A Larger Slice of Life
Sadhguru recounts a situation in Krishna’s life and talks about Grace, karma and the nature of one’s life on the spiritual path.
Questioner: Sadhguru, if we assume Krishna was God himself, why did his devotees face so many difficulties? And as for myself, until I laid my eyes upon you, my life was what most people would envy. Now still people envy my life, but in a different way. In fact, it has been quite a rollercoaster ride for me. If it is not about making life smooth, then what is Grace all about?
Sadhguru: You know, Balarama asked a very similar question when they had to leave Mathura and were going through all kinds of hardship, walking through the forest without proper food or rest: “Why are all these things happening to us, and that too with you around?” Krishna’s answer was, “Don’t you complain when life is happening to you in great measure." It is because you look at certain situations as good and others as bad, or certain situations as desirable and others as undesirable, that you ask yourself why these things are happening to you rather than just seeing life as life. The moment you step into the spiritual stream, life is happening to you in great measure, as if everything is on fast-forward. If you do not identify one thing as good and another thing as bad, you will see life is happening in great intensity – that is all. There is no such thing as good and bad. Life is happening. Some people enjoy it – some people suffer it.
All we can do is to see to it that everyone enjoys it. On a fundamental level, the events that are happening on the planet are of no consequence. Even if a thunderbolt hits and all of us got struck and burnt up, I don’t think it is a tragedy – it is just a happening. “Then what about Isha Foundation, what about my family and my children?” For all of them, life will also happen in great measure, because we suddenly evaporated. I want you to look at this beyond the identification of good and bad. Life is happening in great intensity – that is all.
If you want to turn spiritual, naturally you are seeking a larger slice of life. In fact, anything that you are going for in life is an effort to have a larger slice of life. If you were only eating a thin wafer of life, maybe it would be all sweetness, but it would still only be a thin wafer. If you took a cake and lived on the icing alone, after some time, sweetness would become poison. You said, “My life was what many people would envy,” but you know how empty it was. People who do not have a car think people who have one have a great fortune. It is definitely comfortable and convenient, but it is not a great fortune. If there were no cars at all, no one would desire to have one. The problem is in comparing yourself with others, in the sense of “Oh, she has it – I don’t.” If those who do not have a car do not compare themselves with those who have one, walking or cycling is perfectly fine. When you said, “My life was everybody’s envy,” it is not a statement about life in its fundamental sense – it is a statement about your social situation.
I am talking about life in the sense of being, existence. Right now, you consider many things as life that actually have nothing to do with life in a deeper sense. This has nothing to do with reality – it is a mental condition. All suffering comes from that insanity.
When you walk the spiritual path, your inner situation is on fast-forward. There are various reasons to this. One fundamental reason is your prarabdha – the allotted karma for this lifetime. Creation is very compassionate. If it gave you the whole lot of your karma, which is called sanchita, in this lifetime, you would die. Many of you are not even able to shake off memories of this lifetime. Suppose I reminded you of a hundred lifetimes in great intensity, most of you would fall dead right here, unable to bear the burden of that memory. Therefore, nature is allotting an amount of prarabdha that you can handle. If you go by nature’s allotment, and we assume that you will not create any new karma – which is not true – to dissolve let us say a hundred lifetimes of karma, you may take a minimum of a hundred lifetimes. But in the process of these one hundred lifetimes, you may gather enough karma for another thousand lifetimes.
When you are on the spiritual path, you are in a hurry to get to your ultimate destination. You do not want it to take a hundred or even a thousand lifetimes – you want to hurry it up. Entering the spiritual process means being willing to experience life in great measure. Once you come and sit with me, this is my blessing too – let everything that is life happen to you. “What if death happens?” That is wonderful too. If instead of taking 75 years to get there, you can get there in 35 years, is it not wonderful? This is not just a question of logic – this is the reality of life. This is exactly the statement Krishna is making in the Gita: If you can provide them the right kind of situation, let them get there soon. There is a beautiful Tamil poem about the wedding of a bala yogi or a child yogi, and a girl who was also a great devotee. They organized a big wedding for 3000 guests. They got married, and then, the bala yogi, who was also a great poet, started reciting beautiful devotional poetry. Everyone’s attention was on him, and that was exactly what he wanted. He used this moment of total attention to dissolve all of them – they all left their bodies right there, in the wedding hall. Many hundred years later, the poet laments beautifully in a poem: “If only they had invited me to that wedding, I would not have to struggle like this. I would also have made it. I came a few hundred years late. Oh, will there be another wedding like that for me?”
He did not consider 3002 people dying in a wedding hall as a tragedy. He saw it as a great fortune, that because of the bala yogi’s presence, all of them attained at the same time. A spiritual person does not look at events as good and bad – you are only concerned about how intensely life is happening to you. Good and bad are social phenomena – they have nothing to do with life. Once you have been initiated in a certain way, you are not limited to your prarabdha anymore. If you want to handle the quota of one hundred lifetimes right now, naturally your life will happen with great intensity. If you maintain equanimity, you will see every event that happens in your life will bring you a step forward. If you don’t see this, if you get influenced by your social situations, then because of the pace at which life is happening, you may think something is going wrong with your life, which is not so.
Positive terminology can always be misinterpreted in a million different ways because your mind dwells upon it. I consciously use negative terminology because you will not misinterpret it. If you want to be spiritual, fundamentally, it means you want to end yourself, the way you are right now. A positive way of putting it is, you are seeking liberation. You are seeking your ultimate nature; you are seeking God; you want to become unbounded. When you want to be boundless, you want to cease to exist the way you are right now. Once you express this wish and the necessary energy is invested in you, things will happen to end you the way you are right now. This does not mean negative things will happen to you. It is just that life will move on fast-forward, at a tremendous pace.
Then what is Grace? In this existence, energy functions in various manifestations. It functions as sunlight, as breeze, as gravity – similarly, it also functions as Grace. Gravity is trying to pull you down; the breeze is trying to blow you away; the sun is trying to burn you up – Grace is trying to pluck you off the planet. This is using negative terminology. If you want to express the same in positive terminology, the earth is trying to hug you; the breeze is trying to cool you; the sun is trying to warm you – Grace is trying to make you grow. Let’s go by the negative terminology, because you will not get attached to it. Grace is trying to pluck you out of the limitations in which you are stuck right now. The limitations include the planet, the people, the body, the mind, the emotions – everything. If you have invited Grace and it is doing its work, if it is pulling you up but you drop your anchor, you create unnecessary struggle. If because of the spiritual process life is happening, it is fine with me. If struggle is happening, it is simply because you have invited Grace to pull you up, but you drop your anchor – that way, naturally, you will struggle.
Editor’s Note: Sadhguru explores the life and path of Krishna. Watch the Leela series, available as a free webstream – one part every week.