Ramana Maharshi and the Cinema Screen Analogy

This post is just a demonstration to point out how the awareness is unchanging but the contents of the awareness keep changing…

Ramana Maharshi often used the analogy of a cinema screen. The contents of the screen keep changing but the screen itself doesn’t change. The same way, You, the Self or the pure awareness doesn’t change while the contents of the consciousness keep changing…

Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

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Ramana Maharshi and cinema screen analogy

The first step in the spiritual path is to understand this difference and understand this pure awareness as you. Abiding as the witness or pure awareness and not getting identified with each thought, emotion, and sensation that arises and passes away is the direct form of meditation which leads to a complete cessation of the sense of a separate and consistent self. This finally leads to a oneness, in which the observer and the observed merge together, with no distinctions. (Please note that this merger is different from the initial identification).

I have explained in detail about this practice in my recent book “The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta

(Indian readers click here)


Here are some quotes from Ramana Maharshi, using this analogy:

1. Or again, take the instance of the cinema. Scenes are projected on the screen in the cinema-show. But the moving pictures do not affect or alter the screen. The spectator pays attention to them, not to the screen. They cannot exist apart from the screen, yet the screen is ignored. So also, the Self is the screen where the pictures, activities etc. are seen going on. The man is aware of the latter but not aware of the essential former. All the same, the world of pictures is not apart from the Self. Whether he is aware of the screen or unaware, the actions will continue.

2. Devotee:  What is sphurana (a kind of indescribable but palpable sensation in the heart centre)?

Ramana Maharishi:  Sphurana is felt on several occasions, such as in fear, excitement, etc. Although it is always and all over, yet it is felt at a particular center and on particular occasions. It is also associated with antecedent causes and confounded with the body. Whereas, it is all alone and pure; it is the Self. If the mind be fixed on the sphurana and one senses it continuously and automatically it is realisation. Again sphurana is the foretaste of Realisation. It is pure. The subject and object proceed from it. If the man mistakes himself for the subject, objects must necessarily appear different from him. They are periodically withdrawn and projected, creating the world and the subject’s enjoyment of the same. If, on the other hand, the man feels himself to be the screen on which the subject and object are projected there can be no confusion, and he can remain watching their appearance and disappearance without any perturbation to the Self.

 3. “Wakefulness passes off, I am; the dream state passes off, I am; the sleep state passes off, I am. They repeat themselves, and yet I am. They are like pictures moving on the screen in a cinema show. They do not affect the screen. Similarly also, I remain unaffected although these states pass off.”

4. “The pictures in a cinema show are only shadows passing over the screen. They make their appearance; move forward and backward; change from one to another; are therefore unreal whereas the screen all along remains unchanged. Similarly with paintings: the images are unreal and the canvas real. So also with us: the world-phenomena, within or without, are only passing phenomena not independent of our Self. Only the habit of looking on them as being real and located outside ourselves is responsible for hiding our true being and showing forth the others. The ever-present only Reality, the Self, being found, all other unreal things will disappear, leaving behind the knowledge that they are no other than the Self.”

5. “There are scenes floating on the screen in a cinema show. Fire appears to burn buildings to ashes. Water seems to wreck vessels. But the screen on which the pictures are projected remains unscorched and dry. Why? Because the pictures are unreal and the screen is rear “

6. “You see pictures moving on the screen in a cinema show. When you are intent on the pictures you are not aware of the screen. But the pictures cannot be seen without the screen behind. The world stands for the pictures and Consciousness stands for the screen. The Consciousness is pure. It is the same as the Self which is eternal and unchanging. Get rid of the subject and object and Pure Consciousness will alone remain.”

 7. “Still another example: Scenes are projected on the screen in a cinema show. But the moving pictures do not affect or alter the screen. The seer pays attention to the pictures and ignores the screen. They cannot remain apart from the screen. Still its existence is ignored. So also the Self is the screen on which the pictures, namely activities, are going on. The man is aware of the latter, ignoring the former. All the same he is not apart from the Self. Whether aware or unaware the actions will continue.”

8. “So many pictures pass over the cinema screen: fire burns away everything; water drenches all; but the screen remains unaffected. The scenes are only phenomena which pass away leaving the screen as it was. Similarly the world phenomena simply pass on before the Jnani (one who knows the truth about himself), leaving him unaffected.”

9. “You do not leave one place for another. You are always stationary. The scenes go past you. Even from the ordinary point of view you sit in your cabin and the ship sails but you do not move. We see a picture of a man running several miles and rushing towards us but the screen does not move. It is the picture that moves on and away? 

 10. “Everyone sees only the Self. The divine forms are only like bubbles in the ocean of Reality, or like pictures moving on a screen.”

11. “Lying down on your bed in a closed room with eyes closed you dream of a City, the crowds there and you among them. A certain body is identified as yourself in the dream. The City and the rest could not have entered into the room and into your brain: however, such wide space and duration of time were all perceptible to you. They must have been projected from the brain. Although the world is so big and the brain so small, is it not a matter of wonder that such a big creation is contained in such small compass as one’s brain? Though the screen is limited, still all the pictures of the cinema pass on it and are visible there. You do not wonder how such a long procession of events could be manifest on such a small screen. Similarly with the objects and the brain? “

 12. “Who is this ‘I’? It cannot be the body nor the mind as we have seen before. This ‘I’ is the one who experiences the waking, dream and sleep states. The three states are changes which do not affect the individual. The experiences are like pictures passing on a screen in the cinema. The appearance and disappearance of the pictures do not affect the screen. So also, the three states alternate with one another leaving the Self unaffected. The waking and the dream states are creations of the mind. So the Self covers all. To know that the Self remains happy in its perfection is Self-Realisation. Its use lies in the realization of Perfection and thus of Happiness.”

 

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Is Spiritual Enlightenment Known or Experienced?

This is a very important question! Because, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding spiritual enlightenment, and an answer to this question will clarify this…

Disclaimer: Everything written here is based on my own experience…

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Is spiritual enlightenment known or experienced?

First, let me give you a short answer: It is both!

But I have to clarify what I mean by ‘knowledge’ and what I mean by ‘experience’ in this context…

Knowledge in general sense means anything that you know using your five senses. You know there is a tree by seeing it; you know there is a dog near you by hearing its barking and so on…

Knowledge also means conceptual and factual knowledge. You may know the capital of Japan, you may know what photosynthesis is; you may know the descriptions of 7 chakras; you may know the life history of Buddha and ideology of Buddhism.

But what you know after enlightenment cannot be really classified under the above categories. Spiritual enlightenment is a realization of something very significant.

Once you wake up from a nightmare, you know that it was just a dream… Can this knowledge really be called as a factual knowledge or some knowledge gathered through five senses? There is actually a profound realization that happens when you wake up from the dream. Now you know that after all, it is just a dream.

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A typical human being is identified with his body and his mind… He is deeply identified with his thoughts, emotions, concepts, ideas, beliefs etc. He is also identified with everything that he calls as ‘his’: His family, his clothes, his house, his nation, his community, his values etc…All this is centered around the idea or notion of a ‘personal self’… When someone asks you who you are, whatever your answer may be, your typical reply usually describes everything you are identified with.

After enlightenment, a person realizes once and for all, that none of this is ‘me’ or ‘mine’.. He realizes that the whole idea of a separate personal self is an illusion. He realizes that he is never ever separate from the existence…He realizes that there is no ‘me’ and there is no ‘other’… He realizes that the whole idea of ‘me’ is a dream! This realization also removes the idea that he is the doer of the actions.. If there is no personal self, who is there to do anything? Actions happen, and they still happen out of conscious choice, but not with a sense of doer-ship…

But this is not an intellectual understanding; this is not a verbal assertion; this is not a temporary glimpse; this is a permanent and irreversible knowledge.

