Yoga Day – Sadhguru's talk at United Nations
Sadhguru, founder of Isha Foundation, was at the United Nations –World Body Headquarters, New York, on June 20 where he spoke about how Yoga can help the world achieve sustainable development goals.
Calling Yoga a global phenomenon, Sadhguru said, "It’s truly revolutionary for the United Nations to take up Yoga as a way of bringing transformation in the world because without transforming individual human beings, there is no way to transform the world. This effort to take Yoga to every human being on the planet is about fulfilling the human longing for health, wellbeing and pursuit of fulfilment through logically correct and scientifically verifiable system."
The celebration of the 2016 International Day of Yoga was held on Tuesday, 21 June 2016, at 1.15 pm at the United Nations Secretariat Circle, New York. The event was organized by the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in association with the Department of Public Information, United Nations. The event witnessed a huge and diverse turnout with participants from 135 nationalities. This, Syed Akbaruddin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said ‘was testament to the unifying nature of yoga’ in his welcome note.
The President of General Assembly, Mr. Morgens Lykketoft was the chief guest at the event. Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, Ms. Cristina Gallach also addressed the event delivering the message from the General Secretary. Building on last year’s success, the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations organised a special event on ‘Conversation with Yoga Masters Yoga for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’. Sadhguru was one among them. He conversed with the author, civil and environmental rights advocate, Max Kennedy.
Sadhguru led the yoga session on the International Day of Yoga on the premises of the UN World Body headquarters. He led the assembled UN dignitaries and other participants through a simple process of Upayoga while emphasizing the need for committed atmospheres when engaging with and transmitting deeper forms of classical yoga.
Sadhguru on the International Day of Yoga – 2016
The International Day of Yoga is a great platform to make this available to large numbers of people. This year, we want to reach out to the most important segment of human population – the children. My initial plan was to touch at least 25,000 schools across India. On an average, there are about 600 to 700 children in every school. That means we could reach about 15 million children. After going on a fortyeight hour, fivestate tour last week, meeting the respective Chief Ministers, and receiving very positive responses, it looks like it will be well over 10,000 schools.
They are all very open to this idea and willing to support it in every possible way. We are going to roll out the project in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, six districts of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and probably also Maharashtra and Gujarat. On the face of it, touching more than 25,000 schools may seem like an impossible task, but we have the methodology to make it happen.
In recent years, the number of children committing suicide has risen drastically. If children are committing suicide, there is something fundamentally wrong with the society. One of the main reasons is they are not able to take the pressure of education and examinations. We have established contacts with all of these institutions, and our teachers have started teaching Upayoga and IshaKriya there. We are also going to touch various corporations, public sector undertakings, and Indian embassies abroad.
If you do not knead your body well enough, accessing deeper dimensions of meditativeness, exploring other aspects of the spiritual process, and realizing mystical possibilities is out of question. We offer hatha yoga in its classical form, as a powerful science of knowing your system. We also provide a certain level of theory to give you a deeper understanding of your own system, how it works, and how to enhance it. This knowledge is most important for any human being to live a sensible and fulfilling life.
Question: While I was growing up, yoga was considered unfashionable, it was considered an old man’s pastime, younger people didn’t do yoga. Do you see that trend changed very significantly and people who come to your sathsangs, do you see a lot more young people now take up yoga in a bigger way than ever before?
Sadhguru: I must say this – about thirty years ago, when I started teaching, I would see that almost eighty percent of the people came for the programmes, seeking health. In these thirty years, the shift that I see is that today, almost eighty five to ninety percent of the people are approaching for selfexploration, only ten-fifteen percent are there for health reasons, which is a significant change in the human consciousness on the planet. This facet is there across the world. Now, with this Yoga Day, we can make a multiplier effect, that in search of your wellbeing, neither do you have to go to the heaven nor do you have to rip the planet apart.
