Sannyas: Dying to the Past
That is why I can initiate anyone into sannyas. To me, initiation itself is a play. And I will not ask for any qualifications - whether you are qualified or not - because qualifications are asked when something serious is done. Just by existing everyone is qualified enough to play, and even if he is unqualified to be a sannyasin it makes no difference, because the whole thing is just a play.
So I will not ask for any qualifications. And my sannyas does not involve any obligation either. The moment you are a sannyasin, or a sannyasini, you are totally at freedom. It means that you have taken a decision, and this is the last decision: to live in indecision, to live in freedom.
The moment you are initiated into sannyas, you are initiated into an uncharted, unplanned future.
Now you are not tethered by the past; you are free to live. So a sannyasin, to me, is a person who decides to live to the utmost, to the optimum, to the maximum. Moment to moment you live; moment to moment you act. Each moment is complete in itself. You do not decide how to act; the moment comes to you, and you act. There is no predetermination; there is no preplan.
Sannyas means living moment to moment, with no commitments to the past. If I give you a mala and if I give you new clothes, this is only for your remembrance: to remind you that now you do not have to make any decisions, now you are no longer the old. When this awareness becomes so deep that you do not need to remember it, then throw the robe, then throw the mala. But not until the awareness becomes so deep that now, even in sleep, you know that you are a sannyasin. So a new name, a new robe, a mala - these are just devices to help you; to help you toward freedom, to help you toward total being, to help you toward total action.
Sannyas means that you have come to realize that you are a seed, a potentiality. Now you have taken the decision to grow; and this is the last decision. To decide to grow is a great renunciation - renunciation of the security of the seed, renunciation of the "wholeness" of the seed. But this security is at a very great cost. The seed is dead; it is only potentially living. Unless it becomes a tree, unless it grows, it is dead - only potentially living. And as far as I know, human beings, unless they decide to grow, unless they take a jump into the unknown, are like seeds: dead, closed.
To be a sannyasin is to take a decision to grow, to take a decision to move into the unknown, to take a decision to live in indecision. It is a jump into the unknown. It is not a religion and it is not bound to any religion; it is religiousness itself.
AT FIRST SIGHT, SANNYAS APPEARS TO BE SOMETHING THAT LIMITS ONE'S ACTIVITIES. WHY DOES ONE HAVE TO CHANGE ONE'S CLOTHES TO RED? WHY SHOULD ONE HAVE TO CHANGE HIS APPEARANCE, SINCE SANNYAS IS SOMETHING THAT IS WITHIN RATHER THAN WITHOUT?
Sannyas is not negative. The very word denotes negativity, but it is not a pure negativity. It means to leave something, but it is only leaving something because you have gained something else.
Something has to be left. It is not that leaving anything is meaningful in itself, but that it creates a space for something new to come in. Negativity is just creating a space - and if you are to grow, you need space.
As we are, we have no space within; we are so filled with unnecessary things and thoughts.
Sannyas, in its negative aspect, means just creating a space - throwing aside the trivial, the useless, the meaningless, so you can grow inside.
Growth is decay, but growth is positive also. And I say emphatically that sannyas is positive.
Negativity is just the clearing: it is just clearing the ground for the growth to come in. Negativity is only something without, something outside, and the growth is inside. The positivity is at the center, and the negativity is at the periphery.
And, really, nothing can exist that is simply negative or simply positive. That is impossible, because these are two polarities. Existence exists in between: these are the two banks between which existence flows. No river can exist with one bank, and neither can existence. When emphasis is given to only one side or to one bank or to one pole, it becomes fallacious. But when you accept the total, then there is no emphasis on anything. You just accept the two polarities, and then you grow within; and you use both of them as a dialectic within which to move.
Sannyas is understood as being negative. Its connotation has become negative because you have to begin with the negative, you have to begin from the periphery. This must be understood because sannyas is inner: something is to grow on the inside, so why must you begin from the outside?
When you have to grow inside, why not begin from the inside?
But you cannot begin from the inside, because as you are you are on the periphery, on the outside.
You have to begin from the point where you are; you cannot begin from somewhere where you are not.
For example, health is something inner; it grows. But you are diseased and ill, so we have to begin with your disease, not with your health; we have to negate the disease. By negating disease we are only creating space for the health to grow in; but the beginning is negative.
