Q: The older generation and the younger generation seem at odds today. How do we make sure that the experience of age and energy of youth work together?
Sadhguru: They have always been at odds, not just today. The real problem is, the older generation does not think it is old; the younger generation thinks it is old enough. Essentially, someone is occupying the space you want to occupy. It is not just among human beings. If you have observed wild animals, especially among elephants, you will sometimes see a young bull elephant rampaging all over the place, angry, pulling everything out, because he had a fight with the bigger male in the herd. That guy is not vacating his space, so this guy tries to fight. But he doesn’t have the strength yet, so he freaks – adolescence!
This is why, in Indian culture, we created what is called varnashrama dharma. That means from zero to 12 years of age, it is balavastha or childhood – you just play, and the body and brain should grow. From 12 to 24 is brahmacharya – time to bring discipline into your body and mind and develop your energies so that you are a powerful being. At 24, if you see through life as you are and you do not have to go through everything, you become a sanyasi. Otherwise, you become a householder and get married. If you get married at 24, after two solar cycles or 24 years, you are 48. That means your children are getting to that age where they are like the young bulls, they want you to go but they cannot say it.
So, at 48, the couple took sanyas and went different ways. The husband went into one institution, the wife into another, and they worked on their spiritual sadhana for twelve years. At 60, they came out and once again got married. Today, they do not go away, they are still together, but they are still getting married at 60. No, you are supposed to go away for 12 years. The first time when you married, compulsions of the body, emotion or something else may have taken over. Now, all those things are over, you have done your spiritual sadhana for 12 years, and you come together in a completely different way and go into vanaprastha. You go into the forest to live the last part of your life.
Today, the parents do not go, they want the children to go. If the children have found their legs in the world, they want to go anyway. But if they have not found their legs, there will be a clash.
People believe they are parents and children because of emotions. But when it comes down to life, it is just a young bull and the big bull clashing for space and dominance. Men do it one way, women do it another way. But the fundamental problem is the same – you want your space, they are not vacating the space, so clashes will happen. Children who live away always love you. If they are with you, there is always a clash – not because you are bad or they are bad, but because you need one kind of space, they need another kind of space. If both are in the same space, heat happens. Unless you have children who have grown very old when they are young – such people will live very compatibly with old people. Or if you become sick, then the emotion of wanting to take care will come in. Otherwise, there will be clashes.
This is not a new problem. I am sure the same problem existed between the young and old for the caveman. How do we handle this? The old should learn to keep stepping back. The young will keep occupying that space. And the old should display a certain level of wisdom and experience, where the young are a little overawed by the old. If you do not do that, then the young will disdain, and they will get rough in so many ways. As you get old, if you have earned a certain level of wisdom and insight into life, which the young are yet to earn, they look up to you. Then, you can somewhat be in the same space – you are on the first floor, leave them on the ground floor looking up to you.
Editor’s Note: In the ebook, “Inspire Your Child, Inspire the World”, Sadhguru answers probing questions, discussing the state of modern education and the need to inspire a child to reach his or her true potential. Download now.