If you haven’t heard of Sadhguru you soon will. He is an enlightened yogi and mystic from India with millions of followers who spends most of his time travelling the world speaking about inner change and transformation at places like Google, Microsoft, Harvard, Oxford and the United Nations.
I liked Sadhguru the first time I saw him on YouTube. His teaching style is very logical and practical and there is no subject or topic that is off-limits or too sacred to question. You can ask him anything about death, dying, murder, rape, sex, shitting, abortion, terrorism, cults, religious fanaticism, occultism, porn, weed – anything you like. It doesn’t bother him.
Sadhguru is without a doubt one of the wisest teachers I’ve ever seen. Spiritual or otherwise. He speaks in an extremely logical manner that is almost impossible to argue and I’ve never once seen him lose an argument. Not that he argues – but anyone that tries to argue or correct him quickly gets humbled and put in their place without effort. He makes CEO’s, doctors, scientists, journalists, political, religious and spiritual leaders – all look like children.
My journey to the ashram
I’d been planning my trip to Sadhguru’s ashram from the other side of the world, back when I was living in Peru drinking Ayahuasca and writing what would be this blog.
I kept calling the ashram asking when he would be there but no one seemed to know.
Finally I was told by one of the volunteers that he would be at the ashram in late June so I booked my flights and went.
But when I got there he wasn’t there.
What no one told me over the phone was that Sadhguru is almost never at his ashram. In fact, I almost entitled this article “The Guru who wasn’t there” because he never walks around and you never see him. And even when he is there I was told you can’t just walk up to him and talk to him or take a photo with him.
I didn’t understand this at the time but now I do.
A guru in India is like a God. They have millions of followers and if they’re famous they can’t just walk around freely or they will be swamped by literally hundreds of people yelling, screaming, crying and acting hysterical.
That’s one thing I hadn’t anticipated about going to India to see a guru: It’s like going to Hollywood and thinking you’re going to meet George Clooney. Yeah it might happen but the odds are slim to none. You want to talk with an enlightened being? Yeah, so do a million other people.
It pains me to say it, but if you want to meet with or speak with a well-known guru you’d better be a celebrity. Otherwise you’re just another unknown face, one of tens of thousands, that wants their precious time.
Long story short: I didn’t get to meet Sadhguru, but I did stay at his ashram (more about that later) and it doesn’t change the fact that he is one of the wisest teachers on the planet and whether you’re an atheist and think all religion/spirituality is bullshit, or you’re deeply religious and/or spiritual, I encourage you to read this article because you will definitely learn something.
Let’s get down to it. The top 10 teachings of Sadhguru…
Sadhguru’s Top 10 Teachings
1. Give up your conclusions
“Stop bullshitting yourself. Learn to say “I do not know”. What is wrong with that? I do not know carries a tremendous possibility. The moment you destroy “I do not know” you destroy all possibilities of knowing. The very longing to know you destroy. Confusion is better than stupid conclusions. In confusion, there is still a possibility. In stupid conclusion, there is no possibility.” – Sadhguru
Sadhguru will often ask a room full of people if they believe in God…
50% will put their hands up and say “Yes”.
50% will put their hands up and say “No”.
He will then ask them why don’t they just be honest and say “I don’t know”?
That’s the problem he says: everyone is pretending to know things they don’t.
In fact, too many people are absolutely dead certain about things that just aren’t true.
Here’s a suggestion: The next time you hear something you’re not sure about, instead of picking a side and believing or disbelieving, why not just admit the truth: “I don’t know”
What’s wrong with that?
By refusing to draw a conclusion you keep your mind open and you give the truth a chance to get in. But by drawing a conclusion you naturally become closed minded and dismissive towards all other possibilities.
Why ask questions when you already know the answers?
Why seek the truth when you already have it?
