An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Intellectual Nonsense, Javed Akhtar and the India Today conclave

sadhguruspeaking.jpgI happened to watch this series of video and wondered at the high level of set thinking in the society and how the Indians of today have not only made up their minds about things, but don’t even listen to anything being said in front of them. As this video shows, this property is not just the wealth of Indians, but highly prized “intellectuals” from premier colleges, who pass of as “Spiritualists” in the world.

In this conclave by India Today, “Spirituality as relevant to Leadership” was discussed. The Panelists were Sadhguru Jaggi and Danah Zohar, along with Javed Akhtar. The hostility of Dana, Javed and the audience in how they “receive” what Sadhguru stated is very instructive.

Sadhguru is saying a few things here, which were unambiguous:

  • Senses are the only way we are normally accustomed to interact with the world.
  • These senses are limited in the way they receive and process information.
  • There is a property in every human being which seeks “boundlessness” or “unlimited existence” – which manifests as Sex, Love, Greed etc.
  • There is however a strong boundary walls within which we work or perform due to body and mind.
  • Both Body and Mind are accumulations – one of the food, and another of impressions.
  • Spirituality has nothing to do with Religion, Beliefs, Virtues, Morality, Good conduct etc. They are all human functions that we perform using the body and mind. There is nothing good or bad about those pursuits and they have their own place in the society and human existence. Spirituality is living “this life” to the full. To experience “this being” that one calls “me” to the fullest.
  • However, if you REALLY want to experience the boundlessness in its completeness, we will have to use a different medium than the walls (body and mind) which CREATE the boundaries in the first place. In my view, it is like the situation of a man who is jailed in a room with concrete walls, but can hear the world outside and wants to experience it. However, the only thing he does is put his ear closer and closer on the wall. No matter how close he brings his ear, he doesn’t experience the freedom outside. He can only get a glimpse of that freedom manifesting as laughter and wind-sounds.

Now, none of these points are wrong or can be contradicted. But there is an entire industry of intellectuals, which creates interesting arguments based on how they ADD THEIR opinions and define the terms being said. Its an art. Interesting to watch but useless to gain from.

Spiritual Nonsense from Preconceptions

First comes in the lady from Harvard, Danah. She is ostensibly some authority on Spirituality and Psychology. She comes armed with an “authoritative idea” of Karma she learnt from a professor of IIM Calcutta. Who somehow links it to the misfortune of a kid and his past life. Educational merit after all is no insurance against flippancy and shallow perceptions. But be as it may, she goes a step further. She defines the entire Indian Spirituality by “Karma” alone – her authoritative version of it anyways – and runs down all that has been done in India.

Javed Akhtar is an even more interesting case study. He is for some reason confused between Religion and Spirituality. Just that he doesn’t think so. For, he will differentiate between all that he thinks is Spirituality and Religion to good measure surely.. but keep using what he associates with Religion .. to pick on Spirituality. This is most evident when he takes Humanity, Freedom et al and says why should it be Spirituality? Well, what he really wanted to say was – why should it be related to “Religion”.

He put together a bunch of Moral Constructs and then tried to prove that their existence in a person has no relation to his/her Religious belief system or belief in God. Trying to say that one who doesn’t believe in God can also be “Moral”.

That these Moral constructs are (1) not permanent and (2) not consistent (I would say even within his family or friends) is another matter. But what is a good argument against Religious Belief Systems, in his discourse also becomes a great argument against Spirituality as well.

The only problem is that Sadhguru tried very hard to delink both strongly. Spirituality (going beyond Mind/Body because of their past accumulations) and Religious Belief systems are NOT synonymous was his prominent argument!

But Javed is sitting pretty.

There is another smart person in there who is a physicist. And he wants to understand the linkage between “Spirit” (pronounced as Sprit of course) and “trancedental” or its dichotomy. He helps his case by declaring that he is confused to begin with. And also insinuates that he has never gotten an answer to his question. Well, one way he could possibly get an answer may be by… well.. being a bit coherent? Or have some clarity? And I ain’t talking about his pronunciations or grammar. Screw that. But at least know what you are asking! If by saying “Sprit’ or Spirit you mean Spirituality… then say so. For Spirit, in his context – given his lack of coherence – could have meant many things – include the one that get his likes… a bit high and tipsy!

