The Meaning of Colors for a Spiritual Seeker
Sadhguru explains the nature of color, and looks at how some chakras are connected with certain colors. He also explains how a spiritual seeker can use certain colors to their benefit, depending on their situation and path. Those on a path where they do not wish to gather anything, wear white. If someone's sadhana is intense and oriented towards the agna chakra, they wear orange. He also explains why Buddhist monks initially wore yellow robes, and why they later switched to maroon.
Sadhguru: Now, the color of the clothes or the colors of anything around you, does it have some impact? You need to understand this. How color happens, first of all? Why this (is) seems to be white right now is because when the light falls on it, it reflects all of it, so it looks white. Why this seems to be red right now, is not because it’s red. It is just that it holds back all the colors and only reflects red. That’s why you’re seeing red. And what is red for you may not be red for some other creature. If you dress up really jazzy colors and go and stand in front of your dog he looks at you in an uninterested way, because he doesn’t see any color, he sees everything black and white, do you know this? Don’t dress up for him, okay? (Laughter) Dog lovers, I’m saying. You wear only black and white, dog lovers. Nothing else works. You don’t impress him with red, green, blue and whatever.
So, color is not what it is, color is what it gives away. What you reflect will be your color. What you hold will not be your color. This is the nature of life, not just of color. This is the nature of life itself. Today if you radiate love, people will see you as a loving human being. If you hold back all your love, because you’re a very… you’re a love bank, you’re full of love, but you don’t radiate, people will think you’re (Gesture) that. If you radiate joy, people will think, ‘Oh, he’s a joyful person.’ If you are a joy bank, you held back all your joy because you want to take it to heaven, people won’t experience you as a joyful human being, isn’t it? What you give away is always your quality, isn’t it so? So that is not just for a human being, that is the nature of the Existence itself. What is thrown away is the quality of that substance. Now, this reflects everything, so this is white. That reflects only red, so it is red. That reflects only blue so it is blue. Everything else is held back. What it holds back you don’t see. What it gives away is what you see.
So, how is color significant for human consciousness as such, or for any kind of spiritual process? It is significant in the sense that the color that you reflect, will naturally add to the aura that you carry. People on the ascetic path don’t want to wear anything, because they don’t want to add any new things to them. They just want to work with what they have. They don’t want to take on anything more. What you are right now, to work that out is quite substantial. Adding one more thing and one more thing, it complicates. So they don’t want anything, they walk naked. If socially walking naked is difficult, they will put on one little loin cloth so that socially there is no issue. But the idea is, they don’t take on anything more than what they are. They know what they are is substantial. There’re other aspects to it, that's different. I’m saying about the color.
So orange, the chakras in the body, all the hundred and fourteen chakras or rather hundred and twelve chakras ascribe to some color. The two do not ascribe to any color, because they’re not physical in nature. Anything that’s physical in the existence naturally reflects light. You understand what I’m saying? Anything that’s physical in the existence reflects light. Once it reflects light, it will have color in your perception. It may not have any particular color, or it may not have the color that you’re seeing, you’re only seeing what’s being reflected. What you’re seeing is the reflected light. You’re not seeing the color of the substance that you’re seeing. You’re not seeing color of the thing that you’re seeing. You’re only seeing the color of the reflected light. Black reflects nothing. It holds back everything, so it becomes black. You see, we say the grass is green, no, the grass is not green. It is giving away green, so we see it is green. The sky is blue - no, no, no, the sky is not blue. You go there and see, there is no blue out there. Sky is blue for a completely different reason, because the refraction quality of the color blue is different from the other colors; that’s why the sky is blue.
So why is it that spiritual processes for different types of processes we use different kind of colors is those who are on a path where they don’t want to gather anything, they will wear white. Those who are into a different kind of sadhana, if their sadhana is mild, but they are on the spiritual path, but they are involved with various aspects of life, they don’t want to gather life around them. They want to be participating in life but they don’t want to gather anything, such people will choose to wear white. People who are on a more intense sadhana, which is oriented towards a particular chakra in the body which is known as Agna, between the eyebrows, they will wear orange, because the color of the chakra is orange. They want to radiate that color, because the whole process is about enlightenment and reaching to that state of knowing, opening up that dimension of perception which is referred to as the third eye, so they will seek always ochre, or orange color because that is the color of the Agna.
