Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

A friend sent me this Q&A anthology between seekers and a self-proclaimed Messiah (Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev). Some of the contents of this anthology deserve comment in order to show the pernicious nature of modern spiritual discourse.

As the first example, let me take the following question and answer:

"Q: Sadhguru, how can one overcome fear? - Rajshri, Chennai

A: Fear is always about what will happen in the next moment. Its never about the present. When the future is not yet manifested, and not an existed reality why be afraid? You are actually suffering for that which does not exist-and so you cannot overcome that which does not exist."

This is a shining example of silliness which passes for spiritual wisdom these days. The question is eminently sensible. Fear troubles all humans at some stage in their lives.

Fear, in its most common form, is an agitated state of mind related to an apprehension of danger or pain. It is an instinctual reactive pattern in the brain present in all sufficiently evolved species and one which is seen in animals (including humans) to manifest in the freeze-fight-flight responses. In humans, fear can also be based on thinking (e.g. after one has committed a crime, one is afraid to be caught by the police) or on imagination (e.g. after one has not done one's daily prayer, one is afraid to be punished by the Gods).

Since fearful apprehension is always about an unfavorable future course of events, the "Sadhguru", instead of commenting upon the unproductive nature of a fearful state of mind, its place in evolution and the various ways of getting rid of these agitations (temporarily or permanently), gives the wise advice that since future is not yet here, there is no reason to be afraid.

I hope the advice will prove useful to a person who is afraid that he might stop breathing while in his sleep due to chronic apnea. (Since the death has not yet occured, there is no reason for him to worry about that now, correct?)

The "Sadhguru" ends his timeless wisdom by saying "You cannot overcome that which does not exist." May one comment that the original question was about how to overcome the state of mind known as fear, and not overcome the future course of events about which one is afraid. And needless to say, changing unfavorable future courses of events by timely preventive acts in the present would not find much favor with the "Sadhguru" since he is of the opinion that "you cannot overcome that which does not exist."


Fear prevents judgment. Some future events are definitely to be avoided if possible, not by getting afraid, but by judging their seriousness and preventing them from happening by planning and thought.

(to be continued)


Sriram said...

What he meant is "fear is not an abstract thing, It is about something. And that something doesn't exist, its maya, illusion"

This is in line with the spiritual guys, only one answer to every question and that answer is useless for day to day living.

Spiritual guys can't give anything to the society, they don't belong here.

Anonymous said...

The comments by Harman & N Sriram seems to me made purely based on what little they heard from somebody else, or read somewhere. The sad part I feel is that there is no effort from their end to verify the conclusions they are drawing. Maybe they feel no need to... that is OK. But without this they are freely letting loose their comments on the web, which is read by many more who also have no clue as to what's happing at Isha... That's not OK by me.

I have been a part of the whole process that Isha offers for some time now, and have the following comments to offer...

1. I have dabbled in yoga for 20 yrs or so, and have been practicing the Yoga as offered by Isha for about 5 yrs now. I find that the depth and quality of Yoga that's offered at Isha is very very different - be it Hatha Yoga or the pranayam or the meditation processes. I have come to realise that there is so much more to Yoga in terms of its potency and subtlety.

2. I happened to incidentally take Isha programme; in fact i had no plan to do it at all. But after I took the first programme in 2002, one of the first things I felt is that "I wish I had had this opportunity 10 yrs ago". Apart from the completely logical and if u could call it so, scientific way in which the practices were offered, what struck me was the the way the practices were working within my system, and how life as as i was experincing it, was changing. I have been an extremely cynical of all gurus and the like and for that matter am not a very religious person either. But whatever was offered in the programme by Sadhguru made eminent sense to my logical mind, and independently, the yoga was begining to effect changes within at physical, mental and emotional levels. Thereafter, I noticed that the way my life was happening was as if it was "falling in place" like the peices of a jigsaw puzzle. This has been so since then.

