The search for pleasures drives all of us. Unfortunately, it drives many of us to the opposite of its purpose – to trouble.
Consider people who become addicted, say, to alcohol. Before they became addicted, they were probably leading normal lives, but somehow because of wanting some pleasure, they started drinking. And they kept drinking. Over time, the craving to drink became compulsive and addictive, leaving them dysfunctional and distressed, maybe even degraded, as the craving impelled them to do immoral, illegal things. Their troubles grew out of their search for pleasure.
While we may not be addicted, we all will have our own experiences of this reverse effect of the search for pleasure. The Bhagavad-gita points to this principle when stating that pleasures which taste like nectar initially taste like poison eventually (18.38).
This reverse effect is caused by intrinsic incompatibility between our constitution and our situation, Gita wisdom explains that we are indestructible souls seeking everlasting joy, whereas the world with all its pleasures is temporary. Our seeking pleasure where it’s not available makes for trouble, just as seeking water in a desert mirage leaves us with burning sand in our mouth.
Of course, the search for pleasure doesn’t always have to be a source of trouble, just as searching for water in an oasis doesn’t end in trouble. Gita wisdom explains that Krishna, the all-attractive supreme whose parts we are eternally, is that oasis. And bhakti-yoga is the path to that oasis.
Gita wisdom recommends that we stop seeking pleasure and start seeking a connection with Krishna and keep seeking that connection even if it doesn’t seem pleasurable. Even if such seeking seems like poison initially, it will taste like nectar eventually (18.37) – we will march steady and strong towards ecstatic absorption in our blissful Lord