Of course, when you ask the question, you need to also explain, WHERE THE HECK did this “Spirit” thing come from?? I didn’t hear Sadhguru speak about it.

Frog and the Outside World

Danah is also not just in her own world, but starts on a diatribe on Sadhguru for differentiating between Body/Mind and Consciousness. Now, she isn’t the first one who is stumped by this “distinction” in ability but not substance. Body and Mind in their substance are no different from consciousness. So goes the Quantum Physics and Spiritual folk lore. But, as they manifest and render, in our experience, they do not lend the same ability that the Infinite consciousness bestows. So, substance is one, but not the ability.

For an audience, in whose experience Oneness of existence is NOT a verity, there is no point in speaking about it.

That, the experience of Enlightenment on Chamundi for Sadhguru brought this reality into existence where he felt his body, trees and the creation as one is something that he has never denied or contradicted. That is something, he asserts is the ONLY truth! But having said that, it is true, that for those who are not yet capable of experiencing that Oneness, working through the Body and Mind, and more importantly ASSUMING that this is the “Truth” is something that he warns against.

Now, it is like the case of a frog who lives in a well. He thinks his well is the Universe. One who has gone out and seen the world comes back to tell this frog that this well is LIMITED, although a part of the world. Now even though the frogs in that well have high jump competitions, they are stuck by the boundary of the well. The One from the outside tells them that the way to experience complete freedom instead of having these jumping competitions from one wall to another – is to use another means to experience what is “out there”.

Now, one wise frog from Harvard comes along and says, he “knows” that the well is NO different that the world. And that this One, who is positing these two things – Well and the Outside World – in terms of their EXPERIENCE is propagating “falsehoods”.

None of the frogs come to terms that although the One who Experiences the Outside KNOWS and ASSERTS what he does DUE to the fact that he has experienced the wider world AND the fact that the well is part of the world, this person ALSO knows that the Well, as it presents itself to the frogs is afterall a boundary.

Is there a contradiction in this statement? Is it so difficult to understand? Well, apparently, Harvard makes great frogs as well!

Shrines, Body and Spirituality

There was one comment from Javed Akhtar which caught my attention and which I would like to point out and not let go without adequately challenging it. In introduction to Sadhguru Jaggi, he reads out that he takes groups of people to shrines and then he pauses and says “it is important to note this”.

And this is something for which the disciples of many Enlightened Masters are responsible for too. They have contributed to this nonsense where everything that became part of religion – even though its origins and entire construction was in Spiritual Experience – was clubbed in to one and trashed.

And this misconception is NOT just about religious places but also about body and its use or importance.

Buddha’s Enlightenment

The story goes that Buddha had fasted for many days and weeks and was really run down before his enlightenment. When he was totally tired and out and had no hope left of anything – Spiritual enlightenment or even living. When even the hope of living was extinguished, that’s when he got his Realization. One of the first thing he did after that was to have a hearty meal. And, he, for the first time, enjoyed a meal! It is said that the followers that had gathered around such a holy being who was a walking skeleton (since he was so sacrificing) suddenly ran away thinking he had “changed”.

Changed he had. What they all were after, he had reached there. But all that they IMAGINED it was like, was NOT what it was really. So, the Buddha not only laughed. He ate. Wholesomely and enjoying it. The Javeds of that time ran away from the Buddha PRECISELY when he became enlightened!

At various points, Buddha – and EVERY Realized master – has talked about the uselessness of the body and its CRITICAL and PRISTINE importance in Spiritual journey. Only as a Human being – when one gets this body – can one get Nirvana. So, pray, what is true? is body useful or useless?

Body is an important instrument and vehicle to get us on the way. Can it finally get us there? Is it what creates that experience? Answer to both these questions is NO. Yet, it is critical. Critical, because Human Body and Mind is the only one within discriminatory capabilities. As much as this body is a boundary like the well, it also has the steps out to the Freedom outside. If one were without this body and mind, such an energy (disembodied being) has no “Execution” ability. It is a tendency. Tendency that can influence but not act. Only in a body, such a tendency gets ability to act. Once one gets the ability to act, one also gets the ability to remain or go outside the walls. The same mind that reasons everything outside it.. starts to reason as it turns on itself. Once the mind – the reasoner – becomes the REASONED as well.. or the Object of the reasoning – then it takes a course that leads right to liberation.

