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Sri Aurobindo's - 'The Life Divine' - The Human Aspiration - Chapter I - The Human Aspiration - Track 1003

Question: Kireetbhai why do we not instinctively reject pleasure?

You instinctively receive it. Both are instinctive.

No, in the sense that instead of happiness, there is the ether which is opposed to pain, it is also opposed to pleasure too, so why don't we instinctively reject pleasure?

Rejection is not the only way in which you instinctively act. The question is of instinctiveness, the immediacy. As soon as you feel pleasure you instinctively receive it. Immediately, there is no process. Now the deeper question that you ask is the main theme of these two chapters: "Delight of Existence: The Problem"; "Delight of Existence: The Solution" So we shall deal with it at length. My immediate answer is only this because at present we are simply considering what is instinctive. In both the cases there is no process, there is an instinctive, immediate reaction. You eat something bitter and immediately you want to throw it away. Instinctively. You eat anything that is sweet and immediately you like it. Instinctively.

You know there are other states of consciousness where – you asked the question of pleasure – in certain states of consciousness what we call pleasure is immediately rejected. There is the very interesting case of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was a good student, he loved his teacher very well but he never took for granted whatever he said. He was a good student. So once he wanted to test his teacher. He wanted to examine his teacher. One day he put some money under the cover of the seat where Ramakrishna used to sit. And Ramakrishna came to the seat and as he touched it, immediately he threw it away. Normally people like to have the presence of coins of money, in his case as soon as he touched them he immediately stood up as if there was a snake there. It depends upon your state. Both are instinctive.

Take pleasure, at a certain stage of your development – Mother has said that if you succeed very quickly be doubtful. If you go on succeeding very quickly then be wary, think there is a trap for you. Don't feel so happy or take pleasure in it. One who is very wise, as soon as he succeeds he feels "My Lord something is wrong. How could I succeed?"

Indifference, for example, we are automatically in the stage of indifference. But once you have enjoyed that bliss you can never tolerate indifference. You cannot remain in the state of indifference, you reject it. It is a question of what your balance is in the totality of your being. Our present rejection of pain or our present acceptance of pleasure instinctively is due to the present balance of our consciousness. There are states of consciousness in which bitter medicines are enjoyed. It is a fact, you enjoy bitterness and you don't like pleasure, the sweetness. There are states of consciousness in which what is pleasant to you is not liked. Its all depends as Sri Aurobindo says; it is a question of habits. Our present balance of consciousness is such that habitually we reject pain and habitually we receive pleasure. But you can change that. The thing regarding which you are afraid – when you look back you feel it was so good that the frightful thing happened to you. Somebody knocks at your door. You are sleeping at that time and you feel this a bother, somebody coming and knocking and waking you up, you don't like this at all and you open the door and behold that which you were looking for for the last ten years is standing before you. That dreadful experience, the experience of pain, is immediately turned into tremendous delight. It is only a question of your consciousness, of your state of consciousness. So if you know that in every experience it is only God who knocks on your door then you will never be frightened about any thing. Normally we are frightened because we feel that some strange things are happening for which we are not ready and this disturbs you, disturbs your present condition of consciousness. But when you look backward you find that it was a tremendously good thing that happened to you. If you know that every time, in every circumstance, it is God who is around you, then even the one who is opposing you all the time is felt to be a great friend.

This is why Sri Aurobindo says: "Who is my enemy? The one who took me to the embrace of my Lord?" One you think is your enemy is actually the very one who takes you to the embrace of the Lord. So who is your enemy? That is how our pain is transformed into delight. Therefore pain is not opposed to the delight, it is only the present state of consciousness which is limited. You break down the limitation then the delight, which is automatic everywhere, will be experienced in all the circumstances. This is called the real art of life. The real art of life arises from a philosophy which concludes that the Divine is everywhere. Now you apply that proposition in real terms and you find in every circumstance it is the Divine, therefore delight will all the time be your accompaniment. We have only to discover where is the Divine. In this horrible face you see the beauty. The dreadful thing is the most delightful thing. The dread is only a mask. The mask is to be uncovered.

Eternal paradox and eternal truth. They justified themselves when you realise that the lower term is capable of embodying the higher term. Sri Aurobindo says that this proposition is accepted even by instinct. Instinctively we love the light. The eyes can flourish only in light. If you remain all the time in darkness your eyes will become blind in due course. There is instinctive movement towards light. God, Light, Freedom, Immortality are justified not only by deliberate reason but also by instinct. Instinctively you want delight, therefore you reject pain. Instinctively you accept pleasure because you do not feel pleasure is a great blockage to the delight. Only we don't know now, but actually speaking all pleasures are a blockage to the delight. They imprison you in a small pleasure for al little while. Therefore if you learn, you automatically reject pleasure because you have an instinctive movement towards real happiness, towards delight – inalienable delight, inexhaustible delight, imperishable delight.