“A human being, the more intelligent he becomes, the more confused he gets – every step is a confusion. Only an idiot is dead sure. The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering. Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life.” – Sadhguru
2. Don’t talk about anything that is not in your experience
“I know any number of teachers are feeding you with philosophies and explanations for everything that is not in your experience. People have been talking about Gods and heavens and spirits and souls with great confidence and authority. Are they talking about something they have seen?” – Sadhguru
Although Sadhguru sometimes talks about metaphysical and spiritual things like chakras, kundalini, reincarnation, spirits etc. he doesn’t encourage anyone to talk about anything they haven’t experienced. So if someone asks him: “What is the soul?” He will reply: “Which sole?” “The right one or the left one?” (One of his many unfunny jokes).
The reason Sadhguru doesn’t encourage anyone to talk about things that are not yet a part of their experience (Gods, Heavens, Hells, Devils, Demons, Spirits, Souls, Reincarnation, the afterlife etc.) is because it only leads to delusions and fantasies instead of the real thing.
As Sadhguru says until you’ve experienced it for yourself just keep an open mind and don’t believe and don’t disbelieve. Don’t take his word for it, or believe anything he or anyone else says. Just admit “I don’t know”. What’s wrong with that?
I wish more teachers: religious, spiritual, scientific or otherwise – were as logical as this!
3. See it the way it is, and deal with it the way it is
“Face reality as it is … not as you wish it to be.” – Jack Welch
One of the things I love most about Sadhguru is that he is such a realist.
He doesn’t turn a blind eye to the problems of the world nor does he pretend they don’t exist. Instead he takes action to produce real change and he encourages others to do the same.
I suggest you follow his lead and do the same.
Don’t be positive and don’t be negative.
Don’t be an optimist and don’t be a pessimist.
Just see it the way it is and deal with it the way it is. That’s all you need to do.
As Sadhguru says: If you want to cross the street, you don’t need to think positive thoughts or start chanting a mantra to avoid the cars and prevent yourself from getting hit. All you need to do is see clearly and look where you’re going.
It’s the same with anything: If you want to succeed, you simply need to see things the way they are and deal with them as they are, and not how they could, should or might be.
This also applies to people: Instead of looking for their strengths or weaknesses, good points or bad points, just see them as they are and deal with them as they are, and not how they could, should or might be.
“Don’t look up to anyone. Don’t look down on anyone. When you see all the way they are, you shall navigate life effectively.” – Sadhguru
4. Look at what binds you
“The ropes that bind you and the walls that block you- these are one hundred percent of your making. And these are all you need to unknot and dismantle.” – Sadhguru
If you want freedom, don’t think about freedom, only look at what binds you.
Understand your bondage. What is holding you back? What is stopping you?
Is it an addiction? A bad habit? A fear? A limiting belief? Your comfort zone?
5. Fix yourself, don’t try to fix everyone else
“I want to change you – that is not a revolution. I’m willing to change – now this is a revolution.” – Sadhguru
The problem with the world today is that everyone wants everyone else to change, but no one wants to change themselves.
But the problem is that you can’t change anyone else.
You can’t change:
- Your parents
- Your children
- Your boyfriend
- Your girlfriend
- Your husband
- Your wife
- Your family
- Your friends
You can’t change anyone.
If you could’ve, you would’ve. But you can’t (Just like they can’t change you).
The only person you can change is YOU.
So focus on yourself, the only person you can change, and not other people.
6. Get rid of your ‘but’
As I said in my previous article “The Top 10 habits of all time”
Most people have a dream, but they’re not willing to pay the price:
- They’re not willing to change careers
- They’re not willing to face their fears and go outside their comfort zones
- They’re not willing to invest the time, money, or effort
- They’re not willing to put in the work
- They’re not willing to re-educate
- They’re not willing to relocate
- They’re not willing to sacrifice
- They’re not willing to study
However if you’re serious about success you must take all restrictions off your success, pay the price and be prepared to do whatever it takes to win.
Your attitude should be: Whatever. Wherever. Whenever. However. With Whomever.
