Sannyas: A New Beginning
September 26 is celebrated as Neo-Sannyas Day. On this day, at the momentous camp in Manali India in 1970, Osho initiated His first group of disciples into his vision of sannyas. Osho turned the obsolete life-denying conception of Sannyas on its head! Osho says I want to destroy the whole traditional attitude. Life should be religious and religion should not have any life. There should be no distinction between the marketplace and the monastery. The monastery should be in the marketplace; the divine dimension should become part of everyday life.
A sannyas that withdraws from life turns into a bondage; a prison. And ultimate freedom is the very soul of sannyas. For me, sannyas does not accept any limitations, inhibitions, regimentation or discipline. For me, sannyas is the flowering of man′s ultimate freedom, rooted in his intelligence, his wisdom.
Osho explains why He calls His sannyas – ‘neo-sannyas’: my sannyas is an opening, a journey… in search of an orgasmic relationship with the whole. Sannyas is not a program or ideology; it is exploration. When you become a sannyasin, I initiate you into freedom and nothing else. It is great responsibility to be free, because then you have nothing to lean upon except your own inner being, your own consciousness. I take away your props and leave you utterly alone. That aloneness blooms on its own accord into the flower of sannyas.
Osho says a sannyasin is one who has trusted me, who says – I am coming with you. Then something starts transpiring between me and you. It is not only changing your clothes, your name. It is simply dropping your whole past and starting anew, as if you are born again. The day of your initiation into sannyas becomes your real birthday.
Sannyas is just an initiation towards consciousness. It can’t be expected from you that you should be conscious when you take Sannyas. Sannyas is medicinal. When you are ill, medicine is needed. If a doctor makes it a condition that “Come only when you are healthy — I am not going to pour my medicine into such an ill body. First get healthy and then come,” then what is the point? Sannyas is medicinal — because you are unconscious, it is needed. I cannot expect you to take sannyas consciously; that is impossible. If you can take sannyas consciously, then you can do ANYTHING consciously. Then what is the problem? If you can take sannyas consciously, why can’t you eat consciously? Why can’t you walk consciously? Why can’t you love consciously? Where is the problem then? Then you will be conscious! You will be a Buddha and sannyas will not be needed. You cannot be conscious, that’s why sannyas is needed.
Sannyas is a beginning, not an end — first thing.
Second thing: the question is — YOU HAVE SAID NOT TO CONDITION CHILDREN….
Sannyas is a process of unconditioning, remember it. It is not a process of conditioning: it is a process of unconditioning. What am I doing here? I am not giving you knowledge — I am taking your knowledge away. It is a kind of mind-wash. I am simply cleaning your mind, effacing things, taking your ideas, helping you to drop those stupid fixations. I am not giving you anything as a substitute for them! You would like that very much.
People come to me, they say, “But give us some philosophy to live for!” Life is enough! What do you need a philosophy to live for? Life in itself is more than enough. They say, “That’s right — but something to live for, something to hope for, something for inspiration” — something so that they can plan, so that they can destroy the future, so that they can stop being spontaneous.
People ask me, “Some discipline is needed” — particularly religious people, when they come to me they are very much shocked that I don’t give any particular discipline to sannyasins. Do you think wearing orange is a discipline? or having the mala around your neck is a discipline? or the change of your name is a discipline? Do you think these are disciplines? These are games! These are not disciplines!
Discipline is when you move into a Christian monastery. Discipline is when you become a Jain monk — then what to eat, what not to eat, how much to eat, when to go to sleep, how much to sleep, then a twenty-four-hour programme is given to you. Sooner or later you become a robot, you become just a machine a perfect machine; efficient, but a machine. You are no more human beings.
I am not giving you any discipline. I give you only awareness — because to me awareness is the fundamental thing. If you are aware, you will find your discipline yourself.
Who am I to give it to you? And ANY fixed discipline will create problems — it will be inappropriate. How can you decide for tomorrow? And when you have a character, you have decided for tomorrow — that is the meaning of character. That’s why in society people who have character are respected, because they are predictable people, you can rely upon them. You know that this man NEVER speaks a lie; he can be used in business — you can rely upon him, he will never speak a lie — he has character. This man will not steal — he has character; you can rely on him, otherwise he will take your money. This man will not start an affair with your wife — he has character. You can rely on him; he can be allowed to remain in your house and work. This man will not suddenly jump upon you and kill you — you can rely on him, he has character. He has never done anything like that. He has certificates.
