Sadhguru, Isha Foundation
It is not by becoming sexually free that somebody will become free. If you become free from your sexes, only then you are free.
What is it that you call as womanhood? To fulfill certain biological functions, to fulfill certain natural compulsions – which are a must to keep the race going – this human species was split into two with some small physiological changes so they could get together, and what has to happen in terms of procreating could happen. These little changes in the body, we blew them up in our minds and made them too big. They are small changes. But in our minds, we made it so big that today we are almost beginning to think that these are two separate species.
The reason why a woman has been exploited and put to disadvantage in so many ways is because once you begin to experience yourself only as a physical body, man naturally stands in a higher volume than you. He is physically capable of certain things that a woman can never do. When there is strife in the society, man will naturally rule because it is just a question of physical strength. Even today, if there is a war or a fight on the street, man will rule the whole situation, no question about it. It doesn’t matter you fought for your freedom for 100 years, you can be pulled down in one afternoon if a strife-like situation is created. Only when societies are well-settled and culturally involved, when there is a balance, a woman has an equal role to play.
Now this question of man and woman being superior or inferior comes up only when people are living with the ignorance of being completely identified with the physical body. I would like to see that people look at themselves as human beings, not as men or women. It is only at certain moments in your life that you need to be a man or a woman to play certain roles. You don’t have to carry your gender on the street all the time. It is not necessary. Carrying your identification either as a man or a woman is a sexual identification, it is just identifying yourself with a few limited body parts. That is all it means. If you must identify with body parts at least try the brains. If you subject half the humanity to some kind of exploitation, there is no way humanity is going to live well. We label half the humanity as something inferior, yet we are born out of that. If there was some way man could give birth to himself, we would have eliminated you by now. Yes? If the need was not there, women would have been slaughtered and eliminated from this planet long ago.
These are not two separate species; this is one species. If you want to think of the wellbeing of the species, you must always think of this as one. If you start thinking of it separately, then you will see as you make progress in your causes, your suffering will deepen. Suppose men start their own club and women start their own stuff, your suffering will slowly deepen because you will be torn away from something that you really want and care for in your lives.
If some equality, if some sense and sanity has to truly come to humanity, it is important that people look beyond being identified with just the shapes and sizes of the body. If this has to happen, a spiritual dimension has to enter people’s lives. Only when people begin to experience themselves as something more than body, then the question of seeing this as man or woman doesn’t arise. It is simply seeing life as life. Only then there will be sanity.
If this exploitation of the woman has to stop anywhere in the world, the work is not with the society. The work is within the woman itself. In many ways, except for a small segment of population who are educated and have their own ways of being, many women have just been looked down upon. One main reason is, somewhere in man’s mind, a woman is seen as cheap. Somewhere deep inside the man’s psyche, it is there if you just buy the wife a gift, everything will be okay. You get her a jewel, you get her a dress, it will be alright. This has not happened suddenly. A woman has earned it over a period of time. So if man thinks she will anyway settle for trinkets, he will naturally look down upon you.
The question is not about being a man or a woman – you naturally look down upon any human being you see aspiring for trinkets. Unfortunately, right now, a whole section of women have either willingly or been culturally guided to seek only such things. The culture, religion and the social situations have been molding women to seek only for trinkets, not for anything higher than that.
If a woman doesn’t break away from that mold of thinking, if she does not start seeking the higher possibilities of life, the fight will not bring respect. By fighting, you will not gain respect. It is only by evolving yourself that one will gain respect. And if respect is not there, freedom will be an unnatural situation. It will not happen. So whether it is a man or a woman, the most fundamental thing that needs to happen is not to identify themselves with the limitations of their bodies, but looking beyond that.
In India, in the ancient past, especially in the spiritual aspects of life, man and woman lived as absolute equals. If one gets a spiritual urge, he can dissolve his family and go. Whether it was a man or a woman, they could seek, because the understanding was that once a person starts seeking the highest, they must be given all freedom. The spiritual process means your seeking is beyond the body.
There is a beautiful story about Maitreyi. Maitreyi is just one of the great women that we have heard of – there have been many in the Yogic lore. When Yagnavalkya and Maitreyi got married, it came to a point when Yagnavalkya felt that this relationship and closeness was binding him, and he wanted to seek the highest. He said, “I will give away everything that I have to you.” They were still in a good relationship, a loving relationship. “Everything that I have, I will give to you. Please release me. I’m going to seek the highest.” Then she immediately said, “If you are going to seek the highest, what makes you think I will settle for these trinkets of your property, your house and this nonsense. I will also seek the highest.”
Only if a woman is like this, that she is also seeking the highest, the question of fighting for freedom doesn’t arise. There is no need for any fighting for freedom. Socially, yes, some fight is needed. Something needs to be done because established factors are there which needs to be changed. But as a woman, within yourself, there is no need to identify yourself as a woman. You walk on the street as a human being. Why walk as a woman? When you walk as a woman, you are identifying yourself with a few body parts, and that is how you will be seen also. If you stop identifying, that also will not matter.
Now there is a whole complex situation, because the very reason why nature has made man and woman is so that they will somehow get attracted, come together and reproduce. If you don’t get attention, if you are not attracted in that direction, the very purpose of nature is going to be defeated. So somewhere inside, there is a certain psychological situation that has to be created in a woman that she needs attention; somewhere in the man, that he is the bestower of attention, always. This basic psyche is there.
So it is important to understand this and see your own nature. It is not necessary to play the role of a woman 24 hours of the day. There are certain situations where you play the role of a woman. Rest of the time, you don’t have to be a woman. You neither have to be a man nor a woman. If you are sitting as a man or a woman, you are never free.
People are saying that women will be free if she becomes sexually free. This is what the Western women believe. By becoming sexually free, she has become even more entangled than ever before. Now even if she is 50 or 60, she still has to woo the men all the time. When she was 18, she got all the attention. At 50, you won’t get the same attention. Now you have to run after somebody all the time.
As long as one is experiencing themselves as a physical body, the bondage is simply inescapable. Only when people begin to experience themselves as something more than the physical body, only then there is freedom. The whole spiritual process, the whole yogic science is just about this – whether you are a man or a woman, to help you to experience the self beyond the limitations of your physical body. And that is where the freedom is. It is not by becoming sexually free that somebody will become free. If you become free from your sexes, only then you are free. A man or woman cannot become absolutely free, One beyond the identity of gender is free.
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.