3. Regarding Isha Home School, Mr Sriram has made a statement that it is in a terrible condition- it is far far from the truth. I know it because my son is a part of the school, and I have been keenly following what's been happening and how its happening. If the comparision is with conventional schools or the way education is elswhere, then what Isha Home School offers and the way it offers it is very very different. I can see how much my son is enjoying the way the learning process is happening. The kind of things they do, most schools do not offer at all. Perhaps the closest comparision could be to the Rishi Valley and other schools run by Krishnamurti Foundation. As on date the school is due to get accreditted to ICSE. As with any new venture - particularly when you want to do something very very differently from the established ways, there are ups and downs that happen, but as i see it, its all past for the school. So, definitely, what has been said about the school is misinformation.

4. I do not know if the readers in this forum are aware of the range of social outreach efforts that are on by Isha, apaprt from the Yoga that is offered. Most of Isha's work has been based in Tamilnadu. This ranges from setting up of mobile madical vans to reach primary health care to many villages, to Isha Vidhya which targets rural TN and aims at setting up schools, one for every taluk in TN, to the Project Green Hands which has taken on an extremely ambitious agenda of increasing green cover of TN by 10% (to bring the overall cover to the desired average of 33%) by 2010, etc. Being deeply concered about ecological issues myself, I have probed the details of Project Green Hands, and I find that it is NOT one of those projects that speak big, but actually mean nothing. Project Green Hands has been carefully conceptualised, and good care has been taken to ensure for example, that the types of trees being planted are almost completely local varieties which is what is desirable from the point of view of conservation of biodiversity. They have clear plans for not just planting, but taking care of the tree for at least 2 yrs, after which the chances for its survival are much much higher.The agenda for this year is to plant 2.5 crore trees. I would invide you to check out the following websites regarding Isha's social outreach...

5. Its very easy to sit back and critisize, but it will be worthwhile to examine any one of us are capable of bringing about the scale of transformation that's happeing here. Of course its possible that there are others who are also doing it - but the difference is that this is being effected by largely by a band of volunteers, and of course its the brainchild of this one man. If u think u can do it better, please do come forward and lets see it happen... it will be wondeful. But there is no point in just sitting back and finding fault.

6. Regarding Sadhguru... as i said i have personally always been a cynic and wary of these saffron clad people. In Sadhguru's case, my personal experince is different, and it took me many years to realise there is something much more to and very different about him. But then this is a subjective point of view so there is no room for saying anything else. Only thing i wish to add is that whatever is being said of spirituality (in a genuine sense)is about another dimension. And we are trying hard to make sense of it using the five senses, and the logical mind, which are the only faculties presently available. To use an analogy, if u speak about colours, or seeing, to someone born blind, he can only visualise it in terms of what he knows - his eternal darkness. So, there is only one way to verify if there is any truth to this or not - one has to put one's foot into it and find out. And Isha need not be the only way... there are so many other possibilites - for example there is Vipassana

Ankur said...

this question of fear has been answered by almost all religions,,to overcome fear, surrender to god and his goodness...Just do ur actions in good faith and spirit and leave result to god..

These gurus just make some absurd logic,,and i am really peeved by his pathetic logic. And it looks like people are finding him interesting..My advice to those people is to just a read a simple book, like Gita, bible..

N Sriram said...

Mr / Ms. Anonymous,

I stand by my comments. As for Harman, I think all that he is doing is taking the wisdom of 'sadhguru' apart sentence by sentence to which you, with a 'logical mind', have not responded. (I am not sure if I have a logical mind).

As for education, I teach in a Krishmamurti School. Please do not compare Isha and KFI schools. Cheese and chalk.

Anonymous said...

It is not so absurd. If I was insane and believed in the purple elephant monster and I was afraid of this purple elephant monster and asked you how do I not fear the monster, what can you really say? I am fearing something which does not exist, so to "overcome" fear is silly -- if you had the clarity of perception to see you were trembling for a mirage, then the fear would go immediately.

It is not really right to take one question out of context of a whole teaching in order to tear it down. Take the programs, meditate, practice yoga, and notice the change in your mind and the level of clarity and calm. If the program does not work for you, then seek something that does.

