Mysore

Philosophy of life

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev needs no introduction. He is known the world over for his preachings on essence of life. Born and brought in Namma Mysuru, the cultural capital of India, he makes it all the more special. In a free-wheeling chat with City Today, he talks about the philosophy of life _ how to lead a blissful life and be a good human being.

When he was barely 12, Sadhguru would often go to nearby forests for days together in search of what was missing in his life.  It was around this time that he came in contact with Malladihalli Sri Raghavendra Swamiji who taught him simple yogasanas. Once a good beginning was made, there was no looking back. It took little time for Sadhguru to unravel the truth behind inner peace.

What does it take to be a good human being?

It is not enough if you are a good person. If you have to live in this world you should be capable also. In the first place what makes a person think he or she is a good person? You see that the ten people sitting around you are not okay for some reason or another, and in comparison with them, you conclude that you are a better person. When you have concluded that you are the most wonderful person in this world, it means in your mind, there is no other good person on this earth; you are the only one. You don’t have to be a good person. If you are a peaceful, loving and joyous person, it is enough.

To turn spiritual, what does one do? Do yoga and spirituality go together?

This is a misunderstanding that has always been there, “If you want to turn spiritual, go to the mountains.” There is no spirituality in the mountains. It is an inward step. What you do within yourself is spirituality, what you do outside yourself is not spirituality. Wherever you go, whether you live in the city or in the Himalayas, it is the same interiority for you. What kind of clothes you wear or what kind of atmosphere you live in is a personal choice. It has nothing to do with spirituality.

Spirituality is an inward step – to take a step into a dimension which is not in your present level of experience takes a different level of focus. Yoga is a technology, a tool for people to turn inward and create their own wellbeing. Your wellbeing will not come from somewhere, either you create it or you do not – this is the fundamental of yoga. As there is a science and technology for external wellbeing, similarly there is a science and technology for inner wellbeing. This science and technology has found such a profound expression in this land. It is a wonderful moment for India that today we are able to offer something which is of tremendous value in the world.

I am slightly confused about spirituality. By embracing spirituality, do you think I can see god?

The fundamental aspect of living in India was that whether you are a king, businessman or householder, your highest goal is mukti or liberation. It was not even God or heaven – God is just a stepping stone for us. This country is the only godless country on the planet because here, we know that God is our making. Human beings had the choice whether they want a God, and even which type of God. We developed a whole science of “God-making” through which you can create your very own God – IshtaDevata. This is a land of over 33 million gods and goddesses.

This nation never had any belief system or established morality. There was only vibrant spirituality, and that has always been the guiding force. The glory of this nation’s past is rooted in its spiritual possibilities and accomplishments. This is a nation that has mastered the laws that govern inner wellbeing; the science of how to take a human being to his ultimate potential.

Do you believe in life after death? Where does one go after death?

What actually happens after death? If I talk about anything which is not yet in your experience, you cannot understand it. The only option you have is to believe or disbelieve me. If you believe me, you will fool yourself because without really knowing, you will pretend to know. If you disbelieve me, you will destroy the possibility of knowing that which is not in your current experience.

Today modern science has done many experiments to understand the nature of life and death. But this can only be grasped by experience. Do not try to think what happens beyond death, as that is not the realm of your mind. Only if your experience of life has gone beyond your mental and physical structures, can you access this dimension. This is not a secret hiding somewhere – it is right here, right now. It is just that most human beings have never paid enough attention to the very nature of their existence. What we call as spirituality or yoga is an inner technology which can deliver you into a state of perception that gives you access to both life and death.

I have always wondered ‘who am I?’ Could you please explain?

Once, a very important looking man rushed into the airport. There was a long line at the check-in counter. This man jumped the line, went straight to the counter and thrust his passport and his ticket. The lady at the counter said, “Sir, there is a line, please stand in line.” He said, “No, No. I am in a hurry. I need to go.” She said, “No, please go stand in the line.” Then he said, “Do you know who I am?” She promptly picked up the microphone and said, “There is a man here who doesn’t know who he is. Can somebody help him?”

