Friday, March 16, 2012

Annadhanam - A Sacred Offering of Food

“We owe our spiritual wealth not just to the sages, seers, masters and enlightened beings who walked the path, but also to the community that nurtured them. In our tradition, serving spiritual seekers and monks was of utmost importance. In fact for many, this was a path in itself. The most beautiful expression of this was the Annadhanam, the offering of food.”
- Sadhguru
Isha as a non-profit organization is involved in a variety of projects and undertakings, the aim of which is the physical, social and spiritual upliftment of all. To sustain these endeavors, the most fundamental aspect is food. At the Isha Yoga Center, Annadhanam, the sacred offering of food, is offered twice a day to over a thousand people including residents, Sanyasis, volunteers, Bramhacharis, students and all daily visitors. This vital offering sustains the work of the Isha Sadhakas who have dedicated their lives to working in the various spiritual, social, environmental and educational initiatives of Isha.

The Annadhanam is served in Biksha Hall at the Isha Yoga Center, biksha traditionally meaning “alms” or “food which is offered”. Taken in complete silence, the meal is preceded by an invocation, a powerful arrangement of sounds, which are designed to make a person more receptive to the life process. One aspect of taking to the spiritual path is to make every aspect of life conscious, which is why offering food in a certain way is given so much importance at the Yoga Center.

“Now in our day-to-day life we are only having two meals or sometimes only one meal. If you’re having only one or two meals a day, naturally you are very hungry by the time the meal comes. When the food comes, you don’t immediately eat. You wait for everybody to sit. You wait for something to go onto everybody’s plate, then you utter the invocation, and then you slowly eat. This needs consciousness. Just to give that break when you’re hungry, just to wait for those three to four minutes, it takes enormous amount of awareness for a person. To grab and eat would be very simple, but you will become more and more unconscious.” – Sadhguru
Over the last few years, Isha has grown phenomenally and Sadhguru has reached a great number of people. As more people are touched by this divine possibility, Isha Yoga Center is seeing a steady inflow of men and women seeking to intensify their spiritual quest and take the powerful possibility that Isha represents to the world. And as the ashram grows, the resources required to support it grow too.

Important occasions in your life such as a birthdays, anniversaries or any other day of your choice, can be an opportunity to offer Annadanam, and be a part of Sadhguru’s endeavour to spread joy, health and wellbeing. For more information, please send a mail to or call 94425 04672 / 98948 92193.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Conducting Yourself Gracefully

A very large part of Indian population worships Rama, but if you look at the situations in his life, and the way life happened to him, it seems like a continuous series of disasters. He lost the kingdom that was rightfully his and ended up in the forest. Then he lost his wife  who got kidnapped, and he had to fight a brutal war even though he did not want to. Then when he brought his wife back, he had to suffer very uncharitable comments about her from everybody around. So he took his wife, who was very dear to him and was pregnant with two children, and left her in the forest. Then he unknowingly ended up in a battle against his own children and then even lost his wife. His life was a continuous disaster. With all that, why do so many people worship Rama?

The significance of Rama is not in the situations he faced in his life; the significance of Rama is with how much gracefulness he conducted himself through this series of disasters that occurred to him. Never once was he seen angry or cursing someone or freaking out. He conducted everything gracefully.

So people seeking liberation and a graceful life, sought Rama because they understood and had the wisdom to see that external situations can go wrong at any moment. Even with lots of management, external situations can still go wrong. You may have everything organized, but if a cyclone hits you, it can take away your home and everything. These things are happening around us right now. They may not be happening to us, but they are happening to thousands of people around us. “Oh it will not happen to me,” is a foolish way to live. “Even if it happens, I will go through it gracefully,” is a wise way to live. People sought Rama, because they saw this phenomenal wisdom. Though life became a continuous series of disasters, never once did he waver from his truthfulness, from the fundamentals of life that he set up for himself. He just hung on to what he had to do, and conducted his life with utmost balance.

In fact, for people on the spiritual path, there is a tradition of seeking disasters. Many spiritual seekers go about asking for something to go wrong with their life because they want themselves to be fully tested before death approaches. They want to be quality checked; that no matter what happens, they will go through it gracefully, because when the moment of shedding the body comes, that is the time you will lose your balance. Everything is fine, but the moment when everything that you know as reality is going to slip off from your hands, that is the time when you lose your control a bit. So people sought disasters.

