Few more days passed and I observed everything I could. I walked around inside and outside of the Ashram premises and spoke with as many people as I possibly could.
I did not refrain from posing tough questions, some were answered some were ignored but ask I did!
Slowly and steadily things started to make themselves clear.
Sadhguru often boasts about how well everything works in Isha, to a large extent he is right. The workings of Isha are far smoother than the workings of any place I had yet worked for. The Volunteers showed up on time almost every day, they also looked happier than most of my previous colleagues. A lot of them were following Sadhguru word for word, which was exciting as well as fascinating.
I have always found leaders intriguing. One person, a few of his words and the world seems to be ready for change; I found this mesmerizing.
His Teachers spoke in a way that would make you think of their leader, his Volunteers behaved in a way that resembled his teachings, even I tried out a few of his suggestions in the company of the Volunteers and to my surprise, they responded just how Sadhguru said they would.
I was overwhelmed. However, there was another side to this picture which Sadhguru often spoke of. The Teachers and the Volunteers missed the essence of his teachings. The behavior surely had changed but the understanding of the world, not so much.
For example, I was amidst several Volunteers from across the world. They all seemed to be interested in spirituality as though it was a vocation. The word Yoga and its meaning was lost on them.
The volunteering was limited to the Ashram premises, the garbage that lined the streets right outside was ignored by the same eyes that claimed to be awakened.
The people who had small businesses outside the premises were spoken to rudely by the people within the Ashram and there definitely was a lot of moral policing.
I felt like I was in a prison on some days. The beeping of the wristbands each time I entered or exited the Ashram made me feel very conscious of the environment I was in.
And though the Volunteers were overall kind people, they seemed to want control over you. This was an authoritarian style that did not sit well with many people. Myself included. I thought of it as a violation of my free will.
I understand that a few activities that humans indulge in can be problematic for a few local people, but wasn’t the expression of these activities the very essence of humanity that he aims to teach?
For example, I made quite a few friends while I was in the Ashram, and many of them were men.
I spoke to them about my deepest insecurities and so did they. This resulted in us feeling far more deeply than we are normally used to. So a couple of times I embraced them in front of everyone.
This was looked at as a crime. One of the boys that I spoke with was so afraid to touch me that he said, we will talk again outside the Ashram and then he will hold me freely!
I asked him, ”Why not here?”, he said, ”I am afraid I will get in trouble.”
I did not understand why would he think so, but he did. The security guards kept a close eye on all of us and I noticed that they would remember us.
I did not feel comfortable with this at all. I did not even see a reason for monitoring people to this extent.
I was wondering if this was a way of weeding people out. But a person’s intentions can be identified very easily if you ask them a few questions before accepting their volunteering.
But their system keeps you there without any process and then watches you like an eagle.
It is very disconcerting. I had simply come to honor the call Sadhguru made for the rivers and now I was on his radar.
Do you see why I felt the way I did?
Also, when I had first spoken to one of the volunteers about my involvement in this project, he blatantly told me that only meditators of Isha will be on this project.
This I found stunning because Sadhguru said no such thing.
When I probed him further about this condition he said that all of them are there ultimately for themselves to become spiritually enlightened and people like myself who are not looking for any personal gains are not invited to be on the team. He called me an activist because I said that I am not looking to be anything except a part of the energy that will go into saving the rivers.
These words of his countered Sadhguru completely. I felt like an idiot to have shown up for something I misunderstood.
I stayed on nonetheless because I considered this volunteer to be slow. He has failed to understand what Sadhguru means by ‘we are nothing’. He has also failed to understand the essence of volunteering, that it is simply doing, not transacting for spiritual enlightenment.
It also made me think about Sadhguru’s prowess; if for 10 years this individual has stayed with Sadhguru and failed entirely then what are my chances of becoming who I am in Sadhguru’s presence?
It allowed me to see that Sadhguru is just another human being. He is influential but he is not capable of affecting anything that is not under his control.
I saw Sadhguru and his Ashram in a better light after this incident.
I understood that his place is just like any other place on this planet. There are all kinds of people there as well. Some are genuinely enlightened and some profess enlightenment by simply smiling.
