Shreyas and Preyas: The Two Paths of Life
“The good and the pleasant come to a man and the thoughtful mind turns around them and distinguishes. The wise choose out the good from the pleasant, but the dull soul chooses the pleasant rather than the getting of his good and its having.” – Kathopanishad
In understanding the two paths – Shreyas and Preyas as an approach to life, more presence and conscious preferences are needed to mull over the future propositions of decisions made together. In this way, the chosen path of life brings about more significant individual growth and development. Let us understand the two tracks.
What is Shreyas?
Shreyas comes from the origin “Shri.” It means auspiciousness as well as support. One technique to look at Shreyas is “the hold up of what is fortunate.” Shreyas is a Sanskrit expression meaning “something that brings light or contentment and is good.” It can also be interpreted as meaning “positive,” “fortune” or “favorable to well-being and prosperity.”
What is Preyas?
Preyas has its source in the word “pri.” It means pleasant or rewarding. Preyas is something that is satisfying to the senses. When we take these experiences that crop up from the contact of the sanity with sagacity and are temporary – to describe who we are, we follow the path of Preyas.
Shreyas versus Preyas
At times, Shreyas is taught in disparity to another approach of Preyas that means “immediately palatable.” It refers to something that pleases the senses and is immediately pleasing. The renowned yogic text, the Bhagavad Gita, refers to these ideas and supports an individual to prefer shreyas, or the eventual good, over preyas, the temporary reward.
On a deeper level, even the attainment of spiritual awareness falls under Preyas. When the knowledge we obtain from books and teachings goes on to create a character of a scholar that is rewarding for the sense of self, we stay under the hold of Preyas. In such instances, the knowledge doesn’t drop down from the head to the heart. In its place, it turns out to be a blockade to knowing.
In the yogic way of life, the term, Shreyas, is a lot used to refer to an approach to life in which instant fulfillment and short-range gratification are deferred or postponed to follow bigger goals. This is considered a unique approach for lasting bliss.
Shreyas is an unfaltering devotion to bhavana. In Shreyas, we weigh upon our feelings, emotions, and actions – deeply. In our quest for Shreyas, we stop asking what anybody else is supposed to do. We focus entirely on correcting our indistinct vision. Even when occupied in social activism, we stay dedicated to fixing our views, not giving in to the dualities of good or bad that come up from Preyas.
Preferring Shreyas (the good) over Preyas (the instant pleasure)
There are two types of things – the good and the pleasing. The good deals with spiritual dealings while the pleasant deals with the routine matters. Both these are open to the human being for approval. An individual needs to think and prefer one of them. The sensible man prefers the good over the pleasant, but the hasty man, through self-indulgence and attachment, opt for the pleasant.
Vedas advocate choosing the path of Shreyas as against the path of preyas. The path of Shreyas succeeds at all times even when it appears to go down, articulates the Vedas. And the corridor of preyas is a loser’s alleyway, they say, even when it seems to be captivating. Vedic understanding tells us that the path of preyas may, sooner or later, lead to adversity. However, the path of Shreyas will lead to long-lasting good.