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The Bigger Vision
An open letter to Sam from Satgit
I write in answer to, and in general support of, Sam's article in Sannyas News: A Sannyas Lineage.
I was invited to contribute a while back to Sannyas News, but initially hesitated. I was attracted to it because it seemed to offer a relatively unstructured and open platform of expression, one which might well, if only in a limited electronic form, serve to continue what I might call the Spirit of Sannyas. But I was also repelled. I felt there was too much emphasis on the 'Satsang Movement', which seemed to me, in my admittedly limited experience, to be a red herring; I did not want to support these developments. Nor did I want to get into more arguments about them; I had had enough of that too.
A bit of background: I took sannyas in 1981, and spent a lot of time thereafter in Pune. For me it appears enough to go through the Master/Disciple pattern once. The experience seems complete in itself. I am still exploring it, digesting it, owning it; but I feel I have already been given all the material I need, and am now happily working through it very much on my own. A repetition of the experience (which is what attendance at other Satsangs or whatever generally looked like to me) seemed at best superfluous; at worst like interrupting a process that was already running well.
So much for my background. I write in response to Sam's letter, because I support his idea of creating something on a broader, more vital basis. I agree with him that the concept of enlightenment could do with a rest. As far as I am concerned, I have felt so ever since I took sannyas. A lot of the time since then I wondered if I was not blind or misguided; or arrogant. At other times I saw myself in the role of the child in The Emperor's New Clothes, the only one to see that the Emperor is naked.
I also remembered the story about the children playing unawarely in a burning house, whom the father enticed out through a tiny window by shouting at them that he had bought them toys, even though he hadnít; thus lying for their sakes. I came to see the offered enlightenment in the same way, as a toy to entice people onwards.
I have never seen any enlightenment, nor any enlightened people.
There are two ways (at least) of looking at this.
Firstly, I have never looked for them. I took sannyas for joy, for spirit, for inspiration, for vision, for meaning. These were all things that grew; so I got what I wanted; and it was enough.
Secondly, everywhere I look I see only change. I see no awakened ones, I see only awakening, and that seems to be a process that everyone always participates in.
(I cannot then help thinking that most people who take too much interest in enlightenment are actually interested in power and privilege.)
Admittedly there are times when enlightenment appeals, when I tire of wandering, and glimpse the possibility of a definite single purpose to my existence. But those times are the minority; I would rather live in openness and creativity and freedom, in the Formless. And to me there is little need there for enlightenment.
(And if those who are enlightened then go beyond it anyway, why make any more fuss of it than an 16th or 21st birthday?)
Back to you, Sam. I wonder where you stand. You confuse me a little by writing on the one hand that ìthe whole concept of enlightenment could do with a rest, while at the same time counting 31 ìenlightened sannyasins. to whom something very major has happened.
But that is not so important. I want to support you, as far as I understand you, in your advocacy of acting in concert, of creating something on a much broader, more vital basis. I wonder too what form this might take. Is it just at present this electronic exchange which you and I (and hopefully others) are engaging in? Is that all that is possible? It seems to me to be perhaps rather thin.
Like I said, I experienced from taking sannyas an explosion of joy, spirit, inspiration, vision, meaning. Surely others did too.
I put the question: Is there any more substantial way of expanding these together? It seems to me that new vehicles are needed; new paradigms. For a while I thought physical closeness, the closeness I enjoyed so much, despite its drawbacks, in Pune, was needed, and sought ways to create this, such as living together, but I have dropped this for now.
So I leave the question open, not fully answered. Maybe I will come back and answer it myself in a little while; but I hope someone else will beat me to it.
In other words, I look forward to any responses.
The Bigger Vision