“This happened one day. I sat down somewhere, eyes closed, for about 25-30 minutes. When I opened my eyes there was a crowd around me. Somebody wanted to know his future; somebody wanted to know when his daughter will get married... All kinds of rubbish. I thought, where did they all come from? Then they told me, ‘You’ve been sitting here for 13 days!’ When I tried to open my legs, my knees were all locked up. It took two hours of massaging and hot water and what not, to open my legs. I was sitting in the same spot for 13 days, but in my experience it was only 25-30 minutes, because the further away from the body you move, the lesser hold time will have on you. Samayadipathi, we call such a person. One who has in some way transcended time. Once you’ve mastered time, then time is of no consequence to you...” says Sadhguru.
Sounds fantastic. But what’s even more fantastic is when he tells you, “This is not some feat; anyone can reach this stage of mastery.” Really? Anyone? “Yes...,” he says, with a chuckle, that’s at once a challenge and an invitation, prompting you to ask him the next question, and the next, and the next...
Over an hour-long conversation filled with his trademark wit and wisdom, Sadhguru reveals some life hacks, unravels some mysteries and lays bare some harsh truths about life the way we live it. Excerpts.
Q: So, we’re curious now. How do you transcend time?
Sadhguru: You don’t try to transcend time. Once you transcend your physical nature, you naturally transcend time. How do people keep time within themselves? It is only through the body. How do they know it is afternoon? They ate their breakfast, now it’s time for lunch — from meal to meal, your body keeps time. From one bladder-full to the next bladder-full, you are keeping time. You run out of energy and you have to sleep — it is a way of keeping time.
If I make you sit here for three hours, your body will want to move. Suppose you had no body, and I made you sit here for 10,000 years, what’s the problem? It is the body that is giving you a sense of “time”. When you look at time on the clock, one circle means an hour. The moon does one circle around the earth, it’s a month. The earth goes around the sun, it becomes a year. Everything is going around in cycles, because that’s the nature.
Q: And how do you transcend the physical nature?
Sadhguru: The entire yogic science is about this: How to align your system in line with the cosmic system. Because all the cycles of your body have something to do with the bigger cycles of existence — the solar system, the universe. If it is aligned, your sense of body becomes minimal and you can use your body in any way you want. If your sense of body is overpowering, it becomes compulsive in nature. It makes you keep doing the same thing. If you don’t do that one thing, it will keep torturing you.
How deeply you identify with the physical, that’s how much you are available to time. People who do physical things are always looking at the watch. Time just won’t pass for them. If someone gets a little intellectual and they start reading a book, suddenly they won’t know time. Hours pass by, just like that. If you go beyond the intellectual and get meditative, time simply slips away.
My days are such that if I sit down in a program, for the next 10-12 hours I am sitting in the same place. Everybody else takes bathroom breaks, drink breaks, but I sit there all the time. It’s not about performing some feat. It is just that the body doesn’t have the same power over you. You are able to use the body, the body is not able to use you. That’s a good way to be.
Q: Is that why you advocate yoga as such a big part of spirituality?
Sadhguru: Your physical body is not a simple thing. It’s a tremendous machine. If you don’t keep it in full-alert mode, you will not experience life in a very profound way.
I was in Tirupati recently when a school bus stopped in front of my car. I noticed five out of ten kids were overweight. A school-going child today looks terribly bored. A ten-year-old has seen the whole cosmos on the phone screen – he thinks he knows it all. What are these kids going to do in life? They may go on to get a job and earn some money – but is that it? They can’t climb a tree, run, enjoy themselves or dance. From bored kids they naturally become bored adults. Then they will want something to “hit” them, so they will go for drink and drugs. Nothing else shakes them, so they put chemicals in their system.
Q: Are there chemical-free ways to “shake” ourselves up, then?
Sadhguru: I can show you millions of people who just close their eyes, and tears of ecstasy flow down their cheeks – you just need to be in touch with yourself. Some may look at this issue of alcohol and drugs moralistically, but the essence of it is simply this — people are looking for a bigger experience of life. Everyone wants a larger slice of life. If you don’t show them any other way, they will hit the bottle. After some time, the bottle won’t work and they will go for stronger alternatives. It may put holes in your brain but it doesn’t matter because people still want to experience something more – even if it kills them. The human longing to experience something more is so strong!
Q: So, is spirituality the answer to that longing?
Sadhguru: Today, human intellect is sparking like never before. More people are thinking for themselves than ever before in the history of humanity. Today, even if God spoke to you, and if he did not make logical sense, you wouldn’t buy it. There was a time when people would. So, in many ways, the heavens are crumbling. Right now it may be happening to individuals, but gradually it will become a widespread phenomenon.
