A Testimony From An Isha Volunteer

I recently got an email from an Isha volunteer in response to my criticism about Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He/she had asked me to reply; but when I tried to directly reply to the email, it said that the email could not be delivered. Since I have already mentioned in the contact form of this blog that I may choose to post the content of the emails in this blog, I am going to use this post to reply to that friend from Isha. Also, I am going to discuss a few things which will be useful to other sincere seekers who are attached to Isha.

Here is the content of the email:

Hi Shanmugam,

Have been reading your Quora answers and your blog posts.

Just wanted to say thank you.

I am volunteering at Isha for the past five and a half years.

I am greatly indebted to you for what you have communicated to me through your answers.

Your answer to the question”Is Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev trying to convert Shiva Purana to science?” gave me a really good laugh after a long long time.

Your answer to “How can I outsmart the existing Godmen in India?” made me laugh at my own foolishness.

I want to have a chat with you and get your advice on whether to get out of this situation or continue. Because if I continue, I have a lot to gain, but if I continue, knowing that this is a sham, will I be able to face myself later. The situation is way more complex than what I am able to express when writing this. If you ever come to Coimbatore in the near future, would like to sit with you and talk, or can have a phone conversation.

Sorry for using an anonymous id.

Kindly reply…

Here is my reply and I hope he/she reads this.

Dear friend,

Thank you for your comments and understanding. As I said, I couldn’t reply directly via email. So, I am posting my reply here..

My intention of such criticisms about Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is only to make the seekers (who are into Isha) aware of certain unconscious tendencies of the mind and increase their skepticism. Despite many oppositions, I am pretty sure that it is helping sincere seekers. For you, my posts seem to have done their job.

However, whether you want to get out of this situation or not is totally up to you. As long as you retain the skepticism and follow your own light, where you are doesn’t make any difference. If your friends and family already know about your volunteering etc, it may be emotionally challenging for you to leave the situation right away. You can stay in the same situation and still make progress in the spiritual path, by taking what is good and leaving the rest. Now, I guess you know how to discriminate. 🙂

In fact, there are many positive aspects in your situation:

  1. The atmosphere in Isha is very beautiful and conducive to meditation.
  2. I have always recommended the programs in Isha to anybody who is interested in Isha. They are indeed very helpful and I know that. But it is very important to not to get stuck with just techniques and move forward to the ‘non-doing‘ part of your spiritual path that I have explained here: For the Seekers of Liberation. If you still need a lot of purification for the mind and the body (which is explained here), then staying in the situation may be helpful for you. You may feel motivated to do meditations when you see others doing them.
  3. If they encourage you to do volunteering for social service like planting trees etc, then you are indeed doing a valuable service for people. When you do that with the attitude of Karma Yoga, it also helps in preparing the ground, just like the kriyas you do. But just make sure that you are not exploited in the name of volunteering. Having read my criticisms, you know better about your situation and I hope you know what to do.
  4. When you get exposed to myths over and over again, at one point you will start believing them. This happens to everybody even if they say ‘I neither believe or disbelieve’. Such is the power of the illusory truth effect. You need to remind yourself of this again and again if you choose to continue with your current situation.

As you probably understand by now, I am not personally against anybody, including Sadhguru. My criticisms are just criticisms. The only agenda behind this is to help sincere seekers to follow their own light. In fact, it is about finding the satguru, who is the inner guru.  This is pretty much in line with every mystic that we know of, including Osho, Ramana Maharshi, Lahiri Mahasaya etc.

I want to conclude with a message that I gave to another seeker, who agreed with my posts but still thought that the criticism is unfair. This is something that you probably understand already, but I am quoting it for the other readers who are reading this post:

“My point is, any external form you see is just a form… When people react to criticism about Sadhguru or anyone, they are only reacting to a persona that is reflected in their own mind.. Real satguru is beyond the name and form and he is within you… I understand the respect you show for a person.. but who is this person? Is this person the body you see? or is that the voice you hear when he speaks? He is none of these.., beyond all the names and forms, there is no difference between you and him…”

In Isha Kriya, people are taught to mentally repeat ‘I am not the body and I am not the mind’ for every breath; If a person really understands the concept behind Isha Kriya, he will certainly be able to see the validity in my posts. Since you have already seen that, I hope many things are clear to you and that your journey will be smoother than before.

Everything in life teaches lessons. I am pretty sure you have learnt so many good things while being in Isha too. If you email me again and tell me more about your situation, I can probably give a more helpful answer based on your situation.

With Love,




What is Ego in the Context of Non-Duality?

Ego is a tricky word and it has been used to convey about 3-4 different things… And there has been a confusion because of translations… This post will clarify the confusion that might have arisen.

