Sadhguru explains that when prepared properly, the sacred ash Vibhuti has certain qualities that enable it to be a great medium for transmitting energy. It is also used as a constant reminder of one's own mortality. Ignoring mortality is to live in a fundamental state of ignorance - keeping a reminder is a means to go beyond the limitations of the physical.
Sadhguru: There are many aspects to the usage of vibhuthi, or the sacred ash. Apart from its energy significance of what it is, apart from its ability to do things to direct and control the energy body, depending upon how it’s prepared and how it’s used, and apart from it being a… a great medium to transfer energy or transmit energy, the symbolic significance of vibhuthi or the bhasma is to indicate the mortal nature of life. One who does sadhana uses the ash that comes from the cremation grounds. The Adi Yogi’s stocks always came from the cremation grounds. And even today, many yogis only procure their ash that they need for their sadhana from the cremation grounds. One thing is it has a certain quality of its own; another thing is it’s a constant reminder of your own mortality – always you’re wearing mortality on your body.
Shiva smeared his body, head to toe, in the ash from the cremation ground because he does not want to forget for a moment that he is mortal. For one moment if you forget that you are mortal, ignorance will sprout. If you forget for a long time, it’ll bear fruit. If you start thinking that you’re immortal, you will wear the crown of ignorance. To ignore mortality is ignorance. So you will see particularly in South India, people have their forehead plastered, wearing their mortality like a badge, a constant reminder that, ‘I am not here for good,’ a constant reminder that, ‘I am only a temporary resident of this place,’ because one who is constantly reminded of his mortality, at least has created a fertile ground for his knowing. Maybe he doesn’t know yet but he has at least created a fertile ground for knowing to sprout in his life.
Just putting soil back to soil, very few people can do it gracefully of this billions of people on the planet. Of the billions and billions who’ve passed through this planet, very, very few, extremely few can give back the soil that they picked up from Mother Earth gracefully, very few. We hope you carry what you have picked up from Mother Earth; you must also carry it gracefully, it’s very important. You carry it gracefully, when it’s time to put back, you put it back gracefully; just a scoop of earth, nothing more. If you have any other ideas about yourself, you’ll learn the hard way.
So you know wherever you go people are talking about, ‘You must be, you must be,’ all they’re telling you is, from being an unnecessarily complicated mind, you just have to become a being, which you are. If you become a being, my job, it’ll be a pleasure, not with minds around. If you have great minds around, it’s good; stupidly complicated minds, no good. People who know how to complicate every simple situation, it’s lot of hard work for nothing.
Mind is a fantastic gift to humanity but what a horrible thing people may have made out of it. So life and death can be handled gracefully. If you plaster this with the ash to remind this head all the time that, ‘I am mortal, I’m mortal, I’m mortal, I’m mortal,’ you will see, mind will uncomplicate itself, the simplest tool. You know, people get transformed if they believe they’re going to die tomorrow? If your doctor told you you’re going to die tomorrow, you can’t live more then 24 hours, you will see you will transform yourself so rapidly; minute to minute you will change. So don’t wait for your doctor to tell you something horrible. Everyday, when you take the vibhuthi and smear it here, here, you’re just reminding yourself ‘I am mortal, I’m mortal, I’m mortal, I’m mortal.’ You need to do that.
If you do that, your mind will become uncomplicated. An uncomplicated mind is a great mind, it can do phenomenal things, it will not be a hurdle, it will be a way by itself. And if you become a being, a guru’s job will become a wonderful thing. Handling simple minds which are complicated - simply they believe they’re complicated, they’re not even complicated - it’s just such a waste of time and life. Please don’t expect people to die everyday; you must remind yourself.