7. You have to do it the way it works
“The nature of the universe is that even if you do the right things for the wrong reasons it still works. But if you do the wrong things even for the right reasons it doesn’t work. People need to understand this.” – Sadhguru
You have 2 options in life:
- Do it your way
- Do it the way it works
Most people fail because they want to do things ‘their way’, the way they’ve always done them. But if you want to be successful you need to forget about doing things ‘your way’ or the way you’ve always done them. You need to do things the way they actually work.
You can’t just do whatever you like and be successful.
If you could everyone would be successful.
Unless you do the right things, the right things won’t happen.
If you do the RIGHT thing – even by accident, with bad intentions, for the wrong reasons, it will still work.
However, if you do the WRONG thing – even with the very best of intentions and for all the right reasons, it won’t work.
For example: It doesn’t matter how many times you dial and redial the wrong number, it’s not going to work. You have to do it the way it works.
“One day a man fell into a septic tank. Right up to the neck. He tried to get out desperately but he couldn’t. Then after sometime he started screaming, “Fire, fire, fire!” Neighbors heard the fire screams, called the fire brigade. The firemen came and looked everywhere, no fire. Then they found him in the septic tank, pulled him out and then they asked why were you screaming fire?’ Then he said, “If I said ‘Shit, shit,’ would you have come?!” So just working hard will not do. You must do the right thing otherwise it doesn’t work. Action should be whichever way the situation demands.” – Sadhguru
8. Act consciously, not compulsively
“The choice is always before you: to respond consciously to the present; or to react compulsively to it. There is a vast difference between the two. And it can make the world of a difference.” – Sadhguru
Most people are unconscious creators. Everything they do is unconscious. They walk, talk and act unconsciously. They speak without thinking and act without reflecting.
But if you want to change your life for the better – start acting consciously, not compulsively. Act consciously. Dress consciously. Eat consciously. Talk consciously. Walk consciously.
Don’t just live your life unconsciously on autopilot like most people, doing the same things day after day without thinking about it. Actually think about what you’re doing and why.
“Do not live through memory: If you are wired to your memory, repetitions will happen and redundancy will come; but if you are paying attention, that changes your ability to look at things.” – Sadhguru
9. Don’t take your mind too seriously
“The content of your mind is not your choice; it is decided by where you are. Everything that is around you gets into it. You have no choice about what you have gathered. And what you have gathered in your mind goes far beyond your present levels of perception. Whatever you are exposed to has been absorbed by the mind. It just soaked up everything that it came in touch with.” – Sadhguru
Most people take their thoughts so seriously, believing every thought that passes through their heads, as if their thoughts represented the undeniable and irrefutable truth of the matter. But guess what: Thoughts aren’t facts. What you think isn’t what is.
Thoughts are just thoughts. Just because you have a thought that doesn’t mean it’s true. How many completely random thoughts do you have that have nothing to do with anything?
The average person has over 50, 000 thoughts per day.
Do you think you have 50, 000 true thoughts a day?
Do yourself a favour: Learn to watch your mind without taking it too seriously. Don’t believe every thought that passes through your head. Watch your thoughts without believing them. See them as clouds in the sky or waves in the ocean, quickly come and quickly gone.
Also, realize that you’re not in charge of your thinking process and you have no say as to what you will think. If you did, you would only think positive and happy thoughts instead of evil and negative thoughts.
The truth is that you don’t know anything about your mind or your thoughts, or what causes them, where they come from, what your next thought will be, or why you get one thought instead of another.
If you don’t believe me, ask yourself:
- What will your next thought will be?
- What will you be thinking about 10 seconds from now?
- Why did you just have that thought instead of another thought?
- Why don’t you just think about what you want to think about?
- Why do you often have random thoughts from something that happened 2 weeks ago, or 25 years ago, instead of something relevant to the current topic of conversation?
- Why does your mind wander?
- Can you choose to have no thoughts at all?
PS: It is beyond the scope of this article, but the realization that you’re NOT your mind or your thoughts, that you’re separate from them, is one of the most profound and powerful discoveries one can make in life.