Medical science has no definition of health. They cannot have it; all that they can have is a definition of what disease is and a science of how to negate it. Health remains indefinable, and disease is negatively defined because you have to begin with disease; you cannot begin with health. When there is health you need not begin at all.
So if you have the inner space you do not need sannyas. Sannyas is to negate the samsara, the world - the disease. When I say samsara, I do not mean that the world is diseased; rather, I mean the world that you have created around you. Everyone is living in a world of his own making.
I do not deny the world that exists outside. It cannot be denied; it is there. But you have a fantasy world, a dream world around you, and that dream world has become you. The periphery has become your center and you have forgotten the center completely. So when one begins, one has to deny this dreaming world, since this denial is the beginning. This becomes negative, and sannyas then appears to be negative. We give it a negative connotation because it means to negate this dream world. So sannyas is really medicinal: it is just a medicine to deny the disease. When the disease is negated, the possibility arises for the inner to grow. So sannyas is just to create a situation.
You must understand clearly that when I say "to deny the world," I do not mean the world that exists, but rather the world that every individual creates around him. Because of this dream world we cannot know the world that really exists; this constant dreaming becomes a barrier. It becomes a double barrier: you cannot go inside - there is something existential there; you cannot go outside - there is something existential there also. You are stuck to your dreaming mind and you cannot proceed either way.
A miracle happens when this dreaming barrier is annihilated. There is no longer any disease. You begin to exist in two worlds simultaneously, only now they are no longer two because the barrier was the thing that divided them. You become existential inside, and you become existential outside. So this is why a negative approach is chosen.
How does this - the taking of sannyas - affect your behavior? There are two possibilities: one is to change your behavior consciously, and the other is to change your consciousness consciously.
Behavior is nothing but consciousness expressed, but if you start with behavior, you may continue with the old consciousness. You can adjust any new behavior to the old consciousness, and then behavior changes outwardly, but nothing really changes.
For example, your consciousness can continue to be violent, but you can be nonviolent in your behavior. You can be nonviolent in your behavior, but your consciousness continues to be the same as it was when your behavior was violent. Now you begin to suppress your consciousness.
You have to suppress it because you have to pose a behavior that is not in the consciousness.
The consciousness has to be suppressed, and when you suppress consciousness, you create the unconscious in yourself.
When you begin to behave in ways that your consciousness is not ready to behave in, then you are denying part of your consciousness, putting it off. This part becomes your unconscious, and it becomes more powerful than your consciousness because you have to continue denying your behavior. You become false; a false personality is created. This false personality exists only up to the point where the unconscious exists. So if you try to change your behavior directly, you will become less and less conscious and more and more unconscious.
A person who has become completely behavior oriented will just be automatic. Only the very small consciousness that is needed to work automatically will be there; otherwise, the whole mind will become unconscious. And this unconscious mind is the disease of your consciousness.
You can begin by changing your behavior as more or less "ethical" persons ordinarily do. The so- called religions begin with changing your behavior. But I do not begin with changing your behavior; I begin with changing your consciousness, because really, consciousness is the behavior. That is the behavior. This outward behavior is meaningless. So begin with changing your consciousness.
That is why my emphasis is on meditation and not on behavior. Meditation changes your consciousness. First, it destroys the barrier between your conscious and unconscious. You become more fluid, you begin to move in a less fixed way; you become one with your consciousness.
So meditation first has to destroy the barrier inside; and the destruction of the barrier means the expansion of your consciousness.
You must become more conscious. So the first thing is to be more conscious in whatsoever you are doing. I am not interested in the content of your doing, but with the consciousness of your doing. Be more conscious in doing it.
For example, if you are violent, the so-called moralists and religious people will say, "Be nonviolent, cultivate nonviolence." I will not say this. I will say: Be violent, but now be consciously violent. Do not change your behavior. Be conscious about your violence and you will find that you cannot be consciously violent, because the more you become conscious, the less is the possibility of being violent.
Violence has a built-in process; it can exist only when you are not aware. Your very awareness changes the whole thing: you cannot be violent if you are aware. Unawareness is a must for violence to exist, or for anger or for sex, or for anything that one wants to change in the behavior.
The greater the built-in mechanism, the more you are unaware of what you are doing and the more you can do things that are evil. When I say a thing is evil, I do not mean the content of it. I say a thing is evil when it creates unconsciousness unnecessarily: that is my definition. I do not say violence is bad because you will kill someone. I say violence is bad because you cannot be violent without unconsciousness. That unconsciousness is the evil, because that unconsciousness is the background, the basis, of all ignorance, of all dreams, of all illusions, of all the nonsense that we can create. Evil is nothing more than an unconscious mind.
