As we understood in 2.13, while our true identity is Consciousness/चेतना, due to our attachment with the body+mind we end up getting stuck in the cycle of life and death.
While being stuck in this endless cycle, we all are chasing happiness. Given that we associate ourselves with the body, our chase of happiness happens through sensory pleasures.
We think, if we satisfy our senses, we will be happy. But it always ends up in distress. If we notice, our most favorite food feels like heaven at the first bite but soon turns nauseating as we continue to eat. The same is true with every other sensory pleasure.
Add to it, life throws a multitude of good/bad experiences at us too. We are born in this मृत्युलोक/earth due to our mixed good and bad Karmas. And while repaying those, we will end up having good and bad experiences.
In short, all in all, we are a mess. Our exploration of happiness through sense ends in distress, and if that wasn’t enough, life presents various obstacles.
In this situation, Vedanta shows a ray of hope and shows that the only way that would give us eternal happiness is realizing our true identity as Consciousness/चेतना. Many philosophers throughout history have vouched for this approach.
But, when we start our journey on this path, life continues to unfold with good and bad things happening around us, presenting various temptations.
So, for anyone who is on the spiritual path, one of the most important characteristics is तितिक्षा. It is the ability to withstand or tolerate whatever life throws at us.
As Shri Krishna says in the next Shloka:
मात्रास्पर्शास्तु कौन्तेय शीतोष्णसुखदु: खदा: |
आगमापायिनोऽनित्यास्तांस्तितिक्षस्व भारत ||2.14||
O’ Son of Kunti, the senses and their sense objects give rise to happiness and distress. These are not permanent. They come and go like the seasons. O’ descendent of Bharat, one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.
As we know, we are born to repay Prarabdha Karma, and the situations life throws at us are due to Prarabdha Karma. So sometimes things may be easy, sometimes difficult. We have to just go through them without getting disturbed by either of them.
BTW, तितिक्षा does not mean, if we fall sick we shouldn’t take medicines, or if someone is unfair to us we should let them do injustice.
तितिक्षा means doing whatever needs to be done, without getting impacted by the actions.
In order to clarify this, Shri Krishna adds this next Shloka.
यं हि न व्यथयन्त्येते पुरुषं पुरुषर्षभ |
समदु:खसुखं धीरं सोऽमृतत्वाय कल्पते ||2.15||
O Arjun, anyone who is not affected by happiness and distress, and remains steady in both, becomes eligible for self-realization.
Easier said than done, right? But, once we know how Prarabdha Karma works, how the cycle of life/death works, it becomes effortless to remain steady in happiness and distress.
Therefore, the first step towards self-realization starts with knowledge. So, let’s continue our ज्ञानयज्ञ and improve our तितिक्षा.
All the Best!