Here's what Sadhguru has to say about life, stress, and loss
Let’s admit it, as entrepreneurs and investors in this fast-paced startup world, we are all maddeningly busy. Every day is a lesson in hustle. We’re constantly under pressure to meet our many professional goals. And, more often than not, stress is our constant state of mind.
So, when I had a chance meeting with the charismatic Indian spiritual leader Sadhguru, at the sidelines of the Harvard India Conference, I didn’t miss the opportunity to ask him this question: “Sadhguru, everyone is chasing success, money, and fame. Most of us want to become successful and yet, we find that inspite of all our achievements, we are still unhappy – unhappy with ourselves, and unhappy with our journeys. What can we do to achieve a sense of balance and peace amidst the changing parameters and goalposts of success?”
To this, SadhGuru responded calmly in his inimitable style,
“In India, we cannot miss out on talking about mangoes. These days, people think that mangoes are only available in shops, but during our times, we all ate it directly from the trees. Now, suppose you go to a mango tree and you start digging the ground thinking there’s a mango at the root of the tree, do you think you’ll ever find mangoes to eat?”
“No, you won’t,” I said.
“That is because the mangoes you seek are in a different direction – not where you are currently searching for them,” Sadhguru said.
Similarly, human experiences – whether its joy or misery, ecstasy or agony, peace or war – can only emanate from within you. Your own human experiences are a result of not what you seek, but what you choose to find within you.
And this then begs the question – when everything is within your control, why look outside for that ever-elusive happiness that you seek? Why go about trying to fix the world? Why turn to situations and circumstances outside of you to determine your state of mind? Why have lofty expectations of others?
Because the truth – as Sadhguru so effortlessly pointed out – remains this: human experiences can only originate from within us, and if we want to know what it means to be blissful and at peace, then we only have to look inward.
Be the master of yourself
If you can look within yourself and master the art of managing your own thoughts and emotions, then finding joy will never be a challenge. The challenge emerges only when your own thoughts and emotions turn against you, and when, instead of changing yourself, you try to fix the whole universe. That's never going to happen.
To be clear, even the closest people in your life – be it your husband, wife, parents, children, boyfriend, girlfriend, siblings – are never 100 percent aligned with you or see things your way. But even if they are 51 percent aligned, you have a controlling stake in that relationship.
Still, when it comes to you, you need to be 100 percent aligned with yourself. For only you can train your thoughts and determine the state of your mind and being. And quite frankly, if we are unable to train our own thoughts, emotions, and mental being, then how can we even dream of changing the external world?
How also can we expect to influence hundreds or thousands of people? How can we change their outlook on life, when we ourselves haven’t been able to look inward and reflect on our thoughts and actions? How can we ever strive to lead if we cannot be the best version of our own selves?
Truth is, we need to learn to master our thoughts and emotions, at all times, in order to find the happiness and peace we seek – even in the face of the irreplaceable loss of a near and dear one, another life-changing experience where many of us choose to suffer in silence.
People say time heals all wounds, even those that are caused by the pain of losing a loved one. But instead, the gut-wrenching pain one experiences lingers on, much like a slow burning ember. So how can one ever come to terms with the pain and anguish that follows the sudden loss of a loved one?
And for this too, Sadhguru says the answer lies within us, in how we choose to remember our loss. He says,
“We all know that the only truth is death and we all have to die. But how we remember the dead is upon us. Do we want to remember the person who has left us with pain and sadness? Or, do we want to remember the person with happiness and fond memories? What would the person who has died want from us? Happiness or misery? Do you want to cherish the memory of the person who has left you or do you want to feel miserable thinking about the person? That answers lies within you.”