Qualities of a Seeker
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Osho: the qualities of a sannyasin (seeker for truth)


The qualities of a sannyasin are the same qualities you will need on your spiritual journey in the inner world. Traditional Sannyas is a Hindu concept of one who renounces all worldly thoughts and desires, and spends the rest of his life in spiritual contemplation.

Osho defines sannyas as: Now, sannyas is available to anyone who chooses to make the decision “to live life in its totality, but with an absolute condition, categorical condition: and that condition is awareness, meditation,” “The sannyas movement is not mine. It is not yours. It was here when I was not here. It will be here when I will not be here. The sannyas movement simply means the movement of the seekers of truth. They have always been here.”


The Heart Sutra, chapter #10: Sannyas entering the Stream.

1977 10 20 Osho ashram Poona


Note: this is a summary of the main points.

Here you can read the original discourse (in pdf)

You can also listen to the original audio discourse (1h38)

in mp3 (28MB)



Sannyas is basically a rebellion about all structures, hence the difficulty to define. Sannyas is a way of living life unstructuredly. A sannyasin is one who no longer lives in the past or through the past; who lives in the moment, hence, is unpredictable.

A sannyasin is not only free, he is freedom. It is living rebellion.

Sannyas is exploration, not a program. When you become a sannyasin I initiate you into freedom, and into nothing else. It is great responsibility to be free, because then you have nothing to lean upon. Except your own inner being, your own consciousness, you have nothing as a prop, as a support. I take all your props and supports away; I leave you alone, I leave you utterly alone. In that aloneness... the flower of sannyas. That aloneness blooms on its own accord into the flower of sannyas.

Sannyas is characterlessness. It has no morality; it is not immoral, it is amoral. Or, it has a higher morality that never comes from the outside but comes from within. It does not allow any imposition from the outside, because all impositions from the outside convert you into serfs, into slaves. And my effort is to give you dignity, glory. My effort here is to give you splendor.

This is not revolution, this is rebellion. Revolution is social, collective; rebellion is individual. We are not interested in giving any structure to the society. Enough of the structures! Let all structures go. We want individuals in the world --moving freely, moving consciously, of course. And their responsibility comes through their own consciousness. They behave rightly not because they are trying to follow certain commandments; they behave rightly, they behave accurately, because they care.

Do you know, this word accurate comes from care. The word accurate in its root means to care about. When you care about something you are accurate. If you care about somebody, you are accurate in your relationship.

A sannyasin is one who cares about himself, and naturally cares about everybody else --because you cannot be happy alone. You can only be happy in a happy world, in a happy climate. If everybody is crying and weeping and is in misery, it is very, very difficult for you to be happy. So one who cares about happiness --about his own happiness --becomes careful about everybody else's happiness, because happiness happens only in a happy climate. But this care is not because of any dogma. It is there because you love, and the first love, naturally, is the love for yourself. Then other loves follow.

Other efforts have failed because they were mind-oriented. They were based in the thinking process, they were conclusions of the mind. Sannyas is not a conclusion of the mind. Sannyas is not thought-oriented; it has no roots in thinking. Sannyas is insightfulness; it is meditation, not mind. It is rooted in joy, not in thought. It is rooted in celebration, not in thinking. It is rooted in that awareness where thoughts are not found. It is not a choice: it is not a choice between two thoughts, it is the dropping of all thoughts. It is living out of nothingness.


Sannyas is joy in being.

Now how can you define joy in being? It cannot be defined, because each one's joy in being is going to be different. My joy in being is going to be different from your joy in being. The joy will be the same, the taste of it will be the same, but the flowering is going to be different. A lotus flowers, a rose flowers, a marigold flowers --they all flower, and the process of flowering is the same. But the marigold flowers in his own way, and the rose in his, and the lotus in his. Their colors are different, their expressions are different, although the spirit is the same. And when they bloom, and when they can whisper to the winds, and when they can share their fragrance with the sky, they are all joyous.

Each sannyasin will be a totally unique person. I am not interested in the society. I am not interested in the collectivity. My interest is absolutely in individuals --in you!

