“O best of the Bharatas, now please hear from Me about the three kinds of happiness which the conditioned soul enjoys, and by which he sometimes comes to the end of all distress. That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.36-37)
सुखं त्व् इदानीं त्रि-विधं
शृणु मे भरतर्षभ
अभ्यासाद् रमते यत्र
दुःखान्तं च निगच्छति
यत् तद् अग्रे विषम् इव
तत् सुखं सात्त्विकं प्रोक्तम्
sukhaṁ tv idānīṁ tri-vidhaṁ
śṛṇu me bharatarṣabha
abhyāsād ramate yatra
duḥkhāntaṁ ca nigacchati
yat tad agre viṣam iva
tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam
Friend1: I think one of the funnier t-shirts I have seen related to drinking talks about borrowing happiness from tomorrow.
Friend2: Oh, I have seen those. It’s a rare admission of a problem. The person going on a binge understands that there will be a price to pay. The happiness that would otherwise arrive on a given day gets substituted for pain and misery.
Friend1: Nausea. Headaches. Potential vomiting.
Friend2: The classic hangover.
Friend2: That is one of the four regulative principles. There is joy from vairagya. Goswami Tulsidas has a work entitled, Vairagya Sandipani. Any genuine saintly person has an affinity for detachment.
Friend1: That is kind of a contradiction right there, but I know what you mean.
Friend2: They like to be aloof from this world. Not for dry renunciation. Not to merely stand out from others. Not to hold yourself on a pedestal, looking down at others. There is bliss, for sure, but there is also the increased ability to focus on and contemplate spiritual topics.
Friend1: Makes sense to me, but could not the skeptic raise an argument here? The drunkard knows that they are getting happiness today in lieu of tomorrow.
Friend2: Sort of like the payday loan.
Friend1: In spiritual life, it is like the reverse situation. Borrow happiness from today for something better tomorrow.
Friend2: There is some confirmation in the Bhagavad-gita. Shri Krishna says that happiness in the mode of goodness is where something feels like poison in the beginning but is nectar in the end.
Friend1: Like, “No pain, no gain.” Struggling to reach a milestone. Expending effort for an achievement.
Friend2: Follow regulative principles today, create a routine of accompanying positive engagements, and see the happiness eventually follow.
Friend1: Okay, but how can you promise the future? At least with drinking you know that there will be some happiness today. If I sacrifice so much for spiritual life, I don’t know exactly what the future will hold.
Friend2: There is some validity to that concern. If you say that the only time to receive happiness is in the future, then you will surely miss out. Genuine spiritual life is not like that. It is beneficial for you at the beginning, middle and end, as confirmed by Tulsidas.
प्रीति प्रतीति सुरीति स्ॐ राम राम जपु राम |
तुलसी तेरो है भलेआ आदि मध्य परिनाम ||
prīti pratīti surīti soṃ rāma rāma japu rāma |
tulasī tero hai bhaleā ādi madhya parināma ||
“Chanting Shri Rama’s holy name with love, faith and according to regulative principles will be beneficial for you from beginning to end, says Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 23)
Friend1: If I follow the restrictions on meat eating and gambling, how is that helping me in the beginning? It will feel like torture.
Friend2: For a little while, but the feeling won’t stay forever. The new normal will eventually settle in. Talk to people who have done it. See if they will ever go back to the old way of life. They have found the real truth and they are staying there. They don’t mind going to hell in the afterlife, for they understand that Shri Krishna will always act favorably upon them. That is the strength accompanying devotional practices. You will not only feel happy but you will be firmly convinced that nothing else can compete. You will know that God lives and you will enjoy living with Him.
Stealing happiness from now,
But assured for future how?
When no one can explain,
Until time machine to gain.
Idea that like nectar in the end,
With time sacrifice now to spend.
With those in bhakti path talk,
And see if reverse again to walk.