Gratification would be; contentment is || Acharya Prashant (2014)

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Speaker: Should we delay our gratification? If yes, then to what extent and how long?

By delay, you mean time, to put it ahead in time. Man uses time itself for gratification. When you say delay gratification, you only mean, that I am expecting more gratification by the use of time. If I do it now, it may be one unit of pleasure, if I do it six days later, it may be six units of pleasure. So, all delay is undertaken with the goal of maximizing gratification. Whatever involves time, would always be a trick of the mind, and the mind wants nothing but gratification. So to say that I am delaying my gratification is a paradox of sorts. You do not delay gratification, you may give yourself the illusion of delay, but all this delay is so that the gratification can be multiplied manifolds a little later. You are using time; just using time. The real does not involve the use of time.

Listener: Does that mean that time has nothing to do with gratification?

Speaker: Time has everything to do with gratification. All gratification exists in time. Whenever you say that there is gratification, always there is the want of gratification and that want is always in time. What else is the use of time to mind? Its a tool for the mind. Hopes, desires, ambitions; what else are they? It is a good deception. It is a good self-deception to say that I am delaying my gratification. For what?

Listener: For more.

Speaker: And who is delaying? The same mind that is hankering after gratification is delaying gratification. To what end? So that there may be more gratification. It is just pure calculation, like a heavy rate of interest. ‘I am not consuming today, I will consume three years later and in this interim of three years, I will get so much interest upon the delay’. It is like savings, that I am not consuming today, I am saving for tomorrow, and whenever you are saving, you are earning some interest on that, some benefit on that.

Listener: If somebody gets satisfied early, does it have negative effects? It is written here that once you delay the gratification, there is more chance to get many more things.

Speaker: There is a great difference between the feeling of contentment and a desire for gratification. These two are very different, even when they sound alike. Contentment is, gratification would be. Even when you say that I am delaying gratification, you are traveling in time whereas; contentment just is, whatever is, it is fine. See, there are two people and there are bananas on the table. Both of them do not appear to be moving towards the table. None of them appears to be going towards the table for the bananas but, there is great difference between these two. One is contended, one is already full; ‘I am already perfect. Who is thinking about bananas? I am done, complete’ -This is contentment. The other person says that I will not have bananas so that I may lose weight, so that I may appear attractive, so that I may live longer, so that I may get a good girl and ten other things. Do you see the fundamental difference between these two? And none of them seems to be going for the bananas.

One is contended and the other is just delaying gratification. One would be still, there would be no baggage in his mind. Bananas do not exist for him. For the other, life is bananas, his life is banana-centric, and he will demand so much from life. Why? Because he has given up on bananas. Now life owes something to him, and if life does not give him what he deserves, he will be very bitter, very frustrated. ‘I delayed my gratification and I have not been given my due rewards. I did not extract the maximum pleasure out of life in the hope that the future will bring me some goodies and the future has failed to reward me’. He will be very bitter. You do not eat for ten days because you want to lose weight. After ten days, the scale says that you are still at the same point, you will be so frustrated. The second action can be that you do not eat for ten days because you are so busy dancing or you are so busy playing or you are madly in love, and then after those ten days if would you still look at the weighing scale it does not matter to you what the weighing scale says, you have what you have. You are not looking at the future, you have already obtained. This is contentment. ‘I already have it, I am not delaying gratification, I already have it’. Do you see the difference between these two minds? One says that I already have it, the second one says that I am not having it right now, so that more may come to me in the future.

Listener: So, does it mean that contentment is a full stop?

Speaker: No, it is not a full stop. Contentment is abiding in the self. That is contentment. Contentment means that I am living at a point where there is already completeness. So, desires do not mean much. ‘Not that I have to suppress desires just that desires do not mean much there. I am already gratified in a way, though contentment does not exactly mean that loosely you can take it this way’. Contentment is that I am already gratified; there is no need to achieve. ‘If it comes, I will take it. If bananas do come my way, though I am not going after bananas, but then I have no enmity with bananas either, I will have them, but that will not add anything to my contentment. Even after the bananas, I am what I was before the bananas. Bananas cannot take away anything from me, neither they have added anything to me, I am what I am and this is contentment, I am not allergic to bananas, I am not averse to bananas. Give me bananas and I will have them, and there may be a need for bananas in a particular case, I may even try for bananas, but if I don’t get them that will not take away anything from my essence. Nothing will be reduced from my essential being’. This is contentment. ‘I have tried for bananas, there was a situation where I needed to try for bananas, I tried, I did not get them and that reduced nothing from my essential self’-This is contentment.

Listener: It is like your car broke on the road and you tried to get the road service so that you can fix the car and go somewhere. You did not get the road services, but you are still alright. Want to relate it to procrastination. Can you relate it?

Speaker: Gratification is delaying of pleasure in the hope that it will be enhanced. Procrastination is delaying of pain in the hope that it will be reduced. Both are essentially the same thing. The mind is using time as an instrument. Gratification is to maximize pleasure; procrastination is to minimize pain.

Listener: Contentment as we discussed, can this be related to the self-sufficiency?

Speaker: But self-sufficiency does not mean that I have severed my linkages with the world. Self-sufficiency does not mean that I do not trade with the world, that I do not relate to the world, that I do not have organic linkages to the world. Self- sufficiency does not mean that I have run away to a point where there is no society, where there is nothing else. Self- sufficiency means that I play fully and I want to win but there is something within me which does not change whether I win or lose.

Listener: Why do I want to win then?

Speaker: Because I am playing.

Listener: We are talking about contentment. Winning would still be an element that would ensure that there would be no contentment. If it is there in the mind that I have to win, then how can there be contentment?

Speaker: Winning can be two things. Winning can be a fact or winning can be a state of mind. ‘I want to win, winning as a fact. Yes, the team won. Yes, there were these three last deliveries left and ten runs were needed in the match, so I accordingly changed my stance and mode of shot selection and everything. I otherwise would have not slogged but I slogged because of the situation’. In that sense, yes. But winning as a state of mind, it did not really take away the essential peace of mind. That essence is where I abide. That essence is my contentment that I am related to the world. Self-sufficiency does not mean that I am an isolated entity, a separate individual. No, that is not the meaning of self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency does not mean that nothing affects me, that would be lack of sensitivity.

Listener: One of my relatives bought a farm and he started farming vegetables. There were a few kids playing and he said to them that now I am self sufficient. I do my own thing and I am not connected to the world. The small kid of 10-12 years of age asked him that do you not take oxygen from the outside. The discussion went off in laughter. When we say, as students, that I am not self-sufficient because I still take money from my parents, that is a stupid point to make, because once your education is complete, you will take money from the employer. So, even when you are taking money from your parents, you can be self-sufficient.

Speaker: All these are actions: Taking money, not taking money, accepting food, not accepting food. Buddha bhikshus were all the time begging for food. In fact, that is why they were called bhikshus, the beggars. Does that mean that they were not self-sufficient? The fellow cannot even earn his own food, he begs it from the villagers. Does that mean that he is not self-sufficient? Self-sufficiency does not have anything to do with your economic might though that is important in bringing the mind to that place, where it can abide in the self. That is important and that must be advised because self- sufficiency is for whom? For the mind. The self is sufficient in itself but the mind does not accept that. The mind says that I am incomplete and insufficient, so self-sufficiency is just a word. In fact, all words exist in the domain of the mind, they apply only to the mind, so the mind has to be brought to a place where the self is sufficient for it, and in that, unnecessary dependency on the world is a barrier, is a handicap. 


-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

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