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Apr 2020 light for the Blind Fire of my Mind Fire of my Heart Fire of my Body Immense fire of my Being I Condensed into cool fire The coolness of my fire makes my fire unconditional Doesn’t feed upon life giving oxygen Underwater or in ice or in cold space My fire flourishes to be light Light that is beyond senses light that is eternal light that even the blind can know. light up your Blindness with my cool fire

light for the Blind - Jaggi Vasudev

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Text of light for the Blind - Jaggi Vasudev

light for the Blind
Fire of my Mind Fire of my Heart Fire of my Body
Immense fire of my Being I Condensed into cool fire
The coolness of my fire makes my fire unconditional
Doesn’t feed upon life giving oxygen Underwater or in ice or in cold space
My fire flourishes to be light
Light that is beyond senses light that is eternal
light that even the blind can know.
light up your Blindness with my cool fire
2 | Apr 2020
3 Sadhguru in the Ashram Enjoy the stunning pictures of Sadhguru inserted at various places in this edition of Isha Whispers...
11 Steps Isha has Taken to be a Part of the Solution A quick list of various offerings from Sadhguru and Isha volunteers to support people to cope with the stress of the pandemic.
35 A Homecoming at Isha Yoga Center Jay Naidoo, an apartheid freedom fighter from South Africa, shares that there could not have been a more perfect place to be locked down during the pandemic for one’s personal growth.
24 An Overwhelmed Business Leader Shares Her Agony and Ecstasy One day amidst negotiating retrenchments, worries of dwindling liquidity and the uncertainties of the current markets, Hema Mani, Director, Lennox Asia, finds herself drenched in tears of bliss. Know how.
Blessings of Being at the Isha Yoga Center during the Lockdown Know why Rachel, from the UK, feels that Isha Yoga Center sets an incredible example of how over 2,500 people can live together safely in times like this.
7 Ways to Become a Part of the Solution from Sadhguru
3 | Apr 2020Sadhguru in the Ashram
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5 | Apr 2020
6 | Apr 2020
Challenging Times: 7 Ways to Become a Part of the Solution!
The day the COVID-19 lockdown was announced across India, Sadhguru had this to say, “Those of you who are on the spiritual path or so you thought — this is a grand time for you. Those of you who are very strategic thinkers, this is a fantastic time for you. Those of you who thought you were musicians or artists or something, it is an absolutely miraculous time for you. Those of you who thought you are actually students — not that you are going to school or college, I mean to say you are a real student, you want to learn — it is an absolutely beautiful time for you.”
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Continuing on this, through his daily darshans, titled “With Sadhguru in Challenging Times,” that took place over the entire past month, Sadhguru pointed out many unprecedented possibilities that have opened up for us because of the lockdown. While at the same time, he alerted us to the dire realities of the current situation.
So here we present you some highlights of what Sadhguru has talked about. These could help us greatly enhance our lives even in these troubled times, and we can take pride in being a part of the solution.
1: Be Captive Seekers Sadhguru: I know people will abuse me for this, but now you have become a captive spiritual seeker — a Guru’s dream. Staying healthy and safe is very important, but let us make use of this time, in the best possible way.
If I knew a virus could become a source of so much sense and awareness, I would have given you one a long time ago. Why am I wasting my time trying to teach you many practices to make you aware, to make you sensible, how many things! Oh, I did not know a virus can do this. Well, this is not a laughing matter, but if you lose your laughter, the virus will not go
away. If you become dead serious, you will be dead before you are dead.
Right now, your fundamental responsibility is to stay alive and to keep everybody around you, especially those who are vulnerable, alive. We have to pass this test. This will only happen out of responsible action.
2: Time to Check If We are Human It is in times like this, when we think we are in a crisis, it is in these times that what kind of a human being you are matters. It matters all the time, but in normal times all kind of flakes will escape. They can pretend. It is when a crisis hits you that what kind of a human being you are becomes the most valuable thing.
