Sadhguru is a yogi and a mystic, a man whose passion spills into everything he encounters. Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, Sadhguru’s work has touched the lives of millions worldwide through his transformational programmes. He has a unique ability to make the ancient yogic sciences relevant to contemporary minds, acting as a bridge to the deeper dimensions of life. He has authoured several books and has been conducting annual pilgrimage trips to Kailash Mansarovar, which is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, for the past 17 years. Due to the current Covid 19 situation, this year the Indian yogi was in Nepal recently for a pilgrimage to Limi Valley in Humla from where Mount Kailash can be viewed. He spent over two weeks in Nepal during which he also went on a nine-day trip from Simikot to Limi Valley. This year, he also celebrated his 64th birthday in the capital with his disciples and followers.
After his return from Limi Valley, Sadhguru met the local media to talk about tourism, transformation and spiritual walks like the Mansarovar Yatra. Abhishek Chitrakar of Business 360 asked Sadhguru two questions:
What is the relevance of journeys undertaken for spiritual benefit and transformation?
This journey is called a pilgrimage and its purpose is not a picnic. It is neither a tour nor an adventure to climb a peak or reach some place to put your stamp and leave your footprint and return. Journeys undertaken for spiritual benefit and transformation are called pilgrimages. So, what is the significance of a pilgrimage? The significance of a pilgrimage is very vibrant in this country and region. Let’s talk about this culture. When you say country today we understand nation due to the political boundaries we have artificially drawn but culturally, historically, this entire region has had a tremendous amount of force that we call a pilgrimage which almost every human being undertook at some point in their life to go to a certain place of certain energy and significance. Now why is this done? The one important reason is to understand what the human problem at present is. The human problem is that in this vast cosmos we don’t know where it begins and where it ends. In this vast cosmos, the solar system in which we are living is just a tiny speck. In that speck, planet Earth is a micro-speck and in that micro-speck Kathmandu is a super micro-speck but we think we are bigger and this is a serious problem. This is what all human beings are suffering from. I think I am bigger than you and you think you are bigger than somebody. This endless nonsense has been going on for ages. Human beings suffer and do terrible things to each other. It may be in the form of nation, in the form of religion, or it may be in the form of race or caste, creed and in so many ways. I think I am better than you, I think I am bigger than you but we don’t understand, in this cosmos we are not even a speck of dust. So pilgrimage is for this purpose.
When you go on a pilgrimage, by the time you reach your destination you must become like nothing. When we go on a pilgrimage there is tremendous possibility to understand that notion.
A majority of the young people today have mostly heard of yoga as a rebound from America or Europe and not as it is named – the word yoga is yogi. When you breathe, your life is not just here. It is a whole bubble of atmosphere and you are in some way engaged with this. You cannot exist independently from that. So in one way you are born with it, but you don’t experience that. When you experience that, your life is born with everything else then they say you are in yoga because the word yoga means union. So to bring this union we have many methods. You may visit temples, perform pujas, meditate, you may stand on your head instead of your feet, and you may go on a pilgrimage. All these are different systems and methods to bring you to a place for you to understand you are much more than this flesh and bones that you are carrying, you are much more than the boundaries of your physicality. Your experience of life is far bigger.
Till this happens, no matter what you have – you may have money, wealth, qualifications – but you will remain incomplete. It doesn’t matter what people have, they will remain incomplete. There is no larger experience of life because they have limited themselves to their physical selves. So this is what spiritual process means.
Pilgrimage is one of those methods with which you weigh yourself down and understand you are nothing. If you walk to the mountains for 5-10 days, you will really understand that you are nothing, you are just like any other creature on this planet.
You have been conducting travel programmes like Sacred Walks and annual trips to Kailash. What is the purpose of this?
This is the 40th year since I have started teaching. Prior to that, what happened to me was one day I was sitting on Chamundi Hills and suddenly I exploded into another level of experience where every cell in my body was blissful for no reason, dripping ecstasy. Then when I started questioning what was happening to me, I realised that if I take my hand off my mind, if I just leave my psychological process, every cell in my body bursts into ecstasy. Instead of using our intelligence to make ourselves better, we are using our enhanced intelligence to compare ourselves with other creatures to make ourselves miserable.
When you were a five-year-old child, you were happy for nothing, but now so much has to happen, the world has to change for you to be happy. So, I realised all it takes is this. You need a method to take your hands off your mind. If you know how to keep a little distance between you and your psychological process, you will be ecstatic every moment of your life on that day.
At 25, I sat down and made a plan that is very simple. Who will not want it? Who will not want to live in a blissful and ecstatic way? I could not imagine why anybody would not want to. So, I made a plan in two-and-half years’ time that I will make the entire world ecstatic. So in that process, we taught yoga, we built temples, and conducted pilgrimages. We are still doing many things. We are conducting massive sporting events for the rural Indian people. This is an effort made so that people know that human experience is something that you can determine. If you can determine your experience of life, will you make it wonderful or miserable? Definitely wonderful. Why is it that we are not making it? If you are willing to pay a little attention to this, you can make life absolutely blissful.
If you are feeling wonderful right now, your body and mind will work at its best. There’s enough scientific and medical evidence to show that these two things work well only when you are in a pleasant state of experience. So, all the efforts, whether we do sacred walks or Kailash Yatras or when we teach yoga, meditation and others, the fundamental effort is just this. Human misery and physical suffering may happen to us because of disease, injury, hunger but these are different things. Most of the human misery is self-created. They don’t need any outside influence. They are going on creating misery within themselves. Why is this so easy? They just do not know how to handle their own intelligence. If you had half a brain, you would be quite peaceful. Because you are a full brain, you struggle. How unfortunate is that? Do you think intelligence is a solution or a problem? A solution, isn’t it? If intelligence becomes a problem, then we are a disaster. That’s what is happening right now. So all these efforts are just to avoid the disaster.
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