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Pleasure And Pain

by Swami Sivananda

Pleasure And Pain Pertain To Mind

Pleasure and pain are the effects of virtue and vice. They are two kinds of emotions that pertain to the mind alone. It is the mind alone which brings pleasures and pains on itself and enjoys them through its excessive inclination towards objects. Mind contracts during pain and expands during pleasure.

Ahankara creates the body. Prana does all sorts of Cheshtas (efforts). Mind experiences pleasure and pain. If you perform actions through a stainless mind (with Akartri Bhava and Nishkama Bhava), your body will not share their fruits.

There are only facts, vibrations or phenomena outside. Prakriti is blind. Prakriti is quite indifferent. There is neither pleasure nor pain in objects. It is all mental creation, mental perception, mental jugglery. It is only the mental attitude or certain kind of mental behaviour towards objects that brings joy or grief, pleasure and pain. Maya has her powerful seat in the imagination of the mind.

All pains are not equally felt. There is no pain when you are asleep. It is only when the mind is connected with the body that pains arise. It is the identification with the mind and body, Abhimana owing to Avidya, that causes pain.

When the mind is intensely fond of anything, there will be no perception of pain even if destruction awaits the body. When the mind is completely drowned in any object, who else is there to observe and flee from the actions of the body?

When you put one drop of oil on the surface of water, it spreads throughout the surface of water and makes it oily. Even so, a little pain for a luxurious man spoils all his pleasures and makes all objects appear very painful. When you are in acute agony, a cup of coffee, milk or tea does not give you any pleasure. When you are in acute agony, the whole world which appeared to you to be full of bliss while in good health, appears quite dreary. The world loses all its charms while you are seriously ailing.

If the pessimist changes his mental attitude, the world will appear to him to be full of Ananda.

Mind always runs after pleasure, because it is born of Ananda Brahman. You love a mango, because it affords you pleasure. Of all things, you love your own self most. This love of the self gives the clue to the fact that Ananda or bliss must be the nature of the Self.

Atman Has No Pleasure And Pain

Freedom from the body and mind is the real nature of the Self or Atman and, consequently, there being no possibility of virtue and vice, very much less is the chance for any effects of these on the Atman, hence, pleasure and pain do not touch Atman. Atman is Asanga, Anaasakta, Nirlipta (unattached). It is Sakshi of the two modifications, pleasure and pain that arise in the mind. Mind enjoys. Mind suffers. Atman is a silent witness. It has nothing to do with pleasure and pain.

Sense-Pleasure Is Only A Mental Deception

Pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness are all false imaginations of the mind. Mind is a false illusory product. Conceptions of the mind also must, therefore, be false. They are all Mrigatrishna (like a mirage in the desert). What is beautiful for you is ugly for another. Beauty and ugliness are relative terms. Beauty is only a mental concept. It is only a mental projection. It is only a civilised man that takes much of symmetry of form, good features, graceful gaits, elegance of manners, graceful form, etc. An African negro has no idea of all these things. Real beauty is in the Self only. Pleasure and beauty reside in the mind and not in the objects. Mango is not sweet; the idea of mango is sweet. It is all Vritti. It is all mental deception, mental conception, mental creation, mental Srishti. Destroy the Vritti; beauty vanishes. The husband stretches his own idea of beauty in his ugly wife and finds his wife very beautiful through passion. Shakespeare has rightly expressed this in his "Mid-summer Night's Dream": "Cupid is painted blind. It finds Helen's beauty in the brow of Egypt."

Pleasure arising from external objects is evanescent, transitory and fleeting. It is mere nerve-titillation and mental deception. Jiva joins with mind and Vritti and enjoys the Vishayas (sense-objects). The thing that gives you pleasure gives you pain also. "Ye hi samsparsaja bhoga duhkhayonaya eva te-The delights that are contact-born, are verily wombs of pain." The body is an abode of misery and disease. Wealth brings a lot of trouble in acquiring and keeping safe. Sorrow springs from every connection. Women are a perpetual source of vexation. Alas! People prefer this path of misery to that of spiritual enjoyment.

No true, lasting satisfaction comes from the enjoyment of worldly objects. Yet, people rush headlong towards objects even when they know that the objects are unreal and the world is full of miseries. That is Maya. When the mind rests on Atman, then only Nitya-Tripti (eternal satisfaction) will come; because, Atman is Paripurna (all-full), you get everything there. It is self-contained. All desires are gratified by realisation of Atman.

Some say that children are very happy. It is wrong. They only become exuberant. They get serious reaction also. They have no balanced mind. They weep for hours together for nothing at all. It is only a man of balanced mind that can really be happy.

