Money and the neighbors seem to be the only criterion to decide everything: their cars, their houses, their paintings, their decorations. People are having sauna baths in their bathrooms not because they love their bodies, not necessarily, but because it is the “in” thing – everybody has it. If you don’t have it you look poor. If everybody has a house in the hills, you have to have it. You may not know how to enjoy the hills – you may be simply bored there. Or you may take your TV and your radio there and just listen to the same radio you were listening to at home, and watch the same TV program as you were watching at home. What difference does it make where you are sitting, the hills or in your own room? But others have it. A four-car garage is needed – others have it. You may not need four cars.
The American mind is continuously competing with others. The Baul is a non-competitor. He is a drop-out. He says, “I am no longer concerned with what others are doing, I am only concerned with what I am. I am not concerned with what others have, I am only concerned with what I have.” Once you see the fact, that life can be tremendously blissful without having many things, then who bothers?
That is one of the basic differences between other renunciates in India and the Bauls. Bauls are beggars, Jaina monks are also beggars, but there is a great difference: Jaina monks have the American mind. They have left the world with great effort, they have renounced the world with great effort – because they think this is the only way to achieve the other world, to earn virtue. But they remain businessmen. The Jainas are the top-most businessmen in India. That is why I say they have the American mind. Their sannyasins remain the same.
The Baul’s renunciation is totally different. He has not renounced for any other world. He has renounced seeing the foolishness of possessions, seeing the unnecessary burdening. He has renounced seeing the fact that you can be so happy without many things. Then why carry them? Carrying them creates anxiety, burdens you and destroys your blissfulness. The Jaina monk is thinking of another world: his moksha, his heaven.
The Baul is not worried about any other world. He says, “This is the only world.” But he has come to see the fact, a simple truth: that the more you have, the less you enjoy. Can’t you see it? It is a simple arithmetic of life – the more you have, the less you enjoy, because you don’t have any time to enjoy. The whole time is occupied by having. If you have too many things, you are occupied by that many things. Your inner space is occupied. To enjoy, you need a little space; to enjoy, you need a little unburdening; to enjoy, you need to forget your possessions and just be.
The Baul loves life, hence he renounces. The Jaina monk hates life, hence he renounces. So sometimes the gesture may appear the same, but it need not be the same. The inner significance may be totally different.
I have heard:
Old Luke and his wife were known as the stingiest couple in the valley. Luke died and a few months later his wife lay dying. She called in a neighbor and said weakly, “Ruthie, bury me in my black silk dress, but before you do, cut the back out and make a new dress out of it. It is good material and I hate to waste it.”
“Could not do that,” said Ruthie. “When you and Luke walk up them golden stairs, what would them angels say if your dress ain’t got a back in it?”
“They won’t be looking at me,” she said. “I buried Luke without his pants.”