But that journey has to begin with the realization that whatever mind is reasoning on the “Outside” is simply rearranging the deck of the Titanic. You can do what you want.. reason the “other stuff” as much as you want, you aint getting anywhere. Not until you use the faculties against the mind itself, that you suddenly start sharpening your awareness. You catch your Mind “in the act”, every time it rearranges the “outside”.

Now about the temples and shrines. Yogic science and innocent articulation by Realized Master of Bhakti yoga have the same end, but have different means. One uses energy and how one starts to sow the seeds of Spiritual journey in someone. Bhakti yoga masters related their experience as it was. They had reached the end in the easiest way (as even Krishna asserts in Gita), circumventing the arduous path of conscious undertaking.

Buddha’s wisdom on his enlightenment or Nanak’s Japji were not RESPONSIBLE to get them there. They were the articulation of the CONCLUSION of their journey. If you take those descriptions of that state as the Guideposts on that journey, you will go haywire! Its almost as if they were giving the Map of the Ambience Mall (Gurgaon) they were in, but their disciples have taken that to be the map of the road from Karol Bagh to the Gurgaon!

Whatever they talked of is NEVER witnessed by ANY disciple on his journey! It is just believed to be true. And not just believed to be true, but also disciples keep creating shrines which resemble those landmarks (which are there, but in the Mall) – and taking rounds around them.

Yogis were different. They did NOT create shrines of fake landmarks, but created Metro Stations (energy centers). if you took the right train from that station, maybe you would reach the Ambience mall.

But the mentality which used the utterances of Bhakti Yogis as shrines for worship, also used these Yogic shrines as places of worship! One thing that a person is struck with is that that in NO TEMPLE of antiquity can one find Halls or quarters for people to “Worship/Chant/have Satsangs” or for priests to stay. That was NOT what say, a Kedarnath, is for. That is also not what Kailash is for.

However, if you attempt to do the rituals that you do in your local temple at Kailash, only God can save you!!

Was that an oversight? Or was part of the design for the functionality?

Now, about the popular conception and misconception about uselessness of temples and shrines and even actions like Japa etc. Nanak is very popularly quoted as saying “why go to a temple”. if that is true, then why have a Gurudwara? Or why have any Mantra or Naam if a Shloka or Japa is of no use?

Nanak did not say what is attributed to him, even though it might be clearly stated in his Baani. What he – and Kabir and many others – try to say was, if you are NOT aware or surrendering enough, then going to the temple is of no use. If you are going to use a Motorbike and start using it as a breakfast table, then why HAVE a bike?

If all you are doing with the temple is to use it to offload your guilt (by worshipping) and asking for favors, then why use it? All the going to the pilgrimages is not going to get you anywhere if you do not have any sensitivity.

If however, you realize that you are awareness and sensitivity deficient and need to be a bit more more “receiving” and “listening”, then if you do visit the shrine, things will happen to you.

Now, its not that Nanak or Kabir got Realization through a shrine or temple. No one may. But its a Metro Station. If you had used it and used it right, then you would reach the Ambience Mall. However, Nanak took the faster route and hopped on a helicopter, which is also available. Just that, not everyone has the means and capability for that.

So, creating contradictions out of taking things out of context is a very common practice. Whether you are a religious person, an intelletual from Harvard or an atheist masquerading as one without a belief; you are simply scanning everything through your own prism.

And that is the final point I wanted to make. Sadhguru says that your experience of outside is create inside you by your five senses. Javed, Danah and the audience who questioned – through their own assumptions about different words and concepts and positing Sadhguru’s points in a certain way – ironically proved that beyond any shadow of doubt! They experienced Sadhguru they had conjured in their minds. The one they had come in with. They wrapped all that he had said in their own concepts and completely missed him.

Whether you demolish a temple or miss receiving from such a being due to the hostility in your preconceptions, its the same thing.

Part 1

Javed Akhtar introduces and Sadhguru starts

Part 2

Sadhguru completes and the Danah Zohar starts.

Part 3

Q&A in the end.

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