Pleasure and Pain are but Mental Reactions
A medicine will serve its purpose only if its effect reaches the affected part; similarly, if we want to remove unhappiness, we should trace its source. Any deficiency or shortcoming of prapancha causes unhappiness. We shall discover that unhappiness is the common result, whether a person is poor or rich. One person may have enough money, but may be unhappy for being childless, while another may have children and lack money. A third one has both, but is afflicted by persistent colic. And so on and so forth, ad infinitum. In short, we can find no one free from unhappiness. No matter how many things you bring in, there does remain or come about one deficiency or another.
A little thought shows us that our remedies for unhappiness are superficial or transient; we do not realize that it is the reactions of our mind that constitute the basis of our unhappiness. A man in deep sleep, while his house is being robbed, may continue sleeping merrily. He starts feeling upset only on waking and discovering the fact. What feels sorrow and happiness, therefore, is the mind. What needs treatment in life is thus the mind. It is the mind that the saints train to face calamities and reverses, with unflinching faith in God. On the other hand, we give free rein to our senses, and only subordinate value to spirituality.
The company we keep influences the mind and its reactions. Accustomed as we are to sensual pleasures, we naturally find enjoyment in such pleasures. As we sow, so must we reap.
It often happens that adversities and shocks in life prove conducive to driving a person towards, and to impart earnestness to, spiritual effort. Progress in spiritual effort, however, depends not on external factors such as wealth or poverty, health or sickness; it depends on peace of mind, purity of heart and of conduct. Convenience in life can be an impediment as much as difficulties. When we go out for some work, delay may be caused if we stop on the way watching a shop window, whether it displays dresses or books. Prapancha is neither favourable nor otherwise for spiritual progress; it affects us only because we approach it with mental attachment. Paramartha is nothing but cultivating detachment from it.
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