The Journey Towards Fulfilment
The Western ways of living have made many realise the necessity of finding an inner steadying anchor. Due to the fast-paced lives, people lead today, many have turned to yoga to find happiness and inner peace, which are often lost in the race for success.
Inner Engineering (2016) by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev explains how yoga can be the means to find inner happiness, and how spiritual wisdom leads to lasting fulfilment. It shows how yoga is a philosophy that is more than just a form of physical exercise, and how it can help one rediscover spirituality, rather than just a ‘keep-fit’ class to get the body ready for the ongoing race for success.
Fulfilment Lies Within Oneself
Success is that shining star at the horizon that often makes people stray away from their true selves in its pursuit. While most blindly follow the path to success this way, it is only effective for a limited time. In the longer run, even the most successful people can’t find true happiness in life.
An Indian story explains this rather crudely. A pheasant once complained to the bull that its weak wings aren’t enough to take it to the top of the tree to enjoy the view. The bull advised the pheasant to eat a small bit of dung every day to strengthen its wings to reach the top.
The bull’s advice did indeed make the pheasant stronger, and one day it was able to reach the top of the tree. That day, a farmer saw the strong, juicy pheasant, and shot it out of the tree for his dinner. So much for the ‘bullshit’ advice!
The same goes for people too. Bullshit only ever gets one this far.
Fixating oneself to the outer world, convinced that that’s where all one emotions and experiences – positive and negative – lie, is simply an illusion. The key to finding fulfilment is to see the world from inside oneself.
For example, when one reads a book, where actually is the book that is being read? While rationally, it is the hands of the person, the script gets reflected by the light from the pages onto the retina of the person and is seen within.
Understanding this concept is vital. Just like everything else in the outside world is reflected within, fixating on the external prevents one from finding the fulfilment which lies within.
Emotions And Perceptions Are Self-Generated
Human experiences are often paradoxical. For instance, while one longs for a hug at one time, one gets irritated by the show of intimacy at another time. This proves that feelings, perceptions and emotions are completely self-generated. Just like the book, and other objects in the world can be perceived from within, feelings too work the same way.
Feelings such as anger and fear are reactions that are unconsciously produced by the body. Yet the human body-mind has the ability to make them conscious and control them. For example, when a person is yelled at, the person can choose a conscious response. This is the way humans create their own life experiences.
According to the Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam, people have the ability to create their own ‘bliss molecule’, rather than depend on alcohol and drugs that create temporary happiness within. The chemical, called anandamide can stimulate the nerves just like marijuana can.
When it is released into the body, it produces a sense of absolute pleasure, without side effects. One only needs to experience or exercise states of flow and ease while working to trigger the chemical.
Yogis, however, have the ability to produce anandamide simply through willpower and concentration, by learning to control their bodies to an incredible extent. The good news is, that everyone has a similar ability to control their own life experiences.
Respond Consciously Rather Than Compulsively
Painful experiences in life make people compulsively obsess over them. For example, a person going through a bitter breakup will compulsively tend to replay the experience of the partner cheating over and over again in the mind, until the mind fully identifies with the feeling of pain of the situation, and eventually makes the person incapable of trusting another lover.
However, there are more conscious and different ways to respond to experiences and events in life. The way involves learning from them by reflecting on them. Such an approach enables one to grow personally from adversity – big or small.
For example, the author knows a woman who, during her childhood was separated from her parents during World War II. Along with her brother, she was taken to the train station, where she realised her brother had lost his shoes while playing with the other boys in the group. She scolded her brother and called him an idiot. Unfortunately, she and her brother were immediately separated after that, and she never saw her brother again. She later learned that he died at a concentration camp. Her last words to her brother were unkind.
Despite the pain and anger she felt, she resolved to learn from the experience. She consciously made a choice to never say anything to anyone that she would regret later on. She made herself consciously aware that every conversation could be the last with any given person. This conscious decision changed her outlook, making her life more fulfilling.
This shows that holding grudges, and reliving memories of painful and shameful events never serves anyone. All one needs to do is break the cycle of compulsive reactions, and take the path of conscious responses.
Responsibility Increases Freedom
Just as consciously reacting to life events is an important concept in leading a fulfilling life, responsibility is another important concept. Responsibility is one’s ability to take a step back and consider the options one has while deciding the best way to respond to any situation.
For example, a round-the-journey, when considered responsibly opens up many options to choose from, as opposed to making decisions on a whim. One could choose to not go, take the family along, go alone, etc. Simply thinking or acknowledging, and considering one’s choices amounts to being responsible, increasing responsibility rather than diminishing it. Thus being responsible doesn’t even need one to take action. Responsibility gives freedom to act, and that choice depends on the person.
Consider how a responsible citizen gets affected by news on global warming. While it is impossible for the person to take action against all the problems of global warming, the person still feels incumbent to do something about it. Hence the person chooses to be responsible for all his actions that could affect global warming.
