pleasure – pain


“When the senses contact sense objects, a person experiences cold or heat or pain. These experiences are fleeting; they come and go. Bear them patiently.”
Bhagavad Gita


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.

~ Eknath Eswaran

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