Chapter 2: Letters
I had been to a village. I heard someone there saying: “Religion lies in renunciation, and renunciation is an arduous and demanding discipline.”
As I heard this, I was reminded of an incident from my early childhood. I had accompanied a picnic party to the bank of a river. The river was small but with a vast expanse of sand. On the sandy bank there lay many pebbles in luminous colors. I felt I had stumbled on a treasure. By the evening I had collected so many pebbles that it was not possible to bring them home with me. Tears came into my eyes when I had to leave them behind as I left, and I was surprised to see my companions’ lack of interest in those pebbles.
That day they seemed to me to be great renouncers. When I think of it today, I see that there is no question of renunciation once you have known stones as stones.
Ignorance is indulgence.
Knowing is renunciation.
Renunciation is not a doing; it is not something to be done, it just happens. It is a natural result of knowing. Indulgence is mechanical: that too is not a doing - it is a natural result of ignorance.
Hence, the idea that renunciation is a hard and arduous task is meaningless. In the first place it is not an act - activities alone can be difficult and strenuous - it is an outcome. Secondly, in renunciation what apparently drops is worthless, and what is attained is priceless.
In fact, renunciation as such does not exist, because we gain immensely more than we drop. The reality is that we drop only our bondage, but we gain liberation; we drop only shells but we receive diamonds; we forsake only death but attain immortality; we leave only darkness but attain the light - eternal and infinite.
Where then is the renunciation? Dropping nothing and receiving everything cannot be called renunciation.