Pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness

Acharya Prashant
6 min readSep 4, 2021

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

All those things that you associate with pleasure, pain, hurt are all concepts that we have been indoctrinated into. Remove those concepts and then show me where is pleasure? And where is pain? Then there is just Life. Simple, total, and Joyful.

~Acharya Prashant

Acharya Prashant: Pleasure and pain here are in the context of happiness and sadness, celebration and suffering, good and bad. So you’re saying “When I feel hunger, how is hunger a concept? When my finger gets burned and I feel pain, how is pain a concept?”

No. Pain is not a concept and so is hunger. Pain is felt by the body. Have you seen how instantaneous the reaction to pain is? The moment the fingers get burnt, the body knows what to do. Or does the body ask you what to do? Your fingers get burnt and the body knows what it should do. So the body does what it should. The body is a self-contained and self-sufficient mechanism designed with the objective of self-preservation. This system knows how to self-preserve. It also knows how to self-proliferate.

Self-preservation and self-proliferation are the two objectives of the design of this body. And the body knows that.

Now when these objectives are defeated, the body calls that situation as pain. When these objectives are furthered, the body calls that situation as pleasure. Look into pleasure and pain, go deeply into them and you will find that all instances of pleasure are somehow happenings that help you stay alive bodily. And all instances of pain threaten your bodily existence. Isn’t it?

So there’s something wrong somewhere in the body that you cannot even know of. You get a headache. Because the headache will be noticeable to the conscious part of the brain, the brain will be forced to respond to the pain. It will be forced to take care of the body.

Pain and pleasure are bodily. They are of the body and to the body. They have nothing to do with you.