Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Bhagavad Gita - Song of God - Chapter 18: 36

December 8, 2021

sukhaṁ tv idānīṁ trividhaṁ śṛṇu me bharatarṣabha
abhyāsād ramate yatra duḥkhāntaṁ ca nigacchati (XVIII-36)

XVIII-/36. And now hear from me, O Arjuna, of the threefold
pleasure; in which one rejoices by practice and surely comes
to the end of pain.

Swamiji's Commentary

     Whatever a man does, he seeks happiness through it. In fact, this pursuit of happiness is one of the fundamental motive-forces of evolution. Intuition of this truth has given rise in sages to the vision that the self-experience and self-expression by the supreme self of its own bliss-nature is the reason underlying this mysterious process of becoming (creation and evolution). Consciousness locked in the mineral grows as a plant, moves about as an animal with a simple consciousness, thinks and contemplates as man with self-consciousness, till it arrives at the destination, which is self-realization where bliss is experienced as one’s own essential nature.

     Man, the crown of creation, is a complete picture of this world-process. He bears within himself the impressions of the beginning-less struggle to attain self-realization – the impressions left in him by the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, and the impressions left in him by his own past lower-human incarnations. Hence, he is torn (as no plant or animal is) between the higher aspirations and the lower appetites.

     It is good to know, therefore, when our pleasure-seeking promotes our evolution and when it halts it. Man, with a self-consciousness and a will of his own, can choose between sage-hood or beast-hood. Few would knowingly choose the latter but it is possible in a state of ignorance to knock at the wrong door. The pleasure-seeking mind has a tendency to grab the nearest pleasure-source. Yet, if the nature of the choice is clearly defined, the wise man might be saved from error, and discover that moments of happiness or pleasure generally lie in the interval between experiences of excitement or craving. (When a craving subsides, we think we are happy!)

     Hence, the following clear-cut classification pleasure or happiness.

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