Before I made my application to take sannyas I had a big problem, thinking that taking sannyas was recognizing that one is ill. I was so confused about it, and I didn’t trust telling any sannyasin. I read that you said in Pune that we are all ill until we are enlightened. Can you talk more about the relationship between master and disciple, between doctor and patient?
Jean-Luc, the confusion is an indication of what I call sickness. Clarity is health.
Have you ever heard of any madman recognizing that he is mad? If he recognizes it, that will be the beginning of sanity. But no madman ever recognizes that he is mad.
I am reminded of a few cases:
When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister of India, there were at least one dozen people in the madhouses of India who thought they were the real Jawaharlal Nehru, and some phony man was ruling the country, while they had been forced into the madhouse so that they could not expose the phoniness of the man who had become the prime minister.
In Bareilly, India has its biggest madhouse…and Jawaharlal was going to Bareilly. One madman was thought by the doctors to be cured; they thought it would be great – Jawaharlal was going to visit the madhouse and this madman could be released from the madhouse by Jawaharlal himself. This man would rejoice, and it would enhance the prestige of the institution too.
The madman was brought to Jawaharlal. The first question he asked was “Who are you?” The doctors were a little nervous. This is not the way to talk to the prime minister of the country.
But Jawaharlal said, “My name is Jawaharlal Nehru.”
And the madman had a good laugh. He said, “Don’t be worried. It will take just three years, and you will be cured just as I am cured. These doctors are great. When I came to this place, I used to think in the same way – that I am Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Now you have come – strange coincidence, that I am going out and you are coming in.”
It has been happening in many instances throughout the world. During the Second World War, Winston Churchill had gone for an evening walk. There used to be a certain fixed time that a horn would go off around the city. Everybody had to go inside the house, lights had to be dimmed, curtains had to be drawn. It was as if London had disappeared. But walking, and worried about the war, Winston Churchill forgot about the time and when he heard the horn he was miles away from his house. And it was a standing order that if anybody was found on the road after the horn stopped he could be shot, no questions would be asked. In a hurry, he knocked at the first door – it was a question of life and death – and a man opened the door. The man said, “Who are you?”