Musings of Guru Jaggi Vasudev

Spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev talks about the true nature of intelligence and the pitfalls of success

Updated: Oct 3, 2011 04:46:30 PM IST
Musings of Guru Jaggi Vasudev
Image: Mallikarjun Katakol for Forbes India
Jaggi Vasudev, Mystic and founder of Isha Foundation

NAME: Jaggi Vasudev
CALLING: Mystic and founder of Isha Foundation
HE SAYS: Moments of extreme logic are moments of suicide; people commit suicide in instalments. Extremely logical people can barely smile or laugh. The more logical they get, the less alive they become.


I had no idea who he was until Tuck School professor Vijay Govindarajan told me about him a few years ago. It was in the context of a learning trip to India for the executive MBA students he shepherded every winter. While explaining to me the structure of the programme, he mentioned a session the students always had with a mystic named Jaggi Vasudev. “The Guru who rides a BMW motorcycle and plays golf,” Vijay told me. Over the years, Jaggi Vasudev’s free-wheeling sessions with returning batches of hard-nosed American executives have become one of the highpoints of the learning programme.

I was intrigued when I heard of him. And I waited until one day Jaggi Vasudev came visiting as I was leaning over the hedge and wondering about the very nature of intelligence. So when he stepped in, I asked him if intelligence is necessarily a good thing.

“I think one distinction we need to make is between intelligence and just intellect,” he says. “When we say intelligence, we often are referring to intellect; to the logical dimension of the intellect. In today’s world, because of the nature of the education that most people receive, unless you are logically correct, it is not recognised as intelligence. If I say something right but logically incorrect, you will drown within yourself. If I say it a second time, you will flinch outwardly. Third time if I say it, you will want to get up and leave: Because illogic as intelligence is unacceptable today. It is because of the nature of the education that most people have received today. Logic is useful to sort material things out. As an example, if you want to know whether to enter this room through the open doorway or through the wall, you need logic. Have you heard the story of Isaac Newton and the cats?”

I am just a gardener. I have never heard that one. So he tells me the story.

“Isaac Newton had a cat,” he says. “When he used to be in the lab, the cat would go out and after he left for the day, it needed to go back in and sleep inside. So Newton cut a hole in the door. Later on, the cat had a litter of kittens. So, he made a smaller hole for the kittens to go in and out, not thinking for a moment that they could also go through the existing hole. His mind was somewhere else totally. He did not realise the illogic in his act.”
I want to know more about illogic.

“Intelligence need not be locked up in one’s logical dimension. In many ways, what is considered illogical turns out to be the smarter thing to do. We have many examples of people in the world of business who succeed because they do not heed so-called logic and go on to build super successful business models. Like Google. But when people start worshipping illogic they also go to ruin. If logic is stabilised, it can be refined. Even crude logic can be refined at different levels. So the whole spiritual process is about refining your logic. At the finest point you realise that even if you refine your logic further, it does not scale any more. At that point, you open up a different level of intelligence to seek another dimension.”

So, I ask, life is not just logic? “The life process is far larger,” he replies. “The logic of life is such that if you logically go about your life, without thinking about the beautiful things in your life and not look at the flowers in the garden, your child’s pretty face, but just get up, get ready, eat, go to work, sleep and then repeat the same routine for the next 50 years, you begin to wonder if it is worth doing.

“Moments of extreme logic are moments of suicide; people commit suicide in instalments. Extremely logical people can barely smile or laugh. The more logical they get, the less alive they become. These people, in the name of becoming logical, become torturous human beings. If they are failures, they are hugely stressed. If they are successful, their head is cracking. Successful people on this planet are actually suffering much more than people who have not succeeded in their lives. That is a misfortune because the reason every human being seeks success is for the dream of wellbeing. But when he gets there, he suffers. That doesn’t sound logical. But nobody seems to be looking at it that way; that is why I said logic has to refine itself.”

Unlike a gardener, a mystic is able to see the future. So now, I ask him to tell me about the rains; about what lies ahead for all of us.

“Years ago, power was essentially in the hands of military leadership. In the last hundred years, it has moved from military leadership to democratically elected political leadership. In the next 10 to 15 years, a significant shift will happen. Power will move into the hands of economic leaders.

“Power is a privilege that some human beings get. So when such a privilege and responsibility is placed in your hands, every action and every thought that it generates, every emotion that you can form, can touch and transform millions of lives. I think the kind of thought you generate, the action that comes out of you, has to be looked at from that perspective.”

A gardener goes nowhere but a mystic must move on. But before he leaves, I have a question for him. How, I want to know, does one build a sense of purpose?

“Transcend the limitations of your small identity. Instead, allow the humanity within you to be stirred up and flower, and you will know the purpose. The very nature of the human being is that he doesn’t like boundaries; he likes to move to a boundless state. That process can be turned on only if the humanity within you is sufficiently on.”

