Every person who treads the spiritual path and aspires for higher awareness must at some stage adopt sannyas life. Progress will come to a standstill if a lifestyle which leads to the transcendence of the barrier of personal attachment is not adopted. Without detachment, higher spiritual awareness cannot be sustained in the midst of worldly life and activities. One may consider himself to be an 'inner sannyasin' in the world, maintaining detachment from his involvements, comforts and possessions, but his involvements will never allow him to maintain spiritual awareness. Mental detachment is an ideal which is beyond the grasp of the person whose mind is unstable. Only by sannyas training in an ashram, devoid of all attachments and involvements, can one really begin to stabilise the mind and unearth the dormant spiritual consciousness.
Without changing the environment and associations, how can one expect to cut through all the old mental patterns, habits and dependencies that dissipate the energy and keep the consciousness firmly fixed on the mundane levels? If one is to sustain the higher life and live for a higher purpose, the naturally occurring energies of the individual - physical, mental and emotional, have to be directed relentlessly towards spiritual awakening. It is only by sannyas life in an ashram that this can be attained. Whether one is a householder, a yoga teacher, a housewife or a businessman, this process is the same. To sustain higher awareness, a period of intense training in an ashram, living as a sannyasin, opens the doors to the higher spiritual life.
No one should hesitate to embark on sannyas training. Regardless of your background or role in life, sannyas will bring you to a greater stage of awareness, a higher way of living and a purer way of thinking. Sannyas awakens all aspirants to the dimensions of super consciousness. It leads one directly towards experience of the supreme being. You do not have to divorce your husband or wife, renounce your home and children to undertake ashram training. After training you can go back to your usual life. You will be the same person as you were before, except that you will carry within you a higher manner of living, a higher way of thinking, and a more consist? At and practical approach to higher consciousness. You will know what spiritual life really means, and you will truly enrich the society you work within.
No one can escape from life. Realising this, the sannyasin does not choose to reject life or escape from it but rather to embrace life fully. Only a person who has no personal attachments can wholeheartedly accept life for what it is, and be open in all situations. It is the person whose life is centred in his possessions and relationships who is escaping from the reality of life. The security of attachment is unreal, it can never be permanent- and when it falls away, understanding dawns only with the pain of disillusionment.
The sannyasin realises that suffering is a part of life and must be endured by everyone. Suffering is the price of higher awareness so the sannyasin utilises and accepts it equally, as a part of his own and everyone else's life. It is only the worldly person, devoted to 'the pleasure principle' who is forever seeking to avoid pain in his life. Pain is inevitable, and the sannyasin realises that it is folly to spend his life hiding from it. He accepts pleasure and pain equally, and attempts to maintain an equal mind throughout. Sannyas is not escaping from, but shaping up to life.
Those who interpret sannyas as an escape from the responsibilities of life have misunderstood sannyas completely. Sannyasins are people who want to live life fully and not withdraw from it. Sannyas life enhances responsibility in all situations. A sannyasin is not an inactive recluse, but one who has renounced within action in order to be more efficient and responsible in the battlefield of life. People who are dynamic by temperament, devoted to their responsibilities, should not think that they are unsuitable for sannyas. They most definitely are suited. Sannyas will awaken within them a state of dynamic positivity, bestowing inner peace within the fulfilment of duties and responsibilities.
Inner peace is not attained by renouncing all actions, all karmas, but by living life in all its fullness, with the awareness and detachment which sannyas training develops.
Many people feel that it is necessary to be introverted by nature in order to be successful in sannyas life, but this is not so. Spiritual insight and awareness is actually more readily available to a person who is extrovert by nature. This is because people who are introverted find it very difficult to maintain a continuous flow of awareness. In sannyas life, even those people who are introvert by nature become more extrovert.
Sannyas life awakens and widens the scope of the sensory activities through work and constant awareness which develops all five senses. Contrary to popular belief, in spiritual life, one has to become more aware of, and more sensitive to the outside world. At a particular stage of evolution, the sannyasin becomes very extroverted. This is not to say that he is given over to sensual life, but he becomes aware of everything which is outside, and can be received or understood by the senses.
Those people who are already extroverted can reach this stage more easily and more rapidly than those who are introverted. The extrovert responds directly to sensory stimuli, while the introvert has to learn to externalise his sensory perceptions, develop them, make them more keen and sensitive. Then he can benefit by introverting them again to follow the discipline of pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation).
Introversion is actually a spiritual disqualification in sannyas life. In the ashram, when a sannyasin is introverted, he is never allowed to practice meditation because he has not learned to manipulate and control the mind. If the mind dives deep, he does not have the capacity to bring it back out. Therefore, the mind should not be introverted until it is first extroverted, developed and stabilised. Introversion leads to neurotic behaviour. When the sannyasin learns to balance extroversion and introversion, he is able to soar to the inner heights while simultaneously performing his outer duties to perfection.