Some people believe that money is the ultimate gain – if they just gain enough money, that can protect them from any pain.
However, a gain can’t relieve if it doesn’t address the level at which the pain afflicts. For example, if a starving person is garlanded, the gain of being honored can’t remove the pain of starvation.
A similar mismatch in the levels of affliction and mitigation is highlighted by Arjuna at the start of the Bhagavad-gita. When contemplating the imminent death of his venerable elders in a fratricidal war, he recognizes that even the greatest political gain through the war will not remove his agony (02.08).
Acknowledging Arjuna’s concerns, Gita wisdom focuses attention on the deepest level of our existence – the spiritual level, the only level at which gain can take us beyond pain. The Gita explains that we are essentially spiritual beings. As we are presently encased in material bodies, we need material resources, many of which can be bought with money. So, we do need money, but it can’t address needs at deeper levels of our existence.
Our innermost need is love, which can never be fulfilled by money alone. Our longing for love emerges from our soul, and it can be fulfilled only when directed towards the whole. That whole is our Lord and source, the all-attractive supreme, Krishna. By sustained yoga practice, when we gain ecstatic absorption in him, nothing more remains to be gained, and even great pain becomes bearable (06.22). As we are eternal and Krishna too is eternal, absorption in him, once sustained by pure love, becomes our eternal and inalienable gain.
Just as we invest the necessary effort for gaining money, if we determinedly invest the necessary effort for growing spiritually, we can march towards the gain that is beyond pain.