Inner Engineering - a Yogi's Guide to Joy - Book Summary Part 1
Seeking something higher
Longing for something deeper
Know not what ….
This is the story of every human on the planet at some point. It was true for me, for sure. You start asking existential questions and many of the answers seem shallow.
There is also a longing to realize the highest potential of one’s current existence. Seeking for happiness of a deeper kind.
This quest has kept me going and I encountered this book – Inner Engineering – A Yogi’s Guide to Joy by Sadhguru.
The author, Sadhguru, is variously defined as Yogi, mystic, and visionary. He brings his clarity of perception to all matters, be it social, environmental, business-related but mostly to the science of knowing oneself. A yogi, but not divorced from society in any way. His clarity of expression is remarkable and therefore I picked up the book with some anticipation.
The title is intriguing. Engineering is associated with precision and so is there is a precise science that can help one explore the higher dimensions of life.
This book is a different one in that it takes one to a hitherto unknown terrain – first maps the territory and then helps you navigate the terrain. The terrain of the self. In keeping with this, the author has subdivided the book into two distinct sections.
My initial idea was to just present a book summary, but as I dug into the material, it became increasingly obvious that it is a tough task. I have therefore made 4 parts to this book summary to do full justice to all the author has tried to convey. Dive in headlong with me.
The author initially talks about his childhood, which sets the background for what was to transpire to him at the age of 24. Never a believer in conventional education, his education happened in his college library and on his motorcycle trips crisscrossing the country.
At the age of 12, when he was climbing a deep well, impressed by his physical prowess, a yoga teacher took him as a student, and since then Hatha Yoga became an intrinsic part of his life. This was a Godsend in retrospection, as this prepared his body for what was to happen later. In his youth, wanting to fund his travels, he started a poultry business, which he made a success of, and later a construction business that once again met with much success. But once, while seated in his favorite spot in a rocky outcrop on the hills, he had an experience which was to change his life forever. He was 24 at the time.
Conscious, with eyes open, everything exploding into everything else, dimensionless unity of absolute perfection. He was in this state for 4 hours. His logical mind had absolutely no explanations for this. After this experience, physically some things changed. On the inside, he became aware of a huge flood of memory and awareness of a million different things happening at the same time. None of it made sense, yet it was experientially true.
This is when it hit him
‘Life is the ultimate intelligence. Human intellect is mere smartness that ensures survival. Instead of tapping into this all-powerful intelligence that pulsates within each of us, we opt to use our logical intellect, which is useful in certain situations, but essentially limited.’
On another day, he was at lunch, and suddenly, it exploded. In his words, he experienced ‘the miraculous alchemy of human digestion- the process by which an external substance, a piece of the planet, was becoming part of me. Moment to moment, every cell in my body was exploding with nameless ecstasies. Intellectual knowledge was replaced by experiential knowledge.'
The human longing is not for peace and joy, these are the basic requirements for a life of well-being. This looks like the highest aspiration however,because whatever we lack, looks like the highest aspiration- be it food or otherwise. Human life is longing for the ‘highest expansion, the limitless, of joy and freedom which are natural by-products of this state’. In eastern cultures, as in India, this longing has been culturally recognized as the highest goal of all human activity and endeavor denoted as Mukti.
The author says that we are the most comfortable generation ever to have lived on the planet. We have fixed the outside environment so much that any more fixing and there will no more planet left.
But are we any happier? Any more loving? More peaceful?
Time to fix not the outer. But the inner. The only way out is in.
There is a beautiful anecdote given to drive home the point. Someone came looking for the Isha Yoga Centre and asked a local boy about the distance to the center. The boy nonchalantly added 24,996 miles considering the direction you are going but only four miles if you turn around. The journey outside can be endless, and confusing, turn inward, and the journey is no more a pursuit, but an expression of joyfulness.
The author next expounds on the concept of Responsibility.
But still endowed with extraordinary transformative power.
It simply means, consciously responding to the situation, not react with compulsion.
In this state, every life situation becomes an opportunity for growth, not self-destruction.
One can transform any adversity into a stepping stone for personal growth, if only one were to accept ‘I, am responsible for the way I am now’ and stop blaming parents, friends, husband, girlfriend, circumstances, and anyone and anything else.
At this juncture, Sadhguru shares a moving story of a girl and her brother who are separated from their parents by the Nazi soldiers. The girl admonishes her brother for having lost his shoes while playing, and unfortunately this turns out to be her last conversation with him before they are separated.
Some three years, she comes out of the concentration camp, the only one from her family to survive. Riled with guilt,she decides to talk to everyone as if this that be her last time with them, and never in a manner that she would regret later. This one simple decision, beautifully transforms her life.
The next concept that the author has taken on as part of defining the territory is Yoga. Patanjali Yoga Sutra begins with the mysterious line,’ And now. Yoga’
When one is done with every other acquisition, achievement, accumulation, and toyed with all sorts of experiences and still left feeling empty …then one is ready for yoga. Yoga is not simply a practice or science Or a set of exercises. It is far, far deeper.
‘The science of yoga is the science of being in perfect alignment, in absolute harmony, in complete sync with existence’.
Yoga tells us that we are composed of 5 sheaths/layers.
- Food body /Annamayakosha – the product of all the nourishment ingested
- Mental body/ Manomayakosha – the reason why what affects the body, affects the mind and vice-versa
- Energy body/ Pranamayakosha – if the first two are likened to hardware and software, this layer is the quality power that they need to be switched into.
- Etheric body/ Vijnanamayakosha – This is a dimension beyond the sense perceptions. A layer of extra-ordinary knowledge. Those who report near-death experiences have slipped into this state.
- Bliss Body/ Anandamayakosha – A dimension that is totally beyond the physical. Cannot be described or defined but can only be experienced. When one touches this dimension, blissfulness is guaranteed.
To experience well-being, all one needs is a certain mastery over the first three layers.
Yoga in the real sense, the author asserts, is an empirical system that works at aligning the body, emotions, intelligence, and energy.
In part 2 of the summary, we will look at aligning the body for higher possibilities, in part 3 at the mind and part 4 will deal with the energy body. Lots of yogic secrets and insights from the mouth of a Yogi.
Yoga is not about being superhuman; it is about realizing that being human is super.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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