Clearing the Path
On this Spot, Sadhguru points out what it takes to move from stagnation to growth on the spiritual path. As a first step, he suggests examining the following question for ourselves: “What is that one handicap in your life that does not allow you to be more spiritual?” In the next step, Sadhguru addresses some of the most common obstacles, and how to transcend them.
S piritual process means different things to different people. A lot of people think spiritual process means to always be loving, always be grinning, to always walk gently. Others think spirituality is some kind of a disability. Another common belief is that spirituality means trying to be good. Some people think spirituality means doing something wild – smoking pot, going crazy, being irresponsible. For others, being spiritual means trying to be joyful, peaceful, or ecstatic. Being spiritual does not mean any of that. Being spiritual means becoming in some way more of a spirit and less of a body.
There may be certain obstacles that do not allow you to experience this right now. You must know what your handicap is. It may be that you are so good that you have no sense about life around you. Or you are so crazy that you have no sense about life within you and outside of you. Or you are so controlled that nothing ever happens with you. What is that one handicap in your life that does not allow you to be more spiritual, that does not allow you to walk this path smoothly and easily? Here is what you can do: close your eyes, look into yourself, see what your idea of spirituality is, and what needs to happen for you to be a little more spiritual, to be more sensitive to life within. Identify one main obstacle that needs to be cleared to make you more of a spirit than a body. If you really pin it down, I will fix this for you.
Let’s look at a few common obstacles. If you feel there is rigidity or friction in the body, you can work it out by doing your hatha yoga in the morning. This body is a machine that gets better with use. Rigidity and friction in the body mean in a way, rigor mortis is slowly setting in. Hatha yoga does not allow that to settle into the system. When you are alive, you must be fully alive. One aspect of being alive is you do not allow rigidity to settle in. Your body, mind, and energies should be as fluid as possible. Only then will you know life in a deeper way.
Others may have the intention to do their sadhana but end up being too lazy. Not everyone has the same level of intensity, but what must happen, must happen. Just fix it like this: no Shambhavi – no food. Do not think this is too drastic. On the yogic path, people have taken far more extreme steps. Yogis who want to meditate for twenty-four hours a day keep scorpions with them to have them sting them to stay awake, or they cut their finger and put a lemon on it, for the same effect. For you, it is just twenty-one minutes of Shambhavi. That much commitment you must have. This is not about thinking or talking spirituality. This is about practicing and living spirituality.
If you have physical ailments, you may have to work a little harder. That is because if the body becomes a problem, it will take your whole focus in life. Let us say you have an asthmatic attack where you cannot breathe – then you just want to breathe; nothing else matters to you. This applies to any kind of pain or disease. When the body is not taken care of properly, it will draw your entire attention. Everything that you have will go into maintaining the body. This is the nature of the body. Keeping it well is not about beauty or flaunting it in front of someone else. The point is that this body should not become an obstacle in your life. It should be a stepping stone. If the body becomes an obstacle, it will be a difficult one to surmount. You can still be spiritual, but it takes a lot more effort. At the same time, once you realize that the body can give you trouble anytime, the longing to transcend the body will grow.
The main obstacle could also be your mind. The process of evolution took millions of years. The transition from monkey to human happened rather quickly. Physiologically, they say there is only a 1.23 percent difference between the DNA of a chimpanzee and that of a human being. But in terms of our intellect and awareness, we human beings are worlds apart from chimpanzees. This level of intellect is still relatively new to us. The problem is you have an intellect for which you do not have a stable enough base. That is why yoga – to create a stable base so that your intellect works for you, the way you want it. Your hand is useful only when it goes where you want it to go. Similarly, your mind is useful only when it goes where you want it to go. When it goes all over the place, it is a nuisance.
Another obstacle could be your karma. Karma is not something that just happens. Karma is about taking charge of your life. When you realize that your life is your making, you can take your destiny in your hands. Even then, there can be issues of competence – we can help you with that. I am here for that purpose. But if you do not even take your life into your hands, why should I take it into my hands? Anyway it will not work. If you have taken it into your hands and you are not able to do what you need to do, then I can pitch in, then I can do things for you.
Then there are a whole lot of people who always try to protect themselves, who are afraid that someone may take advantage of them. Let them take advantage. There are self-appointed advisors around me who keep telling me to be careful, that someone may use me or do whatever. I say, let them use me. That is why I am here. Do not worry about that. Say “yes” to life. With a “yes,” you will not lose. With a “no,” you will lose. A “no” is a closed door. Do not close the door for any reason. It is a very brief life – there is no time to keep closing and opening the door.
Only the physical body needs protection. And sometimes, certain things are not possible. Otherwise, everything should be a “yes.” There is not a single atom in the universe that is not a possible doorway for you. I do not mean “yes” as an attitude but as a reflection of existence. Existence is always “yes.” If you understand you are a part of it, you will also be a “yes.” If the air that you breathe says “no” to you, you are dead. If life around you says “no” to you, you are dead. If the food that enters your body says “no” to you, you are dead. Existence is saying “yes” to you. Then why are you calculating, “Yes or no?” It is time to say one hundred percent “yes” to life.
For some people, the greatest obstacle is fear of judgment or ridicule. First of all, are other people really interested in what you do, and do they have the time to make judgments about you? Do not worry about what someone else thinks. What happens in their mind is their problem. You should be concerned with the quality of your mind. That will improve your life. Do not worry about the quality and content of other people’s minds. If you are concerned about what others may think, you will go crazy, because it is all guess work. If you think something is worth doing, just do it, no matter what someone else may think. And if someone laughs at you, you can laugh with them. Possibly, they will help you out of something that you may be doing wrong. But anyway, most people are not thinking about you. They are busy with their own stuff.
Above all, you must create a stable base. The most important thing in life is balance. If there is no balance, your body and mind will work against you. A stable base means a body and mind that take instructions from you. You must be able to create the right kind of chemistry within the system. This is essential for your health and wellbeing. You need the skills to manage your own system. This is why yoga. The simple process of bending and twisting is not about stretching your muscles – it is about changing the fundamentals. At least start with twenty-one minutes of Shambhavi, maybe along with it Yoga Namaskar or Surya Kriya. It will bring stability and balance to the system. If you want to enjoy the ride, you need balance. Everyone needs to work on that.
Shambhavi Mahamudra, a powerful yogic practice offered in Isha’s Inner Engineering programs.