CB Insights, a startup tracker says that less than 1% of venture-backed companies end up as enduring billion-dollar businesses.
Silicon Valley is known for innovation. Innovation delivered by 1% of all the businesses started, which actually do succeed. 99% fail. Yet, those 99% do NOT define Silicon Valley. That place and ethos focuses on creating a system for experimentation to do what no other place can do. Create world-beating innovative giants. Hewlett Packard. IBM. Google. Facebook. Twitter. The list is endless. But even longer, far longer is the list of those companies which failed and failed spectacularly! And, not just one or two but 99% of them!
If Silicon Valley is known for path-breaking work in technology, then India has been known in history for path-breaking work in Inner technology. Spirituality. Just as innovation in business is thegift of an ethos of spectacular and majority failed businesses, Spirituality is the gift of experimentation in the seeking of inner dimension.
Mansoor-al-Hallaj was a strange Sufi for his age and place. After his travels to India, he is said to have gone back and made pronouncements which made him very unpopular. He proclaimed Ana ‘l-Haqq or “I am the Truth”. That was enough to get him persecuted.
Just like Mansoor, Jesus was another casualty of his time and era because of what he said and sermoned.
Just sermons, that didn’t align with the world of their times were enough to get most people executed. In the Christian era, millions of women were burnt at the stake because they were considered witches for the spiritual work they were doing.
In India however, every hue of Spiritual work was not just welcomed but revered. Buddha talked against the priests of his day. His teachings could have been construed to be against Hinduism. Yet, for most Hindus, he was the 9th Avatar of Vishnu.
Buddha, Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharishi, the Jain tirthankars (including Mahavir) and those who walked nude in public, the Aghoris, the Nagas and many many others. All these did things that no other society could have tolerated. In India, they were accepted. Nay, revered!
For a few amazingly fierce Aghoris, many terrible cannibals would have taken up that route for their own fetishes. But that did not trivialize the work of few amazing beings. No one was persecuted. And that was the key.
Nirmal Babas and self-seeking people donning the cloak of Gurus is not a new thing. It has happened in the past. It will always happen. Because that is the nature of an environment of innovation. Specifically in an area that normal people know little of. Was Steve Jobs way the right way? Everyone at that time thought he was a failure in life. Was he radical? Yes. But even though many did not understand him, what he delivered will set standards for centuries in technology. What Ramakrishna or a Ramana Maharishi did was not common. No one could certify it as correct or incorrect. People – common people – did not have the wherewithal for it. Those who had knew them well without ever having met them.
But they also knew those who were failing their disciples. Yet, they didn’t bring them down. Why?
Because it is not about one person. Or millions of people who are masquerading as Spiritual for their own ends. It is about the system!! It is about the ethos!
An ethos which ACCEPTS and not PERSECUTES.
Make no mistake – it is ONLY because millions of Nirmal Babas are not persecuted, that Nanaks and Buddhas also can thrive. It is because Nirmal Babas are accepted that Nanak and Buddhas are also accepted.
For, those who persecute cannot make a distinction between a Nirmal Baba and Nanak. They do not have the capability to do so. So, they would go with their tendencies. A culture built on persecuting tendencies will always stymie experimentation. That culture will only persecute Mansoors. It cannot help create Nanaks and Buddhas.
Because it is a system thing. Not an individual thing. I do not know of a single venture capital guy in history who knew EXACTLY which guy or idea would be the next billion dollar success. Despite the best MBA and tech education and work. Ask Vinod Khosla, for example, on his spectacular Biofuel failure!!
Spirituality is far tougher. Those assessing have no experience of it. And there are no schools which can help you analyze.
Yes, many fail us. Yes, many innocents are duped. But in spiritual journey, you get where you are. You cannot choose a Guru. It is beyond you and I. Or anyone. It is our quest and seeking for the truth – or whatever our tendencies push us for – that we get the Guide we need. Guru, even Krishna, can and could do nothing for those who were not ready.
Many Hindus today – taken in by the narrative set by forces that may want Indian culture to be subverted – rant against the Gurus. After just reading a chapter or two of Gita. As if that makes them competent to analyze someone on Spiritual path.
For those Hindus, I suggest a test. Go to a public place and look around. And ask yourself. If Krishna was here, how would I know?
For, Krishna wasn’t his dress and certainly not his body, which he anyway said was temporary. He was his consciousness. What wherewithal do you have to spot a consciousness of Krishna in the milieu of the public place you are in?
Let me challenge you to another thing. Vrindavan is said to be the place where Krishna’s utmost work happened in his greatest innocence. His consciousness would still be there in many temples. He would have ensured that. Go there and sit and see if you have been enlightened. If not, then please see that Krishna himself could do nothing of you.
Go to Kailash. Many Yogis have said that it is Shiva himself. In fact some could not place their foot on that soil because of that. Sit there. If you come back unenlightened, know that even Shiva could do nothing of you!
That is how base and unprepared your own consciousness is right now. How will such consciousness ever recognize one of Krishna’s or Shiva’s?
And, please remember that outside of Vrindavan, only a handful ever recognized Krishna for what he was. Actually, over a 100,000 fought against him! Are you sure that if you were living then, you wouldn’t have been amongst those who fought him? If such a war happened today, what do you have with you to know which side is Krishna fighting from?
How do you recognize in a bazaar who Krishna is?! That, my friends, is the most troubling question anyone on Spiritual Path can ask of himself or herself. You can use anyone – Nanak, Buddha, Vivekananda, Jesus, anyone given your reverence. But how would you know of anyone’s consciousness?
And, so many are out there making pronouncements on Spiritual Gurus in India. Those who don’t even know what Yellow color looks like are trying to certify Yellow Rooms! This is a culture which revers Parshurama as an enlightened soul. So was Buddha. Both, completely different in temperament. Yet enlightened.
This is a culture where Ram, one who lived within every rule of the society, is said for have worshipped Shiva, one who shunned the society. And Shiva is said to have revered Ram.
Once in an event in Houston, Sadhguru held a talk and used words like Hell, Bullshit etc. Some people complained how can someone who uses such words be a “role model”. I was compelled to ask one of those who complained – Buddha left his wife and infant son in the middle of the night and is said to have stayed with a prostitute for some time. Nanak left his sons and wife to go preaching the world over for 36 years. Meera left her husband and sang praises and love songs for someone else. “Whose role model would you want your spouse to follow?”
It is easy to rever Nanak today. But his own sons shunned him. It is easy to rever Buddha today. But his own wife hated him. It is easy to love Krishna today, but if he was in your street and your wife, daughter and mother – all were in love with him, you would not want to love him at all!
If Meera was your wife, you wouldn’t do any better than Rana himself.
It is but very easy today to sit in pronouncements on Sri Sri Ravishankar or Sadhguru or Baba Ramdev. No, all of the Gurus today aren’t of the same caliber. They never were and never will be. No two Silicon Valley successes were similar. That is how it works. You learn from one you can. The journey inside is difficult and requires utter ruthlessness of truth.
Doing it yourself is not easy. Anyone who says he became enlightened without a Guru – is either Shiva himself, or he is lying or worse hallucinating! Everyone else needs someone to show you the way.
Indian ethos and culture is what it is – an Open Source Spiritual platform – because of our ability to accept the millions of Nirmal Babas to get one Nanak. When we take away the space for work of the Nirmal Babas, we also make it impossible for Nanak to be born here. Be very clear about the stakes next time you go about asking for some Guru’s blood. Do you want to live in Silicon Valley of Spirituality or Saudi Arabia of Spirituality? The stakes are enormous. Choose your words and actions very very carefully.