Desire and Fear: Self-centred States
I would like to go again into the question of pleasure and pain,
desire and fear. I
fear which is memory and anticipation of pain. It is essential for the
preservation of the
and its living pattern. Needs, when felt, are painful and their
anticipation is full of fear; we
rightly afraid of not being able to meet our basic needs. The relief
experienced when a need is
or an anxiety allayed is entirely due to the ending of pain. We may
give it positive names like
or joy, or happiness, but essentially it is relief from pain. It is
this fear of pain that holds
our social, economic and political institutions.
puzzles me is that we derive pleasure from things and states of mind,
which have nothing to
with survival. On the contrary, our pleasures are usually destructive.
They damage or destroy the
the instrument and also the subject of pleasure. Otherwise, pleasure
and pursuit of pleasure
be no problem. This brings me to the core of my question: why is
pleasure destructive? Why,
spite of its destructiveness, is it wanted?
may add, I do not have in mind the pleasure-pain pattern by which
nature compels us to go her
I think of the man-made pleasures, both sensory and subtle, ranging
from the grossest, like
to the most refined. Addiction to pleasure, at whatever cost, is so
universal that there
be something significant at the root of it.
course, not every activity of man must be utilitarian, designed to
meet a need. Play, for example,
natural and man is the most playful animal in existence. Play fulfils
the need for self-discovery
self-development. But even on his play man becomes destructive of
nature, others and himself.
In short, you do not object to pleasure, but only to its price in pain
If reality itself is bliss, then pleasure in some way must be related
Let us not proceed by verbal logic. The bliss of reality does not
exclude suffering. Besides, you
only pleasure, not the bliss of pure being. So let us examine pleasure
at its own level.
you look at yourself in your moments of pleasure or pain, you will
invariably find that it is not the
in itself that is pleasant or painful, but the situation of which it
is a part. Pleasure lies in the
between the enjoyer and the enjoyed. And the essence of it is
be the situation, if it is acceptable, it is pleasant. If it is not
acceptable, it is painful. What makes
acceptable is not important; the cause may be physical, or
psychological, or untraceable;
is the decisive factor. Obversely, suffering is due to non-acceptance.
Pain is not acceptable.
Why not? Did you ever try? Do try and you will find in pain a joy
which pleasure cannot yield, for
simple reason that acceptance of pain takes you much deeper than
pleasure does. The
self by its very nature is constantly pursuing pleasure and avoiding
pain. The ending of this
is the ending of the self. The ending of the self with its desires and
fears enables you to
to your real nature, the source of all happiness and peace. The
perennial desire for pleasure
the reflection of the timeless harmony within. It is an observable
fact that one becomes self-
only when caught in the conflict between pleasure and pain, which
demands choice and
It is this clash between desire and fear that causes anger, which is
the great destroyer of
in life. When pain is accepted for what it is, a lesson and a warning,
and deeply looked into
heeded, the separation between pain and pleasure breaks down, both
become experience --
when resisted, joyful when accepted.
Do you advise shunning pleasure and pursuing pain?
No, nor pursuing pleasure and shunning pain. Accept both as they come,
enjoy both while they
let them go, as they must.
How can I possibly enjoy pain? Physical pain calls for action.
Of course. And so does Mental. The bliss is in the awareness of it, in
not shrinking, or in any
turning away from it. All happiness comes from awareness. The more we
are conscious, the
the joy. Acceptance of pain, non-resistance, courage and endurance --
these open deep
perennial sources of real happiness, true bliss.
Why should pain be more effective than pleasure?
Pleasure is readily accepted, while all the powers of the self reject
pain. As the acceptance of
is the denial of the self, and the self stands in the way of true
happiness, the wholehearted
of pain releases the springs of happiness.
Does the acceptance of suffering act the same way?
The fact of pain is easily brought within the focus of awareness. With
suffering it is not that
To focus suffering is not enough, for mental life, as we know it, is
one continuous stream of
To reach the deeper layers of suffering you must go to its roots and
uncover their vast
network, where fear and desire are closely interwoven and the currents
of life's energy
obstruct and destroy each other.
How can I set right a tangle which is entirely below the level of my
By being with yourself, the 'I am'; by watching yourself in your daily
life with alert interest, with
intention to understand rather than to judge, in full acceptance of
whatever may emerge,
it is there, you encourage the deep to come to the surface and enrich
your life and
with its captive energies. This is the great work of awareness; it
releases energies by understanding the nature of life and mind.
Intelligence is the door to
and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.
One more question. Why does pleasure end in pain?
Everything has a beginning and an end and so does pleasure. Don't
anticipate and don't regret,
there will be no pain. it is memory and imagination that cause
course pain after pleasure may be due to the misuse of the body or the
mind. The body knows
measure, but the mind does not. Its appetites are numberless and
limitless. Watch your mind
great diligence, for there lies your bondage and also the key to
My question is not yet fully answered: Why are man's pleasures
destructive? Why does he find
much pleasure in destruction? Life's concern lies in protection,
perpetuation and expansion of
In this it is guided by pain and pleasure. At what point do they
When the mind takes over, remembers and anticipates, it exaggerates,
it distorts, it overlooks.
past is projected into future and the future betrays the expectations.
The organs of sensation
action are stimulated beyond capacity and they inevitably break down.
The objects of pleasure
yield what is expected of them and get worn out, or destroyed, by
misuse. It results in
of pain where pleasure was looked for.
We destroy not only ourselves, but others too!
Naturally, selfishness is always destructive. Desire and fear, both
are self-centred states.
desire and fear anger arises, with anger hatred, with hatred passion
for destruction. War is
in action, organised and equipped with all the instruments of death.
Is there a way to end these horrors?
When more people come to know their real nature, their influence,
however subtle, will prevail
the world's emotional atmosphere will sweeten up. People follow their
leaders and when among
leaders appear some, great in heart and mind, and absolutely free from
will be enough to make the crudities and crimes of the present age
impossible. A new
age may come and last for a time and succumb to its own perfection.
For, ebb begins when
tide is at its highest.
Is there no such thing as permanent perfection?
Yes, there is, but it includes all imperfection. It is the perfection
of our self-nature which makes
possible, perceivable, interesting. It knows no suffering, for it
neither likes nor dislikes;
accepts nor rejects. Creation and destruction are the two poles
between which it weaves its
pattern. Be free from predilections and preferences and the mind with
its burden of
will be no more.
But I am not alone to suffer. There are others.
When you go to them with your desires and fears, you merely add to
their sorrows. First be free
suffering yourself and then only hope of helping others. You do not
even need to hope -- your
existence will be the greatest help a man can give his fellowmen.