Act in the Context of Action ~ Sadhguru

Right now, why you think in terms of right and wrong is simply because of the social moral code.

The nature of karma is not in the action that you perform. Karma means action, but this gathering of past karmas is not because of the actions you have performed. It is the volition, the intention, the kind of mind that you carry. That is your karma.

There is a story that Ramakrishna used to tell. There were two friends who used to go visit a prostitute every Saturday evening. On one such evening, while they were walking towards the prostitute’s house, there was someone giving a spiritual discourse. One friend decided not to visit the prostitute, saying he would prefer to hear the lecture on spiritual possibilities. The other man left him there. Now the man sitting in the lecture hall, his thoughts were full of the other man. He began thinking that the other man was having the time of his life while he himself was caught in this place. He thought the other man was more intelligent in choosing the prostitute’s place rather than a spiritual discourse.

Now the man who had gone to the prostitute’s house, his mind was full of the other man. He began to think that his friend had chosen the path to liberation by preferring the spiritual discourse to the prostitute’s place, while he got caught in this. The man who had gone for the spiritual discourse and was thinking about what was happening in the prostitute’s house pays by piling up bad karma. He suffers, not the other man. You don’t pay because you have gone to the prostitute; you pay because you are cunning about it. You still want to go there, but you think by going to the discourse you’ll be one step closer to heaven. This cunningness will take you to hell. That man with the prostitute knows it is worthless, and seeks something else; his is good karma. So it is not about action.

Right now, why you think in terms of right and wrong is simply because of the social moral code. It is not your innate nature which is telling you that this is right and wrong. It is just that society has fixed some rules and they have always told you, right from your childhood, that if you break them, you are a bad boy. So whenever you break these, you feel like a bad boy. If you feel like one, you become one. If you are used to gambling, maybe gambling in front of your mother or your wife, in your home, or even to utter the word is sacrilege, but once you join your gang, there gambling is just fine, isn’t it?

Among the gamblers, the one who does not gamble is not fit to live. It’s like this everywhere. If all of you are thieves, you are all fine, isn’t it? Among thieves, do they feel it is bad to rob somebody? When you fail, they think you are a no-good thief. That is a bad karma, isn’t it? The question, this karmic thing, is just the way you feel about it. It is not about what you are doing. It is just the way you are holding it in your mind. Why we are talking about acceptance, acceptance, acceptance, is, if you are absolute acceptance, whatever life demands, you do. If you have to fight a battle, you go and fight, there is no karma. The karma is not made in physical action; it is made only by volition. It’s just that some fool has formed some rules and you expect every human being to live by them. It’s impossible, but society needs such rules to maintain the social ego.

The society has its own ego, isn’t it? For every small thing, the whole society gets upset. It need not be wrong. Suppose it is summer in the United States. Everybody is hardly wearing anything or maybe they are in miniskirts. Let’s say you are fully clothed. People will get upset: “What is she doing? Why is she all covered up?” Here in India, if you don’t dress like that, they will all get upset! So this is one kind of ego; that is another kind of ego. It is the social ego which is getting upset, and your karma is becoming part of the collective karma. I want you to really understand this with a certain depth. Your idea of good and bad has been taught to you. You have imbibed it from the social atmosphere in which you have lived. Karma is in the context of your life, and not in the action itself.

Sadhguru J. Vasudev is a contemporary mystic rooted as strongly in worldly and pragmatic matters as he is in inner experience and wisdom. Named one of India’s 50 most influential people, he has addressed prominent global forums on issues as diverse as socio-economic development, leadership and spirituality. He has served as delegate to the United Nations Millennium Peace Summit and the World Peace Congress and has been a special invitee to the World Economic Forum (2006-2009), the Australian Leadership Retreat (2006) and TED (2009).

His interviews are featured in The New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg, CNNI and CNBC. He is the author of several books, the subject of four books and co-author of the Amazon Bestseller “Midnights with the Mystic”. His public talks frequently draw crowds of over 300,000 people.

Founded by Sadhguru, Isha Foundation is a non-religious, non-profit organization with over 200 centers worldwide and over one million volunteers. Isha Foundation offers Inner Engineering Online – a practical approach for inner transformation in a fast paced world. The course designed by Sadhguru presents simple, yet powerful tools for an individual to experience life on a deeper level with more awareness, energy, and productivity. This program is an ideal opportunity for those with time and travel constraints to experience the same profound effects of the traditional Inner Engineering program, which has impacted millions of people over the past 25 years. To learn more, view the free Introductory Talk, or to register visit

A Mindfulness Practice to Help You Live in the Now ~ Dennis Merritt Jones

“When driving your car, is your mind ever way out in front of your body? Do you tend to want to move faster than the rest of the traffic is moving and, if so, how does that make you feel? When you are stopped unexpectedly by a traffic jam, red light, or a train crossing, how does that make you feel? While waiting in line at the post office, grocery store, post office, and so on, and the line isn’t moving at a pace that satisfies you, how does that that make you feel? Where is your mind in relationship to your body?”