Right now we have to make up our minds, are we human beings or are we human creatures? If we are human beings, we should know how to be. If you know how to be, then social interaction is only by choice. If it is not necessary, you can keep yourself to yourself and this is a great time. For those who are on the spiritual path, being alone, keeping a distance from the people, becoming silent and things like this are not issues, these are opportunities. But most human beings are not in this sphere of life, so
they will struggle. We are seeing how to offer various solutions for them in a very simple manner, but it is important that those who call themselves spiritual seekers must be super vigilant and willing to step out and do what is needed if the need arises. When everything is well, everybody’s fantastic. When challenging times confront us, that is when who we are really matters.
The fundamental question is just this: Are we that kind of people who are always a part of the solution or are we a part of the problem? This is all we have to decide. I have decided. I want all of you — wherever you are, in whichever part of the country or in the world — I want all of you to take this one stance: right now: in these next few weeks that are really challenging times for humanity that you shall be part of the solution not part of the problem. This stand everybody must take, this commitment everybody must take. This is very, very important.
3: It is a Reminder of Mortality Well, I want you to understand that the virus is not against you. It is just trying to make its life. Unfortunately, its aggressive way of making life takes away your life. This is just like human activity.
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Human beings in search of their well-being have destroyed life on this planet. They are threatening the very life of the planet itself, not with bad intention of course, just with the intention of living well. Similarly, the virus just wants to thrive, and you are the host. It is just doing what we are doing to the planet, that is about it, nothing more, nothing less. Right now, the fear of virus means essentially mortality is staring in your face. So, if mortality is staring in your face, you understand how fragile human life is. At a time like this it is good to make a distinction between what is you and what is not you. What is me and what is just mine. What belongs to me is all right. What is me, is of vital importance. Whatever may belong to you, you may spend a lifetime gathering things, but there is no container service at the end of your life. We have come here with a limited amount of time and energy. Now there is a reminder of our mortal nature by a microorganism. This is the time to look at life as it is — not to indulge in adulteration of the truth.
4: Bringing Pratyahara into Life In today’s world, where there is such an onslaught
of sounds and colors and visuals upon our senses. The amount of visual and the audio input is so heavy today that turning inward looks like a very remote thing for most people. But a situation like this is a good time to check yourself out and also use this opportunity. There is a dimension in the Ashtanga Yoga called pratyahara. Some people think Ashtanga Yoga is a brand. Ashtanga means eight-limbed yoga. There are eight limbs to yoga. One of the limbs is pratyahara. Pratyahara means taking your sensory engagement from the outside world and put it inside. In today’s world, people cannot even comprehend what that is. You will see, if you just close your eyes for hours on end in a day — consciously and not sleeping — you will see there is a new dimension of energy available to you. This is what pratyahara means that you took away the sensory engagement with the world and turned it inward.
This is a good time for you to experiment with this, that you bring some pratyahara into your life. Wherever you are, whoever you are, it does not matter. You don’t need any training. Just sit with eyes closed. It is alright that the mind is running away, let it run, don’t try to stop it because there are no brakes on it — all the three pedals are throttle, whichever way you touch it, it will only run faster. So don’t do anything, it
will run. It will run because it has a certain karmic momentum. If you just leave it for some time without tending to it, it will slow down, and it will stop. Do not worry about stopping the mind or not stopping the mind. All I am saying is, do not engage with the outside world, for whatever number of hours that you can. Start with an hour, push it to six-to-twelve hours a day, you will see, you will have the necessary energy to hit the peaks.
Right now, the biggest problem why human beings are not able to become blissful and exuberant within themselves is lack of energy — if they are joyful for three minutes, then they will sink just like that. Pratyahara is a key element to create that kind of an energy system which can take any experience of life in its stride and does not put you down. Good time to turn to pratyahara.