For example, Akka Mahadevi, who was married to a king, but who right from her childhood had completely given herself to Shiva, goes about saying, “Oh Shiva, make me hungry but make sure that I do not get any food. And in case I get it, before I put it in my mouth, make sure it falls off my hands. Before I pick it up from the ground, make sure a hungry dog eats it. Make me go through everything, so that I will learn to conduct myself gracefully irrespective of what the outside situation is.” It is an extreme form of devotion. You want to be ready; when the moment of leaving comes, you do not want to falter even a bit because that is the moment you need to handle gracefully.

It takes some practice. If it suddenly happens one day, you will not be able to handle it. So they are consciously seeking trials and tribulations in their life. It has been the tradition everywhere in the world that if one takes the spiritual path, the first thing is to consciously seek poverty. To conduct yourself gracefully through poverty is not an easy thing – it will test you in every way. When you are hungry, all sense of being human is lost and you become like an animal. To conduct yourself gracefully when you are hungry is not an easy thing. If you see yogis in India, they never ask for anything; they just keep going. You can see they are hungry, they have not eaten for days sometimes, but they will conduct themselves so gracefully. If you just offer one meal, they will take it, but if you offer money for one more meal they will not take it because they want that challenge to be there in their life all the time. Because if you take money for two meals today, tomorrow you will logically convince yourself to take money for ten meals. Once you add one, one more becomes logically acceptable. Then slowly you will organize your whole life and it will grow endlessly. Just see to what extent we have taken our survival process. We have raised our survival process to the sky and still it is not enough. So if you give one meal these yogis will receive it but if you give money for one more meal, he will say no, because he wants that trial in his life continuously.

So people worship Rama not because of the success in his life, but for the gracefulness with which he conducted the most difficult moments. That is what is valued; that is the highest value in one’s life. It is not the question of how much you have, what you did, what happened or what did not happen. Whatever happened, how did you conduct yourself? That is what determines the quality of who you are. You may make a billion dollars because the market is doing well. That does not mean anything. That is a social situation. In your society you may be a millionaire. In another society you may look like a failure. It does not mean anything. It is all right to enjoy the comforts that come with it, but the important thing about the making of the human being is, whatever the situation, how gracefully can he handle it? You will see this happening to lots of people; they look perfectly fine till one big challenge comes in their life. Then you will see who they are. When something does not go the way they think it should go, they spill themselves all over the place.

People are always giving thanks for the things that they get. Things that you get will not add to your life. You can see this if you come to India. There will be a huge house right next to a shanty. But the person living in the little hut is as proud as you are; and that is nice. That a human being carries himself well, not with just pride but with gracefulness, irrespective of how somebody else is. Even if you have to go to the gallows you still walk gracefully. This is the quality of the human being. The rest is only the quality of the situation.

Does this mean to say we should not manage our life properly? No, we manage what is around us well because it is good for everybody. If the situation is well-managed it need not necessarily make me feel wonderful. I will feel wonderful only when I can conduct myself gracefully through every situation. But you manage the situation because you are concerned about everybody’s wellbeing.

Rama tried to manage the situations in his life, but he could not always do that. He lived in difficult times and things went out of control, but the important thing is that he always conducted himself gracefully. This is the fundamental essence of becoming spiritual. If you want the right kind of ambience for your being to flower into a beautiful fragrant flower, you must constantly create an atmosphere of grace.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Samyama – A Gateway to the Beyond

Questioner: I’ve heard that Samyama helps to drop your karma but I wanted to ask how that works and also if it helps you to escape the cycle of death and re-birth?

Sadhguru: Essentially all spiritual process is to put your life on a fast forward. If you go by the normal course of things, it may take a long time. So, spiritual process is for those people who are in a hurry. They want to get to the goal at the quickest possible time. If you tell me how quick you want to get there, we can key up your sadhana to that extent. But you must understand when things are moving very fast, there is a certain discipline you have to maintain. If you’re walking along the street or if you’re walking through the forest path, if you see tamarind, your mouth will water. You can pluck them, even the flowers are good. You can eat the tamarind flowers a little bit.

So, it’s nice if you’re walking. You can climb the tree, eat all the tamarind you want and go. If you’re riding a bullock-cart, you must be quick – what is available, chuk you must pluck. You can’t select and pluck. You’re going in a car, then plucking will be little dangerous. If you pluck, it may just cut through your hand. If you’re doing something else, if you’re flying an airplane, you cannot even imagine such things. You don’t put your hand out at all.