I estimate, in another 80-100 years’ time, the present form of organized religion will go down. Heavens of the past made sense when people were living in such abject conditions. Today we are living lives better than the heavens, so people will tell you, “I don’t want to go to heaven. This is good.” But the human being’s aspiration to experience something more will not go away. If we as a generation of people do not strive to bring about a powerful inner experience for every human being, ninety percent of the population will move towards drink and drug – and you can’t stop it.
Before the entire population turns back this incredible work of evolution – which brought you from the level of an amoeba to such a level of intelligence and capability – a scientifically relevant spiritual process must happen to the world.
Q: What if one is an atheist and doesn’t believe in anything in particular?
Sadhguru: Atheists and theists are not two different kinds of people. Both believe something that they do not know. Both have neither the courage nor commitment to seek what is true. They want to assume something. Depending upon what kind of culture they have been brought up in, one seems like a positive assumption, the other seems negative. They don’t know reality in anyway.
Instead of being a theist or an atheist, if you are straight enough to tell yourself, “What I know, I know, what I do not know, I do not know,” the very nature of human existence is such that you will want to know, you will strive to know, you will seek to know – and you will find it.
Q: However, our generation’s biggest problems are still the everyday realities — stress at work, the promotion that never comes, the horrible boss!
Sadhguru: I was in Mumbai some time ago. Someone who holds a very important job there met me and said, “Sadhguru, I can’t take this anymore. This boss of mine makes my life a living hell.” I said, “May you be fired.” He panicked: “Sadhguru, what are you saying.” I told him, “Why are suffering your job? May you be fired. Go walk on the beach!” If you are in a job, you are miserable. Even if you are fired, you are miserable!
This is something we should decide. Do you want to make a living, or do you want to make a life out of this? When a worm, an insect and a bird are able to do it so easily, earning a living with such a big brain is not a big thing. The only problem is you want to make a living like someone else. You want to make as much money as someone else, so you get into a job. You want to drive what someone else is driving, so you do some business. You want to live in a house like someone else’s, so you get into all this mess. You grow up learning to do things for all the wrong reasons. You are not doing what you really want to do.
When I say “really want to do”, I don’t mean it as a whim. If you are doing what you really care for, if you see what you are doing as an important contribution to the world, you will do it joyfully. There will be no such thing as stress. But if you do something that you don’t care for because of something you may get, I don’t want to use the word, but in a way, you have sold yourself.
Q: But “make it big” has been the driving force of this generation. We call it aspiration. No one ever told us it’s a bad thing.
Sadhguru: The most important thing about you right now is that you are alive. If you don’t not know how to enjoy the largest phenomena that is happening here, which is life, how will you enjoy anything else? If you are really enjoying it, then everything else is incidental, not the deciding factor. I may ride a car today, tomorrow if I have a bicycle, I will ride it – what’s the big deal? You have not found the true worth for the life that you are, so you are trying to add value to all kinds of things that are of no value.
My schedule goes over twenty hours a day. If I get to sleep on the same bed twice it is a luxury. Do I look stressed to you? Will I die of tension? Never! I may die of exhaustion but I will not die of boredom, for sure. That’s a horrible way to die. If you want to be alive to life, you shouldn’t be thinking about what you can extract from it — you should see how to participate in it.
Q: Well, we are alive to life – on Fridays! :)
Sadhguru: Thank god it’s Friday, is it? People ask me a lot about work-life balance. I say, if work is not life, don’t do it. I don’t have a weekend – I work seven days a week, 365 days. Do I look like I need a vacation? If you really do what you care for, your whole life is a vacation. So make your life a vacation by creating what you care for.
Life is a purpose in itself. The big question is, how alive are you? When you were five, how alive were you? Today, how alive are you? Keep a count at least once a day! If you don’t keep accounts of this, the business of your life will go into the red. At least before you go to bed, just look: today have you been a better human being than you were yesterday. By “better” I don’t mean whether you did something useful or helped someone. I am not talking about morally better. As a life, are you a little more joyful.
Joy is an insurance. When you are joyful, you are wonderful to everyone. You are keeping count of your stupid money. Why don’t you keep a count of your life? Your money has become more important than life!
Q: What’s the solution, then?
Sadhguru: Turn inward for your wellbeing, not outward. If you were ecstatic by nature, what would you do? You would simply do whatever is needed. Right now, what do you do in pursuit of your happiness? You do whatever you think will bring you that happiness. So, reversing the human experience from trying to squeeze the juice out of the world, to enhancing this life in such a way that this is full of juice by itself — that’s the solution.
Editor's Note: Rooted in the timeless wisdom of the yogic sciences, Isha Kriya is a yogic practice created by Sadhguru to help an individual get in touch with the source of his existence, to create life according to his own vision and ambition. Available as a free guided meditation online and with written instructions as well, it has the potential to transform the life of anyone who is willing to invest just a few minutes a day.