And meditation can succeed where mind has failed, because meditation is a radical revolution in your being --not the revolution that changes the government, not the revolution that changes the economy, but the revolution that changes your consciousness, that transforms you from the noosphere to the christosphere, that changes you from a sleepy person into an awakened soul. And when you are awakened, all that you do is good.

That's my definition of 'good' and 'virtue': the action of an awakened person is virtue, and the action of an unawakened person is sin. There is no other definition of sin and virtue. It depends on the person --his consciousness, his quality that he brings to the act. So sometimes it can happen that the same act may be virtuous and the same act may be sinful. The acts may apparently be the same, but the people behind the acts can be different.

A sannyasin is a person who lives more and more in alertness. And the more there are people who exist through awareness, the better the world that will be created. Civilization has not yet happened.

Sannyas is just a beginning, a seed of a totally different kind of world where people are free to be themselves, where people are not constrained, crippled, paralyzed, where people are not repressed, made to feel guilty, where joy is accepted, where cheerfulness is the rule, where seriousness has disappeared, where a nonserious sincerity, a playfulness has entered. These can be the indications, the fingers pointing to the moon.

First quality: an openness to experience.

People are ordinarily closed; they are not open to experience. Before they experience anything they already have prejudices about it. They don't want to experiment, they don't want to explore. This is sheer stupidity!

This is the vicious circle of the closed mind. He comes full of ideas, he comes readymade. He is not available to new facts, and the world is continuously bombarded with new facts. The world goes on changing and the closed mind remains stuck in the past. And the world goes on changing, and every moment something new descends into the world. God goes on painting the world anew again and again and again, and you go on carrying your old, dead ideologies in your heads.

So the first quality of a sannyasin is openness to experience. He will not decide before he has experienced. He will never decide before he has experienced. He will not have any belief systems. He will not say, "This is so because Buddha says it." He will not say, "This is so because it is written in the Vedas." He will say, "I am ready to go into it and see whether it is so or not."

Buddha's departing message to his disciples was this: "Remember"... and this he was repeating for his whole life, again and again; the last message also was this --"Remember, don't believe in anything because I have said it. Never believe anything unless you have experienced it."

A sannyasin will not carry many beliefs; in fact, none. He will carry only his own experiences. And the beauty of experience is that the experience is always open, because further exploration is possible. And belief is always closed; it comes to a full point. Belief is always finished. Experience is never finished, it remains unfinished. While you are living how can your experience be finished?

Your experience is growing, it is changing, it is moving. It is continuously moving from the known into the unknown and from the unknown into the unknowable. And remember, experience has a beauty because it is unfinished.

Some of the greatest songs are those which are unfinished. Some of the greatest books are those which are unfinished. Some of the greatest music is that which unfinished. The unfinished has a beauty. Experience always remains open --that means unfinished. Belief is always complete and finished. The first quality is an openness to experience.

Mind is all your beliefs collected together. Openness means no-mind; openness means you put your mind aside and you are ready to look into life again and again in a new way, not with the old eyes. The mind gives you the old eyes, it gives you again ideas: "Look through this." But then the thing becomes colored; then you don't look at it, then you project an idea upon it. Then the truth becomes a screen on which you go on projecting. Look through no-mind, look through nothingness --shunyata. When you look through no-mind your perception is efficient, because then you see that which is. And truth liberates. Everything else creates a bondage, only truth liberates.

In those moments of no-mind, truth starts filtering into you like light. The more you enjoy this light, this truth, the more you become capable and courageous to drop your mind. Sooner or later a day comes when you look and you don't have any mind. You are not looking for anything, you are simply looking. Your look is pure. In that moment you become avalokita, one who looks with pure eyes. That is one of the names of Buddha --Avalokita: he looks with no ideas, he simply looks.

This is the vision of no-mind. It can work miracles. The sannyasin lives in openness to everything.

The second quality is existential living.

He does not live out of ideas: that one should be like this, one should be like that, one should behave in this way, one should not behave in this way. He does not live out of ideas, he is responsive to existence. He responds with his total heart, whatsoever is the case. His being is here-now. Spontaneity, simplicity, naturalness --these are his qualities.

