By Siri Gamage –
Those of us with Sri Lankan heritage, among others, approach matters relating to mind and body, life and death, human sufferings of various types, and the means to happiness through Buddhist teachings. For this purpose, we tend to use teachings of Buddha in various forms. Buddhism has evolved from a philosophy of life meant for better understanding of our reality relating to the self and other as well as the universe to a religion largely consumed by ritual practices meant for daily relief from sufferings. In the process, various forms of practice from other faith traditions have also entered our way of life –some not necessarily relating to the fundamental or core problems of life. In the meantime, problems facing the world and people have intensified. Many are seeking solutions of one kind or another and some are pushed toward radical and violent solutions while many adopt a lethargic attitude simply contend with daily living.
The Buddhist teaching, analysis and interpretation focuse mainly on one set of concepts, theories and explanations to the exclusion of others. Since it is believed that the Buddha in his early life explored other Indian religious/philosophical traditions and did not see a value in them, later attempting to discover the ultimate truth about life process, its failings and the way to nibbana by himself, we have generally focused on his teachings to the exclusion of other religious religions even from India (Hindus of course follow Hinduism). I wonder if we can still find other sources of wisdom from Indian intellectual traditions -if not religious traditions- that can assist us to comprehend today’s problems better? In this context, the conversations by mystic and visionary Sadhguru from South India is highly relevant and useful. After my son alerted me to his talks available on the internet and u-tube, I have been listening to the ideas, explanations and reasoning that Sadhguru presents across the continents in universities and world forums based on his understandings achieved through Aadi Yoga. I believe those of us concerned with contemporary issues facing the humankind need to listen to Sadhguru so that we can move away from narrow interpretations and also develop our inner self and intellect better.
He talks about the way our body is made physically and the power of intellect beyond the memory we have accumulated. According to him, mind is not limited to the memory and the brain. It is everywhere in the body. Human beings as blessed we are in comparison to other animals with the power to think, meditate, reason, compare etc.are not using all components of intellect. According to Sadhguru there are four elements to our intellect. If we are constantly reacting to what we receive via our senses, then we are bound to be anxious, stressed, and not live the life as it meant to be. We need to take steps and strive to develop our consciousness, as he calls it, in order to take control of our mind and body rather than succumb to compulsive behaviour.
Yogi Sadhguru engages with a range of scientists, medical specialists, academics, youths in universities across North America, UK, India and elsewhere on contemporary topics including leadership, environment, education, and priorities in life. He points out the limitations of science and technology in the process while acknowledging the advancements they have achieved in terms of providing for necessities of material life. He is very articulate, and communicates his ideas and responses in an easily understood way. He is on a mission to educate the world on the need to take active steps for self-engineering if we are to preserve the planet as it is for next generations. He has established two centres in South India and one in Tennessee, USA manned by volunteers. Indian government has recognised his contributions to Indian society and the world. Instead of promoting ritualistic behaviour, he promotes self- understanding or inner engineering as the solution to contemporary problems of life and society.
Though he is critical of some educational and religious practices, his style of talking and explaining through examples from his own life reminds me of the style used by the Buddha in his long mission after achieving enlightenment. He is to come to Melbourne in July this year for a two-day program. If he has not been to Sri Lanka, it is timely that he is invited to do so.