What breeds corruption? Sadhguru and JP Narayan, MLA, Andhra Pradesh and President - Lok Satta Party, discuss corruption, integrity and governance.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Sadhguru, it’s a great opportunity and an honor for me to interact with you. In many ways there can’t be a greater contrast between two individuals…
Sadhguru: (Laughs) At least in appearance we are.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: You grew up in a very urban and sophisticated background. I grew up in a village in Telugu medium. And you’re in the spiritual realm and I’m anything but spiritual, 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. 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?
? 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.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: I hope these seeds will truly spread. Sadhguru, that brings me to the question of ensuring that the moral conduct is actually upheld, while spiritual gurus, religion itself and society norms have a value, they don’t seem to be sufficient. Only in India, whenever you talk about corruption or some other misconduct in public life or private life, we talk of morality and values instead of talking about institutional…
Sadhguru: No, as far as I’m concerned there is no corruption in India. Where is corruption in India? There is only banditry. (Laughter) I don’t see any corruption. (Applause) Because corruption means you come to me and you want a favor to be done, I’m willing to do it, but, you know, under the table I want two rupees from you. This is corruption. I break your head and I take everything that you have, this is not corruption. (Applause)
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: So when we talk of all these evils in public domain, often times we talk about values in this country rather than enforcing a certain code of conduct.
Unless the laws of the land, unless the enforcement mechanism is strong enough to enforce a certain code of conduct and prove that there is punishment for bad behavior and reward for good behavior, I’m afraid values in themselves will not for long sustain us.
Sadhguru: Not at all.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: No. This is something that we need to get from you because over emphasis and values at the cost of institutions sometimes may actually become an excuse for doing nothing to build institutions
what institutional mechanisms we need to build in your estimate to build higher levels of public integrity, higher levels of civic conduct?
Sadhguru: See, one important thing that India needs to do is to simplify the laws in a way that everybody understands it. Right now, it’s so, so complex and so ambiguous, nobody really knows what it is. And because there is so much ambiguity, it creates so much grey areas which breeds corruption endlessly. If there is no ambiguity, somebody just couldn’t come and ask money out of me to do some work, isn’t it? There is so much ambiguity. These laws were largely created by the English because they wanted ambiguity, so that they could interpret it whichever way they want. If they want to pick you up tomorrow morning, they want to pick you up and there is a good enough reason. We have still kept the same laws and even today it is true, the law can just come and pick you or me up now and I don’t know what I have done but they can pick you up and they can produce something number whatever criminal procedure code, some damn number that I’m not aware of and they can say you did this because it's such an ambiguous law. This is good to control foreign nations if you occupy them; not for our nation to move ahead. Too much ambiguity. (Applause) you can see million examples like this in the country where laws are unnecessarily complicated and ambiguous, which is essentially breeding ground for corruption.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Now Sadhguru, I hear you saying that a) the cultural ambience in which you live, that matters about the appropriateness and b) it changes from time to time, generation to generation. In other words, people sometimes confuse taboos with morals, the changing fashions and attitudes of morals. But unless we have some kind of a yardstick which is measureable and somewhat universal in guiding our behavior and dealing with the society at large, or perhaps even in nature, how are we going to give people a yardstick other than religious edicts - that is the challenge for many agnosts because we can’t go by the Ten Commandments merely because God gave us those. We can’t go by the Gita because Lord Vishnu told us so. We need a temporal yardstick, we need an institutional mechanism to be able to measure and say this is right, this is wrong - a talisman.
Sadhguru: trying to fix the human societies with morality will only bring more and more deception. And above all, it kills life in so many different ways. Why are we trying to fix life with morality? Essentially because we have never bothered to stir up humanity. There is something called as humanity within us. If you stir up this dimension which we call as humanity, when somebody is feeling very human, he doesn’t need morality. He will be fine the way he is. But instead of being a human being, he becomes a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim or an Indian or a Pakistani or this or that or some many things - caste, creed and many, many things. So instead of a human identity he takes on a different identity. Now you can do most horrible things with great pride. Yes. You can kill thousands, not one; you can kill thousands and feel really good about it. I did it because ‘I did it for the nation’, ‘I did it for my religion’, ‘I did it for my caste, creed’, whatever else.
