It is not an accident that Buddha introduced a new idea into the world of sannyas. He started initiating young people into sannyas. In India, the tradition was that you should take sannyas only when you are very old, after seventy-five years old – the fourth stage, when you have done everything and only death is left. Then take sannyas. That was the idea and it was a very comfortable idea, a very cozy idea.
In the first place, very few people are going to live beyond seventy-five, particularly in those days and in India. Even today very few people will live beyond seventy-five, so there is no fear of living after seventy-five and becoming a sannyasin. And if by chance you happen to live after seventy-five, all your energies will be already wasted, gone down the drain. Whether you take sannyas or not you will be a sannyasin, so why not take it?
People used to take a vow of celibacy after seventy-five. You see the foolishness of it!
A man used to come to Ramakrishna each religious festival and he would give a big feast. He was a nonvegetarian, and many animals would be cut up for the feast. He was very rich. Then suddenly all the feasts stopped. There was a great festival and the feast was not happening, and the man had come to see Ramakrishna.
Ramakrishna asked, “What happened? Why are you not celebrating this feast? Have you become irreligious or something? Are you no longer interested in your religion?”
He said, “That is not the point. My teeth have fallen out. And when I cannot eat, why should I bother?”
The feast was not for any religious reason; the feast was simply because he wanted to enjoy. Religion was just an excuse.
People can take an oath of celibacy after seventy-five so they are saving both worlds: they have enjoyed this world and now they are creating a bank balance in the other. They are becoming virtuous so cheaply that it is all false.
Buddha introduced the idea that young people should become sannyasins. Then it is something significant. When a young person goes beyond sex, when a young person goes beyond desires, when a young person goes beyond greed, ambition, the longing to be powerful, the ambition to be famous, then it is something tremendously meaningful, significant.
Remember one thing: when you are young you have energy. That energy can take you to hell and that same energy can take you to heaven. Energy is neutral; it depends on you how you use it.