5: Time to Contribute, Not Criticize Well, it is unfortunate at a time like this, at a time like this when there is an imminent disaster waiting ahead of us, for the nation, for the world, to a point where countries are putting out their armed forces against their own people
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right now. You need to understand how serious that is. But even at a time like this, some people cannot stand up and do something useful and positive for somebody around them. All they do is just this rubbish. They do not care what happens to the rest of the humanity. All they care about is their own vitriol — spilling the poison all the time. Well, I hope at least the virus will cure them of this poison and these few days they will stand up and do something useful.
Let people understand this: as a generation of people, we have never faced this kind of a situation. This is a bigger emergency than the wars you have had in your countries. This is a bigger emergency than anything that you have known. When such a situation is there, this is not the time to go about criticizing our healthcare system or our health ministry. This is a time everybody stands up and does whatever little positive things we can do in our lives. It can pass off without too much disaster if we behave responsibly and do the necessary positive action.
Right now, a lot of things are being done in the country by the government, by the various agencies and above all by the medical professionals,
the police and the forces. They are doing many things putting their own lives at risk. So you don’t sit at home and run your own silly drama. Just see how to get into some action in the world, without getting out of your house, maintaining distance from the people. See in what way you can contribute.
Do something. Don’t just sit and crib about everything.
6: Express Your Gratitude As a nation, I think we lack the ability to acknowledge people when they deserve it. Unfortunately, we think everything can be fixed by criticism. This has to go. We have to acknowledge the wonderful things that many human beings do.
When taking a bus, how many people even look at the driver and the conductor and say, “Thank you,” or at least do Namaskaram? This is simply missing in most people. In the past, we were a culture where for every small thing that we received, we always bowed down to each other, but unfortunately this has gone away. Right now, medical professionals, security agencies and various other people who manage essential services are risking their own lives and the lives of their families. Because they work in a hospital and they go home,
they may be taking death home. When they are doing such a service, it is terrible if we do not acknowledge them.
Every day in the morning when you get up, at least for the next six months till this passes, generate one thought in your mind that we are truly grateful for all these people who are risking their own lives.
7: Opportunity to Make a Generation of Wonderful Human Beings The turning off all the machines in the world to this extent, definitely, has a serious and wonderful impact on the ecological structure of this world. If we have sense, if I say these people will think that I’m adding insult to injury, because so much hurt has happened to many people, but I would say, well — as all the schools get six weeks, eight weeks summer holidays, the entire humanity every year takes off three weeks. No machines, no automobiles, no industry, no nothing for three weeks. You can walk, you can cycle, you can track, but no turning on of any kind of machine.
If we do this three weeks, we can use these three weeks to upgrade ourselves. If the
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world has to become better, better technology is not going to do that. Better machines are not going to do that. That will all enhance certain level of activity. If the world has to really become a wonderful place, human beings have to upgrade themselves. Because there is no such thing as enhancing a society because society is just a word, nation is just a word, and world is just a word. It is just individual human beings. Without transforming individual human beings, there is no transformation in the world.
So right now, there is a break like this. This is the time, all of you at least focus on this much: ten per cent improvement, okay? I am not asking you to suddenly become something else and grow a halo around your head. Ten per cent improvement must happen by the end of April.
What I am saying is that wherever you are with your mental capabilities today, you should aim for ten per cent improvement. Whatever work you are doing in your life — whether you are cooking
or you are making tea or you are running the country — whatever you are doing, you should become ten per cent better. Ten per cent better in everything — physically, mentally, emotionally, and in terms of your competence of whatever you are doing. Every one of you just do this because you will never again get this in your lifetime. If every year we do this ten percent increase, in ten years’ time we will be hundred percent better than what we are. This is the only way you can create a wonderful nation and a wonderful world. Because without wonderful people there is no wonderful world.
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Light Up Your Life, Light Up The Nation! On 5 Apr, in response to the appeal by the Prime Minister of India, over 2500 deepams were lit in the Isha Yoga Center. One deepam for each resident!
