Question: From: (Jim)
Newsgroups: alt.consciousness.4th-way
Subject: Re: Pleasure is sinful ;)
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 1997 11:35:34 -0800

On Mon, 20 Jan 1997 16:27:56 -0801, inX wrote:

A suggestion: the way of the world is to use everything to gain comfort and pleasure and attention and approval and self-importance. If the one who offers to guide is basking in the attention and approval and appreciation and comforts that the students are understandably more than willing to offer, perhaps they are simply playing the same game that everyone else in this world is playing.
     Though I have no interest in teaching, I'm ``lead'' to address another view of your statement above.
     If I understand your statement correctly, you, like stephen, believe that one can only remain awake while suffering, but only sleeps during time ``basking in comfort.''

     Never said that, Jim. Never. Well, maybe when I was young and foolish I may have believed something so ridiculous and simple-minded. But I have never made such a statement here, ever. Nor am I saying that you are young and foolish, ridiculous nor simple-minded, as you have made it quite clear that you do not believe such a thing, either.
     There's not much point in reading the rest of your essay if it is intended to refute a position that has never been taken by this one -- except to see one more expression of a very common position. (I will read it, Jim, as I am interested in your point of view, I just haven't yet.)
     We have been placed in a world providing many, many pleasures; pleasures on each of the four main levels on which we experience living as a physical/spiritual being. No one with their wits about them would believe that abstinence from pleasure is required under such conditions. Just a little insight makes it quite clear that some degree of pleasure and comfort is necessary, just for survival. The question is not about the absolutes of abstinence (no pleasures) and intemperance (all or wallowing in pleasures), but an intelligent use of physical, mental and emotional and other pleasures (some constantly varying degree between the absolutes depending on the circumstances of now).
     Just this weekend I was in Taos, New Mexico, and someone expressed conceptual disdain for pleasurable experiences on some such ideological basis as you suggest that I have expressed. I suggested that they remove their clothes and go outside for a few hours in the snow, and come back before they died or were damaged by exposure and explain to me their new insight on the appropriate placement of pleasure and comfort in living. (They didn't take me up on the suggestion.) It's very easy to misunderstand when one does not bring these things down to the level of survival, and it's all a bunch of intellectual and emotional and physical and important concepts, jumbled together in inconsistent and contradictory ways without any actual experience to provide a framework for a realistic point of view on the subject. Personally, I was quite content to remain indoors with the nice gas heater running, clothes on, drinking coffee and smoking a good cigarette or fifty, with some rather pleasant companions; while others debated the merits of all pleasure or no pleasure, as if those were the only two options.
     I hope that those who need the information in that little paragraph can get it from the words. If not, I will be more than willing to expand on the subject, for those who want that information. Those who don't need anything from it will feel free to make whatever beliefs about this one's beliefs that are necessary to keep their own beliefs and feel superior because their beliefs are better than these beliefs; as though it makes a damned bit of difference one way or the other.
     For those who wish to understand and do not already know, the gist is that graciously accepting an unexpected and unrequested and undesired gift given, in the spirit in which it is given, is one thing. Making the giving and taking of those gifts the purpose is yet another. This one receives many such gifts even though they are never required nor even requested. Most are given to the One Who really deserves the gift, Who is not this one. They are accepted as graciously as this one can act, and quietly and preferably unnoticeably passed on to the Real Who actually deserves them, to keep this one from getting the big head.
     I feel it necessary to say, though, that it points up a lack of understanding on this one's part, and I do thank you for pointing that out. I expected that using a little autobiography would provide fuel for superiority in other ways to some who read it. I expected that many would feel superior because Phil admitted that he was insane for a time, so that no one need ever listen to anything he has to say after knowing that. After all, he even admits to insanity in a clinical sense (unlike the usual admission which runs as, ``If what you call sane is actually sane then I freely admit to being insane''). I expected that many would feel superior because they never suffered so intensely that dying was preferable to living such a life without understanding. I expected it to provide much fuel to the personality's attempt to keep self superior and self-important for many. It never occurred to me that the fuel would be something that I didn't even say on the subject of some requirement for increased suffering and reduced pleasure in the life which was not even brought up nor mentioned in the little essay. And yet, that is very predictable from my own understanding. It shows me that I'm getting a little too far from the game, and need to do a bit more remembering to keep understanding what it's like to be an incomplete, uncreated, disintegrating human being: or I will become useless to such a one if I am not constantly paying attention and remembering what that is like.
