Thursday, June 16, 2005

Life, Pleasure, Pain

From Eknath Easwaran, "Words to Live By" (Nilgiri Press, 1997)

The Gita does not say that we should not go after pleasure.

When I first heard this from my grandmother, I really took to the Gita immediately; but I wasn't expecting what she said next:
"The Gita doesn't say not to go after pleasure; it says that when you go after pleasure you are also going after pain." It is not possible for most of us to accept this. We are always cherishing the distant hope that while no other human being has ever succeeded in isolating pleasure, we are going to perform this miraculous operation and then live in a state of pleasure always. To enter a state of abiding joy we must sometimes say no to pleasure while accepting pain with a smile.

Just as we should not pursue pleasure, we should not pursue pain, either. Pleasure and pain form a single duality of experience. We must learn to remain calm in both, not clinging to either.

My thoughts: We talk about it being important to remember that people will do anything to derive pleasure and even more to avoid pain whenever we go through programmes on Change Management etc. Consider this - If it is true that almost every 'normal' human has been sucked into this earthly life of pleasure and pain, how difficult is it going to be to come out of this rut and be a detached and stand-alone 'system'? And well, I can't help thinking that life may be boring if one were to stay unaffected. I’ll also be my own alter-ego and say that it's a trade off between whether one is willing to be swayed by a wild & exciting swing called life - scream at every high, bleed at every fall, and sit silently when the swing is still - or just experience the process minus the screams, falls, and silence. This thread of thought reminds me of Howard Roark (The central character in The FountainHead) who simply enjoyed life (read architecture) while managing to stay unaffected by what happened around him – even if it was about lost opportunities and a cruel and bitter society that was always plotting against him. Howard is what one could perhaps call a ‘truly’ happy man who was at peace with himself and the world despite its vagaries. I’ve been grinding the same flour for quite some time now. But like one of my colleagues once said “repeated deliberation is what will clear the fog and help one understand the truth!”


Puru said...

Nice Perspective to look at things here Nimmy. Somehow, some of your entries are definitely worth a read, even for a stranger like me, who HAPPENED to touch your blog.

Keep up the good work!

Nimmy said...

Thanks p-uru! :)