There is a word called ‘self-knowledge’ or ‘atma-jnana’.. But this word can be easily misunderstood.. For knowing anything, there has to be a knower, knowing and the object of knowledge.. But this self-knowledge is not an object of knowledge; it is not something that you gain. It is actually a merger of the knower, known and knowledge…It is the dissolution of all the psychological distinctions including the idea that ‘I am the knower and I am separate from this object of knowledge’’…

In other words, you don’t know the real Self, You are that! You just realize this without a doubt.. This ‘real self’ is not something to be pointed out as this or that… It in itself doesn’t have such attributes..

Nisargadatta Maharaj
Nisargadatta Maharaj

An excerpt from” I am That” by Nisargadatta Maharaj:

“Q: What am I?

M: It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you are. For as long as knowledge means description in terms of what is already known, perceptual, or conceptual, there can be no such thing as self-knowledge, for what you are cannot be described, except as except as total negation. All you can say is: ‘I am not this, I am not that’. You cannot meaningfully say ‘this is what I am’. It just makes no sense. What you can point out as ‘this’ or ‘that’ cannot be yourself. Surely, you cannot be ‘something’ else.

You are nothing perceivable, or imaginable. Yet, without you, there can be neither perception nor imagination. You observe the heart feeling, the mind thinking, the body acting; the very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. Can there be perception, experience without you? An experience must ‘belong’. Somebody must come and declare it as his own. Without an experiencer, the experience is not real. It is the experiencer that imparts reality to experience. An experience which you cannot have, of what value is it to you?”

Please note:

But don’t over-complicate it, don’t over-intellectualize it.. That is the main pitfall.. You can’t really think about it or imagine how it feels like to not have a sense of a ‘separate personal self’… When people speculate about it, they start to speak or write about it without knowing what they are talking about and cause misunderstanding to themselves and others…

All you can do is to inquire your every thought, every emotion and every sensation and see if there is really a ‘me’ in it. This inquiry is done only by witnessing your moment to moment experience including thoughts, emotions, and sensations as a passive non-judgmental observer… As you step back from your mental process and witness it, there is a recognition that you are not what you witness or observe as every thought passes by..

What is the Relationship between Experience and Spiritual Enlightenment?

Spiritual Enlightenment vs Spiritual Experience

Now I am going to address the other aspect, which has also caused a lot of misconceptions…

When I talk about the experiential aspect of enlightenment, I am not talking about distinct experiences that come and go… I am not talking about a special experience or an altered state of consciousness..

Most importantly, spiritual enlightenment is not spiritual experience..Both are different.. You may go through tons of spiritual experiences and just return to the duality..

I am talking about experiencing the reality without the distinctions of a ‘me’ and the ‘other’…

Every person experiences life or ‘the feeling of being alive’ each and every moment. But this experience is not pure. It is clouded by duality. You see and experience everything through a filter called a ‘separate personal self’.. This is the reason why you feel a difference between being alone and being with a person.

Just imagine how it feels like to be in a room alone and how it feels like to be in a room where there is already another person. It may be someone you know or a stranger. That doesn’t matter. There is a difference. Apart from the fact that you are mentally aware that there is another person there, you also have a distinct feeling that someone is there with you… But you absolutely won’t have such a feeling when the experience of reality is pure and devoid of any duality.

Also, the absence of duality removes all the conflicts, suffering and craving associated with a limited personal self. The reality is felt in its purity without any distortions. Your life then becomes free-flowing, conflict-less, guilt-free, fearless, peaceful and fulfilled.

Enlightenment also changes the way you sense the psychological time. Your existence doesn’t feel like it is time-bound. It almost feels like there is no dimension called ‘time’..

For more, about Spiritual enlightenment, read: What is Spiritual Enlightenment?

You can also get this book for more clarity: The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta: Shanmugam P: 9781973364542: Amazon.com: Books

(originally posted as an answer to a question in Quora)

Why Do I Criticize Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

(I am republishing an answer that I wrote on Quora. The question was asked by an anonymous user and here is the complete question in his own words: ” Why are there some opponents of Sadhguru who are dedicated to nitpick something wrong instead of learning or appreciating many correct things that he says?“)

I am pretty sure that I am one of the so called ‘opponents’ who seemingly has a dedication for criticizing him; I also think that the anonymous guy who asked this question is someone that I am aware of; a guy who feels angry and hurt after reading my criticism about Sadhguru.

So let me explain why I criticize him. I hope the poor guy understands why, instead of taking it too personal. I will also narrate the story that happened between this poor guy and me on Quora :). The poor guy is the hero of that story :).

Assume that the poor guy is the one who is in the front of everyone else, in the following image!

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This is a very important answer. So, I suggest you read it word by word without missing anything. Don’ be in a hurry to comment, read the complete answer…

This answer is going to be a long one..Because, I have to cover many things in this answer, to give you a perfect context. If you can’t read it now, just bookmark it and read it later.

Don’t wonder why I am taking my time to write all this. This is a multi-purpose answer. I will also be republishing this in my blog. I enjoy what I do and ideas simply flow like a stream once I sit down and write. So I absolutely have no difficulty in writing such answers…

First of all, I am not an opponent of Sadhguru. I don’t hate him and I am not against him personally.

I have praised Sadhguru many times. When it comes to the clarity in his speech, his wonderful voice, his humor sense, his involvement in life, his expertise in driving, his ability to be open to experience , his interest in architecture and many other things, he is excellent! You can read my review about him here: Shanmugam P’s answer to What is your review of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (Indian yogi)?

I don’t care much about legal allegations against him. I have rarely spoken about them, except some questions that were raised regarding his wife’s death. Another blogger explains those questions better than me, I will give you that link: The controversial death of Sadhguru’s wife Vijji . There are some questions which are not addressed by Sadhguru and they are very important.

But when it comes to other allegations, I have listened to both sides of stories and I don’t always cling to one possibility. Also, I know that when a leader is running a huge organization, the leader is usually seen responsible for the fault of some unknown follower.

I don’t want to speak about something that I am not certain about, just to defame someone. But sadly, some people think that it is what I am doing. No, it is not! Defaming him is not my intention…

My Criticism is only about one and one thing only!

There is one thing that I am certain about… And my main criticism about him is related to that one thing alone! It is spiritual enlightenment and it also includes some extraordinary claims made in the name of spiritual enlightenment.

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I know what it is.. But the hardest thing to talk about is that, people already have a lot of ideas about enlightenment.. Many people think that they know what it is, by going by the words of their own gurus, their own scriptures and their own imagination..

I have had my share of wrong assumptions about it too. But it all pretty much ended in 2014..( a few of those wrong assumptions were still remaining which I got clarified three years later). I went through something, a psychological death of the sense of self, an extinction of a limited self that made me realize that I was never separate from the existence and this whole idea of a separate self is an illusion. It ended all my self-referential thinking, all the self-induced suffering, all my seeking and longing and gave me a sense of absolute freedom..

I don’t call it enlightenment because I hate to associate my experience of reality with a word that has been misused from the time immemorial. And, saying ‘I am enlightened’ is actually incorrect because that statement is inherently dualistic.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that those who have declared it were not enlightened. But it is also true that they don’t really talk about it unless there is a compelling reason. Language itself is dualistic, it can neither capture the absolute truth nor can it convey the pure experience of reality. But language can be a useful device to point out where to look and to tell people how to do that. To understand more about spiritual enlightenment, read this answer: Shanmugam P’s answer to What is enlightenment?