1. There is a word called ‘Ahamkar’. This word has been used in Yoga, Vedanta and Samkhya. And this ‘ahamkar’ actually disappears completely after enlightenment. But this word is usually translated as ego in English. Let us look at the actual meaning of the word Ahamkar. Its a compound word consisting of ‘Aham’ which means ‘I’ and ‘kara’ which means ‘to do’. The compound word indicates the idea ‘I am the doer’.. This idea can only exist in separation or duality. After enlightenment, you can’t even find a slight scent of Ahamkara, because duality completely disappears.

2.  There is also something called ‘Aham vritti’… This is also translated as ego in English. But ‘Aham vritti’ is actually the root of the self-concept, which too is destroyed completely after enlightenment. Self-concept is the story of ‘you’ that you carry in your head. This story completely loses its focus, importance, significance and power after enlightenment. You only access the self-concept that you have in memory. But there is no active, consistent, solid self-concept which spans from past to future.

3. There is a function in the mind which helps you with social interactions. Its is also referred to as ego. I use the word ‘ego’ to refer to this. This function is totally necessary for social interactions. It is this function which strives to protect and enhance the self-concept. So by its very nature, ego is defensive. But after enlightenment, self-concept disappears while ego as a function persists. This is why you can notice some kind of defensiveness even in enlightened people. But they defend the truth, instead of defending a self-concept.

4. Freud used the word ‘ego’ in a totally different way. If you look up his theory about ego, super-ego and id, you will understand what he is saying in his theory.

Note:  This is very important. If you find one guru saying something about ego which another guru seem to contradict, then always remember that they are probably using the word ‘ego’ to mean different things. The above is the quick checklist that you can refer. I have an entire chapter in my book called ‘Problem with words’ where I discuss certain confusions that tend to happen because of using one word to mean multiple things or using multiple words to mean a single thing. Makes sense? So, when you listen to a spiritual guru, it is very important to inquire what meaning he is actually giving to a particular word by checking the context.


Sat-Chit-Ananda (Truth, Consciousness & Bliss) : Advaita Vedanta in 3 Infographics

Here are three infographics which explain the meaning of Sat-Chit-Ananda in detail. It is the image version of the post The Meaning of Truth, Consciousness and Bliss – Satchitananda. Feel free to download and share.





Spiritual Enlightenment: The Groundwork Needed for Seekers

When it comes to spiritual enlightenment, whether you will really reach self-realization or not depends on how much you are seeking or how deep your seeking is. Some people have just a thought-induced seeking. They see ‘spiritual seeking’ as an ideal quality to have and spiritual enlightenment as kind of a ‘cool thing’ to attain. But this curious seeker will reach nowhere. He still sees spiritual enlightenment as something to gain or attain. But spiritual enlightenment is really a profound rediscovery of what you already are!

The seeking should come from a longing at the bottom of heart to become liberated rather than just a thought-induced craving. When there is such a deep longing to be liberated from the bondage which makes a person be prone to suffering, you are ready to proceed on the spiritual path. Every one has such a longing but he or she believes that this longing can be fulfilled by the objective outcomes of life and by improving one’s self-concept. Once a person realizes the futility of it, he will be ready.

Non-Doing and Doing

There is a direct approach to spiritual enlightenment. It doesn’t involve doing anything but abiding as a non-doing witness (click here to read more). But this is not possible for everyone because people have invested too much in their dreams and the self-concept. They have a lot of conditioning to break and their minds are too heavy. So for almost all the seekers, it is necessary to do certain practices as a groundwork. The practices help you to attain certain inner purification and develop discrimination (Viveka).


So basically there are two kinds of spiritual practices. The first category is everything that involves doing something. The second category is not really a practice but a non-doing. Self-inquiry, mindfulness, and witnessing belong to this category. If you find witnessing a difficult thing to ‘do’, you must focus more on these ‘doing’ practices which mainly involves concentration.  These practices can help you to prepare the ground. In other words, doing leads to non-doing.

Many traditions advocate implementing these two simultaneously. For example, Buddha advocated Samadhi to prepare the ground and Vipassana as the non-doing meditation. He called them as SammaSamadhi and Sammasati. Devotional practices such as chanting are also said to prepare the ground but only if they are practiced with a complete sense of surrender and not looking for the fruit of such actions. Such a devotee personifies the truth or the inner guru and engages in chanting, singing etc.

Preparing the Ground

Here, I will suggest three different systems of practice to prepare the ground. You can pick any one of these three but don’t mix them together. It is very important to not get attached to the techniques. The techniques themselves cannot help you to reach liberation. Liberation is only possible via non-doing, a direct approach such as ‘witnessing’.  So, you need to let go of the techniques at some point and focus more on the direct approach.

Osho’s meditations

Osho has developed certain techniques for modern men. I recommend these meditations the most than the other ones. They constitute different kinds of meditations that involve many activities. You can try them all and do them from time to time but pick one meditation that works for you and try to do it every day.

