Sadhguru in conversation with Sanjoy K.Roy
By Jules Evans, Official ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2017 Guest Blogger
We have 20 years to save the world from an epidemic of mood-altering chemicals. This was the stirring message of Sadhguru, the yoga guru and author of Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy, speaking at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival.
Sadhguru, who runs the Isha Foundation and travels the world teaching yoga, suggests humanity is facing an existential crisis. ‘Human intellect is firing like never before. This is why people are suffering. They have to think for themselves, not rely on scripture or a guru.’
Humans are still yearning to go beyond ‘the cage of themselves’, and are searching for ways to find ‘something more’, including via alcohol and drugs. ‘The drunkard, the addict and the devotee are all seeking ways to break the limits of their individuality.’
The question, Sadhguru suggested, is whether the means people find to transcend their selves are helpful or toxic. ‘We need methods which are scientific and logical to take people to peaks in themselves’, he said. For him, yoga is the best method. ‘Yoga means union – you have successfully obliterated the boundaries of your individuality.’
If we fail to find scientific, logical and healthy ways to transcend the self, Sadhguru warned, then ‘in 50 years, 90% of people will use chemicals to medicate their experience.’
Reflecting on his path to becoming a guru, Sadhguru remembered an early spiritual experience, after driving his motorbike around Karnataka. ‘When I was 19, I drove up a hill outside Mysore. I sat at the top of the hill. And suddenly I didn’t know what is me and what is not me. The rock, the air, the entire space had become me. Every cell in my body was bursting with ecstasy.’
This sort of ecstatic experience, he suggested, is within all our capability. ‘I wanted to make the entire world ecstatic. Thirty five years later, it hasn’t happened. But there is still a plan. If our organisms are properly aligned, the entire cosmos dances within you in ecstasy. This experience is open to everyone.’
Appropriately for a biker-guru, Sadhguru liked to draw on mechanical metaphors: ‘The most important thing is to engineer yourself. If the human machine over-revs, it will get exhausted. If it is well aligned and lubricated, it will be friction-free.’
Yoga is enjoying a boom in popularity both in the West and in India, where prime minister Nahendra Modi recently declared an International Day of Yoga, and wants to make it compulsory in Indian schools. But some yoga teachers worry that it’s becoming a fad, detached from its spiritual roots.
Sadhguru said: ‘There are some unqualified manifestations of yoga today. That does not worry me, it’s inevitable in the evolution of yoga. But it needs to be practiced with a certain level of dedication and devotion. You need to make it work in your life before you teach it to others.’
In India, yoga is not just spirituality and big business, it’s also quite political, with leading gurus often actively involved in politics. Sadhguru insisted on the need for populations to accept democratically-elected governments, otherwise ‘there will be slaughter in the streets’.
Photo Credit: Rajendra Kapoor