10. Find out for yourself
“Being a seeker means no matter what the Vedas said, what Krishna or Shiva said, you have to know the truth in your own experience.” – Sadhguru
As I said in my article Why I’m no longer a Christian
I don’t know anything about Jesus. Neither do you. All I ‘know’ is what I’ve read. All I think is just my imagination. Everything I believe is just an opinion. I don’t know what he looked like, what he sounded like, what his personality was like, what he really said, what he really did, or anything else. And that’s the problem: We can’t speak to Jesus to ask him any questions to clarify anything. All we have to go by is what someone else wrote about him thousands of years ago which may or may not be true.
And that’s the problem with religions. We don’t know. We can only choose to believe or disbelieve.
Did Buddha really say those things? Did Jesus really do those things?
How would I know? I wasn’t there. Neither were you.
A real truth seeker cannot be content in having ‘faith’ or in believing something blindly without evidence based on some ‘holy’ book. Nor can they take anyone’s word for anything. Instead they must find out for themselves and know for sure by putting it to the test.
Let’s do a quick recap of Sadhguru’s Top 10 Teachings:
- Give your conclusions
- Don’t talk about anything that is not in your experience
- Don’t be positive or negative – just see it the way it is
- Look at what binds you
- Change yourself – don’t try to change anyone else
- Get rid of your ‘but’
- You have to do it the way it works
- Act consciously, not compulsively
- Don’t take your mind too seriously
- Find out for yourself
As you can see, Sadhguru is an extremely logical teacher and that’s one of the things I love most about him.
Before we close out this article I’d also like to share some quick life lessons I learnt from living inside 3 different ashrams (including Sadhguru’s) in India over a period of 6 months last year.
Life lessons from living in an ashram
Before coming to India I’d never been to an ashram before so I was super curious as to what it would be like.
I imagined that it would be some kind of super strict no frills environment full of lots of spiritual people, lots of mediation, lots of quiet time, and lots of rules.
Here’s what I learnt and what it was really like…
How you are outside of the ashram is how you will be inside of the ashram
I’m sure that many people go into ashrams trying to put on a spiritual face and act spiritual, but ultimately the truth comes out.
How you are outside of the ashram is how you will be inside of the ashram. If you were easily angered before you entered the ashram, you will be easily angered inside of the ashram. If you were horny and having lots of sexual fantasies before arriving at the ashram, you will be horny and have lots of sexual fantasies inside of the ashram.
The ashram doesn’t change who you are, at least not overnight. You don’t magically become another person just because you’re in a different place.
People take all their crap into the ashram
Ashrams are full of regular people
I thought that ashrams would be full of lots spiritual people: Monks, swami’s, yogi’s etc.
I was wrong. Ashrams do have monks and swami’s and if you’re lucky an enlightened being or guru (but that’s rare), but they’re mostly full of regular people like you and me. It’s just like going to church. When you go to church you don’t find yourself surrounded by a lot of ‘holy’ people but just regular people (‘sinners’) from all walks of life. An ashram is no different.
Ashrams are full of lots of annoying people
Although Sadhguru’s ashram is one of my favorite places in the world, I still have to be honest about the people who live, work and volunteer there.
Um, how do I say this nicely without sounding like an arrogant a-hole…
They’re mostly a bunch of annoying idiots.
What do I mean by “annoying idiots”?
I mean people who refuse to think logically about anything. People who seem to want to go out of their way to drag their feet and be annoying and unhelpful any chance they get.
I’ve seen many people coming into the ashram, (both Indian and from overseas) in a great mood only to quickly get angry and start swearing with the idiot they’re having to deal with behind the counter, who refuses to listen to reason or to take responsibility for losing their bookings or doing some other totally avoidable stupid crap.
I was furious myself when I first had to deal with these idiots, but when I saw other people from all walks of life get angry and start swearing (including Buddhist monks), it just made me laugh and shake my head in disbelief.
Don’t get me wrong, ashrams definitely have lots of smart and helpful people, but the average volunteer there doesn’t know anything, can’t/won’t help with anything, and seems to want to go out of their way to be annoying and unhelpful.
