Desire, the son of a rich businessman and Renunciation the daughter of a minimalistic Brahmin were young neighbours in their late teens. Desire had anything and everything one could think of.
A Casanova at heart he flaunted his red Ferrari, romanced the best looking girls in town and had countless friends, most of whom were only there to enjoy his wealth and all that it could buy.
His most attractive girl-friend was Problem. She was always seen with him. Lady Problem had a huge wardrobe, as she always appeared in new attire. Desire’s sister, Reputation who was a year younger than him, was spoiled by her companionship. She had pestered her father to buy her new clothes every week to match the standards of Problem. Desire and Reputation were the pride of their family and always got what they wanted. Desire’s friends praised them for their possessions, but there wasn’t a single person from either his friends or girl-friends whom he could rely on without his wealth. His parents had raised him in a lavishly pampering manner such that he came to believe that money was the sole basis of survival. Whenever he imagined a life without money, he would simply dismiss the thought. It made him feel heavily insecure!
Renunciation on the other hand was used to a minimalistic life-style and was raised by her parents to make do with bare minimum needs for survival. She was proud of her strength to live without luxuries and an extravagant life-style, and scorned people who flaunted their wealth meaninglessly. Though kind to others, Renunciation was sort of unkind to herself, as she would often force herself into forgoing simple pleasures like enjoying a cake even when lovingly offered by her friends. She would see birthday celebrations as an extravaganza and waste of money. The sight of her neighbour, Desire, would just flare her up, as she despised him from the bottom of her heart.
Desire too had no great views about Renunciation. He thought of her as a girl just proud for nothing. Though secretly it pinched his heart as to why this unattractive, plain looking female did not care two hoots for the most handsome, rich and eligible bachelor in town. It seemed almost unnatural to him, for any girl not to fall for him.
However, Renunciation’s father, the wise Brahmin, was a good friend of Desire’s dad. He neither approved nor disapproved of Desire’s ways. This was even more disheartening for Renunciation. One day Renunciation decided to ask her father why he had brought her up to live in a minimalistic lifestyle and yet be friends with people who live a lavish lifestyle. He looked at her eyes and saw a pain of deprivation, but replied shortly, “Everyone has a choice to live according to the way they want to. I don’t interfere with people’s choices.”
“You won’t mind even if it is not in the best interests of humanity? Will you not preach to them what you have taught me?”, Renunciation retorted.
“How am I to decide what is good for others? I feel that there is a universal guiding principle in each of us that prompts us to do what we perform. It could prompt me to preach, but so far it hasn’t. Even if you preach, people only choose to follow their interpretation of what you say. You understand they choose to follow! I have not imposed anything upon you; you have chosen to follow your interpretation of my teaching. Ask yourself why is it that you choose what you choose. The way we live is our teaching to the world, what is said in words is always less. That universal guiding principle takes care of the universal good, though its results may not be immediately evident, but I have found it to be a fool proof mechanism that works through to maintain equilibrium. As I trust that the force that could bring forth such a vast and magnificent universe won’t be a fool to design it without looking into possible errors and their remedies. There must be something inbuilt to set it right, if it ever goes wrong.”
Her father’s words echoed in her ears, “Ask yourself, why is it that you choose what you choose.” Her thoughts were dotted with different kinds of people, people with different lifestyles. Accustomed as she was to her minimalistic lifestyle, she thought of the pros and cons of her life-style. Discovering finally for herself, that it made her more independent, life was less cluttered and she could be called more adaptable. The cons were that she was not able to taste all aspects of life and live it so called ‘fully’.
On the other hand the so called ‘living fully’ kind of lifestyle had its pros of getting to taste all the aspects of life, while always with a lurking danger of getting dependant and/ or addicted to the ‘tastes’ and indulgent life-style and become a slave of it, slogging continuously to maintain that. Somewhere a need for moderation was required.
“These two lifestyles could be considered polar, and a balance would be somewhere in the middle. What if one could enjoy all tastes without getting addicted or dependant on them! That would be incredible!”, She thought to herself.
While taking a walk in the garden that evening, she saw a cat that was chasing a mouse and finally managed to grab it. After feasting on its prey, it simply sat with eyes closed as if enjoying the satisfaction of a full stomach. Then a stouter field rat ran across the cat, but the cat made no attempt to chase or catch it. There didn’t seem any need to do so. No one had taught this cat not to be lazy in the first instance to hunt its prey, or not to be greedy when full. It just took in the amount of food that was sufficient to satisfy its hunger. No forced austerity existed here. No unnecessary preaching, just an inner guidance and a wonderful balance and equilibrium were so visible in Nature. She realised then, what her father meant by the force that maintains equilibrium in the universe. The equilibrium and the guiding principle were so evident in this incident!
Slowly with passing time she came to accept the reality of different lifestyles, and the different forms of reality. She no longer felt the need to scorn at Desire, and sometimes even greeted him with a smile. Desire welcomed this change in Renunciation, and they got friendlier. Desire found the friendship with Renunciation a meaningful one. A relationship that was much deeper than any other friendship he had had so far. In her, he could see how one could be happy with simple things in life. He discovered that kindness brought more joy than a loud party, and a simple walk on grass laden with dew-drops was much healthier and fulfilling than turning heads with a Ferrari.
Problem was distanced from Desire by his growing friendliness with Renunciation and Reputation gained positively from this association.
This friendship also worked well for Renunciation. She was able to see that there was no harm in enjoying simple ‘luxuries’ like a cake, or celebrating a birthday, if it made a friend smile. It was something similar to being kind, though in a different language.
Author: Jyoti Prateek