Book review – Emotion and Relationships by Sadhguru

Disclaimer – Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book(s) in return for a honest review.

Relationships and Emotion written by Sadhguru, are two books in one volume. It is a good combination because you can’t have relationships without emotion and vice versa. These books are for people who want to live their life free from the tyranny of emotions which make and break our relationships.

I didn’t know much about Sadhguru​ or his philosophy before these books came my way.  These books questioned and shattered some illusions I had all my life​. I wasn’t willing to part with them because there is comfort in the familiar but they don’t work for me so it’s time to let them go.

Relationships – Bond or Bondage

We are all a little less rational (or not at all) when it comes to our emotions and how we conduct our relationships. Life amounts to nothing without the connections we have forged and yet we struggle with them. In the introduction he talks about how easily bond can become bondage. So with that thought I delved into the book and got some surprising insights. The book is mostly in question and answer format which makes it relatable to the masses since most of us are looking for answers to the same questions.

In the first chapter, Within Four Walls, Sadhguru talks about love, the nature of romantic relationships, marriage, reproduction and parenting. He also talks about the nature of bondage in each scenario and the level of detachment needed to live in this world with joy. 

The reason why you go into love is because it is supposed to bring you blissfulness. Love is not the goal; blissfulness is the goal.

Sadhguru denounces the idea of perfection in any sphere of life related to the material world.

You life will become wasteful and fanciful if you seek such things.

The second chapter named Friend or Foe is a misnomer because he talks not only about what friendship means and who is a true friend, but also about who’s a leader and what is leadership. Through a story he aptly shows that friendship cannot be sustained if it’s superficial and built only on commonality. Haven’t we all experienced it – losing ‘friends’ as soon as we changed schools, colleges, workplaces, cities and realized that there’s connecting us together?

In Cosmic Connect, the cyclical nature of life is discussed when a question is asked why the same emotion, situation, pattern keeps on repeating in our lives. He explains the cyclical nature of life and how we go about it depends on what we want from life. 

Cyclical movement is the basis of everything that you call physical in the universe. 

In the last chapter Beyond Life and Death​ he asks us why we crave relationships. I appreciate Sadhguru saying that some people won’t be able to function to their optimum if they are not bound by a relationship. He also states that different people have different needs and marriage or an intimate relationship might not work for everyone.

I understood the nature of time and space because of the way we relate to our bodies, and how it relates to life and death but didn’t understand the difference between intelligence and intellect the way Sadhguru explained it.

He talks about energy based bonds which transcend life, like the one between master and disciple.

All other relationships come together for convenience. Once it is over, it just breaks apart.

Emotion – The Juice of Life

In the first chapter, Of Madness and Beauty, Sadhguru tells us to treat our emotions as a gateway to beauty but when given a free rein the same emotions give rise to madness. People say something is a problem when they have trouble dealing with it; like when emotions run amok in wild abandon like an untamed beast and we don’t know what to do.

In the second chapter, Paying Attention to the Root, I was fascinated by the question about artists delving into misery to stir deep emotions and if there’s joy in misery. He answers the question simply :

Unfortunately for most human beings, the deepest experience in their life is pain. There is no depth to their joy, love or peace. It is all on the surface and so fragile. Their pain, however is enduring and deep. 

A question is asked about depression being prevalent all around and it being a natural emotion. Sadhguru denies and explains as children we were all joyful but we have become world weary adults. He explains why depression happens :

Whenever people are unable to handle life outside, they try to curtail their life and withdraw. Depression means somewhere a hopelessness has set in. 

From a Horror to a Flower is an odd name for a chapter, I thought. I don’t agree with some of his explanations but the one about attachment spoke to me. Sadhguru says if you get easily attached that means it is your true nature. What do we achieve by denying who we really are and running in the opposite direction, I wonder.

In the final chapter, Breaking the Barriers, he talks about peace, love and devotion, expressing happiness, and bliss being our natural state. He beautifully explains love and devotion and how the latter cannot really exist without the former. He also talks about the difference between compassion and kindness which I didn’t quite understand.

Our life is spent in the pursuit of happiness but we make our happiness conditional which is a problem. Peace doesn’t depend on external factors because they are anyway beyond our control but we can control our internal state. He asks us not to be enslaved to the former and get dejected. He says time and again that we can be joyful by ourselves.

There were some scientific facts which as a student of science I could not wrap my head around and I found the use of the words ‘hell’ and ‘hobo’ in the books jarring. I think the books would reach a wider audience if they had different covers. Most people assume any kind of spiritual guru with religious overtones and stay away from them because of preconceived notions even when they are in dire need of it.

Sadhguru makes the philosophy of life accessible to the common (wo)man and I am grateful for the different perspectives it offered. The light conversational tone of the books gets the message across to the readers even though the topics discussed are weighty. I have marked many lines in the books to take a look at them in the future. Things which are profound take time to be assimilated into our beings, and only then comes the application part, which as we all know is easier said than done.

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