In life, the permanent and the impermanent are mixed up with each other. It is not that the permanent is in one place and the impermanent in another, and they can be distinguished easily. The Katha Upanishad says:
Shreyas and preyas approach the human being. Having very clearly considered them, the discriminative (person) distinguishes them. (
In life, we constantly come across Shreyas and Preyas. Shreyas means that which is permanent and lasting and preyas is that which is impermanent and ephemeral. Shreyas is happiness of the Self or internal happiness, and preyas is happiness derived from sense objects or external happiness.
It requires a certain sensitivity to appreciate lasting happiness as opposed to the impermanent, ephemeral happiness in the objects and achievements of the world. This viveka arises in a heart that has become relatively pure by the performance of nitya-karma, naimittika-karma, duty in the spirit of worship, meditations etc.
Every moment presents a choice between the permanent and the impermanent. The impermanent comes in the form of various situations, opportunities, and pleasures, while the permanent is ever there as the very Self.
As long as the mind is full of attractions and repulsions, the impermanent alone attracts the mind and we do not choose the permanent. There is an inner voice, which gets totally suppressed on account of the noise made by the demands of external things. The permanent or the Self has an opportunity to register only when the intensity of the chatter of likes and dislikes is subdued or lessened.
Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati
(Swami Viditatmananda is the disciple of Swami Dayananda Saraswati and is the founder of the Tattvatirtha Ashram in Ahmedabad.)