Politics is No Joke!
In response to a young student’s interest in politics, Sadhguru discusses the privileges and responsibilities of a politician.
Q: I am really interested in taking up politics when I finish my education. According to you, what are the characteristics of a politician?
Sadhguru: What are the characteristics of a politician? When you give them a microphone, they never sit down! Anyway, enough with the jokes. You might have noticed that in most places, when someone does something selfish, people say, "Oh, he is doing politics." But that’s not what politics is. Politics means the making of policies. The reason we make policies is so that the complex web of human transactions will happen smoothly.
Right now in India, the GST or Goods and Services Tax will be rolled out in July. Currently, there is a complex, haphazard way of paying taxes in India. No one understands what it is. People who are running major businesses and even policy makers probably do not understand the system in its entirety as it is right now.
I was talking to one of the top corporate lawyers in the country and something came up. We were discussing service tax but I just could not figure what he was trying to tell me. Then I asked, "Please tell me, do you really understand all this?" He said, "No, Sadhguru." "Then what is this?" "It is just about how strongly you argue, that’s all." All these years, the policy has been such that, knowingly or unknowingly, almost everyone is doing something to break the law because nobody knows what the law is in full detail.
GST essentially means a single taxation process. It is a very complex thought process to bring this complicated web of transactions under one law so that you and I can transact without too much confusion in our heads. This is a major policy change and an enormous amount of thought is going into making a structure that will work for everyone. This is what a politician is supposed to do – make policies for the nation so that the nation can function smoothly, and make policies for the world so that international situations can happen smoothly. A person who does this is not a joker, but unfortunately, right now we have this attitude, "Oh, a politician means a joker." No, it is serious business – something that determines the life of millions of people in whichever nation we are functioning.
Keeping Your Hands Clean
When such a tremendous privilege and responsibility is placed in your hands – that everything you do, every thought that you generate, every emotion that you have, every action that you perform, is going to affect millions of people's lives – is it not very important that you are in the best possible place within yourself?
For example, if you are doing gardening, you needn’t worry whether your hands are clean or not because if your hands are dirty, plants know how to benefit from that. But if you are cutting fruit and selling it to everyone, the first thing I will look at is your hands because this is going to affect a few people who are going to buy fruit from you. If you are doing a surgery on someone, we really want your hands super-clean. The deeper the access you have to life, the cleaner your hands should become. A politician is someone who has been given the responsibility and privilege that he can decide in which direction all our lives go. If such a privilege gets placed in your hands, you must ensure you are in the highest possible way a human being can be.
Janaka – The Enlightened King
There is a story about king Janaka. I will make the story short, though it is a very beautiful story. He had a burning passion to get enlightened, and he gathered a great number of scholars in his court, but nothing happened. Then Ashtavakra came, and under his guidance, Janaka attained. When Janaka got enlightened, he told Ashtavakra, "This is it. I do not want this empire that I have, this palace, this family and all these trappings of being a king. I will come and live with you in the ashram." Ashtavakra said, "Nothing doing. You have to go back to your palace and your kingdom." Janaka said, "But the only thing I want to do is sit at your feet." Ashtavakra said, "It is not a question of what you want. The people deserve an enlightened king, so you must go." And Janaka went back.
The people of this nation and every nation need enlightened politicians, or at least politicians who are inclusive in the way they are. This is very important. So if you want to become a politician, you must come and spend a year with me and get reasonably enlightened because it is a tremendous responsibility.
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