Sadhguru: Let us say my physical vision is not good – I cannot see clearly – and I need to walk through a group of people. But I am very confident. What will happen if I walk through? A lot of people are walking through their life like this because they are confident. They cannot see a damn thing, but it does not matter; they are confident. This is disastrous for you and for everyone around you. If my vision is clear, I would walk through the whole group without touching anyone. If my vision is not clear, at least if I have the humility to see that I have no clarity, I would seek help and walk slowly. I may not walk as quickly as a man who has clear vision, but I would at least go gently.
People think confidence is a kind of substitute for clarity – it is not. Let’s say whenever you want to make big decisions in your life, either professional or family-related, all you do is get yourself a coin and flip it, “Heads we will do this, tails we will do that.” It will work fifty percent of the time! If you are right only fifty percent of the time, there are only two professions you can pursue – you can either be a weatherman or an astrologer. If you are in any other job, you would most likely be fired.
There is a city called Mangalore on the west coast of India. It is a beautiful, quaint, little town and I have been associated with this place for some time. I had not gone there for almost four or five years, and then I happened to visit. There was a homeopathic doctor there who was over seventy-five years of age, but he was still managing a small clinic. I went there to visit him, not as a client, but just to see him. The clinic is in the Malabar region – the land of the king cobra – snake bites are common. Outside the clinic there was an advertisement which said, “A common antidote for all types of snakes.” I know enough about snakes. I have lived with them, I have them all around me, I have been bitten by them any number of times, and snakes and me have been very closely associated for a very long time. So I know enough about them to survive.
Essentially in India, there are two basic varieties of venoms. One is a neurotoxin and the other affects your cardio-vascular system; a very small number of snakes have both. These are two completely different kinds of chemicals, so there cannot be a common antidote. Today, because people cannot identify what snake is what, doctors are administering an antidote for both together, which is very damaging for the system.
I went in and was in conversation with the doctor. Then I asked him, “How did you allow this board to come up in your clinic? This is not right. Someone is claiming there is a common antidote.” But he is a very wise doctor. He said, “See, almost ninety percent of the Indian snakes are harmless, and this antidote works ninety percent of the time.”
Ninety is a good percentage for anything. Confidence is like that. If a snake bites you, just look up at the sky and say “Dam-doom-dis-dis-dis!” the venom will go away, actually. Really! You must say it with enough vigor, it actually goes away… it works ninety percent of the time! And people will get more confident, because it works ninety percent of the time. That is a fool’s way to exist, isn’t it? What you need is clarity, not confidence.
People are trying to create a false sense of certainty in their lives, by telling themselves or each other fanciful stories. You can call them what we want – sometimes scriptures, sometimes religion, sometimes a love affair. You are telling each other fanciful stories to somehow get through life. But when life knocks you on your head, suddenly these things fall apart, and you are confused and fearful. Fear, because you have come down to reality. It’s a blessing to come down to reality. If you have been going the wrong way and suddenly you realize you are confused, it is a good thing.
The whole world is going through struggle and confusion, but how many will take a step in the right direction? Confusion is better than idiotic conclusions. When you are confused, you are fearful because you realize you were living with a foolish certainty, without knowing. If you have realized that you are confused, don’t make further investments in the wrong direction. Stop, wait, look. Try to figure it out. When you are confused, your intelligence is alert and active and constantly looking. That’s how you should be. You just have to learn to do it joyfully. Clarity is a consequence of handling your confusion consciously.
If we want life to happen the way we want it, the first and foremost requirement is to be clear about what it is that we really want. Even simple practices can go a long way in creating this. Every day when you wake up in the morning, sit up on your bed cross-legged, sit with your hands open, eyes closed and just look at everything you are not. Appreciate all that you have gathered – your home, your family, your relationships, your qualifications, your body, your clothes – everything. Be thankful for that. At the same time, identify everything that is not you as “This is what I have gathered” and mentally keep it aside. What you gather can be yours, but it can never be you. Spend ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the night every day. This will bring clarity. If one is properly initiated by a Guru, this particular process can take on a new dimension. But till such an opportunity comes in your life, you can do this by yourself. It will definitely have a big impact upon your clarity.
Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and a New York Times bestselling author Sadhguru has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 2017, the highest annual civilian award, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service.