine. Click here to subscribe.