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I Love Pleasure — so what?Read PDF Version
P-L-E-A-S-U-R-E. Yes, pleasure. That is my word of the moment. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? Especially with that s in the middle which, like some writer observed elsewhere, is pronounced like the z in azure. So it is pronounced as plɛʒə. Ohhh, what a word... a word often favoured by lyric poets and narcissits... a word which doth give a fine thrill even to the mouth as it is pronounced. And if you were to check out the meaning of the word in a dictionary, it would be something like "happy satisfaction or enjoyment; delight, gratification."Download or Open PDF Version »
RAW AND COOKED, cold and warm, bitter and sweet, ugly and beautiful: both sides of these dichotomies surely apply in our life experiences everywhere. Growing up, most of us expected to find a constantly stable world full of comfort and satisfaction, full of joy and love. And (sure enough) our society and our teachers and our parents and our religious institutions believed they could build that sort of ideal world for us. Even influences from our mates and TV adverts made us think that the world is a place of smooth sailing and sunny weathers where goodness and mercy always accompanies us all the days of our life.
Coming to terms with life reveals, however, that reality is a far cry from what that infantile mind had dreamed up. Contending with nature, with society, with self, and with whatever Ultimacy they have known, all human beings must have mused about their sunrise and sunset. For every one of us, the cosmos and the social group has had effects; the Self and Ultimacy have beguiled. Within and without each one of us, the world has taken shape, changed, and maybe occasionally threatened to slip away...
Truly, life isn't always very beautiful. Fatigue, loss of temper, having to traffic with nasty people of little worth — what do we not suffer and bear in this life? We go hungry, we eat awful food, we tread trying paths, our hearts get broken and we sleep without comfort. We get miserable now and then and quite often we cry because of our pains and miseries...
Yes, we do have plenty of pains in life; and our pains are of many categories. For example, we have physical pains and we have emotional pains. Our physical pains and miseries in life are found in many degrees of intensity — from those which are easy to bear to those which are appalling to look upon. Then, if we pass from physical pains and miseries to those types that are mental or emotional, we are overwhelmed by the size and weight of the agonies that befall human beings all over the world. From the sorrows of an unhappy childhood, far deeper than can be calculated, to the stony grief of old age, untold and ungauged, there is a sweeping range of human suffering beyond all conception and narration; baffling the imagination, affronting the intelligence.
But of what profit is it to our Maker, and of what real pride is it to us mortals who are part of the Maker's plans, if our first entrance into life as infants gives us many pains and many more pains to our mothers? Of what purpose is life, of what meaning is life, if impotence, fear, anguish, desperation and woes of all descriptions continually attend each stage of our lives, only to be finally finished and exited one day in agony and horror?
Life surely gives nobody an easy bridge to cross; it does not keep us in good terms with ease and comfort. Naturally. Hence in old tracks and new, we can only press forward in anyway and by any means we can to set things clear, gain new knowledge, redress old wrongs. Doing this here, doing that there, laughing now, smiling then... we could perhaps accept the uncharitable blows of life and even admire their brutality. We may ride upon Time like the Poets do; we may sing songs of praise, of grief, of anything that moves the feelings. In this variety of moods and diversity of outlooks, we might be able to round out Nature's guidance of Time and bear the painful kinks of life. And alongside doing this here and doing that there, alongside gaining new knowledge and redressing old wrongs, we can also learn to relax and be receptive to the goodness of pleasure.
When we consider the hardships of life, our next surest comfort often comes from thoughts and hopes about heaven, which is generally believed to be a pleasurable place of abode existing physically somewhere in Cosmic Creation – "somewhere up there high above the skies where good men of God and good women of God go to after their death," we generally believe. Well, M-Auwal Gene is not pretty sure if heaven is indeed 'up there above the skies' as a physical landscape (I've never been there, you know); but even if it is, must it really remain there far out of reach while we go through hell here on earth? Can't it be brought right down to earth so that we may benefit abundantly from the Lord's mercies and wonders?
I bet it can be brought down to earth. And that would be achieved (I'm sure) as soon as we stop thinking of heaven as a place we can get to only after death, not while we are alive here on earth. To me, heaven is really not a place of abode attainable after death, but it is an intense desire to live and to love, plus an even greater desire to cherish life and to cherish love, irrespective of our human condition, irrespective of the unpredictable and painful events that change our lives at every turn of the road.
