What Is Shivanga Sadhana?
Summary: This is a profound article by Sadhguru, and a must read for all those seeking to grow spiritually, and all those concerned about their own wellbeing. Sadhguru elaborates on the various aspects of shivanga sadhana and their significance. This simple process brings a certain organic intelligence into the system, a different dimension of intelligence is invoked, making life effortless.
article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org
Shivanga Sadhana - A Tool To Rise
Sadhguru: This process that we have set forth now, that we are referring to as Shivanga – anga means a limb, that means a limb of Shiva. You are a part of him. So being a part of the Creator, the transition or the journey is from being a part of creation to being part of the source of creation or the Creator. This is something that is infused in all of us – not just as human beings – every life around us has the same source. But the biggest advantage we have or the biggest challenge we have, the biggest possibility that we have in our lives is we are capable of realizing it. We are capable of making it into a conscious process. None of the other creatures can do it. None of the other life forms, though they are made of the same stuff, they are never ever able to realize that they are made of this stuff. But if you light the fire of devotion in your heart, you will not live here as a piece of earth, you will live here as a limb or a part of Shiva.
As devotees, I want you to bring a new level of sensitivity to everything around you. Devotion should become the most beautiful and attractive thing.
So as devotees, I want you to bring a new level of sensitivity to everything around you. I want you to bring this culture of a new level of sensitivity. Devotion should become the most beautiful and attractive thing. It has always been. This is what human heart longs for, that it wants to be on fire without reason. If it is not on fire without reason, you will set it on fire with hormones. If there is no devotion, you desperately try to cling to somebody. If there is devotion, you will see, whatever you want is happening within you. The most beautiful things are happening within you, there is no time even to look around for anything because so much is happening within you.
It will be good to do a few years of sadhana and bring that sense of devotion, which is absolute balance within yourself. When you are a devotee, you are in total balance because devotion brings that dimension into you. It looks like an extreme process. A devotee is an extremist who is not against anything. We need such people. Right now, we create extremists who are always against somebody. I want you to just imagine people like the “terror people.” They are causing havoc on this planet, but there is one dimension to them, which is very valuable: that is they are willing to die for what they hold as valuable. This is a great quality. Only thing is they are against somebody. That’s the only problem. Suppose they had no enemy. Suppose you have no enemy and you are incapable of an enemy but you are an extremist, you would be a fantastic, intense human being. A very intense and wonderful life you would be, if only you did not make an enemy within yourself. If you do not create an enemy and you are an extremist, it is a great way to be, because you will live an intense life – absolutely intense life. When you are not for anything or against anything – just an extremist, you will be a great piece of life.
Sadhana time is not a time for you to ask for all the arrangements to be made. Sadhana time means, this is a time to bring humility, this is a time to live like you’re just another creature on the planet, which you are. You may have ideas, but the reality is you’re just another creature on the planet. And being just another creature is not a bad thing, it’s a great blessing. Otherwise, you’re just a psychological case. The reality is you are a creature on the planet. If you are a creature on the planet, the hand of the creator has touched you. If you are a psychological case, it’s all just your rubbish. Whether you’re an ant, or an insect, or a cockroach, or a human being. If you are a creature on this planet – a creature means the creator has touched you. There’s no better blessing. If you are a psychological case, you are just a rubbish of your own.
Sadhana time is not a time for you to ask for all the arrangements to be made. Sadhana time means, this is a time to bring humility, this is a time to live like you’re just another creature on the planet, which you are. You may have ideas, but the reality is you’re just another creature on the planet.
This is a time to understand that you are just another creature, you’re not something else. The sadhana is devised to make this sink a little deeper into you because only a living thing can evolve. A psychological case, most probably will only regress. And if it evolves that means you are really getting sick. If your psychological condition, if it’s evolving that means you are really getting sick, but if a creature evolves it’s getting better and that cannot be stopped, anyway it will evolve. We are only trying to throttle it up, hasten it up. Make it happen little faster than the natural process. We don’t want to go at the Darwinian pace, we want to go little faster than what Charles Darwin is predicting for us.
This sadhana is structured this way, there are many aspects to this. One is, to use the body in a certain way. We left the ladies without any physical exercise because we thought they are already overworked in most families. There is a simple process called “Shiva Namaskar” which those who get into the sadhana will do. Another important part of the sadhana is, you must go out and beg from at least twenty-one people. When they give you something, you should not see what they are giving. Suppose they are just giving you a twenty-five paisa coin, you must stretch out your hands and look at their face in supplication. When they are giving, you must close your eyes, not see what they are giving.