I have tried to meditate all my life. I did my first meditation when I was just 7 years old. I thought meditation is just sitting in closed eyes and with crossed legs with no body movement. Later when I was about 10 years old, I learnt and tried to do various asanas, pranayamas etc. But I really didn’t understand what spirituality is all about. The general idea that I had in my mind was that spirituality is all about suppressing my desires, fighting with my own mind, reading all the spiritual books in the world and trying to show extreme devotion to a personal God. It never worked even though I read all the books I could. When I was in the verge of committing suicide, I came across a book which had talks of Osho. And all I could say was ‘wow!’..You can read the full story here: The Journey of a Seeker – My Story.

If you read my short bio in my blog, it will read like this:

I am a blogger and I was a spiritual seeker. I had a tremendous awakening experience in July 12, 2014 on a Gurupurnima day in the presence of Sadhguru but I wouldn’t call that as spiritual enlightenment. But it did free me from many things and changed many things

When people read this and also read my criticism against Sadhguru, their first response is “I kind of feel weird because you say you had an awakening in the presence of Sadhguru and yet you criticize him, lol”. I am pasting a reply that I gave to one person who said this:

Yes.. I have mentioned that it happened during Sadhguru’s satsang on a guru poorinima day because that is exactly what happened. But usually what people do is add their own explanations for it. Human beings have been doing it for ages. What people forget is that correlation is not causation. Probably there is a correlation between full moon days and spiritual awakenings. But when we create our own explanations for it, errors are bound to happen. If you read my bio again, I have never said that Sadhguru’s presence caused my spiritual awakening. I was already doing everything in a focused way during the two months prior to it and it reached a peak during that day. That is all I know!

If you read my blog post regarding my spiritual journey, you will understand the context of it. The only spiritual practice that I did on a regular basis was ‘witnessing’, a meditation suggested by Osho which can be practiced anytime, anywhere.

” My way of meditation is very simple. There are one hundred and twelve methods of meditation. Out of all of those I have chosen the most simple – the most easily done. I call it witnessing.

The moment you witness something you become separate from it, you are the witness, the thing becomes an object – the witnessed.

If you are walking on the road, and you are also witnessing that you are walking – not going along just like a robot, mechanical, everyday habit, the road is known, the legs know it, you can even walk with closed eyes. But walking with absolute alertness every step, every fall of a leaf, every ray of the sun, every bird flying in front of you, fully alert… slowly, slowly, you become aware that you are not the body that is walking, you are something inside which is witnessing.

Once you have witnessed your body, you have got the knack of the method.

Then you start witnessing your thoughts – sitting silently, just watching the rush of thoughts, not interfering, not saying, “This is good. This is bad.” Not justifying, not appreciating, no judgment… non-judgmental witnessing, just like the mirror. Anybody passes by, the mirror reflects it; that’s all, it makes no comment.

Strangely enough, when you stop making comments on the thoughts, they begin to stop; your comments keep them alive. Once you are simply a mirrorlike witness, thoughts disappear, and you become aware of a deeper layer, of emotions, moods, which are very subtle. You are not even aware many times that you are sad. You are often not aware of what your emotional state is – it is very deep, there is a thick layer of thoughts. When thoughts have stopped, then you become aware of a very subtle breeze – and there is a great joy to see it pass. The method remains the same – you remain a witness without judgment.

First body, second mind, third heart. And the fourth happens on its own.

I call my way the fourth way because after the third you cannot do anything.

Once your emotions and moods disappear, suddenly there is a quantum leap – the witness has nothing to witness anymore. It comes home. It witnesses itself. It becomes both the seer and the seen, the object and the subject, and for the first time you have unity. This experience of absolute organic unity of your consciousness has been called by different names – moksha, nirvana, liberation, enlightenment, illumination. Whatever word you choose makes no difference.

But this is the ultimate peak, this is the ultimate goal of human life.

So my method is very simple. You need not even sit to do it. You can do it anywhere – walking on the street, sitting in the bus, sitting in the plane, eating, even sleeping. When you are going to sleep you don’t fall asleep suddenly, it takes a few minutes; just watch how the sleep comes in. Slowly, slowly, you will see sleep coming in, and as your witnessing becomes deeper there comes a moment when you can see that the whole night you are asleep yet still alert.

I have tried almost all one hundred and twelve methods. That list is exhaustive, there is no possibility of adding a single method more. You can make a method of combinations, but those one hundred and twelve are exhaustive.

Out of them all I have chosen witnessing, because most of them are based on this in different ways. ”

– The Last Testament Volume 4: Chapter 15 by Osho

A guy who commented on my spiritual journey in my blog kept advising me to read Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. I told him that I already read that and I also gave him the above excerpt. Then I explained the following:

What Osho called as witnessing is exactly what I practiced. Witnessing, self-inquiry, mindfulness and nididhyasana are all essentially the same, even though described differently and approached differently. It is the most direct approach and extremely powerful.

That is exactly the reason why Ramana Maharshi advocated self-inquiry. It is a deep inquiry of every thought, experience, emotion and sensation that arise moment to moment and recognizing that none of these objects of consciousness is ‘me’ or ‘mine’.

It is negating everything that arises in your consciousness as ‘not me’, ‘not me’ by simple recognition; not by thinking or analyzing or verbalizing it but just noticing for what it is. It is also called as ‘neti-neti’ method, which literally means ‘not this, not this’…

After this transformation, my life was completely different. I forgot all about spirituality, all about future and past and I totally forgot to think about me.. But there were challenges that I faced during the first 3 years because there was a period of integration. There were a lot of old tendencies which had to lose their momentum over a period of these three years. I still had deep reverence for Sadhguru during these three years and I never had a doubt regarding his claims.

In December 2016 I had to change my job. While updating my resume, I was quite surprised… What am I going to say when the interviewer asks ‘Tell me about yourself’?.. I had not thought about myself, the image of me that was derived from my past for the last three years. It has been long since I thought about my strengths and weaknesses, my objectives and all that. So, I had to make some effort to recollect many things about me.

That is when I also started posting in my blog. I had spent about Rs. 22,000 to buy Linga Bhairavi Gudi and Rs.11,000 for Dhyanalinga Yantra because I thought that It will create an energy space in my home, something that may help my family. I spent about a month from September 2016 until the Navarathri festival that year in decorating Linga Bhairavi with flowers, offering sweets and fruits to her, singing, listening and playing the songs from ‘He Devi’, an album released by Sounds of Isha. I kind of created a forced duality to see myself separate from Linga Bhairavi that triggered a lot of forgotten memories and feelings. I used to be very devotional when I was a kid and usually such practicies trigger those memories. The nine days of Navarathri that year was a period of intimate devotion and a roller coaster ride of emotions. It all came to an end on the 10th day, the Dusserah festival which I spent in Kulasekarapattinam, a town famous for Dusserah celebration. I had a permanent tattoo of Linga in my right shoulder that day.

The poor guy who thinks I am an opponent of Sadhguru thinks that the purpose of my whole blog is to criticize and defame Sadhguru. No, it is not! The very first post that I made in my blog was a poem that I wrote about Linga Bhairavi and Dhyanalinga. Here it is: தியானலிங்கமும் லிங்க பைரவியும் – Kural Venba about Isha and Linga Bhairavi

My wife was pregnant and we were expecting a delivery in the month of December. I was expecting a female kid and I wanted to name her ‘Bhairavi’. But it turned out to be a boy and we named him Lingesh. He was born on December 11th, 2016. December 11 is also the birthday of Osho; what a coincidence!