“Who am I?” is a question that should be addressed within you, every time you ask it, digging it deeper into yourself. You never go and ask someone, “Who am I?” You can ask them, “Who are you?”

“Who am I?” is not even a question that you need to articulate. The more you know about it, the better you can exist here.

Human mind is always full of contradictions. Is there a solution?

What you call as “my mind” is not yours actually. You don’t have a mind of your own. Please look at it carefully. What you call as “my mind” is just society’s garbage bin. Anyone and everyone who passes by you stuffs something into your head. If you say, “I don’t like this person,” you will receive a lot more from that person than anyone else. If you know how to process and use it, this garbage is useful. This accumulation of impressions and information that you have gathered is only useful for survival in the world. It has got nothing to do with who you are.  

When we talk about a spiritual process, we are talking about shifting from psychological to existential. Life is about the creation that is here, knowing it absolutely and experiencing it the way it is; not distorting it the way you want.

Sadhguru is also a normal person like anyone else? Does he lose his cool?

People ask me, “Sadhguru, we have been with you for so long. Don’t you ever get angry?” It’s just that I have not given this privilege to anybody, that they can determine what should happen within me, that’s all. They can determine a few things around me, but they cannot determine what happens within me. This one privilege you must keep to yourself.

Whatever happens within you, it must be determined by you; you must be in the driving seat. You sit in the back seat and then try to reach out to the steering wheel and the pedal,it is going to be torture. That’s all that’s happening. Your joy and misery must be in your hands. If you choose to be miserable, I am not against it, but what you want should be happening within you, not otherwise.

How does one control anger?

It does not matter how much people preach, “Don’t get angry,” when certain situations arise, you do get angry. It must be understood that no matter what kind of human being you become, even if you become a super human being, you will never have absolute control over the external world. Whether it is your institution or your family or the world, you will never have total control over the external situation. But you can have total control over the internal situation.

The whole process of yoga is based on this. A day will come when even if you are put into the most extreme situation, your energies will remain very calm. How you respond will depend on the situation you are in and what your capabilities are. Only then can you function out of your intelligence.

Yoga means to cultivate your energy in such a way that gradually it breaks the physical limitations and elevates you to the highest level of awareness, which is the flowering of human potential.

Your memories about Mysuru? How much of it do you remember?

Mysuru is a culturally rich city. I know Mysuru  like the back of my hand, every street, every tree, every building, everything. At one time I knew every street in here, including the service lanes. Now things have changed a bit, but I made it my business to know the whole terrain around the city.I cycled every mud track around Mysore city, within a twenty-five kilometer range.So, at that time I prided myself in knowing Mysore like only a very few people knew it.

Where does one find peace?

There is a certain inner basis to what we experience as happiness, love and peace in our lives. One simple way to understand this is: today if you lose your mental peace totally, you go to a doctor. He will give you a pill. If you take this pill, your system will become peaceful – may be just for a few hours, but it does become peaceful. This pill is just a little bit of chemicals. These chemicals enter your system and make you peaceful. Or in other words, what you call as peace is a certain kind of chemistry within you. Similarly, what you call as joy, love, suffering, misery, fear – every human experience that you go through has a chemical basis within you. Yoga is just to create the right kind of chemistry where you are naturally peaceful and joyous by your own nature.

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Murali R

A senior journalist in the business, R Murali started his career with The Times of India as a reporter in sports. He has covered a lot of local, national, international events in cricket, hockey, volley ball, motor sports and table tennis. Over the years he has done a lot of special stories including general stories. Before Joining City Today, he worked in Deccan Chronicle and DNA. At City Today, he is an integral part of the team handling national, sports edit and op-ed pages. He also actively contributes to City Sunday features.

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