Perhaps one the most frequent queries that consumes a seeker’s mind are the questions “What is enlightenment? Can spiritual practices enlighten me?” Sadhguru, a yogi and mystic with the experience of three enlightened lifetimes, answers these questions.
Sadhguru: In India, enlightened beings have been referred to as Dwijas. Dwija means twice-born. Once, you were born out of your mother’s womb; it happened unconsciously. You did not make it happen – nature did it for you. When you were born, you came with a certain innocence and blissfulness. A child is innocent and blissful by himself. But since this blissfulness did not happen consciously, anybody can corrupt it in no time. In no time, they will take it away… For some of you, it was taken away by the time you were 12 or 13 years of age; for many it was already taken away when they were 5 to 6. Children are becoming tense at 5 to 6 years of age today because their innocence gets corrupted in no time, depending upon the volume of influence that people around have on them.
Now, if you have to be born once again, you must die first. If you are not willing to die, the question of being reborn doesn’t arise. This does not mean dying physically. If you leave this body, some other nonsense will be waiting for you. But if you die the way you are, if you destroy everything that you called “myself,” then you are born once again. This kind of birth happens 100% consciously. Once again you become blissful and innocent, but fully aware. Now, this blissfulness cannot be taken away by anybody. So, what you call “enlightenment” means a conscious self-annihilation.
Right now, most people are not thinking of enlightenment. They are just trying to live a little better. They want to live a little more peacefully, joyfully, more efficiently, more effectively. We can use yoga for that also. It is a poor way of making use of yoga because yoga is capable of delivering you to another dimension of life; but it’s okay. If people are not satisfied with what they are seeking in their lives, they will never seek anything higher. If you talk about enlightenment to somebody who is hungry right now, he only thinks of food. Whatever people feel is missing right now in their life needs to be taken care of to some extent. Otherwise they will not seek anything higher.
Isha Yoga is offered in such a way that all dimensions are included but nothing is compulsive. When we initiate people into the kriya, it is taught in such a way that everything is available. We don’t want to deny anyone enlightenment just because they don’t know it. We want to create a taste of another dimension so that they will seek it. At the same time, nothing is forcing itself upon you; you can use it any way you wish to. If someone were an ascetic and a “fulltime” yogi, I would initiate them in a completely different manner where the way they should go is compulsive. But generally, I will not initiate someone in a compulsive way. I initiate them in such a way that they can make use of it in many different ways and it still stays alive.
Seeking physical wellbeing is one thing. Seeking enlightenment is something else. To enhance physical wellbeing, you need to learn different techniques of self-preservation. Enlightenment means a conscious annihilation of yourself. For most people, it will take a certain amount of time and maturing to understand that whatever you make yourself to be, in the end, it is frustrating and not enough. However wonderful you make yourself, still it is not enough. Only when you disappear, everything becomes wonderful.
So, if right now all someone wants is to be peaceful and happy, and do better in the activities they are doing – let’s have that, it’s okay. That doesn’t mean enlightenment is ruled out, but such a longing has not come yet. Still, the basic longing is to live better. You are not yet finished with life – you want to live well. When you have lived enough and you know that living better is not going to get you anywhere, then you want to go beyond life.