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What is pleasure and what is its place in life? || Acharya Prashant on Khalil Gibran (2015)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
44 reads

“Pleasure is a freedom song,

But it is not freedom.

It is the blossoming of your desires,

But it is not their fruit.”

Khalil Gibran

Questioner : Sir, what pleasure is and what is its place in life?

Speaker : Khalil Gibran is saying, “Pleasure is a freedom song, But it is not freedom. It is the blossoming of your desires, But it is not their fruit.”

Pleasure and pain are two ends of duality , but they should not be taken as separate. They are one. Pleasure in itself will hold no attraction for you if you are not in pain. If you ask, “What is pleasure?” The answer has to be in context of pain. Pleasure means nothing in absence of pain.

What is pleasure then? A temporary perception of cessation of pain. A temporary perception of relief from pain. And you know it is temporary. Experience has told you that. So on one hand, pleasure is relief from pain and on the other hand, pleasure is the apprehension of pain. You know you have left pain behind in time. There was pain yesterday and today is pleasure. You know you have left pain behind in time but you also know pain is waiting for you ahead in time. You try to clutch pleasure. You try to prolong pleasure. Nobody wants their pleasurable moments to end. We all want our fairy tales to continue. But in the desire of continuation itself lies fear, pain. You would not want something to prolong were you not convinced of its mortality. You know that it is going to end, that it is about to end. And that is the reason you pray and work for its elongation.

Now look at what is happening. You were in pain and when you were in pain, you were in pain. And then the pain turned into pleasure and when you are in pleasure, you want to prolong that pleasure and the very desire to prolong, is pain. So when you were in pain, you were in pain and even when you are in pleasure, you are in pain. In fact the pain of pleasure is deeper than the pain of pain. To not to have something is not quite as bad, as to have it and lose it. So pain is pain and pleasure is also pain.

That explains why Buddha has called the world as suffering. Now the world by definition is dualistic. There is pleasure and there is pain. Why not say the world is pleasure? Why instead choose to say that the world is pain? Why? Why is the Buddha making that choice? If everything is dualistic why is he choosing one end of duality? Do you understand why?

Because pain is pain and pleasure too is pain. That is why it would not be right to say that the world is pleasure. It is more correct to say that the world is pain. Pleasure and pain are two ends of a duality which in itself can be called a big pain. The duality in itself can be called a big pain and of this big pain, the two ends are pain and pleasure. And that is the reason why when this big pain – the duality itself – is removed, it is called as Joy. Joy is not a movement from pain to pleasure. Joy is freedom from both, pain and pleasure. The removal of the big duality itself. Are you getting it? That is what pleasure is.

What is its place in life depends on whose life you are talking about . (Says with a smile)

Listener : Sir, in day-to-day life, some things attract us and some things repel. Why it is so?

Speaker : Because you believe that there is no escape possible from this dualistic trap. You think that the only possibility for you is to run from pain to pleasure. And you feel-in pain most of the times. This is the only hope that you feel. “Can I move from one end of the trap to the other?” Like a mouse that is caught in a trap. In one end of the trap is pain and the other end is pleasure. The mouse has no hope of liberation . The only possibility that he sees is, “I can run from one end of the trap to other end.” That is why we seek pleasure. We deeply believe that, “It is impossible to be out of the trap.” You have a deep belief in the whole system of slavery. When that belief is no more there, then one does not seek either of these. One says, “Go away both of you. You two are impostors. You act as enemies but actually the two of you are hand in glove. You two are a team. You two are a couple. And you cheat people. Go away both of you.”

You must first enquire into whether it is appropriate for you to keep believing that the world is nothing but pleasure and pain.

Listener : Sir, is this what the pseudo Gurus promise that there is no pain but only pleasure?

Speaker : Yes and it is because pleasure is being promised, so it is pleasing to the mind that is caught in duality. You want pleasure and somebody promises pleasure.

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