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Do You Have to Be ‘Dead Serious’ to Be Spiritual?

By Sadhguru Email By Sadhguru
September 2013
Do You Have to Be ‘Dead Serious’ to Be Spiritual?

If you allow life to happen within you exuberantly, life is fun.

The only reason why the whole world has not naturally turned spiritual is because people are dead serious. The English expression “dead serious” means you are dead and you are serious. Maybe not fully dead; if you are fully dead, that is different. But too many people are half dead or partially dead. Being partially dead is torture. They are serious, and they unfortunately think they are spiritual. Once you become very serious about something, your whole perception is distorted. You know this from your own life. On a certain day, when you are too serious and anxious about something, you do not see anything that is around you properly—everything is distorted.

A spiritual process does not mean being serious or nonserious. “Spirituality,” or a “spiritual process,” essentially means you have realized that the way you know life is not enough; you want to know it a little deeper. Unless your perception is enhanced, unless you enhance your ability to perceive life, how would you know anything deeper than the way it is right now? If you want to enhance your perception, the first and foremost thing you need to do is become fully, exuberantly alive and involved in all that there is. If you become exuberantly alive, you cannot be serious. You can be serious only when you are wrapped up in your own psychological mess. You can get so serious that you will not let anything happen.

This happened during World War II. One story says a prisoner of war was being held somewhere in Italy and was heavily injured. Due to lack of proper treatment and care in prison, gangrene slowly developed in different parts of his body. One day, they had to amputate his right thumb. He did not know whether he would ever make it back home, and if he died in prison, he would be buried in some unmarked mass grave. So he requested the guard, “I have a family. I don’t think I will make it back, but if you mail this thumb, it will go back home, and they can at least bury this thumb. I will have a decent burial. Please.” The guard said okay and mailed the thumb. A couple of weeks later, the man’s toe was amputated. He again requested the guard, and the guard mailed the toe. One day, they had to remove his foot. Then it became a bigger package. Once again, he requested the guard, “Please, let my foot be buried in my motherland.” The guard said okay and packed it. When he was taking the package, an officer saw him and asked, “What are you taking?” The guard said, “This is an amputated foot. The man wants to have it buried in his motherland, so I thought it was okay. Earlier it was his thumb, then it was his toe, now it is his foot.” The officer screamed, “You fool! Don’t you realize he is trying to escape in parts?”

When you become too serious, this is how you become. You lose all sense of life; your perception will be greatly hampered. It is not that one should try to be serious or nonserious. If life happens within you exuberantly, you will be a certain way, and that is the only way to be. But if you reduce your aliveness, both laughter and tears will have gone out of your life, and you will think you are spiritual. If life has to happen, it has to happen with a certain effervescence and exuberance; otherwise, you will not know life. You will only know the thought process and emotions that are happening within you. The psychological mess that happens within you is not life. It is something that you create. If your petty creation has become far more important than the Creator’s creation, that is sacrilege—not spirituality.


Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru speaks before millions annually around the globe, including to prominent leadership forums such as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, TED, and the World Peace Congress. From ground-breaking yoga programs to projects for rural communities and the environment, Sadhguru’s Isha Foundation (www.IshaFoundation.org) serves as a thriving model for human empowerment, which is reflected in the Foundation’s special consultative status with the UN.


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