Here are the links which describe each meditation in detail:

Dynamic Meditation

Kundalini Meditation

Nadabrahma Meditation

Nataraj Meditation

Gourishankar Meditation

Mandala Meditation

Whirling Meditation

No-Dimensions Meditation

Chakra Sounds Meditation

Chakra Breathing Meditation

Kriya Yoga

I usually don’t recommend Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga has many pitfalls. The main purpose of any Yogic Kriya is to abide as long as possible in the after-poise-effect of Kriya once a Kriya is done. Whatever technique you follow in a kriya is only meant to still the mind and help you abide as the witness. But most of the organizations who teach Kriya Yoga today give more importance to the techniques and make it way more complicated than it  actually is. You also end up spending way more time, money and energy than you have to.

If you are already practicing Kriya Yoga through another organization or you are interested in learning Kriya Yoga, I strongly recommend the book Kriya Yoga Exposed by SantataGamana. This book will give you the essence of Kriya Yoga. Click here to read more about the book.


Samatha is the Buddhist Practice that helps to achieve the stillness and purification of the mind.  It is just a close monitoring meditation in which you maintain an unwavering attention to a certain object of meditation. You need to sit in a comfortable posture, close your eyes and fix your attention on the object of meditation. Whenever your mind wanders you need to bring the attention back to the same object. This is the essence of Shamatha. It is pretty similar to the meditation in Ashtanga Yoga.

There is a category for the objects of meditation which is called as kasina. A kasina is a device representing a particular quality used as a support for concentration. You can choose one among the ten kasinas mentioned here: earth, water, fire and air, light, space and the colors blue, yellow, red and white.  You can read more about Samatha here: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/gunaratana/wheel351.html



The Meaning of Truth, Consciousness and Bliss – Satchitananda

Conscious first-person experience is the absolute truth.

The objective world you see outside and the internal world that you see inside happens in your conscious first-person experience. Without a consciousness that knows the existence of an object in the objective world or in the internal conscious field, there is no one else to confirm the existence of such object.

This first-person conscious experience is like a pure screen of awareness where the movie of your life is being played. The scenes in the movie keep changing; there is no permanence found in the contents of the screen. The screen is experiencing itself and is also consciously aware of its contents.

The contents of the screen include the following:

  • The information you gather from the five senses.
  • The information after it is processed in your internal monologue of thoughts, concepts, and words.
  • The likes and dislikes that arise from the association of such objects.
  • Your conceptual past and agenda filled conceptual future.
  • The sense of separation from the world.
  • All the conceptual, episodic and semantic information that you have gathered in the memory
  • The intellect which helps to discriminate things between the contents, decisions and intends to do action.

Because of the sense of separation in the world, a separate illusory self arises which identifies with the contents of the screen, clings to them and feels in its bones that it is the doer of the actions, knower of the knowledge and the experiencer of the experiences.

This illusory self is an illusion created by thoughts. During the moments when the thoughts are absent and during deep sleep, this illusory thinker of thoughts is not there. All that exists then is a conscious experience of life or being.

But when the illusory self arises, there arises a craving for pleasure, becoming and non- becoming. The craving arises from a sense of lack; the separate illusory self needs protection and enhancement. This lack motivates a seeking towards the unknown, a longing from the bottom of the heart to unite with the truth.

But, without this separate illusory self, there is really no separation in the existence; Then what is left is your true Self, the Absolute, the Truth, the inner guru or satguru, the Tao, Dhammakaya or the Kingdom of God. This union of everything is Yoga, the mystical union with God or Fitra.

Sat- Chit - Ananda - Truth, Consciousness and Bliss

But in order to realize the truth in the experience, the illusory separate self has to be recognized as non-existent. Once a disciple with the prepared and purified mind recognizes the illusion as illusion,  there is freedom and there is the extinction of the fire of craving.

Once the illusory separate self- is realized as non-existent, the illusory walls between the following are also realized as non-existent:

  • The knower, the known and the knowledge.
  • The experiencer, experiencing and  the experience.
  • The doer, the doing and the action.

Then there is no distinction between action, knowledge or experience either.

It is like an extremely self-conscious wave realizing that it is indeed the infinite ocean of consciousness itself and that there was never a separation!

So, the fact that ‘Conscious first-person experience is the absolute truth’ is recognized in the experience of reality only when this ‘first person’ is dropped. When this first person, the illusory sense of self is clearly recognized as non-existent, all that is left is the conscious experience which is the absolute truth.

The Absolute truth is the conscious experience of being. This conscious experience without the illusion of the ‘first person’ is bliss. This is your true nature.

So, Your true nature is the Absolute truth which is conscious and blissful. It is all that exists.

This is what we call as the Truth – Consciousness – Bliss or Satchitananda! You are that!