So your identity is shifting from your fundamental identity to make-believe identities, it may serve limited purpose. We’re a nation because we have to politically manage ourselves. It is not some divine dictum that this is a nation like this. We are the people who drew the lines, isn’t it? Now we believe that’s how it is. For certain functional realities we draw lines, but that is not the reality. So a human being should essentially be identified as a human being, not by his religion, not by his race, not by his caste, creed, nationality, no. If he sits here as a human being, you don’t… you will see he does not need morality. He will be fine. And that’s what is needed in the society, to stir up humanity, not morality. (Applause)
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: That’s a terrific message, Sadhguru. Essentially what you’re advocating is that go beyond the individual, go beyond the sect and the creed and embrace humanity itself and you will not go wrong in actions…
Sadhguru: I’m not saying embrace humanity. I’m saying you are human, isn’t it? I don’t have to teach you to be human; you are human. The problem is somebody else has taught you that you are something else. Somebody else has told you, you’re Indian. Somebody else has told you you’re Hindu. Somebody else has told you you’re Muslim, but the reality is you’re human.
… if you travel hundred kilometers in India, people look different, they dress differently, they speak differently, different languages, our food is different, everything is different. But still for over ten thousand years, the whole world has referred to us as one nation.
Though we were over two hundred political entities at some time, still, you know we’ve been doing trade with Syria, Jerusalem, Damascus, Jerusalem, Greece all these places for over 8,000, 10,000 years. Even at those times, they referred to this country as Hindustan though there were two hundred entities. It was referred to as one nation as Bharatvarsh or Hindustan or whatever the name, because somewhere people saw this as one nation though it was ruled by many kings because there was one ethos which is something that the politicians and administrators and the people have never paid attention to. The only thing which keeps us as one nation is a certain fundamental spiritual ethos which is not on the surface but which is always there. In the sense, people recognize this as one nation from outside because they all believed in something.
This nation has never been a nation of believers. We have been a nation of seekers because spiritual process has been the main thing. Here, people are not believing in God, they’re seeking mukti or liberation or freedom. There is a difference between a seeker and a believer. A believer means he’s made a conclusion. A seeker means he’s wide open. He’s… he’s realized that he does not know that’s why he’s seeking. This one quality set us apart from the rest of the world, so outside world recognized as one nation, though there were so many political entities. We need to understand even today, it is only this spiritual thread which is keeping this as one nation. If you… right now it’s being systematically hacked at. If you break this one thing, after twenty five, thirty years, you will wonder why are we one nation and we will break. If you do not strengthen the fundamental spiritual ethos of this nation, if you hack it down with beliefs and other kinds of identities, you will see you will break up into various nations, you will not be one nation.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: Sadhguru, I hear you clearly and I entirely agree with you that unless unity and order are kept even above liberty if necessary, if there is a clash, we’re in danger
This is the reality of existence.
If you sit here as a piece of life, you instantly know that there is nothing in the existence with which you’re not connected essential dimension of spiritual process is that you dis-identify yourself with all the false identities you’ve taken on and to learn to sit here just as a piece of life. If you sit here as a piece of life and throb as a piece of life, breathe as a piece of life; you know this happened a few years ago because you mentioned this Project Green Hands I’m bringing this on.
When I said that we need to plant a 114 million trees to get Tamil Nadu to thirty three percent green cover, people said, ‘Sadhguru, do you know what is 114 million? Is it possible for any human being to plant this many?’ See, I told them, the population of Tamil Nadu is 6.2 million, 62 million I’m sorry, 62 million people. If all of us plant one tree, take care of it for two years and plant one more tree, what is the number - you got it.
Now the problem is that they must feel for it. How do you do it? I told them you don’t worry. I went out village to village, called Farmers Associations together, I told them one simple thing - just sit here, where do you want to sit in the sun or under the tree? Choose. You know what is the choice. Everybody sits under the tree.
Now I said, see, are you breathing? Yes. I want you to understand what you exhale, the tree is inhaling. What the tree is exhaling, you’re inhaling. Just sit here and feel it, it’s happening. One half of your lungs is hanging out there, your breathing equipment is not completely here; only one half is here, one half is hanging out there. Just see the tree and breathe. It just caught like a fire
. We’ve not planted 114 million trees, but 17 million trees (Applause) and Tamil Nadu’s green cover has officially gone up by 7.2 percent and we didn’t give up our lives to do this, this is just one of the small things we do. Just that if everybody gets involved, it’s a small job, isn’t it? If everybody gets involved, it’s such a small job. Why are they not getting involved? Because they’re identified with something. If they sat here as a piece of life, nobody had to tell them. They would have anyway done it by themselves. So, it is because of these wrong identifications that we’re doing all these crazy things and you’re trying to fix it with morality. It’s not going to work. It’s not worked for these thousands of years, isn’t it?