Sadhguru, with his flowing white beard, matching white robe and colorful shawl, bowed to his audience, his hands over his heart. He said one can handle only a certain amount of joy. “In an ecstatic state, you can’t function. In a blissful one, you can.”
In his early 20s, he went to the top of a mountain and was suddenly overcome. “I was sitting there, and all of my body was exploding with ecstasy.” What he thought was a few minutes in that state turned out to be more than four hours. It was then that he decided to take the path from business man to spiritual master.
Yet he acknowledged not being a religious man: “I have had no interest in religion since the age of 12.“ He does not pray: “Never, even as a child.” He does not meditate: “I’m prayerful. It’s not like something I have to do.” He does not practice any religious rituals: “I have never entered a temple.” He rarely does yoga and does not believe in astrology: “In India, if you tell an astrologer you are on a spiritual path, they won’t make a prediction. Astrology works for those who refuse to take charge of their life. “
As for God, he doesn’t use that word. He says “gods.”
“I never refer to the God unless I’m telling a joke. Our ‘God’ is from our own experience. We think of Him as a human being, but if I were a buffalo, I would think of Him as a buffalo.” He said a human-centric view “makes humans arrogant to every life form that is in God’s image.”
He said of religion: “Human beings have common issues. There are simple things they cannot sort out. So if there was no religion, there would be only psychiatrists. . . . Religion is mass psychiatry. If there were no religions, a lot of people would be mentally disturbed. It would create fear and guilt in their lives. Now they can choose. They think it comes from above. There are pluses and minuses. Belief can only lead to solace, but if you want solutions, that needs seeking. In the basis of seeking, you realize you do not know.”
One of the biggest problems he sees with religion is that in a divided world, people fight over beliefs. “It’s one man’s belief against another man’s” he said. It’s time to come to a place, he said, where we understand “what we know and what we don’t know. It’s the nature of exploration. . . . The only thing you can experience is what is within.”
He doesn’t pretend to have the answer to suffering. He only knows what works for him and tries to use his experiences to help others. Which may be one reason he has become popular around the world, speaking to large groups such as the U.N. peace summit and the World Economic Forum. He doesn’t pander. He is extremely candid, debunking many religious and spiritual attitudes.