Question: Why do natural calamities happen. Is it karma?
Sadhguru: What is a calamity? When something causes a certain level of pain and suffering and disrupts life from its flow in a big way, that is a calamity. In 2004, when the tsunami happened, Isha was among the first to respond. Within about twenty-six hours, we were there with our medical trucks. We were among the first teams there with vaccinations and medical help, food and clothing.
Many thousands of people died. For me, that was not the calamity. For me, those thousands of people’s families who lost their dear ones, who lost their homes, those people who would have sat in the comfort of their home were sitting on the street side – that’s a calamity. Human suffering is a calamity. I don’t think death is a calamity. Death is a natural process.
What are considered as natural calamities – earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis – these are also natural processes that have always been happening on this planet. These natural processes have suddenly become calamities simply because human beings are in the way wherever you go. There is no room for Mother Earth to even stretch herself. If she stretches herself, we call it an earthquake. If she vents her hot air, we call it a volcano. If a big wave comes, we call it a tsunami. All these things are wonderful phenomena in nature. They are very much a part of the evolutionary process of the Earth as a planet, as it rearranges and evolves itself into different states. It is only because of excessive human population on the planet that we think they are calamities.
If you want to understand to what extent this population is excess – at the beginning of twentieth century, we were only 1.6 billion people. Today we are 7.2 billion people. We are projected to become 9.6 billion by 2050. That is the calamity. Population is not God-given. It is produced by us. We had better admit it. So when calamities happen, we must not look up. We must look at ourselves – what we are doing to this world and above all, to ourselves.
Human ignorance, human inability to understand life – the possibilities, limitations and the ultimate nature of life – this ignorance is the biggest calamity. There is only one calamity – that is ignorance. And there is only one solution – that is enlightenment. The only solution is for one to seek to know the nature of life. And there is no other place for him to know than through himself.
What is termed “self-knowledge” is not something that someone seeks in some Himalayan caves. If you want to handle life well, it is important that you know it well. The better you know it, the better you can handle it. If you know this piece of life absolutely from its origin to its ultimate, there will be no calamity in your life. You will be able to go through every stage and every process of life gracefully.