A Sannyasin has no Future
18 May 1976 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
[A sannyasin says: I heard... you said that a sannyasin is one who has no past and no future, and that that could be frightening.] The future is a great problem and one has to come to grips with it. Firstly the future is nothing but your unlived past, projected. Whatsoever has remained incomplete in the past, tends to complete itself in the future. So the future is a reflection of the past. When one lives moment to moment, completely, totally, wholly, by and by the future disappears by itself. That's why I say that a sannyasin has no future, because the future is a pathology of the mind. By a sannyasin I mean one who is healthy or who at least is trying to be healthy; who has no wounds. If you don't have any wounds you need not have any future, because there is nothing to heal. When you don't have any wounds, you enjoy the moment that has become available to you. You don't think about the future. People who think about the future are people who are not capable of living in the present. Somehow they feel that they are inadequate, incapable of living in the present. That impotence creates future. They hope that they will live tomorrow. If I say that there is no tomorrow, the fear arises. When will you live? Today is going and there is no tomorrow. Today you have not been able to live. You don't know how to live this moment so you hope to live the next moment, but if you don't know how to live this moment, how are you going to live the next? The next moment is going to be just the same as this moment. If you want to live, you have start herenow. And anybody who wants to live has to live this moment because there is no other moment. All other moments will be just like this moment. The distinction that you make is because of your hopes and frustrations; otherwise there is no distinction.
Time is not divided into past, future and present. It is eternal present, the eternal now. There are only two basic questions. One is concerned with now, and another is concerned with how. Now and how are the two bases. How to live now is the only question. That's what meditation is all about. The future has to be dropped, because if you don't drop it your energy will be continuously dissipated into future hopes. For example if suddenly you are told today that tomorrow morning you are going to be shot, what will you do? You will invite your friends and will have a beautiful feast. You will dance the whole night and enjoy yourself. What else can you do? Tomorrow morning you will die so the future is no more there. You are thrown with the whole of your energy back into the present. That's what I mean when I say that a sannyasin has no future. I completely cut your projections into the future. I want to destroy your future. You cannot go back. The past is gone and there is no way to go into it. I want to cut the future so you cannot go ahead and into it. But the whole effort is to throw you into this moment so totally that there is no going back, no going ahead. With nowhere to go one starts living in this moment. And when you live totally in this moment with intensity, passion, fervour, vitality, the next moment arises out of this lived moment. Then it is beautiful. Then it is not out of hopes but out of existence. It comes out of your being, not out of your mind. And of course the next moment is going to be better because you will be more experienced. You will know more about yourself and about life. So if one wants to miss one's life, the only valid method is to hope. And if one wants to live one's life, the only valid method is to become hopeless. Drop all hoping. But it creates fear, that's true. Up to now you have lived only in that way. You have not lived you have simply hoped to live. And I am pulling hope away, so fear arises. Let the fear be there. Take courage. Say to the fear, 'Okay, you are there. I accept you but now I am not going to hope any more. Whatsoever happens I will respond to it, but I will not prepare myself for it. I will be ready in a very deep way to respond, but not ready in detail.' Do you see the distinction? One gets ready in detail like a rehearsal. You are playing in a drama and you rehearse and rehearse every small detail: how you will stand, what you will say, what gestures you will make and where you will be looking. You repeat everything because you are not confident about your response. But life is not a drama. People are behaving in life as if they are working in a drama. The husband coming home prepares what he is going to say to the wife and how he is going to say it; what excuses he is going to make as to why he has been late today. He is rehearsing inside his mind, and the wife is also rehearsing. The husband is coming with his stories and she is preparing her answers. She is searching for ways to destroy his excuses and make him feel ashamed. Now both are getting ready. Even the children are rehearsing because the father is coming home and the mother is getting ready for him; there is going to be drama. Then drama happens but it is bogus; it is not real, not authentic. It is prepared. This is no way to live, this is no way to love. This is no way to be real and authentic. Why be afraid?
When you are back home and the wife faces you and puts the question to you, you have to respond with your totality. There is no need to prepare it. You are not a child preparing for an examination. Become an adult and become responsible. When I say responsible, I don't mean dutiful. I mean become capable of response. One never knows what is going to happen. The wife may not ask the question at all or she may ask something else that you have not prepared for. Then your prepared speech will become a hindrance. I was an examiner in a university for many years. I was surprised on looking at question papers, to see that people go on answering questions that have not been asked. I used to call the students and ask them how they answered this because this is not what had been asked. When I told them to read the question again, they would say, 'Yes, this is different, but we were prepared for the other question so we read it into this one.' Then your response is corrupted. Life is not a drama; it is not an examination. Nothing is settled here that's the beauty of it. Everything is moving; nothing is fixed. It is a tremendous whirlwind of energies, unpredictable. One has to remain alert. That is the only preparation that is needed. So whatsoever comes, let it come. Be alert and respond with your totality. And if you don't have any answers ready-made, your response will be purer, mirror-like. If a mirror has some idea already about who is going to come and whom he is going to reflect, the reflection is going to be wrong. A mirror simply waits. The mirror knows how to mirror. There is a zen story about a samurai, a great warrior. One night he comes back to his home and finds a very big rat sitting on his pillow. Of course he goes mad. This is too much! An ordinary rat and so daring? He takes his sword because that is the only thing he knows and hits the rat. but the rat somehow escapes and sits in another place, looking at the samurai and blinking his eyes. Now the samurai becomes furious. This is the first time in his life that he has missed any target and this rat is trying to befool him. In his madness he hits here and there, and because of his madness he goes on missing. Suddenly he feels a cold shivering and begins to perspire. The idea arises that this rat is no ordinary rat; something mysterious about him. Maybe he is a ghost? The samurai escapes and tells his family. They tell him not to be afraid and not to get so worked up. They bring their cat to the room. The cat is brought but the samurai is shivering and trembling. The cat looks at the samurai and tries to get out. There must be something very fearful there, otherwise why is the samurai such a great man and a great warrior so afraid? The cat enters the room and the rat jumps on her. The cat escapes, shivering and perspiring. The story goes on. The whole town's cats are tried but it seems simply impossible to catch the rat. Then they go to the palace and the king's cat is brought in. She is taken to the samurai's room. She simply goes in, takes the rat in her mouth and comes out. All the cats gathered and they said 'What is the trick?' She said, 'There is no trick. I am a cat and he is a rat finished. There is no trick.' 'There is nothing to be praised. I am a cat; that's enough for me to catch the rat. He is a rat. As it is natural for me to catch him, it is natural for him to be caught.'
