The Power of Stillness
There are situations in our lives that we can do something about. Then there are situations in our lives that are just consequential. Only if we handle those dimensions of our life where we can do something well, the consequential dimension of our life will be good. If we do not handle the sadhana, which means the action part of our life, properly, our life will not be of much consequence. This does not mean one should aspire to leave a footprint on the planet. Those who were trying to leave footprints, if they did, it becomes obvious that they could never fly. It is not about leaving footprints.
Wherever I go, people ask me, “Sadhguru, will you set up an Isha Yoga Center here?” I am telling them, “I am not a real estate person. My real estate is in the minds and hearts of people. We wish to establish a yoga center in everyone’s mind, body, and heart.” Definitely Isha Yoga Center is growing that way in the world – it is growing in the minds and hearts of people. Not geographical spots but human beings should become centers of yoga. In this context, this is an important month because particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, a certain inertia is setting in, in nature, and in the way energy functions.
This phase is important for Shiva because he is known for his dancing, but more significantly for his stillness. This is a phase that supports that stillness. There is perfection in our existence only when we know how to be absolutely still. Otherwise, you dance, you sing, all this is nice – but how long? Any activity is bound by time. Only in stillness, time has no impact on you. There are various ways to look at why this is so. Shiva means that which is not, which means it is eternally still – Sadashiva. Initially, you can bring this stillness into you by being immobile. Later on, you can be in a flurry of activity and still be absolutely still. Your activity will be an expression of your stillness, not of your compulsiveness. Everything you do will come from this stillness.
You must bring this stillness into your family, into your home. Everything that grows in a space of stillness, including your children, will be of a different quality altogether. Stillness and exuberance are the nature of existence. This is the nature of yoga, the nature of creation, and the nature of what we refer to as Shiva – still but tremendously vibrant. In some sense, even modern science is beginning to recognize that the most dynamic dimension of creation seems to be nothingness. It is possible for every human being to become like this that after you sat somewhere, the place will exhibit an exuberant form of stillness.
Many years ago, I was teaching programs in small towns and villages of Tamil Nadu. These were wonderful times, as I dealt with people who had a certain level of innocence and fire within them. We came to a place called Velayuthampalayam. People said, “You must come to the temple on the hill.” I told them, “There is no bald hill in Tamil Nadu – every hill has a little temple. Let’s leave it.” Then one day, they told me there is a cave where some Jina or Jain saints stayed, about two thousand five hundred years ago. Now I got interested. Considering the time period, they could have been direct disciples of Mahavir.
We climbed up the hill and came to a place where a narrow walkway led to a cave. The local king provided them with beds that were carved out of the rock, in the form of a flat space and a small pillow made of rock. I sat on one of these beds, and even after centuries, it was as alive as if they had been there the day before. The place was not well-kept – the local youth used it to hang out and drink. It was littered with broken bottles and garbage, and the rocks were covered with the initials of who was in love with whom. We cleaned up the place and decided to spend the night there. It was a phenomenal night out there – that was the kind of footprint they had left. They had no intention of leaving a footprint, but wherever they sat and stood, it naturally happened, because they had become like that within themselves.
This is what Bharat means, first of all. For ages, people who had an inner longing turned east, simply because many great beings left a web of energy here. To establish something so fabulous has taken thousands of years and beings of great proportion and depth. To make something fabulous, whether it is a space or a human being, takes a whole lot of work. To make it filthy takes just a day. Now is the very last phase of Dakshinayana, this means the very last phase of the sadhana pada. This is a time of the year to strive without results. One who is wise will understand that one dimension of our life needs striving – another dimension of our life is a consequence. If we want a great consequence, the striving has to be equally profound.
This is not about being rewarded for something that you do. This is the nature of this machine that we call creation. I call creation a machine because it produces unfailingly. The solar system is a machine as well. It has been working so perfectly and efficiently for thousands of years that you may forget it is a machine. The sun rises every day, so you don’t bother to look up and watch if it is coming up this morning or not. I still do, because I am skeptical about everything. You must also look out. If you learn to be on a certain level observant of what is happening around you, you will not only be observant with the outside but with the interiority too. If you understand that the entire cosmos is a kind of machine, you will realize your own system is also a machine. How well a machine functions depends on how well it is kept.
Keeping it well is not just about fitness – that is only one aspect of it. Keeping it well for it to perform at a very high level needs evolution. What does evolution mean? On ancient excavation sites, archeologists are often looking for pieces of pottery. Imagine the first time people dug up the earth and made pots out of it. For the first time, they had something they could store water in and carry it home. How fantastic it must have been! A simple pot transformed people’s lives. It must have been a milestone in the development of human societies. Today, we are digging the same soil and make a spaceship out of it. With the same resource, we can do so many things today. This is the evolution of engineering. Similarly, with the same resource, a human being can do so many things.
Sadhana and yoga are about evolving the engineering of what we can do with this human system. That is why we have named our basic program Inner Engineering. The human system is a machine. Inner Engineering means to evolve a human being to a much higher level of functioning. You can engineer yourself to a place where you function like the source of creation. When you say “Shiva,” you won’t have to look up. When you say “Shiva,” naturally your eyes will close, because it is all here. That is how far a human being can go. Instead of being a creature, you can become the source of creation. But without Devotion and Sadhana, it doesn’t happen.
If you look at the lives of people who are successful in the world – whether it is as a business man, a musician, an artist, or something else – they were not just lucky. They put in an enormous amount of work to make this happen. When everyone else was sleeping, they were up and doing something. When everyone else was settling for simple pleasures, they were working. If you think you work hard but nothing is happening, then the creature that you are needs to evolve. Evolution is on all levels. One who is reasonably evolved as a human being should start working on the outside. One who is not should start working on the inside. This machine should evolve to function in a way that other people think is magical.
The important thing is the evolution of the machine. This machine must evolve to a point where it is no more a cog in the larger machine – it is the machine. What we refer to as Shiva is not another part in the machine – it is the source of the machine. It is the source of existence. This is the evolution that a yogi is striving for – not to become a little more polished part but to go deeper and deeper into the machine until one day, this is the very source of the machine. This period of inertia on the planet is very good – you can become still, effortlessly.
This is the time to bring stillness into your life. From now until the solstice on the twenty-first of December, be conscious to utter only fifty percent of the words you normally utter in a day. This is vak shuddhi. Purity of utterance will happen. This is not for someone else’s sake. For yourself, it is very important what is coming out of your mouth. This is like an emission test. If while doing the same activity, you only use fifty percent of the words you normally use, you will see stillness will settle in. This is conscious silence. Becoming totally silent should happen in a different way – with appropriate sadhana. Simply holding back all words and not doing anything will not lead to silence, because the noise that otherwise would have come out will go up in the head. You may know that by experience.
Consciously frame your sentences to say what you want to say with fifty percent of the words that you normally use. You must do this, this month. Fifty percent of the words, but the same level of activity.