Posted by: drjamm | October 1, 2008

Sadasiva’s paradox

Sadasiva never spoke a word or wore a cloth. “One morning the nude yogi unceremoniously entered the tent of a Moslem chieftain. Two ladies screamed in alarm; the warrior dealt a savage sword thrust at Sadasiva, whose arm was severed. The master departed unconcernedly. Overcome by awe and remorse, the Moslem picked up the arm from the floor and followed Sadasiva. The yogi quietly inserted his arm into the bleeding stump. When the cheiftain humbly asked for some spiritual instruction, Sadasiva wrote with his finger on the sands:

“Do not do what you want, and then you may do what you like.”

The Moslem was uplifted to a purified state of mind and understood the paradoxical advice to be a guide to soul freedom through mastery of the ego. So great was the spiritual impact of those few words that the warrior became a worthy disciple; his former haunts knew him no more.”

(story quoted in Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 383)

At bed time, my family listens to Ben Kingsley narrate Paramahansa Yogananda’s book called, Autobiography of a Yogi. Why we do this — and for how long — is a whole other story about our odd-ball convergence of spirituality and insomnia. But suffice it to say for now, that Ben Kingsley has the perfect voice to help us drift off to sleep and the quaint and antiquated prose of Paramahansa Yogananda is at once peaceful, reassuring, and deeply inspirational.

For the last three nights I have heard Mr Kingsley recite the story of Sadasiva quoted above. For three nights I have heard the moral to the story, “do not do as you want, and then you may do as like.” Each time I heard this moral I said to myself, “What? I don’t get it,” and then I would promptly fall asleep. But for the past three days, during the light of day, I have be mentally chewing on this Swami’s paradox. What do the Sadasiva’s words mean for ME?

Here’s my first simple and playful take on this holy paradox: do not do as I want (eat chocolate), and then I may do as I like (be healthy, have energy, and be free to move without joint pain or stomach aches). My body WANTS! stuff to immediately satisfy my body cravings; but in the long run my body is damaged or burdened with more troubles if I give in to these WANTS. But if I do not do what I WANT, then I am centred, peaceful, healthy and make good choices for me. Being healthy in Body and Spirit means that I am very free to follow what I Like — follow every beautiful, delightful, and darling experience I Like . How cool is that?

Credits and links: Lotus flower photo from

(bright heart singing, copyright 2008 – jamm. Creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharing only (translation: feel free to quote me in context or use this entry but please always credit me for my work, thanks.)



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