The difference between being truly religious and what is being practiced as religion today
Sadhguru, recently our country and society is getting entangled in certain disputes and looking at this, it seems that religion is creating conflict instead of showing the way to people.
All religions started as spiritual processes, but over a period of time, they became belief systems. They have digressed from their original intentions and become methods of dividing humanity. If I believe that a coconut tree is God and you believe a stone is God, both of us may be fine with each other today. But tomorrow when you want to cut that coconut tree for some reason, you and I will fight. Once you believe something which is not in your experience, once you assume a belief about something you do not know; clash is bound to happen.
So my effort is to bring people to a place where people are sincere enough to admit “What I know, I know. What I do not know, I do not know.” When you do not know, how can you fight? This is the basis of seeking and the basis of knowing. We have always been a nation of seekers of truths and liberation or mukthi. Believing this or that is a new phenomenon.
For a householder, who is busy with earning a living and family responsibilities, what should be the approach to one’s religion and what should be one’s daily behaviour?
There is a difference between being truly religious and what we see is practiced as religion today. Belonging to a particular group or shouting slogans does not make one religious. Being religious is a quality; it is about taking an inward step. Whatever may be the external circumstances of your life, you can take this step. If you don't take this step, whether you go to a temple, church or mosque, makes no difference. You go there only for solace, out of fear and guilt, or for greed. This is not religion. True religion is about looking within. Yoga is just the science of religion, approached purely as a science and does not involve any belief system. It only requires that you employ your intelligence and experiment within yourself.
In a democratic country and society like India, what are the steps that the government and society can take to reduce religious fanaticism and increase the feeling of brotherhood between people of different religions?
We must fix this in our nation that whatever religion, caste, creed or gender you belong to, your first commitment is to the nation if you want to be a part of this nation. This is something that we have not addressed, for which India is bleeding continuously. Anybody who puts something else above the interest of the nation has to be dealt with as required.
Once we decide we want to be part of this nation, we agreed to respect the civil rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution. If you want to take an identity beyond the nation, the only identity you can take as a human being is ‘I am for the whole planet.’ That is something that must be made clear to every human being here, otherwise you can't take the nation ahead. Every group of people will try to pull the nation down in different ways.
Ever since religious channels and discourses have started on Indian television, self-proclaimed religious gurus and avatars of God have increased in number. How do you see this?
This is just like asking why does America have so many school teachers? Because they want to educate their children in a certain way. Similarly, here we have gurus. I don't want to talk about god-men, but I feel unfortunately we don't have enough gurus for 1.2 billion people. Gurus are here to ensure that every human being is touched by a spiritual possibility. So, definitely we need more of them. I hope thousands of genuine ones come forth, who can cater to such a large population. We need to offer this possibility in many different ways. it is unfortunate that many spiritual entrepreneurs have sprung up.
In a secular country like India, to show the right path to the people what is the role of Religious Leaders and in this context how do you see the role of existing Religious leaders?
Religion means an inward step. When you’re seeking inner nature you are religious. But today we are defining a particular religion based on a set of beliefs. When people are identified with different beliefs, it will inevitably end in quarrel. So, religion has become the source of disharmony. It is time we address this basic problem. If we patch-up harmony it will last for a few days and again people start quarrelling.
Harmony outside will happen only when one is truly harmonious within oneself. True religion is definitely harmony because when a one takes an inward step and seeks the source of joy within and not outside of oneself, he is naturally harmonious. On an inward path, you’re in nobody’s way. Religious leaders should encourage this inner exploration.
How do you see the post-independence economic progress of India? Should India think about becoming an economic superpower? If yes, then how will this become possible?
I don't want India to become a superpower. I want India to be a country of wellbeing, where our standards of well-being are different from just vulgar sense of wealth, vulgar sense of conquest. Unfortunately a huge part of Indian population is malnourished. Creating a nation where people are well nourished, intelligent and spiritually conscious is my idea of success. For thousands of years, India has been the spiritual capital of the world – whoever sought inner wellbeing always came here, because no other culture has looked at the inner sciences with as much understanding. Unfortunately, the spiritual culture we see today has in many ways been broken by invasions, and distorted by long spells of poverty. Still, the basic ethos of the spiritual process is not destroyed, nor can it be destroyed. It is time that we reap the benefits of this profound tradition in its full glory and offers it to the world. A scientific spiritual process is the need of the hour. It is the need of the century, the need of the millennium, the need of eternity.
India is heading towards development but we have not been successful in solving the problems of poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy and unemployment. Why this and what is the way forward?
We are keeping half the humanity in abject poverty, without access to the fundamentals of life, while 10% of the population is splurging. This is not about pulling down the people who are living well; it is about elevating people who are not. This is very much a possibility, not a dream. For the first time in history, we have the necessary technology, resources and the capability to solve almost every human problem on this planet. But we are just sitting on it, because human consciousness is missing. One of the foremost things that need to happen is to raise everyone, especially the youth, to an all-inclusive consciousness. This is not an idea. This is not an intellectual process. This must be a living experience. An active spiritual process can bring this change.
Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the "Padma Vibhushan" by the Government of India in 2017, the highest civilian award of the year, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service.