“Pleasure is the Source of Pain” by Swami Sivananda

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Hinduism
The pleasures that are born of contact with objects are truly the womb of pain, for they have a beginning and an end, O Kaunteya! The wise do not rejoice in them. 

(V-22) 

Pleasure is the womb of pain. Pleasure is the cause of pain. If you do not want pain then give up pleasure. If you do not want death, then give up birth.

You cannot have pleasure without pain. Wherever there is pleasure, there is pain also. You seek vainly for pleasure in gold, in the opposite sex and in this mundane existence. You cannot have absolute happiness on a relative physical plane of the pairs of opposites. The pairs of opposites rotate in their turn. Death follows life; night follows day; pain follows pleasure.

Pleasure is simply the titillation of the nerves. It is due to the play of nerves. It is the irritation of the nerves. When you scratch the skin, redness is produced because the nerves are irritated and a large quantity of blood is drawn towards the irritated part. When you take a cold bath in summer, the blood vessels of the skin contract and all the blood is sent to the heart. Hence there arises a feeling of exhilaration of spirit. When you take a hot bath, the blood from within is drawn to the skin or periphery. You perspire profusely. It brings about a depression of spirit after some time. When a sex-impulse travels from the brain to the reproductive system, the nerves of the generative organ are irritated and blood flows profusely to that area on account of the irritation of the nerves. When you think deeply, more blood is drawn to the brain. Sudden fear drains blood away from the brain and the heart and you get a confused state of mind and collapse of the heart takes place.

All this is a play of the nerves, coupled with centralisation of blood in a particular area. The pleasure that you derive through the senses is due to nerve-irritation. This is not real happiness at all. If you call this pleasure, you will have to take the sensation caused by scratching of the groins owing to ringworm patches also as very great pleasure.

Sensual pleasure lasts for a few seconds only. As long as there is a piece of sweetmeat in the mouth, there is some pleasant sensation. As long as there is the contact of the sounds of melodious music with the ears, so long there is some pleasant feeling within. Sexual pleasure lasts for a few seconds only.

Sensual pleasure is tantalising. There is enchantment only as long as a person does not possess the object. He exerts hard. His mind is full of anxiety. He is under despondency as to whether he will secure the object or not. The moment he is in possession of the object, the charm vanishes. He finds that he is entangled.

The bachelor thinks of his marriage day and night. But after his marriage he feels that he is imprisoned. He is not able to satisfy the extravagant wants of his wife. He likes to run away from his home into the forest. A rich but childless man thinks that he will be happier by getting a son. He worries himself day and night to get a son. He goes on pilgrimages to holy places like Rameswaram and performs various religious ceremonies. But when he does get a son he feels miserable. The child suffers from epileptic fits and his entire wealth is spent on the doctors. There is no cure.

You are constantly endeavouring to possess something which you have not. When you cannot get the object, you feel miserable. The man who is addicted to tea, who is in the habit of taking fruit after meals, feels very miserable when he cannot get tea or fruit in a place. He admonishes his wife and servants without any rhyme or reason, out of irritability. When the wife dies, the husband gets drowned in sorrow, not because of the loss of his loving partner in life, but because he cannot now get sexual pleasure.

Pain manifests itself when there is absence of pleasure. There cannot be any pain without a previous experience of pleasure. The man who has been all along sleeping on a soft bed will experience pain if he sleeps on a rough bed one day. He remembers the pleasure that he derived from the soft bed when he sleeps on a coarse one. The man who is in the habit of sleeping on a coarse bed will never get any pain by sleeping on such a bed. The pain manifests only along with the mind’s remembrance of pleasure. The cause of pain is pleasure. The cause of death is love of sensual life. Give up sensual pleasures if you want to be free from pain. Give up sensual life if you do not want death.

There is a grain of pleasure in objects but the pain that is mixed with it is of the size of a mountain. Pleasure is mixed with fear, pain, anxiety, sin and exertion. One cent of pleasure is mixed with a thousand cents of pain. Pleasure that is mixed with pain is no pleasure at all.

The same object that gives you pleasure also gives you pain. Though there is pleasure in copulation, exhaustion and weakness follow the act. So you will have to weigh carefully the advantages and disadvantages that you derive from the possession and enjoyment of objects, and select from them only those which give you the maximum of pleasure and a minimum of pain. This is the work of the intellect.
That man in whom right reason has developed will be able to discriminate and enjoy peace and bliss. The common run of people go wildly after each and every object and are swayed by emotions, passions, impulses and low appetites. Their position is extremely deplorable indeed. They are driven hither and thither by petty likes and dislikes. Their position is in no way better than that of a piece of straw that is tossed about hither and thither by the wind.

Many rich persons, in spite of their immense wealth and possession of two or three wives, are extremely miserable and unhappy. I have come into contact with several such rich landlords. They are all discontented, restless, peevish and extremely miserable. It is evident, therefore, that happiness does not lie in money, objects and in the opposite sex. Only he who has controlled his mind can be happy. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”.

Wherever there is pleasure, there you will find pain, anger and attachment. You derive great pain from fear of losing the pleasurable objects. The fear worries you constantly. On this score, a philosopher and an aspirant ruthlessly shun all sorts of illusive mundane pleasures. There are no pleasures at all to a discriminating mind. Pain appears as pleasure owing to your delusion. You get more pain from craving. It constantly worries and torments you. If you have once tasted pleasure, the craving remains for ever. It troubles you greatly.

In old age there is intense agony. The longing and desire are there. The old man has not the strength to satisfy his desires. He has no teeth but there is the longing to eat hard stuffs. Somehow he manages in a way by soaking the articles in water or milk. But this does not give him complete satisfaction. The pain is there in the mind. He thinks again and again of his old days of boyhood and juvenile vigour and sobs heavily.

It is on account of craving and fear that philosopher shuns all worldly objects. But dull worldlings rush headlong and impetuously after objects without an iota of thought. The world affords pleasure to a thoughtless man, but to a man of enquiry the same world is a ball of fire. The latter will try his level best to get rid of all worldly desires. The satisfaction of a desire does not come by enjoyment of the objects of desire. On the contrary, the desires get aggravated like the fire into which ghee has been poured. It is by renunciation of desires alone that satisfaction and peace result. Owing to delusion pain appears as pleasure to the worldlings. But a man of discrimination shuns all worldly objects ruthlessly. Raja Bhartrihari, Raja Gopichand and Buddha deserted their kingdoms and all pleasurable objects, music, palaces, children and wives in order to attain the bliss of the Atman which is everlasting. They attained immortality. They were not fools. Had there been real happiness in objects they would have remained in the world.

Worldly people struggle hard to get more and more pleasures by increasing their wants and comforts and trying to increase their earning capacity. In the end they get more and more entangled. They do not find pleasure in sensual objects. On the contrary, they experience more and more pain.

If you develop the power of endurance, if you train yourself to rejoice in suffering, if you think that everything is done by God for one’s own betterment and uplift, if you welcome pain as a messenger of God to make you remember Him and to infuse in you more mercy and the power of endurance, you will enjoy constant, perennial bliss even amidst great suffering and calamity. Then pain will not be pain any more. Suffering will not be suffering any more. There will be no necessity for selfish worldly struggles for accumulating wealth and acquiring name and fame. Greed, hatred and turmoil will then disappear completely. You will be free from all pain and suffering. You will forever rest in the everlasting peace and bliss within. You will rejoice within. This is not the philosophy of the stoics. This is not the teaching of the pessimists. This is wonderful optimism that goads you on to realise the deep, abiding eternal joy and unruffled peace of the Self within.

(pgs. 199 – 204, Kingly Science, Kingly Secret)

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