Austerity – In Gita Verse 2.61 One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and ﬁxes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence.
When Krishna says restrains senses, he means, austerity, “Be simple, don’t cultivate it”…because cultivated simplicity is not simplicity. How can a cultivated simplicity be simple? It is very complex; you have been trying, calculating, cultivating.
But Masochists have converted austerity into self-torture. They think that the more you torture the body, the more spiritual you become. Torturing the body is the way to become spiritual: this is the understanding of the masochist.
Torturing the body is not a way; torturing is violent. Whether you torture others or yourself, it is violent; and violence can never be religious. What is the difference between torturing someone else’s body and torturing your own body? What is the difference? The body is “the other.” Even your own body is the other. Your body is a little closer and the other’s body is a little farther away, that’s all. Because yours is closer it is more likely to become a victim of your violence; you can torture it. And for thousands of years people have been torturing their bodies with the false notion that it is the way towards the divine.
Austerity cannot be practiced. You simply have to look at life and see that the more complicated you become, the less sensitive you become. And the less sensitive you are, the farther away from existence you are. The more sensitive you become, then closer and closer and closer you come. A day comes when you are sensitive to the very roots of your being; suddenly you are no longer there, you are just a sensibility, a sensitivity. You are no longer there, you are just an awareness. Everything is beautiful then, everything is alive; nothing is dead. Everything is conscious; nothing is alive, nothing is dead. Everything is conscious, nothing is unconscious.
With your sensitivity, the world changes. At the last moment, when the sensitivity reaches to its total, its ultimate climax, the world disappears; there is the divine. The divine is not to be found, really; sensitivity has to be found. Be sensitive totally that nothing is left behind, no holding back; and suddenly, the divine is there. It has always been there; it is just that you were not sensitive.
For Krishna austerity is a simple life, a life of understanding. You need not move into a hut, you need not go naked. You can live simply in life, with understanding. Poverty will not help but understanding will. You can force poverty on yourself, you can become dirty, but that won’t help.
Become more sensitive, become more austere. And when Krishna says become, Krishna doesn’t mean practice, Krishna means understand. Try to see that whenever you are simple, things go beautifully. Whenever you are complex, things become problematic; you create more puzzles to be solved and everything becomes entwined, a mess.
Live a simple life of needs being fulfilled, with no mad desires. You need food, you need clothing, you need a shelter – finish. You need somebody to love; you need somebody to be loved by. Love, food, shelter – simple.
What is the trouble with man? The trouble is that he thinks that for enjoyment certain conditions have to be fulfilled first; this is the trouble. To enjoy life in fact no conditions are to be fulfilled; it is an unconditional invitation. But man thinks that certain conditions have to be fulfilled first; only then can he enjoy life. This is the complex mind.
The simple mind feels that one has to enjoy whatsoever is available. Enjoy it! No conditions are to be fulfilled. And the more you enjoy this moment, the more capable you become of enjoying the next. The capacity grows; the greater and greater it becomes, the higher and higher it goes – it is infinite. And when you come to the infinity of enjoyment, that is what God is. God is not a person sitting somewhere and waiting for you. By this time He will have got bored, waiting and waiting for you. He will have committed suicide if He had any sense…waiting for you.
God is not a person. He is not a goal, He is a way of enjoying life right here and now. God is the attitude of being blissful for no reason at all. You are miserable for no reason at all; that is the complex mind.
An austere man comes to know that happiness is the nature of life. You need not have any causes to be happy. You can simply be happy just because you are alive! Life is happiness, life is bliss; but this is possible only for an austere man. A man who accumulates things always thinks that because of these things he is going to be happy. Palaces, money, gadgets – he thinks that because of these things he is going to be happy. Riches are not the problem; the attitude of the man who tries to find riches is the problem. The attitude is: unless I have all these things, I cannot be happy. This man will always remain unhappy. An austere man comes to know that life is so simple that whatsoever he has, he can be happy. He need not postpone it for anything else.
Austerity will mean then: come down to your needs.
Desires are mad, needs are natural. Food, shelter, love; bring your whole life energy down just to the level of needs, and you will be happy. And a happy man cannot be other than religious; and an unhappy man cannot be other than irreligious. He may pray, he may go to the temple and the mosque; that doesn’t matter. How can an unhappy man pray? His prayer will have a deep complaint in it, a grudge. It will be a deep grump. Prayer is gratitude, not complaint.
Be austere. Live with the necessary and forget about desires. They are fantasies in the mind, ripples in the lake. They only disturb you, they can never lead you to any contentment.
Krishna is saying that act for your need with all your sensitivity, don’t restrain your sensitivity, become more sensitive and then act. Even if it is war be sensitive and fight the war. Then even the war will be Divine. If you can do that you become whole, united with God.