Q and A with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

In Conversation with Kavita Chhibber

Thank you again for the overwhelming response to my continuing conversations with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha foundation. As mentioned earlier every other month we will continue the Q&A session with Sadhguru.

The questions have been reformatted to make better sense. No question is off bounds with Sadhguru and I hope readers will continue to think about life and ask relevant thought provoking questions so others can also learn from the discussion.

Here are the selections for this month.

Q: My cousin sister and her husband were brutally murdered in January, in New York. Their bodies were discovered by their 12 and 13 year old sons when they returned from school. We still have not found the culprits. The older son asked this question of his parents’ spiritual teacher - You say its God’s will.  Fine, but why my parents? - Uma Sharma

When it comes to human society these things have always been there because there is greed, avarice, mental imbalance in people. So tragedies like these are realities that the human society has already lived with.

Today a couple being murdered is very shocking because it is not a daily occurrence. A thousand years ago it happened all the time. Parents got murdered in wars, tribal fights and so on.

Today these kinds of tragedies become even more saddening because of the new nucleus family of father mother and just the kids. When such a family breaks the world of young children is torn apart. In the old days when people lived in joint families, while the tragedy was heart breaking, the support system was phenomenal and it was a lot easier to learn to live with it.

The realities have changed and the best thing to do is to create a graceful atmosphere of love, caring and warmth for those children.

When someone says why my parents, it brings forth the question, would it have been better if it was someone else’s parents? It isn’t is it?

Why something like this happens is a random act. Its not due to this or that or to say its divine will. Certain people happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and became victims of this tragedy. In New York, it happened to one couple but all over the world parents of young children are dying because of war or disease, terrorism and so many other things. The media is full of such news.

It is most important for humanity to bring up future generations with compassion and sensitivity to the world. Unless we consider all tragedies as “ours” we cannot reduce the possibility of these kinds of tragedies repeating themselves to us and others around us.

There is no divine explanation for something like this. This is a physical reality which we need to respond to with a deeper sensitivity. Even after thousands of years of civilization we still can’t stop exploiting each other and fighting wars. We continue with the strife as individuals, as a society and as a nation. When we have invested so much worldwide in arms and ammunition, we obviously carry the intention of repeating this violent tragedy for so many around the world.

Q: What is the difference between Sadhguru and Buddha?. When he meets an enlightened person, is he instantly aware of it? Is he aware of things happening on the other side of the planet? Is he psychic? - Mark Carter

The most significant difference is Buddha is dead and I’m alive! Jokes apart, the most significant difference is that Buddha’s way was only for the monks. That is why he kept it so dry and uni-dimensional. My way is for every one. There are monks, married people, and single people young and old: all kinds.

As for being psychic or knowing when I meet an enlightened being, I do know everything that goes around me when I’m in a certain state. When you use the word” Yoga” it means union but one cannot live in that union all the time. One knows it and has access to that possibility again and again. So when I’m in that state I’m aware of everything, but that state is not sustainable. You cannot contain that in the human body for long. Its like a spell. And also I don’t want to burden myself with that kind of awareness all the time.

Psychic is a very poor way to be really. All you do is try desperately to read someone’s mind. What is the point? Its better to be in a position where you are reasonably aware of what is happening around you by simply being sensitive to life. If you close your eyes and someone walks into your house, you will sense their presence if you make yourself aware of your surroundings.

People have become so wrapped up in all the psychological activities in their mind that they have missed out on all possibilities like these.

Every human being is capable of knowing so many things on his own, but allows these perceptive abilities to be lost in that noise.

Q: Guruji, first time I read your book mystic musings although impressed, I wasn’t attracted. Second time I felt this great urge to see dhyanalinga, experience the force, ask him to be my spiritual guru and get some spiritual progress. But my visit to the temple was disappointing, even after sitting in silence in the temple for hours I felt nothing. I must admit that at some level I was skeptic about you, the foundation and the temple and thought I might not get spiritual progress there. They say that when the student is ready the teacher arrives, I know I am not ready but need a teacher to get me ready, a guru who will tell me what I am doing wrong. How can I find one and how will I know when I have found him.