Subroto Bagchi is co-founder & gardener, MindTree and a best-selling author. His brief:  Every fortnight, exchange tales of the road with successful entrepreneurs


(This story appears in the 25 February, 2011 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • V.vijayamohan

    The last part of Sadhguru\'s musings is beautiful and reflects his true message. It is the lesson that every entrepreneur needs to ingrain. Transcend the limitations of your small identity,says Sadhguru - and that is what is reflected in every success story, be it, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, the Ambanis or the TATAs. The only aspect one may add is - if the success of the entrepreneur reflects in some way the whole humanity\'s success, the success is all the more glorious.

    on Nov 24, 2012
  • Karunakar

    being logical always is selfish and boring, at times for no sake and without any reason when we commit to certain actions sooner or later we start realizing that our trajectory had shifted to higher orbit and that there is something more higher than reason which was left unexpressed to liberate you from tedious routine results... in my view being illogical as it happens with us in a natural way leads to a total paradigm shift from the already experienced process of objectivity, cause it leads to our ego surrendering only for no reason and a sense of sacrifice for that is away from the domain of personal belief system. Its a character of transcendental process and that is the bliss which the soul longs for...neverthless logic and reason is a soup for body, mind and senses but not for the soul. thanks to sadhguru and subroto bagchi

    on Mar 12, 2012
  • Bipin Pal

    thank you, its nice to be inspired

    on Dec 31, 2011
  • Bipin

    thanks, we all need inspiration, life is a wonderful event,it becomes more interesting when gurus like jaggi vasudev are there to hold hand

    on Dec 31, 2011
  • Lubna

    Hasn't power always been in the hands of economic leaders? Or perhaps I have failed to understand what Jaggi Vasudev means by this. With power comes responsibility and I do like his viewpoint on this. BTW, perhaps Newton thought that cutting another hole would help, if one cat/kitten wanted to go out and another wanted to go in. I mean crowded rail-way stations have more than one exit, don't they? (OK, I admit it, I need to view this story in a broader sense). Thanks for sharing this discussion with us.

    on Feb 20, 2011
  • V.srinivasan

    Too much logic and perfection on trivial, make us tense and imposing on the illogical, imperfect.

    on Feb 18, 2011
  • Vishwanath

    Every conversation and every discussion of Guru Jaggi Vasudevji is an eye-opener and is thought provoking and this one is no exception. I have often been faced with a situation of not being able to explain my thoughts to "logical" people and here is a great explanation for it. In my view, power is already moved into the hands of economic leaders. We need Gurus like Jaggi Vasudevji to tell us how to bring up values in our day to day life. How do we inculcate the sense of responsbility in the minds of the people with power.

    on Feb 18, 2011
  • Subramani.k (isha Volunteer)

    If our ideas are accepted in a lot we think that we are intelligent and treat it as a logic that works. This forms into a belief system. But equally so, in a set of group which differs with the same idea, it is treated illogical and not workable. Ultimately, being spiritual and successful are two different. For being successful needs various means and methods, shortcuts, convincing etc., But in spirituality you are towards unearthing the truth of your inner self in every human being. This breaks the belief systems that has been conceived by those who were rushing towards success defined by them. Of being spiritual may sound illogical to those whose succeeded in their own way but it cannot the equate the emergence of a holistic inside of a human, which only a spirituality can do. If those running for success can have this inner engineering also done then, they go beyond boundaries and for all I know even beyond their success they aimed at. Pranams and thanks to Sadguru for making us understand this and all for his efforts in making all think on those lines to bring out the human in them at some part of their life. You have opened up the gates for my quest for understanding human life.

    on Feb 16, 2011
  • Pelayo Montoto

    We all know people so wrapped up in their logic that they are missing out on life or "committing suicide in installments". It is difficult, however, to see this in ourselves. To see how by attempting to be "proper" or "logical" we are dead to most of what life is offering us. Spirituality is often deemed illogical and therefore worthless as we try to live our lives logically. One of Sadhguru's greatest gifts to us is his ability to appeal to our logical minds and still help us see the limitations of our logic and the immense possibilities available to us if we can step back and allow the "illogical" to touch us. Thank you, Sadhguru, for making life alive for us in so many ways.

    on Feb 16, 2011
  • Overly Logical For Now

    Makes perfect sense. A challenge to apply, though.

    on Feb 16, 2011
  • Reba

    I can't argue with this logic! I am intrigued by the progression Vasudev gives of power passing from the military to the politicians and soon to the economic leaders. How very important it is then, that MBAs and business leaders take the time to explore the bigger issues beyond the bottom line, concerns such as sustainability, conservation and quality of life for all involved. It's important that our values shift and that it's not simply making the money that is to be praised, but how its earned and how we transform the world into a better place that counts.

    on Feb 16, 2011
  • Navin Jalota

    Most of our lives are wasted applying logic to the illogical things, that essentially is the root cause of our undoing. JAI GURUDEV.

    on Feb 16, 2011
  • Judy Wiggins

    One of the many things I appreciate about Sadhguru is how he sheds light on every area of human existence and is able to break through my "logical" mind to understand life in whole new ways!

    on Feb 15, 2011
  • An_outside_view

    Often you meet people who think spirituality is "illogical" without really understanding what logic is! They have never explored spirituality, they don't understand it, and if you ever question them about the supporting assumptions, they lose patience. So much for their "logic"!

    on Feb 15, 2011
  • Shriram

    mind blowing!!

    on Feb 15, 2011
  • Hari7

    Bang-on! So, evident that dead-logic people are dead-serious always.

    on Feb 15, 2011
Being the Boss
Appraisal: Jaipur Literature Festival 2011