Who does not want pleasures? All pursuits of mankind seem to be aimed at achieving the pleasures of life. He earns money even after lot of toil and suffering so that he can buy objects of pleasures. He wishes to attain power even at the cost of his life since power provides tremendous pleasure to him. He seeks respect to please his mind. He eats rich foods for pleasure knowing fully well that these are harmful for his body. He seeks pleasure in alcohols, cigarette and drugs knowing fully well the harmful effects on his body and soul.
Yet the lives of most people are filled with pleasure. All pleasures seem to temporary which are soon followed by never ending pain and suffering. We try to remove these pains and suffering by seeking pleasure again which brings further pain and misery not only during the pursuit of pleasure but even after the achievement of the pleasure.
It is, therefore, important to understand the true nature of pleasures so that one is not disappointed.
Lord Krishna in Bhagawat Gita described three types of pleasure based on the three types of nature of man. These are as following
1. Pleasure of Darkness
The most common type of pleasure has been called the pleasure of darkness. It is most common like darkness which seems to exist everywhere in the universe except for a small portion where “light” is able to penetrate the darkness and illuminate the objects. Darkness is natural while light is artificial. Every source of light has to end someday which has to be followed by darkness. Darkness is considered synonymous to Ignorance which prevails all around like darkness until the light to knowledge removes the darkness of ignorance. Men love darkness and gets pleasure in ignorance as clearly said in Gita
Pleasure of darkness arises from sleep and laziness and senseless action. It leads to the corruption of soul both in the beginning and in the end. (Gita 18: 39)
Many people find the pleasure of sleep and laziness irresistible. If at all, they work, it is only because they need to earn to sustain their body. It is most natural pleasure as it comes without any effort and cost. Such pleasure has other manifestation like criticism of other people often to pass time. People can criticize anyone and everyone for getting this pleasure. However, a seeker of pleasure in darkness soon loses the ability to see light and wisdom. He cannot see anything just like a blind man can not see anything and can not distinguish ugliness and beauty, right and wrong or good and evil. His soul loses connection with the God and he ponders in this world like a blind man.
2. Pleasure of Senses
The second type of pleasures have been described in Gita is the pleasure of senses which are called Rajsik type as these are most prevalent amongst the king. It is described in following words
Such pleasure arises from the contact of the senses with their objects. It seems at first like nectar but in the end like poison (Gita: 18-38)
This is the most common type of pleasure that is present in all animals. Man is no different than any other animal in his desire to enjoy sensual pleasure. The pleasure of sex, tasty foods and drinks, life of comfort is common for all animals. Yet all animals stop at some point in enjoying their sensual pleasure. However, man knows no end of the sensual pleasure and his desire seems to increase perpetually like the desire of the kind who can not feel satisfied even after ruling millions of people and accumulating the wealth which can fulfill the requirement of millions of people.
Yet all such pleasure brings miseries in the end. All physical diseases of the modern men find their origin in enjoyment of these sensual pleasures. The main reason behind all crimes including murder, rape, and theft is the quest of men to fulfill their sensual pleasures. It is for this reason that sensual pleasures look like nectar in the beginning but ends like poison.
3. Pleasure of Truth
The true pleasure is extremely deceptive as it does not look like pleasure at all. It comes in the guise of pain as Lord Krishna says
Pleasure which is enjoyed by repeated practice and which puts an end to the pain, Which in its inception looks like poison but in the end is like nectar, born of serene realization of the true nature of Self (soul). (Gita 18:36-37)
Such pleasure can be compared with a medicine which is always bitter and never sweet. Yet it ends the misery of the person by curing the ailments. Just like no medicine has ever been made which can be sweet and pleasant to the senses, no true pleasure can be pleasant in the beginning.
All human beings are used to such pleasures. It is painful for a child to study and learning from the books. Yet after years of practice many people start enjoying reading so much that they can spend hours and indeed days reading books. The same is true of all types of physical workouts. All workouts are painful in the beginning. They are painful to the body and mind. Yet it is only by working out, people can enjoy healthy body and healthy mind. A man who has learned to enjoy such pleasures gets permanent relief from pain as all such pains help him invoke his true human self.
Pleasure of Truth is also called “happiness” as it is lasting as compared to the normal pleasures which are transient and temporary. The joy of reaping the harvest of pain is pleasure which alone can be called happiness. Every one knows the happiness of achievement which comes only after years of perspiration and hard work. It is said in Bible
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrew 12:11).
Every human being is capable of enjoying all three types of pleasure as the three nature of men i.e. “Satvik” (nature of truth), “Rajsik” (nature of passion) and “Tamsik” (Nature of darkness) are ever present in them. Therefore, any pursuit of one always fails as human beings can not eliminate other two natures despite of their best effort.
The pleasure of senses comes naturally to men as all animals are naturally inclined to enjoy the sensual pleasures. However, the nature of ignorance and truth are typical to men alone. No animal seeks truth and hence he has no pleasure in ignorance. It is not wrong to enjoy sleep and laziness which are quit natural requirement of the body and mind after the long hours of hard work. Similarly, criticizing others is often beneficial as we learn only from criticism what we do not like or what other people do not like so that we can avoid doing such actions in our own life. Sleep alone can put an end to the restlessness of the mind and soul. Yet if a man become too used to such ignorance, he start seeing the truth itself as evil as he wishes to avoid the pains of truth by not facing them. Such an attempt gradually corrupts his soul.
The nature of truth always guides the man on the right path. Yet the path of truth is full of pain. Just imagine that you have developed the capability to know the truth which means you can read the thoughts of every person like a book. It is easy to visualize that such a power is likely to bring more pain than pleasure as you can know even the evil thoughts of other men which otherwise remains concealed. We may find most people thinking negatively about us just like we ourselves think negatively against most people.
Thus knowledge of truth has its own pain which can be removed only by ignorance. It is for this reason that most illiterate and ignorant people are saved from many diseases and problems while the educated and civilized people try to forget things by the consumption of alcohols and drugs. Hence one has to learn to balance his pleasure of truth and ignorance.
In the same way, any attempt to eliminate the sensual pleasure from the life makes the life devoid of any passion and love of life. One has to only guard the excess of pleasure and not the moderate pleasures of senses which can uplift the mind and soul.
It is difficult to call a type of pleasure as superior to other since all three types of pleasures are complementary to each other. People suffer when their pursuit is limited to only one type of pleasure while ignoring the others as unnecessary or even evil. It is only in the balance of the three types of pleasure one can hope to achieve lasting happiness and bliss in life.