These were the same questions I had in my mind when I left the dhyanalinga temple to visit the pateeswarar temple. A man clad in white dress came up before me from nowhere and said "I am also from velaingiri" and showed his rudraksh, I was attracted to him but ignored him thinking he is a beggar and went ahead to have the deity's dharshan, when I came out of the sanctum within a 2-3 minutes he was nowhere to be seen. Just when I entered the temple he signaled with his hand in a way that to me meant "go!!"

Did the guru come in front of me and did I miss recognizing him. Will he ever come again? - Badrinath

This is a problem I see all the time. People are always looking for things to happen because they are raised on a staple diet of fantasy ridden stories of how a guru will appear in a most mysterious way.

Don’t search for the guru because there is no reason to do so. Create a longing and when that longing becomes deeper you’ll fine many ways to learn.

I would like to share a story with Badri and your readers. There was a yogi who was on his death bed. Somebody lets say it was Badri who came to him and said-you are obviously enlightened. Who is your guru? The yogi said I have had thousands of gurus but I’m about to die so I can’t share the stories. When Badri insisted the yogi said okay I will talk about only three of my gurus.

His first guru, said the Yogi was a thief. “I walked into town one day very late at night and saw the thief trying to rob a house. I asked him if I could find a place to stay in the town. The thief said, it was too late at night and none of the places would be open, so if I was okay with it I could stay with him. I went to the thief’s house-he shared what he had and put me up. In the morning he did not disturb my sadhana and went about his business. Each night he came back empty handed and I asked him-what happened? Were you not successful in looting a home? He replied-no but it will happen tomorrow. I stayed a month in his house and each night the same thing happened.

During my prayers and meditation there were many days that did not yield any results but I learnt from the thief that there was always tomorrow to look forward to. And things did happen one day.”

So Badri needs to understand that he cannot come to a temple for an hour and expect to find a guru or have things happen to him.

The yogi’s next guru was a dog. The yogi was about to drink water from a lake when he saw a thirsty dog come by and do the same-except when the dog peered into the water he saw a dog looking back at him-he barked but the dog barked at him and the dog fled. The dog in the lake seemed a lot bigger in size. A little while later he returned because his thirst got the better of him but again he fled when he saw the other dog was still there snarling back at him. The third time the dog couldn’t handle the thirst and instead of barking at his reflection plunged right into the lake, didn’t find the dog, drank his fill and left with his thirst quenched. “ I realized then that it is not enough to just come to the edge and peer in, but you have to take the plunge totally. I plunged in and beautiful things happened to me.”

So Badri needs to not just come infrequently as a visitor but take the plunge.

The Yogi’s third guru was a six year old boy. The boy, a Priest’s assistant was taking a lit lamp to the temple. The yogi asked him-“ Young boy when the lamp goes off where will the light go?” The boy looked at him as if he was mad and blew the light out, and said-you fool where will it go? If I blow it, it is finished-it ceases to exist.”

So Badri needs to know that he must give himself enough time to know it will happen tomorrow and for that he has to plunge right in. He must realize also that he must not get caught in the hype of someone showing him a rudraksh, someone appearing in white suddenly before a temple as a so called possible mysterious guru, but to create a longing. If the longing isn't there there is nothing.

I may be a guru to a million people, but if you don’t create a longing and experience me that way, I’m nothing to you.

So create a longing, stick to it and things will happen.

Q: Sadhguru, how can one overcome fear? - Rajshri, Chennai

Fear is always about what will happen in the next moment. Its never about the present. When the future is not yet manifested, and not an existed reality why be afraid? You are actually suffering for that which does not exist-and so you cannot overcome that which does not exist.

