These people have helped you to be poor. And I don’t see that poverty has any spirituality in it. I don’t see that you cannot meditate living in a comfortable house – that you have to meditate only when you are uncomfortable, that you have to stand on your head, that only then can you reach paradise.
It is very strange, because I have seen thousands of descriptions of God, but I have not come across a single description in which he is standing on his head. If God is not doing shirshasana, then why should you be bothered? Why should you torture your body? I have not come across a single description where God goes on fasts. Then why should you fast?
But the whole old idea of sannyas was that to attain to paradise you have to live in misery, you have to go through suffering. I don’t see that there is any need. I say to you: you can go singing, you can go dancing, you can go rejoicing. And this is my absolute trust – that God, or existence, cannot be against laughter, cannot be against rejoicing, cannot be against joy.
I don’t think that in suffering, poverty, torturing yourself, torturing others because of your renunciation, you are becoming beloved of existence. You are going farther away from the source of life; you are coming closer to death, and death is not the goal of religion. The goal of religion is eternal life, and life includes rejoicing.
Hence I teach a sannyas which is just the opposite of the old sannyas – diametrically opposite. I want my people to go to heaven, to paradise – all the way dancing, singing songs of joy. And I think they will be the first to enter into the kingdom of God, not the people who are basically sick.
I would like you to remember what the old religions have been teaching to people. They have been making them schizophrenic. They have been creating a split in their personality. They are making them divided against themselves. There have been saints, whose only quality and contribution is that they were very efficient in torturing themselves. You know perfectly well they will lie down on a bed of thorns. This is tapascharya, this is austerity. But do you think existence wants you to lie down on a bed of thorns? Is existence a sadist that it wants you to be tortured?
There have been Christian sects – they are still in existence – which wear shoes with nails inside protruding into their feet, so when they walk they are continuously hurting, wounding their feet; continuously blood is flowing. They have belts around their waists with the same device – nails reaching deep into their skin. The wounds remain for their whole life, because those belts cannot be removed. They are locked, and their keys are thrown away. They have taken that austerity for their whole life. Do you think this is something healthy, something sane?