A man of character simply means one whose past is so fixed that you can rely on it that he will not be able to change it in the future either. I don’t give you any discipline, any character. My basic approach is that one has to be utterly characterless! To be characterless means to be without the past.
I am not saying that you have to commit murder and you have to start stealing and robbing people — I am not saying that. But I am saying this: that you should not be predictable like a man of character. Yes, you will not commit murder — not because it is your character but because of your awareness you cannot do such an ugly thing. Not because it is against the Ten Commandments and Moses and Manu and Mahavir, no — but because your inner voice is against it. You will not rob anybody, not because it is written in the scriptures that you will suffer in hell, but because the very idea does not arise in a conscious mind. A conscious mind has a fluid discipline about it, but fluid — it changes according to circumstances.
A man of character is like one who goes out to the market and it starts raining but he will not open his umbrella because he has never opened it before — he is a man of character. But my sannyasin will open the umbrella! and when it stops raining will close the umbrella. The umbrella is to be USED; it is not a fixation. When it is too hot, you move inside the house, you seek coolness. When it is too cool and getting cold in the house, you start moving outside to seek the sun’s warmth. Life should be fluid, natural. That’s what sannyas is: it is an unconditioning. It takes your character, your knowledge, your past — you — away from you. It makes you fluid. It helps you to melt. It is unconditioning.
You ask: YOU HAVE SAID NOT TO CONDITION CHILDREN.
Yes, don’t condition them — and sannyas is a way to protect them from conditioning.
YOU HAVE SAID NOT TO CONDITION CHILDREN WITH OUR IDEAS.
SANNYAS IS NOT AN IDEA. It is a device. It is a method, not an idea. Just by becoming a sannyasin, you stop being a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist. Just by becoming a sannyasin, you stop being an American, an Indian, a Japanese, a German — these are ugly boundaries.
They are not any more valuable than what dogs do — they urinate and make a boundary, and that becomes their territory. These national boundaries are nothing but dog boundaries made by urinating. Ugly they are. By becoming a sannyasin you become a citizen of the earth — you are no more an Indian, no more a Tibetan, no more a Chinese. You claim the whole earth, and that is the beginning of claiming the whole universe. Passports are ugly, visas are ugly. They simply show that the world is not yet free. They simply show that there is NO freedom of movement in this world, that you cannot enter a country freely, that there are a thousand and one obstructions, that you cannot choose your country freely, that this whole earth is not available to you, that these nations are nothing but big prisons. Inside you are allowed to move, but outside you are not allowed to move. This is ugly.
A sannyasin is a world citizen. Sannyas is the beginning of a new concept of consciousness, that we are all one. This may be the only place on the earth where nobody bothers who is a Jain, who is a Hindu, who is a Mohammedan….The world has lived like that, with a thousand and one divisions — of religion, of sect, of politics. To be a sannyasin means you are dropping all divisions. You are declaring humanity is one, and this whole planet belongs to us. This is our home.
And when we have a really great number of sannyasins roaming around the world, then many things can become possible. It depends. If we have enough numbers of sannyasins around the world, it can usher a new era. Passports should be dropped some day, visas should be dropped some day. We should declare that we are free to move! Nobody can prevent us! We are free to live wherever we want. And the freedom of movement is one of the basic freedoms.
Why are nations so much afraid? Why so many visas and passports and boundaries and borders? There are very very deep reasons you may not be aware of. In fact, the traveller is a dangerous phenomenon for closed societies. Why? Because the traveller brings new concepts of life; his existence is disruptive to the orthodox, to the conventional.
For example, my sannyasins moving in India are a problem. What is the problem? They don’t do any harm to anybody. Just the other day, a couple was just holding hands outside the ashram — not doing anything! — just sitting silently holding hands, and a man jumped upon them and started shouting and abusing: “You are destroying our Hindu culture! I don’t allow my children to come in Koregaon Park, because if they see you people they will be destroyed.”
I would like my sannyasins to roam around the earth as much as possible, to destroy children, to destroy these chauvinists — Hindu, Christian, Mohammedan — it doesn’t matter who they are. Roam around the earth, be mobile, and with you the fragrance will spread.
