Question: Here in the US, we are affected so much by divorce, and you have mentioned previously that there are big consequences to separating two people. How can we address the consequences of a divorce that has already happened? And how can we educate people to care for each other better?
Sadhguru: A husband came home one day, and the next day was his wife’s birthday. He said, “Honey, what do you want for your birthday? A BMW, a mink coat or a yacht?” She said, “I don’t want any of those things–I want a divorce.” So he said, “I was not thinking of anything that expensive.” A lot of people do not see divorce as a bad thing. Their ideas of freedom are only getting them into deeper and deeper entanglement. Probably nowhere else in the world, women have as much physical freedom as American women have. But probably nowhere else in the world, women are as tense, nervous, and agitated as women are in America.
An idea of freedom
This is not freedom. This is only an idea of freedom, which is not going well. This definitely does not mean to say we should go back to those tyrannical days where women were exploited. It is just that you should have a more mature idea of freedom–something that will work. An idea is worthwhile only if it works and produces results. If it is breaking people and half the population is on anti-depressants, it is obviously not working. It does not matter how educated and intellectual you think you are, still emotion is a strong dimension of who you are. When emotions arise, they become the most powerful thing in you. Your thoughts are not that powerful. Even if pleasant emotions are not that strong, at least anger, fear, and anxiety are–these are all emotions gone bad.
If you are free of emotion, you can ignore what I am saying now. But when emotion is an important part of your life and you ignore this, you will only suffer. Whether you work somewhere, do business, or marry a rich man–somehow you find a way to take care of your physical survival. But even if the physical survival is happening very well, if you are well fed and well taken care of–let’s say you have a BMW, a mink coat, and a yacht–still if your emotions are trampled upon, you cannot remain there. So, not only is it important to work towards financial security, but society should work towards emotional security as well. That is missing in the US right now–not just for women, even for men. This is one reason why America will go down economically–because there is no emotional security.
Right now, the community that does best in the universities of the United States is the Indian community, next comes the Jewish community. Why is that? It is just that they have emotional security. Until they are 25 years of age, till they finish university, everything is taken care of for them. They do not have to fight for anything. Parents are committed to their children, and children are committed to them in turn. They do not have to handle any other aspect of life. That is not so with American children. By the time they finish university, they have already seen three boyfriends or six girlfriends–with all the emotional upheavals, jealousy, problems and struggles. Before they stand up on their feet, they have seen too much life, which is making them incapable.
What happens in the university need not determine everything, but it indicates that they are not performing well. If you randomly pick people anywhere in the US, at least 8 out of 20 do not do anything productive. The main reason for that is the emotional upheaval that they go through from the age of 12 or 13, when they are dealing with things that they are not old enough to deal with. As a result, no one has any emotional security.
Today, someone claims they love you; tomorrow morning they may go away with someone else. This fear, both in men and women, will not let them focus on doing anything. In the Indian business community, by the time the boy is 21 and the girl is 18, they are married. They still go to the university, but they are married and committed to each other. By the time they are 23 or 24, they are into serious business, and their life is very secure. They are bound for life–there are no two ways about it. There is no way that you even have to think whether your wife will be there when you go home. Such a thing does not occur to you because it is total commitment. Just that one area of life being absolutely secure gives you the ability to do something. When the man is afraid of what will happen when he goes out, he cannot be productive. When the woman is afraid that the man may not come back when he goes out, she cannot be productive.
How much does emotional security matter?
Emotional security is an extremely important aspect for any human being and for any society to flourish. Unfortunately, due to a juvenile concept of freedom, we have lost this emotional security. That way, we are making people incapable of many things. There may be a percentage of the population who are strong enough to anyway go ahead and do things, but the majority become unstable. They are always afraid what will happen if they do something wrong. Let’s say you were supposed to go on a holiday this weekend but you could not because you had something to do, you may get a divorce notice on Monday morning.
This may not be true in every home, but it is happening on a large scale. It is no more an individual but a social problem in the United States. Such problems are there in every society for a few individuals, but when it becomes a major social problem, when lots of people are facing similar issues, we have to see how to strengthen their emotional life. Without that, people cannot lead productive lives. Many couples come to our programs. If the husband or wife feels a little insecure, the first thing that will happen is that they do not want the other one to meditate. “What are you doing with your eyes closed?” It is just ridiculous. You are not running away–you are just closing your eyes. But this is the danger–once you close your eyes, you can go anywhere.
It is very important that a culture of commitment is brought back. The people who built the United States from scratch had stable lives. Without that, they could not have built this into a great nation because no man or woman can be truly productive when their emotions are all freaked out. A certain sense of emotional fulfilment is needed for human beings to function beautifully in life. Otherwise they cannot–unless they have transcended these things and it does not matter to them anymore. If someone has reached that place in his life, then nothing matters.
One of these things must happen to people–either they must become meditative, or they must have emotional security. Right now, with all the freedom they have, people are not having a good life. They are leading desperate lives. In the name of freedom, you have removed all the stop signs–that is how people live their lives. It is like the Indian road scene is happening to the American emotion. Everyone is going somewhere, no one knows where they are going–the only thing is they have to be free. In the name of freedom, you lose all structures that keep you on track.
If creating emotional security is not possible, the only way out is to make people meditative because it will take care of several aspects–it will settle the emotions, people will progress spiritually, and their brains will also work better.
Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic and founder of Isha Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to addressing all aspects of human wellbeing through yoga programmes, and social and environmental initiatives.