Here is a jotted down version of what I typically do with regards the non-stop polarized clutter of views on social media / normal media and also sometimes, in people around me. Often I just ignore or remain engrossed in something else, but at times one needs to make a choice. This choice can happen through a judgement call for one of the sides.
And specifically taking the example of Rally for Rivers – because many people have asked me for many clarifications regarding this campaign by Sadhguru and Isha Foundation. 🙂
So here goes…
*Opening scene: As usual social media is filled with hate for yogis and other awesome people* 😉
So when I support Sadhguru or #RallyforRivers or also other similar initiatives (though I don’t pay much attention to other initiatives because life focus etc… ) lot of people ask me for clarifications.
Clarifications of what, you ask?
Well, of two things,
#1 all the hate being thrown around
#2 a few genuine concern points
Unfortunately from what I have seen especially for yogis and spiritual leaders the hate quotient is 80 – 90% of the criticism.
As one yogi has said, for a normal person 10 eyes may watch his activities, for a spiritual person a 1000 eyes watch.
And in the matter of #RallyforRivers which I have unequivocally supported… I was really stunned to find very well known media outlets write 100% spurious articles on the campaign. No basis, no facts at all – just wrong information and malicious implications. And so I am left with no choice but attribute it to hate.
The problem is that a lot of “good” samaritans, read this 100% false articles and come to me for clarifications.
There seems to be an implicit assumption that because I support these people or campaign I need to have an answer for every question raised.
I don’t need to.
I do read a lot of the negative stuff… because I care about the people and campaigns and so I do remain aware of what’s going on.
How do I respond to this?
I check firstly on what basis are these allegations made? Is there an actual basis or is it this cooked up.
From a few years now I have seen that media (and bloggers and influencers etc… it is a trend) take a few facts and then create a whole biased story out of it. They think their biased view is justified on the few facts. But the truth is – as with lot of things in life – that most often just 2 or 3 semi-related facts can have many different stories to them.
So I boil the article down to the 2 or 3 facts. And then check these facts. Because in lot of them the stated facts may simply not exist. Or the facts itself may be misrepresented.
As I mentioned earlier there were articles which were 100% false and even a simple look at the #RallyforRivers website or listening to couple of videos by Sadhguru on the campaign would make it clear.
But a lot of the “good” samaritans don’t bother to do this. Because it is easier to suspect and crib and build idealistic projections and demands. Harder to accept harsh realities that exist and best workable solutions.
The moment there is the flimsiest of allegations (the more vitriolic the better), people expect that we – the supporters must prove that it is Innocent. The person or the cause or in this case Rally for Rivers campaign.
And this is when these “good” samaritans have on a personal level violated the basic fundamental right of a person (or even an idea) – Innocent, until proven Guilty. So a lot of them think it is their duty to be vigilant to spot fake gurus, but the fact is, that bigger than that is their responsibility of maintaining a balanced and open mind-set about someone who hasn’t been convicted by court of law. And only in rarest of rare cases can you blatantly say, that the person is guilty but slipped punishment.
And maintaining this mind-set is a very fundamental responsibility.
And to maintain this balanced mind-set, you HAVE to do a basic FACT CHECK on the allegations. There is no other way around.
So for people who do not come with this fundamental responsible mind-set and fact check – this level of conversation I refuse to indulge in.
Now the criticism or concerns that do pass this fact check, would have some merit to them. And I might not mind discussing them, IF the second parameter checks out,
The matter of CALIBRE
Basically, it is a check about what calibre a person has to talk about something.
I have found this to be a very sensible approach to life and so, maybe it can also help you get through samsara better 🙂
So for #RallyforRivers, there were some people who started questioning me about the water conservation principles and detailed policy plan that Sadhguru proposed.
Now the question for me is one of Calibre : Skill And Character
Do I have skills to judge or even understand a large scale river water augmentation policy document?!
And nor do most of the people who have questioned me about it.
So I don’t get into such conversations.
It would otherwise be a blind leading blind situation.
You know? The group of blind people come to an elephant and one touches the tail and says it is like a rope. Another touches the body and says it is coarse. Another touches the leg and says it is like a tree trunk. But no one really gets a good picture of what it really is. And more importantly, they might be in front of a wild elephant and not realise the gravity of the situation at all 😀
So these conversations make no sense to me. Like during the demonetisation times every random person on Twitter was a finance expert.
There are times when I do want to get some expert view on things. That’s when I contact actual experts. Like I did for this article on figuring out some scientific basis for the Yug theory. I actually connected with a scientist in NASA. I didn’t sit and have a chat with my “dude” friend next door who shares his no-degree expert views.
Having said this, remember even “experts” have disagreements, so just getting an expert’s view cannot be everything. For example with Rally for Rivers, a lot of experts have openly supported this rally and even rallied for it themselves. While only a few others have raised concerns. So that is fine and healthy too.
The most crucial aspect for me is this,
CHARACTER (and this English word is very limited in its meaning. I need to dig up a more apt Sanskrit word).
I know Sadhguru, Isha Foundation well. I know the kind of volunteers that work there. I have seen the way the work is done there. And in that there is a judgement of character, of capabilities, of understanding and scale. And the chance of Success that Rally for Rivers has.
On the basis of this judgement, they have my unequivocal support.
And understand this, I am one of the people who have spent a long time with them. I am associated with them since 2005, been a full time volunteer at the ashram for a whole year and then had very hard times with them too. I have even been blacklisted there for some disagreements and fights. And yet…. on the basis of all my experiences with them and making a judgement on these factors – character, capability, understanding of the entire eco-system involved (not just water related but system related) and scale – they have my hands down support for this cause.
And In Life Also….
It is on this basis I work. On this basis I choose people around me, choose situations around me. And it has been working fantastically well for me so far.
And it is not just a personal view – as far as I have understood – this is how hiring happens in companies too. You try and get deeper into the person through the interviews… their motivations, their aspirations, their past records, their problem solving methods, their work capabilities and so on… the job interviews are a way to make this assessment quickly and there may be a higher margin for error but it is always about making a judgement on the basis of the SUM of the person and not only one aspect of them in context of the job.
And as a spiritual seeker, keeping a focus on this is important especially in today’s online polarized times where quick opinions seem trendy. We need to gauge people or situations on basis of deeper research and understanding.
And even in day to day life, I have found that how we respond to people around us and their statements always has to be as a sum of them as a person and never really on basis of one random statement.
And this is how we can truly identify people who are gems and those who are crap. Not by their articulation or the political correctness of their words. Because all those aspects depend on a lot of cultural, articulation capabilities, language strength and personality related aspects.
This is why in ashrams and spiritual systems, traditionally at least, a lot of stuff was very subjective. Different disciples given different treatment. Some are put through harsh regimes while others allowed to advance easily. Because this deeper perception of the guru let’s them judge better what was needed for that disciple to grow internally and not just in the ranks.
Moreover, this kind of a deeper judgement allows us to get clarity on real gurus versus fake ones. Because spiritual yogis have come in all shapes, styles, size, color, background, and whatever else parameter we put. They have been silent ones, singing ones, angry ones, rich ones, poor ones, happy ones…. but it is only with a deeper perception can we gauge the value in them.
And so for us to get this deeper insight, it is usually needed for us to look deeper into a person / activity / organization – and get some measure of their heart and core qualities.
And it does take time, inclination and energy to do this. There is no other way. It also needs a measure of silence within ourselves, because when our own noise is high, what crap will we hear or fathom someone else!
Mahatma Gandhi said, “My life is my message”
It is true of everyone. And we have to be able to fathom this message.
And this message is the the touchstone to people and situations in life.