Anyway, this was the time I was slowly regaining my faculty of logical thinking. I literally stepped out of my logical mind during the transformation that happened in 2014 and I had to slowly learn to think logically. I was like a kid for the first two and a half years and I slowly learnt to act like a grown up. This was really like a second birth for me.

And I never seriously considered what happened to me but I found that Sadhguru’s version of spiritual enlightenment was seriously contradicting with many things that happened to me. There was no way that I could match what happened to me with many things Sadhguru is talking about. But still, I could never think that Sadhguru could be wrong. One thing was clear though, my seeking had ended, there was absolutely nothing that was lacking, nothing to gain anymore and nothing to improve upon! There was no solid and consistent self to improve upon or to attain anything. My life was peaceful, fulfilled, joyful and there was absolutely nothing that was lacking. There has been a sense of tremendous freedom, the kind of freedom that I had never experienced in my life. It is only when people taste such a freedom, they could understand how bound and helpless they were before.

That is when I began to interact in an online forum where I had a discussion with a lady. She explained her understanding of spiritual enlightenment as follows and she was very confident in what she was saying:

You will still live a human existence, which has polarity and that includes mental pain, it’s suffering that ends, because you know that your true Self, awareness, is not in the least effected by it and that is your true identity.

Another words, let’s say your enlightened…your mother dies. You will still feel emotional pain and even cry. Being enlightened will put it in perspective, so you won’t suffer, but you will feel mental pain, even if temporary. If you don’t like your mother (lol), then insert in that sentence someone else or your animal. This is just one example of many.

I couldn’t agree with this! We started talking about many things about how the experience of life is after enlightenment. But strangely enough, I didn’t consider myself as enlightened and I also wasn’t seeking enlightenment. I just had no concrete idea of what had happened to me.

She then posted an excerpt of her western teacher called ‘Ted Schmidt’:

Question- Is an enlightened person totally immune and never experiences fear, negative emotions?

Ted: No, as I mentioned in my last response, the enlightened person experiences life just like an unenlightened person except for one fundamental difference: the enlightened person (i.e., the person who has assimilated self-knowledge and “attained” moksha by having apprehended the fact that his or her essential nature is already free) isn’t swept away by the pain and pleasure that he or she experiences. The enlightened person knows that these experiences come and go and don’t really have any effect on the essential nature of the self. Thus, while the pain and pleasure persist, the suffering that ensues from feeling like these experiences are actually enhancing or diminishing, helping or hurting, the self ceases.

I couldn’t agree with this either. In a sense this is kind of true but this is open to many interpretations. He is not speaking about the experiential aspect of enlightenment, a change that I myself had undergone which had changed the way I experienced the reality 24/7. So in my experience, there was and is no duality; I never experientially sense that I am separate from the existence. My way of functioning in the world seemed to be a mystery that doesn’t gel with neither Sadhguru’s version nor this western Guru’s version of enlightenment.

I finally discovered that Ted’s guru was James Swartz, an old American Vedanta teacher. When I went through his website I found that he is extremely critical of Osho and also labels Ramana Maharshi as not a qualified teacher.

Also, I continued my discussion with the American lady on the forum and she also criticized Osho. At this point, I noticed my need to defend Osho and her tendency to defend James Swartz. After exchanging lengthy discussions, I got curious about Traditional Advaita Vedanta expounded by Shankara. James Swartz is a student of Swami Chinmayananda and he was insistent in saying traditional Vedanta is the only way.

One of the main myths that got busted for me is the one that Sadhguru is insisting. He says that more than 90% of the people leave the body (die) during spiritual enlightenment. You can read my answer here to know more about it: Shanmugam P’s answer to How many enlightened persons has Isha Foundation produced through its methods? .

At this time, I also realized my bias towards Osho. I decided to put it aside and began to curiously explore Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta.

That is when I realized that Sadhguru has got this whole idea of ‘90% of people leaving at the time of enlightenment’ from Osho. But Osho himself contradicted this in another discourse. Sadhguru used to say a famous story from the life of Ramakrishna which was actually something Osho made up, to explain how enlightened people create conscious karma after enlightenment. Sadhguru repeats the same story in the same style..

According to Sadhguru, body’s prarabdha karma is over at the time of enlightenment and he has to consciously create karma to keep his body alive. .. This is neither true in my experience nor it is said by anyone else in the whole history… According to advaita, prarabhdha karma can be exhausted only by living the rest of the life. Buddhism also has a similar concept. This resonated with me completely. My own past intentions were driving my life even though I don’t have any sense about future or past (memories exists but the identification is completely broken). And karma is nothing but the web of past intentions. Adhi Shankara says the same in his commentaries and Ramana Maharshi insisted the same.

You can read more about it here: Shanmugam P’s answer to Why is it said that after enlightenment a person may die? If a person is likely to die after enlightenment, then why should I pursue it if I cannot carry it for long? How does one overcome the fear of death on a spiritual path?

But you need to remember that even though prarabhda karma is the one which still runs the activities of the body, we can’t say that the person is actually bound by that karma. Because, the liberated person is no longer identified with his body. He no longer considers the prarabhdha karma of the body as his own karma. It only belongs to the body and it exists as long as the body exists.

Ramana Maharshi explains this paradox very well:

Question: Bhagavan says that when one attains enlightenment all the three karmas [sanchita, prarabdha and agamya] cease to be. But in Kaivalya Navanitam it is stated that the jnani will experience only prarabdha karma [karma being worked out in this lifetime]. Why does it say this?”

Ramana: Prarabdha is the rule prior to the attainment of Self-realisation. As such, even after the attainment of Self-realisation, a jnani appears to be experiencing prarabdha in the sight of onlookers. There are several examples which are commonly used to explain this: an electric fan goes on spinning for some time even after it is switched off; a burnt rope looks like a rope but it cannot be used to tie anything; a tree that has been felled looks just like a living tree but it is no longer alive; peas which are roasted still look like peas but they cannot sprout .

I started asking questions about Vedanta in Quora and I also went through Upanishads, Shankara’s commentaries on Upanishads and Buddhist suttas of Pali Canon. When I read them, I could immediately recognize the truth in them and I could easily separate facts from myths. I didn’t read them to add anything to my knowledge but I read them to make sense of my own experience.

A great eye opener was Shankara’s commentary on Bhagwad Gita. I also read many awakening reports which talk about this integration period. Even Shankara advises a lot of solitude after self-realization to make sure that the realization is completely integrated without any interference from the external world. He advised self-realized people to live with the strength of the Self. When he says ‘living with the strength of Self alone’, I could immediately recognize it. I didn’t do analysis, mental masturbation or research with the scriptures; All that was happening when I read Buddhist and Vedantic scriptures was a simple recognition of what has happened to me.

Let me give you an example. If someone says “I saw a huge black animal yesterday which had large ears, two horn-like organs near its mouth and a long pipe-like organ extending from its nose”, wouldn’t you immediately recognize that he is talking about an elephant? It is the exact recognition which I had when I read Shankara’s commentaries and Buddhist suttas from Pali canon.

In the mean time, I wrote some posts criticizing the views of James Swartz and his way of understating enlightenment. I was verbally abused by one of the followers of James Swartz (just like how Sadhguru’s followers become abusive). I finally decided to start a debate with James Swartz himself. We exchanged a few emails. I told him that his way of understating the experiential side of enlightenment is misleading. Finally, I had to define what I meant by the word ‘experience’. I told him that I am not talking about a special experience or an altered state of consciousness but the natural experience of reality with no duality and with no sense of separate self. He agreed to this view but he still insisted that his talks and books are not misleading; He said that a few people might have misunderstood what he is saying and reminded me that he has thousands of other students who understands him perfectly.

