An interview with the Indian yogi, mystic and founder of the Isha Foundation.
Questioner: Today we see so many kinds of yoga. But what is yoga in its true sense?
Sadhguru: In this part of the world, if you utter the word “yoga,” people think of impossible physical postures. This is a very distorted idea of what yoga is. The word “yoga” literally means “union.” What does union mean? Today, it is a scientific fact that the physical sciences have proved beyond any doubt, that the whole existence is just one energy manifesting itself in a million different ways. For ages, the religions of the world have been saying, “God is everywhere.” Whether you say “God is everywhere” or “Everything is one energy,” it is not different. It is the same reality expressed in two different ways. So, if you can experience the whole existence as yourself then you are in yoga.
Many people initially come to yoga because it offers many health benefits and relief from stress-related problems. Yoga definitely creates big positive changes in people’s physicality and mentality, but these are only the side-effects of yoga. The real thing about yoga is, it is an exact science and a properly charted-out technology as to how you can move from one dimension of existence to another, from one level of experience of life to another. Yoga is to engineer your system in such a way that it moves towards its ultimate possibility.
But today, yoga is being used as a cure for a headache or a backache or whatever else. It is a sacrilege because what can take you to great heights, it’s being used just for menial things. Suppose I gave you an airplane and you didn’t know what it was—you knew only cars. There are these two ugly things that are hitting your buildings and your lamp posts, so you chop off the wings and you drive around, and you are happy. Likewise, you are happy your backache is gone or your thyroid problem is fixed. But a man who knows what it means to fly, when he sees an airplane with chopped off wings, he will cry. Today, when I see the way yoga is being used especially in the West, I feel like crying. What is a tremendous possibility, what could be a ladder to the divine is being used in such a meager way.
Questioner: Looks like yoga is much more profound than we thought. So, how did yoga come into existence? What are its origins?
Sadhguru: In the very famous Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code it is mentioned that yoga is a Buddhist stretching exercise. When I read this, I thought this is absurd, because yogic practices have existed for thousands of years. It is not far away before people start writing books saying yoga was invented by Madonna or that it started in Los Angeles—because there are more yoga studios per square mile in L.A. than anywhere else, so it must have started there! If you write ten books like this, that will become the truth in another century.Photo: Sasmita
There is a recorded history in the yogic lore of 12-15,000 years of existence. One person who is largely responsible for this, who is of paramount significance in shaping the human consciousness, is Shiva. In the yogic culture, Shiva is not seen as a god, but as the Adiyogi or the first yogi. If you look at any dimension of spiritual knowledge in any part of the world, in some way you can trace it back to the spine of knowing that Shiva created.
Depending on the level of preparedness of the person sitting in front of him, Shiva expounded various ways to evolve oneself. The first part of Shiva’s teaching was to Parvati, his wife. The second set of yoga teachings was expounded to the Sapta Rishis, or the first seven sages. This happened at the banks of Kantisarovar at Kedarnath, India. This is where the world’s first yoga program happened.
So it is Adiyogi who brought the idea into the human mind that a human being can evolve beyond his present dimension of existence. You don’t have to wait for a million years to evolve. If you are willing, you can evolve today, if you do certain things about your own mechanism. This possibility and this knowing, this knowledge, this know-how is most significant, it is the greatest contribution that has happened to human existence on this planet.
Questioner: Can you elaborate on the culture of India , creating consecrated spaces and what it has to do with helping us evolve?
Sadhguru: The only culture in the world which is truly a godless culture is India. Everywhere else, people believe we are God’s creations. This is a culture where we have always known the science and technology of god making—creating different forms for different kinds of uses. It is from this basic science of being able to consecrate powerful forms that you see hundreds of gods in India.
Consecration is a live process. If you transform mud into food, we call this agriculture. If you make food into flesh and bone, we call this digestion. If you make flesh into mud, we call this cremation. If you can make this flesh or even a stone or an empty space into a divine possibility, that is called consecration.
You can produce individual human beings carrying phenomenal sense of energy and intellect and capability if you create large consecrated spaces where the whole generation of people are in touch with that kind of energy and space.
I can consecrate spaces, forms. I can even consecrate people. Here and there one space we are consecrating , but if I am given the necessary support and situation I could consecrate the whole planet—that is my intention. It’s my dream someday the humanity should live in consecrated spaces. Wherever you spend time, those spaces must be consecrated; there is a certain beauty. Your evolution need not stick to Darwinian scale; you can simply leapfrog and go if you live in a consecrated space.
Questioner: According to you, what is the “need of the hour” in the world right now?
Sadhguru: Today, the most important work on the planet is to raise human consciousness. We are at a certain significant time in human history because for the first time, as humanity, we have the necessary capability, technology and resources to solve almost every fundamental human problem like nourishment, health and education. The only thing that is missing is human consciousness—human beings are not in place. If human beings get into the right space within themselves, every other solution is right at hand.
My intention is if we can make one percent of the population truly meditative the remaining ninety-nine percent will not be a problem; this one percent is powerful enough to transform the whole society. If we can get one percent of the population to become meditative on the planet, miraculous things will happen in the social situations—we will have a different kind of world to live in.
About Sadhguru: Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru has addressed prominent global forums on issues as diverse as socio-economic development, leadership and spirituality. He has served as delegate to the United Nations Millennium Peace Summit and the World Peace Congress and has been a special invitee to the World Economic Forum, TED, Dartmouth’s Business School, Microsoft and other conferences.
A yogi and visionary humanitarian of our times, Sadhguru works tirelessly towards the physical, mental and inner well-being of all. The author of more than 50 books, he has been featured by the New York Times, Huffington Post, CNBC, BBC, Detroit News, PBS, CNN International and others and frequently draws crowds of more than 300,000 to his events.
Editor: Malin Bergman
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