That’s why Russia does not allow people to enter — great fear is there. Communist countries are very much afraid. If hippies start moving in Russia, communism will be gone — because then the Russian youth will see what is happening in other parts of the world: “People have become SO free, and we are prisoners!” They are not to be allowed to see that. That’s why people in Poona are against my sannyasins. What is the fear? If you are right and your religion is right and your morality is right, then why be afraid? The fear is that your morality is NOT right — it is repressive, it is forced, it is violent. And if your children see my free people, of course they would also like to be free. That is the fear. They would also like to hold the hand of some woman — which is NATURAL! graceful, lovely, divine. But Hindus are very much repressed — even to hold the hand of your own wife is a great revolution; even to talk to your own wife one feels guilty. Now, these ugly hangovers of the past can be protected only if new fresh winds are not allowed to blow.
Sannyas is the beginning of a world citizenship. It is the beginning of a world which will be religious but without religions. Sannyas is not an idea, it is a device, it is a method — a method to uncondition you. And it is very good that children should be sannyasins from the very beginning — so nobody can condition them. Once they have tasted of freedom….
Neerja was telling me that little Siddartha falls in love with little girls — little Siddartha! — and not only that: sometimes he tries to make love to them. Now this is great! Now he has no inhibitions, no taboos. He will grow up into a beautiful human being.
To be a sannyasin means you will be allowing freedom to the children, you will not impose anything on them, you will not impose your ideas; you will NOT like them to become imitators. Sannyas is just symbolic of a great freedom!
WHY NOT LET THEM CHOOSE CONSCIOUSLY WHETHER AND WHEN TO TAKE SANNYAS?
In fact, many of them choose as consciously as you choose — many of them. When their parents become sannyasins, they are thrilled with the idea. Sometimes it happens just otherwise. Geet Govind is here from Esalen: his daughter took sannyas first — just a small daughter! She has turned Esalen on — a small daughter, five or six years old. She became interested first in dynamic meditation and now it is difficult to prevent her — she goes on doing it, morning, evening; whenever she has time she does dynamic. Geet Govind was asking me how to stop her. And she enjoys it and she is going crazy in it. She became the catalytic agent… then the father, then the mother, then other people.
Life is so mysterious! One never knows from where the thing will start. And it is not the first case: many times it has happened that children have taken sannyas first, because they are of course more courageous. They don’t CARE about others’ opinions. They are not calculative. They are not worried about their Jobs they have none. They are not worried about their wives or husbands — they have none. They are not worried about their children — they have none. They have no investment yet in life — they are free. It happens many times: children take sannyas first, then the mother starts feeling, then the father starts feeling; then they also gather courage. So, many times children take the sannyas on their own. Sometimes the parents take first, then the children… they ARE interested. They also want to be orange people — what is it? — they want to be insiders! They don’t want to be left outside.
And sometimes, only sometimes, very small children have been initiated — because their parents would like to protect them, to protect them from Christianity, to protect them from Mohammedanism, to protect them from Hinduism. I cannot say no because I know sannyas will be protective. Sannyas gives NO ideology, but it protects you from other ideologies. Otherwise you cannot avoid it — your children will be conditioned. The church is after them, the politician is after them. You have to create some protection for your children, so that the priest and the politician don’t come in; otherwise, they will grab hold of them — in the name of religious education, in the name of Sunday school, Bible class, this and that, they will catch hold of the child. And once the child is conditioned, it becomes an unnecessary wastage of life and time and energy to un-condition him. It is better to leave him wild, leave him open.
And with sannyas, one thing is there: if your child when he is grown up wants to leave sannyas, nobody is there to prevent him. I am not preventing anybody from leaving! The moment you want to leave, you can leave without any guilt. That is for you! If the child later on feels that he does not want to be a sannyasin, then who is after him? — he can leave it. Sannyas is given easily and sannyas can be dropped as easily. There is no commitment as such. If there is any commitment, that is of your consciousness, that is your inner feeling — but nobody is after you, nobody will condemn you that “You have become a sinner and now you are bound for hell!”
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Walk Without Feet, Fly Without Wings and Think Without Mind
Chapter title: I Am Happening to You
4 January 1978 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Sannyas, Rejoicing, Life, Existence, Celebration’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Ecstasy – The Forgotten Language
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Zen: The Diamond Thunderbolt
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- Philosophia Perennis
- YAA-HOO! The Mystic Rose
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1
- The Last Testament, Vol 2
- Sat Chit Anand