Legacy YM

Chapter 63 - Desire and Fear: Self-centred States

209

Questioner: I would like to go again into the question of pleasure and pain, desire and fear. I understand fear which is memory and anticipation of pain. It is essential for the preservation of the organism and its living pattern. Needs, when felt, are painful and their anticipation is full of fear; we are rightly afraid of not being able to meet our basic needs. The relief experienced when a need is met, or an anxiety allayed is entirely due to the ending of pain. We may give it positive names like pleasure, or joy, or happiness, but essentially it is relief from pain. It is this fear of pain that holds together our social, economic and political institutions.

What puzzles me is that we derive pleasure from things and states of mind, which have nothing to do with survival. On the contrary, our pleasures are usually destructive. They damage or destroy the object, the instrument and also the subject of pleasure. Otherwise, pleasure and pursuit of pleasure would be no problem. This brings me to the core of my question: why is pleasure destructive? Why, in spite of its destructiveness, is it wanted?

I may add, I do not have in mind the pleasure-pain pattern by which nature compels us to go her way. I think of the man-made pleasures, both sensory and subtle, ranging from the grossest, like overeating, to the most refined. Addiction to pleasure, at whatever cost, is so universal that there must be something significant at the root of it. Of course, not every activity of man must be utilitarian, designed to meet a need. Play, for example, is natural and man is the most playful animal in existence. Play fulfils the need for self-discovery and self-development. But even on his play man becomes destructive of nature, others and himself.

Maharaj: In short, you do not object to pleasure, but only to its price in pain and sorrow.

Q: If reality itself is bliss, then pleasure in some way must be related to it.

M:Let us not proceed by verbal logic. The bliss of reality does not exclude suffering. Besides, you know only pleasure, not the bliss of pure being. So let us examine pleasure at its own level.

If you look at yourself in your moments of pleasure or pain, you will invariably find that it is not the thing in itself that is pleasant or painful, but the situation of which it is a part. Pleasure lies in the relationship between the enjoyer and the enjoyed. And the essence of it is acceptance. Whatever may be the situation, if it is acceptable, it is pleasant. If it is not acceptable, it is painful. What makes it acceptable is not important; the cause may be physical, or psychological, or untraceable; acceptance is the decisive factor. Obversely, suffering is due to non-acceptance.

Q: Pain is not acceptable.

M:Why not? Did you ever try? Do try and you will find in pain a joy which pleasure cannot yield, for the simple reason that acceptance of pain takes you much deeper than pleasure does. The personal self by its very nature is constantly pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. The ending of this pattern is the ending of the self. The ending of the self with its desires and fears enables you to return to your real nature, the source of all happiness and peace. The perennial desire for pleasure is the reflection of the timeless harmony within. It is an observable fact that one becomes self- conscious only when caught in the conflict between pleasure and pain, which demands choice and decision. It is this clash between desire and fear that causes anger, which is the great destroyer of sanity in life. When pain is accepted for what it is, a lesson and a warning, and deeply looked into and heeded, the separation between pain and pleasure breaks down, both become experience -- painful when resisted, joyful when accepted.

Q: Do you advise shunning pleasure and pursuing pain?

M:No, nor pursuing pleasure and shunning pain. Accept both as they come, enjoy both while they last, let them go, as they must.

Q: How can I possibly enjoy pain? Physical pain calls for action.

M:Of course. And so does Mental. The bliss is in the awareness of it, in not shrinking, or in any way turning away from it. All happiness comes from awareness. The more we are conscious, the deeper the joy. Acceptance of pain, non-resistance, courage and endurance -- these open deep and perennial sources of real happiness, true bliss.

Q: Why should pain be more effective than pleasure?

M:Pleasure is readily accepted, while all the powers of the self reject pain. As the acceptance of pain is the denial of the self, and the self stands in the way of true happiness, the wholehearted acceptance of pain releases the springs of happiness.

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Q: Does the acceptance of suffering act the same way?

M:The fact of pain is easily brought within the focus of awareness. With suffering it is not that simple. To focus suffering is not enough, for mental life, as we know it, is one continuous stream of suffering. To reach the deeper layers of suffering you must go to its roots and uncover their vast underground network, where fear and desire are closely interwoven and the currents of life's energy oppose, obstruct and destroy each other.

