There is a story of a married couple who both renounced the world and went out on a pilgrimage to various shrines.
One day, as they were moving on, the husband, who was a little ahead of his wife, saw a sparkling diamond on the ground. Immediately, he covered it with a handful of mud, thinking that if his wife saw it, she might be overcome by greed and thus lose sight of the great ideal of renunciation.
While he was thus busy, the wife came up and asked him what he was doing? The husband gave an evasive reply. She noticed the diamond, however, and reading his thoughts, said to him: “Why did you renounce the world, if you still feel the difference between a diamond and dust?”
The practical problem is: how to achieve the state of desirelessness? Different teachers have offered different answers to this question.
Sadhu Vaswani said to us: “To become desireless, sing the name of God and give the service of love to all who suffer and are in pain.”
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said: “God cannot be seen so long as there is the slightest taint of desire. Therefore, have thy small desires satisfied, and renounce the big desires by right reasoning and discrimination.”
The great Sufi teacher, Niffari, said: “Consider the last of everything, if thou wilt depart from the dream of it.”
In the Srimad Bhagavatam, we are told: “When one sees this Universe as ephemeral, one gains true discrimination and turns away from worldliness. The Self becomes the Saviour of self.”
The great teacher Sri Ramana Maharishi has said: “Every time you attempt to satisfy a desire, the knowledge comes that it is better to resist. Repeated reminders of this kind will, in due course, weaken the desire.”
Let us follow the method we chose to. The goal of being desireless must always be in front of us. As the Upanishad says: “Arise! Awake! Stop not until the goal is reached!”