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Fear of Infection, and I locked myself abode With disgust and disdain somehow I strode
Having not heard of masks, sanitisers and quarantine It dawned, he is locked at the ankle by a copper ring
While one locks in the physical to save life The other locks in the life to save the physical
Relentlessly he strives to show us the light all his life, and more so during this viral fight
While my lockdown may last a few days more My Guru’s feet continue with lockdown forever
— Jose Pinto, Goa
15 | Apr 2020
11 Steps Isha has Taken to be a Part of the Solution
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“In Challenging Times with Sadhguru” is a series of Darshans that are telecast live over the internet every day from 6:00PM to 6:40PM. In this series, Sadhguru addresses the most pertinent issues of the day and answers questions from social media. It is a great opportunity to hear Sadhguru every day and answers to a range of questions like never before.
#1: Daily Darshans
#2: Simha Kriya
To boost one’s immunity, strengthen one’s respiratory system, enhance lung capacity and fight the virus effectively, Sadhguru has specially offered the Simha Kriya.
Inner Engineering Online (IEO), which otherwise costs $150, is being offered free of cost to frontline workers like doctors, nurses, police, etc. These are indeed stressful times for frontline workers who are risking their lives to save others. IEO will help them handle the stress and fulfill their duty effectively.
And, as the virus makes the concept of mortality apparent to the world, people everywhere are looking to turn inward. To facilitate this, Sadhguru has offered a 50% discount on the Inner Engineering Online program for all.
#3: Online Isha Satsangs and Guided Shambhavi
So that meditators do not miss their monthly satsang, which can be a tremendous support in these times to keep their practices up, Isha has taken the Satsang online. On 5 April, we had our first online monthly satsang in English, where more than 8000 meditators across India participated.
As a special initiative, Sadhguru has offered “Guided Shambhavi” sessions online, starting from 22 April. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to make use of and deepen your practice during these times.
#4: Inner Engineering Online — Free for Frontline Workers
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The general public takes to the television, only to be depressed by doomsday themed news about the virus. As an antidote, Sadhguru is working with multiple national TV channels and international media outlets to present his perspective on the virus, and guide the public. He appears daily on Doordarshan and Times Now. In addition, he has given extensive interviews on ET Now, Zee, Republic, etc.
It is heartening that there hasn’t been a single day since the lockdown began on 22 March, when Sadhguru didn’t record a media interview.
#5: Sadhguru on TV and other Online Media
There are institutions and groups that play a very special role in the pandemic. The medical staff and the police are some. But, the business community is also very important as the financial situation of the world looks bleak and livelihoods post-corona are under threat.
On 10 April, Sadhguru spoke on the popular talk show London Real addressing a broader international community on the basics of handling oneself through the crisis.
On 11 April, Sadhguru addressed the healthcare professionals reminding them that the stature of the medical community is going to rise in these tough times.
Sadhguru addressed the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on 12 April, giving them advice on managing these times and also pointing out opportunities that will rise post the pandemic.
Isha Leadership Academy has been supporting the alumni of Isha INSIGHT and Human Is NOT a Resource in these difficult times by offering free webinars on various relevant business topics.
#6: Sadhguru Speaks to Special Groups
Extending support to the Tamil Nadu government in its efforts to contain the virus, Sadhguru has offered the use of the ashram buildings and premises for medical purposes. Planning is going on as to which parts of the ashram can be cordoned off to host affected people.
