In this conversation, Sadhguru and Dr. Mark Hyman, American physician, scholar, and New York Times best-selling author, discuss various dimensions of health. Here, they look at the state of global and individual health in connection with food choices and commercial interests.
Dr. Hyman: We have this amazing opportunity to talk about health with Sadhguru. And it is an important question because there is so much dis-ease in the world today. There is spiritual dis-ease; there is physical dis-ease. And we are facing a crisis that I think is disproportionate to what we have ever seen in the evolution of our human species. And it is an important question for me because around the world, we are now facing a chronic disease epidemic that is killing twice as many people as die from infectious disease. We are seeing more than two billion people who are overweight, more than twice as many people go to bed overweight as go to bed hungry.
We are seeing one in two Americans with type 2 diabetes. We are seeing eighty percent of the world’s type 2 diabetics in the developing world. We are seeing a crisis of the way we grow our food, a crisis of the environment, a crisis of our physical and spiritual health. We have a chance to sort of unwrap some of these questions today. And I wanted to first ask you – how is our sort of spiritual dis-ease connected to the physical dis-ease we are seeing for individuals and also globally?
Sadhguru: It is ironic that after a century-long fight against contagious diseases, which were caused to us by other organisms, we are now on “self-help.” Now we make ourselves sick – we do not need bacteria or viruses to do it for us. As you said, essentially, the origin of chronic ailments is within us. Why would our own body manufacture disease or an ailment for us? Every cell in the body is wired for health; every one of them is fighting for survival and health.
Our body wants to be healthy. So why would it cause ill health? There are various dimensions to this. One which you have talked about a lot is definitely food. The affluent are eating too much. The poor are not eating the right way, or they do not have choices. Unfortunately, still a large segment of the population has no choice about what they eat because they live in poverty. And another segment of the world makes compulsive choices, because they are affluent. When we lived in poverty, we thought that when we get affluent, we will have choices. That is the idea of being affluent. But affluence has made people compulsive to eat certain things.
Dr. Hyman: Yeah. Well, a lot of food that we are eating is addictive.
Sadhguru: So both ways, people are suffering. Whether you suffer hunger or you suffer indigestion, it needs to be addressed. As we address the requirements of those who live in poverty, we need to address the problem of excessive food. Another dimension of this is there is no education, no awareness about how to keep the human mechanism. We do not even have to think of how to create health. Because the body is made from within, it is structured to be healthy. Our business is just to not create ill health.
There are many ways to look at this. One simple way to look at this is – suppose as I sit here, my hand starts popping around, punching me and poking me in the eye – then for sure you would consider that there is an ailment, at least in my hand, if not in my whole self. This is exactly what people’s minds are doing right now. It pops up, hops all over the place; it punches, scratches, and pokes them; it makes them cry, it makes them miserable. We have not done anything about it. People have not even looked at the basic user’s manual as to how to use their mind. It is a powerful instrument. And we know today that for every thought, for every emotion, for every reverberation that you create in your mind, the very chemistry of your body changes.
Dr. Hyman: We know that even your genes change with your thought.
Sadhguru: One way of looking at it is that this human body is a chemical soup – either it is a great soup or a lousy soup. The soup becomes lousy either because the ingredients that you are using are not good, or the way you are cooking it is not good. You may have all the ingredients right, but still you can mess up the soup. Or because the ingredients are bad, you can mess up the soup. Poverty is a place where ingredients are bad, so the soup is messed up. Affluence is a place where the ingredients are good but the cook is bad, and again you have a lousy soup.
Dr. Hyman: It is so powerful to talk about the body having this natural, original state of wellness, and that we shift away from that by our thoughts that change our form and by the food that alters our body. And so I would love to hear more about how we actually can use our thoughts and food to shift the form that we have to create a place where we can be more awake, where we can be more present, where we can be more connected to truth.
Sadhguru: When you talk about being connected to truth – truth is not an idea or a concept, it is not a philosophy that you read or make up in your mind. The truth about the body is you only gave it material, but the body was manufactured from within. You did not make it from outside. You did not get a sculptor to create this body. It was sculpted from within. Or in other words, the manufacturer of the body is inside. If the manufacturer of the body is inside, if there is a little repair job to be done, would you like to go to the manufacturer or the local mechanic?
If you have lost the ID of the manufacturer, you go to the local mechanic. There is an intelligence within you that can transform a piece of bread into the complex mechanism of the human body. If you have access to this intelligence or the source of creation within, health will be a natural consequence. It is not something that you have to run after. Health is a natural outcome of living in tune with everything within and around you. Health should be the last of concerns, but today it is one of the biggest concerns. It is not the biggest thing if you live in tune with this life that you are. A tree is not worrying about its health; a bird is not worrying about its health; a buffalo in the wild is not worrying about his health – he is just in tune with nature, and he is healthy.
Dr. Hyman: So how do we get back to that? We have come so far from that, we are so disconnected from ourselves, from how our minds work, from the food we eat, from even this idea that we can create health from within. If people are wondering, “How do I do this for myself?” How do they do that, in a practical way?
Sadhguru: Now, we must understand this one thing. It is in pursuit of human wellbeing that we started commerce. So commerce should always serve human wellbeing. Right now, for the health of the economy, we are surrendering the health of the human being. Commercial forces are deciding what you should eat, what you should drink, and how you should live. It should never be so, but unfortunately we have chosen this model across the world today – that commercial forces determine the nature of human existence. Human consciousness should decide the nature of human existence, and commercial forces should serve that purpose. We have reversed this. This is the fundamental place where we have gone wrong.
Dr. Hyman: Yeah. How do we as individuals shift that and take back the power from commerce to actually make choices that will make them change?
Sadhguru: I have three clear-cut steps to change this. The first thing is to campaign. People should become aware of the way they are being used by forces which were supposed to serve them. The next thing is education as to how to fix it in individual lives. The next thing is policy. These three things must happen, and in this order. It is very important. Everyone should realize what they are doing is wrong. If you want a global transformation, everyone should know the way they are eating, drinking, and the way they are compelled to do things in this world is wrong. Then education – what is the right thing to do? Then the policy.
Dr. Hyman: That is big steps. I think most people think that health is out there, while it is really within. They do not recognize they have the power to actually change the policy through changing their actions and choices now.
Sadhguru: Whatever kind of social structures, individual situations, and world situations we are placed in, still individuals have choices. All of us live in the same society, but all of us may not be making the right choices. What we consume, how we sit and stand – this is definitely our choice. It is just that most people are willing to go along with the mass hysteria.
Dr. Hyman: Yeah, I think the problems are global, but what strikes me is that the solutions are really local. They are as local as our thoughts. They are as local as what we put on our fork. And with those simple choices we can begin to shift this.
Sadhguru: That is why these are two different affairs. If you want to change your health situation, there is one way. If you are interested in changing the global health, that is a different way.
Dr. Hyman: How do you see those as different? In my view, the more individuals make choices for themselves, what is good for them is good for the planet; what is good for their body is good for the earth.
Sadhguru: Not every individual is capable of making the right choices. They go by what the majority does. Unless health becomes a mass movement, there will be no global health. But if you as an individual want to create health for yourself, that is not a big deal – you can do this. There is a little bit of poison that you have to breathe and drink, that is unavoidable, but whatever poison you are generating from within, you can stop it instantaneously if you wish.
In the continuation of this conversation, Sadhguru will give a yogic perspective on the human system, health, and many other related aspects. Stay tuned...
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A version of this article was originally published in Forest Flower, October 2017.