To my surprise, Sadhguru decided to do a sathsang of which I became an enthusiastic participant. I promised myself that I will watch him and all his movements closely to judge for myself if this man was worthy of my devotion.
I sat amongst several others waiting for him to arrive. He was late, which was unnerving (he says that he has never been late). Then there was the regular sound and music to celebrate his arrival. Then a few people behaved as though they were possessed by his energies. This was very disappointing. In a sathsang, you prepare your mind to be completely in tune with what is to happen next. The behavior of these people showed that they were incapable of understanding anything that Sadhguru would say.
I was right about it.
On this particular evening, Sadhguru decided to speak of the phoniness of his people. He made fun of how Swamis despite decades of living with him are still incompetent. He also clearly mentioned that spirituality was meant to speed up their enlightenment, but it seems as though they have created a cozy atmosphere for themselves at the Ashram.
He also spoke of how he is angry and how others tell him to not be angry because that is so unlike a Guru!
I watched the expressions of fellow volunteers as he said these things. They were not even listening. Many were clicking pictures of Sadhguru, some were texting their friends. And some others were sat with their eyes closed and doing their ”Sadhna.”
A few of us who kept awake were motivated by the turn of events. I was sure that from this day on the volunteers would buck up just a bit more and start to make things happen. But no!
The next day was my last in the Ashram, I asked the volunteers at the reception to direct me to the people who were on the River project.
They had delayed my involvement by 2 weeks. Each time with a ridiculous excuse.
Once they said that I require to understand the workings of the Ashram and volunteer in the daily routines. So I did.
Then the following two times they said that the coordinators of the project were on Silence Sadhna, which is that they have decided to be quiet for a number of days. I asked them if there is someone else I could talk to, I mean, this was a very large project to be riding on just one volunteer but they said no. So I waited.
But after this evening when Sadhguru spoke of his volunteers as incompetent I decided to be stern with them.
They refused to tell me anything about the project even after 2 full weeks of being there and having informed them of my willingness over two months ago.
I asked them if I can in anyway let Sadhguru know that I had answered his call and the only way I could do so was by leaving a letter in a box.
I was amused by this, thoroughly amused.
I remembered how I felt when Sadhguru had first called me on the project. I remember feeling full of life on that day. I told my husband that I am leaving whether he likes it or not because when such an opportunity arises only a fool will let it go. I was confident that I finally found my leader, someone who knows what is to be done.
And here I was being told that the only way I could tell him that I had come when he called was through a letter in a box.
It was humiliating, to say the least. I felt foolish. I cried a lot on that night. I also contemplated ending my life because there was just no place where I was required. My ideas did not even resonate with the one person I was sure would understand.
I agreed to write a letter and leave. I couldn’t stay there anymore. I just couldn’t see how I would keep on listening to bullshit excuses when right outside the Ashram there was work needed.
The food that I served to fat swamis could have done wonders for the people who were simply skin and bones.
The cleaning I did in the Ashram could have been used for the area surrounding the forest.
The smiles I offered to the ”Brahmins” could revolutionize my interactions with the outside world.
So I decided that I can’t limit myself to this place. And I left.
So many weeks of excitement that I had finally found someone with a vision resulted in a night full of deep disappointments.
I was free of my illusion on that night and hence utterly lonely.
My illusion was that I will one day find a leader and then we will together change the world. I believed that someday someone will understand me and then everything will fall into place. I found much company in the books of dead people but I believed that someday I will find someone alive to be with.
On that night, I was clear on how lonely I am. I had no hope to ever meet anyone who would see me for who I am. I felt cheated by my own dream!
It was good even though on that night it didn’t seem so. The following morning I woke up with an energy that was absolutely mine. There was no place to go to on that day. Nobody to see, no plan in mind. Just the world and myself in it.
The grandeur of Gurudom was to be seen by me. I had to see it fall into pieces. Otherwise, I would waste my years waiting for something like this to happen.
Even now, with a lot of skepticism that has penetrated my bones, I hope for his project to see the light!
These words were spoken by me just before I walked out of his place, ”You may be right in expecting me to be patient for the project even after this long, but I am certain that I will be wrong in being patient for you to start working when I can on my own.”
Thus ended my encounter with a Guru. Thus broke my illusion of a leader.
And thus I became free of this thing called belief in another human being.