Enlightenment basics according to Sadhguru-Jaggi Vasudev
I am writing this to condense the basics of his teachings and explain what it really means being enlightened in my own words to clear widely known misconceptions and misinterpretations about it. To me, he is our era’s Gautama Buddha, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Ojno Rajneesh, Allan Watts and many other enlightened beings-the sages, the yogis of the past and though his methods may differ but the main point of every yogi’s and sage’s all point to the same direction-to inside.
In short, enlightenment is about realizing the truth by seeing through the illusions created by our perceptions. Perceptions are there to help us navigate the life but the problem with perceptions is that they are approximations of the reality in which we live, not the reality itself. Assuming and thinking that our perceptions is the actual, objective reality are the illusions the individual who is on a journey of enlightenment trying to get past. Therefore, the process of enlightenment is the process of sharpening one’s perceptions to the point it cannot misinterpret the reality. It is the same concept as a sword with a sharp blade. The blade is so sharp that whatever it cuts through any object, it doesn’t allow any residue to be left on it and the object that is cut through doesn't realize it has been cut but stays intact. In a sense, the sword is us and the blade is our perception. So, then the question becomes how do we enhance our perception?
Perception is influenced by our awareness-the awareness of both the external and internal. Higher the one’s awareness is, higher the perception is. So, then it is about enhancing one’s awareness. However, we can’t just decide to improve our awareness by focusing on our awareness. In fact, we don’t know what awareness is because currently most of us, about 95% or above of the human population is in a mode full of ignorance — the opposite of awareness, mostly due to the effect of society we live in. Fortunately, there is a way around our ignorance and that is enhancing our energy level. Therefore, Sadhguru suggests us to work on increasing our energy levels and stopping the energy leakage. For example, meditation is one of the methods to reduce one’s energy leakage and turning the loose energy into useful energy. Following is a list of daily activities that we can do to increase our energy levels.
According to his rationale, Sadhguru explains that human body is the accumulation of what we have been eating and consuming since we were born. When we eat a certain food, some part of the food becomes a part of us and some of it is released through our drainage system. And, we eat to gain energy, to survive; without any energy, we can’t be alive, every part of our organ needs energy to function properly and to do its job. The human body is a one big peace of natural energy system. However, when we eat something that is tough to digest and to extract energy from it, we expend more energy to actually extract the energy inside the food. As a result, we need to sleep more hours to conserve and generate more energy to gain the lost energy trying to process the food. Then, he states that the toughest food to digest is dead food, especially red meat. Meat is already dead and when we consume meat our digestion system is trying to turn the dead into alive. But we would need less energy if we consume something that is already alive. Plus, think about the aura, the energy surrounding the dead meat. Animals when they face slaughter, they feel extreme level of fear and anxiety and that energy is stuck with the whole organism which means when we consume something that is full of fear and energy, we are also filling ourselves with these aura and energy, aren’t we? Thus, he suggests consuming something as alive as possible like fruits and veggies two meals a day, with 5–6 hours of gap time in between the meals and at least 3–4 hours before bedtime and the meal shouldn’t take more than 3 hours to digest fully.
According to him, our body is a nature’s marvel, a complex organism, a tool that can be used to enhance and enrich our daily lives. However, we treat our bodies like shit or succumb to its vices and desires. Our body is given to us by the nature and we will give it back to the earth when we die. It is part of us, not us. 99.9% of an atom is empty space and the rest 0.01% is physical. The universe, the galaxy is also 99.9% emptiness and 0.01% matter due to the law of fractals. Our body is no different since we are made from the universe. Our body is just a collection of bunch of atoms which means our body is also 0.01% of us too. If we cannot figure out how to use of our 0.01% properly, then how can we use the rest 99.9%? Our body is the closest and the easiest to control and use. It is so funny to look at people trying to control something like their mind, other people, the nature…etc, and struggle when they can’t even control their body which is the closest and easiest aspect to them.
Therefore, he strongly suggest to have a correct posture, a spine fully erect. When we have a proper posture, all of the internal organs and cells are in a the most comfortable and correct position and is then finally in tune with the alignment of the bigger daddy - the universe. When our body is in a correct alignment all the time, our systems will run at its best efficiency which means less energy to be used to produce the same effect if our body was in a worse posture.Then, he also suggests that if we are always in the correct alignment with the alignment of the nature, we can receive the nature’s energy and use it for ourselves. The same principle can be seen in the example of an old TV which used to have antennas to receive the signals. If the antenna was in the correct alignment, then the TV can broadcast the signal clearly. In this manner, our body is the same as antenna receive receiving the energy of the cosmos, the nature.