So for one who is a sannyasin - for one who has taken sannyas - I emphasize that you do whatever you are doing. Do not change your behavior, change your consciousness. Do whatever you are doing consciously. Be angry - anger is no cause for worry - but be angry consciously. This consciousness becomes transformation and your whole behavior is changed; you cannot remain the same. And now this change is not just a change in behavior; it becomes a change of your being also, not only of your doing.
You do not have to create a false personality, a mask. You can be completely at ease with yourself.
But this "being at ease with yourself" can come only when you have become totally conscious.
Tension is there because you are living with masks: you are violent and you have to be nonviolent; you are angry and you have to be nonangry; you are sexual and you have to be nonsexual. This creates tensions, this creates anxieties. This is the anguish, the whole anguish; you have to be something which you are not, so you are bound to be in a deep anxiety constantly. This "being something which you are not" is withering and dissipating your whole life energy in tensions, in conflicts. Really, conflict is never with someone else; it is always with yourself.
So I emphasize being at ease with yourself. And you can only be at ease when your behavior is conscious. So be conscious; meditate and be conscious in your behavior. Then things will begin to change without your knowing it. You will be different because of your different consciousness.
You ask why I emphasize the changing of dress, the changing of name - these outward things. They are so outward, the most outward things.
As I know man to be, as man exists, he is clothes. As man is, clothes are very significant. You give a military uniform to a person and his very face changes, his very attitude; something different arises within him. Look at a policeman when he is in civilian dress and when he is in his uniform; he is not the same man at all. Why? Outward things create a change inside because you are nothing but the outside. There is no such thing as "inside" right now.
Gurdjieff used to say a very meaningful thing: that as you are now, you have no soul. He was both right and wrong. You have a soul, but you do not know about it. You are the outside, and so clothes are very meaningful. Because of clothes a person becomes beautiful and because of clothes a person becomes ugly. Because of clothes he becomes respected; because of clothes he is not respected. A judge has to wear certain clothes - a supreme court justice has to use a particular robe - and no one asks why. With that robe he is a supreme court justice; without that robe he is no one.
This is how man is. When I look at a man he is more his clothes than his mind. And this is as it should be, because we belong to the body, we are identified with the body. This identification with the body becomes an identification with the clothes.
If I ask a man to wear a woman's dress and walk down the street, do you think that this is just going to be a change of clothes? It is not! Firstly, he will not be ready to do it. No man will be ready to do it. Why this unreadiness, why this resistance? It is only a change of clothes, and clothes are neither male nor female. How can clothes be male or female? But in fact, clothes are not simply clothes; psychologically they have become identified as either male or female. What type of minds do we have that even clothes have gender?
If you move in female dress, you will feel feminine. Your gestures will be different, your walking will be different, your eyes will be different; your very awareness of what is happening on the street will be different. You will be aware of things that you have never been aware of before even though you may have walked down the same street your whole life. Because everything about you will be different, others will look at you differently - and you will react differently to their looking. You won't be the same person.
So when I say that clothes are our outside, they only appear to be outside; they have gone deeply inward, they have penetrated inside. So I emphasize a change of clothes. A readiness to change the clothes is a readiness to throw the old mind, which was associated with the clothes. A readiness to make this change is a readiness to change your identity.
When someone resists the change in clothes I know why he is resisting. He goes on asking, "Why do you emphasize the clothes?" But I am not emphasizing them; he is emphasizing them. He keeps saying, "Why must you emphasize the clothes? They are just the outside. What is the difference if I continue wearing my old things?"
I am not emphasizing the clothes at all; he is emphasizing them. And he is not even aware that he is resisting. Then I ask him, "Why are you resisting?" If someone comes to me and is not at all resistant, I may not even ask him to change his clothes. If I ask him to change his clothes and he says "Okay," then I may not tell him to change his clothes, because he is not identified with clothes really.
So I may tell you to change your clothes: to use a particular type of robe, a particular color. The moment you change your clothes, you change; sometimes you are this color, sometimes that color.
If I just ask you to change your type of clothes without specifying any particular color, that may not be a change at all because you have changed your type of clothing so continuously. So the change can happen only with an unchanging robe; then there is really a change. If I give you an unchanging robe, then the change in you can happen.
