Sadhguru, Founder of Isha Foundation, is coming to Australia. Catch Sadhguru’s exclusive interview with The Australia Today on the eve of his program in Sydney at the International Convention Centre.
How do you think spirituality is relevant in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, especially for the younger generation?
Sadhguru: Never before has a generation of people known the comforts and conveniences we have today. And yet, we cannot claim to be the most joyful or loving generation in history. A vast number of people live in states of constant stress and anxiety.
This is where Yoga and spirituality can play a vital role. The process of Yoga is the science of inner management. You create an inner possibility where being blissful, joyful and peaceful is of your own nature, and not because of something that happens around you. All human beings, without exception, are capable of turning into the architects of their own joy, the masters of their own destinies.
It is essential that we empower our youth with this inner technology because youth means lots of energy. But unbridled energy without stability and direction is always dangerous and destructive. Only those who are stable can use whatever quality and talent they have to the fullest extent. If youth are a little more stable, this energy which you call as youth, could be put to better use for their own and for everyone’s wellbeing. So, before youth manages the country, the world and business, it is extremely important that they learn to manage themselves.
What is the significance of the Ayodhya Ram Temple?
Sadhguru: The Ram Temple is important because in many ways, for many people in the country, Rama is their spirit. So, this is not just another temple. Ram and Ramayan have been so much a part of the Indian ethos that it is almost like a resurrection of a damaged national spirit.
By honouring Rama, we acknowledge an important civilizational insight – one that views heroism not as conquest of the external, but the internal.
The fundamental ethos of this land recognizes mukti or liberation as the highest value. Rama epitomizes this ideal. As the Maryada Purushottam, which means a very superior human being, he reminds us that every human being can rise to become divine. This is the possibility that Yoga holds out to all, not just in our country, but the world.
With your Rally for Rivers and Save Soil initiatives, you’ve highlighted environmental issues. What specific environmental challenges do you think are most pressing in Australia, and how can individuals contribute to solving them?
Sadhguru: Just a month ago, I was at the UNFCCC COP28 in the UAE. Fortunately, some very significant progress has been made at the conference. For the first time, soil is playing a crucial role in the Climate Action agenda. UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Madam Mariam Almheiri, proposed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, which aims to shift the focus of climate action towards soil and agriculture. This is what the Save Soil movement, which we have been working on for three decades, has been striving for.
There is no way you can talk about climate change without referring to soil degradation because nearly forty percent of global warming can be handled if we revitalize soil. To call soil as soil, there has to be a minimum of 3% organic matter in it. But no nation in the world has that minimum.
Healthy soil is one of the best carbon sinks in the world, even better than the ocean in terms of square footage. If the soil is covered with vegetation and has organic matter, it absorbs the carbon from the atmosphere. At the same time, unhealthy soil, which is plowed and exposed to the Sun, is a source of emission of both carbon dioxide and methane. Unfortunately, soil has been overlooked in the climate change narrative until recently. But with the Save Soil movement, we successfully turned the world’s attention to soil.
So, the narrative around soil has shifted conclusively. I am very sure soil policies will be implemented. It is only a question of ensuring a quick pace, so that we turn around from the disaster before it is too late. If this needs to happen, you must keep up your voice to Save Soil in the coming few years so that the funding and action moves towards soil and agriculture.
Mental health has become a significant concern globally. What guidance does your approach to spirituality offer for those struggling with mental health issues?
Sadhguru: All human experience – peace, love, joy, blissfulness, agony, depression, ecstasy – has a chemical basis. Pharmacology is essentially trying to fix the chemical balance within the body by adding chemicals from outside. We must realize that taking chemicals from outside in the form of medications is necessary in an extreme situation, but working for an equanimous chemistry within ourselves is something that has to be brought into every individual’s life.
There is substantial scientific evidence today to show that the body is capable of producing various secretions which lead to different types of experiences within ourselves. The human body is capable of producing something called as endocannabinoids. When endocannabinoids are up, you naturally feel blissful all the time.
With Yogic practices – for example with the Inner Engineering practices that we offer – it has been established by studies by professors and scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Rutgers and Indiana universities that the endocannabinoid secretion in the body goes up by 70 percent, which is higher than what is experienced during sexual orgasm or intense physical exercise. People are coming out of their depressive modes and other anxiety situations through Inner Engineering.
This year, we will be launching a global movement called Conscious Planet. Its aim is to ensure that at least three billion people have a 12-15-minute practice that they can do every day for their inner wellbeing. Along with meditation and Yoga, we will offer a variety of things such as music and martial arts on our online platforms. People can choose based on their inclination but the idea is that human beings should start working for their wellbeing.
Yoga is gaining immense popularity in Australia. In your view, what is the essence of yoga, and how does it go beyond just physical well-being?
Sadhguru: The word “Yoga” fundamentally means “union,” but generally for most people today in the world, Yoga means asanas. Asanas are just a small preparatory aspect of Yoga. Yoga is not a practice, a particular action or posture – it is a way of being. When a person begins to experience everything as a part of oneself, one is in Yoga. Today, modern science proves to you beyond any doubt that the whole existence is just one energy manifesting itself in various forms. If this scientific fact becomes a living reality for you, that you begin to experience everything as one, then you are in Yoga. That is liberation, that is mukti, that is ultimate freedom.
You often speak about the importance of diet in spiritual practice. What dietary advice would you give to Australians who are increasingly interested in wellness and spirituality?
Sadhguru: What kind of food you eat should depend not on what you think about it, or on your values and ethics, but on what the body needs. Try different foods and see how your body feels after eating the food. If your body feels very agile, energetic and nice, that means the body is happy. If the body feels lethargic and needs to be pumped up with caffeine or nicotine to stay awake, the body is not happy.
It takes a certain attention to learn to listen to your body. Once you have that, you know what to eat and what not to eat. In terms of the quality of food that is entering you, definitely vegetarian food is far better for the system than non-vegetarian food. We are not looking at it from a moral standpoint, but at what is suitable for the system – foods which would make you comfortable in the body. So, the kind of food with which your body is most at ease and will not struggle to get nourishment out of, that is the kind of food we should eat.
Many people struggle to find their purpose or feel fulfilled. What advice do you have for those seeking a deeper sense of fulfillment in their lives?
Sadhguru: If you see your life as a precious life, what do you want to invest this life into? If you look at it this way, you will find something truly worthwhile to do. If you think in terms of how to earn a living, how to get this or that, then you will do something silly that you will regret.
So, it is important that without any kind of influence, you must stay by yourself somewhere, at least
or 2-3 days and look at “What is it that I want to invest this precious life into? What is it that will be worthwhile today and after fifty years for me to invest myself into?” You invest your life into that, whatever it is – however small or big. If you see that something is truly worthwhile and you invest your life in that, this will be a life of fulfillment.
How do you suggest one deals with the inevitable challenges and setbacks that life presents?
Sadhguru: There are no problems, only situations. It is all in how you approach them. The moment you label it as a problem, it will become a distress within you. How we conduct the situation around us is subject to various realities, but how we conduct the situation within ourselves is entirely up to us.
No matter what the nature of the situation is, whether it is happening the way you want it or not, it is all about realizing that you are here to experience life. Without situations, you cannot experience life. They may be challenging, test the limits of your competence and really make you feel like you are in front of a wall, but when you manage to climb across or break through it, that is where your experience of life is enhanced. So, do not call anything a problem. This is a simple way to approach life – life is just a series of situations.
Life need not always happen the way you want it. The important thing is that you come through it joyfully, enriched by the experience of those situations, and in the end, you become a very enhanced and enriched life. That is all that matters.