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Why is man at constant war with his own nature? Why do flesh and spirit seem at perpetual loggerheads? Why are we doomed to struggle with seemingly irreconcilable opposites: the material and the metaphysical; the profane and the sacred; the sensual and the spriritual? Why couldn’t it have been a more equitable setup? And who set this up, anyway?

The questions are not new. They have bothered human beings at some point or the other since the dawn of time. In this book, Sadhguru, a renowned contemporary mystic, deepens and fine-tunes our understanding of the physical and the spiritual. The relationship between the two, he tell us, is by no means adversarial. The war, if any, is of our own making.In the first section of this book, Sadhguru speaks of the universal human longing for ‘a dimension beyond the physcial’. Human beings do not have to try to be spiritual, he tells us. They just have to wake up their deep instinctual greed for the unbounded, the immeasurable, the limitless. If the physical dimension seeks self-preservation, the spiritual is forever seeking expansion. Both impulses, says Sadhguru, are valid. If we simply understood their diverse imperatives, those would be no room for conflict. That would mark the end of self-created human turmoil.

If the first part of the book focuses on transcending yet another ancient barrier: the mind. Sadhguru speaks of the many ways in which the intellect can be hijacked by narrow self serving compulsions. He also draws our attention to the distinction that we so often overlook: between belief and knowledge, between the intellectual and the experiential, between the psychological and the existential.

Like the body, the mind may be an exquisitely sophisticated instrument. But it remains an inadequate vehicle to travel to the deeper, uncharted realms of the spirit. ‘It’s like trying to go to the moon,’ says Sadhguru with characteristic humour, ‘on a bullock cart. It doesn’t matter how hard you beat the bulls, it’s not going to get there.’

Neither body nor mind needs to be relinquished on this journey. Both simply need to know their place. As Sadhguru wryly puts it, ‘Every great discovery you make the planet already knows.’ Trying to fathom the mysteries of existence with the mind, he tells us, is like trying to empty the universe into your head with ‘tablespoons called toughts’.

But there is hope. For within every human being lies the very source of creation which never lets us settle for anything less than life itself. And once you get a whiff of that source, says Sadhguru, ‘the fragrance of the physical’ turns suggenly and irrevocably irrelevant.

-Arundhathi Subramaniam

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