In the end no book or another's knowledge is going to substitute for your authentic experience of yourself. I've personally found the techniques and presence of Sadhguru to be empowering and transforming in my life, but if you don't feel drawn to it, then move to something which calls you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hermanjit, First of all i would like to give my compliments to you on taking up some thought provoking topics and analysis them point by point in a very logical manner. As per my understanding of the teachings of Sadhguru and some other spiritual leaders, what they mean by living in the moment is not that you should not plan for the future. But you should not get entangled in your thoughts about the past and future and miss out the experience the present moment offers you. I have also heard about the futility of fear in one of the programs and what i understand from it is exactly what you mentioned in the last few lines of this post. Yes, I agree that what Sadhguru said here might be quite vague and can be misinterpreted, but when reciving the same answer myself and probing further, what i understood is you should definetely take the required actions to prevent any future problems but that does not require fear. Fear is caused by the metal process of anticipating the future and that, if possible should be avoided.
Again coming to the natural tendency of this emotion, this seems to be given by the nature for a very useful purpose. if you are not afraid of anything, you may not be able to survive. you will not be afraid of harming your body and ending up your life. nature's purpose of fear in any species including humans seems to me is for the sustenance of that speceis, similar to nature's purpose of giving sexual need in the form of pleasure or just a plain and simple need in different species. But that fear is different from the mental process that goes on and on and may hamper your ability to act as needed in a given situation.
Now there definetely arises a question as to why nature goes to the extent of creating the species and making such a perfect design so that they can sustain themselves. the question may not have any answer whatsoever, and i have almost stopped even looking for an answer.
I have quite digressed from the topic as Sadhguru is not my primary concern. However, I am sure you must have given much thought on the above areas and would definetely like to read more of it.

Anonymous said...

hey harmanjit, you are carrying a lot of intellectual jargon in your BIG head and actually doesnt seem to be anywhere in having an experiential raw understanding of the subjects you have raised(except travelling and films) irrespective of who this jaggi is. wish you get rid of all this soon and actually be at peace and live out peace. best wishes.

Anonymous said...

What about all the people who have done Isha and got nothing out of it? Or those who experienced anxiety, sickness, disassociated consciousness, moodiness, anger, short-temperedness, fatigue, confusion, etc.? Sadhguru says that the Isha practices are working for even these people! Or, more often, he says that the egos of these people are getting in the way. You see, he can't lose.

Red Raider said...

I am glad we have more forums like this today and felt compelled to share my experience and perspective on Isha..
I've been associated with Isha indirectly for the past 12 years - basically through my in laws. They had some serious health issues and were trying out many things including, ayurveda, homeopathy etc; so joined the initiaition program and attended the subsequent one week in-house program in 1996 (humble beginnings of Isha). Now there is no going back, couple of em are instructors and volunteer full time.
I've come across many scenarios in the past decade to prove that my perspective is not based on me being headstrong, but would like to showcase just one here. Originally (around 1997) when they tried to sell this program to me, I was told that Jaggi Vasudev is an unassuming fellow and has modern thoughts etc that its perfect for someone wired like me (very analytical) as he explains spiritual stuff using scientific examples/theories. I was also told that he claims that he is no god, just a guru/teacher who can help u see the truth.
Check the following answer given by Jaggi in their website

Question: Sadhguru, what is the difference, if any, between you and the Dhyanalinga?
here's the link for the full answer -

but I would like to focus on this one paragraph

"Now, if you think logically, it seems impossible that there is no difference between the Dhyanalinga and me. Even if you have experienced the Dhyanalinga in some way for a moment, it still sounds absolutely egoistic for me to say this; but really, there's no difference. If you don't like it, I can't help it. Slowly you will see, as the days pass, I won't be interested in keeping up any fa├žade for anybody's sake. We have done enough of that in order to bring about the necessary goodwill and understanding into people so that they could become receptive enough. We don't have to continue doing that for a lifetime. Those who are too logical and whose ability to live life is very much on the surface may fall off. I don't want them to fall off, but they may, because I am too blunt. It's all right. This is how it is. "

I rest my case. It is obvious that the cult that it truly is, is showing its true colors now that they have a sizeable following. In the early days the message was watered down to make it easier to spread and recruit more people. It truly is an amazing strategy and no matter what percentage of their revenue they use for charity work, its still is a questionable entity - IMHO illegal.

