Shi-va: A Device to See Life the Way it is
“Belief comes because you are not straight enough to admit that you do not know.” —Sadhguru
Sadhguru: People keep asking me about whether they should believe in God or not. Let me ask you a question: Do you believe you have two hands, or do you know you have two hands? You don’t have to look at your arms to know that you have two hands because you know you do in your experience. Why is it that when it comes to hands, you know, but with gods, you believe? Essentially, it is because you are not sincere enough to admit that you do not know.
Belief comes because you are not straight enough to admit that you do not know. “I do not know” is a tremendous possibility. It is only when you realize “I do not know,” that the longing to know comes. When the longing to know comes, seeking will come. When seeking comes, there is a possibility to know. However, if you simply believe what you do not know, you have ensured that you will never know.
“I Do Not Know” is a Possibility
No true seeking can happen if one assumes what is at the other end. One does not know, only then his seeking is truly genuine. Seeking always comes from “I do not know.” You do not know, so you are seeking to know. Seeking comes from a certain state of innocence, a void from which you want to come out. Seeking is a searching – you do not know what it is; you are seeking, you are finding your way.
Unfortunately, in the world, most people are not willing to strive, and belief systems have become an easy substitute. You just believe: “Yes, there is divine. Yes, there is devil.” You can fool yourself with this, but it is meaningless because you have made it up in your mind.
People have so many belief systems. People talk about heaven and imagine a place with all the things you could not get here – food, women, gods or whatever else. All that you are deprived of here, you put it “up there”. This is why in Indian culture, we said “Shi-va”, which means “that which is not.”
When we say, “Shiva,” we are not talking about some god. Literally, “Shiva” means “that which is not.” Physicists today have proven that the whole creation comes from nothing and will go back to nothing. The vast nothingness is the basis of existence and the fundamental quality of the cosmos. The billions of massive galaxies are only a small sprinkling in this vast nothingness, which we refer to as Shiva.
So, what is up there? No-thing. How do you imagine a no-thing? Try hard and see! The more you apply yourself, it will dematerialize all the forms that you have in your mind. In this culture, they told you to say “Shiva” constantly because we are talking about demolishing every form you have created. Whether you created gods, ghosts or goblins, it doesn’t matter. You created them. If you don’t put them down, you will never see reality the way it is. You will always imagine that these things are floating around. So this was given as a methodology with which you can demolish all this.
The fundamental of a spiritual process is that you don’t assume anything. When you say “Shiva”, it is not that you believe Shiva is sitting up there. You are just using a sound as a device. This sound was not given without basis. We observed and realized what different types of sounds will do with you. Shi-va is a way of burning it out, so that life begins fresh every moment. Your psychological space will become like a plain mirror. It will just show you what is there, nothing more. That is how your mind should be. This is a useful mind. Right now, too many things are sticking to it. Just imagine if your house mirror became like this: whoever comes in front of it, it retains ten percent of the reflection. It would become useless in no time.
When you try to conceptualize that which cannot be conceptualized, you are trying to see something that does not have a form. If you really go at it, this is seeking. Then you will transcend physical creation. If you transcend physicality and if you are still here, that means you touched something else. That something else, we called it “that which is not.”
So, you say “Shiva” because you are trying to conceptualize that which is not. The more effort you put into this, the more the mind becomes clean and flat. What you like and dislike, what you love and hate, everything will go. Once you have a flat, clean mirror, you see everything just the way it is because the firmament of your mind is the only place you see anything in the existence. If you do not keep that clean and flat, you will see your own ghosts.
Fighting with Ghosts
Let me tell you a joke. A man got admitted for a medical checkup. He was a very modest man and he was not used to a physical checkup like this where they stripped him down and made him do this, that, weight, height, treadmill – all kinds of things. During all this, somehow, they did not let him go to the bathroom, and he could not help himself and it happened on the bed! He did not want the pretty nurse attending to him to see what he had done on the bed sheet because he was a very modest man. So, he picked up the sheet and threw it out the third floor window.
A drunkard was walking down on the street, trying to figure out the shape of the planet! Suddenly, this white sheet came floating down and fell on him. He began flailing his arms and legs and rolled around and this and that. Somehow, he got the sheet off, and the sheet was down there at his feet. He looked down at the messy sheet. Then someone came and asked, “What happened?” He said, “I think I just beat the shit out of a ghost!” This is what is happening with most people. You are fighting ghosts which do not exist. You can fight and win a war with them, but the more you win, the more you will be lost.
Seeking does not mean imagining something and trying to get there – that’s madness. You don’t imagine anything. How do you not imagine anything? Because once you have memory, imagination will come. So, this device was given – conceptualize that which is not. Try harder and harder, and you will see, mind will become poof!
Editor’s Note: Celebrate Mahashivratri at the Isha Yoga Center with explosive guided meditations accompanied by dance and music, nightlong satsang with Sadhguru, musical performances by eminent artists. Bask in the Grace of Shiva, The AdiYogi! Visit the Mahashivratri webpage for details on the many ways you can participate.