Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, United States
Can one be a dropout and still be responsible? Is there a difference between dropping out and escapism?
There is tremendous difference between the two. Escaping is an act of cowardliness, because you could not face the situation. You could not find guts enough to encounter whatever was the situation. You escaped. You showed your back out of fear. The escapist will never be able to forgive himself – how can he forget that he has been cowardly?
The dropout is a totally different phenomenon. He is not dropping out of a particular structure, society, religion, out of fear. In fact he had been preventing himself from dropping out, out of fear. His dropout is his declaration of freedom, individuality. His dropout signifies that he is no longer part of a crowd, that now he is going to seek and search on his own; that he is no longer a follower of Christ or Krishna, that he does not believe in any god or in any hell or heaven.
Now he is becoming a seeker, a searcher. He is getting ready to risk everything he has, whatever the consequences, because unless one risks everything, one cannot find the truth. Truth is not a compromise. It is a total let-go, risking all. If you are saving even a little bit in case it is needed, you will not find the truth. You are still behaving in a cowardly way. Saving a little bit shows your fear.
A dropout has to be total. It is not out of fear; it is out of awareness, a certain consciousness that we are living in a bondage of many kinds – social, cultural, racial, political, educational. All kinds of chains are around our being. A dropout simply drops out of all these chains. And the moment he decides to drop out, miraculously he finds those chains cannot prevent him. They are only cowbells.
All that was needed was courage and a tremendous sense of freedom, an excitement of discovering, a grounding in one’s own self, a responsibility – felt for the first time – that, “I am alive and I have a responsibility to live with my totality. Otherwise how am I going to answer existence, that, ‘Life was given to you and you never lived it. You went on postponing till death destroyed everything.’”
A dropout is a revolutionary. The escapist is not a revolutionary, he is a reactionary. That difference has to be remembered. My sannyasins are dropouts, not escapists.