“The Art of Uncertainty — How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It”

How in touch with the “now” are you, right now? For many people, these emotional times of change are fear-driven, with an attachment to the future, focusing on how uncertain life tomorrow may be, or on the past when things were seemingly more “predictable.” The reality is tomorrow has always been uncertain; perhaps we just weren’t as obsessed with it as we are now. For many, there is quite an attachment to “the way it used to be.” I refer to these attachments to the future and the past as “time bandits,” because they rob us of our ability to be present and accounted for in the now, which is where true inner peace and power await us. It makes good sense to “glance” at the future and the past once in a while, if for no other purpose because it can serve as a good point of reference; however, we should not stare at it because it will suck us right out of the now.

As with all circumstances we meet with along the pathway on our journey through life, there are lessons we can learn from our current experience. It requires the ability to “freeze frame” our life, stand back and become a conscious observer of our own thoughts, feelings and actions, noticing where they are taking us. One might ask: What are some of the telltale signs that suggest I may have been overwhelmed by these time bandits? In “The Power of Now,” Eckart Tolle writes: “To alert you that you have allowed yourself to be taken over by psychological time, you can use a simple criterion. Ask yourself: Is there any joy, ease, and lightness in what I am doing? If there isn’t, then time is covering up the present moment, and life is perceived as a burden or a struggle.”

It is by no coincidence that joy, ease and lightness are also three of the primary intrinsic qualities felt within by anyone who is consciously aware of spirit’s presence. This, coupled with Tolle’s statement makes a good case for the premise (and promise) that infinite intelligence is eternally a “now” presence. Think about it: God (or whatever name you choose to attach to that which is the “All” that is) is not known as the great “I was” or “I’m going to be”… it is the great “I Am.” It becomes much easier to make the surrender to the now when we know that infinite presence (divine intelligence) is there to guide and support us. Sort of gives new meaning to the saying, “Let go and let God,” doesn’t it?

As a mindfulness practice consider the following:

+ Become the conscious observer of your thoughts, feelings and actions today.

+ Notice how much of your energy is being stolen from you by the time bandits of the past and the future. In other words, be mindful of how “in the now” you are now.

+If your mind is consumed with concerns of the future, work at being mindful of what you actually have control over and what you don’t, and make peace with the fact that there are and always shall be things over which you have little or no control.

+If your mind is perpetually dwelling in the past or the future, where you have absolutely no power at this moment, call it into the present (which is your only point of power) by focusing on your in-breath and your out-breath as they effortlessly flow. Allow that free flow of energy presence you in your body.

+If it helps, make the divine surrender for the next 24 hours by using the mantra, “I let go and I let God,” or something such as, “I release and I let go, I let spirit run my life.”

+Begin to experience the joy found in the gift of simply being alive in this sacred second and feel the energy of ease and lightness wash over you. Notice that any sense of struggle or burden is lifted and carried away.

Enjoy the now, for the reality is that is all you have. All else comes and goes — the present moment is the only window of opportunity you’ll ever have to witness, appreciate and experience that which is doing the coming and going. Life in the moment is quite a show! Don’t allow the time bandits to cheat you out of it.

The Spirit Ends When The Brain Dies ~ Michael Graziano

In my last post I commented about the link between the brain and the mind []
That post received so much interest and so many comments from all perspectives that I thought it would be useful to explore the topic more systematically. Nobody should be mistaken about the cultural importance of the topic. The link between the mind and the brain is not merely a medical story. Its implications reach into almost all aspects of religion and spirituality including the belief in God, ghosts, angels, devils, and life after death.

When most of us think about the key conflicts between science and religion, we tend to think about Darwin’s theory of evolution published in 1859, or Galileo’s persecution by the Catholic Church in the 17th century. These famous clashes between science and religion are resolvable. Every sensible modern religion accepts the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun. Liberal religions are gradually accepting the scientific fact of biological evolution.