The yellow robes were worn by Buddhist monks because the process that Gautama gave to the initial stage of Buddhist monks, was very rudimentary process. He chose this process for the people because it did not need any preparation. He is… he is on a Ananda Alai program. (Laughs) Not a wave of bliss, but he wants to cause a wave of awareness. That means he doesn’t stay in any town for more than a day, continuously he's moving from village to village, town to town. There’s no time to prepare people for any kind of practice, so the practice that he gives them is very rudimentary, but still he’s converting them into monks. He's fixing their life but not giving them enough preparatory steps. So he told them to wear the yellow robe, because yellow is the color of the Mooladhara. The most basic chakra in the body is Mooladhara, so he wants them to be stable. For a monk the most important thing is he practices stability in his life. So he just wants them to be stable. They don’t have to fly off into a blissful experience. They don’t have to get enlightened right now, they don’t have to get anywhere, they just have to learn to be stable, because he is preparing soldiers to shake the world with awareness. So he told them to wear yellow robes.
Later on, when they graduated to what he called as arhats, the arhats in the Buddhist tradition, wore ochre robes, that is orange as all the Indian sanyasis wear. But then after Gautama passed away, when they tried to spread the Buddhist way of life, people in India they were at least 30% of the population were sanyasis or monks by nature. By culture it was just like that. So this one more set of monks, they just accepted them and they became kind of part of them, they couldn’t maintain a distinct identity. So from ochre they shifted to little more maroonish color, more for an identity sake, because they would simply mix with all the other yogis and monks who were walking all over the place. So they wanted to set up a distinct identity, so they switched to a little maroonish color later on. But the basic Buddhist color is still yellow, because yellow is the color of the Mooladhara, and it can be taught without preparation. No preparation, no teaching, no nothing, a simple process just to stabilize and stabilize and stabilize. Such a process is taught when you are charting out a spiritual path for a few lifetimes. See, that tradition still continues in the Buddhist way of life. They keep coming back and coming back to do more work and more work because the process is such, it’s of stabilization, not of realization. So that's why the yellow.
Devi is always red because red is the most vibrant color. Of all the colors, red is the most vibrant color and feminine represents that. There is a longing in a woman to be like a flower. And, there is a certain quality in the feminine which is flowery. So, when we say a flower, the first thing that comes into most people’s mind is always red. A red flower is always the real flower; other things are on the way. (Laughs) Red is vibrant. It is the color of vibrance. Devi, or the feminine form of the Divine, is the most vibrant form of Divine. Something nobody can miss. The reason why, even if there are other bigger temples, in every village, in every town in India, we will set up a Devi temple, just in case you miss the Dhyanalinga, it’s too subtle for you. You walk into the Devi temple, she hits you in the face, you can't miss it, because it’s vibrant. The color of vibrance is always red. If… it doesn’t matter what kind of a person you are, if you come dressed in full red clothes, suddenly people will think you’re vibrant... (Laughter) even if you’re not. Yes or no? So red dress, suddenly sets you off like you’re vibrant.
And to do certain type of sadhana which is Devi oriented, red is needed. The most important things in your life are usually red, you know, your blood is red. If it’s not red enough you…you go down, you know. (Laughs) Flowers are red, the rising sun can become reaching towards red, anything that you consider as vibrantly alive you tend to paint it red, because there is a connection between red and vibrance. And Devi is manifestation of vibrance that you cannot miss.
So the Devi temples always have very active involvement of red, in many ways only red flowers are used. Blood is spilled all over the place. We don’t do the blood business, but one way or the other it needs lot of spilling of life. Either you must know how to spill your life just like that without killing yourself, if you do not know the technology you have to kill. We know the technology, so we don’t kill. Somebody else who do not know the technology of spilling life without killing the body, they will cut the body. Most Devi temples have daily sacrifice. Only Bhairavi doesn’t have that. She has, but not in terms of blood sacrifices. She has different kind. So, red comes with a cost. The bulls will go after you. (Laughter) So colors have some impact. It definitely influences a few things. But it’s not everything.