So people choose the journey according to their willingness. People should choose the mode of journey according to their willingness as to how much they’re longing to get to their destination or how much they’re enjoying the journey and don’t care about the destination. It’s not that they don’t care – nobody can say they do not care. When they sit down here, they don’t care because it’s comfortable. But when time passes they will care. Everybody wants to get to the destination. The question is just how long are you willing to wait?
Samyama is a certain kind of process, where we are putting you on fast forward, but in an extremely safe atmosphere. If you try to do it by yourself without a protective atmosphere, it could be dangerous. People can blow their brains off, if it doesn’t happen in a protected atmosphere. The reason why we’re fixing such stringent filters is because we want proper discipline and focus towards what’s being done. Otherwise, even going by bus, if you hold on to the tamarind tree, either the bus has to stop or you have to leave your arm there and go. One of these things has to happen. Otherwise you shouldn’t stick your hand out. You simply watch the world go by. If you’re walking it’s not like that, but it takes a long time. Even to get to Coimbatore it may take a very long time.

So Samyama is neither dangerous by itself nor is it something that somebody is ready or not ready for. Everybody is oriented towards it, but without the preparatory steps definitely they may find it difficult; without the necessary longing they may find it difficult. So I would say if all you’re thinking of is a good life – good life means, peaceful, joyful, loving life – then Inner Engineering and Bhava Spandana is good enough for you. But you want to know the very source of life, if such a longing has come, you have to make a little more serious effort. Samyama is just that. That is, you slowly learn to keep yourself aside, which you will be willing to do only when you understand that you are the only barrier in this creation. At the same time, you can become a doorway, if you wish. This is like a door. If a door is closed, it is a barrier. If it’s open it’s a gateway, isn’t it? So you are just like that. You can become opaque and become a block. Door is closed means, even metaphorically if I say the doors are closed for you, that means you can’t go. If there is a door, there must be a way to open it, isn’t it? It may be closed right now, but if there is a door, there is a possibility. If all of it was sheet rock, then it would be different. Now it is a door. Somebody has closed it all right, but if you’re willing, you can open it.

So Samyama is that dimension, where what is opaque we want to make it transparent. If that is not possible at least to make it translucent, so that even if it doesn’t let you pass, at least you can clearly see there’s another dimension to life. Once you have seen, you cannot fool yourself. You know you have to go there.

Fasten your Seat Belt - Sadhguru's handling of difficult situations

I should tell you this, probably. A little over a week ago, the plane I was travelling in almost crashed. It happened during Samyama, I was to travel in the morning for a conference in Kollam in Kerala, and return in the afternoon to make the evening session. Last year, the organizers fixed this conference for me, but on that day there was Samyama and I said, ‘No, I cannot come,’ and I called it off. So at that time only, they fixed this year’s date, ‘Sadhguru this is the date next year. We are fixing it for you. Let’s do it.’ I said, ‘Okay, next year I won’t miss it.’

Samyama was supposed to be before Shivarathri, but because of various situations, the construction situation, and for the convenience of people who come from outside the country, we postponed Mahabharat from December to February, and pushed Samyama post Mahashivarathri. So once again, the date of the conference coincided with Samyama, but I had agreed a year ago. In fact, one and half years ago. So I said, ‘I will do it, but if I drive and come back it will take two days. It’s a nine, ten hour drive. So please fly me there and get me back in the afternoon.’ The idea was to leave at four o’clock in the morning and be back by one o’clock.

We took off from Coimbatore, it was a small, little twin engine propeller aircraft, not a jet craft. A four seater, three passengers and two pilots. We flew to Trivandrum where we would have to land and drive another hour and half before we got to the conference. As we were approaching the airport, I saw both the pilots, young pilots — both of them had gone cold and frozen. I looked at them; I sensed fear by the chemistry of it. Then I asked, ‘Something wrong?’ ‘No Sir, no Sir.’ Then I knew something was really wrong. After some time, he was still desperately trying to manually work the hydraulics. Then I knew the landing gear was not opening up. I looked around, lots of water in Kerala. So I asked him, ‘Should I wear my swimming trunks, tell me?’ He said, ‘No Sir, no Sir,’ and I watched him work the hydraulics desperately; no result, obviously.
There was a very important person travelling with me and also Kumar. They were discussing something, and Kumar doesn’t like to wear a seat belt. After all, it is a private plane, nobody to insist you must wear a seat belt. Then I told Kumar and the other person, ‘Please tighten your seat belts, really, so that you’re glued to the seat. Wearing a seat belt is not a formality today, it’s a real thing.’ So we all tightened up.

