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What a Pilgrimage to Kailash Really Means

What a Pilgrimage to Kailash Really Means

“A pilgrimage is not about gathering things. You can gather money, wealth, knowledge or relationships, but your life will not be enhanced. Whatever you gather is relevant only when you are in a social situation.”

—Sadhguru

Sadhguru: This is not a tour. This is not an adventure trek. This is a pilgrimage. If you are a trekker, you wear the mountain path a lixttle more than it already is. If you are a pilgrim, you do not go there to wear the mountain path – you go there to wear yourself down. In some way, you must become less than who you think you are. Only then, there is a pilgrimage. Otherwise, it is a silly trek, because this is not much of a trek anyway. 

If you want to be a pilgrim, not a tourist, one thing is you must control your cellphone use. If you wanted to see Kailash on your cellphone, I would have sent you a picture. Why should you come all the way to take a picture? We will send you one hundred spectacular images of Manasarovar and Kailash, taken with the best cameras, by the best photographers. I do not want you to pull out your silly cellphone and keep shooting Kailash. That is not the way of a pilgrim. You come to Kailash for transformation, not for accumulation. 

Leave the Bucket List

You know, people have bucket lists. They think they have to do a few more stupid things before they die. They must go to Antarctica; they must see Taj Mahal; they must go on a safari in Africa; they must go to Vegas without their family, and they must go to Kailash with Sadhguru

We are not taking the trouble and the risk of bringing you here to fulfil your bucket list. I have seen how just one moment with Kailash has transformed thousands of people, right in front of my eyes. That is why you are here. Keep your cellphone turned off. There is no need to talk to your husband, your wife, or your business every few minutes – they are glad you are gone. Please allow them some freedom. 

For over twelve thousand years, devotees have been coming from India to Kailash. Today, you are all coming by bus. Imagine how one, two, or three thousand years ago, someone from Tamil Nadu decided to go to Kailash – Tamil men who did not know anything below thirty degrees Celsius. In Chennai, if the temperature drops to twenty-five degrees, everyone is wearing earmuffs! These people walked all the way to Kailash. No down jackets, no equipment – barefoot, maybe with a woollen rug at the most. Imagine the journey – 3600 miles, across the Himalayas, not knowing the terrain, not knowing whether they will ever come back or not. I want you to understand the spirit behind it. What kind of people would make this journey? It is not for the sake of making a living, not to do business, not to earn money, not to conquer land – just to earn Grace. 

Being a Pilgrim, Not a Tourist

Today, you fly in and drive. I have seen people coming to the spectacular Manasarovar, from where you can see the south face of Kailash, and they were all sleeping on the bus! It was not one of our groups, fortunately. Such people are unfit to be pilgrims. This is a crime. If you come to Kailash and you go up and down the mountain like the mules and the yaks, what is the point? You must show some sign of being human. Being human means there is a longing to transform. Only a human being is capable of aspiring to transform. That is why these places of Grace became so popular, and for thousands of years, people have been coming, in spite of all the difficulties.

When I came to Kailash for the first time, eleven years ago, it was a different situation. Even just six or seven years ago, there were no roads here. Just to drive and find our own way was a completely different thing. It was an adventurous drive – one of the most fabulous drives you could have. 

But now that is gone. Now you are going on the highway by bus. Just because it has become comfortable, you should not miss the point. If people took so much effort, thousands of years ago, obviously, it was that worthwhile. Today, it is easy for you. Comfort should not make you constipated in the head. You must make use of the comfort. You do not have to worry about physical aspects – now you can focus on what you need to do. We will give you a simple process to make use of as you go up. Every step, every breath, you must use it. This is not the time for social gatherings. Three days, just you and Kailash. If you are like this, I will walk every step of this journey with you.

If you are a tourist, I have nothing to do with you. I am also getting old; I am getting a little impatient with idiots. This is a new phenomenon with Sadhguru. Sadhguru has been meeting every kind of idiot with enormous patience. But I am putting my patience on hold from now on. Only the deserving – otherwise, let them find their way on their own. Too much time is simply being wasted on stupid things. 

I want you to make use of these three days. There is only one thing – you and Kailash. My reputation is that I have brought the maximum number of people to Kailash. This year, fifteen percent of pilgrims going to Kailash are from Isha, and everyone will come back. I will not let you die. But you must go like you want to die into Kailash; nothing else matters. Then things will happen for you.

