To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

It is beautiful to earn pain

People make all sorts of efforts to find peace and pleasure, but no one tries to earn the pain.

Says Nanak, listen, mind: whatever pleases God comes to pass. ||39||

~ Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, Salok Mahalla

Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 14128

Question: Acharya Ji, please clarify what is meant here by, ‘earning pain’.

Acharya Prashant Ji:

The constitution of the body is such that it is – pleasure-seeking. That’s the guiding principle behind bodily actions. Bodily actions include the impulses of the brain. So that which you call as ‘natural’, in loose language, is nothing but pleasure-seeking behavior.

When you say that something is natural, effectively what you are saying is, that it is pleasure-seeking behavior. So that’s how your system is. It wants to have pleasure. It wants to have, pleasure.

What is the definition of ‘pleasure’?

That which helps Prakriti further its agenda.

‘Food’ pleases you because it gives energy to the body to continue. That’s what Prakriti wants. Getting it? ‘Flattery’ pleases you, because it gives the subtle-body the energy to continue. It will continue. It will stay motivated. It will further its goals.

Do you get the definition of ‘pleasure’?

That which agrees with the agenda of your physical constitution, is called ‘pleasure’.

Now in getting that ‘pleasure’, you get ‘pain’ as well. And that ‘pain’ makes ‘pleasure’ even more necessary. So you earn two units of ‘pleasure’, and along with two units of ‘pleasure’, you also got two units of ‘pain’. What is the inference that your system draws from this? Two units of ‘pleasure’ is not sufficient, because two units of ‘pleasure’ came along with two units of ‘pain’, and it got nullified. The net was zero.

So now your system wants three units of ‘pleasure’. But very soon your system discovers that three units of ‘pleasure’ has come along with three units of ‘pain’. So now you want four units of ‘pleasure’. That’s the cycle of human life – chasing ‘pleasure’, getting ‘pain’. And ‘pain’ spurs you on to chase ‘pleasure’, even more. This is not ‘pain’ that you have earned. This is ‘pain’, that has come as a bonus.

What did you want? Pleasure. But pain came tagged along. Had you had a choice, you would have said, “I want only pleasure. Let’s un-tag the pain. I don’t want the pain, that comes with pleasure. I only want pleasure. Can we just separate the two? No I don’t want the combo. No I don’t want the one plus one offer. I only want the one that I want – pleasure.”

So we get pain without earning it, or wanting it, or choosing it. We get it, as a compulsory attachment. We get it as a compulsory accompaniment of pleasure. Guru Sahib is talking of something different here. He is talking of – earning pain. He is saying,”You already have had enough pain. That pain came to you as a compulsion, as a helplessness. You didn’t want it, but you were subjected to it. Now can you willingly go for pain?”

What does he mean? He means something quite radical.

Your system is designed to go only for ‘pleasure’.

And if you are being told to go deliberately for pain, you are actually being told to go against your system.

In a practical way, he is teaching you a method of detachment – a way to get dis-identified with the body.

‘Deliberately go for pain’ – and this has been a method in India, and elsewhere, since long.

Spiritual practitioners those who have really wanted to know and live life fully, have invited ‘pain’. Knowing fully well that the road they are taking, would hurt them, they have still gone down those roads.

I repeat: to the common man, pain is incidental, uninvited. It comes as a surprise. “Oh pain has come. From where? I didn’t ask for it.” To the spiritual practitioner, pain is, almost a target. Pain is a value. He says, “I want it. Bring it on.”

Not that there is some great virtue in pain. It’s just that when you are going for pain, you are denying the bodily compulsion of seeking pleasure. You are getting dis-identified. And once you are dis-identified, then there is no need to seek pain either.

Getting it?

If you will see a lot of ‘progress’, even in the material sense, it happens only by inviting ‘pain’. That which we call as ‘discipline’ even in the loose sense, is nothing but an invitation to ‘pain’.

Is there discipline without pain? You have to get up at some point in the morning, doesn’t that involve pain? ‘Pleasure’ is to keep sleeping even after the alarm has rung. Is that not pleasurable?

So all ‘discipline’ is nothing but ‘pain’.

It’s very well-directed pain, it’s very discrete pain.

But nevertheless, all ‘discipline’ involves – ‘pain’.

And ‘progress’, be it in the material, or in the spiritual realms, moves on ‘discipline’.

So all ‘progress’ is nothing but the art of inflicting ‘pain’ upon yourself – wisely, not randomly.

You will get no progress by just slashing your wrist, or holding a cigarette to your arm. Random, or mindless pain will not help you. While random, and mindless pain will not help you, at the same time there can be no ‘discipline’ without ‘pain’. And there can be no ‘progress’ without ‘discipline’.

‘Pleasure’ is a pattern. In fact, all patterns become patterns of ‘pleasure’. ‘Discipline’ is the determination to go beyond patterns. So ‘pleasure’ has to be transcended. Which means – your body, your prakriti, your physical tendencies, have to be transcended.

That’s what Guru Sahib is pointing at.

Have ‘discipline’.

And what is it to have ‘discipline’?

Be a disciple. Be a Shishya (disciple).

Be a Sikh.

Who is a ‘Sikh’?

Who can wisely, discreetly, deliberately choose ‘pain’.

You cannot be a student, if you cannot bear ‘pain’.

You cannot be a student, if you say, “You know, I want to be handled in cotton and wool. I want to learn a lot from the teacher, but I don’t want pain from the teacher.” Then you cannot be a Sikh, you cannot be a Shishya, you cannot be a Disciple, because you do not have ‘discipline’.

——————————————————————————————————————

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: It is beautiful to earn pain || Acharya Prashant, on Guru Granth Sahib (2019)

To personally meet or connect with Acharya Prashant: click here.

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