The problem with me is, if there is an emergency it excites me, and with a big smile I am telling them, ‘The landing gear is not working.’ I said, ‘The best thing is to land in the back waters, but the pilot will not listen to us. He will listen only to the ATC, the Air Traffic Control. They are insisting that we land on the tarmac without the wheels. It is a little plane, the moment it hits the tarmac it will go…It will tear up like paper.’ Then I told them, ‘The left wheel has not opened up; the right one has opened up. Now the pilot’s problem is he cannot close the right one if he wants to. The hydraulics have failed; he cannot open the left one, he cannot close the right one.’

See…it was a little plane, if the pilot tries to go on one wheel, the first thing is the left wing engine will hit the ground, the engine will fly off. If it flies off, we don’t care. If it flies in, we will really get a roaring hit. And anyway, the plane cannot land at a lesser speed. The lowest speed it can land at is ninety kilometers, the average is ninety to hundred and ten kilometers. ‘It’s a little plane, it’s going to break up.’ I said, ‘Hang on to your seats. See if you can slide on the seat; otherwise, if you roll to the right side, the right hand will go first. If you roll to the left side, the left hand will go first. One thing is, make sure your legs are up so that you will walk. Maybe you won’t write. You will walk.’

I was thinking whether to go on the right side or left side, right hand means I can’t write, I can’t paint. Left hand means I can’t golf. So I was just thinking, maybe right hand is better. But not everyone understood that it was a real emergency. So I pointed down and said, ‘See, look at that.’ Fire engines were already flashing lights, ambulances were ready, it was a full scale emergency; they stopped the air traffic, and pilots were blabbering away on their radios. Then we decided to fly low so that the ATC could see whether our wheels were down or not, because we did not know. Then the ATC said, ‘The wheels are down, but we can’t see whether it will hold up or not, whether the struts are in place or not.’

The pilots were sweating and frozen, not saying a word, so I said, ‘Won’t they allow water landing, or can’t you off-load us in the water? If you fly low, we will jump.’ We would swim, it was not such a big deal. Suppose it was the Coimbatore airport, there is no place to jump; you would have to go with the plane. But it’s Kerala, all around there is water. So I said, ‘Let’s make use of it.’ And he said, ‘No, I have to go by the ATC instruction.’

Seeing fire engines and ambulances, it sank into everyone that it is a real emergency, this is not a joke. But probably, my face was not depicting that it’s an emergency. I was very excited, something is going to happen. I said, ‘Today is not my day. So landing, crash landing, water landing — whatever happens, maybe we won’t make it to the conference, maybe there will be injuries, but today is not my day. So, because it is not my day, maybe it is not your day.’ I was not concerned, my little finger goes off or my hand goes off, we will see. Then we landed; all these fire engines, ambulances, emergency jeeps, everything followed us on the tarmac. It landed, they braked immediately and stopped right there because they feared anytime the hydraulics will give in.

So, big excitement. By that time, we had been going round and round the airport for one hour. Our meditators had SMSed each other, ‘Sadhguru is going to crash.’ A big crowd gathered, crying. Then we went to the conference. The conference organizer was crying because they sent the airplane. Then we get into the lift…and the lift got stuck. We got off the lift and climbed up the stairs and the conference went great, it was a very important conference.

We finished and then we found that this plane was not ready to fly because they couldn’t fix it. So they called another little airplane, which is a jet craft. We came and sat in it, and as soon as we sat down, Kumar wore the seat belt. So I am looking out of the window, some fool is filling up aviation fuel on the wing tip. On the wing, there is an opening on both wings, an auxiliary tank and the regular tank. He is filling up the main tank first. I am watching him. After some time, he did something and this aviation fuel is spraying like a fountain. Almost fifty to hundred liters of fuel all over the place, spraying over the airplane, on my window. Then I looked and said, ‘Kumar, take off your seat belt. Anytime, we may have to run.’
Then that guy finishes it and the pilot gets excited, hopping mad all over the place. He calls the ATC and again they come, screaming sirens. If you fire the engine, the whole place will go up in flames. Then ten people pushed the airplane half a kilometer away, then wiped the plane clean of all the fuel, then they start the engines and I came back for Samyama by evening.

See, this is my problem. Most serious things, if I tell people with a smile on my face, they don’t understand it is serious. Whether it is about a crash landing or enlightenment, they don’t get it. You have to cry; then they will understand it is serious. But I don’t cry out of fear or pain, I cry out of joy. I can’t cry when things are serious. When things are serious, somewhere within me, it all gets so hilarious because the most amazing thing upon this planet is — people go about as if they are eternal.
Miss Fate did her best but her level of efficiency is not good enough to get me on a day like this. I’ve miles to go before I sleep…

Love and Grace,

The Mystical Dimensions of Consecration

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