Q: Sadhguru, you said somewhere that the practices we do are programmed in such a way that once we evolve to a certain level, the practices continue to work on us in order to take us to the next level. Could you explain further what this means?

Sadhguru: To use an analogy – if you are old enough, you may have seen people blowing rings with cigarette smoke. These days, no one does this anymore, because it has become a crime to smoke in public. I knew an eccentric writer who used to write his name – Kailasham – with cigarette smoke, in Kannada script. You could see it for a few seconds before the smoke diffused, and people admired him for that. Like today you have stand-up comedians, he was a stand-up political satirist. And at the end of the show, he would write his name with smoke. That was his trademark, which also featured on all the posters for his show.

You can use the same opening of the mouth in so many different ways – you can speak, whistle, sing, or blow smoke rings. What comes out makes the difference. If it is just air, it becomes a whistle. If the sounds come from your vocal chords, it could become a song. If smoke comes out, it could become different forms.

The Energy Code

A yogic practice is an energy code that is structured in a certain way. It evolves and finds expression according to your present nature. Using the same simple instrument, you can do many things depending upon your expertise and your capabilities. Similarly with a yogic practice – it is a code that adapts to who you are. All human beings are made of the same flesh and bone, but in how many different ways they take shape! Both beautiful and ugly patterns occur. Likewise, you can use spiritual practices in a beautiful or ugly manner.

A yogic practice is an energy code that is structured in a certain way. It evolves and finds expression according to your present nature.

I took twenty-one years to filter the occult out of the Shambhavi Mahamudra. This was to eliminate ugly things that you could otherwise do once you are empowered by this practice. You may want to read someone else’s mind so that you can exploit them. Or you may want to predict someone’s future so that you can con them into something. Or you may want to destroy them simply by looking at them. If you have control over your life energies, you can propel someone to enlightenment or to destruction – both are possible. Depending on who you are, accordingly you use and transform your energies.

Therefore, it takes a certain care to rule out the negative when transmitting a process like Shambhavi. But beyond that, what kind of expression you give it – whether you use it to heal yourself of back pain or for a higher level of existence – is up to you. The practice is set for wellbeing, but your idea of wellbeing still matters. Your idea of wellbeing may just be a little better health and success in what you are doing, and you think that is it. That is why I am saying, “Don’t set a goal – let it evolve.” Let it evolve to a place that you could not imagine. Do not stay stuck in something that you already know. As you evolve, the practice functions at a higher level as well.

Free Drinks!

It happened on a certain day. A man came into a bar and announced, “Free drinks for everyone! It’s on the house.” He pointed at the bartender and said, “Even for you.” Everyone drank, including the bartender and himself. When the time to pay came, it turned out the guy did not have a dollar in his pocket. The bartender punched him in the face, picked him up, and threw him out of the bar. Next day evening, the man came back and again announced, “Free drinks for everyone!” He looked at the bartender, “Except you.” The bartender stood in front of him threateningly and said, “May I ask why not for me?” The man said, “You tend to get violent when you drink.”

The practices are calibrated in such a way that they work for you at your level of being. If I turn up the Shambhavi Mahamudra initiation, at least eighty to ninety percent of you will not be able to get up afterwards. Those who were initiated into Shoonya before the Dhyanalinga consecration would have experienced that. At that time, at least seventy to eighty percent of the people were not able to walk out of the initiation room. That is why we needed at least as many volunteers as there were participants, because many of them had to be carried, supported, or at least guided. They would be completely dazed. Back then, we were initiating people in such a way because we were looking for people who could hold the drink. This was important for the consecration that we wanted to do, and there was urgency to it.

Calibrated to Grow

Before the Dhyanalinga consecration, I had a project to fulfill – not mine but the one my Guru imposed on me. Now, it is just that if people want to grow, we provide them with the tools. If they do not want to, there is no rush. If you had seen me before the Dhyanalinga consecration, I was a totally different person. After the consecration was over, I consciously changed everything – from the way I walk, speak, dress, to the way I eat. People who knew me before and see me now think I have lost it, because I am not fierce enough anymore.

It is good the way it is now. Today, most people sit quietly during the initiation process, and afterwards, everyone happily goes home without any problem. That is because the initiation has been brought down in such a way that it suits everyone, as it is needed for them – nothing more, nothing less. It is calibrated to grow with you. We are not forcing you into a state that you are not ready for. If it goes ahead of you, it is great, but you will have some difficulty managing outside situations. We do not want to tone it down further, or else it becomes insipid. It still allows you to see there are possibilities and dimensions beyond your present level of experience. If you want to reach towards that, a little more preparation, and it will evolve by itself.

Editor’s Note: Isha Kriya is a free online guided meditation that has the potential to transform the life of anyone who is willing to invest just a few minutes a day. Try it out!

A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower April 2017.