“Leave your belief systems at the door with your shoes when you enter the room….” In typical Sadhguru style, the words were uttered with a smile that acknowledged the enormity of the request within so simple a sentence. I peered at him, floundering as I considered dropping the ways of thinking that maintained my version of the world in the shape that made sense to me. He might as well have asked me to drop my personality in the corner of the room, which as impossible as it seemed, stirred a surprising longing within me to know what lay beneath.
In that brief moment, Sadhguru had suspended reality as I knew it, and offered me a glimpse of another dimension of experience. I didn’t know what was there beyond the grasp of my mind and the veil of my perceptions, but in that instant I knew that I craved connection with whatever ‘that’ was more than anything else in the world.
For those of us who can manoeuvre around the western belief that the fastest way to grow is by doing it all ourselves, a living Guru is a blessing. It’s not that I doubt that we have the answers within us or that we can do it alone, it’s more that we are running out of time to turn our world around and that a living spiritual navigator can offer vital short cuts to collective awakening. Signposts and maps may show another way to go, but we still have to do the walking ourselves.
Sadhguru is a thoroughly modern Mystic. For one thing, his enlightenment was entirely free from the teachings or scriptures of previous Yogis. “Sadh” means “the one who knows out of his own experience” so the very fact of him is a pathway of permission and possibility for the rest of us at a time in human history when a quantum leap in human consciousness is more needed than ever.
His teaching also follows this formula; true knowledge being born of embodied experience, not of reading, discussion or imagination. If you want to understand who you really are, Sadhguru will not give you answers that sit outside the realm of your own direct experience; instead he will give you a map in the form of ancient yogic tools or practices and tell you to go and find yourself, knowing that the map will inevitably take you where you want to go.
Sadhguru teaches Yoga as a life path, a multi-levelled map and a science that has outcomes based on specific ingredients or actions. “If you do A, B and C with this level of intensity, D will eventually happen.” He laughingly points out that animals do almost everything better than we do within the physical domain, as a way of highlighting the fact that human beings are built for something far more subtle than merely eating, sleeping, mating and dying. He also explains our over-consumption of just about everything as a misdirected spiritual longing to experience our own immensity. As subtle beings overly identified with the material world, it is easy to see how the spiritual impulse for expansion could be confused with the need for bigger, better, faster, more….none of which ever really scratches the metaphorical itch or longing that we have to experience ourselves as we really are.
Another aspect of Sadhguru’s accessibility is that he includes all the challenges of modern day life into the spiritual path. He laughingly describes his “undercover Yogi’s” out in the modern world as an embodiment of a spirituality that is as grounded in office blocks as it is in caves, inviting us all to move from analysis of life’s circumstances, into acceptance and inclusion of everything as part of our personal growth. “You cannot determine the circumstances you live in; but, you can decide how to be in any circumstance that you are in.”
One of the fastest paths of growth mapped out by Sadhguru, is that of volunteering; selflessness and willingness being profound accelerants on the path to self knowledge. He teaches that to truly know life, we have to be able to respond to it, changing forever my relationship with the word “responsibility”, from what was a sense of duty, to one of gratitude and interconnectedness. When I take on being responsible for all life, rather than for seemingly manageable fragments, an immediate sense of relaxation, expansion and connectedness replaces overwhelm, and I find myself willing to simply do what ever is needed without thought for recompense. In the same way that selfishness excludes, constricts and separates, generosity includes, expands and connects; it can feel like being rewired back into the main frame of life with an increased feeling of care for, and intimacy with all things.
Village by village, Sadhguru has been seeding this culture of generosity and compassion throughout the rural populations of Tamil Nadu for 25 years. In 1992 he founded The Isha Foundation, an entirely volunteer-run, international non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating human potential. The Foundation is operated by over 250,000 volunteers from more than 150 city-based centres spread worldwide but it is impossible to count the actual number of volunteers that are embodying the Isha teachings. In 2006 well over a million volunteers helped the Isha initiative Project GreenHands to break the Guinness Book World Record through planting over 850,000 trees in a single day. Many thousands more people are taking programmes in the USA, UK, Singapore and India every week; every person, no matter what race, age or sector of society encouraged to look within themselves to find what is authentically theirs to give. “How deeply you touch another life is how rich your life is.”
Isha has already touched and transformed millions of lives. Sadhguru’s own innate sense of inclusiveness has lead inevitably to the creation of multiple social and environmental initiatives designed to lift people out of suffering. Project GreenHands has facilitated the planting of 7.1 million trees within 4 years through environmental education, community involvement and the adoption of organic agro-forestry to reverse desertification and alleviate poverty. Social outreach through Action for Rural Rejuvenation (ARR) has taken Mobile Health Centres into thousands of remote villages in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, dispensing free medicine, health education and yogic health care as well as establishing libraries, computer centres, gymnasiums, yoga centres, playgrounds and herbal gardens. For the children, Sadhguru’s initiative Isha Vidhya is planning to build 206 new schools to enable rural children to participate in the growth of the Indian economy, as well as growing his own “Home School” at the Ashram. Every initiative from prison programmes to tsunami rehabilitation is underpinned with respect for all, generosity of spirit and ways of doing and being that inevitably reignite hope and the desire to engage with life.
While Isha programmes are structured to prepare one physically, emotionally and mentally for a spiritual deepening, Sadhguru has created an energy form called the Dhyanalinga that offers a profound short cut to spontaneous states of meditation without previous experience or preparation. Considered the distilled essence of yogic science, the Dhyanalinga is the largest mercury based live linga in the world and the first to be successfully consecrated in over 2000 years. The granite and mercury form enshrines an energy center of tremendous proportions, with all seven chakras energized to the very peak and locked in a way that prevents energetic dissipation over time. Within the temple at the foot of the Velliangiri Mountains, Sadhguru has created a doorway to enlightenment and spiritual liberation for humanity that will outlive him by thousands of years.
Whether speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Tallberg Forum in Sweden, the United Nations Millennium Peace Summit or the World Peace Congress, Sadhguru’s vision and understanding of modern social and economic issues are increasingly being sought and heeded. That this astonishing force of nature with his wild sense of humour, piercing logic and limitless energy is also working with the leadership of our planet brings an increased sense of possibility and hope at this extraordinary time for humanity.
This article was written by Clare Dakin, UK Co-ordinator for Project GreenHands, the primary environmental initiative of the Isha Foundation.
For information about programmes or retreats with Sadhguru see www.ishafoundation.org
For next day delivery of Midnights with the Mystic go to www.deep-books.co.uk (best seller on Amazon.com)