“Don’t Look For Anything, Just Learn to Look”
Spirituality, says Sadhguru, is not about looking for God, truth or the ultimate, but about learning to just look. He discusses enhancing one’s perception and narrates experiences from his own childhood of paying attention without motive.
Sadhguru: Every sphere of our lives – from the intellectual to the religious – is governed by conclusions. This is a major problem today. When I speak of the spiritual journey as “quest”, the immediate assumption is that I am encouraging people to look for God. But even God is a conclusion. The obsession with conclusions is inculcated in our most impressionable years.
Growing up, I was a diehard skeptic. Even at the age of five, when my family went to the temple, I had questions. Who is God? Where is He? Up there? Where is up? So I never entered the temple.
This meant I was invariably left by my parents in the custody of the footwear attendant outside. He held me by the arm in a vice-like grip; he knew that if he looked the other way I would be gone! Later in my life, I noticed that people coming out of restaurants always had more joyful faces than those coming out of temples. That intrigued me.
And yet, while I was a skeptic, I never identified with that label either. I had lots of questions, but never felt the need to draw any conclusions. I realized very early that I knew nothing about anything. That meant I ended up paying enormous attention to everything. I could stare at a glass of water, a leaf, even at the darkness, endlessly.
I gradually realized that language was no more than a conspiracy devised by human beings. When someone spoke, I saw they were only making sounds, and I was making up the meanings. So, I stopped making up meanings and the sounds became hugely amusing. I could see patterns spewing out of their mouths. If I kept staring, the person would just disintegrate and turn into a blob of energy. Then all that was left was patterns!
When my eyes were open, everything fascinated me. But to my amazement, I found that with my eyes closed, there was even more that grabbed my attention – the way the body pulses, the organs function, the inner energies move, the anatomy is aligned. I saw boundaries are actually limited to the external world. Instead of coming to a simplistic answer that I was “this” or “that”, I saw that if I were willing, I could be anything. Even the certainty of “me” collapsed. From knowing myself as an autonomous person, this exercise melted me down. I became a nebulous being.
Learning to Look
In this state of borderless ignorance, anything could hold my attention. This perturbed my physician father who began to believe I needed psychiatric evaluation. It has always seemed to me odd that the world does not see the immensity of the state of “I do not know”. Those who destroy that state with beliefs and assumptions forget that “I do not know” is a tremendous doorway – the only doorway – to knowing.
The ability to look without motive is missing in the world today. Everyone is a psychological creature, wanting to assign meaning to everything. Spirituality is not about looking for God, truth or the ultimate. It is about enhancing your perception, your very faculty of seeing. I have never looked for anything in my life. And my life endeavor is to teach people just this: If you really want to know spirituality, do not look for anything. Just learn to look.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzx0nynHIzs
A version of this article was originally published in Speaking Tree.