The gusto with which Sadhguru was received in Paris last night was extraordinary. The 60-strong volunteer team was delighted to see the packed 1,000 seater theatre, the lively audience interaction, the tears of joy and the standing ovation, but none of us were prepared for Sadhguru’s later announcement.
In the volunteer sathsang, after the VIP reception had ended, Sadhguru announced that he is ready to invest his energies to create a consecrated space for Europe. Even as we clapped, he warned us, “You won’t have time to clap. You will be too busy!”
Seven years ago, he told us, Sadhguru had made a decision to focus only on the English-speaking parts of the world, because translation was too much trouble. Now that he can see the level of support Isha has gathered in Europe, that decision is being overturned. We are delighted!
Sadhguru’s talk in a Paris theatre last night, which was supported by the Embassy of India in Paris, was his first ever public talk in France. Based on its success, we can safely say it won’t be his last.
Sounds of Isha opened the evening with a 45 minute performance, which created the right ambience to experience Sadhguru. They showcased their spiritual music, which is a fusion of styles. Singing in several languages, and playing everything from banjo to sitar, they soon had the audience clapping along, and even the ushers had a little boogie as they escorted people in.
Despite the huge crowd, the atmosphere in the theatre was very personal. Sadhguru found a way to connect with people on an individual basis: “There’s no such thing as a world. There’s only you and me.” “Sorry I cannot speak in the language you are most comfortable with. But after some time, language will not matter. Just be with me.” (Simultaneous translation was provided, so no-one had to struggle to understand his words.)
In his unique way, Sadhguru explained significant matters about life and existence with simplicity and more than a touch of humour. Of course, Shankaran Pillai made an appearance, but other references were more local. Describing how many people think of peace as the ultimate, he explained: “Whatever you’re deprived of, you think is the greatest thing. If you haven’t eaten for 3 days and I show you a French baguette, you will tell me that’s God.”
He asked the audience: “If you could choose, would you make yourself blissful or miserable?” The answer was a resounding “Blissful!” He then went on to show that many things can give you that state for a short time, but yoga is about having a tool where you can sustain a state of bliss. “You think a glass of wine will make you blissful, but tomorrow morning…! [Pointing to his head, he laughed]” “As there are tools for handling external realities, there are tools for handling subjective realities…When I say “tools”, do not underestimate the power of the tool.”
From interviews with people on their way in and out, it appears that many people are already using Isha tools. Some have heard Sadhguru on the internet, and have learnt Isha Kriya. For others, Hatha Yoga was their first introduction to Sadhguru.
I sat next to Marco, a young Portuguese man, who discovered Sadhguru through his local Hatha Yoga teacher. He shared with me that it has been his first experience of yoga, and it was “the right tool at the right time”. He enjoyed the insightful videos of Sadhguru that were part of the programmes. Practicing yoga has brought him remarkable and unexpected benefits, in terms of his physical, emotional and mental development, which motivate him to maintain his daily practice of Surya Kriya and Asanas. One example he gave was being able to give up coffee, effortlessly, something he had tried – and failed – to do several times before.
Other people I spoke to mentioned aspects such as the new intensity of life: “living a month in a weekend” or being better able to focus. Their teary eyes as people left the theatre were evidence of how moved they were by being in Sadhguru’s physical presence. They are motivated to continue on the path. As Sadhguru said in the private sathsang, there is no particular qualification or capability needed to attain. All you need is to not keep changing direction.