In his characteristically playful style, in this video yogi and mystic Sadhguru offers his thoughts on an enduring mode of self-adornment and creative expression: tattoos.

Asked by a young person his opinion on the ink-on-skin markings, the Isha Foundation head uses the practice to illustrate how our ideas and values are always evolving, and that what matters to us need not be ‘broadcast’ or ‘proclaimed’ so visibly.

For sure, in opting to get a tattoo, it is best to wait to be certain that what is being marked genuinely matters, he says. What seems important enough to be represented permanently on a part of the body, may not remain as significant later down the line, at which point removal will require both personal inconvenience and financial expense.

Meanwhile, by opting for tattoos on ordinarily-exposed areas of the body, continues Sadhguru, we invite others to draw opinions of us, or place us in metaphorical boxes that are ultimately too limited.

“When you want to do work in the world, when you want to do things in the world, it’s not necessary that all that you are is all upfront,” says the Isha Foundation head. “So, if your tattoo is already saying what you are… your philosophy and everything is written… so we know who you are the moment you enter.

“If you are wanting to live a very simplistic life, it’s okay. If you’re looking for a more complex involvement in life, it’s better people are not able to mark you in any particular way.”

He follows up these thoughts by telling a story about a heavily-inked demographic – prisoners at a high-security Kentucky penitentiary – whom he had encountered while participating in the inmate-targeted ‘Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned’ movement, being run in the US and India.

The markings were a way of communicating prisoners’ ‘grade’ of crime, and the jail gangs they belonged to – a physical snapshot continually reducing them to their allegiance and history.

View the original video here.

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