Between the Banks of Pleasure and Pain – May 18 2020

Between the Banks of Pleasure and Pain – May 18 2020

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. By flowing with life I mean acceptance–letting come what comes and go what goes. Desire not, fear not, observe the actual, as and when it happens, for you are not what happens, you are to whom it happens. Ultimately even the observer you are not. You are the ultimate potentiality of which the all-embracing consciousness is the manifestation and expression.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,

I Am That


If I am the ego, then I am identified by every “good” thing I know about myself, and every “bad” thing I know about myself; or by the way I feel – pleasure or pain – at any given moment. These qualities change constantly, and my point of view on some of them can change on a daily basis. And if what is “good” or “bad” about me is determined at all by the people around me, these things will change each time I move from one conversation to another.


This is way too much work. One of the great gifts of being on a spiritual path is that we can begin to identify as something other than the ego. Whether or not the voice of the ego is chattering away at me, telling me I am better than or less than someone else, that I am good or not good, it means nothing to me if I know myself to be the Self that is true, that underlies all my thoughts and feelings, and all the chattering of the mind.


Even on those days when it might seem impossible to know myself as anything other than my problems, those days when “spirituality” is the furthest thing from what might feel real to me, I can remind myself that in meditation I can have the experience of dropping in and transcending this surface experience of self and into a deep, quiet, boundlessness where I am able to feel at peace; and that there are those who say this boundlessness is what I truly am. Knowing this, even as a possibility, can be enough for us to release our attachment to the pleasure or pain of a moment, which in turn allows us to rejoin the flow of life. By joining the flow of life, more often than not, the relative problems will work themselves out – sometimes with my help, but oftentimes without any input from me at all.


We are here to be alive, to enjoy life. To enjoy freedom. As Sri Nisargadatta says elsewhere, “Freedom is letting go.”


Today I will let go of those definitions I hold of myself that are keeping me from my life. I will refuse to listen to the voices of negative self-judgment. I will do one thing today that is not something “a guy/gal like me” would do. And I will enjoy it.

The Big Ditch, Young’s Point, Montana