Chapter 22: Sannyas is of the Highest

Question 3



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Question 3


You ask what the daily routine of my sannyasin would be. It is not a question of my sannyasin. How can anyone be my sannyasin? He or she will be just a sannyasin. And what would be his routine, his schedule of daily life, his discipline?

If we try to impose a fixed daily routine on a sannyasin, it is bound to harm him instead of doing any good. Someone asked a Zen sage, "What is your everyday routine?"

The sage said, "When I am sleepy I sleep, and when I wake up I am awake. When I am hungry I eat and I don't eat when I am not hungry." And the sage is right. A sannyasin is one who does not impose something on himself, who takes life as it is and lives it very naturally, spontaneously, moment to moment

We are a strange people. When we feel like sleeping we resist it, and when we cannot sleep we chant mantras and try to get to sleep somehow. We eat when we are not hungry, and we don't eat when we are hungry, because we have a fixed schedule of eating according to the clock. That is how we destroy the inner harmony of our body, and that is why we are in a mess.

A sannyasin will live in accord with the wisdom of the body. He will sleep when he feels sleepy, and he will wake up when his sleep is over. He will not wake up in what the Hindus call the brahmamuhurta, the divine hour, the hour before dawn. Whenever he wakes up will be his brahmamuhurta. He will say, "When God brings me out of sleep, I call it my BRAHMAMUHURTA." He will live naturally, easily, spontaneously.

That is why I cannot give you a routine, a discipline of living. You will be in trouble, you will suffer if I impose any discipline on you, because I will determine it the way it suits me, and my way of life can never be yours. If I tell you to wake up every morning at three o'clock, maybe waking up at three is blissful for me, but it will ruin your health.

Everybody's physical organism is unique and different, but we are not aware of it. People say that modern women are very lazy, that they keep sleeping and their husbands make the morning tea for them, but that is how it should be. The inner organism of woman is such that her body clock is always behind man's by two hours. If a man leaves his bed at five in the morning, a woman should leave hers at seven.

A lot of study and research has been done in this respect, and the findings are very surprising. It has been found that in the course of every twenty-four hours our body temperature goes down for two hours, and it usually happens in the latter part of the night. You might have noticed that nearabout four in the morning you usually feel cold. This cold is caused by the fall in your body temperature, and not by any change in the weather. And this period of the fall in temperature is different for everybody. For me it might occur between three and five and for another between five and seven. And it is in these two hours of low body temperature that one goes into deep sleep each day.

Over the last five years ten thousand people in America were put under observation while they were sleeping, and it was confirmed that this time of deep sleep is different for everybody. So your time of going to bed and leaving it cannot be determined in a collective way. It has to be left to each individual to find out from personal observation what time is most suitable for him to rest and sleep. And the criterion is that a good night's sleep should keep you fresh and energetic for the whole of the following day.

Even the duration of one's sleep has to be determined individually. For someone, five hours sleep can be sufficient, while another person might need seven hours sleep each day. And there are a few people who do with just three hours sleep and it goes well with them. But this person who completes his sleep in three hours can prove to be dangerous for others. He will think himself a pious person and call all those who sleep long hours idlers and good-for-nothings. He will sermonize that three o'clock is the best time to get out of bed, and say that those who don't conform to this rule will go to hell. Beware of such people

There can be no hard and fast rule for things like this. We cannot have set laws about what to wear, about what to eat and how much to eat, about when to sleep and how long to sleep. We can discuss these things in a general manner, but It would not be proper to set rules about them. Everyone should find his own discipline, his own way of living; it should be entirely an individual decision. And this much freedom you must have, that you decide your own way of living. Others don't do it, but a sannyasin should. He should insist on this freedom to be the way he is, and to live in the way that is joyful and blissful for him. In this respect he has also to bear in mind that he does not live in a way that impinges on the freedom and happiness of others. And this is enough.

I repeat that we can broadly discuss the question of a daily routine and a discipline for a sannyasin, but we cannot lay down strict rules about them.

There is a person who is addicted to smoking. The whole world is against him, and yet he goes on smoking. Physicians tell him that smoking will ruin his health, and he says he knows it, yet he cannot quit. What is the matter with this person? Is it that he lacks something necessary for him and smoking provides it? An investigation on smoking done recently in Mexico came to a very strange finding. It says that people who are mad about smoking are those whose bodies lack nicotine. These people are seeking nicotine through tobacco, tea and coffee. But smoking is being condemned as something immoral. But what is immoral in taking some smoke in and out? It is of course senseless, but it is never immoral. He is not harming anyone except himself. It is an innocent stupidity and nothing more. Maybe it is his need; maybe he lacks something which he is fulfilling through smoking. He would be better to discover and know his problem.

