SRI SWAMI SIVANANDA
This article is a chapter from the book “Bliss Divine”.
“At the doors of large granaries are placed traps containing fried rice (Moori) to catch mice. The mice, attracted by the flavour of the fried rice, forgets the more solid pleasure of tasting the rice inside the granary, and fall into the trap. They are caught therein and killed. Just so is the case with the soul. It stands on the threshold of Divine bliss, which is like millions of the highest worldly pleasures solidified into one; but instead of striving for that bliss, it allows itself to be enticed by the petty pleasures of the world and falls into the trap of Maya, the great illusion, and dies therein”.
– Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
A Spectacle of Sorrow
Pleasure Is Mixed with Pain
Pleasure and Pain Lie in the Mind
Pleasure Is the Cause of Pain
The Source of Happiness
Real Happiness Is Within
Sensual Pleasure and Spiritual Bliss
Man wants happiness. He shuns pain. He moves heaven and earth to get the happiness he wants from sensual objects, and lo, gets himself entangled in the extricable meshes of Maya. Poor man! He does not know that these objects are perishable and evanescent, finite and conditioned in time, space, and causation. And what is more, he fails to get the desired happiness from them.
Sensual pleasure is tantalizing. There is enchantment so long as man does not possess the objects. The moment he is in possession of the object, the charm vanishes. He finds that he is in entanglement.
The bachelor thinks of his marriage, day and night. He thinks he is in imprisonment after the marriage is over. He is not able to satisfy the extravagant wants of his wife. He wants to run away from the house to forests. The rich but childless man thinks he will be more happy by getting a son, goes on pilgrimage to Ramesvaram and Kasi, and performs various religious ceremonies. But when he gets a child, he feels miserable; the child suffers from epileptic fits and his money is given away to doctors. Even then, there is no cure. This is Mayaic jugglery. The whole world is fraught with temptation.
A worldly man is always drowned in sorrow. He is ever struggling to get something, some money, some power, some position, and so on. He is always anxious as to whether or not he would get it. Even when he is in actual possession of the thing he so passionately longed for, he is very anxious lest he should lose it.
A rich man has great wealth, but he has no children. And so he is pained at heart. A poor man has fourteen children, but he has nothing to eat, and so he is miserable. One man has wealth and children, but his son is a vagabond, and so he is worried. One man has riches and good sons, but his wife is very quarrelsome. No one is happy in this world.
The session judge is very discontented. He thirsts to become a high court judge. The minister is also discontented. He longs to become the premier. A millionaire is discontented; he yearns to become a Croropati (Billionaire). The husband is discontented; his wife is black and thin; he wants to marry another wife with good complexion. The wife is discontented; she want to divorce and marry a rich, young husband. A lean man is discontented; he wants to put on fat and gulps cod-liver oil. A fat man takes antifat pills. No man is contented in this world.
A doctor thinks that the advocate is very happy. The advocate thinks that the businessman is more happy. The businessman thinks that the judge is more happy. The judge thinks that the professor is more happy. No one is happy in this world.
An emperor is not happy. A dictator is not happy. A president of a state is not happy. God Indra is not happy.
Who is happy then ? A sage is happy. A Yogi is happy. He who has controlled his mind is happy.
Happiness comes from peace of mind. Peace of mind comes from a state of mind wherein there are no desires, no Moha, no Vishaya, no thoughts of objects. You should forget all ideas of pleasure before you enter the domain of peace.
You cannot have pleasure without pain. Wherever there is pleasure, there is pain. You vainly seek pleasure in gold, in women (or men in the case of women), in this mundane existence. You cannot have absolute happiness in a relative physical plane of pairs of opposites. The pairs of opposites rotate in their turn. Death follows life. Night follows day. Light follows darkness. Pain follows pleasure.
One part of pleasure is mixed with fifteen parts of pain. Pleasure that is mixed with pain, fear and worry is no pleasure at all. If you carefully begin to analyze this one part of pleasure also, it will dwindle into an airy nothing. You will find that it is mere play of the mind.
