Jayaprakash Narayan, founder of the Lok Satta Party, asks Sadhguru how one can judge what is good and what is bad for society. Sadhguru replies that debating what is good and bad could go on endlessly. Instead we need to look at what is appropriate for a particular society, at that point of time in that particular situation.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: If I may start off with the first line of enquiry, Sadhguru. When you are a person of religion, you’re given certain edicts - what is good, what is bad, the ten commandments, the do’s and the don’ts, but in ordinary life for most people, particularly in the public domain, to distinguish between good and bad seems to be increasingly difficult. I’ve always held that there are two realms - the individual, individual gain and the second is the public good. If one is clashing with the other, if my personal gain is clashing with the public good, then that is something bad; if both are in harmony, then that is something good. That seems to me a workable definition of what is good and bad for ordinary interaction between the citizen or individual and the community and the society. What are your thoughts on that?
Sadhguru: See, once you start a debate as to what is good and what is bad, actually in reality this debate can go on forever without coming to a conclusion. Obviously you’ve debated this within yourself and around yourself for many years and still there is no conclusion. And believe me, people have been debating this for thousands of years and still there is no conclusion. Why this is so is, generally this starts from within the family; it starts from within the family, that is people who have the authority within the family. If you really carefully look at it, essentially it boils down to this - ‘What I do is good, what you do is bad.’ That extends to the society, to politics to various things.
Whoever is in a position of power is in a position of dominance, they may not spell it out so crudely but in so many ways they’re telling you, what I do is right, what you do is wrong. So ultimately it becomes about whoever is in a state of advantage is right, whoever is in a state of disadvantage is wrong. Well, that principle is the basis of all exploitation and all the ugliness that you see on the planet. So instead of starting a debate on what is good and what is bad, I think what we need is what is appropriate and what is inappropriate to our times, to our society, to our existence here, to our level of economics. What is right and… what is appropriate and what is inappropriate?
Now if… I’m just saying for example, we are, you know we are… we are a rich nation because if you have twenty nine rupees per day, you are rich in this country; so we are one rich nation. Another rich nation is United States. So between these two if you compare, what may be right there, is not right here because the conditions are not same. People’s lives are not same, culture is not same, people’s emotions are not same, people’s wants… likes and dislikes are not same. So, what is right there may be completely wrong here. What is right here may be completely wrong there. So within the nation, when we say a nation, we believe we are all Indians, but here everybody has a opinion of his own. Don’t… don’t have, you mean it’s… it’ll be fanciful to think there is one person here who doesn’t have an opinion of his own, who goes by Indian constitution. There is not one single person like that here. Everybody has their own opinion, their own twist of what is right and wrong, isn’t it?
One point two billion people! Every one of them (Laughs) has their own opinions, two people cannot agree as to what’s right and wrong. So instead of looking at right and wrong, if we start looking at what is appropriate; okay these are our conditions, this is our life, what is the most appropriate thing to do right now? Tomorrow if our conditions change, the appropriateness changes. Then there will be no clashes. Constantly the clash between the previous generation and this generation, between one human being and the other human being is your ideas of right and his ideas of right are so different. Parents and children are fighting, administration and people are fighting, management and union is fighting simply because your ideas of good and bad are very different and it's always different. Within the family between the husband and the wife, basic unit of the family, their ideas of right and wrong are very different. So, once you enter that space, you’re entering into an endless controversy, no possibility of a solution. But if you look at appropriateness of action, then we can arrive at what is the appropriate thing to do in our society, for our conditions, for our limitations.