Interview With Sadhguru

How To Respond To The Suffering In The World

Questioner: As a capitalist society, we tend to function out of our economic interests. How am I supposed to focus on myself and forget about the suffering in the world?

Sadhguru: Oh, you are just on the way to becoming a human being! Because a human doesn’t land here as a human being, he has to become one, he has to evolve. If a dog, a monkey or a tiger is born, it is already a dog, a monkey or a tiger. If it eats well, it will become a good tiger. A tiger is never sitting there, worrying about how to become a good tiger or “Will I end up as a house cat?” There are no such struggles within it. Food is all it has to take care of.

You are born as a human but to become a worthwhile human being, you have to do many things. What is human is actually so complex and so beautiful but you have to put in effort, to make it so. Your mother just delivers you as raw material; it’s your project to become a human being. How well you conduct this project is how wonderful a human being you become. So, you are beginning to become a little sensitive to someone else’s suffering, that’s good. You’re on the project. Something within you should cry, “It must happen, it must happen.” Otherwise how is it supposed to happen?

The world is miserable right now. Now, if you also make yourself miserable, you are only adding to the problem. They are miserable for one reason, you are miserable for another reason. This doesn’t solve the problem. Only if you are joyful, only if you know what it means to live beautifully, you can create this for someone else too. How can you make it happen for someone else, when you don’t even know, what happiness is? You will think, “If I dumped food there, it will be okay.” It will not be okay. That’s how the world has handled it. People think if you provide some aid, it is going to be okay. It is not going to be okay because you yourself do not know what it means to be okay.

So, if you are concerned about life around you, the first thing is you must be concerned about this life [referring to oneself]. If you do not know how to take care of “this one” [referring to oneself], how will you take care of “that one” [referring to the other]? Otherwise, with good intentions, you will cause misery to everyone in the world. More misery has happened on this planet as a result of good intentions than from bad intentions.

Questioner: I hear what you are saying but for me to focus on my own inner happiness, it’s almost like a selfish thing to do…

Sadhguru: See, when you say “selfish”, I want you to understand, the very basis of your existence here is the Self. Everything is “self-ish” – put a hyphen there. It’s all “self-ish”. If you are concerned about the rest of the world, which everybody should be, either you are concerned about them, as the “rest of the world”, or you are concerned about them just the way you are concerned about yourself.

If you are concerned about “that one”, just as you are concerned about “this one”, how will you go about fixing “that one” without first, fixing “this one”? How will “that one” respond to you? “That one” will tell you, “First take care of yourself. What nonsense are you going to do to me?”

Questioner: It’s hard for me to sit down and focus on yoga or something like that…

Sadhguru: That is because you have prejudiced ideas about yoga.

Questioner: If someone is getting slaughtered in Darfur, Africa with a machete, it is hard for me to look the other way; it is hard for me to go to the mall, hang out with my friends and enjoy myself.

Sadhguru: Going to the mall is different and doing yoga is different. Yoga is not about sitting and focusing on you. There are problems everywhere, if you reach out to the problem in the neighborhood or in Darfur, wherever you wish to, wherever you are capable of doing something, what condition would you like to go there in, physically and mentally?

Tomorrow morning, if I sent you to Sierra Leone, gave you two years to make a difference, you will get lost in the problem. I have dropped people off there for three, four or five years and trained them to make a difference. You should see the kind of difference they made in three months’ time because they know what to do with themselves and what to do with other people. If you do not invest this time in yourself to enhance your capabilities, if you just go there with great emotion, you will get lost in the problem. Just good intentions won’t do it.

If you want to make a difference, you need capability. If you are interested in doing something, the first thing is to see how to enhance your capabilities, your own ability to deal with life. Otherwise how are you going to reach out to anybody and do anything? In the remotest part of India, at every street corner, if you go and sit in the tea shop, right there revolutions happen; they change the world. But the moment the tea is over, the revolution is over.

Haven’t you seen tea shop revolutions? Right there everything is happening – they know how to run the country, they are advising the Prime Minister or they can be batting coaches for Tendulkar [renowned Indian cricketer]. The only thing is, they don’t know how to make good tea. Everything else they know. So, just being concerned, just being emotionally charged about a problem is not a solution. Solutions will come only when we empower ourselves. If you do not take time to empower yourself, there will be not just one Darfur, we will create a thousand Darfurs on this planet.

People have done more horrible things with good intentions than with bad intentions. If you are concerned about humanity, please empower yourself! So no matter what kind of situation you are placed in, you are not going to be broken and shattered by the situation, you will do the best you can do. Empowering yourself, is that a crime? That is yoga – a technology to empower yourself.

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Sadhguru, is a yogi, mystic, visionary and a spiritual master with a difference. An author, poet, and internationally-renowned speaker, Sadhguru’s wit and piercing logic provoke and widen our perception of life. You can reach him at isha.sadhguru.org