#7: Offering the Ashram Premises
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#9: Relief for Marginalized Villagers
In addition to creating awareness on preventive care and offering helplines for isolation stress to the local community, Isha is also offering ambulance
The pandemic has severely affected the livelihood of farm workers who rely on day wages. And starvation is a serious concern. To combat this, Isha Outreach has started offering ground level holistic solutions to 250,000 people in villages
#10: Medical Aid for Frontline Workers
Many residents of Isha Yoga Center have volunteered to donate one of their two meals for the relief work. Our Akshaya (kitchen) volunteer team, out of their compassion, offers them Kanji (rice porridge) and boiled Green Gram Daal to keep them nourished.
around Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore. We have started offering cooked food to vulnerable people. Volunteers are also going around local villages offering immunity boosting Nilavembu kashayam. Soon, farmers will also be provided marketing assistance for the sale of their agricultural produce, which is currently at risk of going waste, due to the collapse of the supply chain.
#8: Ashramites Donate Their Dinners
services to transport patients and setting up isolation wards. We are also distributing masks, headwear, shoe protection gear, sanitization, hygiene and fumigation materials to doctors, health workers, police, panchayat officers, sanitation workers, and primary health centers. As an initial step, Isha is providing personal protective equipment to field teams who are risking their own lives to save others. These materials include: standard masks, surgical masks, protective goggles, face shields, coverall gowns, nitrile gloves, shoe covers, hand sanitizers, infrared thermometers, PPE kits, etc.
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#11: Sadhguru Paints to Raise Funds for the Corona Relief Work
In order to encourage donations, Sadhguru himself, already a prolific writer, poet, golfer and not to mention an occasional singer, decided to foray into the world of abstract art. He has outpoured his plea in the form of an abstract painting which attempts to visually capture what it means to experience life in totality.
Sadhguru's painting is up for auction to support Isha's pandemic relief activities. The highest donator will get the handmade abstract painting, 5 x 5 ft in dimensions. Rest of the donators can get its copies if they wish.
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Isha Volunteers Reach Out to Rural People around the Ashram: In Pictures
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Challenging Times: An Overwhelmed Business Leader Shares Her Agony and Ecstasy
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Hema Mani, Director of Human Resources, Lennox India and Lennox Asia, shares her experience of how Sadhguru’s Grace was with her when dealing with the very tricky situation of employee compensation in the impending global financial crisis.
For the past several days, I have been involved in several negotiations with our global leadership team around cost containment measures. One of these included a consideration to layoff our team members. Initially, I used the government advisory to prevent such action and bought some time. However, I also had to wear a business hat and understand the global situation. There came a time early this week, when I was in a call and there was immense pressure to take some personnel related action to save costs. After much thinking and collaboration, we arrived at a solution to approach this with a shared sacrifice on pay. This was after freezing the recently announced increments. So you can see, it is a double hit on their monetary income. Incidentally, when this was at its peak, that day there was a FICCI address by Sadhguru. I just sent
a question which was deeply bothering me to the ashram team. I was stunned that Sadhguru chose to answer that. That day I was overwhelmed by the fact that he took my question.
I could not focus but just kept weeping away. I remember my husband holding my hands as I kept weeping. It was only much later when the video was out, I revisited and really understood the answer. I knew internally, Sadhguru will be with me on this journey.
All through this week, I have been working with the legal team and the corporate team, putting together the communication materials; and I barely slept the night before. We were going live with our communications in the morning from 6:00 AM, beginning with my team in China. Since the first call until the last call, which finished around noon, all I knew was that it wasn’t me but Sadhguru speaking through me. The words that I chose to use, what I spoke, how I answered. I don’t even
remember now. I think it was just him playing through me. But of course, he was constantly on my mind this whole week and this morning. I did my Shambhavi around 4:00 AM and all I sought from him was courage.
I need to share what a blessed team I am with; each one of them took it with a great deal of maturity. My peer colleagues synchronized so beautifully that it worked like a nice teamwork. It was heart-warming to see that my team still had their humour bone intact as they teased me with some memes. All in all, I experienced Sadhguru’s Grace in its fullest form today.
It was in June 2019 that I first visited the Ashram as a Human Is Not a Resource participant and did the IE program there. Since then, life just hasn’t been the same. Here is a picture of my current work space at home, you can see my work partner nearby. :) You can hear Sadhguru’s reply to Hema’s question in the Youtube video uploaded on the FICCI India channel.