He does not live a readymade life. He does not carry maps --how to live, how not to live. He allows life; wherever it leads he goes with it. A sannyasin is not a swimmer, and he does not try to go upstream. He goes with the whole, he flows with the stream. He flows so totally with the stream that by and by he is no longer separate from the stream, he becomes the stream. That's what Buddha calls srotapanna --one who has entered the stream. That is the beginning of Buddha's sannyas too --one who has entered the stream, one who has come to relax in existence. He does not carry valuations, he's not judgmental.

Existential living means each moment has to decide on its own. Life is atomic! You don't decide beforehand, you don't rehearse, you don't prepare how to live. Each moment comes, brings a situation; you are there to respond to it --you respond. Ordinarily people live a very strange kind of life. If you are going to give an interview, you prepare, you think what is going to be asked and how you are going to answer it, how you are going to sit and how you are going to stand. Everything becomes phony because it is rehearsed. And then what happens? When you go with such a rehearsal, you are never totally there. Something is being asked and you are searching in your memory, because you are carrying a prepared answer --whether that will suit with it or not, whether this will do or not. You go on missing the point. You are not totally there; you cannot be totally there, you are involved in the memory. And then the next thing happens: when you are coming out then you start thinking you should have answered this way. This is called 'the staircase wit': when you are coming down the staircase, and you start thinking, "I should have answered this, I should have said this." You become very wise again. Before you are wise, after you are wise; in the middle you are otherwise! And in the middle is life. Existence is there.

The third quality of a sannyasin is a trust in one's own organism.

People trust others, the sannyasin trusts his own organism. Body, mind, soul, all are included. If he feels like loving he flows in love. If he does not feel like loving he says "Sorry" --but he never pretends.

A non-sannyasin goes on pretending. His life is a life lived through masks. His whole life becomes a false, pseudo life, a parody. And he is never satisfied, naturally; he cannot be, because satisfaction comes only out of authentic living. If you are not feeling loving you have to say so; there is no need to pretend. If you are feeling angry you have to say so. You have to be true to your organism, you have to trust your organism. And you will be surprised: the more you trust, the more the organism's wisdom becomes very, very clear to you.

Your body has its own wisdom --it carries the wisdom of the centuries in its cells. Remember to trust your own organism. When you feel that the body is saying don't eat, stop immediately. When the body is saying eat, then don't bother whether the scriptures say to fast or not. If your body says eat three times a day, perfectly good. If it says eat one time a day, perfectly good. Start learning how to listen to your body, because it is your body. You are in it; you have to respect it, and you have to trust it. It is your temple; it is sacrilegious to impose things on your body. For no other motive should anything be imposed! And this will not only teach you trust in your body, this will teach you, by and by, a trust in existence too --because your body is part of existence. Then your trust will grow, and you will trust the trees and the stars and the moon and the sun and the oceans: you will trust people. But the beginning of the trust has to be trust in your own organism. Trust your heart.

When you don't want to make love, then love is the ugliest thing in the world. Only the most beautiful can be the most ugly. Love is one of the most beautiful experiences, but only when you are flowing in it, when it is spontaneous, when it is passionate, when you are full of it, overpowered by it, possessed by it, drunk with it, absorbed in it --only then. Then it takes you to the highest peak of joy. But if you are not possessed in it, and you are not even feeling any love for your wife or your husband, and you are making it... then the English expression is right: making love. Then you are making it, it is not happening. It is ugly, it is prostitution. To whom you are doing it is not the point; it is prostitution. It is criminal. And this is not going to make you in any way spiritual. You will only become sexually repressed, that's all. If you make love you will feel guilty, if you don't make love you will feel guilty.

If your organisms are saying, "Be together, grow together, flow together"; if your organism is feeling happy and thrilled and excited and there is ecstasy, go with the woman one life, two lives, three lives, as many lives as you want be together, and you will be coming closer and closer to God. And your intimacy will have a quality of spirituality.

A sannyasin is one who trusts in his own organism, and that trust helps him to relax into his being, and helps him to relax into the totality of existence. It brings a general acceptance of oneself and others. It gives a kind of rootedness, centering. And then there is great strength and power, because you are centered in your own body, in your own being. You have roots in the soil. Otherwise you see people uprooted, like trees that have been pulled up from the soil. They are simply dying, they are not living. That's why there is not much joy in life. You don't see the quality of laughter; the celebration is missing. And even if people celebrate that too is false. Celebration has to happen first in your own home, at close quarters. Then it becomes a great tidal wave and spreads all over existence.