Why do we change clothes really? It is a deep thing, not just an outward one. Why are we bored with one style, one color, one type of cloth? Why are we bored? The mind is always asking for something new, something different. We go on asking how to stop our mind from running continually and yet we go on always feeding it the new. We go on asking how to stop our constant, wavering mind - how to bring it to a standstill, how to be silent - but we go on feeding it in subtle ways. We go on changing clothes, we go on changing things - we go on changing everything. We are bored with anything that remains constant, but the more the mind is fed changes, the more the mind is fed.
With a nonchanging robe, for the first time your mind has to fight daily, every moment, with the identity that it wants to change. And if you are at ease with a nonchanging robe, soon you will be at ease with a nonchanging world. This is just a beginning. The more you are at ease with something nonchanging, the more the mind will be able to stop.
So the emphasis is to become more and more at ease with the nonchanging; only then can you come to the eternal. With a mind that is asking for constant change, how can you come to the eternal? You have to begin with the nonchanging.
Somewhere, with this nonchanging of your clothes, you will become unaware of clothes. When you use the same robe and the same color, you will soon become unaware of clothing. Moving on the streets you will become unaware of the clothing shops; your consciousness of these things will just drop, because it is the mind that notices them. And if your mind is again looking at clothes and at the shops, be aware of it. What is your mind asking for?
We feel this constant changing of clothes to be something beautiful, but in a nonchanging robe you can attain a graceful beauty that can never be attained with a changing robe. With a changing robe you are hiding ugliness, nothing else, but with a nonchanging robe everything about you as you are is revealed.
When you change your clothes, others become aware of your clothes. That is why everyone always asks about your new clothes. But when you are constantly in one robe, no one asks about your clothes; the asking drops. Then one looks at you, not at your clothes.
This is a fact that every woman knows. If she wears ornaments and nice clothes, you become aware of the ornaments and clothes and forget the woman. This is hiding. Clothes are not expressers, but hiders. And the more precious the ornament the more deeply you can hide, because others become more attentive to the ornament.
With a diamond on my finger, my finger is hidden. The diamond has so much appeal and the luster of it somehow becomes associated with my finger, but it is not part of the finger at all. A bare or naked finger is exposed as it is. If it is beautiful, then it is beautiful; if it is ugly, then it is ugly.
A person who is not hiding his ugliness has a beauty of his own. A person who is not hiding anything has a certain grace, and this grace comes only when you are totally naked. When you are at ease a certain grace comes, and even an ugly face becomes beautiful. But with hiding, even a beautiful face becomes ugly.
To me, beauty is to be as you really are: to be as you are and totally relaxed in it. If you are ugly, you are ugly and at ease with it; then a subtle beauty begins to come to your face. With relaxation and ease, a subtle flow begins to manifest. It is not coming from the diamond; now it is coming from your inner self.
One who is not at ease with himself cannot be at ease with anyone else. And one who does not love himself, who is hiding himself, cannot be loved by anyone else. He is deceiving others, and others are deceiving him. Then we never really meet; only faces are meeting - far-off faces. I have come with a made-up face, and you have also come with a made-up face. I am hiding myself and you are hiding yourself. Two faces are meeting in this room, but nowhere is there an encounter, nowhere is there an authentic meeting and communion between these faces.
But why do you change your faces? You change them because if you do not, you will not pay enough attention to the face that you are showing and the real may be exposed. That is why a beloved is someone altogether different when she becomes your wife. She is not the same now because she cannot put on a new face. She is so much with you that the real is bound to show up. In the morning she will be just as she is - and now she is ugly. On the beach you were just fascinated, but in the morning, in bed, after the whole night, she will be just as she is. And once you have known your wife in the morning when she is just getting out of bed, you have known her ugly face. But her face is not ugly because she is ugly; it is ugly because now nothing is hidden. You see everything, she sees everything.
So when I say that a sannyasin should remain in one robe, this means to be free from the changing clothes and the changing identities; to remain as you are and to be expressive as you are - to just accept yourself. The moment you accept yourself, others will begin to accept you - but that is irrelevant. Whether they accept you or not, it is irrelevant. If you think about people accepting you, then you will create another false face. There is nothing to think about: it just happens.
So I change the name, I change the clothes, just to help a person who is living on the periphery.