Witnessing Meditation by Osho – A Technique of Everyday Mindfulness

Osho advocated a simple and powerful meditation technique called witnessing. It is nothing but mindfulness in daily activities. It is not only an effective practice for spiritual seekers seeking spiritual enlightenment, but is also a good practice to improve mental peace in general. But the essence of the witnessing meditation has to be understood before one starts to practice it.

The following links will help you to understand some of the basics when it comes to spiritual enlightenment. After reading these links, witnessing meditation will make much sense and will be easier to understand:

What is Spiritual Enlightenment?

Is Spiritual Enlightenment Known or Experienced?

Ramana Maharshi and the Cinema Screen Analogy

The following infographic will give you the steps involved in witnessing. Feel free to download and share the infographic if you want:

Witnessing meditation by Osho - Everyday Mindfulness for Spiritual Enlightenment
Witnessing – Everyday Mindfulness for Spiritual Enlightenment

As it is explained in the infographic, the first step is to learn to discriminate between the awareness and the contents of the awareness. Anything that is observed in the mind, body and the external world is a content of consciousness. When you start witnessing, you may often mistake an object of consciousness for the subject. This is because of the deep-rooted identification people have with the objects of consciousness. You need to rise above each thought, feeling and sensation so that you don’t get identified with the contents.

Here is an excerpt of Osho’s talk from the book ‘From the False to the Truth:

“Just be, and watch. Being is not doing, and watching is also not doing. You sit silently doing nothing, witnessing whatsoever is happening. Thoughts will be moving in your mind; your body may be feeling some tension somewhere, you may have a migraine. Just be a witness. Don’t be identified with it. Watch, be a watcher on the hills, and everything else is happening in the valley. It is a knack, not an art.

Meditation is not a science. It is not an art, it is a knack – just that way. All that you need is a little patience.

The old habits will continue; the thoughts will go on rushing. And your mind is always in a rush hour, the traffic is always jammed. Your body is not accustomed to sitting silently – you will be tossing and turning. Nothing to be worried about. Just watch that the body is tossing and turning, that the mind is whirling, is full of thoughts – consistent, inconsistent, useless – fantasies, dreams. You remain in the center, just watching.

All the religions of the world have taught people to do something: stop the process of thought, force the body into a still posture. That’s what yoga is – a long practice of forcing the body to be still. But a forced body is not still. And all the prayers, concentrations, contemplations of all the religions do the same with the mind: they force it, they don’t allow the thoughts to move. Yes, you have the capacity to do it. And if you persist you may be able to stop the thought process. But this is not the real thing, it is absolutely fake.

When stillness comes on its own, when silence descends without your effort, when you watch thoughts and a moment comes when thoughts start disappearing and silence starts happening, that is beautiful. The thoughts stop of their own accord if you don’t identify, if you remain a witness and you don’t say, “This is my thought.”

You don’t say, “This is bad, this is good,” “This should be there….” and “This should not be there….” Then you are not a watcher; you have prejudices, you have certain attitudes. A watcher has no prejudice, he has no judgment. He simply sees like a mirror.

When you bring something in front of a mirror it reflects, simply reflects. There is no judgment that the man is ugly, that the man is beautiful, that, “Aha! What a good nose you have got.” The mirror has nothing to say. Its nature is to mirror; it mirrors. This is what I call meditation: you simply mirror everything within or without.

And I guarantee you…. I can guarantee because it has happened to me and to many of my people; just watching patiently – maybe a few days will pass, maybe a few months, maybe a few years. There is no way of saying because each individual has a different collection.

You must have seen people collecting antiques, postal stamps. Everybody has a different collection; the quantity may be different, hence the time it takes will be different – but go on remaining a witness as much as you can. And this meditation needs no special time. You can wash the floor and remain silently watching yourself washing the floor.

I can move my hand unconsciously, without watching, or I can move it with full awareness. And there is a qualitative difference. When you move it unconsciously it is mechanical. When you move it with consciousness there is grace. Even in the hand, which is part of your body, you will feel silence, coolness – what to say about the mind?

With your watching and watching, slowly the rush of thoughts starts getting less and less. Moments of silence start appearing; a thought comes, and then there is silence before another thought appears. These gaps will give you the first glimpse of meditation and the first joy that you are arriving home.

Soon the gaps will be bigger, and finally, the gap is always with you. You may be doing something, the silence is there. You may not be doing anything, the silence is there. Even in sleep, the silence is there.”

Buy my book “The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta” for more details regarding Witnessing meditation:


5 Insightful Quotes of Ashtavakra on Spiritual Enlightenment and Non-Duality

These five quotes of Astavakra have powerful pointers; For more quotes of Ashtavakra, visit Gems Of Wisdom From Ashtavakra Gita