You are to transcend, not to renounce. If you renounce you miss the point. And when I say, “Let go!” I simply mean don’t cling. I am not saying to you don’t try to be happy. Make every possible effort to be happy, joyous, but remember that sadness will follow – that is natural. Accept it, and when it comes, don’t run away from it, don’t escape from it. That too is beautiful, part of life, part of growth; without it there is no maturity. Go deep into it.
Joy has something to contribute to your growth, and sorrow too. Joy brings a freshness, the freshness of the morning dew. Joy brings youth, joy brings a dance to your heart. Sadness also brings many gifts but you escape from sadness; hence you never become aware of the gifts. Sadness brings a silence which no joy can ever bring. Joy is always a little noisy; sadness is utterly silent. Joy is always a little shallow; sadness is deep, it has depth. Joy always makes you forget yourself; it is easier to drown yourself in joy, to be intoxicated with joy. It keeps you unconscious. Sadness brings an awareness because you cannot drown yourself in it. You cannot participate, you have to stand outside – because you don’t want it!
The first lessons of witnessing happen in sadness. One learns witnessing in sadness and only then, later on, the same witnessing can be applied to the moments of pleasure. But it is by witnessing that one transcends.
And when I say, “Let go of it all, the positive and the negative,” I simply mean don’t cling, don’t be identified. I am not saying, “Renounce!” Live, and yet live above. Walk on the earth, but no, don’t let your feet touch the earth. Yes, there is an art to it.
And that’s what sannyas is all about: the art of living in the world without being part of it, the art of living life without being identified with it. That’s what real let-go is.
The old sannyas is that of indifference. Exactly that is the word used in the old scriptures: a sannyasin becomes udasin – indifferent to all that is – vairagya. He becomes cold and detached. He escapes from the world of duality. He moves into a monastery or into the Himalayan caves, lives alone, lives without joy, without sadness.
A kind of death he lives: he is already in his grave, he lives not. His life is not worth calling life. He has fallen below humanity; he is closer to the animals than to human beings. Hence his search for the caves, forests, jungles, mountains, deserts – he is afraid of being with human beings. He wants to fall below human beings, because human beings are bound to be divided by this great polarity, positive and negative, and he is afraid of it.
But the real sannyasin – the sannyasin of my vision – lives in the world, in the thick of it, in the dense world. He renounces nothing. He lives life as totally as possible, because if God has given life it means there is something to attain through it. Only by living it can it be attained, only by living it is there something to be learned. Transcendence has to be learned; that is the great gift of life.