Swami Shantimurti on Sannyas
I have recently read my first complete book in fifteen years called Sannyasa Tantra by Swami Satyananda. I had already read this book some many years ago and have been inspired to write a little bit about sannyas over the next couple of newsletters.
For me, it is a very good book and explanation on the higher attributes of life. Sannyasa Tantra describes a more modern version of sannyas than what perhaps most are used to. Unfortunately, it is not in print anymore and copies are very difficult and hard to find.
The one thing that stands out for me from this book is the suggestion that as we free our mind from its limitations we become more and more accepting of all paths rather than living within the confinements of just one path. Although, as Sri Ramakrishna has said, all paths lead to the same experience.
The tantric sannyasin is capable of practising any technique from any path and respecting all practices and systems equally. Thus, in my opinion, developing a broader understanding, potentially from the beginning of one's spiritual journey.
In the book Sannyasa Tantra Swamiji has described what he calls a "modern" attitude towards sannyas, which is tantric in its essence.
Upon initiation into sannyas the tantric sannyasin is initiated into freedom of mind more than anything and so therefore has the choice of path for themselves.
The tantric sannyasin is not limited to having to live in an ashram or follow any specific lifestyle, but what Swamiji does suggest is that the tantric sannyasin is able to partake in ordinary life i.e. family life and life in the community. He suggests that it's the time for sannyas to be absorbed into the general society from the point of view of raising the collective consciousness. And the modern tantric sannyasin could and should be playing a role in this.
What is Sannyas?
Sannyas is being initiated into the process of developing freedom of mind, recognising the means to develop this through renunciation.
For many people renunciation means to not have lots of acquisitions and attachments to these acquisitions. But as Swamiji explains the tantric sannyasin is not limited to the physical realm of attachment, so rather than working exclusively on this level he suggests, as do many others, that it's within the mind we free ourselves from attachments.
So there is nothing wrong with spiritual aspirants being fully involved in worldly life, but still be aware of their possessiveness and attachment to whatever and to be quietly working away towards realising their essential nature.
A person doesn't have to be religious or a believer in God to follow this path as really it is a path of freedom. Every religion has its sannyasins. There can really be no such person as a Hindu sannyasin, a Christian sannyasin, a Buddhist sannyasin and so forth.
As well, a person who is non-religious is equally qualified to become a sannyasin, provided he is not tied down to any bigoted dislike of religions or other systems.
The nature of Sannyas is universal.
In the book Sannyasa Tantra Swamiji writes:
"We have redefined the meaning of the word sannyas slightly so that it is beyond the shackles of any one religion or country and beyond the confines of belief or non-belief. According to our definition a sannyasin is a person regardless of age, race, country, belief or non-belief who has the aspiration to understand himself or herself and who adopts the sannyas way of life."
This way of life and the full meaning of sannyas will be expanded upon more in the following articles and the full meaning of sannyas will become clearer.
Sannyas initiation takes place at certain times in Ohui. For information please contact Shantimurti at Ohui Retreat.