Now this question of man and woman being superior or inferior comes up only when people are living with the ignorance of being completely identified with the physical body. I would like to see that people look at themselves as human beings, not as men or women. It is only at certain moments in your life that you need to be a man or a woman to play a certain role. You don’t have to carry your gender on the street all the time. It is not necessary. Carrying your identification either as a man or a woman is a sexual identification, it is just identifying yourself with a few limited body parts. That is all it means. If you must identify with body parts at least try the brains.
If this exploitation of the woman has to stop anywhere in the world, the work is not with the society. The work is within the woman itself. In many ways, except for a small segment of population who are educated and have their own ways of being, many women have just been looked down upon. One main reason is, somewhere in man’s mind, a woman is seen as cheap. Somewhere deep inside the man’s psyche, it is there if you just buy the wife a gift, everything will be okay. You naturally look down upon any human being you see aspiring for trinkets. Unfortunately, right now, a whole section of women have either willingly or been culturally guided to seek only such things. The culture, religion and the social situations have been molding women to seek only for trinkets, not for anything higher than that.
If a woman doesn’t break away from that mold of thinking, if she does not start seeking the highest possibilities of life, the fight will not bring respect. By fighting, you will not gain respect. It is only by evolving yourself that one will gain respect. And if respect is not there, freedom will be an unnatural situation. It will not happen. So whether it is a man or a woman, the most fundamental thing that needs to happen is not to identify themselves with the limitations of their bodies, but looking beyond that.
In India, in the ancient past, especially in the spiritual aspects of life, man and woman lived as absolute equals. If one gets a spiritual urge, he or she could dissolve the family and go. Whether it was a man or a woman, they could seek, because the understanding was that once a person starts seeking the highest, they must be given all freedom. The spiritual process means your seeking is beyond the body.
There is a beautiful story about Maitreyi. Maitreyi is just one of the great women that we have heard of – there have been many in the Yogic lore. When Yagnavalkya and Maitreyi got married, it came to a point when Yagnavalkya felt that this relationship and closeness was binding him, and he wanted to seek the highest. He said, “I will give away everything that I have to you.” They were still in a good relationship, a loving relationship. “Everything that I have, I will give to you. Please release me. I’m going to seek the highest.” Then she immediately said, “If you are going to seek the highest, what makes you think I will settle for these trinkets of your property, your house and this nonsense. I will also seek the highest.”
Only if a woman is like this, that she is also seeking the highest, the question of fighting for freedom doesn’t arise. There is no need for any fighting for freedom. Socially, yes, some fight is needed. Something needs to be done because established factors are there which needs to be changed. But as a woman, within yourself, there is no need to identify yourself as a woman. Walk on the street as a human being.
As long as one is experiencing themselves as a physical body, the bondage is simply inescapable. Only when people begin to experience themselves as something more than the physical body, only then there is freedom. The whole spiritual process, the whole yogic science is just about this – whether you are a man or a woman, to help you to experience the self beyond the limitations of your physical body. And that is where the freedom is. It is not by becoming sexually free that somebody will become free. If you become free from your sexes, only then you are free. A man or woman cannot become absolutely free, one beyond the identity of gender is free.
(Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author)