05.21 – Disdain the pain that is a pain to miss
We often think of self-restraint as a pain: “I have to give up so many of the pleasures of the world.”
Factually however, for us as souls, the whole business of infatuation with material enjoyment is simply a pain – a distressing intoxication filled with hankering and lamenting that takes our attention away from life’s real business of attaining spiritual happiness.
Though this infatuation is a pain, it is a pain that is a pain to miss. The relentless pull of our past conditionings creates a grinding inner tug of war that leaves us strained and drained. That’s why we find self-restraint to be a pain.
How do we deal with this pain of self-restraint?
Firstly, by meditating on how self-restraint is desirable, even essential – it helps us go beyond fleeting material enjoyment to lasting spiritual fulfillment. Those who detach themselves from external sensual pleasures, the Bhagavad-gita (05.21) assures, gradually relish inner spiritual happiness that never runs out.
Secondly, by changing our attitude towards worldly pleasures, especially immoral pleasures that intoxicate us with foolish fantasies. Just as sober people turn away from intoxication not because it is unattainable but because it is unworthy, so too do spiritually sober people turn away from sensual pleasures. Instead of seeing those pleasures as something wonderful that we are forced to give up, we train ourselves to see them as something disdainful that we are better off without.
This disdain is rooted in not arrogance but intelligence: not in the self-congratulatory notion, “Those indulging in such pleasures are fallen, but I am not like them”, but in the self-aware contemplation, “Krishna is offering me far better and greater joys than these. When I can access those joys by choosing to love and serve him, why should I sell myself short?”
Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.