As long as the mind swings you will be unhappy; only the nature of your unhappiness may change. The hedonist has his unhappinesses, the renunciate has his unhappinesses. The hedonist cannot see the unhappinesses of the renunciate; he imagines only great happinesses of the renunciate. The renunciate can see what pleasures are possible for a hedonist. Both the sannyasin and the worldly people come to me. The worldly person always looks at the sannyasins with a greedy eye, thinking that he is living in bliss. And I know of sannyasins who have spent forty or fifty years in sannyas – for all this time they have renounced everything – and you have no idea of their unhappiness. They envy the worldly person, they think that worldly people are having great pleasures and fun.
An old sannyasin, in his seventies, who was initiated into sannyas fifty years ago, asked me whether he had made a mistake becoming a sannyasin. He told me that he was haunted by the idea that he had made a mistake in renouncing the world without knowing it. “There seems to be happiness in this world that I left,” he said, “but I have found no happiness here in the life I have lived. I set out in search of truth, and in so doing lost touch with the world. But I have never found even the trace of its footsteps.”
It is hard to imagine the unhappiness of this sannyasin. He renounced with a hope, and his hope had never been fulfilled. He gambled everything he had in his hands for something that to this day has not come to him. Now life is slipping away; he is past seventy and lives with the feeling that he has missed both ways – both the world and sannyas.
It is only natural to feel so. It is in the very nature of your mind to see unhappiness where you are. The hut-dwellers think that the happiness is in the palaces, while those with palaces declare that they had never attained any happiness until they left their palaces. Buddha and Mahavira were the sons of kings, and both renounced their royal way of life. Certainly they must have seen some happiness in simple living that the hut-dwellers themselves could not see.
The opposite extreme is inviting to the mind, and moving to the opposite extreme means the mind will continue, the pendulum of mind will go on working.
Having looked into the past lives of many people, a remarkable phenomenon has become apparent to me. Those who were sannyasins in their previous life become great hedonists in this lifetime, and those who were great hedonists in their previous life become sannyasins in this lifetime. This is a startling fact; logically it should be just the opposite. If you were a sannyasin in your last life, then in the same continuation you should be a greater sannyasin in this life. It is simple logic, it is mathematical – but the situation is just the reverse. When I look into a great hedonist’s past life, it turns out that he had been a renunciate; his mind has touched one extreme and now, in this lifetime, it is touching the other extreme.
The normal thing will be that someone who was a man in his past life should be a man in this life too, and someone who was a woman should again be a woman – but it is not so. Often it happens that one who was a man in his previous life becomes a woman in this life, and the woman becomes a man. If you were a woman in your last life, a hope hovered around your mind that it is the men who are enjoying, the women are only suffering. You were thus accumulating desire to be born a male in your next life. And though they may not admit it, men envy women and want to be female.