Q: Sadhguru, I have been told that I should not keep Shiva and Ganesha idols in the house. The ganesha idols must have their back to a wall which has nothing behind it for in front of Ganesha is prosperity and behind him is poverty. What shall I do? - Sanjoy Duttagupta

You’ll need a lot of airspace then if all the Ganesha idols you have need to have their backs to nothing but air, but I suppose it will be good for ventilation!

An idol that is consecrated needs maintenance, especially those made of metal and stones. That is why most temples have regular daily puja, rituals like kumbhabhishekham etc to keep the idols alive with positive energy. If this daily maintenance is not done then it becomes a receding or negative energy and it can harm the people around it by creating a vacuum that can suck you in. If an idol gets damaged it is removed from the temple. There is a whole science behind it. Generally it is not advisable to keep too many idols in the house. If you keep those that are made a certain way, and contain certain features to create energy, then you must take care of them on a daily basis. If you don’t it becomes like an elephant you keep in the house and starve. In a few days it will be mad with hunger and destroy the house.

Q: If you would review your interview you may realize the overall 'feel good' nature of Sadhguru's responses.  Appeal to one's logic and reason while diverting attention away from substantive issues.  Thus Shiva becomes an embodiment of Universality, and not worshipped as part of the Hindu trinity.  The Dhyanalinga (a representation of Shiva in the form of a phallus), the Sanskrit slokas, the bija mantras, invoking Sadhguru's presence by chanting the hymn to Lord Vasudevaya – all these are non-religious! 

Also note that Sadhguru glossed over the screening process.  My conscience alone knows the dedication and fervor with which I pursued this path.  I wish I had paid attention to what was happening around me – I would have pulled out sooner.  This response again is typical of a cult.  The blame is always the individual and the person's lack of faith.  My experience has shown that the process is geared towards enslaving a person's mind, and as such rises to the level of a cult.  I give below some of the signs typical of a cult leader that I gleaned from the net: 

1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.

2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower's mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused--as that person's involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.

3. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.

4. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently, analyze situations, independent of the group/leader's involvement.

5. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supersede any personal goals or individual interests.

6. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.

7. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader. 

8. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.

The crux of the organization is the offer of 'liberation'.  This liberation is exemplified by altered states of consciousness brought on by sleep deprivation, meditation, constant chanting, yelling, screaming etc., I am now suspect of any group that requires that one suspend one's logic.  Since this 'knowledge' is 'beyond' logic. 

In any scientific study the results are open to scrutiny.  The results ought to be both reliable and repeatable.  A pharmaceutical company cannot claim that the randomness in the efficacy of their drug is due to the doubting nature and short attention span of the patients.  But this is precisely what these organizations get away with.  Could the Sadhguru tell us how many else became enlightened through his process besides himself.  Why then the claim that the 'inner possibility' is as open to Shyam as it was to the Buddha or Sadhguru himself.   With regard to the altered states of consciousness itself:  it is not limited to Yoga or Hinduism - we can find it in the sects of Christian Pentacosts, Islamic Sufism, Dervishes, Sri Sri Sri Ravishankar etc., To lay out a process that brings about these states and then use it to convince people that they have found THE way is both disingenuous and duplicitous. 

Do not be a follower, but be a prophet unto thy own.  During my days in Isha there was this Jewish doctor who was sought by Sadhguru as well as a competitor to serve in their ashram. Sadhguru preaches about his yoga hospital in the ashram where people are treated in holistic methods.  This doctor who visited the ashram reported that she was shocked to find that there was no such hospital in existence.  We collectively reasoned this away by convincing ourselves that it is his intention to bring the yogic  hospital to fruition in the future.  Alas such is the power of mindless delusion!” - Name withheld on request

Spiritual science is about inner well being. To create the inner well being we use every possible method that life allows. Modern science has proved that the whole existence is just a reverberation of energy. Where there is a vibration there is bound to be a sound. So the whole existence is seen as yoga of complex amalgamation of sound. What you call the cosmos is a complex web of sound called nadabrahma. In it are some key sounds. These key sounds when applied to the right door can open a whole dimension for you. This is how a mantra works. You cannot look at everything also from a religious perspective. The reason you do that is because of the culture you were brought up on and the tools that were used to create that inner well being in you. May be some religions have staked a claim on these mantras or these tools but that doesn’t make it religious.