The fourth is a sense of freedom.

The sannyasin is not only free, he is freedom. He always lives in a free way. Freedom does not mean licentiousness. Licentiousness is not freedom, licentiousness is just a reaction against slavery; so you move to the other extreme. Freedom is not the other extreme, it is not reaction. Freedom is an insight: "I have to be free, if I have to be at all. There is no other way to be. If I am too possessed by the church, by Hinduism, by Christianity by Mohammedanism, then I cannot be. Then they will go on creating boundaries around me. They go on forcing me into myself like a crippled being. I have to be free. I have to take this risk of being free. I have to take this danger."

Freedom is not very convenient, is not very comfortable. It is risky. A sannyasin takes that risk. It does not mean that he goes on fighting with each and everybody. It does not mean that when the law says keep to the right or keep to the left, he goes against it, no. He does not bother about trivia. If the law says keep to the left, he keeps to the left --because it is not a slavery. But about important, essential things. About essential things the sannyasin will always keep his freedom intact. And because he respects freedom, he will respect others' freedom too. He will never interfere with anybody's freedom, whosoever that other is. If your wife has fallen in love with somebody you feel hurt, you will cry tears of sadness, but that is your problem. You will not interfere with her. You will not say, "Stop it, because I am suffering!" You will say, "This is your freedom. If I suffer, that is my problem. I have to tackle it, I have to face it. If I feel jealous, I have to get rid of my jealousy. But you go on your own. Although it hurts me, although I would have liked that you had not gone with anybody, that is my problem. I cannot trespass your freedom."

Love respects so much that it gives freedom. And if love is not giving freedom it is not love, it is something else.

A sannyasin is immensely respectful about his own freedom, very careful about his own freedom, and so is he about other's freedom too. This sense of freedom gives him an individuality; he is not just a part of the mass mind. He has a certain uniqueness --his way of life, his style, his climate, his individuality. He exists in his own way, he loves his own song. He has a sense of identity: he knows who he is, he goes on deepening his feeling for who he is, and he never compromises.

Independence, rebellion --remember, not revolution but rebellion --that is the quality of a sannyasin. And there is a great difference. Revolution is not very revolutionary. Revolution also goes on functioning in the same structure. A sannyasin is rebellious. By rebellion I mean his vision is utterly different. He does not function in the same logic, in the same structure, in the same pattern. He is not against the pattern --because if you are against a certain pattern you will have to create another pattern to fight with it. And patterns are all alike. A sannyasin is one who has simply slipped out. He's not against the pattern, he has understood the stupidity of all patterns. He has looked into the foolishness of all patterns and he has slipped out. He is rebellious.

The fifth is creativity.

The old sannyas was very uncreative. It was thought that somebody becomes a sannyasin and goes to a Himalayan cave and sits there, and that was perfectly alright. Nothing more was needed. You can go and see the Jaina monks: they are sitting in their temples, doing nothing -absolutely uncreative, dull and stupid looking, with no flame of intelligence at all. And people are worshipping and touching their feet. Ask, "Why are you touching the feet?" and they say, "This man has renounced the world" --as if renouncing the world is in itself a value. "What has he done?" and they will say, "He has fasted. He fasts for months together" --as if not eating is a value in itself.

But ask what he has painted, what beauty he has created in the world, what poem he has composed, what song he has brought into existence, what music, what dance, what invention --what is his creation? --and they will say, "What are you talking about? He is a sannyasin!" He simply sits in the temple and allows people to touch his feet, that's all. And there are so many people sitting like this in India.

My conception of a sannyasin is that his energy will be creative, that he will bring a little more beauty into the world, that he will bring a little more joy into the world, that he will find new ways to get into dance, singing, music, that he will bring some beautiful poems. He will create something, he will not be uncreative. The days of uncreative sannyas are over. The new sannyasin can exist only if he is creative.