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Blessings of Being at the Isha Yoga Center during the Lockdown
My name is Rachel Hunter. I am a mother, a TV host (of Tour of Beauty), and a model. As I say this list of identities, I realize they mean nothing. I’m a human being.
“Stop hunting, Hunter,” were the words Sadhguru said to me a few years back. What you must understand is that I have a wandering, curious soul, or maybe just a restless mind.
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The Surrender Cut to the March 24th lockdown, in the ashram along with some incredible people, Sadhguru himself, and consecrated spaces like Linga Bhairavi, Dhyanalinga and the Nandi. This is sadhana, a spiritual seeker’s dream; and my spiritual hunter wings had been clipped. I am in.
I had decided to stay on after Mahashivaratri to submerge myself further into sadhana. An 18-day silence blended into a 21- day lockdown. Silence to lockdown!
During this time I would experience moments of great worry as my adult children are in London — wanting to hold them — with loved ones scattered. There are moments of worry, wanting to have control of the outcome, with thoughts of those that are suffering; moments of “I need to get home;” and finally a moment of surrender. Somehow this is where I am meant to be.
This is the sadhana of a lifetime! We had been living together for weeks, health checks done every few days, with social distancing in place. We were lucky to be able to walk within
the ashram, a place that reveals and fast-tracks so much of the internal dialogue.
Transcending the Ego Response My first encounter was with the Yoga Yoga Yogeshwaraya chant coming from speakers planted all over the ashram 12 hours a day. I wanted to choke them at first, which I realize is quite the ego response from me. Please someone pull the cords out! I just wanted silence. But I knew that the chant was breaking down some deep conditioning. It was a collective supportive practice. There was great comfort found in it eventually, the volume hasn’t changed, and I have found that I have transcended that irritation. I actually found myself naturally chanting away during the day at times. The mantra was becoming a part of my breath.
Regardless of who you are, where you are, with the world shut down we are now left with the world we are in — the inner world — here at
Isha, surrounded by beauty, the mountains, the calls of the peacocks, tiny squirrels. That moment gets abruptly halted as it all dissolves and you are left with you! This became more evident as I knew nobody really, as in socially, so there were no stories, like “She did that”, “He, did that”, or “Oh, did you see…”, etc. No external dialogue.
Hearing yet again the invitation to go within more, like someone’s running their fingers down a chalkboard that reads “Go within.” Ugh, I know, I have, I am there, reels the ego, the loud mind.
Connecting with the Inner Temple As time goes by, days melt into each other, so do the stories in the mind. There is no hiding the inner stories or flaws. Time to dissolve and evolve. During my sadhana every day I walked to the Dhyanalinga. I love temples! I have sat in many. But this ‘ahh’ moment became so clear when I saw this sage. As
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you leave from inside the dome, you walk past great sculptures of the sages, Patanjali, Akka Maha Devi, Kannappa Nayanar, to name a few. I found great awareness from Poosalar. Within himself was the inner temple etched in his body. I would run my hands to touch his feet, the deep recognition of the inner temple. Without the deep awareness of the inner temple — my own inner sanctum — I realize I will never fully Be.
The Seva This powerful life force weaves throughout Isha, breathing life internally and externally. Seva is
that abundance of health and wealth of humanity. As you silently walk to morning and evening meals, spacing always at six feet, an occasional gentle look from someone if you are too close, warm Namaskaram as you wait patiently to wash your hands for 20 seconds, lining up for food patiently, the patience to get a meal, the volunteers standing serving food! You are part of a family here so you offer to serve. The day I served here my heart felt full, expanded. To move 2500 people through meal time with awareness in space, cleanliness, with gratitude and with respect felt effortless. It was beautiful to watch and be in. We wash our plates and cups; all in a
conscious way. All of it so beautiful!
