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Gandhi on De-cluttering, Jettisoning, Contributing to Flotsam

February 2, 2010

Gandhi’s Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, which I’ve been reading along with too many other books for the past several weeks, has proven to be a slow but nonetheless enlightening and profoundly challenging read with respect to my Western lifestyle. I thought I’d share one of the great passages I read last night, as it relates to my previous post on de-cluttering.

Some of the incidents during the voyage [home to India from South Africa] are well worth recording. Mr. Kallenbach was very fond of binoculars, and had one or two costly pairs. We had daily discussions over one of these. I tried to impress on him that this possession was not in keeping with the ideal of simplicity that we aspired to reach. Our discussions came to a head one day, as we were standing near the porthole of our cabin.

‘Rather than allow these to be a bone of contention between us, why not throw them into the sea and be done with them?’ said I.

‘Certainly throw the wretched things away,’ said Mr. Kallenbach.

‘I mean it,’ said I.

‘So do I,’ quickly came the reply.

And forthwith I flung them into the sea. They were worth some £7, but their value lay less in their price than in Mr. Kallenbach’s infatuation for them. However, having got rid of them, he never regretted it.

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