Questioner: Namaskaram Sadhguru. When realization is a beautiful and ecstatic experience, why do enlightened beings choose to leave their bodies and go away?
Sadhguru: Because they don’t want to be clients to bad designers. Now I want you to, whatever I say now, I want you to understand in the right context, because this can be easily misunderstood.
What is Enlightenment? There was a time in sixties, there used to be ads in California saying, if you go to India it will take twelve years. Twenty five dollars, one hour, you can be enlightened here. There used to be ads, where all you have to do is wear headphones, wear some fancy looking goggles, and you would have… and they will also put something into you – together, it gave you such a psychedelic experience. So people advertised.
So what is Enlightenment? You know repeatedly we are going on saying, “Asatoma Sadhgamaya, Asatoma Sadhgamaya,” what it means is – you are trying to invoke yourself, “I want to move from untruth to truth.” There are many, many ways of looking at it. To put it very, very simply – the fundamental untruth about you is, right now what is not you, you’re experiencing as ‘myself’.
This [body] is a piece of earth, repeatedly we have gone over this, but right now you experience this as ‘myself’. This is an untruth, isn’t it? If I experience this sofa as ‘myself’, definitely I need a couch, isn’t it? Yes or no? So if you think ‘I am this vessel’ [water pot], you’re definitely a case, isn’t it? Treatment needed or no? Yes. Yes, if I think ‘I am a vessel’ I need a treatment, but my body? This [water pot] was also dug out of the planet. This [body] was also dug out of the planet, yes? This [water pot] also piece of earth, this [body] is also piece of earth, isn’t it? If I can think this [body] is me, why can’t I think this [water pot] is me? It looks like I have an additional chamber in my head. Nice, isn’t it? Extra chamber would help, but for sure it’s madness, isn’t it?
This [water pot] being me is definitely madness. Please look at it. This [body] being me, is it not madness? Your only comfort is everybody is like this. Yes, that’s how it is in the asylum. That’s how it is. Just because everybody is like you, that doesn’t make it the right thing. I know we are a democratic country, majority rules. Whatever the majority says, that becomes the truth. But that is not how it works in the existence. What is, is is – what is not is, not is. That’s all. If you’re in line with it, life works one way. If you are not aligned with it, it works another way. It’s as simple as that.
So, if you realize I am not this [body], not intellectually, if experientially if a clear separation happened, it would be natural to keep this aside and walk away, isn’t it? You’re calling it by all kinds of bad words, like ‘death’. No. I thought, I am this vessel and continuously I carried it. One day I realized, ‘Oh my God! This is not me’, it’s natural for me to keep it down, and sit here, isn’t it? Isn’t it so?
Sadhguru: So that’s all they did. You’re exaggerating it, ‘Enlightened people leaving their body and going away.’ When they realize this is not it, they just kept it aside. If they had some more business, they could pick it up. They’ve no business, they kept it and went. Sensible way to live or not? If you have business with this vessel, you carry it around. You’ve no business with it, you leave it there.
So when the realization happens – ninety-nine percent of the time, enlightenment and leaving the body happens at the same time. Unless you understand the mechanics of the body, you can’t hold on to the body. People who are in the path of devotion, usually you will see, most of them will die young. It’s not death – the moment they realized, they kept it aside and walked away. You will see right through history, any number of yogis and realized beings, always leave in the range of between twenty-eight to thirty-six years. That’s where they leave. Have you noticed this? India is replete with such people. That’s the time they leave.
You heard of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa? You’ve heard of Vivekananda? He was the first yogi who came to United States in 1893. He was the first yogi. His guru was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He is a devotee. He has a Mother goddess, and he is devoted, and he is in a different way altogether. In his own lifetime, people worshiped him as God. He was not crucified, he was worshiped, because his presence and this thing was so phenomenal, but he was mad about food.
He will be talking to his congregation of people, and he will say, “Just wait.” He will go inside and ask his wife, “What’s cooking today?” His wife Sharada felt so ashamed of this, she said, “What is your problem? Even I am not bothered about food, what is your problem? We see you as God. What is this madness about food?” He said, “That’s okay, but what’s cooking?” One day she felt so ashamed of this, and she told him, “I am ashamed of you. Why are you mad about food?” So he said – you know in that part of the country, always food comes on a large… you know, in India we don’t eat on plates like this [small], we eat on a plate like this [big]. It’s called a thali, a plate with served food is called thali.
He said, “The day you bring the thali to me, the day you bring this food to me, if I show no interest in the food, you must know there are only three days left.” He said this and seven years passed after that. After seven years, one day, he always had this habit of sitting on a swing and eating. So he would sit on the swing and eat. She brought the thali and he looked away. She burst out crying. Suddenly she realized, only three days left. He said no point crying. Time has come. Three days later he left.
So he was using his desire for food, consciously to kind of stay with the body. If he doesn’t desire food, he will go. So every day telling himself, ‘Food, food, food, food, food…’ You know. That’s not his nature, but he is creating the desire just to keep it going all the time. He sits here in the satsang and if the experience becomes big, immediately he gets up and goes and says, “What’s cooking? What’s today…? I want to eat this, I want to eat that.” Just thinking about food, creating a conscious desire for food just to stay glued.
Either you must create a desire like this – there’re other kinds of tricks – or you must understand the mechanics of the body. Understanding the mechanics of the body takes a certain amount of involvement, it doesn’t just come. Realization can happen in a moment, understanding won’t happen in a moment, it takes lifetimes of work.