Q: Sadhguru, what is the difference between devotion and addiction? In devotion also, one is in a state where he cannot live without his object of devotion. So what is the difference?
Sadhguru: Addiction is usually to substances. Devotion is towards something that you hold. You can only be devout towards something that you hold way above yourself. Devotion cannot be practiced. It cannot be cultivated or cultured. When you are overwhelmed by something or somebody, naturally devotion comes. Once you see something or somebody way above yourself, far beyond yourself, then it is very natural. Addiction comes because you taste something and you like the experience of it. You want to do it little more and little more, after some time you are trapped in it.
This question of devotion or addiction coming together because both of them create a pleasant or ecstatic experience within the person who is involved in it. People get addicted to something because the experience is strong. People get addicted to tobacco, coffee, alcohol, various kinds of drugs because it is creating some pleasant experience for them. If it caused pain, if it put them off, they wouldn’t get addicted to it.
Devotion and addiction are only connected to the level of experience, nowhere else. You should not even look at them together, but in terms of experience, they have a common ground. Both of them create an extremely pleasant experience. What devotion means is that your emotions have become very sweet. A devotee may look like a madman to somebody else. For an intellectual person, the ways of the devotee may look utterly foolish. But you tell me, if you can spend 24 hours in utter pleasantness, is that intelligence? Or going through all kinds of turmoil in your mind that has nothing to do with the reality, is that intelligence? You have this choice in your life.
A devotee is very intelligent. There is a profound sense of life involved in it. He has understood that ultimately the most important thing is, if you make the experience of life totally pleasant, nothing will entangle you. Everything will release you. It may look silly for an intellectual person, but there is a very deep sense of intelligence involved.
Devotion also causes ecstasy. Today, tablets are also labelled ecstasy. If there was a drug that you can take and be ecstatic for the rest of your life, what is the problem, let’s take it. But the problem is that it just gets you high for some time, then dumps you in such a bad way and in the process ruins you completely. If your intelligence still functions and it enhances you in every way, I don’t see what’s wrong with drugs. But that’s not what the drug does.
With drugs and addiction, both the body and the mind shrink. The physical capabilities will shrink and the mental capabilities will shrink. As a human being, you are not enhanced, you are destroyed. However, devotion makes you hugely enhanced. You can do things that you never thought you could because there is no limitation on you.
Addiction shrinks you, devotion enhances you. Both of them could be pleasant experiences. Addiction can give you moments of pleasantness. Devotion gives you a constant sense of pleasantness, but the most important thing is that it enhances you, expands you, and makes you
all-inclusive. Addiction pushes you to a corner, makes you totally exclusive to a point where most people become neurotic or broken with anxiety and depression. So one enhances you, another destroys you. That’s a big difference.
Ranked amongst the 50 most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the ‘Padma Vibhushan’ by the Government of India in 2017. http://isha.sadhguru.org