Questioner: Sadhguru, sometimes I wonder, if I die without reaching the Ultimate, will all the effort of doing the practices go waste? Or will this somehow help me rediscover this path in my next life if I don’t succeed in this life?

Sadhguru: You have decided to be a failed candidate? That means you are not only choosing to waste your life, you are planning to waste my life too. I don’t take that kindly. Why do you think you won’t make it?

Realization is Not an Achievement

It is just a question of realization. Realization is not an achievement, attainment, or acquisition. Realization means you suddenly see something that has always been right here. You suddenly realize you have been stupid all your life. Realization does not depend on your capability. If you remain oriented, you will realize. But if your orientation keeps changing every few minutes, then of course realization will only happen in another life. However, what makes you think next time you will come as a human being? Suppose you come as a cockroach, do you think the future teachers will talk to cockroaches? They won’t. I have not trained them for that!

Do not postpone it for later. You do not know when your life will end. Whatever your “horror-scope” may say, the horror does not always come true. This is not even to be postponed to tomorrow, let alone to another life, because you do not have to achieve anything. You do not need any particular kind of capability. You just have to maintain your direction. If you maintain the direction, invariably, it will happen. But most people keep changing direction – one step forward, one step backward.

Narada and the Peasant

Most yogis just sat in one place. They did not do anything other than maintain the direction. Whatever happens, that is all you have to do. There was a sage who was a little mischievous. His name was Narada. Narada considered himself Vishnu’s greatest devotee. All the time, he was walking around uttering god’s name – “Narayana, Narayana.” One day, in the assembly of the god’s court, when someone asked Vishnu, “Who is your greatest devotee?” Vishnu said, “A peasant somewhere in southern India.”

It is not about what you do. You only have to maintain the direction. The rest will happen because it is not something that you or I do – it is the nature of life to realize itself.

Narada was dumbstruck. He thought he was the greatest devotee because throughout the day, he was saying, “Narayana, Narayana.” Narada wanted to see who this competitor was. He went down to southern India and watched what the peasant did. In the morning, this man got up and uttered “Narayana” – once. Then he did his morning ablutions. Before eating, he said, “Narayana.” Then he went and set the plough. Before starting to plough, he said once, “Narayana.” After that, all he said was “Hey, hoo!” to the bullocks. When he went to bed, he said, “Narayana,” and fell asleep.

Narada thought, “What rubbish! In the entire day, he says “Narayana” four times and he becomes the greatest devotee! I am saying it 17,637 times!” So he went back to Vishnu and asked, “How can this illiterate peasant who utters Narayana four times a day and is otherwise busy ploughing the land and taking care of his wife, children and bullocks be the greatest devotee? Throughout the day, I don’t say anything other than your name.”

Vishnu picked up a vessel, filled it to the brim with water, and gave it to him. He said, “Just go around the world carrying it. Not a drop should spill.” Narada held it in his hand, went around the world, and came back. Vishnu asked, “How many times did you say Narayana?” “What? You said not a drop should spill – how am I supposed to say ‘Narayana’?” Vishnu said, “That’s all. This simple peasant’s life is like that. If he does one thing wrong, his life will spill. But in spite of that, he says it four times. You have nothing to do, so you saying it the entire day means nothing.”

It is not about what you do. You only have to maintain the direction. The rest will happen because it is not something that you or I do – it is the nature of life to realize itself. You just have to remove the distraction and maintain your focus in the right direction.

How to Maintain the Direction

Questioner: How do I maintain the direction? I have been struggling with that.

Sadhguru: Holding the direction means first of all to remove all false perceptions you have. This means keeping everything that you believe aside. Unless it is something you need to function in society. Among people, for some transactions, you have to believe certain things. But otherwise, keep everything aside. You may feel like an idiot then, and it is good for you to know that you are an idiot. The difference between being enlightened and being stupid is – an enlightened person knows that he is stupid; a stupid idiot does not know he is a stupid idiot. That is a world of difference. The problem with people is they do not know the trap they are in. If they knew, they would not stay there.

What You Can Do

Before you go to sleep tonight, sit down on your bed and mentally keep everything that is not you aside. Starting with your nationality, your race, your religion, your body, your mind, your thoughts, your emotions, your ideas, your philosophies, your gods, your devils – keep everything aside. Just sleep on it. Do this every day. You will realize sleeping. I cannot give you an easier way! Just enter sleep as a piece of life – not as a man, woman or whatever else. It will take a little work, but just do it.

All that needs to happen is that you shift your attention from what you have accumulated to what is really you. That is all the orientation you need.

Start from tonight, because who knows if you will wake up or not. Over 150,000 people’s lives end every day. What is the guarantee it is not going to be you or me tonight? We do not wish it upon ourselves, but it is possible. Do not think death is something that happens only to other people. You and I will die. Every day, approach your sleep like death. In sleep, you are gone. The world is dead in your experience. Tomorrow morning is your next life.

So, approach sleep like death, without creating some stupid paranoia. Just keep everything aside – your body means nothing; your mind means nothing; your thoughts mean nothing; your emotions mean nothing. All the different identities that you have taken on mean nothing. Keep all of them aside and go to bed, simply, like nothing. Some thoughts will come – just ignore them. Anyway they are not yours.

You do not have to orientate yourself heavenward. If you look up, you are looking in the wrong direction. All that needs to happen is that you shift your attention from what you have accumulated to what is really you. That is all the orientation you need.

Editor’s Note: “Mystic’s Musings” includes more of Sadhguru’s wisdom on life, death and the human mechanism. Read the free sample [pdf] or purchase the ebook.

A version of this article was originally published in the January 2016 Isha Forest Flower. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.