On the other hand, when an earthquake hits a country on the other side of the globe, the responsible reaction a person can have is to think how, sitting on the other side of the globe, help can be given to those affected. Does the person have the resources, money, skill, or even the drive to leave all responsibilities at hand and go to help? If not, then the decision of not helping is also being responsible.
Such conscious response, rather than turning a blind eye, amounts to being responsible too.
Alignment Of The Body, Mind, Emotion And Energy For Enlightenment
Just as teamwork lies at the crux of a successful organization, teamwork is vital within an organism. The different parts of the body have to work in sync for the organism to live and function well.
Similarly, to reach enlightenment, the body, mind, emotions and energy have to be in tight-knit cooperation with each other. The following Indian story explains this beautifully.
Four yogis, the first a believer of the power of physical yoga, the second a believer of the yoga of the mind, the third a believer of the yoga of prayer and the fourth a believer of the yoga of chakras (or energy centres), were walking through the forest. Each of them believed that their method of yoga was supreme.
As it started raining, they sought refuge in an ancient temple without walls. The deity was in the centre with a roof above that was supported by pillars. As the rain poured down harder, the yogis gathered around the deity, finally embracing it to shelter themselves from the rain.
Just at that moment, God appeared. The yogis questioned why God chose to appear now rather than earlier when they spent their lives working for and praying to him. God laughed at their question and replied that they had finally joined forces.
Similarly, achieving enlightenment requires the coming together or unity of the body, mind, emotions and energy. For instance, if the body is in balance, but the mind craves food, the body will fall out of balance. Similarly, an emotional state of mind disbalances the energy of the chakras. Yogic philosophy states that without this tandem working, the individual cannot achieve true balance. Thus one needs to pray, meditate, and practice yoga exercises, that keep the chakras in balance too.
Such alignment can be found when one rediscovers one’s place in the universe.
The Universe, The Earth, The Body
The body is made from the things that made the earth. We are all intimately connected with the earth, and anything affecting it affects the human body too.
If we widen the perspective, the earth is a part of the universe. Hence by extension, the body is too. It is why all cosmic events such as the alignment of the stars, and the positions of the moon and the sun, all affect the human body too.
Hence, the body is a part of the earth and the universe and can tune into them.
Once, the author hired a deaf man named Chikkegowda to tend his farm, who no one wanted to hire due to his disability. One day out of the blue, Chikkegowda took the plough to the fields. When asked why, he said it was going to rain, and the land should be ploughed. Sure enough, it rained that day.
Like Chikkegowda was, many country dwellers are attuned to the meteorological changes that take place around them. They can be felt within the body, and one can teach the body to become aware of these transitions.
The Limitations Of Science And Intellect
The present age is a scientific age. We have placed our beliefs in science, without realising that science too, has human limitations. This belief can prevent one from experiencing life to the fullest.
Once, Aristotle was walking along the sea shore, too lost in thought to even notice the beautiful sunset. Suddenly, he saw a man digging a hole with a spoon. When Aristotle asked him what he was doing, he said he was digging a hole to fit the ocean in it.
Aristotle laughed and asked how could the ocean fit into the hole. The man replied, “you make fun of me for wanting to fit the ocean into this small hole, but you’re big-headed enough to believe you can fit all the secrets of the universe into your brain, which is also basically a small hole. So, which of us is crazier?” The man was the philosopher Heraclitus.
In order to experience life, it is necessary to recognize how insignificant humans and their thoughts are as compared to the universe. Intellect always makes people believe that they can grasp the essence of life. However, in reality, it can never fathom how the complex universe, and the delicate balance of the cosmos functions.
Reality is much larger, and one should have the intellect to acknowledge it.
Spiritual Energetic Locations
Spirituality is a vast ocean, and one seeking it often gets lost. Where can one begin? Surprisingly, travel is a great way to begin one’s spiritual journey of exploration.
There are many places in the world that are stores of spiritual energy. These places are often high mountain summits, where yogis have practised yoga and attained spiritual knowledge, which is where that energy is stored. For example, Mount Kailash in Tibet, which is considered the home of the Gods by Hindus and Buddhists, or the Kedarnath temple in the Indian Himalayas, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Such places have stores of energy, where one can find enlightenment and heal.
The author, in 2007, was suffering from a combination of malaria, typhoid and cancer. Doctors were baffled, and could not clearly diagnose the illness. However, upon reaching Mount Kailash he was able to reconnect his energy with the energy of the mountain. He immediately started feeling better and was recovering faster.
Such locations are the best place for spiritual seekers to start their journey. One has to simply find a guru who will guide their path.
The key to finding fulfilment lies within oneself. Everyone has the ability to control their own perception and experiences, and respond consciously rather than compulsively to them. By aligning one body, mind, emotions and energy, one can find enlightenment. Such a spiritual journey to finding happiness, joy and peace, can be guided by a guru.