One disconnect between religion and science, however, is much older, much more profound, and may be much harder to bridge. It dates back at least to Hippocrates in the fifth century BC. At that time there was no formal science as it is recognized today. Hippocrates was nonetheless an acute medical observer and noticed that people with brain damage tended to lose some of their mental abilities. A passage attributed to him summarizes his view elegantly:

“Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joys, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs and tears. Through it, in particular, we think, see, hear, and distinguish the ugly from the beautiful, the bad from the good, the pleasant from the unpleasant…”

Hippocrates evidently understood the central conflict between observation and most spiritual beliefs. The belief in a spirit world, a world of consciousness that exists independently of physical substance, that survives the death of the body, that comprises ghosts and angels and deities, is incompatible with the observation that damage to the physical brain systematically takes away chunks of the mind. The medical facts suggest that mind, though it definitely exists, is something created by the brain and that it dies piece-by-piece as the brain dies.

About a century later Aristotle famously disagreed with Hippocrates, placing the mind in the human heart. Aristotle listed his reasons, many of which sound vaguely plausible given the analogical and somewhat mystical thinking of the time. How did Aristotle go so wrong in his medical analysis? He was a theoretician. Hippocrates, who worked in a hospital, saw the effects of brain damage every day and grounded his theory in observation. Nobody who spends appreciable time with brain-damaged patients can avoid the obvious conclusion. The brain is the source of the mind.

Another famous view of the brain/mind problem was outlined by Descartes two thousand years later, in the 17th century. In Descartes’ view the mind was an ethereal substance, a fluid, that was stored in a receptacle in the brain. When he dissected the human brain he noticed that almost every structure came in pairs, one on each side. The human soul was obviously a single entity and therefore it could not be stored in a double structure. In the end he found a small single object at the center of the brain, the pineal body, and deduced that it was the house of the soul. The pineal body is now known to be a gland that produces melatonin and has nothing whatever to do with a soul.

Descartes’ idea, aside from being wrong in the particulars, has a deeper problem. There is no part of the brain that, when damaged, takes away the Cartesian soul. Instead damage to different structures takes away different chunks of the mind. The ability to formulate a sentence? Lost in damage to Broca’s area. The ability to understand language? Lost in damage to Wernicke’s area. The ability to see, imagine, or comprehend color? Lost in damage to specific regions of the visual system. The ability to think about the space around the body? Lost in damage to another set of brain areas. The ability to intuit the feelings and intentions of others? Impaired after a stroke to a specific network of brain regions. And so on. The mind is a collective and bits of it die when parts of the machinery are mucked up. Even awareness itself, as I wrote about last time, can be splintered apart and compromised by brain damage.

The effect of brain damage is certainly not the only pertinent evidence. Some of the more interesting evidence comes from the direct electrical stimulation of the brain. A little more than a century ago scientists tried applying minute sparks of electricity to surface of the brain, stimulating the circuitry. The technique was improved and elaborated and is now one of the main methods for probing the brain’s circuitry. For example, before removing a tumor from a person’s brain, a surgeon will expose the brain while the person is awake and under local anesthetic. The surgeon will then study the effect of electrical stimulation, mapping out the function of this and that brain area, to avoid surgically removing any area necessary for language. Some of the most colorful and memorable experiments of this type were done by Penfield in the early 20th century. He found, as have many others since, that electrically tickling a specific spot in the circuitry has a specific and predictable effect on the mind. Whether seeing, hearing, feeling hunger, feeling rage, remembering a scene from childhood, making a coordinated gesture, even feeling as though you’ve intentionally chosen to make the gesture, these many bits and components of mind can be turned on and off by altering the activity of neurons.

The evidence is now overwhelming that every aspect of the mind is produced by the brain.

The realization that the brain produces the mind is similar in some ways to the theory of evolution before Charles Darwin got to it. Prior to Darwin, the theory of evolution was much discussed and the fossil record certainly supported it, but nobody could point to a plausible mechanism. How exactly did one species evolve over time into many new species? Darwin proposed a mechanism that fit the evidence: natural selection. Survival of the fittest. With the discovery of this simple mechanism, the science of biology was revolutionized.

The idea that the mind depends on the action of the brain is amply supported by the scientific evidence. But nobody knows how a brain produces the inner experience — the feeling of consciousness. What is the mechanism? That is the question of our time. Many theories have been proposed, including one of my own, and only time and data will tell who is right.

I draw two personal lessons from the neuroscience of mind.

First, far from dismissing mind, or spirit, or soul as nonsense, I see these quantities as far more precious precisely because they are vulnerable and finite. In a sense I’ve become more spiritual as my scientific understanding deepens and I realize that spirit is a passing conjunction of information.

Second, the neuroscience of the mind gives me a wonderful opportunity to work on a scientific problem that is truly meaningful. About 25 years ago Francis Crick, famous for his role in understanding DNA, posed a question. Is it possible for brain science to address consciousness, a topic traditionally studied by philosophers and theologians? The answer is a definite yes. Many neuroscientists including myself have joined that effort.

%d bloggers like this: