April 18, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Choosing between immediate pleasure and lasting peace

1. Kathopanishad- I

The Nepal Weekly
January 18, 2022

People feel confused in daily life over making choices over immediate gains or long term benefits. They tend to be attracted towards what is immediately pleasant or palatable and they opt for it without being conscious of the consequences. Failure to go for the long term benefits would be real loss for them. But they do not realize the same until it is too late. Scholars, particularly trained with the Upanishad-knowledge, term the sensual way as full of ignorance and darkness with little knowledge about essence and moral values.

Lessons from the Kathopanishad are helpful for all to understand the difference between the benefits of immediate pleasure and lasting peace and liberation.

According to the Kathopanishad, the pathway of immediate pleasure – the sensual amusement – is rather easy, comfortable and therefore delighting for the time being. People tend to get lost in it. But the same does not result in ultimate joy or bliss. The road to long term benefits is full of thorns and more often displeasing to the sense organs but the same brings in lasting happiness or the enjoyment that is sustainable over time. Scholars consider it as the result of light, clarity, reason and broadness marked by insight of knowledge and values.

Discriminating between the two pairs of opposite is essential for all who wish to have a better  choice in life. To know the difference, people should understand the gap between passing pleasure and the joy that remains sustainable over time. There is no sustainability in fast pleasure; one should have patience and consciousness in pursuing the spiritual path as an alternative for pleasure that lasts long and remains stable and sustainable over a period of time. It is challenging but worth trying. 

A story related to Nachiketa in Kathopanishad who is truthful in nature and honest in character vividly points out the gap between what is favourite to one and what is beneficial ultimately. The boy, as illustrated in story form in Kathopanishad,  enters into a conversation on this with the God of Death –Yama Raj who, answering questions poised by Nachiketa, explains the gap in a meaningful way and also elaboratees what happens after death. –see Nachiketa Yama Raj dialogue in next issue. By Shirish B.Pradhan