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When Your Mind Is Enslaved To Your Past, Nothing New Is Ever Possible In Your Life: Sadhguru

Sadhguru, the Indian yogi and mystic on dealing with anxiety, how to stay productive and the meaning of success. Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. He has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India in 2017, the highest annual civilian award, accorded for exceptional and distinguished service.

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JS: 2020 has caused a lot of havoc. People are left dealing with a lot of anxiety. How should one deal with it? 

Sadhguru: The last few months have been challenging for all of us. When things are not going your way, that is when your capability is most needed. But if you are anxious, worried and get into a panic, you will be paralyzed. If you forsake your capability when you most need it, would you call that an intelligent way to act? A human being who is joyful, sensible and responsible can deal with situations much better than one who is fearful.  

Now the question is, ‘In these uncertain times, how can I be joyful?’ You cannot depend on the outside world to bring you joy because the outside never happens 100 percent the way you want it to. Joy is about how you are within yourself.  

The way there is science and technology for creating external situations in the way we want, there is also technology for inner wellbeing that can be employed to create inner situations the way we want. If your mind and emotions take instructions from you, you would definitely keep yourself joyful.   

JS: Staying in the present moment is the key to productivity and happiness but how does one stay in the present? The past does inform a lot of what we do, doesn’t it? 

Sadhguru: There is a lot of teaching going around about ‘being in the moment’. I do not understand why we are told to be in the moment, because one cannot be anywhere else. Where else can you be other than in the moment? 

It is just that your thoughts are going all over the place. So, this kind of teaching is telling you that your thinking process should freeze. If you are out in the world and you don't think about the past or future, life will get you. 

Your mind carries enormous reserves of memory and the incredible possibilities of imagination that are the product of an evolutionary process of millions of years. If you can use it when you want and put it aside when you don’t, the mind can be a fantastic tool. It is those who have lost control of this wonderful faculty who tell you to shun the past and the future and ‘be in the now’. What is an existential reality is being delivered to you as a psychological restriction. 

The intellect becomes a barrier only when you keep it constantly dipped in memory. When your mind is enslaved to your past, nothing new is ever possible in your life. The science of Yoga offers a way to harness the intellect without being enslaved by it. This is one fundamental aspect of Yoga.  

JS: A lot of us get stuck in a pattern or get comfortable in a particular way of living. What is the easiest way to break a pattern? 

Sadhguru: Indians will be familiar with the word ‘karma’. Karma means you unconsciously creating patterns for yourself, not only about your behavior, but about the way life happens to you. If people examine their lives, the very way situations happen, the way opportunities come, the way they meet people, all of it is in certain kinds of patterns. This is simply because of the kind of karmic patterns you have created. 

Habit is a small manifestation of the karmic pattern. You take in a certain input and make a pattern out of it. That becomes your habit. A spiritual process means you do not want anything to happen within you unconsciously. Conducting your life unconsciously is not an intelligent way to live. If you are seeking evolution, you have to break all your patterns – not good, not bad, but all. Spirituality is the fundamental tool to break all unconscious patterns that we have within ourselves. 

JS: What is Success? We are all striving towards this notion of success, at times at great personal cost. What defines success? 

Sadhguru: According to the world, success means you are running a little faster than someone next to you. That is not my idea of success. For me, success is ‘am I able to use myself fully? am I able to explore the potential of who I am to its fullest possibility?’ If that has to happen, you need perception and an active intelligence.  

‘How do I grow my intelligence?’ Don’t worry about that. People are trying to broaden their minds. That will only make you socially successful, not truly successful. Right now, the important thing is to enhance your perception. If you are able to see life just the way it is, without distortions, you have the necessary intelligence to conduct it well. You can play life joyfully and you can play it well for sure. If you can play it well, people will say you are successful. 

JS: What is the one thing every one of us can do each day, maybe even for 15 minutes, to make this world a better place? 

Sadhguru: One fundamental thing every human being must bring within themselves is that internally, you are a stable being, no matter what the situation is externally. Especially for people in leadership positions, how you handle a situation not only impacts your life, but another thousand lives. When you have such a privilege, it is very important that you work upon yourself. 

I can teach you a way with which you can create a stable and blissful chemistry within yourself and greatly enhance your ability to deal with all the variety of ups and downs in life. 

There is a simple, 12-minute meditation called Isha Kriya. It gives you this possibility that if you simply sit here, there is a little space between you and your body, you and your mind, and between you and the world. Once you create this space within you, once you know what is you and what isn't, that is the end to suffering. When there is no fear of suffering, you will be able to look at everything with utmost clarity and address every issue to the best of your intelligence and capability. Situations will never overwhelm you.   

And when you are in a pleasant inner state, you are naturally pleasant to everyone and everything around you. No scripture or philosophy is needed to instruct you to be good to others. It is a natural outcome when you are feeling good within yourself. Inner pleasantness is a surefire insurance for the making of a peaceful society and a joyful world. 

JS: Please tell me about the 'Sadhguru Center for a Conscious Planet'. 

Sadhguru: In the last few years, I have been interacting with some of the top scientists in physics, neurosciences and computer sciences. In one of these meetings, I said, ‘The tragedy of humanity is that the world’s situations are always shaping human consciousness. Until we bring a situation where human consciousness will shape the world situations, our problems will never be over.’ Situations should not be shaping human consciousness. That would be putting the cart before the horse, it cannot work like that. 

This triggered further sessions on 'Science & Spirituality', which eventually led to the creation of the 'Sadhguru Center for a Conscious Planet' at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School, with the aim of conducting scientific research in the connected areas of Consciousness, Cognition and Compassion.  

For every other creature on the planet, their life is contained and curtailed by nature. Nature has drawn two lines within which they live and die. But with human beings, somewhere, nature trusted our intelligence that human beings can be left free without lines. But we have been making a disaster out of that freedom, both in terms of human experience and what is happening ecologically. Becoming conscious can no longer be something fanciful, it is an absolute must for our survival.  

For the very first time in the history of humanity, we have the necessary resources, capability and technology to address every basic human problem on the planet. The only thing missing is human consciousness. This Center will work toward creating a more conscious planet.

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