Chapter 35: Discontinuity
Once this is understood, you will know the meaning of sannyas. It is accepting life as insecurity, dropping all defenses and allowing life to take possession of you. This is a dangerous step, but those who are capable of taking it are rewarded immensely, because only they live. Others just survive.
There is a difference between survival and living. Survival is only a dragging - dragging from the cradle to the grave. When is the grave going to come? In the space between the cradle and the grave, why be afraid? Death is certain - and you don’t have anything to lose, you come without anything. Your fears are just projections. You don’t have anything to lose, and one day what you have is bound to disappear.
If death was uncertain there would be some substance in creating security. If you could avoid death, then naturally it would be perfectly right to create barriers between you and death. But you cannot avoid it. Ta Hui has said in his previous sutras, “Accepting the unavoidable is one of the fundamentals of coming to illumination.” Death is there; once accepted it loses all fear, nothing can be done about it. When nothing can be done about it, then why be bothered?
It is a well-known fact that soldiers going to the war field are trembling. Deep down they know that all will not be returning back in the evening. Who is going to return and who is not going to return is not known, but it is possible that perhaps they themselves may not be returning home. But psychologists have been observing a strange phenomenon: as they reach the war front, all their fears disappear. They start fighting very playfully.
Once death is accepted, then where is the sting in it? Once they know that death is possible at any moment - then they can forget all about it.
I have been with many army people - I had many friends - and it was strange to see that they are the most joyous people, the most relaxed. Any day the call can come, “Join the forces” - but they play cards, they play golf, they drink, they dance, they enjoy life to the full.
One of the generals used to come to me. I asked him, “You are prepared almost every day for death, and still.how can you manage to be happy?”
He said, “What else is there to do? Death is certain.”
Once the certainty, unavoidability, inescapability is accepted, then rather than crying and weeping and complaining and dragging yourself towards the grave, why not dance? Why not make the most of the time that you have between the cradle and the grave? Why not live every moment to such totality that if the next moment never comes, there is no complaint? You can die joyously because you have lived joyously.