And the fourth state is called turiya. When someone has broken through the third state, then even if the whole external world vanishes still his consciousness will be there, awake. Even if the stars and the moon cool down and the earth disappears and everything is destroyed, nothing is left – if only I am, left all alone – even then I remain awake, I remain conscious. All around emptiness prevails, everything becomes insubstantial – I alone remain. Nothing to know, only the knower is left. No sounds to be heard, only the listener is left. Nothing to see, only the capacity to see remains. When all else is not and still I can remain in awareness, Indian seers have called this state the fourth state, the real state, the turiya. He who attains to this state attains to everything; he who has not attained to this state only goes on accumulating objects or ideas and remains deluded, remains under the illusion that “I know who I am.” But if you take away his objects and thoughts he will be lost in his sleep and nothing will be left of him.
If a man is very rich and someone steals his money, his agony is not only due to the loss of the money, but also to the fact that with the money a part of his soul is taken away, because he has no real soul as such; it is only in relation to the money. When we take away a palace from someone, it is not only the palace, his soul is also taken, because he has no real soul as such; he has just an illusion of a soul in proportion to the size and grandeur of his palace. Now that his palace has been taken, his soul is lost in the same proportion.
That is why for thousands of years on this earth, in this land, sannyas – the renunciation of “the world” – has been a unique experiment. I will explain that experiment in this context to you. In fact sannyas is not a matter of renunciation, it is actually an effort to see whether, after having renounced everything, one still remains behind.
It is not a question of renouncing the world because it is evil, and it is not a question of renouncing your home because there is something wrong with it, or of renouncing your wife because sex is a sin. Primarily the unique experiment of sannyas has been done to see whether you will remain when you have renounced everything. If you don’t remain, then you were not in the first place – “I was an illusion.” And if you do remain even after renouncing all – when you have found the wife is not “mine,” the son is not “mine,” the friend is not “mine,” the house is not “mine,” the money is not “mine,” when you stand totally naked, alone on the street – do you still exist? “If I exist, I have a soul; if I do not, I should seek a soul.”
The purpose of renunciation was not because possessions are evil, its purpose was to see whether you are just the sum total of your possessions or whether you exist independently, because it is difficult to get a clear understanding while surrounded by possessions.
The seeker would go to the forest not because the city is evil, not because the truth is impossible to attain in the town, not because the divine is afraid to come to town – no, it can come there too. He used to go into seclusion just to see whether he would remain conscious in aloneness or whether he would fall asleep, whether the awareness would remain or would he lose consciousness? When he had renounced everything, did something still remain or not? If something did remain, only then he has some small measure of a soul. If he does not have, he should now set out on the search for it; if he does have a soul, he should develop it.
That is why when a Buddha or a Mahavira attains the truth, his soul, he comes back into the marketplace; now there is no fear, now there is nothing to worry about, now he knows his reality.