A kite with a fish was being harassed by a host of crows, screeching and pecking at it, trying to snatch its fish away. In whatever direction it flew, the flock followed, screeching and cawing. Getting tired, the kite let go the fish and it was caught by one of the crows, after which the flock transferred their kind attentions to the new owner of the fish. The first kite, left unmolested, landed calmly on the branch of a tree. Seeing this transpire and the kite’s now quiet and tranquil state, a holy man saluted it, saying, ‘You are my Guru, O Kite; for you have taught me that so long as man does not throw off the burden of his worldly desires, he cannot be undisturbed and at peace with himself.’
Paraphrased from the Sayings of Ramakrishna, verse 283
While working this week I was introduced to a concept I was not familiar with: dharma renunciation. While the term dharma is used in all the Indian religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism) a bit differently, I’ve come to understand it in the broadest sense as the path or way towards enlightenment/salvation/righteousness. The idea of dharma renunciation, on the surface, sounded like a contradiction and pulled me right off of work and into a study of this idea of renunciation.
All-consuming, desire takes up most of our daily conscious thought. Even in the back of our minds, we are spinning ideas on how to acquire this or that, fulfilling the needs and wants of our families and ourselves. Most religions teach us that our thoughts should not be on the things of this world, but unless we are committed to vows of poverty it’s not realistic. We have to work and we work to acquire. Society is set up to focus our thoughts on wanting, on desire.
Four years ago, I made the conscious decision to go into business for myself. I wanted to focus on my lifelong goal of becoming a writer. Unknowingly, I was practicing dharma renunciation. I decided to forgo the benefits of a high-paying job and chose instead a simpler life and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
Removing all desire from out lives is impossible, but we can remove some and the rewards can be profound. As Ramachrisna teaches in the story about the kite and the fish, much can be gained from throwing off our worldly desires for the things we want and accepting with an open heart only the things we need.
Ramakrishna said it best in verse 364: In what condition of the mind does God-vision take place? God is seen when the mind is tranquil. When the mental sea is agitated by the wind of desires, it cannot reflect God, and then God-vision is impossible.