Pleasure and pain are relative terms only. They are not two entities. They are obverse and reverse sides of the same coin. The difference is not in kind, but in degree only.
Pleasure and pain are two names for one thing. They are two aspects of one thing. For a worldly man without philosophical knowledge, they appear as two different entities.
PLEASURE AND PAIN LIE IN THE MIND
What is pleasure for you is pain for another. What is pleasure for you now is pain after some time. The first two cups of milk gives you pleasure. The third cup induces disgust, nausea and retching. Milk does not give pleasure during fever. Therefore, pleasure is not in the objects, but in the imagination or inclination of the mind.
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.
Pleasure and pain are in the mind only. It is subjective. Things, when longed for, are pleasant; but are bitter if not longed for. Desires are the cause for pleasures.
You can convert pleasure into pain and pain into pleasure by thinking, by Bhavana, by imagination. Many vegetarian students who have gone to England to prosecute their studies have become inveterate meat-eaters. Meat was very repulsive to them when they were in India. Mere sight used to induce vomiting. How is it they are able to relish meat with avidity, cupidity and stupidity now ? By simple change in thinking.
Ignorant persons attribute their pleasure to external objects. That is a serious blunder, indeed. Really, there is no pleasure in objects. There is neither pleasure nor pain in objects. It is all mental creation, mental perception, mental jugglery. It is only the mental attitude or a certain kind of mental behaviour towards objects that bring joy or grief, pleasure or pain. Maya has her powerful seat in the imagination of the mind.
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. A real thing must give pleasure for everybody at all times. Is it not ?
The cause of pain is pleasure. The man who is addicted to taking tea, and is in the habit of taking fruits and milk after meals, feels very miserable when he cannot get tea, or fruits and milk, in a certain place. When the wife dies, the husband is drowned in sorrow, not because of the loss of his loving partner in life, but because he cannot get sexual pleasure now.
The cause of pain is pleasure. The cause of death is love for sensual life. Give up all sensual pleasures, if you do not want pain. Give up sensual life, if you do not want death.
Enjoyment cannot bring satisfaction of desire. On the contrary, it aggravates and intensifies desires and makes the mind more restless through sense-hankering or Trishna, just as the pouring of ghee or oil aggravates fire. The fewer the wants, the greater the happiness.
Many rich persons, in spite of their immense wealth and possession of two or three wives, are extremely miserable and unhappy. I have come in contact with several rich landlords. They are all discontented, restless, peevish and very miserable. It is evident, therefore, that happiness does not lie either in money, objects or woman (or man).
There is no happiness at all in any of the objects of the world. There is not an iota of happiness in objects, because they are insentient. Even the sensual pleasure is a reflection of the Atmic bliss only. It is sheer ignorance to think that we derive any pleasure from the sense-objects or from the mind.
When there is a desire in the mind, the mind is filled with Rajas. It is in an agitated condition. It is restless and unpeaceful. It will be restless till the desired object is attained. When the object is attained and enjoyed, when the desire is gratified, the mind moves towards the Inner Soul. It ceases functioning. It is filled with Sattva. All thoughts subside for a split second; the mind rests in the Soul within. The Soul’s bliss is reflected in the intellect. But the ignorant man thinks that he is getting the happiness from the object; just as the dog which is biting a dry bone imagines that it is getting the pleasure from the bone, that the blood is oozing from the bone, whereas in reality, the blood comes from its own palate.
Real happiness is within you. It is in the Atman. It is subjective. It manifests when the mind is concentrated. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from the objects outside, when the mind is one-pointed, when there is Vasana-kshya and Manonasa, when you become desireless and thoughtless, Atmic bliss begins to dawn, spiritual Ananda begins to thrill.
The musk is in the navel of the deer, but it runs here and there to smell it. The chain is in the neck of the damsel, but she runs hither and thither in search of it. The precious diamond is within you, but you run after the broken glass-pieces in vain. Even so, the ocean of bliss is within you; the fountain of joy is within you; and yet, you run here and there in search of it. The Sun of suns is ever shining in you, but your blind eyes cannot behold it. The eternal sound is ringing within you, but your deaf ears cannot hear it.
