Sadhguru answers a few questions about his essential work of presenting the ancient technology of yoga in a contemporary context.
Question: You refer to yoga as a technology. What exactly do you mean by that?
Sadhguru: The word “yoga,” creates many misconceptions in people’s minds because for most people today, yoga is about physical postures. That sort of yoga is a rebound from the American coast. It’s “Columbus yoga.” You know, even he landed up in the wrong place. It’s been a mistake right from the beginning!
Yoga does not mean exercises or some form of self-torture. Yoga is an inner science which has been there for thousands of years. Today, using modern science and technology we are able to create the kind of climate we want. If it’s too hot, you turn on the air-conditioning to keep the external climate comfortable. But it doesn’t matter how beautiful the outside climate is, if your “inner climate” is not okay, if you don’t know how to be peaceful and joyful you cannot enjoy anything in your life. Yoga is the science of creating an inner climate. You don’t have to believe anything or follow anyone. You just have to learn to do a few things. It is like putting together two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen. Whether a great scientist does it or a fool does it, water will come. Similarly with the yogic sciences, if you do specific things, whether a great yogi does it or an ignorant person does it, certain results will happen.
Question: Is yoga as contemporary as the term “technology” makes it seem?
Sadhguru: A technology is something that works, whether you came 10,000 years ago or will come 1000 years later. If it is an idea, a concept or a philosophy, the question of being contemporary arises because your idea today will be no good hundred years later or even ten years later. But if it is a science and a technology, the question of being contemporary does not arise. It is always relevant.
Question: Is what you offer different from what was offered in tradition?
Sadhguru: Tradition is about learning from the experience of previous generations, not imitating previous generations. Just imitating what they did is not tradition. Spiritual traditions should constantly evolve, not in its fundamental format but in the way they are presented and expressed. It has to evolve because generations of people are different in their mindset and understand.
Today, wherever Isha is imparting yoga in the world, whether in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and of course in India, there is an enormous response because it is purely scientific. So, the modern mind naturally trusts and makes use of it. In India, millions of people are involved in Isha Yoga. All this has happened mostly by word of mouth because the powerfulness of the experience is so deep that people naturally carry it on from one to another. It has spread to millions of people because it is handled as an absolute science.
Question: So would you say that Isha Yoga is structured for today’s modern man?
Sadhguru: It definitely is because we are teaching today’s people. I cannot teach yesterday’s or tomorrow’s people. The inner technologies are always timeless because though our lifestyles on the outside may change, the essential human being is always the same. Yoga is about that: changing the essential quality of who you are. If the essential quality of who you are changes, dealing with whatever is outside is not an issue. For example, people talk about stress as if it is a new phenomenon in the IT industry. Stress is not new. Even the caveman 10,000 years ago was stressed when he did not eat for the day.
So, Isha Yoga works in the corporate sector and the academic sector and anywhere else. But it would work even for the caveman because this is about fixing the internal, not fixing the external. Once you fix the internal, your ability to handle the external is hugely enhanced. You change the quality of your life not by changing the content of your life but by changing the context of your life. If you change the context of your life, suddenly, in the same framework, everything is beautiful. That’s all we’re trying to do.