श्रेयश्च प्रेयश्च मनुष्यमेतस्तौ संपरीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः ।
श्रेयो हि धीरोऽभिप्रेयसो वृणीते प्रेयो मन्दो योगक्शेमाद्वृणीते ॥ (Katha Upanishad 1.2.1)
In every situation, there are two paths, Shreya (good) and Preya (pleasant). One who chooses the path of Sherya makes progress on the spiritual path, while one who chooses Preya misses it completely.
But, how do we know, which is the path of Shreya, and which is Preya?One of the best ways to understand this is through the story of Nachiketa, which we saw in the other post : https://hinduismuniversalreligion.com/being-a-hindu/paths-of-spiritual-progress/janangyandnyan-yoga/ideal-student/.
In that story, Nachiketa with Yama’s counteroffer had the option of taking a path of a comfortable life with all riches, but instead, he chose to go with the path of earning knowledge (i.e. Shreya).
Similar to this, in our day-to-day life too, we have this choice at every moment, we just need to be on the lookout for it, and choose wisely.
Just to give another example. We all love our children and want to support them to grow up. If we do that, with the intention of ‘they will take care of us when we are old’, OR ‘with the blind love where we don’t point out their mistakes and correct them’, we are taking a path of Preya.
But, if the same thing is done with the intention of ‘doing our duty as a parent, without expecting anything in return’ AND ‘making sure that we praise or correct them as needed’, we are following the path of Shreya.
Like Bhagavad Gita says,
ब्रह्मण्याधाय कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा करोति य: |
लिप्यते न स पापेन पद्मपत्रमिवाम्भसा || (Bhagavad Gita 5.10)
Those who do all the actions as duties, without expecting anything in return, remain untouched by Paap (or karma), just like a lotus leaf, which even though stay in the water all the time, still remains untouched by it.
Lets us all, try to become like a lotus leaf, where, while being in the ocean of all the activities, try to stay untouched by it. That is the path of Shreya!