Sannyasa Darshan-A Treatise on Traditional and Contemporary Sannyasa


Look’s like a good read…

The sannyasa tradition should not be confused with any from of organized religion. The concept and aim of sannyasa predates every kind of religion in existence in the world today. Sannyasa is not just an Indian tradition but a universal tradition which represents the original spiritual thoughts of humanity. Prior to the advent and organization of religions such as Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, people had their views about spiritual life. In every culture there have been people who had spiritual experiences and who have thought about spiritual life and values, and along with these thoughts different systems of understanding spirituality arose.

In order to follow a life of contemplation meditation self-study and analysis people had to disassociate themselves from external distractions and go and live in the seclusion of forests of jungles, where they were free to follow their own pursuits. In the course of time, groups of such people became known by many different names. One common name was ‘mystic’. We find the same link in the Essene, Celtic, Taoist and other traditions of the past. So the pursuit of spiritual experience is the basic desire of humanity. The discovery of the self the experience of the divine power and the awakening of the dormant potential of the personality are ideas which have always attracted people.

Powerful people like Christ, Mohammed and Buddha were able to translate the age-old tradition into the current languages of those days, with the idea of increasing spiritual awareness within the social framework. Their thoughts and interpretation of spiritual experience according to the social context gave birth to many new philosophies. Later on their ideas were given the structure of a religion by heir followers. In order not to deviate from the spiritual tradition religion was further divided into two groups one which could be followed by ordinary people and another which could be followed preserved and propagated by a select group of monks. That is the from of religion which we find today.

The sannyasa tradition however has always remained very aloof from and opposed to such kinds of religions influence. There have been many saints and sages who with their experience understanding and exposition could have created new philosophies and religions but did not wish to alienate themselves from the mainstream of spiritual thought. Such examples are found in the Indian tradition of spirituality. The Vedas Upanishads and other systems of Indian thoughts such as Samkhya, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Tantra, reflect the depth of understanding of such seers and saints. At the end of their spiritual quest they have all voiced the same opinion and have insisted, “Let our ideas not become a religion rather let them be incorporated in the spiritual thought of humanity.” Therefore, when we speak of the sannyasa tradition we are not talking about an order which adheres tone particular system of thought but which has maintained and transmitted a collection of many experiences and teachings which has come down known as Hinduism but in actual truth there is no such thing as Hinduism.

Previously sannyasins were known as mystics or hermits those who led secluded lives in order to delve into the higher dimensions of consciousness. The whole concept of sannyasa is represented in the word swami which means ‘master of the self’. Asannyasin must attain that mastery. For those who sincerely follow the sannyasa system, it is a very tough life. There is a saying from the Katha Upanishad that the life of a sannyasin is like walking on a razor’s edge one false step and you fall and cut yourself. This Upanishadic idea points out the necessity of a very disciplined harmonious and integrated lifestyle within the framework of sannyasa.

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9 Responses to Sannyasa Darshan-A Treatise on Traditional and Contemporary Sannyasa

  1. N. Yeti says:

    “Let our ideas not become a religion rather let them be incorporated in the spiritual thought of humanity.”

    Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!

    I think when we see Buddhism as a mode of awareness rather than a division or condition of spirituality, it is liberational because it brings us closer to the absolute. Are we to be concerned about the content of mind (i.e. strict adherence to doctrinal “practice” we picked up in a book or heard someone insist upon), or that principle which imbues the nature of consciousness and causes all such contents of mind to arise, which knows no such condition, and is not divisible into creeds?

    When we see religion as fortress of exclusion to be defended from outside influences, this mental posture divides spiritual awareness into a dualistic quagmire of orthodox and heterodox, and we begin to step away from the absolute all into the sinking mud of ignorance and rebirth and temporal divisions that get us nowhere.

    That is why I am always saddened when bright and devoted students of the Buddhadharma build for themselves an illusory cocoon of belief and affirmation of spiritual superiority, and not an affirmation of faith in mind which transcends all practice, ritual, concept or formality of the approach to gnosis of the universal absolute.

    If Buddhism is the Perfect Teaching, it should be able withstand the challenge of meeting other creeds unflinchingly, because all false and illusory divisions will be revealed. But Buddhism that divides, that reacts against other creeds, is merely a condition of samsara, and can only shelter ignorance behind the paper walls of doctrine.

  2. Methexis says:

    It is eloquent, and it’s true that from the “Perfect” standpoint, all dharmas are Buddha-dharmas.

    But we shouldn’t obliterate divisions, either! Even divisons are dharmas. N. Yeti’s “illusory divisions” is only half of the truth.

    From my myopic standpoint I must say that the limited time I have on this planet – life is so short! – I better devote to study the Dharma and even more than study – practice.

    Seasoned practitioners have different priorities. For us novices single-pointed focus on a path is a better idea.

    Good luck with the study of the Gita if you’re gonna go through the whole thing slowly, it’s gonna take years!

    N. Yeti: I have a challenge to your universalism and unlimited acceptance of other paths. Would you say the divisions between Buddhism and Scientology are illusory? Should we as Buddhists meet & study Dianetics?

  3. N. Yeti says:

    Methexis I will address the challenge only if you first explain the astounding metaphysical feat of dividing truth in half.

  4. Methexis says:

    I could have simply written “half of the story” – would you then ask me how I accomplished the feat of cutting a story in half?

    Metaphysics is born out of misrecognition / reification of the projections of mind.

    Nietzsche once remarked, “I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.”

  5. N. Yeti says:

    If this is the same Nietzsche who inspired the Nazis, I must say I admire your philosophical flexibility on this topic.

  6. Methexis says:

    Not ‘inspired’ – but contains the potentiality for a Nazi reinterpretation (just like Heidegger). That doesn’t mean he’s all wrong. Again – the wisdom of the “half”. Some parts are good, some aren’t. All truths are partial truths except the ultimate truthless truth of the Buddha-Dharma and not of nonbuddhist paths.

  7. Methexis says:

    Quoting the Great Nirvana Sutra:

    “Good sons, there are two kinds of enlightenment: eternal and impermanent…. The enlightenment of nonbuddhist ways is called impermanent, Buddhist enlightenment is called eternal….. The emancipation of nonbuddhist ways is called impermanent, the emancipation of Buddhist ways is called eternal.”

  8. n. yeti says:

    That’s no guarantee of either.

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