Bhuta Shuddhi – Getting to the Root of Karma
Sadhguru discusses the 5 elements of creation and the importance of purifying them within the body. This purification process, called Bhuta Shuddhi, allows one to get to the root of the karmic imprint.
Questioner: Pranam Sadhguru. I have a question about Bhuta Shuddhi. We speak about cleansing of the five elements. Cleansing them of what, why do they become impure and what is the difference between Pancha Bhuta Aradhana which happens on Shivaratri and the Bhuta Shuddhi process which we learn as a part of Hata Yoga?
Sadhguru: The five elements, just five, if they have to play so much mischief - it’s not one or two manifestations, trillions of manifestations - if all this has to happen, if it does not acquire other qualities or possibilities, there is no way with five you can create so many. They are naturally receptive in nature. The air that you breathe, the food that you eat, the water that you drink - we will leave the other two because you don’t have much experience of those two. Today, we know we can influence them - just with thought, emotion, intension or energy we can change the quality of the water, we can change the quality of the air and the food that we eat, just with our intention or emotion or thought process. So, the five elements within you which makes this body are deeply, deeply influenced or a certain layer of information, which generally referred to as the Karmic substance gathers; without it the elements would not behave in a particular way within you. It would be same… every human being would have been same if there was no specific information.
When I say specific information - see, if you eat a banana you become a woman…the banana becomes a woman. Somebody here (Referring to the gents side) eats, it becomes a man, if a cow eats it becomes a cow - same banana. Banana is not so intelligent to make itself into a man, woman, cow, whichever animal consumes. It is a certain amount of information within you, which transforms a banana into a woman or a man or a cow or an elephant or whatever for that matter. What you call as myself, individual self is essentially a certain volume of information and the fundamental way that it is stuck on to you is through the elements because there is nothing here apart from the elements.
So, cleansing it is also about cleansing it and making it free of the accumulated information or the karmic substance. If this is not done then you will be a strong individual but you will never know how to breach this boundary that you have set for yourself. This is not some boundary set by the existence; this is a boundary that you’ve set for yourself. If you cannot cross the boundary that you set up, that’s a foolish way to live, isn’t it? You set up a boundary without knowing why and you can’t cross it after sometime and you start claiming “This is how I am!” (Laughs) This is… you know this is a common statement you hear everywhere, you ask them to cross some limitation - “No! This is how I am.” This is not how you are this is what you made yourself to be.
Now, cleansing becomes relevant when you want to extend yourself beyond these boundaries when freedom and liberation becomes the goal of your life. If you want to be a concrete ball there is no need to cleanse, there’s no need to cleanse at all. So concretization of karmic processes will make you rigid. Rigidity will bring enormous amount of suffering, enormous. You don’t need a calamity to happen; you are a calamity by yourself. You do not need any external assistance, this is called self-help. Most people when it comes to their suffering they are all on self-help. You know (Laughs)! Nobody need to poke them. When was it last time that somebody physically poked you? Hmm? When was it last time? Maybe when you were in school somebody did this (Gestures) to you. After that nobody is bothered about doing anything like that. Most of you, almost all of you have never born… been poked with a dagger or a sword - at the most a pin or a finger (Laughs), nothing more. But for most of you in the last ten, fifteen or twenty-five years nobody has ever even poked you with a finger because everybody is weary of you. Who’s (Laughs)…
So how much - if you look at the volume of suffering that you go through - anger, fear, hatred, jealousy, whatever else you go through, misery whatever - how much has been caused from external agencies, how much is caused by you if you look at it, it is a miniscule percentage which has been caused from external agencies. “No, no, no my mother-in-law said this, my boss said that” - they are saying what they’re saying but they are not poking you. Physical suffering has not been caused to you from outside unless you’re from Middle-East (Laughter) (Referring to Fatima who is from Lebanon). For most of you such things have not happened but rest is all your own making. This is simply because the imprint is so deep that you behave in predetermined compulsive ways.
A thousand times the same situation has happened but still the next time co… it happens you almost react the same way - it takes a certain amount of awareness, certain amounts of shaking you up to respond in a different way. So, what’s called Bhuta Shuddhi is to do it in the most fundamental level. If we cleanse your mind - if we clean it in the morning, by afternoon you will have a whole new world again (Laughs). It’s really waste. This is why no… no significance or no importance is given in the yogic system towards your psychological structure - what you think, what you feel they don’t care because if you change it today again within few hours you will change it back into something else.
We are only interested in the body; this is why yoga calls everything as body - physical body, mental body, energy body like this - but no mind because the psychological activity that’s happening towards which you have given enormous importance is of no consequence or significance. Depending upon the type of information imprinted within you. Whatever is your karma, whatever is your sanskara, that is how you think, that’s how you feel, that’s how your emotions happen, everything happens that way. So we are interested in handling the root. If you prune the tree it will sprout brack… sprout back with vengeance - no point sprouting… you know pruning it. If you handle the root it’ll be gone. So the very root of karmic imprint is in the elements, that is the most fundamental space. It takes much more than handling other aspects. So, generally…because most people are not interested in absolute transformation. They just want a little change, they don’t want to lose themselves.
Bhuta Shuddhi means you want to lose yourself - whether it’s good, bad, ugly, beautiful, it doesn’t matter - you want to lose everything that you have built, so that the Creator’s creation will stand up and shine within you. It’ll take a certain amount of work - the Bhuta Shuddhi that’s been taught to you is very basic. If you want to do more serious forms of Bhuta Shuddhi it will mean… it becomes your entire life, it’s not something that you do on the side. So even if you do a very minor version of Bhuta Shuddhi, you will see the change that happens in you is permanent there is no tendency to fall back and that’s important. Otherwise everybody changes for three days and again they fall back into the rut. After sometime that will not happen when you assist whatever else you’re doing with the Bhuta Shuddhi practice.
Nadha Aradhana… I mean the Pancha Bhuta Aradhana is another matter, that’s a ritual. For those who are not willing to do sadhana just to give them some benefit, that’s the beauty of a ritual, that’s a limitation of a ritual. Somebody else can conduct a ritual for you – you don’t have to do any sadhana, just sit there and benefit from that but then only if they conduct, you have it otherwise you don’t have it. Suppose we don’t do Pancha Bhuta Aradhana, you don’t have it. So, the ritual is always like this, it is beautiful because people who do not know anything about it they can still benefit from it. At the same time if those who conduct, do not conduct it properly it will not happen to you. If they do not conduct it at all, it will never be available to you. But if you do Bhuta Shuddhi practice by yourself - if you’re willing you can keep it up and you will see as time progresses its impact is undeniable. Above all, whatever it does, however small the practice is, whatever it does, there is no turning back. That’s a very aspect of Bhuta Shuddhi. If you… if you - let’s say six months you do asana, another one year you give it up, everything will back… will be back as it was. Six months you did pranayam - if it’s a powerful process like Shakti Chalana Kriya, if you did, its impact will be there but of… at a certain period of time… if you don’t do it for a certain period of time, again it’ll turn back.
You meditate, you do Shoonya meditation for some time - if you don’t do it for a certain period of time slowly it’ll turn back. But that is not the nature of Bhuta Shuddhi. Bhuta Shuddhi if you do nothing seems to be happening because it’s very fundamental and it’s slow but whatever happens, it will not turn back. It stays with you, as long as you hold this body it stays with you it will not go because it’s on a very fundamental level. That’s the significance of Bhuta Shuddhi. If you… if you don’t hold a profession or if you don’t have family either, then we can start more serious form of Bhuta Shuddhi because it will take a lot of time.