The Tantric Concept Of Sannyasa
In Tantra, Shiva and Shakti live together. Shiva represents chitta or consciousness and Shakti represents prana or energy. In this physical body, you have ida and pingala, chitta and prana. You cannot survive with only one aspect. There has to be an integration and correlation of two forces in one body. It is exactly the same in ordinary life, men and women represent these two poles of energy. The quality of energy which men and women embody is different. They may look alike. They may belong to one family and their physical structure may be more or less the same, but the quality of energy is not the same. Whereas ida and pingala function together in the body, in family life, husband and wife, Shiva and Shakti, live together.
This is the concept of tantric sannyasa. So there is no question about whether a man can live with a woman and still be a sannyasin. I do not think that by renouncing a man or a woman, you can become a true sannyasin. Deep in the mind the need is there, and it cannot be rooted out. Therefore the tantric concept of sannyasa has to be understood by each and every person. Those who are serious about awakening their higher spirit should relate their station as a householder in life with this. It is important not only for enlightenment of the individual, but also for an enlightened world. How are you going to raise the standard of your children unless you have a high standard yourself? You have lived the life of careless householders throughout, and you want your children to be careful. It is not possible.
Through your philosophy, you can influence the genes. If you are a careless householder, you have a certain quality of genes, and you can only produce that type of child. Unless you are a deep thinker, the idea of sannyasa will not dawn in your mind. The moment the idea of sannyasa dawns, the genes begin to change, and these genes are responsible for the quality of the child. If there was a race of tantric sannyasins, the level of consciousness of the entire population would rise, and that is quite important in my opinion.
Being in the world but not of the world
Now the most important thing for a sannyasin who lives in the world is meditation. He will have to raise his consciousness from a gross level to a higher level. In most cases our consciousness is very gross. For example, when you enjoy chocolate, the experience is gross. Whenever you get a pain in the body, the experience is gross. In this way our pleasures and our pains are experienced through gross centres. Our senses are so extroverted that the mind is not able to experience things directly without an object.
If you want to enjoy a flower, you must see it first. If you want to enjoy music, you must hear it first. If you want to enjoy a beautiful fragrance, you must smell it first. If you want to experience tenderness, you must touch the body. Can you experience these things inside without the intervention of the senses? Can you hear music with the ears closed? Can you see the glory of nature: flowers and trees, oceans, rivers and lakes, mountains and plains, sun, moon and stars, without eyes? Can you experience any pleasure, any pain, any sensation, without the middle man? You know who the middle man is? The senses: karmendriyas and gyanendriyas, the five senses of action and the five senses of knowledge. Without them you cannot experience life. This is an ordinary limitation. But a person who is able to raise his consciousness above the senses can experience everything directly. Therefore, meditation is the life and breath of the modern sannyasin.
Meditation or dhyana yoga is a state in which you experience your mind directly and this mind is so important for everybody. For most, mind is a mystery; it is a demon. Many people have compared the mind with a monkey, but I don't think the mind is a monkey. The mind is the reservoir of great power, and we know only a little bit of this mind. When you are angry, when you are unhappy; when you are sorry, then you become aware of your mind. You think, 'Oh, my mind is very unhappy today,' or 'My mind is depressed.' But that is not the mind. You have to realise the totality of mind in the practice of meditation. In order to realise the mind, you will have to decrease the frequency, the speed of fluctuation, and this is not easy, but it is possible. If you can completely remove thoughts and ideas, you can see the mind. If you can completely control the element of unconsciousness, then you can see the mind.
Therefore, to realise the reservoir of the mind, you will have to eliminate three things, and these must be eliminated step by step. The first thing which you will have to eliminate is thought, or fluctuation, the second thing is inner visions, and the third thing is sleep or hypnosis. Then inner awareness is made complete and thorough. As you go on succeeding in meditation, awareness does not diminish, and when you have completely succeeded in meditation, there is total awareness, without thought, without vision, and without hypnosis. Therefore the system which you have to employ for meditation has to be perfect.
The spiritual metamorphosis of sex
Now, regarding tantric sannyasa, there is one more question which must be clarified: 'How to adjust your sexual behaviour?' Many people have answered this question according to their own idea and image. Is the sexual relationship with your wife or husband spiritual or anti-spiritual? According to the tantric heritage, it is spiritual. This means that you can progress spiritually while you improve upon your sexual interaction with your partner. In tantra it is said that there are three purposes for sexual interaction, and these have been clearly stated .The first is progeny, the second is pleasure and the third is spiritual transformation.
A sensualist interacts for pleasure, and an ordinary man for progeny, but a tantric sannyasin interacts for the purpose of samadhi. This is because the sexual act is intrinsically connected with the awakening of the evolutionary power in man and has very much to do with the awakening of the higher centres responsible for the deeper and more profound experiences. This is an important science and you have to know more about it so that you can apply it in your daily life.
There are certain yoga postures and hatha yoga kriyas through which you can redirect your energy, and if you can handle that experience through the help of a proper teacher, then your life as a householder, the interaction with your partner, will become a spiritual ritual. I am not a promoter of sexual sciences, but I do not want to close my eyes to the reality, and I do not want you to close your eyes. There is a reality to which you are exposed. If that reality is going to send you to hell, then that will be a great tragedy.
Sexual and spiritual communication are not different. Sexual life is not anti-spiritual. If properly conducted by the wise and disciplined, it can be a spiritual springboard to higher realms. You can transcend sex by living into it, by living through it.
Nature has created a system in man's life, and you must respect it, you must accept it. But that does not prohibit you from becoming a sannyasin with respect for yourself, with faith in what you are doing for your spiritual progress, and with hopes eternal. If both you and your partner sit together in meditation, you can create an energy which will help each other to evolve. Imagine what kind of children you will have. I am proud that my parents were able to live like that. After completing your obligations, having profound spiritual experiences, then you can enter into full sannyasa.
Excerpts of Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati by Sannyansin Sivadhyanam