by Amanda Fraser: Sadhuguru Jaggi Vasudeva is an enlightened yoga master who travels to the US twice each year to teach the art of effortless living.
His program is composed of powerful techniques that are designed to transform physical, mental and spiritual levels. These include Pranayamaa (powerful breathing techniques) and Shoonya-an opportunity to transcend the dimensions of body and mind. Not a religion but a science, this program is the result of Sadhguru Jaggi’s commitment to communicate a form of yoga suited for this age and simple enough to integrate into one’s daily life practice. But on another level, he offers much more. As he has said, “This life for me is an endeavor to help people experience and express their divinity.” If you have any questions about Sahaja Sthithi Yoga, you are welcomed to call 615-665-3812. An Isha Foundation volunteer will return your call. There is also a Web site at www.ishafoundation.org.
When I first attended the Sahaja Sthithi Yoga program, I didn’t know what to expect. Myyoga instructor had attended several of Jaggi’s programs the previous year and had said that her life had been affected dramatically. I was surely open to that. The first session was a free introductory talk and an excellent opportunity to “meet the guru.”
That evening the essence of this gentle man from India spoke to me in ways that we don’t have the opportunity to experience here in these United States. I signed up for the program, consisting of seven consecutive evenings, including full days on the weekend. During the program, I learned extremely helpful Pranayama or breathing techniques and a powerful mediation technique. I also began to absorb and experience the vibrant teachings of life and spirit that Jaggi so masterfully and lovingly shared with us.
Since that time, and following an additional program that I attended, my life has found direction and peacefulness that are difficult to express. My goals are more clear, my sinus headaches (if I get them) go away while doing the Pranayama, my relationships feel more intimate and loving, and my spiritual life has a vibrancy that I have always longed for.
With a goal of sharing just a portion of what was offered in these programs, I conducted an interview of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. It is my hope that his words inspire you and touch the immeasurable power and strength that exists deep within each of us.
Amanda Fraser: Why would a person want to try out the Art of Effortless Living or Sahaja Sthithi Yoga program?
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev: If you look at people’s lives, if you look at yourself, you will see that every single action that you perform in your life-whether you’re trying to educate yourself to make money, raise a family, begin a career, whatever you may be doing in your life-fundamentally you’re doing it because you think it’s going to make you happy. It’s just that one person thinks so much education is happiness, another person thinks that much money is happiness, somebody else thinks so much pleasure is happiness, for another power is happiness. But with every single action, consciously or unconsciously, people are trying to be happy. So one way, in this level of living, in this dimension of existence, happiness is the goal of everything that man is doing.
But if you look at life, we have done so much in this world for our happiness. But all we have ended up with is creating more and more comfort and convenience-but not happiness. For example, if you consider-one hundred years ago, what queens and kings could not dream, today an average citizen has. But we cannot say in a hundred year’s time, we are much happier than what we were. In the process of trying to be happy, we are destroying the world; but still it is not happy.
So fundamentally, whatever you call peace or happiness, is a certain state within you. State does not mean just a state of mind-your energy, your body, your mind, or how you keep it-that only then you can be happy. Whenever you are happy, the real source of happiness is within you. It bubbles up. It is just that you are looking for an external stimulus to make you happy.
So yoga, or Sahaja Sthithi Yoga, or what I call Effortless Living, is a way of creating one way of understanding that happiness or peace or whatever you’re looking for follows from the fact that every experience has a certain chemical basis. For example, you lose your peace, you go to the doctor; he gives you a pill. It’s a dose of chemical; he gives you a little bit of peace. Or in other words, peace is a certain kind of chemistry. Similarly, happiness is, love is, fear is, hatred is, suffering is, misery is-everything that you go through is a certain kind of chemistry.
With proper practice of yoga, you are creating the right kind of chemistry where you are naturally peaceful, naturally joyous, naturally loving within you. It is not because of somebody or something. It is simply-that’s the way you are. In other words, once you become like this, your peace and happiness is not at stake with every single action that you perform in your life. So whatever you do, you can do in total freedom, because it’s an expression of your peace and joy. Not seeking of peace and joy in life.
Once it is like this, life is definitely effortless. And who wouldn’t like to go through life effortlessly? Or, in other words, if you really get into a state of Sahaja Sthithi, then you can play with life whichever way you want, but life cannot do anything to you. Life cannot scar you or wound you. One can live absolutely stress-free-which is effortlessness.
So what I see is-it is just that people do not know that such a possibility is there within themselves. And if they come to know, I am sure everybody in the world desires to be in that state. It is just that right now we are making an effort to make them aware that this is possible within themselves.
AF: What spiritual traditions does the Effortless Living program draw from?
SJV: Fundamentally, I don’t come from any particular tradition as such. It is from inner experience that I come. But, if I look at it now, I’m a part of every tradition in the world. Because, whatever the traditions have become over a period of time, that’s different. When I look at the source of all traditions, all traditions have started the way I have started. It cannot be any different.
Whether it is this religion, or that religion, or Tao, or Zen, or yoga, whatever-it all comes from the same source of an inner experience-when a person experiences the unity with themself. So, in a way, I belong to all traditions, while I don’t belong to any because the presentation is unique.
What you call a tradition is a certain way to presenting. The reason Gautama Buddha choose to teach in a particular way, the reason Jesus chose to teach in a different way, and somebody else in a different way-is simply because of the kinds of situations around them. What was most understandable for the people around them, accordingly they proceeded. Depending on the quality of minds around them-the level of receptivity available to them, accordingly they chose their teachings. Even now it’s the same thing, so we are presenting it in a certain way, as it will be most appealing to the modern mind.
AF: I understand that the Sahaja Sthithi program that you introduce offers two paths-one which can enhance a person’s normal daily living experience, and one that gives a person an opportunity to deepen their spiritual life. Can you say any more about which option your 7-day yoga program focuses on?
SJV: If you ask me, you cannot really separate these two things. People are seeking well-being, people want health, people want to be peaceful, but they have a confused mind. And how will health happen, how will peace happen, how will happiness happen to them? They think they can buy it from the outside; it’s a very wrong notion. So, if you’re really seeking well-being, whether peace or happiness or health, you need to dig into yourself, to go deeper into yourself, which is a spiritual process.
Now, this question comes up because there is so much misconception about what is spiritual. We are posing spirituality versus a materialistic way of life. There is no such distinction. If you live here, your body, which is material; and who you are within you, is a spirit. So, can you separate these two things in living? You have to live here as body-spirit. So there is no such distinction as to: this is spirituality; this is materialistic.
It is just that, if you’re enslaved to a materialistic way of life, then we will say, to find a little release from it, you can focus on the inward. But with or without focusing on the inward, on the inner situation, there is no well-being in life, it’s only a struggle.
So definitely, Sahaja Sthithi Yoga focuses on health, well-being, natural living, and all these things. But if a person can be truly peaceful and happy in this world, irrespective of what’s happening around him, I consider that person a spiritual person. How deep he’s gotten is questionable, but he’s started being spiritual-because he’s happy by his own nature.
So, how I would put the distinction between a spiritual person and a materialistic person is just this. Generally how we describe this in India is this: a materialistic person earns his food; everything else he begs from outside-for his love, for his happiness, for his peace-he begs from outside situations. A spiritual person earns everything within himself; only food he begs. But if he wants to earn his food, that’s no big deal; he can do that also.