Q: How can I set right a tangle which is entirely below the level of my consciousness?

M:By being with yourself, the 'I am'; by watching yourself in your daily life with alert interest, with the intention to understand rather than to judge, in full acceptance of whatever may emerge, because it is there, you encourage the deep to come to the surface and enrich your life and consciousness with its captive energies. This is the great work of awareness; it removes obstacles and releases energies by understanding the nature of life and mind. Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.

Q: One more question. Why does pleasure end in pain?

M:Everything has a beginning and an end and so does pleasure. Don't anticipate and don't regret, and there will be no pain. it is memory and imagination that cause suffering.

Of course pain after pleasure may be due to the misuse of the body or the mind. The body knows its measure, but the mind does not. Its appetites are numberless and limitless. Watch your mind with great diligence, for there lies your bondage and also the key to freedom.

Q: My question is not yet fully answered: Why are man's pleasures destructive? Why does he find so much pleasure in destruction? Life's concern lies in protection, perpetuation and expansion of itself. In this it is guided by pain and pleasure. At what point do they become destructive?

M:When the mind takes over, remembers and anticipates, it exaggerates, it distorts, it overlooks. The past is projected into future and the future betrays the expectations. The organs of sensation and action are stimulated beyond capacity and they inevitably break down. The objects of pleasure cannot yield what is expected of them and get worn out, or destroyed, by misuse. It results in excess of pain where pleasure was looked for.

Q: We destroy not only ourselves, but others too!

M:Naturally, selfishness is always destructive. Desire and fear, both are self-centred states. Between desire and fear anger arises, with anger hatred, with hatred passion for destruction. War is hatred in action, organised and equipped with all the instruments of death.

Q: Is there a way to end these horrors?

M:When more people come to know their real nature, their influence, however subtle, will prevail and the world's emotional atmosphere will sweeten up. People follow their leaders and when among the leaders appear some, great in heart and mind, and absolutely free from self-seeking, their impact will be enough to make the crudities and crimes of the present age impossible. A new golden age may come and last for a time and succumb to its own perfection. For, ebb begins when the tide is at its highest.

Q: Is there no such thing as permanent perfection?

M:Yes, there is, but it includes all imperfection. It is the perfection of our self-nature which makes everything possible, perceivable, interesting. It knows no suffering, for it neither likes nor dislikes; neither accepts nor rejects. Creation and destruction are the two poles between which it weaves its ever-changing pattern. Be free from predilections and preferences and the mind with its burden of sorrow will be no more.

Q: But I am not alone to suffer. There are others.

M:When you go to them with your desires and fears, you merely add to their sorrows. First be free of suffering yourself and then only hope of helping others. You do not even need to hope -- your very existence will be the greatest help a man can give his fellowmen.


