Life Flows Between the Banks of Pain and Pleasure

In these words of wisdom from Nisargadatta Maharaj, we learn that life flows between the banks of pain and pleasure. We almost always prefer pleasure and almost always want to avoid pain.

He was a great spiritual teacher and guru in the Advaita Vedanta school, which is a tradition based on non-duality. He passed away in 1981 at the age of 84.

Non-duality is a philosophy which holds that the subject and object are one in the same. In Advaita philosophy, this refers to the recognition that the individual soul, atman, is not distinct from the supreme soul, Bramhan, the unchanging reality of the universe.

According to Advaita, a liberated human being realizes that Brahman is the same as her or his own true self.

So, Nisargadatta Maharaj is saying that we should not get caught by pain or pleasure. These are just impermanent phenomena that keep us from realizing our true nature.

Between the banks of pain and pleasure the river of life flows. It is only when the mind refuses to flow with life, and gets stuck at the banks, that it becomes a problem.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Nisargadatta MaharajPhoto by Jitendra Arya

I think that Adyashanti also teaches non-duality. I know that Dr. Sara Gordon does from conversations with her.

When you encounter the bank of pain, you experience aversion to it. You might experience the pain as a sensation and say to yourself, “This pain is only temporary and not my true self. I will embrace my pain.”

When you encounter the bank of pleasure, you crave more. You might experience the pleasure as a sensation and say to yourself, “This pleasure is only temporary and not my true self. I will embrace my pleasure.”

Books by Nisargadatta Maharaj

I Am That

Nisargadatta Maharaj
Translated by Maurice Frydman

Back cover This collection of the timeless teachings of one of the greatest sages of India, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, is a testament to the uniqueness of the seer’s life and work and is regarded by many as a modern spiritual classic. I Am That (first published in 1973) continues to draw new audience… [Read More…]

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