By Sadhguru, Isha Foundation
Everywhere in the world, heaven and hell have been marketed to bring control over human societies. When they did not know how to control individual human beings or groups of people, they came up with an idea, “If I cannot punish you now, we will get you there. For all the goodness that you are showing, if we are not able to reward you here, then there.”
But if truth is anything other than the reality of existence, it would not be worth going there. When we chant “Asathoma Sadhgamaya,” it means the journey from untruth to truth. This is not really a journey. The word “journey,” gives an impression that there is a distance to be covered. There is no distance to be covered. Knowing is not far away because what you need to know is not sitting on top of the mountain, it is within.
The Heaven and Hell Within
The first thing that yoga attacks is heaven and hell. As long as there is heaven and hell, the technology for inner wellbeing and the process of moving towards one’s liberation is meaningless because after all, there are only two places to go – either you end up in a bad place or a good place. If you somehow earn a ticket to the good place, you do not have to bother how you live. Humanity has lived as grossly as it has, mainly because of the assistance of religion. It does not matter what you do, if you just believe this, this and this, your ticket to the good place is set.
If you do not destroy the heaven and hell that is functioning within you right now, there is really no movement towards truth. Right now, your very body and mind can either be generating a heaven or a hell; they are capable of doing both. It does not matter where you are, they are manufacturing either hell or heaven.
The discretionary nature of your mind is such that when you manufacture hell, when it gets too torturous, you roll it back a little bit. When you manufacture heaven, it gets too good, you lose contact with reality and reality knocks you – then you roll it back a little bit. But when you lose the body, you also lose your ability to discriminate. Then, a mind which is in the process of creating heaven will go on creating heaven, a million-fold pleasantness. A mind which is busy creating hell will go on creating hell a million-fold because the discretion – the ability to roll back when you feel it is too much – is not there anymore.
The building material to make a full-scale heaven or hell is hanging right around you, in the very way your energies function. It will always be within this sphere, but this can be a universe of heaven or a universe of hell. If you go by your own discretion, your judgment would be, “Let me destroy hell, keep the heaven.” But that is never going to happen because the building material is the same: the same chambers. For some, they are chambers of ecstasy, for some they are the chambers of torture, and any moment it can switch from one to another. It is just like a light switch. If you had two types of lights, a white light and blue light, if you turn on the blue lights, it feels one way. When you turn on the white light, suddenly it feels like a different place. But when it is dark, when somebody fumbles to turn on the switch, instead of white you may turn on the blue, instead of blue you may turn on white. This will invariably happen.
No one can destroy just the hell and keep the heaven. But you can always remain blissful, not because the possibility of hell is not lurking in your mind, but by strengthening your discriminatory process. You can see to it that the hell never rolls its carpets out. Not because that is not possible, but because you are alert to it. This ability to be alert is only to a certain point. But if you take away all the building material, which is capable of doing this or that, then you will sit in the dark hall where there is no possibility of either white light or blue light. But you have turned in a direction where light does not matter. Light matters only to that one who wants to open his eyes and go somewhere. Light does not matter to that one who closes his eyes and is somewhere else. For him, light is a nuisance.
Cracking the Shell
So the process of moving from untruth to truth is not really about covering a geographical distance. This is like an eggshell – right now you are outside the shell. If you decide to turn inward, you started doing tok, tok, tok, tok with the egg. You thought when it cracks, you will go in, but no, the chicken will come out – that is the whole thing. You are sitting here wanting to go in. When you crack it, nobody goes in, but a completely new possibility comes out. This is why the symbolism in yoga is of the sahasrar, a thousand-petaled flower, coming out. When you crack the shell, something else which you have never imagined possible comes out.
If you want to crack this shell, you are never going to do it by yourself because it is you. How are you going to crack yourself? You still do not have the heart to do it. The mind may say, “Yes, let’s crack it, a chicken will come out.” No, you will never have the heart to break it yourself.
This is why you seek an outside hammer, which is generally referred to as grace. You make yourself in such a way that it is drawn towards you. It is like when a child’s tooth becomes loose, he says, “Don’t touch it, don’t touch it!” The parent says, “Let me see, let me see,” and then Chukk! The tooth will just come off in your hand, and the child is so happy it has come off. Do you remember that feeling when a tooth has freshly come off? The pain is gone and there’s just that empty feeling. You played with it for days, but you by yourself would never have pulled it out. So we are just waiting for that moment. Sadhana is just that – to get your mouth open. It is not easy, you know!
Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic and visionary, and a prominent spiritual leader. An author, poet, and internationally-renowned speaker, Sadhguru’s wit and piercing logic provoke and widen our perception of life. isha.sadhguru.org.