Donated my Dinner As I walked to dinner one night I was in my head of sadness about those who had no food in these times in India and around the world. As I approached I saw a longer queue. I asked what is that line? He answered, “If you want to forgo your evening meal and eat simple, you can donate your dinner. Tears welled up in my eyes. This needs no explaining.”
Warm drinks are offered to us to support our immune system. The keyword is “warm,” in this South Indian heat. The shifts in my physical
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body, the changes in my health, my nails which have never been longer, my energy, my skin! My ability to be stable mentally in a time like this is extraordinary.
Isha acts as a beacon to us, to be there for others, to serve. Volunteers in the communities help the farm laborers with food, as it is the time to get the fields ready for the coming year. No person should be hungry or unloved.
The Finale The inner noise slowed. So the restlessness of the soul slows; no hunting, slow seeking, instead providing glimpses into the Inner Temple.
Last night I walked in the cool night air as I do every night — lucky in these
times of a lockdown. The water lilies open shining in their glory, out of the mud came the lotus, the sweet smell of summer, the rain starting to become present.
I sat at the Nandi’s feet, the great vehicle of Shiva, with the full moon between his horns. Nandi is known for his receptivity as a spiritual seeker. I bathed in the moonlight, starting to be receptive to the Inner Temple. I bow to you Sadhguru, to all the volunteers, to the people of Tamil Nadu and India. Again learning deep lessons. Someone asked me at Isha, “Why do you love India?” I replied, “She has been a great Mother to me. She teaches me lessons fierce, with great love. She always holds you in her arms.” Life has changed, so has the world. May we tread
lighter, realizing we are nature, we are not superior.
Within the ashram this is an incredible example of over 2500 people being proactive and responsible to each other. Living in an unknown timeline with great honour to each other, we can thrive and survive, allowing all aspects of nature to exist.
Like Sadhguru said the other day, would the world survive without us? It will thrive. Would we survive without the world? No.
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A Homecoming at Isha Yoga Center
“I have been a freedom fighter and an activist most of my life. From a student activist to a community organizer to a trade union leader and a Minister in President Mandela’s first democratic Cabinet, I later played
a role in tackling global malnutrition. So that's my life in one sentence,” Jayasheelan Naidoo introduces himself sitting across the table from us in Nalanda. If you did not know who you were meeting, this statement
would have surprised you, as “Jay” looks like he could be any of the many Naidus that abound in Coimbatore. But Jay's world is a distant one — as the spelling of his name might suggest.
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Freedom at Last? Jay was born and raised in the South African Apartheid. It was an extreme form of institutionalized racial segregation. The white European, Indian, and native African communities had different rights; they not only had different access to public facilities and social events, but also had different areas of the town segregated. “We were evicted from our house when I was four because of the Group Areas Act. I later understood it was because I was the wrong color, the wrong race. Growing up, it made me feel inferior,” and that is how his fight started. But bringing democracy to his country — in 1994 at the age of 40 — and being an MP and a minister was not the end of the line. In fact, it was the beginning of a much bigger challenge — an inner one! He shares, “In spite of the triumph of our liberation from apartheid, I learnt that changing the system is only one part of the equation, the more important part is changing the human being. That's the journey I am on now.”
And Now, Yoga! He was deeply distressed to see that the country he gave his life to is now in the hands of corrupt politicians. “A lot of those freedom fighters
died sad. I did not want to go like them. I have for the past two years been deeply disillusioned by the extent of greed and violence that human beings have not just inflicted on each other but the ecological emergency we have created by destruction of our environment.”
Once while visiting Durban, a friend recommended to him the Inner Engineering course that was going on in the city right then, and Jay walked in without knowing a thing about Sadhguru or Isha. Little did he know his life would be thrown wide open at the age of 64, when he felt he had seen it all. He shares his awe for the program, “When I look at how corruption and power has robbed many of our people of their basic needs for decent homes, water, electricity, quality health and education, I realize we have to change more than oppressive or unjust systems. In fact, the more important challenge is changing the human being. That is where the strategy that Sadhguru has developed of Inner Engineering through Yoga is pure genius.”