There is a study that shows that 95% percent of our daily decisions are made unconsciously and only 5% are made consciously according to this article. Also, there is a book titled Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman which explains why this is the case. However, the process of reaching the enlightenment is about being conscious and alive all the time and I would argue we can only be free of our unconsciousness by being conscious all the time. So, the more we pay attention to the little things we do which we normally do unconsciously based on our memory of repetition, we can bring more aliveness and consciousness into our lives. Just try it. Try to pay attention when you are brushing your teeth, walking, breathing, drinking, eating, washing dishes…etc. You will be amazed when you see how much you actually don’t perceive and miss out. And because you are pretty much missing on almost everything of life, you need external and strong stimulants to keep yourself joyful and entertained. No wonder why we have so much stress and agony when we are living in the most convenient era of the entirety of the human being in terms of technology. Simply, our perceptions have become soo bad and dull that it can’t enjoy the simple richness of life and that it needs much stronger stimulants just as one needs to increase the dose of the substance to get the same effect when the tolerance slowly builds in.
Everybody is aware of this topic yet, the more something becomes widely-known, the more the actual process and meaning get distorted. Meditation alone cannot help one to reach enlightenment but is a very useful tool if done correctly. First of all, anyone who is meditating must be in a correct posture, with the spine fully straight and erect. Then, the chatter will come into the mind and will say all sorts of wild stuff. You just gotta watch that chatter without any judgement, any discrimination. Sooner or later, the chatter loses its interest and goes silent. Being aware of this state of being without judgement is what meditation is. If you learn to do it correctly with your enhanced energy by following up with the other tools such as proper diet…etc, you will actually start to be aware of the subtle processes which you haven’t been aware of before, such as how the air enters through your nose, goes to the head, lungs and spreads throughout the entire body and is released, you will start actually hearing the quiteness, being aware of how blood runs through your veins…etc. It is not about focusing on your breath only, it is not about how many hours you do it, it is not about listening to some weird music, it is not about imagining or thinking all sorts of stuff, none of that. The main essence of meditation is about bringing your awareness into your consciousness by just sitting relaxed with your spine erect and nothing else. Nothing! You don’t need to buy all sorts of expensive programs, clothes, music, guided meditations, and all of those bullshit; they are just trying to sell you some stuff to profit.
Sadhguru says that if anyone can be restful throughout the day, then there is almost no need to sleep. If we can be at ease 247, then the body and the mind work at their best efficiency in terms of the energy usage. We can be restful or relaxed but also we can be intense simultaneously. He tells us to be relaxed but not lax, be intense but not tense like a snake. A snake is relaxed but intense. Intensity depends on our energy levels whereas our relaxation depends on our tenseness. If we are tense all the time, we are not relaxed and are leaking and wasting a lot of energy. So, if we pay attention to our restfulness throughout the day by paying attention and being conscious and correct ourselves all the time when we are being tense, then the 247 restfulness can be achieved.
Dis-identifying with our bodies and minds
He argues that the body is just an accumulation of what we have consumed and the mind is an accumulation of impressions we have gathered as mentioned before. Our bodies are collection of thousands years of memories. Your ancestors’s nose is sitting on your face right now. How does the body know to have this particular shape of your nose? It knows because it has the memory of it. How does the body know to turn what you have consumed into its flesh? Via memory. How does the body know how to walk? You don’t pay attention to you while you are walking or running, you just do it because your body has learned to how to do that while you were learning when you were a toddler and the memory is stuck deeply buried inside your unconsciousness. We call this the muscle memory. The same thing happens when we are trying to think. We are only remembering and recalling what we already know in the mind saved as our memory. These memories are important because these help us navigate the external world and we depend on these memories to ensure our survival. But the dependence on these memories is out of our control today. We have lost our control over them by relying on them when we don’t need to. Sooner than later, we are completely lost and are even thinking that we are not our bodies or our minds is a logically impossible concept. The body and the mind are just tools for us to enrich and enhance our lives but most of us are being slaves to them. The fear and anxiety is produced by the mind but most of just can’t shake them off at will and sink into depression. Also, lot of people have become slaves to their compulsions like drinking, eating, consuming whatever the addiction is and call this slavery YOLO and their meanings of lives. If one’s meaning of life depends on one’s compulsions and slavery then that is a very, very sorry, poor, limited state of existence/being. To most of these people, life is one big hell, a torture, a suffering and if the suffering gets too much they turn nihilistic like joker.