I've seen my share of religious programs designed to brainwash and convert people as I studied in a christian convent for 10 years. A number of my friends converted to christianity. Nothing against christianity, but there are some (not all) christian institutions that focus on converting people and they have perfected the technique. I think it prepared me to question and not to take any such programs at face value. To me, Isha is nothing more than one more dishonest insititution making use of human nature to enslave them.

Anonymous said...

I have been with spiritual teachers for the past 38 years and have been on many of their retreats and courses. Recently I completed 2 of Isha courses and I find that they are false. The BSP is a waste of time, the volunteers are like nazis. They take your car, cell and keys and dictate for 3 1/2 days a course that reminded me of Est back in the 70's. He is a wanna be Osho and his group is very dillusional. I and many others have been injured in his outdoor activities in fact I broke my shoulder and they continued to force me to stay on the routine while I was in shock. It is a month later and in retrospect I can honestly say I will be going back to the Art of Living program where the krya is authentic. He is self absorbed and speaks of himself too much in his lectures. It is definitely a sign of the times, there will be many false gurus and this I can say from being with true ones, is a fake! They take rugs with their name on it everywhere they go, it is like a packaged propaganda with all the amenities. So sorry to have seen this happening. His people do not look healthy and they seem obsessed with screaming, crying and worshiping him. A true guru would never support this activity. He threw himself an enlightenment party at the end of the course, it was almost sociopathic and very sad to witness. Use your self referral when approaching this group and when it feels like they are sucking you in with propaganda be aware and watch closely, I felt no shakti or bliss from this man, he has copied all of the great teachers before him and is a mouthpiece and has copied well very precious teachings from the true masters, He has no lineage and therefore his group is creating a poor copy of the real thing.

Prakash Gomathinayagam said...

your argument is called 'Kutharka' - Negative Logic. Since there are so many thorns in a rose plant, it can not have a beautiful rose. Logic can be used in both ways. To move towards postivity or negativity.

Yes without intutive fear lot of things will not happen. But at this point of time, common people are suffering from unneccessary fear which becomes obstaclein their life to proceed further up. it stagnates them. I don't think Sadhguru could tell, yes fear is natual, dont worry about it. Spritual masters are not interested in Facts. Brain is not their domain. Heart is there domain. out of Love, using intelligence, they help people.

Anonymous said...

it is interesting to see so many people striving towards spirituality?? personally,i feel there is no time tested formula and nobody holds the patent. to each his/her own. what works for me need not appeal to u. if one feels a spiritual gurus's comments are not exactly commendable, move on, we have so many ??!!!. my grandmom used to say, u do not need an interpreter to talk to god, seek with intensity and u will find ur questions answered. to all of out there, power to u and god bless.

Anonymous said...

Why go seek him and why interpret it any which required to suit you ? even the most genuine things picked out of context would look absurd. If one is so keen in knowing what the spirit is about, why go seek a guru. seek the experience. grow from it. leave the rest to others. open society doesn't essentially mean only dissect and analyze anything anytime anyhow, it also means giving enough space. any amount of logical or so-called logical comments and view points fails fully short of knowing the feeling the spirit. if spiritual ecstasy is broadly classified as "altered state(s) of existence", then why can't we all get into that state - without any backlash or side effects ? If the person is not leading you towards violence, disharmony etc., why not listen and experience ? Decision to follow or not is always going to be with the individual. So... !!

Ghajabiram said...

All that we people can do is go into the outside world, collect some facts in our realm and rant about someone or something on the net using tools like blogs.

Sir, Will there be at least 10 people who listen your voice.
How can this man make it happen. He is just a catalyst to trigger to plant 114 million saplings and does many more things to the other human beings.

Until we know certain things personally by talking or understanding someone, we can never comment.

And moreover, in today's era you need brands to market eevn good things. That is the kind of belief we have on poshy brands that the westerners left on us. To even send a right message, we need branding and Isha might be doing the same.

Guru is nothing but a teacher. He is a guide. You are independent and can do anything you wish and if there is any confusion or lack of understanding, you can ask him again and again and to get things cleared and you can florish.

Please don't criticize. Start acting. If you can do something great for the soceity and look everything is a positive sense, life would be a different thing.

