Sadhguru, Isha Foundation
In the very nature of things, life can never get perfect – there is always room for improvement. But the geometrical alignment behind creation is in a certain state of perfection. Only because of this perfect geometrical alignment, life flourishes the way it does. Today, there is a whole science that examines the geometry behind the atomic and molecular structure of every form, right from an insect to an elephant, a tree to a river to an ocean, to the planetary systems and the whole cosmos. In their fundamental essence, the geometry of all these forms, from the atomic to the cosmic, is absolutely the same, and it is such a perfect design that life is so gentle, so fragile, but at the same time so firm and so beautiful.
The pursuit of manifesting this fundamental perfection of geometry in one’s life led to a phenomenally complex and sophisticated system of yoga. The yogic system is all about getting your whole system – the physical body, the mental structure, the emotional framework, the karmic structure, and the fundamental energy basis – into a perfect geometrical symmetry, so that you can achieve a union with the cosmic nature.
A little over 15,000 years ago, Adiyogi Shiva, Mahadeva, attained this state of perfection. He became so absolutely still that onlookers were unable to tell if he was truly alive. The only sign of life were tears of ecstasy running down his cheeks. From this state of absolute stillness, Adiyogi would suddenly spring into a dance of ecstasy. This tandava demonstrated that the perfect geometry he achieved within himself is not a restraint – he need not sit in one place. He could dance wildly, in absolute abandon, and still not lose this perfect state of alignment within himself and with the larger cosmic nature.
This tandava is an ecstatic manifestation of perfection and symmetry between the inner experience – known as bhava – the tune that is set by creation –known as raga – the rhythm that each individual has to arrive at –known as tala – and the cosmic nature. The bhava is a consequence of many factors. The raga is set by the Creator. But who will find the right rhythm or tala so that even if you dance madly you are still in perfect symmetry with the rest of the universe? Many yogis, seers, and sages, and above all devotees of Shiva, exhibited this possibility.
Yoga means union. When an individual, who is otherwise trapped within the boundaries of his own body and sensations, achieves a kind of perfection within himself, where in his experience, he has become one with everything, he is then in a state of yoga. If you are willing to strive, you can experience the whole cosmos within yourself. There have been many stories about this state of yoga, for example, Yashoda on seeing the universe in Krishna’s mouth, or the whole cosmos being described as Shiva’s body. A state of yoga does not mean standing on one’s head, or on one leg instead of two – yoga means being in a state of union.
This perfection of geometry can be attained in many different ways. Through intellect, through emotion, through energy, through sheer perfection of action, and above all through devotion – all these are essentially tools to come to a state of abandon. Only when you abandon your personality, which is a pile of karmic impressions, you are in a state of union with the rest of the cosmos.
A human being experiences just an incremental sense of perfection only in some state of union. If this longing for union finds physical expression, it gets termed as sexuality. If it finds an emotional expression, it is called love or compassion. If it finds expression through one’s mental framework, it gets termed as success, conquest or these days as shopping. But if it finds an enduring expression of one’s being, it is called yoga.
There is always a longing for union. Whether someone is running after wealth, money, conquest, success, pleasure, or intoxication – it is just out of a longing for union. But these are inefficient ways of union. Yoga is not against anything except inefficiency. Having been at the top of evolutionary chain on this planet, we as human beings are expected to function a little more intelligently and in a little more competent way. For ages, people have attempted to come to a state of union that way, but it has never really worked for anyone. I want all of you to take this vow within yourself that we as a generation will do things in an enduring way. If we achieve union, we achieve union in an enduring way. This is something that all of you have to take deep into your hearts and minds.
(Sadhguru is a prominent spiritual leader.)