There needs to be a certain understanding first. What is the most fundamental or the origin of life? If we would pay attention and think, there surely must be something that has the enough intelligence to create our body and the mind, mustn’t be? What is it? How does it work? We don’t know how does it work because we are not identifying with it but we are identifying with the lesser tools. That which creates everything and is the origin of everything is the consciousness, the life, the universe, the God, the emptiness whatever you want to call it, doesn’t matter. That which creates everything also created us, our body and the mind and still is inside and outside of us doing its own thing subtly. We can only access to this dimension which is the 99.9% of us by first dis-identifying with our body and the mind so that there is enough room for the 99.9% to enter into our awareness. Actually, as soon as you fully dis-identify with your body and the mind, you will realize that you were always in the flow of the 99.9% but you were too busy meddling with the body and the mind; thus, no realization of the 99.9%. Sadhguru says that enlightenment is not attainment but realizing your actual self, it is about homecoming. Thus, three minutes before you sleep, keep aside everything you have gathered throughout the entire day and enjoy a reslful sleep inside your home — the 999%, the consciousness if you will. This concludes the last tool of coming back to home.
In conclusion, I would like to impart that practicing these easy to do activities may not guarantee your homecoming but at least, would help you to be in control of your life more than before. Also, the results won’t happen overnight. But, if you can manage to come home in one way or another, the bliss would be your slave, you will be the captain of your ship by being free of your compulsions, and the overall quality of your lives will be greatly enhanced and enriched. When your perception becomes razor sharp by virtue of your increased level of energy and efficiency, you will start to realize and be aware of all the subtleties of the life and just being in the moment without doing anything becomes a full-fledged existence dipped in ecstasy, a sincere and deep sense of joy and pleasantness. Then, by being in this state of being naturally without force, all of the desires vanish because you are already in the best possible state of being. Once this happens, the identity disappears, the judgement disappears, the chatter disappears, the sense of self disappears, the sense of time disappears, the anxiety, the fear, compulsions all disappear into dust. All of a sudden, a new type of life begins and it feels like you are reborn. You are no longer in the realm of duality but you are above it, you are in which creates the duality. You are free to do anything without any baggage, any worry, the life becomes one big play, a game in which you cannot wait to play. I truly believe the route to enlightenment is the next evolution of the human kind and we have this great opportunity; not sure about animals though. But it is always your choice to take advantage of this opportunity or not. Every yogi wishes and wants everybody to take on this journey but none of them actually imposes it on them. The choice is yours and will be yours only.
A little bit story about my journey
Chasing the journey of enlightenment was never a choice for me, it was rather forced on me because giving up on my life was never a choice. I had a pretty tough chilhood and still suffer from the habits and ignorance developed due to this kind of particular depressed life here and there. In fact, the experience gained during the adolescence almost shapes the entirety of one’s life unless one learns to see through it. At the moment, I didn’t give much attention to those unwanted and unaccepted memories and kept them unadressed. Then, I got into the one of the toughest academies in the world, which is known as the Prison on the Hudson, to graduate and the stress slowly piled up due to the daily duties, responsibilities and standards set by the academy. The academy dictates your complete life from the moment you get up which would be around 06:30 a.m until the moment you go to bed around 00 a.m to 03:00 am. Then, In my 3rd year, the unadressed stresses which have been compiling since my childhood became too big to ignore. I was in a deep depression all of a sudden. My other areas took a hit and slowly succumbed to shit. Then, I have realized I have become an escapist, trying to escape from the unadressed depression by means of turning off my mind by drinking and shitfaced, playing video games and etc. One day, I looked at myself in the mirror, the mirror doesn’t lie, it shows you who are you exactly without any distortion and I was shocked to see my pathetic image. Yet, taking my own life was not an option because of the negative influence it would have to those who love me and if I have continued in that pathetic state of existence I knew I would be kicked out from the academy bringing shame to my whole country. So, I needed to figure out a way out of this deep hole I was in. Thus, I started working my mind to find a solution. The first step my mind generated was to get a book about managing one’s stress. Then, one thing led to another and here I am after 6 years of journey. Zen, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taosim, Christianity, Judaism, Abrahamic religions or whatever, don’t pay much attention and be limited to the all the names and jargons. The undistorted and actual concepts and meanings, are tough to get because they are counter-intuitive and are complex riddles to solve but they all point to the same direction. And this challenge of solving or finding the answer of the riddle became a hobby because solving problems creates challenge and challenges create drive and intensity. Sooner or later, I was hooked to these concepts not because of what I can gain but because I wanted to find the answer at all cost. This is why I never had the choice but it was forced to me. My journey was caused not by inspiration but by desperation. But, hey, whatever works, works as long as it brings the desired result. And, I write all of this stuff so that it can be of at least a little help to those who are on the journey and it can be done. And, once you get to the other side of the river, you will see that it was all the effort, the struggle, the sweat, the pain, the tears, the frustration. I truly and deeply wish all of the humanity would experience the actual bliss completely sober and drink from that fountain of ecstasy. If this happens, the world would be a much better place to live and breed.