It's just a choice. Take a postive view or a negative view. Positive view for growth, negative view for retarding. I started beileving in positive view in most aspects. Please start seeing positive things. That's the only way forward. :)

rajiv said...

good work harmanjit....keep it up

I did attend isha yoga purely from a perspective to learn something new, keeping an open mind, so my experience is first hand. I found that the teachers and sadhguru himself are fond of playing with words and making every answer so abstract that you would pick only those points which would make sense to you, and force you to think that sadhguru is so called "enlightened"

There are certain things that come to my mind that i feel are thought provoking:-

1. People are discouraged to do detailed analysis of the answers given by teachers and sadhguru himself, in the fear that the person may actually become enlightened and leave isha yoga

2. Sadhguru never tells in detail how his enlightenment actually happened other than that his usual rote of sitting on chamundi hills...tears flowing all around and feeling all universe as a part of him etc etc...

3. sadhguru for most of his time is found in the u.s.a and other foreign countries delivering his programs which are obviously more revenue generating than his programs in india

4. his ashram is built in the land which is earmarked as forest on earth can he build an ashram there, and who gave him the permission

5. gautam buddha was a king then left everything and went to become a monk and helped the poor, but sjv was a middle class person who now has become wealthy and is seen driving around bmw's and personal helicopters...Doesn't it come to his mind that if he can sell all of that then may be it will be enough money to educate atleast 1000 poor children for a year

5. There is no evidence that yoga enables individuals to transform to enlightened beings merely by doing certain breathing and stretching exercises. Similar mental states can be achieved by using certain psychedelic drugs(grass, cocaine, hash, anti-depression medicines etc). The hallucinogenic state of mind makes the body less hungry and makes you reduce weight which we all see after doing yoga for certain duration. It's better than drugs no doubt, but becoming enlightened, and getting rid of all terminal illness seems to be way overboard

6.there is a video on youtube in which javed akhtar tries to debunk spirituality. have a look

That's my two cents !

Anonymous said...

No one can tread all the paths of Jnana,Karma,Raja and hatha yoga simultaneously. When you see someone who is trying to do that - know that he is a Jack of all trades and master of none.

Yet you will see Gurus of recent years since Vivekananda set the trend - doing this act of treading all paths simultaneously and you have people following them like puppies. Mahesh,Rajneesh,various anandas - Nityanada being latest,Sri sri ravishankar etc etc etc.... In which scripture i sit said a Spiritual man should live like a king to be a Guru? Why don't people's alarm bells go off when they see a Guru robes riding a Rolls Royce or BMW or fancy mobike?

Anonymous said...

Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharishi let his disciple Ganapathi Muni go when Ganpathi wanted to engage in India's freedom struggle and tread the path of karma alongside Jnana. As Bhagwan maintained - no one can tread more than one path at the same time. India really has not produced a Guru since Bhagwan Raman Maharishi - only wannabes. But then there are enough people who ar ewill to follow a wannabe because they are wannabes themselves...

Anonymous said...

After Vivekanand paved the way were'nt all these Gurus supposed to flock to foreign countries where they could dupe poor foreigners because no one in India would part with their money especially to a Guru (who is expected to be poor and live on alms)? Now that Western economies have been hit these boguses have set up duping businesses in India. Why is the current generation of Indians falling for these guys? Is it because of increased job stress which makes them vulnerable and weak? Think about it - decades ago Rajneesh was treated like a joke in India and no one but the most stupid of Indians became his followers certainly no intelligent folks. He could only sell his crap to Western audences. To Indians his fraud was too obvious. Finally even the Westerners saw the crap for what it was and he came bouncing back to India a man who everyone shunned because they never cared for his crap even before. Is the current generation so deluded by stress that they cannot/will not see reality of these Gurus for what it is or ever learn from past experience?

Amit said...

Those who lack a deep yearning for truly going beyond sense perception and experience it by being disciplined about it - those who take programs but are not dedicated enough to give their 100% and those who are seekers of experiences on the spiritual path will only meet with Mr disappointment , who can take the form of anyone.
Then there are those who will make assumptions based on indirect associations with any activity. A sincere seeker is a good receiver and the transmitter is always there to transmit - unfortunately faulty receivers are dime a dozen as well - the made in China kinds :)

Saurabh Banerjee said...

