Don’t Be a Donkey – How You Can Live Totally Free

In this excerpt taken from a Teacher’s Meet in 1998, Sadhguru explains what it truly means to live and breathe Isha. He points out the best way to make use of the tremendous possibility for transformation and empowerment.

Sadhguru: Many spiritual orders have lost their sense of purpose over time. Things became too comfortable for them, and many ashrams became like kingdoms. I hope that does not happen to Isha. Isha means the Divine. Isha also means “king.” We should never become a king. A king represents the peak of ego – everything is settled, awareness is gone. Divinity is ultimate awareness – nothing is settled, everything is fluid.

What Does It Truly Mean to Live in an Ashram?

The idea of living in an ashram is to live homeless – to live without belonging to any place, while at the same time giving yourself totally. This ashram, the buildings, whatever we are doing does not mean anything to me personally. The moment I say this, people may be shocked. “Then why are you doing all this?” This is needed for you. Though personally it does not mean a thing to me, I am willing to waste my whole life just doing it. This is what one needs to understand on this path. We are not doing all these things because it means something to us – we simply do it because it is needed.

When we talk about dedication, people think it is loyalty. Dedication is not loyalty. Loyalty is blind emotion. Your loyalty can change, but your dedication never changes. Loyalty is not capable of transformation – it is just entanglement. Dedication is capable of transformation – it releases you from entanglement. We never demand loyalty from anyone. We do not want loyalty – we are not trying to build an army. With loyalty, intelligence does not function. With dedication, intelligence functions. That is the most important thing.

The Ultimate Freedom

When you do not care for all the simple bondages that create a sense of security, you are free. If people are aware, to see someone utterly free within themselves is fantastic and beautiful. But for people who are living in unawareness and insecurity, to see someone in utter freedom is terrifying because they see that in that sense of freedom, you can do anything you want. The only control on you is you. That seems dangerous to society.

People always think freedom means doing what they want to do. That is where the bondage is. If you can do whatever is needed in this moment without any problems within you – that is freedom. If you are capable of being whichever way the situation demands – that is freedom. It is not dangerous to anyone. In fact, the world will be safe only when everyone has this kind of freedom.

The Potential for Transformation

There are many aspects of Yoga that we have left out simply because we have trust in this energy[1]. We have left the yamas and niyamas (do’s and don’ts) because when the energy is like this, things will happen. But if you have a donkey in this ashram, it is so insensitive that the energy has no impact on him. He does not transform himself even if he is living in an ashram. You can make yourself into a donkey and remain unaffected by all the energy around you. That is the only danger.

If you make yourself into a donkey, then the energy does not touch you. Otherwise, there is no way anyone can go untouched. Anyone who sits in front of me for one moment sincerely cannot go untouched; something in their life is touched. If you sit here totally jada (insensitive), then there is nothing we can do with you. We can transform stones, but we are unable to transform donkeys. And we do not want to bring donkey technologies into the ashram because we have decided what kind of people we want to work with.

[1] Referring to the energized space of the Isha Yoga Center.

Carrying Isha Within You

We have to decide what kinds of situations we want to get into, what kind of transformation we want to bring about, what level of work we want to do. Because only when we streamline work in a certain way, results will come. If you try to do everything in the world, then nothing happens. So we have decided where to work. There are hundreds of opportunities every day for everyone, even for the donkey, to see the point and come out of it very easily by themselves. But we do not want to beat the donkey out of them – it is up to them.

There are many donkeys outside the ashram. If you go out, unless you are properly grounded, they will gather and kick you into bits. But if you carry what we call “Isha” with you, then the right things will start happening.