In Hinduism, there’s a concept of renouncing the world and taking ‘sanyas’ or refuge in a forest or an ashram and living an ascetic life. This practice started with Buddha’s abdication of his ‘Raj-Dharma’ (Royal duties) and ‘Grihasthi-Dharma (Householder’s duties). This concept of ‘sanyas’ causes an unnatural divide between those seeking spiritual evolution and others who discharge their duties as householders.
When you run away from your responsibilities, are you spiritually evolved? Isn’t it more spiritually challenging to discharge all your duties while pursuing spiritual progress as well? Ok, so you run away to a forest or an Ashram, but how do you run away from the thousands of rubbish thoughts rising in your mind?
‘Sanyas’ is a state of consciousness called detachment and a true ‘sanyasin’ is one who is detached from his material possessions and trappings, even while being surrounded by them. We have to try and attain ‘Sakshi Bhav’ and be a witness to all the happiness and unhappiness that happens to us. We need self-control and not self-torture to be a ‘Sanyasin’.
You don’t have to give up ambition and pleasure but only need to be detached from them. If you can do this, you’re already a ‘sanyasin’ and have no need to retreat into monasteries, hermitages, ‘ashrams’ or forests. You can simplify your existence, cut down on your wants, diminish your cravings and lower your expectations from your family and friends. This way, more time and energy will be found for the divinely-lived leisure.
There’s no need for a monastery since the world is your monastery and the struggles of daily life are your monastic discipline. It’s not what you do but how you do it – not sitting in an ashram but sitting in a deep center of your own being. Everyday, withdraw into the solitude and peaceful quietness for some time. You’ll get spiritual guidance and you’ll feel detached from outward circumstances.
I’ll end with a quote by Paul Thurnier: ‘Acceptance of one’s life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices.’ That is true ‘sanyas’!