Many people who came with us have shared that what happened to them in those three days at Kailash was most incredible. It is my wish and my blessing that you experience this. You may not be able to decipher Kailash. But no one can miss the power of what it is. If you go with a little openness, with the necessary attention, without conclusions, you cannot come untouched. You will be profoundly touched. 

After the Pilgrimage, How to Experience Kailash Every day

And after you come back, this much you must do: every day in the morning, before you start your day, just close your eyes and whichever way you saw Kailash, without looking at a picture, bring the image back in your mind for three minutes. There will be a different level of power to your existence. The only thing that ultimately matters for a human being is the profoundness of your experience.

What a Pilgrimage Is and Is Not

Anything that anyone is pursuing in the world – whether someone is going to the bar and getting drunk, or going to the temple, or meditating, or using drugs, or getting married, or making money, or going to Kailash – it is because you want to enhance your life. Drunkard or pilgrim, both are trying to enhance their lives. The question is only will it work or not. If you do the right thing, it works. If you do not do the right thing, it does not work. That is all. But everyone wants to enhance their lives. 

This pilgrimage to Kailash is a profound opportunity to come back in an enhanced way. Enhancement does not mean accumulation. When I came here for the first time with a group of Tamil people, the first thing they started doing was gathering small stones at Kailash, because they want take it back to Tamil Nadu, piece by piece. 

If you want, you can collect water but do not pick up pebbles and stones. If you do this, in a hundred years’ time, Kailash will be spread all over Tamil Nadu. A pilgrimage is not about gathering things. You can gather money, wealth, knowledge or relationships, but your life will not be enhanced. Whatever you gather is relevant only when you are in a social situation. 

Let us say you have a PhD. What is the PhD worth when you are walking alone in these mountains? Or let us say you have one hundred kilograms of gold at home. When you are lost in the mountains, what is the meaning of all that gold? If you have to die tomorrow, the only thing that matters is how enhanced and profound your life is.

You must not forget that you are mortal. When I use the word “mortality,” do not think only of dying people. You and I will die. I will bless you with a long life, but you will die. Suppose today is that day, what is it that you would want for your life? Initially, you may think of this and that, but if you really let it sink in that you are going to die, the only thing that will matter is how profound your life has been. 

This is a fantastic opportunity to enhance the profoundness of who you are. Pilgrimage is about that. Pilgrimage is not about taking pictures. Pilgrimage is not about collecting rocks. Pilgrimage is not about telling other people how you went to Kailash. This is about enhancing this life that you are, because that is all you have. The rest is all your illusion. This is all you have: you are alive. How alive, how brilliantly alive, how profoundly alive, that is all there is.

Why Should You Go to Kailash?

This is what Shiva means. When Shiva told the Saptarishis to go to distant lands and spread the message, before they were leaving, they asked him, “Suppose we are in difficulty, will you be there for us?” Shiva looked at them incredulously and said, “If you are in difficulty, I will sleep.” So, he will not lift a little finger for you. 

Then why should you go to Kailash? If you are looking for gifts, you must go to a shopping mall; there will be some discount sale. What no one else wants will be available for you at fifty percent; you can get that. But if you want this life to be enhanced in such a way that just sitting here is a full-fledged experience of life, nothing else needs to happen. If you just sit here, this life will be super enhanced. If you want to know the power of existing like that, then you seek Shiva. If you are going there to ask, “Will my daughter get a medical seat, Shiva,” don’t expect any help for her.

Do not seek the Divine to get a salary increase. Those things must happen with the four limbs and a few brain cells that you have. You must take care of these things with your body and your brains – that is why they have been given to you. Do not seek the Divine to get a little more money, a little more of something else. Seek the Divine only because you want to be much more than who you are right now. 

If you want something more to enter, there must be some space. If you are too full of yourself, what is the point? By the time you reach Kailash, you should not even know who you are. Your money, your education, your family – leave all that in the little town before you go to Kailash. You must simply go there as life. If you go there as life, I promise you, you will come back in such a way that if people look at you, they will want to touch your feet. Please make it happen for yourself. 

Editor’s Note: Kailash Sacred Walks, a program by Isha Sacred Walks, offers you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of embarking on this journey to Kailash Manasarovar. Learn more at sacredwalks.org

A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower March 2018.

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