This phase, till Mahashivratri, is a significant phase for that, because in terms of elements, in terms of the way the planet is positioned, in terms of the sadhana that you do, if you do it with the necessary involvement, it will have the necessary impact and results.
Learning to receive, whether it is one rupee or one million, to receive it with the same sense. When you give you must see what you are giving, because anyway, you will be giving less than what you can give. But when you receive, you must close your eyes, whatever they give, whether it’s one rupee or one million rupees, you must receive it with the same sense of gratitude. Giving and taking can be just a mere transaction or can become a process of inclusion. Everything someone takes and gives to you can become a way of sharing and it can become much more. It can become a way of breaking the boundaries of who you are.
The sadhana is about this, whether they give you one paisa or one crore, to receive that one paisa you have to give away something of yours. Your pride, your sense of ego, your sense of who you are, to keep that aside and just go and ask for this, shirtless. If you wear a shirt you’ll become a big man. You have to go shirtless. And at least with twenty-one people – you can beg with 200 people if you want – at least twenty-one people you must go and ask for something. And whatever you gather will be used to feed so many people who are here on Mahashivratri and other days when people come.
So to approach someone just with utter humility, shirtless, going and asking somebody, “Please…” Just do this, it will make a lot of difference. Simply the body becomes still, no matter what is happening, and this ease is very, very important. If the body doesn’t come to ease, you need to understand this, what is not at ease is not willing to release you. What is not at ease will cling. Even if you want to be, “I am not the body, I am not the body, I am not the body,” the body doesn’t listen. It will not let you go. The body should come to ease. Then if you say, “I am not the body,” it says, “Yes, you are not.” If it doesn’t say yes, you have no way to get out.
So bringing this ease is very, very important. This phase, till Mahashivratri, is a significant phase for that, because in terms of elements, in terms of the way the planet is positioned, in terms of the sadhana that you do, if you do it with the necessary involvement, it will have the necessary impact and results.
Many of you are going to start the 21-day sadhana till Dhanya Pournami, which is generally known as Thaipoosam in Tamil Nadu. The significance of such periods of sadhana is unfortunately being lost in so-called modern societies. Today, it is only the uneducated and the rural people who do these sadhanas. Once you become educated, you are not supposed to do anything right. You are supposed to be confused about everything!
The significance of a sadhana period like this is to bring an organic intelligence to your system.
The moment you get educated, you are supposed to get confused about all the most basic aspects that human beings have been doing for thousands of years – about your body, your mind, your relationships, the world around you – about everything. That is the quality of the educated. So we can imagine the quality of education that we are rendering to the world.
Education is no longer about making human beings, it is creating scattered human beings. They feel they are superior to everyone, but they are confused about every little thing. They do not know what an illiterate peasant knows, but they think are superior. They are definitely a superior level of confusion.
The significance of a sadhana period like this is to bring an organic intelligence to your system, a different dimension of intelligence which makes life effortless. You do not imagine that creation is a problem that you have to solve. Creation is not a problem. Creation is a tremendous phenomenon. You can either ride it, or you can be crushed by it. The choice is yours. If you ride it, it is a phenomenon beyond anyone’s imagination. If you are crushed by it, it is a horrible thing.
Riding the Wave
Life is a horrible thing for those who are being crushed and ground by it, but it is a phenomenal thing for those who ride the wave of life. Recently, I was watching a video of the longest surf ride. These waves could crush people to death, but for the one who rides it with just a simple piece of plastic or wood, the joy of it is different. The same thing goes for life as a whole – if you ride it, it is such a fabulous phenomenon. Otherwise you cannot fathom the depth of one’s suffering.
The word “sadhana” literally means a tool or an instrument. If you do not have the right kind of tools, every simple thing will become a problem.
Sadhana is a tool to rise, to be able to ride the surf of life. The word “sadhana” literally means a tool or an instrument. If you do not have the right kind of tools, every simple thing will become a problem. I was in an international airport recently, and there was a young woman there. She was sitting in the center of the hallway, not on a chair but on her bag. Thousands of people were walking up and down, everyone with their trolley – someone rushing to the airplane, someone getting off and coming – but she was undisturbed by all this. She was sitting there with a small mirror and a little tweezer and plucking her eyebrows very efficiently.
I thought her level of focus was quite something. The important thing was the tiny little tool that she had. It was a little forceps that she was so efficiently using in the middle of a hallway in an airport, where thousands of people are moving – undisturbed and pulling it off. Whoever innovates these tiny little instruments, hats off to them!