     The game of pleasure and pain has become such an irrelevant issue to this one that it is often quite difficult to remember just how important it is to almost everyone else. Thank you for the reminder that this must not be forgotten, not even for a moment.
     It is unlikely and infrequent that anyone has a requirement for any more suffering in their life than has already been provided. Perhaps a bit of attention to that suffering which is already, in fact, present would be of value. That does not say, go out and get some, because you don't have enough to keep you awake. It says pay attention to what you've already been given; don't try to cover it up by wallowing in pleasures to distract one's self from what has been provided. That suffering is useful, just as the pleasures are useful. Both have been provided. Pleasures and pains for the survival of the physical body. Joys and miseries for the conception, growth, development and survival of the spiritual body. The spiritual body provides a real different point of view on the pleasures and pains of the physical and spiritual bodies, but it is rarely one that requires abstinence which would be detrimental to the well-being of the physical and spiritual bodies. Everything that I require has been provided; all that is needed for it to provide that value, that requirement, is real attention from the I.
     To use something for survival, and/or to enable and promote one's purposeful activities in this world, is one thing, and it may well be experienced as pleasurable on some level. To use something purely and solely for the pleasure of it is yet another. To be honest with self and to see what i/I am doing with pleasure and pain, joy and misery, is yet another. None are to be judged ideologically as a concept without a context. There is a time, place and circumstance for everything in this world. In each moment, the appropriateness for this time, place and circumstance is to be determined. Not once, for all time, as an ideal or belief or opinion or concept or conclusion to the matter, ending all further inquiry on the subject.
     Perhaps this comes from Gurdjieff's commentary in Life Is Real, Then, When I Am (I may have misremembered the exact title -- I hope that I got the gist of it). Gurdjieff's method of dealing with the obstacle presented in that book apparently worked for him. I, personally, had no intention of following it to the letter for quite personal reasons. To do so, I would have had to finish acquiring the powers that he had found so fascinating during part of his life. Gurdjieff is a unique individual. What was fascinating to him might well bore the hell out of me. What is fascinating to me might well bore the hell out of him.
     He described an obstacle and a way of dealing with that obstacle by using his own personal experiences to illustrate the principal. I suspect that he was intelligent enough that he was willing to leave it up to those who could read what he had to say to realize that they would need to map his experience to their own personal experiences, and see some manner of dealing with the same obstacle when and if it was seen in their life; a way that would work for them based on the course of their life -- not his. I doubt that he expected everyone to use it as a recipe and follow it exactly as he had done it by working to develop powers so that one could refuse the use of them to provide an intentional suffering necessary to remaining awake now, as it ceaselessly changes.
     If one comes upon that obstacle, then perhaps one can see within his description of his personal experiences that there is a method of dealing with that obstacle, and thank him for providing the clues necessary to that understanding. With a bit of intelligence (as opposed to intellectual, formatory, recipe-like if-then activity) one might be able to see the principle at work within his method of dealing with that challenge and use the principle in one's own life, not necessarily the specific method Gurdjieff described based on his experiences.
     It is an easily observed fact that it is easier to remain awake through pain than through pleasure at certain moments of this inner work. That has been observed by this one while watching many use the Teaching. One who sees this works to be able to remain awake and aware and using the Teaching during both and all other experiences.
     One may even see the necessity for a small degree of discomfort in the life style to provide the necessity for remaining awake at some point in one's inner work. If one does see that one requires such a thing, it is usually quite easy to provide without going to some extreme. I do not say that this is necessary under all conditions for all people. I simply say that it is possible that certain people may come upon this necessity at some point in their inner work.
     I will tell you, quite openly, that misery and suffering are quite rare in this one's life style. They still occur occasionally, but the moments are quite rare, and easily dealt with as a challenge using the Teaching that has been provided. They are simply momentary challenges and distractions from the direction set for this life; to be met as any other challenge or obstacle is met: with work.
     They are not the purpose, nor the point, and are pleasantly infrequent at this time, thank you Life, very much, from the heart of this one.
     Peace of mind is a gift, a very great gift, that cannot be acquired nor earned nor deserved nor worked for. Much thanks for that gift, and for many others, that they be ever cherished in the Spirit in which they were given and received and accepted, as a demonstration of Love between two beloved Spirits.

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