NIRGUN – Awareness Is Freedom

On this Spot, Sadhguru clears common misconceptions about the core of the spiritual process – awareness. “For most people, awareness is heavily blurred by the mind, because awareness reflects through the mind.” His new poem “NIRGUN” allows an intensely personal glimpse at how Sadhguru experiences his life and his being.
NIRGUN – Awareness Is Freedom

நிர்குணம் – விழிப்புணர்வே விடுதலை

One thing I often see when people believe they are on a spiritual path is they throw around terminology to describe aspects that are not in their experience, and consequently have misconceptions about them. “Awareness” and its related terms are some such examples. Awareness is often mixed up with alertness, though they are not the same. Alertness is a quality of the mind and the body. Awareness is not of the mind or the body – it is the nature of life. Most people do not make this distinction.

Awareness is not of the mind or the body – it is the nature of life.

The root of everything is one, but it is the basis of all complexity. No mind can ever fathom the sophistication of what we call awareness or the being. These two are not different things. You could also call it atman or self, paramatman or the supreme self, anda and pinda or a piece of life, brahmanda or cosmos – but these are all just words. Essentially, we try to refer to that which defies definition. No word can describe this limitless phenomenon.

Definition needs a form, a shape, and a quality. Awareness has no quality of its own. That is why we describe it in negative terms. We call it nirgun, which means “that which has no quality.” This is as close as you can get to a definition. The logical mind cannot grasp that which has no quality. And since it is everywhere, you cannot battle with it either. There is a beautiful incident in the life of the great sage Allama Prabhu, who lived in northern Karnataka and is revered as one of the pillars of the Veera Shaiva community.

One day, a yogi named Goraksha came seeking Allama because he had heard great things about Allama and wanted to compete with him. They say Goraksha was a little over two hundred and eighty years at that time. With very rigorous yoga, mastering the elements within the system, he had hardened his body in such a way he defied age. Everybody he knew had fallen dead, but he was still alive and strong like a youth. That was his pride.

When the mind becomes absolutely still, you become free.

Goraksha met Allama on a river bank and told him, “I’m the real yogi. If you want to test me, take your sword, hit me on the head, and see what happens.” Allama agreed, took his sword, and smashed it on the yogi’s head. It bounced back as if it hit a rock. Goraksha said, “This is my strength. No sword can slice me. I am practically immortal. What can you do?” Allama laughed and said, “Well, you can also use your sword.” The yogi hesitated at first because Allama did not look strong or rock-like, but Allama encouraged him to go ahead. Goraksha took the sword and hit Allama’s head with full force. The sword went straight through Allama’s body, as if through air. Goraksha lost his balance and fell. He asked, “What is this?” Allama said, “This is not this or that. This is Shiva.”

When something is neither this nor that, it has no qualities. This is Shiva – “that which is not.” This is the nature of awareness – it has no quality of its own, no resistance, nothing. This is also the nature of life and that which is the source of life. But if at all people have any experience of awareness, it is mostly through the filters of their minds. There is no mind without quality. At the most, you can calm the mind in such a way that it becomes mirror-like, without attributes, for a period of time. The mind cannot function without attributes and information. If you bring the mind to a certain level of calmness, you touch the dimension that we call awareness. We can also call it life, the source of life, the Divine, nirgun, or atman – it is all the same.

For most people, awareness is heavily blurred by the mind, because awareness reflects through the mind. If the mind is still for some time, awareness will be clear. But a bit of activity, thoughts, and emotions, and immediately, awareness will be tainted. The very fact that you are awake and you read this now means you are aware. Trying to understand the language, the importance, and the meaning behind it – all this comes from the mind. The mind cannot exist without outside input and support.

If you bring the mind to a certain level of calmness, you touch the dimension that we call awareness.

If you go by the nature of your mind, whose content is largely based on social input, you will automatically seek bondage. You want to bond with people and hold on to things you come in contact with. By contrast, the nature of awareness is freedom. When the mind becomes absolutely still, you become free. Right now, awareness or the source of life is stuck to your body because of karmic glue. If you dissolve the karmic glue, which could happen if your meditation becomes very deep, you could leave the body. That is why I make sure no one gets enlightened right here. Not because I am avoiding competition. The problem is you may rise in awareness, but you cannot rise in knowing and wisdom that easily.