Thus, heaven really means a focused and all-embracing feeling of the pervading presence of Life and Love within the core of one's being; and the persons who dwell in heaven are not necessarily those who suffer most or conjure up the most wonderful fantasies of paradisiacal abodes in their theoleptic contemplations, but those who are able and willing to live and cherish the best of human feelings: feelings of love, of zestfulness, of dignity, of contentment, of brotherhood.
Generating and sustaining these feelings means generating and sustaining life, heaven, pleasure. Pleasure is thus the chief good in life and should be embraced. Pleasure, necessitated by our human condition, is always an important element of a meaningful life, provided (pleasure is) regulated by wisdom.
Living men should be able to fulfil the purpose of life and realize the goal of existence. (And) to achieve this, they must be bold enough to openly love the goodness and pleasure of being alive, smart enough to profit from the goodness and pleasure of being alive, and strong enough to feel no guilt whatsoever in enjoying the goodness and pleasure of being alive.
Enjoying the goodness and pleasure of life, cherishing and profiting from its beauty, makes us refined and sensitive artificers of our own destiny, which must not be anything short of complete fulfilment. Pleasure necessarily absorbs the rude shocks of life's sudden turns; therefore let every man seek it and be glad in finding it, so that their life would run fine despite the roughness that we must all go through here and there throughout life. Pleasure is, without doubt, the chief good in life!
It would be understood, however, that pleasures can be categorized: some pleasures are natural, some are trivial, while others are unnecessary. Still, we have pleasures that are necessary for so many things, such as those that are necessary for happiness, those that are necessary for healing, and those that are necessary for the maintenance of life itself. To exemplify on these categories of pleasure, let us briefly look at the following two or three sample categories:
Good health and a good home or family full of love and laughter are, generally and reasonably, often considered as the key ingredients of a happy life. Thus, the man who indulges in the pleasure of eating health foods and indulges in the pleasure of spending quality time with his family and loved ones is indulging in that category of pleasures necessary for happiness and it is, therefore, legitimately a good indulgence. The pleasure of relaxing in a solarium, or holidaying on sunny islands and mountain camps, or experiencing the soul touching richness of good music, are examples of pleasures that are natural for healing; while the pleasures of the procreatory process are both necessary and natural for the continuity of life...
Some other forms of pleasure are trivial, such as the pleasure of going to see a friend; or the pleasure of driving around town in search of minor funs to catch at the amusement park or beachside; or enjoying a good evening dinner out with your sweetheart, and so on. And we know of pleasures that are outrightly condemnable too, such as the "pleasure" of torturing a fellow man or animal to death for whatever reason.
But in any case, the powers that good pleasure exerts over our overall fulfilment in life should never be undervalued, even though most people never really know or appreciate its real importance in their lives till the chance for it is gone. It should be appreciated (as a matter of fact) that pleasure, when appropriate and meaningful, is actually God's own sure way of letting us have a taste of some of the beautiful experiences of the idea of Supernal Heaven even while we are still dwelling here on earth. So why then should it be rejected? On what grounds should a life already beset with woes and fears and ceaseless agonies of all sorts be denied the goodness and healing that pleasure brings to our life on earth?
Knowing that the condition of man had always been a condition of affliction of everyone by everything (talk about affliction with hunger, anxiety, necessity, grief, infirmity, loneliness, desertion, and so on, all attending and agitating the life of man at every turn of the road), one cannot see any reasonable point in making life more dreary (by choosing the Spartan way) when the goodness of pleasure could make life a lot more bearable and meaningful for us. Thus, I think anyone who condemns pleasure deserves to be ridiculed, and the one who ridicules pleasure deserves to be condemned!
We know that pain, heartache, failure in achievement, failure in love, the shock of physical danger, even envy and hatred, must remain in our lives as long as we remain human. As such therefore, I think pleasure becomes a necessity to life, not a luxury. It carries a comforting and palliative sense of fulfilment. It is the great resource of all people who desire relief, freedom, joy and calm.
For those suffering with unspoken pains, for those who are passionate, for those who are burning for being, for those who are ardently yearning for awareness and bliss, good pleasure must be their chief good; pleasure must be what German Philosopher Immanuel Kant would call "The Categorical Imperative" of their lives. Not incidentally, I happen to be one of such yearning people on earth today, hence I love good pleasure without reservation (for it is my only taste of heaven while I remain here on earth)!
Knowing that I shall pass through this world but once therefore, any meaningful pleasure that I can be a part of, or that can be a part of me, shall not be delayed by one second; for I shall not come this way again when I come to die.
Yes, I am guilty of pleasure!
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