In India we light a lamp in the evening. It may look like a religious ritual-“ before sunset light a lamp before God”, but when there was no electricity then lighting a lamp was basic common sense, isn’t it?

So there is an elaborate science of mantras behind the process of using sounds for inner well being. Today people say music has a healing quality, cows are giving more milk , hens are laying more eggs and plants are thriving when certain music is played. Here you arrived at a certain healing or productive procedure through accident but in effect there is a whole elaborate science of mantras and how to use these sounds for inner as well as outer well being.

Just because someone says Vasudevayah does not make it my name. I would advice Mr. anonymous to look at IT closely and see what impact it has on the people rather than being focused on finding faults behind a hidden name. If he has some scientific background, I invite him to come with his instruments so  I can show him that just by uttering the word vasudevayah what kind of activity it’ll create in the brain, because today we measure all these things scientifically.

The Jewish doctor he is talking about had heart and other problems that prevented her from undertaking anything strenuous, or even flying. When she came here she was expecting a hospital with drips and sick patients lying in bed. When she didn’t see that she came and asked me where was the yogic temple and I told her –look at the people around you-the ones in the kitchen, those mopping the floors-these are all sick people but we put them to work. Seventy percent of all illnesses are self created. Today that doctor is still with us and she walked about 60 kms with us in the Himalayas and she has talked about her experiences on a video.

There are thousands of people who come and go from here and I’m sure some of them are disgruntled like this man because someone rubbed them the wrong way. There are no super human beings here These are people who are imperfect and are striving to grow. If they were perfect they would not need me or anyone else.

I must say this man’s understanding of enlightenment seems very rudimentary, especially if he has to go to the internet and describe what is a cult. He couldn’t even come up with his own interpretation.

Now what is a cult? Today whatever is considered religion was called a cult yesterday. That is why when Jesus was alive he was called a cultist and crucified. Anyone who did not follow the established religion was punished. I guess people may want to do the same to me but today(laughter) the law doesn’t permit it. Frankly that cult was more meaningful than the existing religion right now because people experienced it then-today its only belief and this man’s interpretation of cult is also based on western interpretation.

If he is so concerned, disappointed and disturbed then I invite him to come and do both the basic and the next course and rip it in front of me, and make me look like a fool if he can. He should have the courage to stop his fellow humans from suffering and I would like to know myself because I’m also concerned. If he is afraid he need not reveal his name but I invite him to come and demolish the program if he can show that it doesn’t work.  Why is he letting such wrong things happen to others?

If he is just there to sit and criticize or find faults without proving it scientifically then we won’t waste our time with him.

Please send your questions to Sadhguru and mention the city, and country.
The questions can be sent to Kavita@kavitachhibber.com.

For more information about Sadhguru, please visit www.ishafoundation.org

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is an international speaker, author and peace advocate with profound spiritual and cultural insights on health and human potential. He addresses over 500,000 people annually at his public forums. Sadhguru is a realized master and yogi who has practiced yoga since age 13 and authored four books on the essential nature of yoga. Sadhguru has synthesized the science of yoga into a dynamic program that allows people to restore and maintain optimum health and inner balance.

Through his books, columns, articles and interviews aired and published in a host of international media, Sadhguru is considered an authority on yogic science whose teachings help people gain an inner understanding of the issues and events that happen to themselves and the world around them.

Sadhguru is founder of the Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization advancing physical, mental and spiritual health through yoga and self-transformation. The Foundation administers over 100 yoga centers, an ashram, residential complex and medical center in India, and conducts public programs around the world. His humanitarian initiatives for world peace and his outreach programs for Tsunami relief, prisoners, children and Action for Rural Rejuvenation in India are examples of his determination to improve the human condition for all people.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the writers or interviewees and do not necessarily represent those of the editor/publisher.


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