Yesterday my colleague and I had a longish discussion on ‘free will’ and ‘determinism’ (Ok ok, don’t close the window, they are in fact the world’s way of communicating simple things. Look at these links  and . Don’t read in detail – just the first couple of lines will give you an idea of what they mean) and his conclusion was that ‘Illusion of free will is necessary for society to carry on’. Okay so at a fundamental level I don’t believe in either of them. And no this is not going to be a long post about my philosophy and all that. Just a word on how my experience transcended both the above-mentioned concepts!
I was involved in a very minimal way in fund-raising and volunteering for Isha Foundation during the Mahashivarathri celebrations on Feb 23rd. I asked my colleagues and few of my relatives and friends for money for getting the fund-raising in place and it was done. The real thing happened when I was volunteering. I was in the reception committee whose primary objective was to ‘welcome guests’. I was asked to stand near the gate and welcome people with a namaskaram (folded hands gesture). Thoughts ranged from “Oh no, I can’t do this”, “I have never done this even in functions of my own family where the invitees were my own people and here it is all public anyone can walk in”, “How can I? I mean I am so shy and all that” to “Can I run away from here?”, “Why did I even volunteer here?” so on and so forth.
But then I had given my word. I went there – near the gate. Stood for a second and just started with my mind kind of stunned into silence I guess. It went blank. I started lifting my hands and putting them together with a smile to welcome whoever walked into the gate. Everytime someone walked in – I would do it. It was a ritual and I did it. Some people responded. Some didn’t. Initially my namaskarams depended on the response. If they smiled back then I would hold on a little longer otherwise it would drop off.
Then something incredible happened. I decided to welcome whoever came in with the same complete (as complete as I could do) namaskaram irrespective of their response or who they were – children, adults, etc. I was trying to create a condition inside myself that ‘whatever happens to you (the visitor) inside here will be good’. As I started doing this, my hand ache, my elbow ache, the pain in my legs, everything went out of my mind. I was offering myself completely to each person who was walking in with 100% sincerity and a blessing of ‘good will happen to you here today’. The smile came on automatically, I didn’t have to put it on. It turned into one of the most enjoyable experiences. Imagine getting the opportunity to welcome 10,000 people with a blessing. Won’t you smile on your own? Oh sure, anyone will. I guarantee you.
Now comes the even better part. As this enjoyment increased, I could sense growing excitement inside me. I would start looking outside the gate waiting for people to come. As soon as I spotted a visitor, I would bow down to them. Looking at me everyone responded. Even no-response meant that it was a response because they weren’t used to a person bowing down to them. And I used to get excited seeing people entering the venue with a feeling of ‘Ok. I have come to a good place where something good will happen to me’. I began seeing at as an opportunity to break some constraint inside them, unblocking some block inside their minds to let them be free and take in whatever is being offered by Sadhguru completely.
The namaskarams just got more intense as I kept creating more intense conditions inside me. Then came the point where something inside me broke and took me to a totally different plane. I saw no difference between me and the person coming in. It was the most intense experience of my life. The namaskarams were not being done anymore, they were happening as an expression of joy. Tears started flowing out of my eyes. But I was smiling. I could see people coming in were also moved. Of course, a few of them got scared too. But this didn’t carry on for a great while. This must have happened for a few moments. And that was it. That’s when I understood that anything that we do can take us beyond our current state of experience of the body and the mind. It depends on how willing we are to break whatever we have created inside ourselves – free will, determinism, whatever – and concentrate and give ourselves totally to what we are doing.