God or Karma – What to Believe in?
Should one believe in God or Karma? Instead of making conclusions, Sadhguru says, one must have the courage and commitment to become a seeker.
The following excerpt is from a session with Sadhguru during the 21-Day Hatha Yoga Program at the Isha Yoga Center. Instead of making conclusions and assumptions, Sadhguru says, one must have the courage and commitment to become a seeker.
Q: Since childhood, I’ve been made to believe that God exists, and as a result of that, I’ve become a devotee. But then I started the hatha yoga program here and have observed that the whole approach of Isha is karma-centric. This would mean there is no God involved anywhere. For twenty-one years, I’ve believed in God – to break that now is really not easy. Please help me get an understanding of that.
Sadhguru: Shankaran Pillai’s marriage was on the rocks. He went to a marriage counselor and asked, “What should I do? Whatever I try, everything goes wrong.” The marriage counselor said, “You must ask her what she really wants,” and he gave him a few tips on how to do that. When Shankaran Pillai came back home, his wife was just reading a woman’s magazine and did not bother to look up. He thought for a moment about what words to use; then he said, “Honey, would you like an intelligent man or a handsome man?” She said nothing. Then he moved closer, sat down next to her, and said, “Honey. Darling. Would you like an intelligent man or a handsome man?” Without looking up from the magazine, she said, “Neither – I love only you.”
She was wise enough to keep the marriage, rather than continuing the love affair. Let us look at your devotion. Earlier, you had made the conclusion that there is a God. Now you came to the program here and made the conclusion that Isha is karma-centric! Once you leave after the program, who knows what conclusions you will make. Stop making conclusions. Yoga means to seek. Seeking means you have realized that you do not know. And you have also come to that level of integrity within yourself that you are unwilling to assume something simply because it is convenient at this point.
From One Assumption to Another
In your community, in your family, it is convenient to believe in God, or rather, in the God all of them believe in, so you did that. Then you came here and you thought, if you keep saying, “Ram, Ram,” “Shiva, Shiva,” or whatever else, people may laugh at you. So now you have become “karma-centric”! How long did it take for you to convert? Do not do this to yourself. The very reason why you can shift so easily is because you are moving from one assumption to another, rather than having the courage and commitment to become a seeker. Being a seeker means admitting that you do not know. You do not know whether God rules this world or karma rules this world – that is a fact.
Initially, this will make you scared. But whatever you are scared of, you can get accustomed to it after some time. Suppose you are locked in a room with a fire-spitting dragon. If you are not burnt to death, after three days, slowly, you will start a conversation with the dragon. So do not make assumptions or keep shifting from one to another. The fact of the matter is you do not know. This will make you get up in the morning and do your yoga. Who knows whether up there is heaven or hell, God or devil. At least what you know – your body, your mind, your energy, your emotion – keep it well.
Suppose you go to heaven – to enjoy it, you must be in good shape. Suppose you go to hell – then you must be in good shape to withstand and survive it! Either way, you need to be in a good shape. And to live on this planet and do well, you also must be in good shape. So no matter if you believe in God or not, you must be in good shape physically, mentally, emotionally, energy-wise.
Editor’s Note: Offering the rare possibility to go beyond all limitations, Sadhguru takes the seeker on a mystical journey towards ultimate liberation. In “A Guru Always Takes You For a Ride”, Sadhguru delivers rare insights into the Guru-shishya relationship. Download now.
A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower in November 2016. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.