A lesson in renunciation

At one point the stewardess asked me the significance of the colour of my track suit. It happened to be the colour of renunciation.

She said, "See, I can't renounce. Your Hindu philosophy is renunciation."

I said, "I could have been wearing any colour, but you have asked me the significance of this particular colour."

She said, "But I can't renounce."

I said, "You don't have to renounce anything except things that are unnecessary in your life. If you need only one car and you have two, then get rid of the extra one. If you have four or five houses and you only need one, then keep just one."

She said, "I have a beautiful ring. It is certainly not necessary in my life. Do you think I have to renounce it?"

I said, "If you are attached to it, then renounce it. But if you are not attached to it, then you do not have to renounce it. Just tell me, do you feel a kind of vanity about it?"

She said, "I do feel some vanity."

I said, "When you wear it, do you feel extra joy? Do you feel that you look more beautiful?"

She said, "That I can't say, but I feel happiness when I wear it."

I said, "All right, because of this ring God will not delay your God-realisation. But if you are deeply attached to your ring, then just discard it."

I was talking loudly, and the people beside me and behind me were all listening in awe. One man had been smiling at the beginning of our conversation. But after a while he started leaning forward so that he could hear everything. He was showing such respect for our marathon conversation.

Finally, this girl gave me her card and said, "You are a great man." She lives only five or six blocks from our Centre.

She was very simple, very soulful, very pure. Who knows, someday she may become my disciple. Then, the rest of her life she will be able to say that on the plane she had such a soulful and powerful talk with me.

— 22 November 1982