The first conscious step towards responsibility towards oneself and to the world is Sannyas


The river heads only towards the sea. It does not stagnate anywhere. A sannyasi heads only towards his goal of enlightenment. He knows no distractions. The river flows blissfully, whatever be the things thrown into it on its way. So many things are thrown into the river – flowers, twigs, food, animals, birds, dead bodies, etc. But the river flows, not bothering about anything. Similarly, a sannyasi moves blissfully, untouched by anything that comes his way. The current pulls the river over its obstacles, and it gurgles, with a constant music, moving towards the sea. The cosmic intelligence pulls the sannyasi over obstacles as he moves towards the ultimate goal. He knows not what obstacles are. For him, they are all stepping stones on the path to bliss.

During my days of spiritual wandering, I spent nine months between two locations – on the banks of the sacred river Ganga and on the banks of the sacred river Narmada in North India. During this time, everyday, I would wake up before the break of dawn, have a bath in the river and sit on its banks. I would just watch it flow. The sun would be rising. As I watched the river flow, the mind would calm down, thoughts would progressively reduce, and the verbalization would get arrested. I would be one with the flowing river for hours together.

Sannyas is learning in action as life moves, not philosophizing. It is a force, not a dogma.

Not only that, when you watch the river continuously, you go on dropping fear. There will be so many things floating in the river. When you see dead bodies floating, you will clearly see that one day you also will float like that. The deeply embedded fears will disappear when merging with the flow of the river.

One Zen master was asked, ‘What is Zen?’ He replied, ‘Walk on!’

Zen Buddhism beautifully says, life is like the river that flows and fills each form, and bursts its own limitations to expand its capacity. This is the essence of life, and sannyas. Sannyas is learning in action as life moves, not philosophizing. It is a force, not a dogma. For a real sannyasi, life simply moves in the right direction. The learning happens during the movement, not as a separate thing. Sannyas is nothing but straightaway practicing the truths every moment. There is enough philosophy in the world but no one to follow it. Sannyas is simply a conscious decision to live the truth immediately in your life.

Reaction is the expression of the unconscious. Response is the expression of consciousness, and that is what is called responsibility

A Zen master tells his disciple very beautifully, ‘Studying the truth as a philosophy is just collecting preaching material. Remember that unless you practice constantly, your light of truth may go out.’

Practice is nothing but continuously flowing in the right direction without stagnating. Even in stagnation, there will be movement around the obstacle, trying to find the flow again. There is no stopping.

A sannyasi continuously moves with the intelligence of Existence. There is no stopping. He lives in the moment, spontaneously and according to the need of the moment, which is what is called fluidity.

Just as the river has surrendered to the flow of Existence, the sannyasi moves with the intelligence of Existence, and Existence takes him along with the birds and animals to the sea. By surrender, I don’t mean inaction. I mean action with an attitude of surrender. Then, the results are driven by the law of Existence and you simply relax into the flow.

When you relax, you start responding with responsibility towards life and people. Until then, you only react, you never respond. Reaction is the expression of the unconscious. Response is the expression of consciousness, and that is what is called responsibility. Reaction is never responsibility. Sannyas is the first conscious step towards responsibility towards oneself and to the world. This is a little known fact about sannyas. People think sannyasis have shrugged the responsibilities of life. No! They have taken up more responsibility in life. Their family is virtually the whole world. They take up responsibility for every individual.

source: Living Enlightenment

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