Be Careful What You Wish For
On this Spot, Sadhguru writes about endless wants, using life energy for material purposes, and why all that won’t get you anywhere. In this context, he relates how, as a young boy, his intrigue about the beyond led him on fearless explorations into the realm of ghosts, spirits, and the occult, and what insight he gained from this experience. And of course, he won’t leave us without a hint on what we can do to live a wonderful life.
If you look at what’s happening in the world, people are mistaking simple tricks for spirituality. Miraculous healings, materializing things – with such tricks, you can become immensely popular. People are looking for the easy way out, but life does not work like that. There are some who seriously expect me to procure something like a wish-fulfilling tree for them. Suppose you had a wish-fulfilling tree, day by day, you would keep asking for more. You would end up living in a warehouse. Already, many homes are looking like warehouses, with all kinds of things stacked up from floor to ceiling. Whether you get the stuff from a mall or a tree – it’s the same endless, compulsive shopping.
Decades ago, before we established Isha Foundation, I conducted a program about using the mind to get what you want. In this program, I made eighty percent of the participants move a folded piece of paper from one end of the table to the other, just with the power of their minds. Then I saw them starting to use this capability to do stupid things. Knowing that this is not it, I decided to disband the program. I had seen such things before. When I was a young boy, I was intrigued by what is beyond life, and by what people said about ghosts, spirits, and things like that. When someone said a certain house is haunted, I went and slept there night after night. The goddamn ghost never came.
I went and sat in the cremation grounds for months on end. No ghosts or spirits came. People said, “If you drive a big nail into this tamarind tree and you tie your ring finger to it using a wet thread, the ghost will come.” I waited there, but the damn thing didn’t come. They also said, “You must cut your ring finger and put a lemon on it.” I cut my ring finger, put a lemon on it, and waited. No ghost was interested in the lemon juice. Then there was a guy who was supposed to catch spirits and put them into bottles. If people thought someone was possessed or a place was haunted, they called him. He would come, put the ghost into a bottle, and take it with him. I went to his house to see what’s there. He had a shrine-like place with all kinds of bottles. They looked empty but were corked.
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I thought there must be something, so I wanted to steal a bottle, but he wouldn’t let me. What he did was draw a rangoli, a geometrical pattern made from rice flour, and he put five eggs in five corners of the pattern. With a clap of his hands, all five eggs burst. After seeing this, I went back home and wanted to burst something. There was a guava tree in our backyard. I looked at one of the guavas, clapped, and it fell down. Then I did the same with a few more. Every time I clapped, the fruit I was looking at fell down. I brought a couple of my friends to watch this. I asked them, “Which one do you want?” They chose a fruit, I looked at it, clapped, and it fell down. Suddenly a deep revulsion went through every cell in my body. I knew I was doing something totally wrong, and I stopped all this. Using your energies to do material things creates a completely life-negative process. The physical world must be handled with the physical dimensions of body and mind.
If you expect things to materialize out of thin air, it means you don’t want to work for it. That is just the reverse of what I am trying to impress upon you from day one. You are responsible for everything in your life. Right now, you want to have what someone else has. That’s a serious problem. Suppose you were the only person on this planet, would you still think you need all these things? The only thing you would want would be to enhance yourself in a huge way.
That’s all you should do. Just do what’s needed. Nothing more, nothing less. If you have eyes to see, there are a million things that are needed in the world. Physical activity is about doing what’s needed. If you had a wish-fulfilling tree and material kept dropping from it, what would you do with all that? Right now, for everything you create, you have to make an effort. Let’s say you want to create a building – you have to excavate the earth, bring steel, bricks, cement, and so on. All material comes from the planet. How much work goes into producing the material and putting it together to erect the building!
In spite of the enormous amount of activity it takes, we are building to the point of destroying the planet. Suppose you had a wish-fulfilling tree, you would ask for even more. Right now, because you have to build it, you may be thinking of a three-bedroom home. If it dropped from a tree, you would ask for a hundred bedrooms, without ever occupying all of them. If you have a hundred bedrooms, I would call it a hotel, not a home. But people have built such homes, even though it takes so much. If things just dropped from trees, can you imagine to what horrific extents you would go? It would not really enhance your life in any fundamental way. If all the things that you want landed up in your house tomorrow morning, do you think you would feel fantastic for the rest of your life? Compared to what people had just fifty years ago, you already have too much stuff. But still you are desperate for more.
If you had a thousand times more than what you have right now, do you think the desperation would go away? It wouldn’t. We definitely want more trees, but not wish-fulfilling trees. The thing is just your body and mind should do only what you want them to. If your body and mind do only what you want them to do, you will live a wonderful life. What you need will happen effortlessly. You should not even choose what you want or not. Just choose to live wonderfully. Whether you live wonderfully in a cave, a hut, or a palace – what does it matter? You live wonderfully – that’s all that matters.