Locked but not Down Jay, now 66, came to the ashram to stay a couple of weeks. He is joined by his 27 year old son. Little did they know that their short trip
would be extended by a quirk of fate, as the world “shelters in place.” The Naidoos seem to be very happy with this development and are getting their feet wet in every aspect of the ashram that is currently closed to visiting devotees. “I find myself with my son Kami locked down at Isha. Of all places in the world I could not have chosen a more perfect place to use this time into a journey within. While we need to do everything in our power to stop the virus from spreading, we should also take the time to still the mind.”
A Volunteer’s Volunteers Jay is not new to volunteering, he had been a volunteer all his life. He dropped out of college, where he was studying to eventually be a doctor, and stood outside sugar mills to recruit people to join the trade union. He co-founded the coalition of South African Trade Unions, still Africa’s largest organization to date. When asked about the ashram space and Isha volunteers he shares, “There is equanimity, an equilibrium. Between a busy-ness, things have to get done, but it gets done with a sense of tranquility. So for the first time in my life, I'm in a place that is so intensely meditative, whatever direction you turn, there is the sense of an energy that is calm and tranquil. So I find that
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being immersed in a place like this and surrounded by thousands of people that are in meditative processes and journies has been incredibly calming for me and allowed me to go deeply inside myself.”
Meeting Sadhguru The Naidoos met with Sadhguru soon after they arrived at the ashram. Jay shares about the encounter, “I felt his deep compassion and was deeply comforted by it. I was in the presence of an enlightened Master. And that in itself was a blessing for which I am profoundly grateful. It was a means to connect to a deeply universal and infinite peace. No, it's been a rare opportunity to meet someone who has done so much for humanity. And I truly am indebted to him for that and also for the change he has inspired in my life. He carries with him an ultimate peace and stillness and a deep well of being, a profound inclusivity and devotion, a devotion that flows as deeply as the Ganga does.”
Coming Home to the Mother Jay’s lineage in South Africa goes all the way back to the 1860s! His great grandmother, Angamma, left a small village near Vellore, Tamil Nadu, to go and work as an indentured labourer (a system of bonded
labour that was instituted following the abolition of slavery) on the sugar farms of South Africa. Understandably the Devi was a homecoming for him, “My experience in Linga Bhairavi temple invoked the powerful sacred feminine thread from Angamma to my own Mother Bakkium, who taught me all the values that drive my own lifetime of sadhana — integrity, compassion and service.”
Linga Seva Jay recently completed his Linga Seva and is moved by the experience so much so that he asked Kami to do it next. He shares, “The Linga Seva was an extraordinarily powerful experience. It gave meaning to what Sadhguru said once about the need to dissolve oneself into devotion beyond the mind, body and emotions, to touch the energy of Lord Shiva. To work in the Dhyanalinga from 5am to 10pm every day is to experience that. The mindfulness of the experience of picking jasmine in the fields but tuning into the roar of the elephants in the forest, the soaring of the hawks in the skyline riding the wind currents to the dance of the beautiful butterflies, and delightful chatter of the birds, gives new meaning to the immersion and loss of oneself. But the week did surface powerful emotions. Sometimes a rollercoaster.”
Yogasthah Kuru Karmani A world famous activist and a trusted partner of the United Nations, Jay finally acknowledges the power of “Inner Engineering” in his own way, “I am recognizing this journey I am on, and feeling intensely content and happy that I have gone down this path. The things I'm learning here are extraordinary, and it's coming to the point where I can say that I am convinced that I need to be true to myself. I don't think I want to go into this outer world again to the extent that I've been in the past, I need to do my sadhana.” He adds finally, “I feel that this journey has been the most remarkable, and I appreciate doing it with my son.”