There was a time, about 500 years ago, when everyone wanted to come to India. Vasco da Gama, Columbus... thousands of ships set off, taking enormous risks. They wanted to come to India somehow because it was the richest economy on the planet. In the past 250 years, we went down, really down. Back then, everybody wanted to come here. Now, everybody wants to leave.
Once again, it is time we make it in such a way that everyone wants to come here. How we conduct ourselves is what will decide whether someone wants to come to this country or run away from it. We must create a situation where people want to come. We need to spread a culture: from simple things like how you park your footwear to how you walk and drive on the street, how you speak to people... if these things alter, then people will want to come. We need to make that happen. If people stay here as they cannot go anywhere – that’s a prison. If everyone wants to come in, that’s a home, that’s a nation.
Today, society is in transition, moving from one level of economics to another. This is going to happen dramatically in the next few years. We hope it is going to penetrate into the rural areas, and it will. If we facilitate it, it will happen very well. If we do not facilitate it, it will happen forcefully and painfully, but it will anyway happen.
The monetary systems and investment processes in the world used to bypass India because they were afraid of us—of our corruption, our inefficiency, our way of goofing things up and not completing many things we start. That image is changing dramatically and the money markets are moving towards India now, and you will see things changing very, very rapidly. This is bound to happen.
When the financial situation changes, we must also be ready for very dramatic cultural changes in society. Along with financial freedom, the fundamentals of a particular culture always change. When every individual gets the choice to do whatever he wants to do, it is extremely important that we empower that individual with the necessary awareness to make the right choices. For most societies, a scourge of problems came along with economic affluence because the necessary awareness was missing in individual people to make the right choices.
Instead of economic progress bringing well-being to humanity, generally, one generation of that nation or society suffers from uncertainty, unable to make the right choices.
The United States, for example, is the most affluent country on the planet right now. During the 1930s, they went through a very bad depression where even food became a problem for the citizens. Then World War II came, and that was a great upheaval which took millions of people away. The generation after the war worked really hard and got the country back on the rails. In the 1960s, economic upsurge happened, but that generation of people made all the wrong choices and for about 15-20 years, the volume of indulgence in drugs, alcohol and other things threw society off track and almost derailed the whole nation. Then again from the 1970s to 1980s, they recovered.
The spiritual process is one way of ensuring that people have the necessary awareness to make the right choices. When affluence comes, they won’t lose their head. This is very important. Poverty is a horrible problem. But the moment they get out of it, a lot of people tend to lose their head and get into a different kind of problem. We would like to see that the economic upsurge that is happening in the nation is enjoyed by people because this is a starved population, starved for everything.
Economic work is happening in a big way; it is moving in the right direction. But what has to happen in the country on the cultural, social and individual level, and consciousness-wise, has to happen at an equal pace, if not at a faster pace. If it doesn’t happen, good economics will bring more pain than well-being.
We have to make it so that everyone who walks on the street walks with a little more awareness and concern for the person who is next to him. Just quietly, everyone must constantly be aware that this needs to happen. Wherever you are, you must be constantly conscious. Every activity that you do, you must see that this should spread. Then the world would be a different place. People need to begin to think a little more clearly, with a little more focus. It is most essential that their thinking is not influenced by their caste, creed or religion. They must think straight. The spiritual process becomes a powerful tool in making this happen.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is a yogi and founder of Isha Foundation.