Chapter1 - Foreword
Chapter2 - Who is Nisargadatta Maharaj?
Chapter3 - Translators Note
Chapter4 - Editors Note
Chapter5 - The Sense of ‘I am’
Chapter6 - Obsession with the body
Chapter7 - The Living Present
Chapter8 - Real World is Beyond the Mind
Chapter9 - What is Born must Die
Chapter10 - Meditation
Chapter11 - The Mind
Chapter12 - The Self Stands Beyond Mind
Chapter13 - Responses of Memory
Chapter14 - Witnessing
Chapter15 - Awareness and Consciousness
Chapter16 - The Person is not Reality
Chapter17 - The Supreme, the Mind and the Body
Chapter18 - Appearances and the Reality
Chapter19 - The Jnani
Chapter20 - Desirelessness, the Highest Bliss
Chapter21 - The Ever-Present
Chapter22 - To Know What you Are, Find What you Are Not
Chapter23 - Reality lies in Objectivity
Chapter24 - The Supreme is Beyond All
Chapter25 - Who am I?
Chapter26 - Life is Love and Love is Life
Chapter27 - Discrimination leads to Detachment
Chapter28 - God is the All-doer, the Jnani a Non-doer
Chapter29 - Hold on to ‘I am’
Chapter30 - Personality, an Obstacle
Chapter31 - The Beginningless Begins Forever
Chapter32 - All Suffering is Born of Desire
Chapter33 - Living is Life’s only Purpose
Chapter34 - You are Free NOW
Chapter35 - Do not Undervalue Attention
Chapter36 - Life is the Supreme Guru
Chapter37 - Everything Happens by Itself
Chapter38 - Mind is restlessness Itself
Chapter39 - Greatest Guru is Your Inner Self
Chapter40 - Killing Hurts the Killer, not the Killed
Chapter41 - Beyond Pain and Pleasure there is Bliss
Chapter42 - Spiritual Practice is Will Asserted and Re-asserted
Chapter43 - By Itself Nothing has Existence
Chapter44 - Only the Self is Real
Chapter45 - Develop the Witness Attitude
Chapter46 - Reality can not be Expressed
Chapter47 - Ignorance can be Recognised, not Jnana
Chapter48 - &39;I am&39; is True, all else is Inference
Chapter49 - What Comes and Goes has no Being
Chapter50 - Awareness of Being is Bliss
Chapter51 - Watch Your Mind
Chapter52 - Awareness is Free
Chapter53 - Mind Causes Insecurity
Chapter54 - Self-awareness is the Witness
Chapter55 - Be Indifferent to Pain and Pleasure
Chapter56 - Being Happy, Making Happy is the Rhythm of Life
Chapter57 - Desires Fulfilled, Breed More Desires
Chapter58 - Body and Mind are Symptoms of Ignorance
Chapter59 - Give up All and You Gain All
Chapter60 - Consciousness Arising, World Arises
Chapter61 - Beyond Mind there is no Suffering
Chapter62 - Perfection, Destiny of All
Chapter63 - Desire and Fear: Self-centred States
Chapter64 - Live Facts, not Fancies
Chapter65 - Matter is Consciousness Itself
Chapter66 - In the Supreme the Witness Appears
Chapter67 - Notion of Doership is Bondage
Chapter68 - Whatever pleases you, Keeps you Back
Chapter69 - A Quiet Mind is All You Need
Chapter70 - All Search for Happiness is Misery
Chapter71 - Experience is not the Real Thing
Chapter72 - Seek the Source of Consciousness
Chapter73 - Transiency is Proof of Unreality
Chapter74 - God is the End of All Desire and Knowledge
Chapter75 - In Self-awareness you Learn about Yourself
Chapter76 - What is Pure, Unalloyed, Unattached is Real
Chapter77 - Death of the Mind is Birth of Wisdom
Chapter78 - Truth is Here and Now
Chapter79 - In Peace and Silence you Grow
Chapter80 - To Know that You do not Know, is True Knowledge
Chapter81 - &39;I&39; and &39;Mine&39; are False Ideas
Chapter82 - All Knowledge is Ignorance
Chapter83 - Person, Witness and the Supreme
Chapter84 - Awareness
Chapter85 - Root Cause of Fear
Chapter86 - Absolute Perfection is Here and Now
Chapter87 - The True Guru
Chapter88 - Your Goal is Your Guru
Chapter89 - ‘I am’: The Foundation of all Experience
Chapter90 - The Unknown is the Home of the Real
Chapter91 - Keep the Mind Silent and You shall Discover
Chapter92 - Knowledge by the Mind, is not True Knowledge
Chapter93 - Progress in Spiritual Life
Chapter94 - Surrender to Your Own Self
Chapter95 - Pleasure and Happiness
Chapter96 - Go Beyond the l-am-the-body Idea
Chapter97 - Man is not the Doer
Chapter98 - You are Beyond Space and Time
Chapter99 - Accept Life as it Comes
Chapter100 - Abandon Memories and Expectations
Chapter101 - Mind and the World are not Separate
Chapter102 - Freedom from Self-identification
Chapter103 - The Perceived can not be the Perceiver
Chapter104 - Understanding leads to Freedom
Chapter105 - Jnani does not Grasp, nor Hold
Chapter106 - Appendix-1: Nisarga Yoga
Chapter107 - Appendix-2: Navnath Sampradaya

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