Sannyas life is based upon the relationship between guru and disciple. Without the guru there can be no sannyas- for the guru is the embodiment of perfect renunciation. Only by following the guru's instructions and guidance can the veil of ignorance before the disciple's mind be transcended. The fetters of the ego cannot be broken unless one surrenders his preconceptions and attachments to the guru, and serves him without any idea of reward. Only then can the guru begin to transform the sannyasin into a powerful instrument for the elevation of the collective consciousness of all of mankind.
The true sannyasin never thinks of a life other than under the guru's guidance and inspiration. He no longer thinks of himself as separate from the guru. He surrenders his gifts and talents completely to the guru, and also his failures and shortcomings. Surrender of everything is the prerequisite for sannyas life, because without it the guru's work is wasted. The guru can only sow the seeds of divine inspiration and higher awareness into a mind which is fertile and receptive to them.
If the sannyasin can surrender to the guru, have faith in the guru and serve the guru, without thought of himself, the guru can perform a fantastic psychic operation. He can heal the rift in the mind which is the source of unhappiness and frustration. Every aspirant's personality is split into two. He is aware of what he is and what he could be. He has an ideal self and an actual self. This division is the source of man's guilt, frustration and unhappiness. When he is initiated into sannyas by the guru, his personal goals fall away, leaving him with only the goal to perfect the state of sannyas. By living in the present, as a sannyasin, the rift between being and becoming is healed forever. As he opens up to the guru and becomes progressively less ego-centred, the schizophrenia and neurotic states of mind which underlie the inner mental chatter disappear. The mind becomes stable, like a rock, and centred in the guru.
The only essential qualification for a sannyasin is the ability to sustain the vision of a higher purpose through all the fluctuations of life. If a sannyasin can live with this awareness, and not budge in his faith and surrender to the guru, no matter what distractions he encounters, then the guru can quickly transform him into a vehicle of higher consciousness on the earthly plane. However, without faith, no progress can be made. Faith is the wealth of a sannyasin. The guru is a powerhouse of spiritual energy, but it is only the faith of the sannyasin which determines the amount of current which the guru can conduct through him. With a little faith, a small current will flow, but with absolute faith, the disciple's vision and the guru's vision are one and the disciple is a pure medium for the guru's work in the world.
True discipleship is not easy - it means the sannyasin's ego has ceased to function separately from the guru, and the disciple has banished from his mind every impediment to the guru's energy. He has no expectation or ideal for himself except the guru's will for him. Guru guides - he walks; guru orders - he works; guru is the head - he is the different senses. It is through such disciples that the guru's work in the world is accomplished.
To follow the sannyas path one must first become a disciple. Most sannyasins need to pass many years in the service of the guru, in absolute discipline, if they are to purify and strengthen the mind sufficiently to withhold the fantastic voltage of energy that is released in the higher meditative states. Once a swami has renounced all ties with his family and society, he can only progress on the path of sannyas by total service and dedication to the guru. One does not get bliss until both discipline and understanding are perfect. It is not psychic power, scriptural learning or yoga that makes one a sannyasin, but it is bliss. That is why swamis are known as anandam (bliss). Only the guru's grace and guidance can awaken bliss. It is a transfer of the guru's consciousness which occurs when the disciple is ready.
The guru must control your spiritual car in the beginning while you are learning to drive. This is the wisest course. There is another way, such as Lord Buddha used, in which you put your car in the garage, out of action, while you learn the principles of driving. Lord Buddha lived in the forest for six years, without plans, desires or food. This is impossible for the average person. It is only in the capacity of a Buddha. The second way is easier. While learning to drive, an enlightened guide takes over until you learn how to use the brakes and accelerator properly. When you are a good driver, guru will hand back the controls to you. That is his contract with you. He will transform your consciousness and then you can go out and make what you wish of your life.
The guru-disciple relationship is a beautiful and complete one. It is based upon total dedication- the most perfect form of love. Although it appears in the beginning to be a relationship between two individuals, it is actually a form of friendship which transcends the scope of human relationship and stretches into divine communion.
The guru dwells in the state of consciousness which is beyond limitations. His only commitment and his only motive is to engender his realisation into the disciples who serve him. The guru can transform his disciples and completely overhaul their awareness. He can free them of all their limitations and strip their world bare of illusion and appearances, if only the disciples have faith in his guidance and apply it in their own lives.
During sannyas training one lives with the guru and imbibes his wisdom. His teaching is practical, being based on life itself. By surrendering, the disciple's consciousness is laid bare and the guru can begin to remould, refashion, remove and restore the gaping holes, inadequacies and erroneous thoughts and beliefs which blind the disciple to higher perception.
Some people loudly proclaim the greatness of their guru, but actually, the guru-disciple relationship is an inner one. When it is cemented, it requires no open proclamation at all. It is an inner transmission of awareness which is totally hidden, secret from the outside world. The guru's greatness lives in the inner awareness of his disciples. This is the plane of the guru's true work; any external mission is absolutely secondary to this. It is the divine inspiration of the guru, which the disciple realises within himself according to his own power and dedication.
The disciple has to live in the guru's consciousness by constantly overcoming his lethargy and his egocentric motivation, so that he is one with his guru on the higher planes. The real guidance of the guru is in the form of inspiration. It does not depend on physical proximity at all. The guru's power is infinite and his grace flows effortlessly to the disciple who has laid himself bare of preconceptions and strives to open up the transmission line.