Samsara to Sanyas: Breaking the Cycles of Time
Sadhguru explains how Samsara and Sanyas are not lifestyles. Are you trapped in the cycles of time with life going in circles, or have you broken free from the cyclical nature of time? This is what samsara and sanyas are about. He speaks of how one can be a sanyasi and live in a family situation, while one could be a monk and still be in a samsara of their own.
Sadhguru: The word samsara does not mean family. This… it just means cyclical. Who you are right now is a product of certain cycles. There’re many ways to look at this. The cycles of the sun, the cycles of the moon and various other cycles in the universe - we are a product of that. Only because our mothers’ bodies were in sync with the cycles of the moon, we’re born here, isn't it? So we are a product of cycles. Our idea of time is cyclical. If the planet spins once, we say it's a day. If the moon goes around, we say it's a month. If the planet goes around the sun, we say it's a year. Our idea of time itself is cyclical. If it was all like this…going like this, you wouldn’t know what is time, because there are no markers anywhere. If the planet was just going straight somewhere, would you know what is time? Only because it's in cycles, you are able to decipher as to what is time. You are able to measure a certain length of time. And your life is a certain amount of time and it is going in cycles because it's a product of this. Solar system is like the Potter’s Wheel - we’ve just generated this.
So, time and the cycles of time, either you can be trapped in the cycles of time or you can ride the cycles of time. If you are trapped in the cycles of time, we say “You are in samsara” because life becomes cyclical and it keeps repeating psychologically, physiologically. Physiologically definitely there are cycles. The monthly cycles in a woman’s body are related to the moon. There are other cycles which are related to the sun, which are not so obvious as the cycles of the moon, but they are happening. If you observe your life carefully, you will see it is cyclical. Same things are repeating themselves - in different colors, but same things are repeating themselves over a period of time. You can actually look whether it is twelve years, it's six years, it's three years, it's happening at some point. If it is happening in very short cycles, you are heading towards a psychological breakdown. If it's happening in long enough cycles, you are just suffering boredom. (Laughs)
So, if you’re trapped in the cycles, we call it samsara. If you ride the cycles towards your liberation, then we say this is sanyas. Sanyas need not necessarily mean not having a family. Samsara need not necessarily mean that you have a family. You can be a sanyasi and still be in a samsara of your own. You need not be married, by yourself you could be wrangled up by yourself. If you get married, you… extra help you get. (Laughter) People are alone and they’re quite wrapped up by themselves. They don’t need anybody’s help. (Laughs) They’re doing fine by themselves… their own samsara. Is it happening or no? Single people are in their own samsara or no? They are into their own chakkar going on. When you get married, at least you can blame it on somebody “It's because of her, I am like this” or “Because of him, I am like this.”
So these words have gotten related to certain aspects of life because generally it's believed that you can be trapped in samsara only when you have a family. Because once you have a family, you have to earn certain amount of money, you have to do certain things, children are there means certain things have to be managed. So things become cyclical. When things are going in cycles, it feels that everything is better organized. If it was not going in cycles, every day is a new day - with children around you, every day new day you can't deal with it. It's better it's happening in some system. So you will aspire for a cycle. You will not want new things to be happening every day. You want some order, you want some expected things to happen. Surprises look like disasters.
This happened one day. Shankaran Pillai was going home and suddenly he thought he’s done nothing for his wife in the last few years. So, he bought a huge bunch of red roses and went home and knocked at the door. And when she opened the door, with a big grin on his face, he tried to give the roses to her. She just blew up. She just blew away and she said, “You fool, you know since morning the tap has been leaking, the dog has been sick, and the childrens have… children had a food fight, I’ve been cleaning the whole place and now you have the courage to get drunk and come home.” (Laughter)
So surprises can be disastrous because (Laughs) you… you aspire for order more than excitement. Once the number of balls that you are juggling are (is?) too many, you aspire for order, you don’t care for excitement anymore. Yes or no? If you had five children at home instead of one or two, then you would aspire for everything to work like clockwork . You don’t want one extra thing to happen. You don’t want anything new to happen in your house. (Laughs) So this is samsara. You want to go in cycles. You’re aspiring to be in cycles because cyclical - at least there is a comfort, you know what's coming next.
So, once you go in cycles, cycle means a circle. If I say you’re going in circles, it simply means that you are not getting anywhere. So in the cycles of time… if you’re trapped in the cycles of time, you are not getting anywhere, but going through the same thing… because you have poor memory, that’s the only safety. Because you have poor memory, you do not realize the same things are being repeated. Suppose your memory opened up to many lifetimes and you realize you’ve been doing the same stupid things over and over again, you got excited about the same little things again and again, you would feel utterly silly, isn't it?
within the cycle, that cycle means so much to you, it looks like it's everything. If you break that cycle and something beyond the cycle becomes apparent to you, suddenly what’s within the cycle is so limited and so meaningless. The relationships, the activity, the thoughts, the emotions, everything that you held as everything in your life, suddenly phoof.
So, this is sanyas that is you’ve broken the cycles of time. You’re riding the cycles of time - you are not trapped in the cycles of time. So, can I do this within the family? You can, but nobody need (needs?) to know. If they know (Laughs), they can't… they won't be able to live with you unless they are also like that. People are looking for some…some bondage. People don’t come together seeking freedom. They’re coming together seeking bondage, isn't it? If they know that you are not bound by anything, it’ll be dangerous to live with a person like that.
So, once you have broken the cycles of time, consciously you can be part of it when you want to be, but when you are not… when you… you are not. So, being a sanyasi inside a family situation - it is not that it’s not possible; this is not being uncaring, this is not being unconcerned - this is just being free from a certain situation. There’re many people who live in the family and they don’t care a damn. That’s different. (Laughs) That is because they are in their own samsara. They are not involved with the other samsara. They are in a smaller cycle of their own. (Laughs)
Being absolutely involved and not being entangled - that is the way to freedom, that is the way to liberation. If you are not involved, you may be just uncaring. You will be in your own small chakkar of your own. You will see people who seem to be not involved in anything around them. Little, little things about themselves are very important for them. If you disturb that, they’ll go crazy. Yes? Have you seen this? They don’t care if…of whatever the family, but their coffee must be right. (Laughter) If Ccoffee doesn’t come, they’ll go crazy. (Laughs) So they’ll have smaller cycles.
So, being a sanyasi within a family situation not it is… not that it’s not possible, it's a bigger challenge. If you’re a sanyasi by yourself, nobody around you, it's a lesser challenge because you don’t have to carry anything with you. When Gautama the Buddha was asked “Is it good to walk in company or alone?” (Laughs) - He is a very brutal man - he said, “It's better to walk alone than to walk with a fool.” He is saying ‘who else will marry you?’ You are not getting me. (Laughter) Who else will marry? Unless he is a fool, why will he be with you? (Laughter) ‘Better to walk alone than to walk with a fool.’ (Laughs) It's a loaded statement.