Two Shades of White

A trekker finds a precious stone in a mountain stream. The next day he meets an attractive woman who has lost her way and is starving. The man opens his bag to share his food. The woman sees the precious stone and asks the man to give it to her. He does so without hesitation. The woman leaves, rejoicing. She knew the stone was worth a fortune.

But a few days later, she comes back to return the stone, “I have been thinking… If one can gift a gem so precious to a stranger, how much more he will do for one of his own! I am returning your gem in the hope that you can give me something even more precious, i.e. your heart that enabled you to give me the stone. Marry me.”

The story radiates goodness. The man was a good human. But so was the woman. It takes a lot to recognize goodness, to wage an inner battle, to change self, and to pursue a righteous path. The two souls were pious and made for each other. A heart-warming tale, indeed! But the story isn’t over yet.

The two got married; however, an unexpected saga unfolded. Much to the woman’s dismay, her husband’s detachment didn’t apply only to materialist possessions, but to relationships as well. She felt as if she was married to a monk, one who was unattached to anything or anyone around him. How she wished she had never come back to return the stone!

So why the unpleasant twist to a beautiful story? To illustrate the difference between two human traits—our stand-alone vs. group identity. The hero in the story was a remarkable selfless “individual”. But when it came to his “social” identity, his personality left a lot to be desired.

When we live in a society, we have a set of obligations towards the ones who surround us at workplace and at home—our colleagues need to feel special on their birthday, our parents need to feel wanted each day, our spouse needs to feel important each moment, and so on.

Just being a good human being is not good enough. We need to be a good social being as well. Selflessness is good, but aloofness is not. Detachment is good, but lifelessness is not.

Obligation, Adapted, Team, Style


  1. Reminded me of The Alchemist, short and crisp, KISS!

  2. White color can be changed to black while black to white by applying a coat of black or white color.
    Same way this lady could have worked to change his personality or worked to make him social , by continuously working on him.
    Many arranged marriages are successful even when you do not know each other.
    Do not just expect , what you have done to change him.
    God bless help the couple and the individuals

  3. Very nicely moral value explained and shared. The two faces of human both as personal and professional in a society.

  4. Change is something that an individual needs to fight within him or herself. Like the saying goes “Don’t judge the book by its cover” in the same context it’s difficult to judge the person from a single action. Materialism and relationships are poles apart. I liked the story. It’s a lesson for those who believe in a second chance and also for those who would like to commit only after proper scrutiny.

  5. Great blog.
    True sense of detachment is when you get attached to a thing that is much bigger than what is with you right now.
    In Hindu culture the its called Vairagya. It literally means transparent.It means you take the color of surrounding. People misunderstand this as colorless. If you have become transparent, if what is behind you is red, you turn red too. If what is behind you is blue, you turn blue too. If what is behind you is yellow, you turn yellow too. You are unprejudiced. Wherever you are, you become a part of that, but nothing sticks to you. Only if you are like this, only if you are in a state of Vairag, then you will dare to explore all dimensions of life when you live here.
    The best example of this state is Lord Krishna, He was completely involved in every thing yet completely detached.

  6. One such selfless person who has always inspired me is Late Neerja Bhanot who was shot while saving hundreds of passengers. She did not see religion, caste, creed among those present, she saw everybody as humans and wanted to help as many as she could.
    A week back a guy nearly in his teens had met with an accident in front of my eyes and all i could see was people shooting the incident rather proffering help, that very moment i parked my bike and rushed him to a nearby government hospital.
    Waking up to a “Thanks for being there for my kid when nobody did, Forever in your debt” message popping on my phone screen made me realize the true meaning of the words by Pierce Brosnan “I realize how precious life is, probably because I’ve seen how it can be taken away”

  7. Problem comes when we judge and build more on our expectations , without giving space , time and understanding to constraints . We all move in path where we evolve continuously , some align with known and some with unknown , but those who drift , will continuously only linger in finding reasons to judge their perfectness !

  8. Such a revelation. But I feel everything has to have a balance. If one is on a spiritual path and parallelly involved too much with the material world, he or she does not achieve their primary goal. So spending too much time making others happy and fulfilling material obligations is not recommended

  9. As much as I feel for the woman in this story, I also must admit that it was a choice she made. What we feel or go through is a sum of our choices. Whether we choose someone who feels for others, or someone who is a nirmohi, it must be someone who is worth making that choice.

    PS: There are many who are quite compatible with the ascetics.

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Two Shades of White - Arun Nathani Blog