This is the whole point to be understood in life. You are a man, you are a mind, you are consciousness; you are a cat! So why be afraid of rats? Problems will come; they are just like rats. Situations will arise; they are just like rats. You are a conscious being. Why be afraid of foolish things? When the problem arises be conscious, and that will be enough. There is no need to be prepared. Your very preparation will kill you. The warrior missed because of his being prepared too much the sword, the warrior, the ego. The other cats missed because they were trying from the very beginning to try to catch this rat. But the king's cat could do it. It is a zen story and one of the most beautiful; a very significant story. It is the nature of consciousness to solve problems, mirror-like. There is nothing special in it. You bring a problem to me. I am not ready for it. I just look into your problem. It is the nature of consciousness to solve it. If I am ready, that will be the barrier. That's the difference between a wise man and a learned man. A learned man is ready. Before you have asked his answer is there, ready-made. A wise man has no answer in particular. He simply the answering capacity; the responsibility, the sensitivity to feel the problem, that's all. Enough! So go. back without any preparation, simply relaxed. Let things happen, and watch. You will be surprised by your own capacities. When a problem arises and you are not prepared, you will be surprised how beautifully you tackle it. There is no fear, no trembling, because there is no readymade answer. You are not disturbed. You simply see the problem from all sides. So go as a cat, mm? and you will catch many rats! [A sannyasin said that he had the idea to do a long Vipassana course alone, of perhaps twenty eight days.] Vipassana will make you integrated again. It will give you a coordination. Life itself is nothing but the principle of coordination. It is just the principle of harmony within you. You are many people, many minds, many selves. When there is a coordination in this crowd that you are, then you are. When there is no coordination, you are just a crowd. A collection of one thousand people is a crowd, but when these one thousand people work together in coordination towards a certain object, they are no more a crowd. They have become a group. Their energies are no more in any conflict, there is no disharmony, no discord. They are no more a noise. They become more and more harmonious; an accord starts happening. The same happens in a person. Ordinarily a person is a crowd. All meditations are to help you to seek a coordination in this crowd. That principle of coordination is your real self; self with a capital 'S'. All other selves are selves with a lower case 's'. But that capital 'S' is not something. No. It is just a rhythm; a certain harmony in all your vibrations; a certain glance, equilibrium, grace . Whenever you feel and you will feel many times working with people that again and again you lose contact... because it is very subtle and fragile; it's like a flower. It comes with difficulty and withers easily.... Whenever you feel that working with people and people means people who are insane, neurotic; people who are just crowds, people who are just like marketplaces, and everything is in discord. disharmony, conflict, war....
When you work with people, they pull you down to their level; that is natural. If you want to pull them up you will have to go down with them. It is a compromise. To pull them up a little you have to allow them to pull you down to their level. If you remain high and don't. come down you cannot help. So if again and again working with people you feel the tension arising; a weariness, a tiredness, an impurity, a heaviness; gravita-tion becoming heavier and heavier, for two days keep silent, take fruits, juices; rest and do Vipassana. Within two days you will again be flowing and you will be flowing on a higher level. Each going down can be used as a going high. So work for five days and meditate for two days; five days for others, two days for you. [The sannyasin adds: Since I've been here I've become involved in indian music, sitar. I want to do a semester in music at a school in San Francisco.] You can do it. Anything that is in tune with meditation can be done. Whenever you want to do something, and even if I am not there and you cannot ask me, just remember this: that anything that falls in tune with meditation is perfectly good and helpful. Anything that goes against it, don't do. If you want to do modern music, jazz or something like that, then don't do it because that will create a disharmony in you. Indian music is perfectly good... and the sitar is a great instrument for meditation. So do it; music is always welcome. If it is indian, good. If it is indian and classical, even better, because the further back you go, the more pure becomes the music. The first glimpse of music happened through meditation. The first music was heard in the hearts of the heart what the yogis call 'anahat', the sound of one hand clapping; the soundless sound, 'omkar'. That was first heard in deep samadhi. People who had heard it tried in every way to communicate it to people who had no notion about it and who could not hope to attain samadhi and to hear that music. They tried on many instruments, in many many ways to bring something of that inner music. That something has penetrated into indian music. So indian music is more concerned with sahasrar, the seventh chakra. Western music is more concerned with the sexual centre, the muladhar. If western music overpowers you, you will feel sexually aroused. If indian music overpowers you, you will feel spiritually aroused. Their qualities are very very different, on very different levels. [The sannyasin adds: that he would like to go on exploring and risk-taking; expanding himself.] Go and take as many risks as you can. You can never surprise me by your risks and your gambling! Everything can become a growth, Even if one goes astray, one comes back richer; one never loses. Life is always an enrichment; always unconditionally, categorically. So whatsoever you do, if you feel like doing it, do it, and you will come out of it richer. But if you don't feel like doing it, don't, because that will become impoverishing. Never go against yourself; that is the only principle I would like to insist on.