If you really want to know wellbeing, you can change the very chemistry of who you are and know how to be blissful within yourself. If you’re blissful by your own nature, you would do only what’s needed, you would not be in a compulsive state of activity.
Question: We are moving towards this International Yoga Day. How do we see to it that it sustains? You know, not finish off with just one event or one talk, how can we as a group, collaborate in making this a continuous process?
Sadhguru: See, one important dimension for this to become an ongoing process is, we have to first of all transform that idea. Now, wellness is not just about what you eat, it’s also the way you eat, it’s not just about where you live, it’s also about how you live, it’s not just about what you think, but in what context and how you think: it's about everything. If that is so, it naturally becomes a sustained process in people’s lives. When it’s a sustained process in people’s lives, then a sustained information or inspiration, both will become meaningful.
Right now, being fit means your abs (six-pack body) must be observable. Already two thirds of the population has given up on fitness and wellness because they hav erealised that this is not possible. Now you’re addressing the fringe population who’ll tighten up their abs and parade it and those who have abs, they are taking off their clothes whether it’s appropriate or not because they’ve got something to show that others don’t have. So, we have to shift it out of that exhibitionist kind of wellness. Wellness is about you. You will see people are talking about their food everywhere, this is not wellness. Wellness will become a part of you when you learn to understand the fact that what is outside of us we have to address it externally, what is inside of us we have to address it internally. Only then wellness will happen, otherwise a show of wellness will happen, wellness will not happen. Once you parade wellness without being well, the toll that it takes upon you will be enormous, which the affluent classes in the world, mostly in the West are suffering in a big way.
Question: In fact, hasn’t yoga come back to India from the West?
Sadhguru: Yes, from the American coast. Unfortunately, everything in the world has to come from there. If all Americans wear blue workman cotton trousers, it takes over the world as denims. If they tear it around the knee, we also tear it. If they put carbon dioxide in a bottle of coloured water, the whole world drinks it as cola. Today, more people in India, both in the cities and villages, will know about Coke than yoga. Americans took only the physical part of yoga. But that’s like a stillbirth. And that is why it becomes our duty to tell the world about its profoundity.
Question: Why did we forget yoga? Most of us did those military drills in our PT classes in school but yoga was rare.
Sadhguru: Because our rulers after Independence were of a different skin colour than the British but of the same mindset. Only English-speaking, Western-educated people could become leaders. Gandhi saw this folly. There is this famous quote of his when asked what he thought of the Western culture, he replied, “It is a good idea!” But most of the other leaders were westernised. None of them tried to instill a sense of nationhood in the minds of the people. After all, a nation is just an idea. They still spoke of India, nobody talked of Bharata. It’s such a wonderful word. It comes from Bhava, Raga and Tala. There is such harmony and balance in it. And the Tala, the rhythm in it, is very vital. Without that, both Bhava and Raga are meaningless. With a history of over 15,000 years, yoga has survived and flourished without any papacy, force, strong advocacy or conversion. It has survived solely on the basis of efficacy. Human wellbeing will not happen by looking out. Wellbeing will happen only by turning inwards because human experience is from within.
Not up, not out, but within that is the message of yoga day. I offer my gratitude to Bharat, land that brought yoga to the world.
Question: On International Yoga Day, any message that you want to give, how should a day be, an ideal day in a person’s life with yoga in it?
Sadhguru: The best thing that you can offer to the world is you are a pleasant, wonderful human being. After that what you’re capable of, what I’m capable of, may be different. It doesn’t matter. When it comes to external world, we’re all differently capable. When it comes to inner dimension, all of us are equally capable. It is just that we have not looked inward – that’s the only problem. So the first and foremost thing on this Yoga Day everybody should take up is to spend a certain amount of time for their inner wellbeing. What happens around you will not determine the quality of your life. How you keep this one (referring to oneself) determines your life and determines the quality of everybody else who comes in touch with you. Yoga is the tool for transformation to turn inward and take your faculties in charge, so that you determine what happens within you.