In Indian culture, one is not supposed to step over anyone sitting or lying down. Is this just a custom, or is there a science behind it?
Sadhguru: This actually applies not only to human beings but to all creatures. In India, people would not even step over a sleeping dog.
When your experience of life is limited to physicality, you think the boundary of a human being is the skin. If you expand the way you experience life a little more, you will see the boundary of a human being goes beyond the skin–to what extent depends upon who he or she is. The more you close your eyes and sit, the “fatter” you get–not in terms of fat as a substance–you get bigger. The less thinking you do, the larger your presence becomes.
Most people experience some semblance of peace and balance within them ‘only’ when they are sleeping. Sleep is the most profound state that they know in their life. This is a most unfortunate way to live. When they are fast asleep, they are reasonably peaceful and balanced. When they are awake, they are all over the place.
So, when they lie down they are a little bigger. Especially if you are lying down on something hard, because there is no room for it to find expression on the side that you lie on, naturally it goes up to where there is space. Instead of your energies being all around you, it will be above you by about 50% to 100%.
The extended energy body
Let us say, hypothetically speaking, your energy body is one foot beyond your skin. If you lie down, it could be approximately one-and-a-half or two feet. Without you knowing, some amount of clearing up or expanding of the energy body naturally happens. At those times, people will keep more distance from you–not out of respect but simply because of the size of your energy body at that moment. This is the way it should be–as it is required for that moment. If you have a certain sensitivity, you will naturally know these things. You may say this is some special endowment–I do not entirely deny that. But at the same time, people do not have this kind of sensitivity largely because they cannot pay attention to anything. They cannot pay attention to anything because they are dismissive about life around them.
When I was a five/six-year-old boy, I used to sit in the house, staring at something or sometimes at nothing. Much later, I realised in yoga, there is a mudra where you simply stare at nothing. Nothing is high, nothing is low. Something and nothing are the same to you–you are simply looking. Suddenly, my mother would pass by. Initially, I would see her, but the next time she would pass by, she would be all blurred and somewhat bigger. When she would pass by again, she would be almost transparent and even bigger.
Then my father would come. I would look at him with an empty stare. He would gesticulate in front of my eyes. Obviously, he was saying, “Why are you not studying?” or something like that. I did not hear the words, I just looked and saw all kinds of things. Depending upon what kind of forms I saw, I knew what he was saying. He was worried that this boy was losing his mind, the way he was staring. If you paid enough attention, you would experience this yourself.
What’s hanging around you?
In the yogic physiology, there are three physical dimensions of your existence–the physical body, the mental body, and the energy body–annamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, pranamaya kosha. The physical body is made of physical material that we take from the planet in the form of food. The mental body is also made of material from the world around you, but this material is much subtler. We build the mental body with information, reverberation, sounds and impressions.
People who are conscious do not want to trip over or walk into someone else’s karma. By stepping over someone, you are kind of walking into their karma.
Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic and founder of Isha Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to addressing all aspects of human wellbeing through yoga programmes, and social and environmental initiatives.