Pleasure Arises From Vritti-Laya: Not From Sense-Objects

Really, there is no pleasure in objects. Atman gives a push to the mind and sets it in motion. A Vritti or thought-wave arises in the mind on account of the force of a Vasana. The mind is agitated and runs towards the particular object. The agitation will not subside till the mind gets the desired object. It will constantly think of the object. It will scheme and plan various methods to achieve the desired object. It will be ever restless. It will be ever assuming the shape of the object. As soon as the object is obtained and enjoyed, the particular Vritti that was causing agitation in the mind gets dissolved. Vritti-Laya takes place. When Vritti-Laya takes place, you get peace and Ananda from the Svarupa or Atman within only and not from the object outside. Ignorant persons attribute their pleasures to external objects. That is a serious blunder, indeed.

There is no happiness at all in any of the objects of the world. It is sheer ignorance to think that we derive any pleasure from the sense-objects or from the mind. Whenever we feel our desires are satisfied, we observe that the mind moves towards the heart, towards Atman. In pleasure also, there is exercise of the mind. It expands. It turns inward and moves to its original home, the place of its origin, Atman and enjoys Atma-Sukha (Bliss of the Self).

Real Happiness Lies Within

Why do you search, in vain, for your happiness, O worldly fools, outside, in objects, money, women, titles, honours, name and fame, which are false, worthless and like cow-dung? You cannot get your happiness there. You are entirely deluded. Search within the heart, subjectively in the Atman, the source and fountain of all happiness.

Real happiness is within you. It is in the Atman. It is subjective. It is in the Sattva Guna and beyond Sattva. It manifests when the mind is concentrated. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from the objects outside, when the mind is one-pointed (Ekagra), when there is Vasana-Kshaya (annihilation of the Vasanas) and Manonasa (annihilation of the mind), when you become desireless and thoughtless, Atmic bliss begins to dawn; spiritual Ananda begins to thrill.

Attachment And Pleasure

The mind is the cause of attachment to delusive objects. It is the mind which is the germ of all Karmas. It daily agitates this body of ours to work and secure for its enjoyment various pleasurable objects.

The mind always wants to be doing something and, when it attaches itself with the objects it cherishes, feels amused and happy. A play at cards has nothing in it; but, the attachment and attention produce pleasure.

There can be attraction without attachment. You can be attracted by a beautiful cabbage rose or a young lady. But it is not necessary that you must be attached either to the rose or to the lady. Attachment comes after possession and enjoyment.

Attachment, love and Ananda (bliss)-all go together. You are attached to your wife and children; you love them also, because they give you Ananda. As this world is illusory and as through Bhranti (illusion) pain appears as pleasure, you must cut asunder all worldly attachments ruthlessly and direct your love and attachment towards the Reality, Brahman, the Adhishthana (substratum or basis) that lies at the back of mind and all objects and is the Sakshi (witness) for all the activities that take place in Buddhi.

It is difficult to divert the mind which, from infancy, has fallen into the pernicious habit of seeking external pleasure and it shall ever persist in doing so, unless you give it something superior to be amused with, a greater form of pleasure to delight in.

Kinds And Degrees Of Pleasures

Intellectual pleasure is far superior to sensual pleasure. Ananda from meditation is far superior to intellectual pleasure. Spiritual bliss or Atmic bliss from Self-realisation is infinite, immeasurable and unbounded. It is Anandaghana (solid mass of bliss).

The Golden Mean

Keep the mind in a state of moderation or happy, golden mean. Never let it run to excesses. People die of shock from extreme depression as well as from extreme joy. Do not allow Uddharsha to crop up in the mind. It is excessive merriment. Mind always runs to extremes-either to extreme depression or extreme joy. Extremes meet. Extremes bring about reaction. Mind can never be calm in excessive joy. Let the mind be cheerful but calm.

Be always cheerful. Laugh and smile. How can a mind that is gloomy and dull think of God? Try to be happy always. Happiness is your very nature. This is termed Anavasada (cheerfulness). This spirit of cheerfulness must be cultivated by all aspirants.

Study spiritual books. Have constant Satsanga. Repeat OM 21,600 times daily with Bhava. It will take you three hours. Meditate on Atman or Krishna. Realise Brahman. Only this will free you from all mundane miseries and afford you eternal peace, knowledge and bliss.

With the growth of mind, pains increase; with its extinction, there will be great bliss. Having lorded over your mind, free yourself from the world of perceptions, in order that you may be of the nature of Jnana. Though surrounded by pleasurable or painful objects to disturb your equilibrium of mind, remain immovable as a rock, receiving all things with equanimity. The final cool joy and laugh consequent upon it is the bliss arising from the mind merging into the stainless Brahman.


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