As things settled down, I was able to understand everything that happened in me. Let me include parts of some replies that I posted to a commentator in my blog:

There is a point in seeking where seeking completely ends and the sense of a separate self completely dissolves.. After that there is no more personal journey.. Changes may still happen, the experience of reality may continue to deepen for lifetime, but it is no longer a journey of a person… Because there is no more urge to reach anything or to attain anything. After that, whatever actions that the person does is in complete synchronization with the existence itself. There is no sense of a doership at all.. The speech and action then become the expression of the existence itself. This is my reality now.

The word nirvikalpa means ‘without any distinctions’. It just means the complete absence of duality. If it happens along with the loss of body consciousness, people usually call it ‘nirvikalpa samadhi’… But if a person experiences reality as nirvikalpa without losing body consciousness, it is called as sahaja samadhi. Many people reach sahaja samadhi without going through nirvikalpa samadhi. In sahaja samadhi, the person simple engages in day to day activities just like anybody else. But the big difference is that the person doesn’t sense a separate self or a sense of individuality anymore.. There is a sense of boundlessness and complete fulfilment.. nothing is lacking anymore and there is nothing to seek further… There is nothing to lose and nothing to gain at the absolute level.

Let me state a metaphor. A ball of sugar jumps inside a pot of water and it takes on a journey to absorb as much water as it can. It becomes smaller and smaller as time goes by until it is fully dissolved one day… Once the ball has completely disappeared, is there anymore journey for that ball? The sugar molecules which were in the ball are still there in the water, they may still undergo changes. But do those changes belong to the original sugar ball? The sugar ball is the person you think you are and the water is the existence… In a way, the sugar ball has now become water. But to be more precise and exact, the sugar ball is not there anymore. There are no clear boundaries between the sugar ball and the water. Another way of saying this would be that sugar ball and the water is one and the same now.

It is only after all this, I turned my attention towards Sadhguru again and watched some of his videos again. The first thing that I found was that there is a pretension in him and he is simply parroting the words of Osho. When it comes to spiritual enlightenment, one thing that is destroyed completely is the sense of a separate self. This is not only my own experience but also in agreement with two greatest spiritual schools of the world which is Vedanta and Buddhism.

But Sadhguru doesn’t address this at all. Instead he goes on talking about stuff which reinforce the idea of a separate self and which distracts people from actually walking on the path. He doesn’t address the psychological tendencies or traps in the spiritual paths. On the contrary, he goes on talking about stuff that would actually trap people and stop them from making any progress.

When I was seeking, I couldn’t see this! Because, I was also reading other spiritual books from other gurus, like Ramana Maharshi etc and following the practices they suggested. I couldn’t distinguish between the clarity I got from Sadhguru and the clarity I got from other gurus.

My main practice has always been witnessing that was suggested by Osho. The only reason why I went to Sadhguru satsangs or Isha ashram was because I believed that being in ‘consecrated spaces’ will help me in the path by giving me additional support. I didn’t realize at this point that Sadhguru’s main business was selling consecrated spaces and selling his own energy (For eg, On Shivarathri festival, the seats close to him are extremely expensive because that supposedly gives a chance to feel the energy and vibration of Sadhguru)..

But I know this whole energy business is bullshit because I have Linga bhairavi gudi and Dhyanalinga yantra for the last three years and I know there is no difference between being in the presence of it vs being away from it. The transformation I went through has made me absolutely receptive and there is no resistance at all from my side which will cause me to be not receptive to anything. I feel completely synchronized with the existence.

But people claim that they feel tremendous energy or vibration from Sadhguru. But in reality, it has many reasons. One reason in placebo effect. It has a powerful effect when a person is already a seeker.

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A guy asked me a question regarding this in one of my answers:

Then how would you explain following things:

  1. How sadhguru pushes people into transcendence just by his presence?
  2. why do people go crazy during initiations like shoonya and bhuta shuddhi?
  3. Why does BSP works ?
  4. What is the source of Sadhguru’s crystal clear wisdom? I don’t find that same wisdom in osho’s or ramana’s books?
  5. Why do people experience HUGE benefits by doing shambhavi?

And here is my reply:

  1. How sadhguru pushes people into transcendence just by his presence? Mostly it is placebo. If you don’t know what it is, use Google search. And the placebo effect is hundred times better when a person has already been a seeker and has already progressed to a certain level (and expecting an experience in the presence of someone who claims enlightenment). Also, you can actually see people going crazy and ecstatic watching a Michael Jackson’s stage performance and during church gatherings…I am not sure if you read the complete answer. I am not saying this after knowing him or after being in the path for just 2–3 years. I have encountered many situations which helped me to learn a lot of things. So, I am not the usual kind of skeptic that you might have come across. I even came across a person who claimed enlightenment and who had a special interest in making me his disciple. He arranged a satsang and I felt something deep when he entered the room. But it was caused by my own expectations as well as the way my mind was prepared before the satsang. But after I had a lot of personal one on one interactions with him, I knew he was cheating (I am not talking about Sadhguru here but another self proclaimed Guru). This happened in 2007.
  2. The other questions that you asked boils down to one thing: How come Shambavi and Shoonya meditations work. They will work because they are based on already available techniques. They have the same effect no matter who offers those techniques. These techniques can have a lot of positive effect on your mental health, physical health and can even offer you spiritual experiences.. But you need to have someone who is enlightened to guide you to go beyond and actually get liberated. Sadhguru’s talks don’t offer that guidance at all because he never talks about things which are very important when it comes to spiritual enlightenment.
  3. If you find some clarity in him that you don’t find in Osho and Ramana, there are two reasons. One is purely subjective and depends on what topic you are interested in. Second is his talent. Sadhguru has a degree in English literature and he has also worked on his accent and pronunciation. His accent is neutral and his voice is very clear. But this has got nothing to do with enlightenment. My school principal also spoke more clearly than Ramana Maharshi. That doesn’t make her an enlightened person. Meher Baba didn’t speak at all, that doesn’t make him an unenlightened person.

Also, try to understand the question that is asked here and try to understand the answer I have written. The question is more specific about his claim regarding curing his fracture in an hour. And In my answer, I have explained about the fact that he doesn’t speak the truth all the time. I have found him as an expert in lying, there is no question about it. I have seen enough of him in the last 14 years and I KNOW that he is mostly lying when he talks about himself.

It is also at the same time I discovered and observed many other things. I have written about those things in detail in the following answers:

Shanmugam P’s answer to What do you think of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

Shanmugam P’s answer to Is Sadhguru a hoax? How did he heal his asthma and ankle fracture in an hour (09:15)?

Shanmugam P’s answer to Is Sadghuru Jagi Vasudev another scam?

I am still willing to give him the benefit of doubt. But when I observed the behavior of his followers, I was completely shocked. They don’t really know what they are doing. Most of them are verbally abusive, completely biased and can’t even be open to healthy criticism. I understood that these people are completely misled and they are behaving like a parrot, just repeating Sadhguru’s words. They seem to be completely programmed. This is exactly what motivated me to write more about Sadhguru.

The perfect example is the poor guy, the hero of the story that I am going to narrate now, who might have also asked this question.

When I first wrote an answer saying that Sadhguru was simply repeating Osho, many people were not open to the idea and some people even rationalized it. Please understand, I am not complaining him of plagiarism. I am just questioning whether his enlightenment is authentic if he solely relies on borrowed words. A person who is talking from his own experience will absolutely have no need to imitate some one else’e words, terminology, examples and views. This shows a strong influence of one person over another. But when the person doesn’t mention him at all in public, that gives a sign of deliberately hiding it.