Our knowledge of the human body is very poor. It is poor in spite of so much development in medical science. We have yet to understand the body fully, its needs. its problems. And because of this the body has to tackle its problems on its own. If it lacks nicotine it makes you smoke. And once you take to smoking you are in the clutches of habit and you become helpless. It is not that everyone smokes for lack of nicotine, nine out of ten smokers simply take to smoking out of imitation, And then it becomes a mechanical habit, they become prisoners of a habit.

However, no routine, no discipline can be imposed from the outside. It is not possible, nor is it desirable to prescribe a general code for the daily life of sannyasins, as to when they should leave their beds and what they should eat. Of course, some broad guidelines can be given. What is essential is that whatever a sannyasin does, he does it with awareness; whatever he does, he does it keeping his own good and the good of others in view. And whatever he does is right if it promotes his health, his peace and his happiness. And if, on the other hand, it harms his health and happiness, he should shun it.

In the matter of food, he should take care that his food is fresh, light and health giving. He should avoid unnecessary violence in eating; he should not eat anything that is obtained by killing and maiming living beings. In brief, health should be your prime consideration in the selection of food.

Another important thing in respect to food is to learn and develop a sense of taste in eating. And it depends more on the art of eating than on the food itself. On the basis of such broad hints about food one should draw up his menu in accord with his own individuality.

Others can't give you a discipline; it is just absurd. In fact, everybody is the architect of his own destiny. Being initiated into sannyas means that a man chooses to be his own master, that he will make his own decisions, that it is his right to conduct himself in his own way. You can say that a sannyasin is liable to err if he makes his own decisions. Let him err; he will suffer for his mistakes. Why should you worry about it? If he does things rightly he will be happy, and if he does them wrongly he will suffer. It is wrong to take undue interest in what others do and how they do it. It is really immoral to interfere in another's life. Who are you to come in his way? One should come in another's way only if his mistakes begin to harm others; otherwise, he should not be interfered with. He can make mistakes and learn from his mistakes.

A sannyasin is one who lives with discrimination, with wisdom, who is always investigating what it is that brings happiness and what it is that causes pain, and who, through his own experiences, learns what is good for him. He is on a journey to his bliss; you need not worry about him.

Sometimes I am amazed to see that others become more worried than a sannyasin himself that he does not err. It is just silly. These self-appointed judges are always prying into the lives of sannyasins -- whether they wake up in brahmamuhurta or not, whether they sleep in the daytime or not. But who are they? Why should they be after others?

But it is not without reason they do so. These are the ways to persecute and torture others; it is so pleasurable to them. They often say that they respect the unerring sannyasin, which is another way of dominating him. If the sannyasin wants to have their respect, he will have to obey their rules and live in the way they would like him to live. There is yet another danger to the sannyasin from these self appointed judges. To earn their respect he will turn into a hypocrite; he will publicly show that he follows their rules of conduct while privately he will go on living outside those rules.

I am not going to allow a sannyasin to be a hypocrite. I hold hypocrisy as the worst sin ever. And the only way to save him from turning into a hypocrite is to abstain from imposing any discipline on him and to leave him free to live in the way that comes naturally to him; otherwise he is bound to be a hypocrite. This is how we have made hypocrites of all the old sannyasins the world over. And so they are in a mess. There is a class of monks in India who cannot take a bath, because people around them are always watching tO see if they bathe themselves. They have thus forced them to remain covered with dirt and filth. In return they give them respect. So these monks have sacrificed cleanliness for the sake of respectability. But whenever they find an opportunity, whenever they are away from the watchful eyes of their followers, they hurriedly dip their towels in water and sponge their bodies. And then they suffer guilt and self-condemnation.

Recently a gentleman came to me and said, "I have heard that a certain Jaina nun, who often visits you, uses toothpaste. Is it not deplorable?"

I told him, "Have you gone mad? Whether a nun uses toothpaste or not is none of your concern. Do you sell toothpaste? What have you to do with it?"

In reply he said, "The use of the toothbrush is prohibited in our community."

"Then don't use it if your community does not permit it," I told him. This gentleman himself uses a toothbrush and toothpaste with impunity, but a nun of his community cannot. This is the price she has to pay for the respect she receives from the community.

I will ask my sannyasin, who I think is a true sannyasin, not to expect respectability from the society, because this expectation will create bondage for him. There are dishonest people all around and they will immediately entrap you and make you their prisoner. They will say, "Since we respect you, since we touch your feet, you will have to fulfill certain conditions of ours, you will have to obey our laws."

In fact, a sannyasin is one who says, "I don't care for your society, for your laws, for your conditions. Now I have started caring for myself, so you need not be concerned about me."

A sannyasin's own wisdom sheds light on his path.


Next: Chapter 22: Sannyas is of the Highest, Question 4


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Chapter 22






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