The only things you’ll ever hear from them are:
“I don’t know”
You never hear:
“I”ll help you”
Seriously, the only way you could be that annoying and unhelpful is if you wanted to be.
It kinda reminded me of the grumpy bastards AKA Priests I saw at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (apparently built on the spot where Jesus Christ was crucified and buried). You would think people who lived and worked in ‘holy’ places would be a little friendlier and happier (and actually like people) – but apparently not.
Most people aren’t serious
One thing I learnt living at an ashram: It’s easy for people to bow down, to meditate and pray, to nod their heads and agree, to share and help out, even to give their time or money, but to actually practice what they preach and live and obey the teachings, not many people are willing to do that. Most people aren’t serious. They’re all talk, no action.
Ashrams aren’t free
I thought ashrams in India were free. Well maybe some are, but most aren’t. The average price I paid for ashram accommodation (including meals) was $20 USD per day.
Gurus are rich
I don’t know how much money Sadhguru and his Isha foundation is worth, but it’s not less than $100 Million USD. My best guess would be $200-$300 Million USD.
Sadhguru has approximately 1, 000 unpaid volunteers who live and work at his Coimbatore ashram alone, (working between 12-16 hours a day) to work off their ‘karma’ in exchange for free food, room and board. Even guests are encouraged to volunteer for at least a few hours per day.
Sadhguru isn’t a special case either. He’s just one of many. Guru’s are like Gods in India. People give them everything: money, time, free labor – everything.
Ashrams are impressive
I don’t know how much Sadhguru’s ashram is worth, but it’s definitely not less than $100 Million Dollars USD and his ashram is just one of many as impressive in India.
Here are some pictures I took of the ashram (I broke the ashrams ‘no photos’ rule):
My room at Sadhguru’s ashram in Coimbatore, South India when I did the Inner Engineering course
Bathroom and toilet
A cheaper room at Sadhguru’s ashram (around $20 USD per night)
The giant Theerthakund pool inside Sadhguru’s ashram in Coimbatore, South India. You’re recommended to take a dip here before meditating in his powerful Dhyanalinga temple
Nice little area to eat meals outside
Nandi The Giant Bull
Peaceful outside gardens
Me (grey shirt) exhausted with some friends (Henri from Finland and Sushant from India) around 10pm after finishing the 3 1/2 day intensive Bhava Spandana (BSP) course
Who is Sadhguru? Here he is: A Yogi and a Mystic
Whilst I was at Sadhguru’s ashram I decided to make the most of my time and to do two of Sadhguru’s most famous courses: Inner Engineering and Bhava Spandana.
I thought the Inner Engineering course (like most things) was pretty overrated. It’s just a 3 ½ day introduction to basic spiritual concepts for beginners and the general public. You dabble and do a bit of everything: We learnt some basic yoga, meditation, pranayama (alternative breathing through the left and right nostrils), watched videos and did some introspection and group exercises. I rate it 5/10. It’s probably good as an introduction to spirituality.
One of the most beautiful meditations/visualizations we did was visualizing ourselves as the mother of the room, then the mother of the city, then the mother of the country, then the mother of the earth, then the mother of the whole universe. After that meditation I felt a lot of love and connection with everyone in the room and everyone I saw that day.
For me personally one of the most entertaining parts of inner engineering was sharing a room with a Colonel/Paratrooper in the Indian army which led to some very interesting and entertaining ‘non-spiritual’ conversations.
Inner Engineering key teachings
- Life obeys certain rules like gravity that can’t be ignored
- You have to do it the way it works, not just any way
- Desires are OK, but not compulsions. Coffee for most people is a compulsion, it’s an addiction, it’s not a choice
- The body never lies to you, but the mind often does
- The spine is the most important part of the body
- If you can respond – you are responsible. (Response-able). Saying you are responsible doesn’t mean you are to blame, it simply means you are able to respond to anything and that you have the ability to respond (However the ashram contradicts itself here by having notes inside each of the rooms saying that they’re not responsible for any lost belongings)
- This moment is inevitable, the next one maybe not, but this one can only be as it is. It cannot be any other way than the way it is. So accept it
- You can poison yourself in many ways, not just with food and drink, but also with thoughts, ideas, beliefs etc.