(Note, I am not talking about giving credit to Osho, this is how a lot of people misunderstand. He doesn’t even casually mention Osho’s name. But he has talked about all the other gurus. Even when someone sent him a question regarding this similarity, he just gave a clever answer, implying that it is just an imagination of the questioner. This signals a pretension. If you don’t see this obvious fact, then I am sorry; you have to google and read more about ‘Confirmation bias’ )

Since people were not open about it, I tried a different way. It is a psychological technique. I just conveyed the same message in a different way by showing Sadhguru in a positive light. I always try different approaches when it comes to writing answers and blog posts and convey the same message with different connotation. So I wrote an answer in a different style which you can read here:

Shanmugam P’s answer to Osho and Sadhguru should have some special connection. No other masters explicitly are so similar. They both are unidentical, but definitely very similar in a way with practical approach towards spirituality. What do their followers have to say?

I know that the blind followers of Sadhguru only care if a post shows Sadhguru in a positive light or not. They don’t seem to care about spiritual enlightenment but they only care about idealizing and defending Sadhguru. And after I wrote this answer, the poor guy immediately up-voted my answer and also wrote a comment saying that no one can deny what I said, because I have also explained the psychological reasons for why anyone would want to deny it.

But the same guy acted in a different way when I wrote another answer. I will tell you what he did shortly.. There was a question asked in Quora about why Nirmuktha site criticizes Sadhguru. For me the reason was obvious. Sadhguru voluntarily talked about Higgs Boson, which is completely out of his scope and ridiculed scientists. He implied that what science is discovering now has been discovered by our yogis and we knew the whole truth all along. This is completely unnecessary and is bound to invite criticism. How do you think a person who is passionate about science will react to such a comment? Is such a comment really necessary in the first place?

Only after seeing some comments in the Nirmuktha website, I realized that Sadhguru is creating prejudice against Science among his followers.

Science is not in competition to spirituality, it is only complementary. When both are bridged together, a lot can be accomplished. That is my whole effort and that is also the topic of my recent book (The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta). This book is the result of my whole life.

The answers to that question were also an attempt to provide some kind of justification to Sadhguru’s comments. For example, they asked questions like ‘Why do you expect Sadhguru to be correct on science’? … But that is not the point. The right question to ask is “why does he ridicule science and voluntarily talks about a scientific topic when he doesn’t know about it?’… Is saying ‘I don’t know’ very difficult for Sadhguru? Does he expect to not to face criticism after publicly ridiculing science?

Not knowing something is not a problem. Nobody knows everything in the world. But pretending to know something that one does not is the problem. Do you understand the difference?

But Sadhguru’s followers were reacting in a blind way. They were only reacting, desperately trying to justify him by saying totally unrelated things. Their comments were about how science is not good enough for certain things.

First of all, whether science is good enough or not is not even something that needs to be mentioned here, it is totally irrelevant. That doesn’t justify what Sadhguru said about Higgs Boson.

Seeing blind reactions, I was totally disappointed to see the kind of prejudice that Sadhguru has created. Have you ever thought that your left hand is in competition with your right hand? Then why the hell do you think science is in competition with spirituality? Why the hell do you have any need to prove that one is superior to other? I clearly see that authentic spirituality is not and cannot be in conflict with science at all!

This poor guy felt totally hurt after seeing the criticism. This is what he did: He immediately cancelled the upvote for my previous answer regarding Osho, deleted his comment and also wrote his own answer for the same question regarding Osho and Sadhguru, explaining that the resemblance between Osho and Sadhguru is merely a coincidence.. How can one of my answer regarding science and sadhguru change his opinion on a totally unrelated answer of mine? It is because he took the criticism personally. The poor guy doesn’t even understand what he is doing and doesn’t recognize this as blindness.

After some days, I wrote another answer: Shanmugam P’s answer to What are scientists’ opinions on Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s IIT Madras talk about water having memory and his abilities to manipulate its taste via telekinesis?

And I said something very valid, something that is not possible to deny, in that answer. I wrote it in a completely neutral way. Sadhguru claims that he was able to change the taste of water in a cup of glass to sweet by holding it in his hands for two minutes.

Let me paste a part of that answer here:

But I have also come across instances where Sadhguru voluntarily talks about science and claims that many things the science is discovered now has been already discovered by yogic methods. He may be probably doing this to create more appeal to yoga and spread it to more people with good intention.

But this is what creates a lot of arguments and questions among people. First, we don’t have any evidence for the fact that any kind of factual knowledge can be obtained through practices like meditation or yoga, even though we have been hearing such stories since ancient days. This claim and claims to do miracles have been misused by many fake spiritual leaders in our country which naturally makes people to be extra cautious and even harshly criticize all spiritual leaders. Until there is a solid evidence that such claims have any scientific basis, such criticism will even continue in the upcoming generations. This will actually make Yoga to become less appealing in the future. There is no way to stop it unless we do something about it in this generation especially when an influential public figure like Sadhguru, who claims to be able to do many things that a normal man cannot do, is alive. I can actually offer a simple solution for that.

As you see, I have first stated an obvious fact. If we don’t prove certain claims, this claims are bound to be rejected in the upcoming generations. So if your beloved leader is making an extraordinary claim, it is always good to ask for a proof.

Won’t a proof shut up the mouths of critics? Tell me yes or no.. Is it too much to ask for? Can you deny that if there is a solid evidence for even one extraordinary claim that Sadhguru has made, it will create a great appeal for yoga and also shut the mouth of critics regarding this once and for all? Touch your heart and tell me if this is true or not.. This is certainly, obviously, with no doubt, a win-win situation for everyone, with no exception.

Now, let me paste the last part of that answer:

Sadhguru has claimed many things which are extraordinary . He has done it indirectly by quoting incidents where he could do things like that. I will quote a claim mentioned in the same article that is given for this question, that can be very easily verified with an experiment.

So this lady in the house brought water for me and she’s like Kali suddenly, not just kathak, she’s like Kali. I looked at her – she’s a nice lady, today she’s in the Kali form – so I looked at her and she offered water to me and I said, ‘Amma, I don’t need this water. I don’t need to drink this water. You’re like Kali right now, I don’t need Kali’s prasadam right now, I’m fine.’ She said, ‘Why, will I poison it?’ I said, ‘No, you don’t have to poison it, it’s already done.’ Then I told her, ‘You take a sip from this glass.’ She took a sip from the glass, then I said, ‘Give me the glass to me.’ I held in my hands for two minutes and I just gave it to her, ‘You drink it now.’ She drank one sip and burst into tears and started crying, she said, ‘It’s sweet.’ I said, ‘That’s all the difference it is.’”

This is an extraordinary claim! But all he has to do is get a glass of plain water from you, hold it in his hands for two minutes and give it to you. If it tastes sweet, that is all there is to prove.

It can be verified with a scientific experiment very easily. Proving such a thing has many advantages too. Other then getting attention, Sadhguru and Isha foundation will gain more trust. It will stop people from turning way from Isha just because these claims are made. It will stop unnecessary hot criticisms filled with hatred and verbal abuses that we see all over internet. Sadhguru may win a nobel prize and Isha people will love that. He may earn millions of dollars which can be used for social welfare. Because we all know that Isha foundation already needs money for upcoming projects and currently have to rely on donations alone. In fact, many people who oppose him will start to trust that he is doing everything with a genuine interest for people’s well being and willing to donate even more. Tell me one reason why this is not a good idea!

