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Obedience: Not a Solution

By Sadhguru Email By Sadhguru
June 2017
Obedience: Not a Solution

Obedience, particularly to elders, is often projected as a traditional value. I would say unquestioned obedience is the downfall of a society and culture. Obedience means there is an authority. It may be a parent, a priest, God, or a scripture. Obedience is based on the assumption that whatever the authority says is right. If you make authority the truth, it destroys human intelligence. Truth should be the only authority.

The next generation should do something that we could not imagine possible. We produce a next generation because we think it is a new possibility. If it is not a new possibility but only takes instructions from us on all levels, it is no good as a new generation. There is nothing “next” about it. It is just a graveyard of the past popping up in the future, which is a waste of life.

Because of their authoritarian nature, some parents are not able to earn the necessary love and affection from their children, and so they demand obedience. Love, affection, and respect must be earned. Especially in a parent-child relationship, this is important. The moment you demand obedience, you claim authority. If you claim authority, you will always be resented. If there is resentment in a relationship, it becomes ugly. An authoritarian approach causes a society and culture to become stagnant and decline. Only if the young generation does something that the parents never imagined possible, can a society evolve.

Now, should we follow the precepts of the past or do something new? There should be no compulsion to break the rules of the past, nor should there be a compulsion to do things the way they were done in the past. It is important that every generation looks at what is really needed and what is not.

If you do not discard the garbage that builds up at home, after some time, your whole house will be a garbage bin. Every day, you must throw out the garbage–only then will the house be clean. Similarly, in our lives, we must throw things that don’t work, on a daily basis. If we, as individuals and as a society, don’t do that, we become stagnant, and nothing works.

Breaking the mold need not come as a big upheaval in society. The revolution can be in the way we think. We need to constantly look for better ways of doing in every aspect of life–right from the simplest, most vital ones. If you are looking for the best way to sit, to breathe, to eat, and to manage your body, you will start doing yoga: that is, you will start approaching your physical and mental wellbeing in a scientific manner. Truth is something that you realize. If you invent it, that’s called a lie. If you truthfully look for the best way to do something, you will arrive at a science. Otherwise, you may try to weave a philosophy around it. The philosophies of the past may have made sense at one time. Over a period of time, what used to be a philosophy turned into a precept, a law, a belief system, and ultimately, a religion.

One fundamental way to approach life is this: there is substantial scientific and medical evidence that your body and your brain function at their best only when you are joyful. If you want your body and brain to work well, the first thing is to become joyful by your own nature. Most people haven’t taken care of these basics. Instead, people are in pursuit of happiness. They think happiness is something they have to achieve at some point, maybe towards the end of their lives. That’s a misconception. Being joyful by your own nature is the very first and foremost thing. If you are in pursuit of happiness, you are encumbered by compulsions. If you are joyful, you are not encumbered by anything.

If you are joyful, you can see things the way they are and come up with better solutions every day. If your perception is clouded by prejudiced opinions, how will you find a solution? When you are joyful, you find solutions. In joyfulness, there is flexibility. Solutions evolve out of flexibility.


Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, and visionary, and a prominent spiritual leader. An author, poet, and internationally renowned speaker, Sadhguru is the founder of Isha Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to human wellbeing. (www.isha.sadhguru.org)


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