He should contribute something. Remaining uncreative is almost a sin, because you exist and you don't contribute. You eat, you occupy space, and you don't contribute anything. My sannyasins have to be creators. And when you are in deep creativity you are close to God. That's what prayer really is, that's what meditation is. God is the creator, and if you are not creators you will be far away from God. God knows only one language, the language of creativity. That's why when you compose music, when you are utterly lost in it, something of the divine starts filtering out of your being. That is the joy of creativity, that's the ecstasy --svaha!

(Read more Osho about creativity)

The sixth is a sense of humor, laughter, playfulness, non serious sincerity.

The old sannyas was unlaughing, dead, dull. The new sannyasin has to bring more and more laughter to his being. He has to be a laughing sannyasin, because your laughter is your relaxation, and your laughter can create situations for others also to relax. The temple should be full of joy and laughter and dance. It should not be like a Christian church. The church looks so cemetery-like. And with the cross there it seems to be almost a worship of death... a little morbid. You cannot laugh in a church. A belly-laughter would not be allowed; people will think you are crazy or something. When people enter into a church they become serious, stiff... long faces. To me, laughter is a religious quality, very essential. It has to be part of the inner world of a sannyasin: a sense of humor.

The seventh is meditativeness, aloneness, mystical peak experiences that happen when you are alone, when you are absolutely alone inside yourself.

Sannyas makes you alone; not lonely, but alone; not solitary, but it gives you a solitude. You can be happy alone, you are no longer dependent on others. You can sit alone in your room and you can be utterly happy. There is no need to go to a club, there is no need to always have friends around you, there is no need to go to a movie. You can close your eyes and you can fall into inner blissfulness: that's what meditativeness is all about.

And the eighth is love, relatedness, relationship.

Remember, you can relate only when you have learned how to be alone, never before it. Only two individuals can relate. Only two freedoms can come close and embrace each other. Only two nothingnesses can penetrate into each other and melt into each other. If you are not capable of being alone, your relationship is false. It is just a trick to avoid your loneliness, nothing else.

And that's what millions of people are doing. Their love is nothing but their incapacity to be alone. So they move with somebody, they hold hands, they pretend that they love, but deep down the only problem is that they cannot be alone. So they need somebody to hang around, they need somebody to hold onto, they need somebody to lean upon. And the other is also using them in the same way, because the other can also not be alone, is incapable. He or she also finds you instrumental as a help to escape from himself.

So two persons that you say are in love are more or less in hate with themselves. And because of that hate, they are escaping. The other helps them to escape, so they become dependent on the other, they become addicted to the other. You cannot live without your wife, you cannot live without your husband because you are addicted. But a sannyasin is one.... That's why I say the seventh quality is aloneness, and the eighth quality is love-relationship.

And these are the two possibilities: you can be happy alone and you can be happy together too. These are two kinds of ecstasies possible for humanity. You can move into samadhi when alone and you can move into samadhi when together with somebody, in deep love. And there are two kinds of people: the extroverts will find it easier to have their peak through the other, and the introverts will find it easier to have their greatest peak while alone. But the other is not antagonistic; they can both move together. One will be bigger, and that will be the decisive factor in whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. The path of Buddha is the path of the introvert; it talks only about meditation. The path of Christ is extrovert; it talks about love.

My sannyasin has to be a synthesis of both. An emphasis will be there: somebody will be emphatically more in tune with himself than with others, and somebody will be just the opposite --more in tune with somebody else. But there is no need to get hooked into one kind of experience. Both experiences can remain available.

And the ninth is transcendence, Tao, no ego, no-mind, nobodiness, nothingness, in tune with the whole.

That is the whole message of Prajnaparamita Sutra, the Heart Sutra: gate gate paragate --gone, gone, gone beyond -- parasamgate bodhi svaha --gone altogether beyond. What ecstasy! Alleluia!

Transcendence is the last and the highest quality of a sannyasin.

But these are only indications, these are not definitions. Take them in a very liquid way. Don't start taking what I have said in a rigid way... very liquid, in a vague kind of vision, in a twilight vision --not like when there is a full sun in the sky. Then things are very defined. In a twilight, when the sun has gone down and the night has not yet descended, it is both, just in the middle, the interval. Take whatsoever I have said to you in that kind of way. Remain liquid, flowing. Never create any rigidity around you. Never become definable.

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