From the smallest level of instrument to the highest, it is the level of focus and involvement that makes the instrument effective. Of course, the design of the instrument is important, but still, with this tweezer, with so many people going around, you could poke your eyeballs out. It is a tiny little sharp thing. The level of involvement is very important. It is all a question of how much it matters to you – not your eyebrows. I mean your spiritual process. If you grow a third eye, there is one more to be tweezed! But it usually does not grow a brow, just the eye!
Involvement and Focus
The sadhana is structured in such a way that the maximum results happen with minimum effort. Sadhana is like an eyebrow tweezer – if you apply it meticulously, it works well. Otherwise you can poke your eyeballs with it. That is not the purpose for which it is created. It is the meticulous way in which you go about it and the level of involvement and focus in it that will bring results. The tool is important, but how you use it is most important. If I ask you to tighten something with a screwdriver, and you put the wrong end in, all you will do is poke yourself.
Do not be fooled by the simplicity. If you give yourself absolutely, it [sadhana] produces results that you cannot imagine possible.
In the surfing video, I was watching this young boy floating on the surf endlessly – each time you thought it is going to end, it does not. He goes more and more, with just a piece of plastic. You have seen all the things we can do with a frisbee. Just a piece of plastic, but it can keep your life going if you know how to use it. This sadhana is just like that.
It is very simple. We could make it more complex, but if we make it very sophisticated and complex, a lot of people cannot understand what the hell it is all about. Do not be fooled by the simplicity. If you give yourself absolutely, it produces results that you cannot imagine possible. That is all it takes with life because we do not have to create it – it is already there. We just have to make it function smoothly and efficiently at its highest possible level. If you had to make life, that would be a different kind of challenge. Everything is there. You just have to position it right. That is all. And that will happen with the sadhana.
Finding Employment in Hell
This sadhana is intentionally structured in such a way that some of it appeals to you and some of it does not. What does not break you or bend you, that is what you are comfortable with. But what you do not like is most important. If you are doing what you like with hundred percent involvement, then you must do what you do not like with two hundred percent involvement.
The sadhana is such that you understand the instruments of body, mind, speech, hearing, seeing.
Are you eating the neem ball in the mornings? Maybe you are throwing it in the back of the throat and drinking water over it. No, you must put it in your mouth and chew it. Instead of a neem ball, we could provide you a rasgulla. But you can eat a rasgulla with complete unawareness. If we give you a heap of rasgulla, after some time, you do not even know how many you have eaten. But will you ever forget how many neem balls you ate? If somebody says, “You ate only two neem balls”, you will say, “No, I ate three!” Neem is very beneficial, but above all, things that you do not like make you very alert to life.
Your likes and dislikes are just a question of thought. You can think, “I like this person.” The next moment, you can think, “I hate this person.” You are allowed that freedom. If you think, “I like this person,” it will be true. If you think, “I don’t like this person,” that will also be true for you.
After all, it is your thought – at least you must be able to think pleasantly. If even in your thought you are unpleasant, then you have found employment in hell. You have no present, but you have a future because you have a job waiting for you. I am sure the HR department in hell will recruit you because you are such an expert in torturing yourself that you should do very well in torturing other people!
The sadhana is such that you understand the instruments of body, mind, speech, hearing, seeing. All these are your instruments. How you learn to use them is your business. You can use them towards your wellbeing, or you can use them to make yourself into a private hell of your own. At least your hell, do it privately – do not make it public.
The Simple Things
During this sadhana, every breath, every step, every heartbeat should be on and on. That is when you know how significant simple things can be, and what great things these simple things can do. Such simple things have done miraculous things. It is the atoms that built the whole cosmos. They are so insignificant that you cannot even see them in a microscope. We could have ignored them, but they made the planet, the universe and everything. So do not ignore those simple things. It is only because those simple things have been ignored that life has become complex. If you had taken care of those simple things, life would be wonderful.
During this sadhana, every breath, every step, every heartbeat should be on and on.
How to sit, how to stand, how to breathe – bring these simple things into your life. Life will become a graceful process, not an aberration. That is what the sadhana is about. The only aspiration in your life should be you must do your life in the highest possible way – whatever you see as the highest, at least to that level, it must happen. Otherwise it is a worthless life. You do not have to do what I see as the highest. But at least what you see as the highest must happen.
If you do not aspire for what you hold as the highest, that is a wasted life. Do not be a wasted life because the most precious thing about life is life itself – not the diamonds, the property or the money. Will you get this now or will you get it on your deathbed when you are taking your last breath? You will anyway get it one day. I think today is a good day.