I’m seeking pleasure, most of the time. From my morning coffee to sitting in a warm patch of sunlight to listening to the rain to sex and sexual thoughts and romance to food to books to friendship to music: the move to pleasure motivates this organism tremendously.
It is very important to understand that pleasure is not morally “wrong.” If we label feelings as right or wrong, we are in effect moving away from them and not watching them and learning from them.
So: pleasure that is not harmful is not the problem. The problem seems to be that having had pleasure, the organism seeks it again and again. And the world does not allow pleasure to be automatically fulfilled. Therefore: frustration. Cunning ways of finding pleasure. A massive inner determination not to be thwarted in pleasure.
This powerful drive, though it is fun and provides “meaning,” also distorts my life in serious ways. I cannot be really deeply quiet if I am seeking pleasure. Nor can I be deeply compassionate. I cannot figure out what might be right action. Also: pleasure is just one dimension in the whole hologram of life. So by focussing on pleasure, I miss subtle and beautiful aspects of living. Perhaps I miss the “point” of life.
Pleasure emphasizes the me and makes it rigid and intent upon its own fulfilment.
What can I do about this?
Again, my intention is not to be moralistic about pleasure. So in no way should this be read as a holier-than-thou rant.
Awareness of the ways in which pleasure hardens the self and gives rise to deep sorrow and frustration is the key. As always, this awareness is not just a verbal recognition but a deeply and viscerally felt attention to the movements of body, mind and the self-construct.
In this recognition and awareness, perhaps the organism finds the space to move into a wider field of life than just the pleasure field. Pleasure then loses its grip on us, and we can lead more spacious and flexible and compassionate lives.