- Pain vs suffering: Pain is inevitable suffering is not. Pain is good for you, otherwise you would be throwing out your intestines and everything. The closer you are to truth, the less suffering there is
- Truth is not something that you get or grasp, it is something you yield to
- You cannot hold the truth, the truth is holding you
- Anything that you accept becomes a part of you
- Anything that you resist stands up against you
- Are you willing to be willing only in installments? Or all in one go?
- The intellect can only divide but you need to take in the whole lot
- Everything that is happening to you is only felt and experienced in this moment
After the Inner Engineering course I also did the Bhava Spandana program ‘BSP’, which is an advanced experiential program along with 200 other participants. For 3 1/2 days we ate, slept, practiced and hung out together.
The program details were very secretive so I was curious as to what it was all about.
- Dancing/Running/Shouting/Singing/Exercising/Meditating etc. until you break
- Introspection exercises
- Partner exercises
- Group exercises
- Sharing exercises
- Losing yourself/getting over yourself
- Becoming aware of inner sensations
- Dropping the past once and for all
The days were very long, intense and enjoyable. I liked BSP and rate it 8/10.
I felt definite changes after BSP too…
The next couple of days after the BSP I felt very distant from my mind, and in a way I found it hard to find myself.
I also started feeling anxious/scared as if I was losing control/losing myself or something. It’s difficult to describe.
My meditations were deeper and a lot more sensitive too. When I meditated I felt like I might never come out. It was as if my spirit/energies were so lose that I could easily walk out of my body or astral project or something.
Sadhguru is a one-of-a-kind. There is no one else like him. He is the genuine article. The real deal.
Some words that come to mind when I think of Sadhguru are: intense, mature, wise, an expert on life. The ultimate realist.
Whilst I’m not a devotee of Sadhguru I would still very much like to meet him.
Top 10 Sadhguru quotes
“We don’t need more Hindus, more Christians, or more Muslims – we need more Buddhas, more Jesuses, and more Krishnas – then there will be true change. Every human being has that inner potential.” – Sadhguru
“Most human beings live like a bird in a cage whose door was blown away. Out of habit, too busy gold-plating the cage, they do not soar to the ultimate possibility.” – Sadhguru
“I am not here to offer you solace, I am here to disturb you so bad that you cannot rest, cannot sleep, cannot relax.” – Sadhguru
“It is good for the guru to be your friend, but not for you. Your gurus job is to puncture your ego. Being with a master/guru isn’t comfortable, he is there to expose you.” – Sadhguru
“The stronger your personality, the more rigid your energies become, the more rigid your energies become, the less chance you have of going into higher dimensions of life, because you’ve concretized yourself with your likes, dislikes, philosophies and opinions.” – Sadhguru
“The personality is like a smell, the stronger the personality, the stronger the stench.” – Sadhguru
“Don’t try and fix the fruit, fix the root.” – Sadhguru
“If you try to live that which is past, that which IS will bypass you.” – Sadhguru
“Tomorrow” is the deepest cunning of your mind.” – Sadhguru
“I am not interested in sending people to heaven. I am interested in making people in such a way that, even if they go to hell, nobody can make them suffer. That’s freedom, isn’t it? “I want to go to heaven, I want to go to heaven,” is a huge bondage. Suppose you land in the wrong place. Suppose someone hijacked your airplane on the way to heaven. He didn’t crash it; he just landed it in the wrong place. You’re finished, aren’t you? You’re always living with something that can be taken away from you by somebody or something. True liberation is when nobody can take away anything from you.” – Sadhguru
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Footnote: Sadhguru image credits: Sadhguru/Isha Foundation/YouTube