'Be' with Swami Venkatesananda

Sadhana – the means

The first principle of that Integral Yoga is that you do not become a specialist, however capable you may be. Gurudev’s approach was a very beautiful simple one. ‘Eat a little, drink a little, do asana a little, pranayama a little, reflect a little, meditate a little.’ If I can meditate for 5 hours, what is wrong with that, is meditation not good? Gurudev says, ‘I insist, meditate only a little.’ Otherwise you become a specialist, and any form of specialisation is an excellent tonic for the ego. If you are an expert in Hatha Yoga, you have one horn growing up here.

This ‘I know better than anybody else’ is a danger. And what is worse, the same ego can take innumerable forms. If you have played with a half-inflated balloon, you will know what I mean. You squeeze it at one end, and all the air bulges at the other end. Squeeze it in the middle, and it bulges at both ends. That is the ego, squeeze here, it gets inflated somewhere else. The quantity of air being constant in this balloon, nothing has even happened. Squeezing is a waste of time. So, any lopsided development is a waste of time, you will gain nothing out of it. Instead, you have to get hold of that half-inflated balloon and lie down on it. Then it bursts. When there is equal pressure throughout this balloon at the same time, then you have achieved your purpose. If that is possible, then that is what is called Integral Yoga. That is the famous ‘little, little’ song. Do pranayama a little, not too much. Do asana a little, not too much. Do kirtan a little, not too much. Study a little, not too much. So that you will have time for every aspect of your sadhana. And then serve a little, in that you see the world and your own role in it in a different light. Nothing is neglected.

If you leave one little pinpoint open in your personality, the ego will re-enter it. You can congratulate yourself: ‘I practise yoga asanas, I practise pranayama, I sit and sing, attend satsang,’ but still, if something is missing, one aspect of your personality has been neglected, and as long as that is neglected, there is no salvation, there is no self-realisation, because the ego is cosily at rest there, thriving there. That was Gurudev’s most beautiful and unique approach. I have never heard of other holy men of India who have insisted upon this. Nothing is to be neglected, everything is to be converted, turned into sadhana – the means. If you know how to do something, treat it as sadhana. If you have work to do, perfect, use that opportunity.

That is the very essence and the heart of His message. If you want, the whole universe can become a field for sadhana. Everything you do can be utilized for performing your sadhana, where your life itself becomes a part of your sadhana. The sadhana being a total transformation of your being, the purification of your entire personality, and the total dedication of all your talents and faculties to the divine.