Understanding Pleasure and Desire.
Pleasure is a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.The important thing to understand we as human is “We can’t exist without relationship of some kind.” You can’t withdraw into isolation, build a wall around yourself, as most people do, because that act of living in a sheltered, secure, isolated state of resistance only breeds more confusion, more problems and more misery.
Life is, if one observes, a movement in action, a movement in relationship, and that is our whole problem: How to live in this world, where relationship is the very basis of all existence; how to live in this world so that relationship doesn’t become monotonous, dull, something that is ugly, repetitive.
Our minds do conform to the pattern of pleasure and life is not mere pleasure, obviously. But we want pleasure. That is the only thing we are really seeking deeply, inwardly, secretly. We try to get pleasure out of almost anything, and pleasure, if one observes, not only isolates and confuses the mind, but it also creates values which are not true, not actual.
So pleasure brings illusion. A mind that is seeking pleasure, as most of us are, not only isolates itself, but must invariably be in a state of contradiction in all its relationships, whether it is the relationship with ideas, with people, or with property; it must always be in conflict.
So that is one of the things one has to understand: that our search in life is fundamentally the demand, the urge, the seeking of pleasure. Now, this is very difficult to understand because, why shouldn’t one have pleasure? Imagine, you see a beautiful sunset, a lovely tree, beautiful face, and to look at it gives great pleasure, delight. What is wrong with that?
What matters is to understand pleasure.Nobody can get rid of pleasure. But to understand the nature and the structure of pleasure, is essential; because if life is only pleasure, and if that is what one wants, then with pleasure go the misery, the confusion, the illusions, the false values which we create, and therefore there is no clarity.
It is a simple fact, psychologically as well as biologically, that we are seeking pleasure, and we want all relationship to be based on it; and hence, when relationship is not pleasurable, there is a contradiction, and then the conflict, the misery, the confusion, and the agony begin.
Important thing to put in mind is; Pleasure is the continuation and the cultivation in thought of a perception. What is pleasure? There is the pleasure derived from possessions; the pleasure derived from a capacity or talent; the pleasure when you dominate another; the pleasure of having tremendous power, politically, religiously or economically; the pleasure of sex; the pleasure of the great sense of freedom that money gives. There are multiple forms of pleasure.
In pleasure there is enjoyment, and further on there is ecstasy, the taking delight in something and the sense of ecstasy. “Ecstasy” is to be beyond yourself. There is no self to enjoy. The self that is the me, the ego, the personality has all totally disappeared, there is only that sense of being outside. That is ecstasy.
But that ecstasy has nothing whatsoever to do with pleasure. You take a delight in something; the delight that comes naturally when you look at something very beautiful. At that moment, at that second, there is neither pleasure, nor joy, there is only that sense of observation. In that observation the self is not.
Whenever thought interferes with the sense of beauty, the sense of the greatness of anything, a piece of poetry, a sheet of water, or a lonely tree in a field, it is registration. But, to see it and not register it that is important. The moment you register it, the beauty of it, then that very registration sets thought into action; then the desire to pursue that beauty, which becomes the pursuit of pleasure.
Imagine; One sees a beautiful woman, or man; instantly it is registered in the brain; then that very registration sets thought into motion and you want to be in her or his company and all that follows.
Pleasure is the continuation and the cultivation in thought of a perception.
But in our human relationships, those between man and woman for example, every incident in that relationship is registered. What takes place? The woman is irritated, nags, or is friendly, kindly, or says something just before the man goes off to the office, which is ugly; so from this there is built up, through registration, an image about her and she builds an image about him this is factual.
In human relationships, between man and woman, or between neighbors and so on, there is registration and the process of image-making. But when the husband says something ugly listen to it carefully, end it, do not carry it on; then you will find that there is no image-making at all. If there is no image-making between a man and a woman the relationship is entirely different; there is no longer the relationship of one thought opposed to another thought which is called relationship, which actually it is not; it is just ideas.
Pleasure follows registration of an incident in the continuation given by thought. Thought is the root of pleasure. If you had no thought and you saw a beautiful thing it would rest at that. But thought says: “No, I must have that”; from this flows the whole movement of thought. What is the relationship of pleasure to joy? Joy comes to you uninvited, it happens.
Imagine! You are walking along in a street, or sitting in a bus, or wandering in the woods, seeing the flowers, the hills, and the clouds and the blue sky and suddenly there is the extraordinary feeling of great joy; then comes the registration, thought says: “What a marvelous thing that was, I must have more of it.” So, again, joy is made into pleasure by thought. This is seeing things as they are, not as you want them to be; it is seeing them exactly, without any distortion, seeing what is taking place.
What is love? Is it pleasure; which is the continuation of an incident through the movement of thought? Is the movement of thought love? Is love remembrance? A thing has happened and living in its remembrance, feeling that remembrance of something which is over, resuscitating it and saying, “What a marvelous thing that was when we were together under that tree; that was love” all that is the remembrance of a thing that is gone.
We are questioning everything that man has put together of which he says: “This is love.” If love is pleasure then it gives emphasis to the remembrance of past things and therefore brings about the importance of pleasure, my excitement, my remembrances. Is that love? And is love desire? What is desire? One desires a car; one desires a house; one desires prominence, power, position. There are infinite things one desires: to be as beautiful as you are, to be as intelligent, as clever, as smart as you are. Does desire bring clarity?