If you understand this and are genuinely interested to make it happen, we can find a way to pass it on to Sadhguru. You can republish this answer anywhere, share this answer, upvote it or directly send an email to Isha. If each missed call can count, each upvote can count too.

Did I say anything wrong or something totally unacceptable?

But look at a comment that I got from someone:

I think, Mr. Dear Shanmugam, you are actually fooling yourself. Because Sadguru already told to everyone that to look inside and first establish in Yoga. This is what Lord Krishn said in Bhagava Geetha already. But Sadguru always insist everyone to look inside and find out yourself. Then only act! You do not know that who you are and you are talking and researching a SADGURU!! And even trying to help him or try to disaprove His Guruship even!! WHO ARE YOU??!! WHAT IS YOUR ELIGIBILITY??!! Ask yourself??!!! What a shame!!You are a shame for India. That you are trying to give Certificate for an Enlightetend Master. I live with another Enlightetend Master Sri Sri Yogananda Saraswathi and I know the full meaning of the word “Guru.” Then when it comes to the word Sadguru, He is more above than the so called Gurus and he can be the Guru of All Gurus. This is pure understanding. So don’t suspect a Sadgur’s words and you don’t have to make a research on what a Sadguru talks and do. Becuse Go and Read Shiva Samhitha and also Guru Charithra. Then you will realise that you are cimmiting a big SIN!! You may call that I a Sadguru supporter or lover! and I am sick !! But I challenge you, Go and read GURU CHARITHRA!!

I will challenge you that if you read three times GURU CHARITHRA all your life will be settled and your mind will change. You will be cured of your jealousy and suspicion!!! You have to read with love and devotion. That is first condition!! Not with Suspicion!! As Swami Vivekananda told “three things are necessary to make every nation great and every person great” I will here only give the first requirement. Other two you read in Swami Vivekananda’s works!! What he said the first important point to become great for anyone is “ Absence of Jealousy and suspicion”’

You have both!!! I feel pity on you and all those argues with a Guru! Can anyone argue with a Guru!! Only fools and egoists will argues with a Guru. But you can ask genuine questions to get genuine answers. When Sadguru answers such questions you have to understand. Remember a Guru can never till a lie. You and me may lie , but never a Guru.

First you have to go Isha and stay there for atleast three months and live a real Sadhaka life, if you want to understand Him. The after tayin ghtre and living with Him, if you still think that He is not a Guru at all, then I shall sayd that is your fte! and You are not fit for spiritual life! So that is why you live a life of a Fmily man and suffer all the prarabdha Karma outside. But there also you can understand a Guru or Sadguru, if you are a good man. But you are jealous and suspicious! You want to challenge a Sadguru and want to Help a Sadguru by giving a CErtificate for Him! My kind advice to you is that, Go and Read GURU CHARITHRA three times, so that your jealousy and suspicion will be cured!! I am sure and Guarantee. Forget about people who are tlking against Sadguru!! Eample is Sri Ramakrishna sadi when a an Elephant walks all dogs bark!! Why they are jealousy of the gaint walk of the elephant!! Same thing with others they are like the same dogs! it is not angry or abuse words! It their qualifiction, that they re only human body with a dogs mind!! Thiis is the answer for you.

Go and read GURU CHARITHRA three times! You will definitely will save your future life. After that talk!! May God save you from future misery!! After reading GURU CHARITHRA and when you understand who is a Guru, then you will feel like even praying to Sadguru Himself! That will be the change positive!! All the best!! Then I can say you life will be safe! Otheewise! Next birth you may become a dog or cat! Chances are there when you take the company of fools who bark at Sadguru!!

Do you see what this guy is saying? Isn’t this guy promoting pure blindness? Not only that, this is totally against what Sadhguru himself says.. Sadhguru says skeptics are the true seekers and I totally agree: Skeptics are True Seekers – The Isha Blog

He goes on to say that Sadhguru can never lie and we are supposed to blindly believe him. But does this random guy even know that Sadhguru himself says he lies whenever necessary?

Guess what, even though this comment is completely against what Sadhguru is saying, the poor guy, the hero of our story still has the guts to upvote that comment! He is simply upvoting the comment because now he gets some peace on seeing that I get personally attacked. But he doesn’t realize that no one can insult me… I can’t take offence from anyone, it is simple ignored. And I hope that he realizes his blindness one day…

Only a few days after that I realized that this guy is not alone. Every single person who comments on Youtube vidoes, blogs and Quora is extremely abusive, intolerant for any kind of criticism and can’t accept even a slight skepticism about Sadhguru. There are few exceptions but most of them are like this..

Just look at the nature of the comments of Sadhguru’s followers that is present in an Youtube video of Sadhguru’s speech:

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After I witnessed a lot of such comments, I am able to see that Sadhguru’s followers are unconsciously developing prejudice against science, westerners (mainly Americans), other religions (especially Christianity) and all skeptics in general. And you need to understand that prejudice is completely incompatible with spirituality.

So I decided to write this answer to make certain things clear to Sadhguru’s followers: Shanmugam P’s answer to What advice would you like to give to the followers of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev?

Only after seeing all this cultish behaviour and blind followings, I really started much of my criticism. And I have already made it very clear in one of my answers that I won’t stop my criticism until this blindness stops.

It is good for you as well to change it right away, because otherwise people will start labeling Isha as cult. So, the criticism is not about defaming Sadhguru, I don’t have the intention to defame him. The only intention I have is to make people aware of their blindness and unconsciousness. My ultimate intention has always been bridging Science with spirituality. I have elaborated it in detail in my book.

Finally, I want to end with my comments on something that the poor guy said:

Remember that sitting in a comfort zone and writing answers upon quora, creating blogs, publishing ebooks either for or against the popular figure is very easy task just like an intellectual masturbation, but to yourself approach him for testing his unproven claims and then declaring your “objective findings” is a different thing. And the latter is always preferrable for a matured mind.

First, the poor guy needs to understand that walking in the spiritual path itself takes someone away from the comfort zone. Spiritual enlightenment is totally destroying the comfort zone called ‘sense of a separate self’.

Many people think that intelligence is the top most quality that is needed in spiritual path. No! Courage is the topmost quality that is needed. You need to risk something that is considered as the most valuable thing in your life, which is what you think as ‘yourself’.. Unless you are willing to go through a psychological death, there is no question of spiritual enlightenment…

But after 2014, I am always in a comfort zone no matter what I do. I cannot leave the comfort zone because liberation is the ultimate and the greatest comfort zone ever. The pain only lies in passing through the bridge between a petty comfort zone of your sense of a separate self and the ultimate comfort zone of liberation.

Second, I see many objections which say ‘why don’t you challenge Sadhguru publicly instead of being an armchair critic? ‘ ‘Why don’t you approach him for testing his claims?’ etc.

Is Sadhguru my next door neighbor to challenge him publicly? Or do you think that I am the CEO of Sun TV? I am just an ordinary guy living an ordinary life. If you are worried about such criticisms, you are the one who should take this to Sadhguru. This is exactly what I addressed in my answer regarding water memory. But I understand where this objection is coming from. Because, this is a very common rebuttal that is taught to Isha followers. So they are just following the herd.

Third, as I mentioned very clearly, I am not really desperate about spoiling the image of a public figure. The only reason I write such things is to create an awareness about various things. I know it makes a difference. I have seen the difference that it has made and changed the way that at least some people think. And I am sure that one day or the other day such questions and criticisms will reach Sadhguru’s attention.

Fourth, I don’t support pseudoskepticism . Pseudoskepticism is different from actual skepticism. One trait of pseudoskepticism is ‘The tendency to discredit rather than investigate’. This is what the poor guy is talking about. I agree with him. But the problem is, nobody who has the power and authority to investigate is trying to investigate. And I am confident that my criticisms will somehow raise a public awareness regarding this. The same theme is present in my answer regarding water memory.

