Shreya vs Preya: The Art of Happy Living
Here, Sri Amit Ray talks about the wisdom of “shreya vs preya” – the art of happy living in the path of long term fulfillment versus short term pleasure. He explains how skillful behavior patterns can directed us towards Shreya, which brings joy, happiness, love and trust in life.
Our true nature is divine and eternal. Our true purpose of life is to awaken and realize that permanent divinity that is within us. However, in human life there are positive emotions like: joy, trust, happiness and love. There are negative emotions like: anger, fear, anxiety, depression, worry, grief and mistrust. Life is a dynamics of these two types of emotions. How to find the higher purpose and true meanings of life in the midst of these negative turmoils of life is the eternal question.
The wisdom of “shreya over preya” is all about following the path of the highest. Here “shreay” means long term fulfillment and “preya” means short term pleasure. The knowledge of “shreya over preya” is mentioned in the ancient wisdom book Kath Upanishad. The story is written in the form of a dialogue between an accomplished teacher and a sincere student. It says:
“The permanent fulfillment (shreya) and the temporary pleasant (preya) are two different paths. They motivate a person to pursue two different goals. The one who embraces the path of permanent welfare meets with auspiciousness. But the one who chooses the temporary pleasant is lost.” —Katha Upanishad 1.2.1
Shreya means choosing the best and welfare for all. Initially, it may not feels good but it has long lasting benefit. Preya is what pleases us. Initially, it gives good feelings but may not have long lasting benefit.
Shreya is mostly driven by skillful thought patterns and skillful behavior pattern and Preya is often driven by unskillful thought patterns and unskillful behavior pattern. They can be classified as “state” and “trait” behavior pattern.
Mostly, unskillful behavior patterns are directed towards Preya and unskillful behavior patterns causes anxiety, fear, tensions and depressions. If you practice mindfulness, you will recognize your worries and understand when it emerges, and acknowledge it, and take action to resolve it. You can replace the negative thoughts by the practices of loving-kindness and compassion.
Skillful behavior patterns are directed towards Shreya and it causes joy, happiness, love and trust. Trust enables you to rely on instinct, and impart self-confidence. Related emotions include certainty, faith and a feeling of security.
When a repeated negative thought arises: worry, anxiety, self-criticism or depression may arise. To overcome that you can meditate and generate positive thinking like: “I meditate in order to improve myself, and by doing so may I be able to benefit all the beings I come in contact with. In the long term, may I eliminate all defilement and enhance all my good qualities so that I can become a fully enlightened in order to benefit all beings most effectively.” While meditating, don’t try to force your nerves to be still stay relaxed. Just observe what you are feeling without trying to control it or separate from it.
If you practice mindfulness, you will recognize your worries and understand when it emerges, and acknowledge it, and take action to resolve it. Learn to trust yourself. Cultivation of equanimity will help you to release your fears and negative thought patterns and negative behavior patterns. And the wisdom of Upanishads teaches us that the things we fear are phantoms and dreams. Our true nature is divine and ever blissful.