The thing that is called love is based on desire desire to sleep with a woman, or sleep with a man, desire to possess her, dominate her, control her: “She is mine, not yours.” Is love in the pleasure derived in that possession, in that dominance? Man dominates the world and now there is woman fighting the domination.
What is desire? Does desire bring about clarity? In its field does compassion flower? If it does not bring clarity and if desire is not the field in which the beauty and the greatness of compassion flower, then what place has desire? How does desire arise? One sees a beautiful woman, or a beautiful man one sees.
There is the perception, the seeing, then the contact, then the sensation, then that sensation is taken over by thought, which becomes the image with its desire. You see a beautiful vase, a beautiful sculpture ancient Egyptian, or Greek and you look at it and you touch it; you see the depth of sculpture of the figure sitting cross-legged.
From that there is a sensation. What a marvelous thing and from that sensation desire; “I wish I had that in my room; to look at it every day, touch it every day” the pride of possession, to have such a marvelous thing as that. That is desire: seeing, contact, sensation, then thought using that sensation to cultivate the desire to possess or not to possess.
Now comes the difficulty: realizing this the religious people have said:do not look at a woman; if you do look treat her as your sister, mother, whatever you like; because you are in the service of God you need all your energy to serve Him; in the service of God you are going to have great tribulations, therefore be prepared, but do not waste your energy.”But the thing is boiling and we are trying to understand that desire which is constantly boiling, wanting to fulfill, wanting to complete itself.
Desire arises from the movement: seeing contact sensation thought with its image desire. Now we are saying: seeing touching sensation, that is normal, healthy end it there, do not let thought take it over and make it into a desire. Understand this and then you will also understand that there will be no suppression of desire.
You see a beautiful house, well-proportioned with lovely windows, a roof that melts into the sky, walls that are thick and part of the earth, a beautiful garden, well kept. You look at it, there is sensation; you touch it you may not actually touch it but you touch it with your eyes you smell the air, the herbs, the newly-cut grass.
Can you not end it there? End it there, say: “It is a beautiful house”; but there is no registration and no thought which says: “I wish I had that house” which is desire and the continuation of desire. You can do this so easily; and I mean easily, if you understand the nature of thought and desire.
What is the source of desire? When we say we love another, in that love there is desire, the pleasurable projections of the various activities of thought. One has to find out whether love is desire, whether love is pleasure, whether in love there is fear; for where there is fear there must be hatred, jealousy, anxiety, possessiveness, domination.
There is beauty in relationship and the whole cosmos is a movement in relationship. Cosmos is order and when one has order in oneself one has order in one’s relationships and therefore the possibility of order in our society.
If one inquires into the nature of relationship one finds it is absolutely necessary to have order, and out of that order comes love. What is beauty? You see the fresh snow on the mountains this morning, clean, a lovely sight. You see those solitary trees standing black against that white.
When there is total absence of yourself beauty is. But we are not free of ourselves; we are selfish people, concerned with ourselves, with our importance or with our problems, with our agonies, sorrows, and loneliness.
Out of desperate loneliness we want identification with something or other and we cling to an idea, to a belief, to a person, especially to a person. In dependency all our problems arise. Where there is psychological dependency, fear begins. When you are tied to something corruption begins.
Desire is the most urgent and vital drive in our life. We are talking about desire itself, not desire for a particular thing. All religions have said that if you want to serve God you must subjugate desire, destroy desire and control desire. All the religions have said: substitute for desire an image that thought has created the image that the Christians have, that the Hindus have and so on. Substitute an image for the actual.
The actual is desire the burning of it and they think that one can overcome that desire by substituting something else for it. Or, surrender yourself to that which you think is the master, the savior, the guru which again is the activity of thought. This has been the pattern of all religious thinking.
One has to understand the whole movement of desire; for obviously it is not love, nor yet compassion. Without love and compassion, meditation is utterly meaningless. Love and compassion have their own intelligence which is not the intelligence of cunning thought.
So it is important to understand the nature of desire, why it has played such an extraordinarily important part in our life; how it distorts clarity, how it prevents the extraordinary quality of love.
It is important that we understand and do not suppress, do not try to control it or direct it in a particular direction, which you think may give you peace. Please bear in mind that the speaker is not trying to impress you or guide and help you. But together we are walking a very subtle, complex path.
We have to listen to each other to find out the truth about desire. When one understands the significance, the meaning, the fullness, the truth of desire, then desire has quite a different value or drive in one’s life. When one observes desire, is one observing it as an outsider looking at desire? Or is one observing desire as it arises? Not desire as something separate from oneself, one is desire.
You see the difference? Either one observes desire, which one has when one sees something in the shop window which pleases one, and one has the desire to buy it so that the object is different from ‘me’, or else the desire is ‘me’, so there is a perception of desire without the observer watching desire. One can look at a tree. Tree is the word by which one recognizes that which is standing in the field. But one knows that the word tree is not the tree.
Similarly one’s wife is not the word. But one has made the word one’s wife. I do not know if you see all the subtleties of this. One must very clearly understand, from the beginning, that the word is not the thing. The word desire is not the feeling of it the extraordinary feeling there is behind that reaction.
So one must be very watchful that one is not caught in the word. Also the brain must be active enough to see that the object may create desire, desire which is separate from the object. So we are always at loggerheads with each other.