With firm likes and dislikes, you shut your doors to the many possibilities of life.
The social systems train you to create strong likes and dislikes about so many things
Q: Sadhguru, do you have any suggestions to keep the spiritual process on all the time, so that we don’t just do our yoga practice in the morning and then again get caught up with things, people and situations as we go through our day?
Sadhguru: So much has been written, said, and done in the name of spiritual process. It is not something that you have to import into your life from outside. It is something that you are. You are only exploring what is there. Having said that, what is it that does not allow you to explore and to know the nature of your being? It all depends on how entangled you are with the physical and psychological aspects of your life, as well as with your karmic content.The social systems train you to create strong likes and dislikes about so many things.
Your physical framework and your psychological framework depend on what kind of karmic content you have. How deeply you are entrenched in it depends on how deeply you are identified with it. The process of identifying yourself with something is built into your life and the social systems – everywhere in the world, in many different ways. For example, when you were two years of age, you may not have been very sweet, but had your parents not believed that you were a sweetie, they could not have changed your diapers; they could not have taken the screaming and the sleepless nights.
The social systems train you to create strong likes and dislikes about so many things. When you think you are in love with someone, you exaggerate all the good qualities in them. When you hate someone, you exaggerate all the bad qualities in them or invent some. You – as a person, not as a being – are who you are only because of your likes and dislikes. It is your likes and dislikes that determine your personality and distinguish you as a person.
Dropping Your Likes & Dislikes
Starting today, just pick one of your likes and one of your dislikes and, over the course of the month, consciously drop them. Repeat this process every month. Your likes and dislikes are the basis of the falsehood that you have created in the form of your personality. If you stop clinging to them, your personality will vanish ‒ you will become flexible and wonderful.
I do not want you to convert a like into a dislike or vice versa – I want you to drop them.
If you want to hold on to your personality, you cannot be spiritual. To be spiritual means there is no “you” and “me” – there is only life. Life is throbbing in everything. The same life force is in a tree, a worm, an insect, a tiger, a man, or a woman. What kind of form it takes and what kind of behavioral patterns it has is on one level based on likes and dislikes.
There are fundamentals of life within you. It is in your DNA to always want to be something more than what you are right now. But your social training has taught you to always establish strong likes and dislikes. Whether you like or you dislike something, you are limiting yourself. Here and there – maybe in a sathsang, a program, or while doing your practices – you may break some limitations, but then you will establish them again.
In India, there is a tradition that if you go on a pilgrimage, you must leave one thing that you like. Now, I am not even asking you to leave anything. Just within yourself, delete one thing each from your list of likes and dislikes, in the sense that you neither like nor dislike them anymore. You do not have to leave them or avoid them – that would mean in a way disliking them.
If you start disliking what you used to like or liking what you used to dislike, you only change the objects, but beyond that, nothing has really changed. Likewise, if you start disliking the person whom you once liked and liking another person, nothing has changed. You are just jumping from branch to branch like a monkey.
It is easy to dislike what you used to like. Love and hate are related. The people whom you hate are usually those whom you once loved, but at some point, love turned into hatred. You cannot hate a random person on the street, unless you are bigoted based on religious beliefs, racial prejudices, or some such thing. But if you loved someone and they did something that you did not like, you can actively hate them.
I do not want you to convert a like into a dislike or vice versa – I want you to drop them. It will take a whole lot of awareness to do that, but you have a month’s time. Just pick one like and one dislike, work on them, and by the end of the month, they must be dropped. Then pick one more like and one more dislike, and again drop them over the course of a month.
A person, a food item, a certain aspect of yourself – it can be anything. What you need to drop is the idea of liking or disliking this someone or something. Let us say it is a food item – whether you eat it or not is not the point. If someone happens to serve it to you, you eat it. Do not try to like what you dislike or dislike what you like – you would create terrible havoc for yourself.By today evening, start this process of dropping your likes and dislikes, one by one. If you do that every month, within six months’ time, you will see a tremendous transformation in you.
There is a beautiful story from Gautama Buddha’s life. When people are given monkhood – even in Isha, it is so – many guidelines are provided. One simple thing is that you eat whatever appears on your plate without liking or disliking anything. You joyfully eat whatever it is, because you only eat for your nourishment, for no other reason. You neither seek any particular item, nor do you avoid anything.
Similarly, Gautama told his monks not to choose their food but to eat whatever people gave them, and not to eat non-vegetarian food. In India, if someone was on the spiritual path, seeking the ultimate within himself, the whole society used to support that. Distracting or disturbing him in any way was considered the most heinous of acts. Everyone knew that people who are on this kind of path eat only vegetarian foods, and no one would give them non-vegetarian food or anything of that sort.
One day, two of Gautama’s monks went out to beg. It so happened, a crow accidentally dropped a piece of meat that it was carrying, and it landed in one of the monks’ bowl. Immediately, because people always see how not to transform themselves, they took it to Gautama, saying, “You said we should not eat non-vegetarian food. At the same time, you said what comes into our bowl, we must eat. Today, a piece of meat has come into our bowl, because a crow dropped it. What to do.”
Gautama looked at the piece of meat and the two monks. He saw it could have been very simple. Generally, if a crow accidentally drops something, you just have to wait a little, and the crow will come back and pick it up – after all, it is its food. But instead, they started a spiritual debate about it.
Had he said that if someone puts meat into their bowl, they should not eat it and beg for vegetarian food instead, the monks would have started asking for whatever food they liked. So, Gautama said, “Eat it in front of me right now.” All the monks were shocked. He told them to eat whatever came into their bowl, because he thought long-term. How many more times in the next thousand years was it going to happen that a crow drops another piece of meat into a monk’s bowl?
If you want to take real steps on the spiritual path, this is what you need to do, because your likes and dislikes are the fundamentals of establishing your individuality. If you are hung up on your individuality, there is no question of universality. So, by today evening, start this process of dropping your likes and dislikes, one by one. If you do that every month, within six months’ time, you will see a tremendous transformation in you.