Are the psychological and the existential connected? Sadhguru explores the value and the limitations of the psychological process and explains how it can become a stepping stone from compulsiveness to consciousness.
Q: Sadhguru, when you say that everything in existence is just energy, does the realm of the personal – all its love, its poetry, its lunacy, its rage, its beauty – mean nothing at all, ultimately? Is there no connection between the psychological and the existential?
Sadhguru: If someone is really very dearly attached to all the things around us, I do not want to destroy that. If you love your life so much, why should I take it away? I do not want to take it away. But unfortunately, death will. I am not death, I am just a reminder. I am just reminding you that anyway, it is going to happen. It is better to be aware that it is going to happen. What were all these things that you were talking about? Your love, your…
Q: Its love, its poetry, its lunacy...
Sadhguru: Oh, particularly lunacy! Love – if I talk about it, I will become unpopular. Poetry – maybe that is okay because not many people read poetry. Lunacy – I cannot touch that because that is a universal phenomenon. So what is there left for me? Is there anything more?
Q: Its rage, its beauty…
Sadhguru: Okay. Maybe there are some things we can talk about. Rage – not everybody has rage because it takes a lot of energy to be in rage. You heard of Che Guevara? You might not have heard of him, but most probably you have seen his picture because lots of young people have his picture on their T-shirts, almost everywhere on the planet. These days, people do not know who he is. They think he is a rock star or something. He was a revolutionary who became a great phenomenon around the world in the 50s and 60s. But somehow, those T-shirts are still selling, even today. So it seems Che said, “If you are outraged, you are with us.” Someone who was a fan of Che went on repeating this to me. Then I said, “Oh, that’s what Che said? But please listen to what I have to say: If you are out of rage, you are with me.”
You even get attached to all the things that you suffer. That is the problem. Your lunacy is not something that you enjoy. If it is on a mild scale, you think it is giving you an extra dimension of character. You think it enhances you because otherwise nobody would notice you. Now, because of your lunacy, people are taking note of you. There are a lot of people for whom that is the only way they can get attention. Lunacy has its benefits when you play it on a mild scale. Once it picks up momentum, then you have really had it. The deepest form of suffering on the planet is mental illness. All forms of sufferings are actually different levels of mental illness. Usually, it is happening on a mild scale. If it goes beyond a certain point, then it is called illness. It is just that if you go into small-scale lunacy for five minutes every day and come back, you think it adds character. If one day, you went into it and could not come back, then people would say that you are mad. No more an interesting character; you are mad.
All these things that you are talking about – your love, your poetry, your lunacy, your rage – are just different manifestations of the mind. Is the psychological completely divorced from the existential? You please tell me yourself. Look at your own psychological activity and see, where is it coming from? The information that you have gathered may be partly existential, but everything else is purely psychological. And it is scientifically proven today that the information that you are gathering through the five senses is not the way it really is. Nothing that you see, hear, smell, taste and touch is actually the way it seems. Modern physics has been proving this in a big way. Modern neurosciences are completely demolishing your ideas of life. Not dwelling upon the scientific part of it, just experientially, you can see how every day, you can create a new process in your mind, if you are willing. You are actually doing this. Today you are in the ashram – it is a spiritual act. You go somewhere else – it is another kind of act. You can do whatever you want with this, but the existential is just the way it is. Nothing changes about it.
One day, Shankaran Pillai joined a medical college. It was a five-year course. But because he was so thorough about everything, it was already 10 years and still they had not released him. Then one day, he went to the library and looked at the anatomy book. The same anatomy book that people were studying 40, 50 years ago, the Gray’s Anatomy, is still in vogue. Being there for 10 years, he had read these two, three anatomy books that were there. He went to the librarian and said, “I am fed up with this. Isn’t there somebody writing something new?” The librarian said, “Well, in the last 10 years that you’ve been here, not a single bone has been added to the human system, so they haven’t written anything new.”
Your mind, the psychological dimension of who you are, is constantly looking for variety and is creating new things on a daily basis. It obviously has nothing to do with the existential because the existential has always been the same. That is why the psychological decided that something that is the same all the time must naturally be boring. And that is why life has completely bypassed you. This question is coming up because the only thing that is valuable in your life right now is your psychological process. You would not like to see that it is all rubbish.
Now the question arises, “If you rubbish my lunacy, you must rubbish my love also. If you rubbish my rage, you must rubbish my devotion also.” Yes, it is all rubbish, but right now, that is all you have. At least create some wonderful kind of rubbish, because you have to employ this if you want to go beyond. Does the psychological have anything to do with the existential? If it had anything to do with it at all, the psychological would not be something that you gathered. It would have been a part of you. But right now, the whole psychological process is a gathered process. Does this mean that the psychological has no meaning? It has. It is just like we wear these clothes – one thing is, they cover our bodies. Another thing is, they can decorate us, or they can be a statement of who we are. A million other things you can do with these clothes. But if you do not wish to do all this, you can discard this right now.
The Value of the Psychological
The psychological has nothing to do with the reality. So, does the psychological have any value at all? This is just like asking if your clothes have any value at all. As long as you are alive, as long as you live in a society, they have a value and a meaning. The meaning is contextual. It all depends what context you are in. Here, what kind of clothing I am wearing is meaningful. If I am in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in a desert, whether I wear my clothes or do not wear my clothes has no meaning. The psychological is just like this – it has contextual meaning. If you want to be in a certain place, you need to maintain your psychology in a certain way. If, because it has no meaning, you let it flow all over the place, they will send you to a certain place. If you do not create a meaningful psychological process, somebody else will decide where you should be. In that context, it is important. I am not saying it has no value in your life. It is extremely valuable what kind of psychological process you carry within yourself right now in that context – your love, your poetry, I like both of them…but your lunacy, I think we could do without it. I could do without it. I see a lot of it every day.
The psychological process is your creation. The existential is not your making. It is the Creator’s creation. There is no problem in enjoying the psychological. But if you get lost in the psychological, then you will completely miss the existential. If you get too enamored by your own creation, you will totally miss the Creator’s creation. Are they connected? You cannot exist here without the psychological. The existential is not your doing. There is nothing to do about it – it is there. But the psychological is your creation, so you can make it happen the way you want it. It can be a 100% conscious process. You can throw it out or you can pull it back. Are you not doing this all the time? Today you love this person, tomorrow it is all wrapped up and kept inside. This is happening.
A Psychological Stepping-Stone
You can throw out your psychological if you wish, or roll it back if you want, and you can either have it going within yourself, or you can just put it off. If what happens in the sphere of the psychological is your conscious choice, the psychological is a beautiful garden. If you have lost control over it, then you may call it love, you may call it poetry, you may call it rage, but it is just that one word which you said – it is just lunacy. Once it is no more a conscious process, it has just become lunacy. Your psychological process has nothing to do with the existential. But you can use the psychological as a stepping stone, either to go into lunacy, or into freedom. You can use it to become absolutely compulsive, or to become conscious. It is a device and it is your making. Especially because it is your making, you must make it the way you want it – otherwise, what is the point? If your psychological process was created in a conscious manner, you would not create anything other than blissfulness for yourself. And only when you are blissful by your own nature – that is, you are no more an issue of any kind – you can deal with the issue of the existence. Only when your mind is free of fluctuation will it be capable of reflecting the reality the way it is.
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A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower May 2010.
Exact quote: "If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine."