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The Way To Avoid Misery

Everything of the universe must be covered with Bhagavan Himself; thus giving up the attachment to transitory things, live and enjoy your life, but do not covet anything of the world. — Ishavasya Upanishad. This is the perfect way to avoid misery on earth.

Life is a struggle – a struggle to avoid misery. The eternal sigh of mankind is for happiness. It is the cherished hope of every living being, the ultimate goal which all aspire to reach one day or other. The goal is the same, but how different are the roads which men tread in search of it! The savage seek happiness in the satisfaction of physical desires, the civilized in riches and love, the philosopher in wisdom, and the religious devotee in prayer and contemplation.

For happiness, as has been said, is only a phantom of which we hear so much and see so little; whose promises are constantly given and constantly broken, but, as constantly believed, that cheats us with the sound and refuses the substance, and lures with the blossom instead of giving the fruit.

The question of happiness without misery is absurd in itself. For by asking this question we take it for granted that happiness is absolute. Happiness and misery, like good and evil or light and darkness or any such other pairs of opposites, are correlatives and the one can be distinguished only by contrast with the other. The ideas of these pairs of opposites are inseparable in thought. One is possible only through the existence of the other. We cannot conceive of light without darkness. We cannot sing the glories of pleasure unless we are stung by the sharp arrows of pain. As Swami Vivekananda says, ‘Life without death, and happiness without misery, are contradictions, and neither can be true because both of them are manifestations of the same thing.’

To live in the world and not be of it’ is the truest renunciation as Swami Vivekananda truly remarks.

Source – Excerpts from Prabuddha Bharata Magazine December 1903 – article titled ‘The Way To Avoid Misery’.