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Sadhguru introduces Emory to the Indian way of looking at life

By Suzanne Sen
May 2013
Sadhguru introduces Emory to the Indian way of looking at life

Sadhguru at Emory University, April 14, 2013.
(Photos: Emory University)


On April 14, 2013, a mystic sat in Emory University’s beautiful Glenn Memorial Auditorium, talking about India and the importance of going “inwards.” The charismatic Jaggi Vasudev, known as Sadhguru, founder of the Isha Foundation and Isha Institute of Inner Sciences, had been invited to present a talk at the annual Sheth Lecture in Indian Studies.

Spurred by title, “Inner Management: The Missing Link to Leadership Excellence,” many of the 1200 attending might have thought that the talk would be geared towards leaders of business, but the topics covered were foundational: managing one’s own mind, body, and emotions in order to understand the experience of life and to learn to make it a good experience.

Because the lecture series focuses on “Indian Studies,” Sadhguru began by considering India. “At the least one must soak it in, or at best must dissolve in it.” There are a “million different doorways through which one may enter,” but India, he said, can only be experienced, not studied. In his blog post after the lecture, he continued, “Western analysis of India is too off the mark. A symptomatic analysis of Bharat will only lead to very grossly misunderstood conclusions of a nation that revels and thrives in a chaos that is organic and exuberant.”

Unlike America, “This most ancient of nations upon this earth is not built upon a set of principles or beliefs or ambitions of its citizenry. It is a nation of seekers, seeking not wealth or wellbeing, but liberation, not of economic or political kind, but the ultimate liberation.”


Laced with humor, Sadhguru’s talk held the interest of the diverse audience of faculty, students, community leaders, and others.

He stressed that evolving human consciousness and living successfully in the world can go together. Unfortunately many people are “allergic” to spirituality because of a fundamental misunderstanding which suggests that being spiritual means not eating well, not dressing well, and not enjoying the bounty of life. While stressing that there is no incompatibility between being spiritual and living an abundant material life, he also emphasized that how we are on the outside and how we are on the inside are not connected: success does not necessarily bring bliss.

How then to succeed inside and out? Most people work hard on the outside of their life to make life convenient and comfortable, yet “wellbeing hasn’t happened.” If you’re in the pursuit of happiness, conflict can easily result—look inside prisons: the criminal was pursuing happiness vigorously, grabbing at life and not caring about who he trampled on! Similarly, working for recognition or praise doesn’t last—the people at home will tell you what you really are! And others will never be the way you want them—they can cause trouble around you, but only you let it cause trouble in you. “The experience of life happens within you,” so to have a happy life, fix what is inside. Much that goes wrong is based on what you perceive, your interpretation of reality, so the spiritual solution is to turn inward rather than outward to increase awareness and perception. When we see things based on the way we think about them, we do not have a true perception of reality. “It’s time every human sees the true world, by turning inward.”

Sadhguru concluded, answering a question on how not to miss these uplifting messages, by giving an example from India’s long years of looking at the “Inner Sciences,” of looking inward to develop awareness. Sit, eyes closed, palms down on legs, and feel how your body is breathing; then turn palms up—your breath is higher in the chest. If these subtle changes are so powerful, imagine how much impact it can have in your life to live in harmony with these forces. So “unless you do the right things, right things will not happen to you.”



Expanding on his thoughts about the concept of India, Sadhguru wrote in his blog-post about his Emory talk:

“A nation that was conjured not in the minds of the ambitious, but by the sages, not for profit but in profoundness. Bharat is not to be seen as just another political entity, but as a gateway to the fulfillment of the innermost longings of the human creature. To preserve, protect and nurture the fundamental ethos of Bharat, the legacy of wisdom and unbridled exploration of life is a true gift to the Humanity as a whole. As a generation, this is an important responsibility that we should fulfill. Let not the limitless possibilities that the sages of this land explored and expounded be lost in religious bigotry and senseless simplistic dogmas.”

And as an English literature major, he is certainly an example that a degree in the Humanities is not a waste!

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