If you do not create any obstructions, you can easily rise in awareness, beyond the limitations of your psychological and physiological framework, because that is its nature. Right now, you are holding it down with so many obstructions. For awareness to rise and at the same time to keep your physiological structure and the psychological framework intact, you need to understand the nuts and bolts of how it is all made. This is a learning process that will take time.

Awareness never has a quality of its own. Only because you perceive everything through the tinted glass of your mind, it looks like there are different kinds of awareness, while it actually is one. The air around you, the life within you, and what is spreading across the cosmos are essentially of the same quality, or rather, beyond quality – nirgun.


As there is nothing that
I truly call as mine, neither
this Body nor Anybody, neither
this World nor the Other
Neither Friends nor Foes belong.
No fear of Losing, no anticipation
of Gain. Here i am a Transparence
without Substance. A Presence
without Persona. A Being
without Self.

Hence activity has become Stillness
The Din of the world my Silence
The very Cosmos my Being.

Love & Grace

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4 years 2 months ago

Thanks Karan, it helped

4 years 2 months ago

Namaskaram, Sadhguru is truly a 'presence'.' The very cosmos has become his being' as expressed in this poem. Pranams and seek your grace.

4 years 2 months ago

thanks for bringing clarity

4 years 2 months ago

Thank you Sadhguru ???

4 years 2 months ago

You might be right. I wanted to understand this fact from the volunteers of Isha foundation myself but no one gave me a proper answer. Well there are many kriya yogis who have got enlightened too without leaving the body. These are various people from Anandanda center, SRF foundation etc who have got enlightened too, without leaving the body. They were also from Kriya path. How is it possible for them just curious?

4 years 2 months ago

Go and have fun now:) do all you ever wanted to do!!!Every one made a fool of themselves by going after it:)

4 years 2 months ago

Don't worry about it now, once you have that level of wisdom you would know how to hold onto the body.

One trick i read is - Ramana maharshi or some yogi (i dont remember the name) created a conscious desire to eat food. He would go to the kitchen to ask her wife wat food is prepared in between the satsangs. Her wife told him how low can you get, u came to see food while teaching his disciples about the ultimate truth.. And he said if i don't come to see food that means i have only 3 days left. And after few years he didn't go to check the food and her wife knows its only 3 days left..

So i think creating a conscious desire or karma to hold onto the body is one way.

PS - Its not my knowing, i am sharing only what i have read..

4 years 2 months ago

If someone was to leave their body in the Ashram, society & courts will only understand it as murder because they do not recognize the phenomenon known as enlightenment. That is why Sadhguru is saying he makes sure no one gets enlightened right here as for most people, the moment of enlightenment & the moment of leaving the body are same which will only cause social & legal trouble for the Ashram. Sadhguru has already faced such a situation in the past. Read "Sadhguru: More than a life" to know more about this.

4 years ago

"That is why I make sure no one gets enlightened right here. Not because I am avoiding competition. The problem is you may rise in awareness, but you cannot rise in knowing and wisdom that easily."

Would you please explain this a little more? What is the relation between awareness and knowing/wisdom?

4 years 2 months ago

There are 1000s of people living an enlightened life without leaving the body, who were not in the Kriya path. How is it possible for them?

4 years 2 months ago

Let me make a few things clear.

If one is on the path of Kriya & attains enlightenment, they leave their body because their energies have matured so much in intensity, that their body is incapable of housing it anymore. Hence they naturally shed their body. This is realization on the level of energies and is only possible for a Kriya Yogi.

If one is a Gyan Yogi (path of knowledge) & attains enlightenment, their achievement is on the level of their mind i.e. they are intellectually realized. Hence they are incapable of leaving their body and are basically stuck with it. (Sadhguru helped one such person leave, his name was Swami Nirmalananda. You can read more about this in Sadhguru's biography.)

You should read more & have a vast perspective, especially in the case of spirituality, before coming to any solid conclusion.

4 years 2 months ago

Yes. I think I made it clear in my comment above.

4 years 2 months ago

I think the line is self-explanatory. It means only for people living in the Ashram.

4 years 2 months ago

Does renunciation also needs to include your longing for enlightenment as well ?- I don't know, just asking.

4 years 2 months ago

What Sadhguru meant was that he does not want people to get enlightened at the Isha Yoga Center, because unless you have complete mastery over your body, the moment of enlightenment is also the moment of their leaving their body, and he does not want to have dead bodies at the ashram. ;) This does not mean you cannot get enlightened at all, just not at the Isha Yoga Center.