What is Occult?

Learn all about occult and how it differs from spirituality and mysticism as Sadhguru reveals all.
Sadhguru Wisdom Article | What is Occult?
Table of Content
1. Difference between Occult and Spirituality
2. Occult and Mysticism
3. Science and Technology
4. What Is The Takeaway?

Sadhguru: The English word “occult” is not very clear and specific. Occult simply means a certain capability, but because certain people used this capability in irresponsible and negative ways, the word “occult” has come to mean something negative. 

Occult is just technology. Today, you can pick up your cellphone in India and talk to someone in the United States. Occult is just like this – you can talk to someone in the United States without the cellphone. It is a slightly more advanced technology. This will happen with modern technology after some time as it evolves. I already have a Bluetooth mechanism where if I just say the person’s name, the phone dials for me. A day will come when even this is not needed. Just a small implant will do. 

Modern science and occult are bound to meet somewhere if some small changes happen in the understanding of what is what.

Occult is when you manage to talk even without Bluetooth. It is just technology on a different level, but it is physical. You are using your body, mind and energy to do these things. Ultimately, no matter what the technology, you are only using your body, mind and energy. Usually you use the other material to serve you, but the fundamental material that you use to manufacture a cellphone or any piece of technology is just your body, mind and energy. 

Initially, you had to use a lot of material if you wanted to manufacture a phone. Now we are continuously trying to reduce that. A day will come when we do not need any material – that will be occult. Modern science and occult are bound to meet somewhere if some small changes happen in the understanding of what is what. 

The physical can be used in many ways. For example if you take information technology, what started as a stone tablet has now come to a tiny chip. What would take a whole mountain to be carved upon, is today stored on a tiny chip. The physical has become subtler. When you use the subtlest dimension of physical, we call it occult. 

Difference between Occult and Spirituality


In many parts of the world, occult is passing off as a spiritual process, which is not good. When we say spiritual, we are talking about going beyond the physical, to bring an experience within you which is not of the physical. Occult is using the subtlest phenomena of the physical, but it is still physical. 

Shiva is an occultist.

As modern technology becomes subtler, the need for occult will come down. A thousand years ago, if I was in Coimbatore and you were in Delhi, and I wanted to give you an instruction, you walking down to Coimbatore or me walking up to Delhi would have been an impractical thing, so I spent time mastering my occult so that I could deliver this to you. But now that I have a cellphone, I do not have to do it. I can still do it but to prepare you to be receptive enough – to be clear enough to receive it and not doubt it – will take an unnecessarily long time. I would rather just call you. Occult is becoming more irrelevant by the day because modern technology is advancing at a great pace. 

People have heard of some lousy occultist who tried to destroy someone’s lives or cause disease or death, so they think occult is always a negative thing. Socially, you may have been exposed to only that kind of people but occult is also of the highest order. Shiva is an occultist. Not all occult is necessarily negative. Occult can be a positive force. It all depends on who is using it and for what purpose.

Occult is just a technology which has unfortunately been used in a negative way. No science or technology is a dirty thing. But suppose we start using technology to kill and torture people, after some time it will look like technology is a dirty thing. That is what has happened to occult because too many people misused it for some personal reasons. So, generally occult is shunned completely on the spiritual path. 

Occult and Mysticism

Mysticism and occult are also often mistaken to be the same. People think mysticism means that some magical acts have to be performed. If you take the mystic on the planet, Adiyogi himself never once performed anything magical except to reach out and communicate with a few people who were dear to him. He walked the planet like everyone else. 

You could say occult is mysticism’s younger brother gone wild.

Occult is the younger brother of mysticism, who jumps the gun and does things faster. It is like you are slogging through the books in a university, but your younger brother is full of money and is living his life already at the age of 18 because he joined the local gang. But he is going to places where you do not wish to go, and may end up in a place where you definitely do not want to be – either in prison or dead. You could say occult is mysticism’s younger brother gone wild. If you look down from the mystical path, occult is right there but you do not go after it because you are going in another direction. 

Science and Technology

If you have to use an analogy – occult is like technology, mysticism is science. The essence of science is to know what the nature of this existence is. But for most people today their understanding of science is technology. Technology need not necessarily be wellbeing. Technology could be heading you straight down the drain but you may not realize it because you will be going hi-tech – in style – so you may think you are doing well. Science means you want to know everything the way it is, you want to perceive and decipher life the way it is. Technology is just misuse of existence most of the time. 

Mysticism is a way to know and realize that “There is no such thing as me and the cosmos, there is just me or there is just cosmic reverberation."

I am not against technology. Technology is a beautiful thing which has liberated us physically in many ways, but right now our idea of technology is to use just about anything and everything – the whole existence – for our wellbeing. We know how to use a microbe, we know how to exhaust the planet – we have learnt to use everything – but we do not know how to be well. 

Mysticism is like science. Mysticism is essentially a way to know the existence, your own nature, and the relationship between what you call “myself” and what you call the cosmos. Mysticism is a way to know and realize that “There is no such thing as me and the cosmos, there is just me or there is just cosmic reverberation.” To know this, not as a knowledge, deduction, or philosophy, but as a living reality – this is mysticism. 

What Is The Takeaway?

What can you do out of mysticism? Can you make a living? Maybe not. Then what is the point of all this rubbish? To tell you frankly, there is no point. It is just that there is no point to life, that’s what you need to understand. The point of life is life itself. There is nothing more here than knowing life. How deeply, how profoundly have you known it is all there is. There is no takeaway. 

The longing of life is to touch everything – that which is seen and unseen. Mysticism is just a fulfillment of this longing.

Unfortunately, the whole modern world revolves around “What is the takeaway?” I want you to know, when you fall dead, there is no takeaway. Death is a clear statement that there is no takeaway in this life. Mysticism means you understood that there is no takeaway so you decided to make the best out of it now. Making the best out of it does not mean eating all you can eat or drinking all you can drink. It is not the actions of life which are enriching and fulfilling, it is the depth of experience. How vibrant, how possible you became as a life, that’s all there is. 

When a human being comes to a state where he need not take away anything, only then mysticism is a possibility. It is not for people who are thinking of what they can make out of it or how they can show it to other people. This is for someone who has hit that dimension of life where there is no body, no mind and no external influence – pure life! The longing of life is to touch everything – that which is seen and unseen. Mysticism is just a fulfillment of this longing.


Editor's Note: Want to find out more about Mysticism and Occult? Check out the ‘Tantra’ series on Sadhguru Exclusive