We certainly need to be vigilant as seekers. But the nature of the seeking is such that it is beyond the domain of thinking as we know it. People not comfortable with such pursuits should rather abstain such seeking.

Anonymous said...

I don't think SJV is saying anything different than most of the other guru's have said in past. But, SJV I think is good in Mass compelling! !
If you are a strong receptive seeker. Doesn't really matters. But it matters when SJV's complleing magic goes through your pocket !!! With OMG amount of money they ask for any yoga program! And people pays it too. He definitely got sharp marketing skills and good language command!

Nina S said...


Anonymous said...

I will not go to the extent of saying that SJV has vested interests or is deliberately attempting to brainwash people. There are several topics, mostly social and civic issues, where his view points are pragmatic and rational. But when it comes to religion/spirituality/faith, his replies to some of the most pertinent metaphysical & philosophical questions do not offer anything new to people with a strongly analytical bent of mind, have studied various systems of philosophy & religion in depth and with an open mind (including the various ancient Indian philosophies from which SJV seems to have borrowed concepts to devise Isha Yoga), and yet have not found satisfactory answers in those. I attended the Isha Yoga programme with an open and unquestioning mind, and found that their meditation techniques were mostly a trimmed down version of the meditation and prayer practices that are a part of daily rituals of some sections of observant Hindus, with a bit of Hatha yoga added. I did not observe any sign of transformation happening even after a month of practice. On the contrary, I found that the meditation techniques taught by a volunteer group of humble yoga teachers (nominal fee, no elaborate discourses given, just distribution of some books that were summarized translations of ancient Yoga texts for the benefit of laymen) who had been teaching yoga well before Isha yoga was on the scene had a perceptible calming effect on the mind. The meditation part of Yoga (by which I mean the ancient system believed to have been systematized by Rishi Patanjali) is something I find to be a useful tool, but I don't find some of the metaphysical viewpoints of Yoga convincing enough. The good thing about ancient Yoga texts is that they did not throw away logic - logic was very much an important part of all major streams of Hindu philosophy (Vedanta, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya etc.), but some of their premises were not based on scientific principles, but were based on Vedas which they viewed as infallible, albeit difficult to interpret. Philophers of Abrahamic religions too employed logic to varying degrees.

On the other hand, SJV seems to be disinclined to use logic when explaining his philosophy; sometimes he even seems to be dismissive of science and logic when trying to answer metaphysical questions or when asked about contradictions between various religions or between religion and science. This is strange because when answering questions NOT related to philosophy & religion, he employs logic and substantiates those views with findings/theories of modern science!

Anonymous said...

Though I found no transformation after attending Isha Yoga programme (maybe I was already spiritually evolved :)), I don't want to be totally dismissive of Isha Yoga. It may benefit those people who aren't religious and hence don't have an avenue to escape from the stress brought about by their materialistic desires. Isha Yoga will help fill in the place of religion for such people. On the same note, just as being "religious" doesn't automatically make someone a noble human being (because most people don't follow or grasp the essence of their religion), I have observed that not all ardent followers of Isha Yoga are any better human beings than what they were before, and I am saying this based on what I observed personally.

One was an instance of a middle-aged family friend who is associated with Isha Yoga foundation (not full-time though) and help organize some of their camps. She has been associated with it for a few years now, and I was shocked when I noticed her quarreling over a seat in the waiting room of an office!

Another shocker was when I noticed a conversation between two of my friends when we were attending a cultural event (not organized by Isha Yoga :)). One of those 2 friends is now settled in the US and was visiting India, whereas the other has been in India always. The US-based friend is an ardent follower of Isha Yoga, but I was very shocked to hear him trying to convince my India-based friend to move to the US so that he could earn more money and get away from a society beset with red-tapism and corruption. All this despite the India-based friend being quite happy being in India and not interested in making more money.

Shanthi said...

Does anyone here have answers to the questions raised here regarding Sadhguru:

Shanthi said...

Does anyone here have answers to the questions raised here regarding Sadhguru: