It is called renunciation and it will take you to a painless state. If you want to remove pain and the problems of attachment, you must renounce. Now, many people misunderstand exactly what renunciation is. Renunciation is not not having. If that is the case, you can go to Calcutta or any big city and you will see thousands of families living on the streets. They give birth and die on the streets. These people have nothing. But does this mean they are renunciates? They have nothing to get attached to. They have nothing, not even a roof. The street is their home.
No, in order to renounce you must have something to renounce. If you want to get a divorce, you need a marriage first. Marriage is the first step towards divorce! In the same way, if you want to have something to renounce, you must have possessions. Then only can you renounce. The people on the Calcutta streets are not renunciates because they have nothing to renounce. First they must have an object. Then they slowly become attached to the object. At present they do not have anything. But not because they do not have desires. They have desires. They see people in their cars, in their homes. They have the desires but they know that these things are beyond their reach. So they have accepted their situation, appearing to be desireless. In fact they are numb. But the desire is dormant, like a seed. If you offer them something, they will take it and then desire more. The spirit of renunciation is not to do with having or not having. It is a state of mind.
Let me tell you a story. Kind Janaka was a God-realised saintly king. He lived in the city and ruled his kingdom from his palace amid servants and royal paraphernalia and luxury. His people knew he was a realised king. However, some local pundits were jealous and started rumours and gossip saying that he was not realized; that is was all pretence and that he was living in the palace luxuriating in splendour and had not renounced a thing. ” He has queens, and all the pleasures of the palace and yet he thinks he is God-realised” they whispered. As the gossip spread it reached the ears of the king. He decided to teach the pundits a small lesson. He sent out a special invitation for a royal dinner at the palace. Only important, very learned pundits were invited. This would be the first time they had an opportunity to go to the palace and have a royal dinner with the king! Dinner was an elaborate affair, with 108 dishes, each sumptuously prepared. The prayer was said, the water sprinkled and then one by one their eyes looked upward. They all froze. Above each of their heads lay poised a sharp pointed sword, hanging only by a thin thread.
The thread was so thin that even the vibration from small talk might have snapped it. So silence fell. The pundits could not leave for fear of offending the king and until dinner was finished they were unable to quit the table. No-one spoke. They ate greedily to finish the meal. They were taken to the King’s court to pay their respects. They were all seated and the King asked, ” Oh learned pundits, you know the Upanishads, the Vedas, and I am proud of you. I wanted to give you the best dinner. I asked for the best dishes to be served. Did they give you all the 108 dishes? How did the meal taste? Was it prepared properly? Were the sweets good?”.
To find out what the pundits said, follow the blog, as the last part of this series will be posted next week!