Go wherever you may, to Gulmarg or Pahalgam in Kashmir, to Darjeeling in Simla, to Vienna or the Alps. It is all the same. You will not find any real rest. The charming scenery may soothe the retina for a second. Raga, Dvesha, jealousy, passion and greed are everywhere. You will find the same earth, the same sky, the same air, and the same water. And you carry with you the same mind. Imagination and change of place have deceived not a few. O man! Be contented. Live where you may, but discipline the mind and the senses. Meditate on the Inner self, the Antaratman, ceaselessly. Here you will find everlasting peace. Mind will stop deceiving you now.
Raja Bhartrihari, Raja Gopichand, Lord Buddha deserted kingdom and all pleasurable objects, palaces, music, children, wife, etc., to attain Atmic bliss which is everlasting. They attained immortality. They are not fools. Had there been real happiness in objects, they would have stuck to this world. The difficulty is that the worldly men with gross Vyavaharic Buddhi are not able to understand or comprehend a supersensual spiritual bliss that exists beyond the senses, mind and intellect.
SENSUAL PLEASURE AND SPIRITUAL BLISS
Spiritual bliss is the highest bliss. Spiritual bliss is bliss of one’s own Soul. It is transcendental bliss. It is independent of objects. It is continuous, uniform and eternal. It is enjoyed by the sage only.
Sensual pleasure comes out of emotion. But bliss of the Soul is self-delight. It is the innate nature of the Atman. Pleasure is temporal and fleeting. Bliss is eternal and everlasting. Pleasure is mixed with pain. Bliss is unalloyed happiness. Pleasure depends upon nerves, mind and objects. Bliss is independent and self-existent. There is effort in attaining sensual pleasures, but there is no striving in experiencing the bliss of the Soul. The drop joins the ocean. The Jiva floats in the ocean of bliss.
Purify the mind by Japa, Satsanga, charity, control of mind, self-restraint, selfless service, study of the Gita, the Upanishads, Yoga-Vasishtha, Bible, Koran and other religious scriptures, practice of Yama and Niyama, Pranayama, Vairagya and Tyaga. You will then get a proper instrument for meditation, a calm, sharp, subtle, one-pointed mind. Start meditation with the help of this instrument for three hours in the morning and three hours at night. Then a new kind of indescribable Ananda will dawn in you. You will be convinced of a supersensual spiritual bliss. You will have to feel this spiritual Ananda yourself. You will have to eat it yourself. Can you explain the sexual happiness to a boy of twelve ? Can you explain the happiness of sugar-candy to a boy who has not tasted the same ? No, you cannot. The boy himself must eat sugar-candy. He must, when he has grown up, taste the carnal pleasure.
Worldly men think they are quite happy because they get a few ginger biscuits, some money, and a woman. O, if they would just taste the nectar of immortality, what should be the intensity of happiness they should feel!
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 (or Men) are a perpetual source of vexation. Alas! people prefer this path of misery to that of spiritual enjoyment.
Enough, enough of your tea and coffee, enough of soda and lemonade, enough of father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister and relations. You have had countless fathers and mothers, wives and children in the past. You came alone. You will go alone. None will follow you save your own actions. Realize God. All miseries will come to an end.
Though surrounded by pleasurable or painful objects to disturb your equilibrium of mind, remain immovable as a rock, receiving all things with equanimity. 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 cheerfulness. This spirit of cheerfulness must be cultivated by all aspirants.
Keep the mind in state of moderation or happy, golden mean. Never let it run to excesses. People die of shock from extreme depression as well as 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.
This world is a mere appearance. Mind and the senses are deceiving you every moment. You have mistaken pain for pleasure. There is not even an iota of happiness in this sense-universe. Abandon these selfish struggles and schemes for amassing wealth. March directly to that wire-puller who is moving these toys of fleshy human bodies, who is keeping up this big show. In Him only you will find lasting happiness and perennial joy. Merge in Him by practicing daily meditation and japa.