Thank you for taking your time in reading this answer. Here are two more links that I recommend the followers of Sadhguru to read:

  1. Giving and Receiving Criticism
  2. The Sociology of Calling Other People Stupid

 

Update – Aug 5th, 2018:

As a response to the comments I have been getting from the followers of Sadhguru, I have started a video series. So, watch this series before you comment (4 videos in the playlist so far:

Here is the link to the entire playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyvcEPSjKqOk8Evwhz5tSlm5whxfZswlQ

 

What Is Spiritual Enlightenment?

(I am republishing an answer that I wrote in Quora)

The word ‘Enlightenment’ can be defined in many different ways. We have so many words in different traditions which are synonymous with the word ‘enlightenment’.

The list of words are endless and the definitions are endless too. Some people exaggerate it, some people understate it, some people say that there is no such thing called enlightenment while the majority of the world’s population haven’t even heard of it.

First, let me describe enlightenment in terms of what disappears. Deep down in people’s minds, there is an underlying dissatisfaction with the way things are. People want many things to be different from the way they actually are. There is a craving for becoming something that one is not and there is a resistance to the way things are. Everyone is moving towards a goal, a destination that is in the future. The hopes of arriving at that destination seem to give some solace and if those hopes and dreams are threatened, we tend to suffer. This burning uneasiness and dissatisfaction can be likened to a fire that is burning. The extinction of this fire is enlightenment. The word ‘Nirvana’ means extinction.

There are also two other words ‘moksha’ and ‘mukthi’, which literally mean ‘liberation’. These words refer to how enlightenment feels like.

A typical human being is bound by various things. He is bound by his own past intentions. He is bound by his beliefs. He is bound by the opinions of other people.

But deep inside the heart of every human being, there is a longing to become boundless and expansive. We try to accomplish this by accumulation; we accumulate knowledge, possession, and experiences hoping that these accumulations will make us boundless.

But these very accumulations cause further bondage. Now you have to protect them because losing them will essentially mean losing yourself; because you derive a sense of identity from these accumulations. A typical human being is actually in a self-made prison. But the saddest part is that majority of the population don’t realize that they are in such a prison.

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I have heard a quote by some anonymous person which goes like this:

“One of the greatest mental freedoms is truly not caring what anyone else thinks of you”..

Imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you no longer worry about what other people think about you. And, also imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you are no longer afraid of losing anything. Imagine the kind of freedom you will get when you no longer worry about future and past! What is usually called as enlightenment is the greatest freedom ever. It is not only a combination of all kinds of freedoms that I just talked about but it is also a freedom from the sense of a separate self. It is a permanent freedom from the story you have about you. Once a person is enlightened, he feels like a huge load has been taken off of his shoulders. There is a sense of an immense freedom which is priceless. It literally feels like escaping from a prison.

Once J. Krishnamurti asked his audience if they wanted to know what his secret was. Then he revealed his secret in just one sentence. He said, “I don’t care what happens”…

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Simply put, this is enlightenment. Nothing ultimately matters and the whole life becomes a play or a game.

When we play a game with our friends, we play it without any seriousness. Even though we make sure that the rules of the games are followed and that we do what we are supposed to do in the game, we don’t lose our sleep over it (unless we are playing in a tournament). Playing your role in life as if you are just playing a game is the greatest sense of freedom. Enlightenment naturally makes you to not to care about the end result of whatever you are doing. At the end of the day, nothing ever matters. That doesn’t mean you will be irresponsible. You will just enjoy what you are doing rather than being focused on results. Your actions will be driven by intrinsic motivation.

Whatever I have said so far, sounds quite logical. But I haven’t touched the core yet. The core and the essence of enlightenment is realizing that you as a separate person or entity is an illusion. You create a solid sense of self inside your mind and you define the boundaries of that self physically by your body and mentally by your story.

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But science and spirituality tell us that there is no such solid, consistent self. This doesn’t mean that your body and your mind doesn’t exist. But a sense of self that you derive from your body and mind is just a deep-rooted belief. Since you have this belief for such a long time, you don’t even recognize that it is a belief. This may even sound absurd or unacceptable to you simply because you have lived with this belief so long. We have built layer upon layer on this belief which makes us very difficult to see through this belief.

Someone asked a question in Quora before. The question was “Can an atheist believe in spiritual enlightenment? “. The word ‘believe’ here is a bit odd.But this question comes from an assumption that spiritual enlightenment is somehow related or tied to religious beliefs. But in reality, an enlightened person is an upgraded atheist.

Let me elaborate. The only thing that an atheist doesn’t believe in is the existence of a personal deity, a creator God who answers your prayers. But an atheist may still believe that his next door neighbor is a jerk and his boss is an a**h**e.

An enlightened person, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in anything. He doesn’t even believe that he is separate from the existence. Once the sense of a separate-self dissolves, you realize that you are existence itself. All the boundaries between you and the world simply disappear. You cease to exist as a person but you continue to exist as the existence.Realizing that you are not an entity separate from existence is enlightenment. It is not just realizing this as a fact but realizing it in your actual moment to moment experience.

This is not to say that enlightenment is a special experience or an altered state of consciousness. When you are living a life as a liberated person, you simply experience the reality without any duality. The reality is felt in its purity without any distortions. Your life then becomes free-flowing, conflict-less, guilt-free, fearless, peaceful and fulfilled. Nothing is lacking anymore at the absolute level. There is a sense of innocence and genuineness in your moment to moment experience. It is quite ordinary then how enlightenment is described or thought of.

So, what causes this illusion of separate self or duality? Left-brain interpreter is the culprit.

The left brain interpreter refers to the construction of explanations by the left brain in order to make sense of the world by reconciling new information with what was known before. The left brain interpreter attempts to rationalize, reason and generalize new information it receives in order to relate the past to the present. The concept was first introduced by Michael Gazzaniga while he performed research on split-brain patients during the early 1970s with Roger Sperry at the California Institute of Technology.] Sperry eventually received the 1981 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his contributions to split-brain research

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If you just look at the above picture, one thing is clear. You left brain engages in things which require categorization. Your right brain specializes in helping you to see everything as a whole.

Dr. Chris Niebauer, a neuroscientist writes in his book ‘The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment: How the Left-brain Plays Unending Games of Self-improvement’ about the left brain interpreter.

Let me quote a few lines from his book:

“The left-brain interpreter is categorical, it creates division outwardly and inwardly, so let it do its job, let it do its thing. “

“Again, there is the interpreter created category of “me as I am” vs. “me as I want to be” which are both just thoughts bouncing around in the skull. So, ironically, if you are trying to improve yourself, you can’t. The notion that your self needs improving is an interpretation and we are going around interpretations. There is an irony in most bookstores called the “self help” section. I might suggest renaming this as “Books that reinforce the illusion that the left-brain interpreter can be what it isn’t free of itself.”

“The interpreter also creates and sustains our collection of categorical thoughts called our beliefs.”

It is this left brain interpreter which also creates the duality. It categories your body and your story as a ‘me’ that is separate from the existence.

You can read more about it here: Shanmugam P’s answer to Is spiritual awakening a myth?

Spiritual enlightenment is going beyond all the dualities. It leads one to resolve all the internal conflicts and to feel one with everything. It removes the idea that there is a separate entity inside which has to enhance itself for fulfillment. The left brain may still continue to categorize things, but they are not solidified in our consciousness and we are not urged to protect those solidified entities.