The theme of the walk was pleasure, which usually means “to feel pleased or satisfied”. For a mystic, the word pleasure is not a contextual word. Pleasure is a quality of the Divine mystery and a spiritual principle that is universal. It is, therefore, an internal spiritual principle. We are pleasure-seeking beings wrapped in Divine mystery.
Pleasure is experienced in the three arenas of human awareness. It is found at the levels of physical awareness, emotional awareness, and spiritual awareness. Pleasure is an intertwined drive of the Divine mystery. With the birth of the universe, all qualities and potential qualities of human awareness were made present. Central to that birthing was the pleasure of creation itself.
Pleasure first found itself in the physical manifestation of the world. Pleasure is one strand of the entanglement that drives the spiritual principles to have a consistency fundamental to life. Without pleasure there would be no life. It is the Divine mystery that animates the material world and separates the rocks from the living organisms. All living organisms seek pleasure. It is the pursuit of this drive that unfolds the living organism to move to a more complex form. The more complex the form of a living organism, the more pleasure that organism experiences.
Human beings are the highest form of organized pleasure. It is through the Divine mystery that we move and have our awareness from this pleasure principle. We are Divine mystery in active pleasure. In most cultures and in most religions and philosophies there has been a total misunderstanding of the nature of the spiritual principle and its relationship to pleasure. Thus, for the mystic, there is no such thing as hedonism; there is only a misunderstanding of the nature of pleasure and its relationship to Divine mystery. The root of the misunderstanding is a misunderstanding of the physical world and the place of pleasure in the physical flesh.
The Divine mystery has its first awakenings at the time of puberty. Prior to this, a human being is in a state of innocence. With puberty comes the central driving force to create new life. The reference to orgasmic pleasure as “a short death” accurately describes how great a force orgasmic pleasure is. In the orgasm. al l sense of time, space, and ego identity is lost. This pleasure is obviously one in the physical plane. It was in the writings of Sigmund Freud and carried on through many other schools of psychoanalytic history that the “pleasure principle” has been noted and written about extensively.
All forms of physical pleasure for the mystic arc the interwoven tapestry of the mystery of being an incarnate being. Without our senses we would not be able to survive and we would not be able to procreate. Therefore. the Divine mystery starts in the arena of the intense physical pleasure. Once primitive humans connected sexual pleasure (sexual intercourse) with bringing a new life into existence, physical sexual pleasure took on a meaning of mystery.
Physical pleasure, at all levels. is connected to the joys of being connected to the Divine mystery. These Divine energies are wrapped in pleasure and we call them by various words such as joy, love, and thrill, to name only a few.
Throughout the history of religions and various philosophies attempts have been made to turn pleasure into something other than what it is. Pleasure has been connected to forces that bring about decay and destruction. abuse, indulgence. greed, lust and a host of other conditions and acts. In many contexts, pleasure has been demonized. This demonizing of pleasure is filled with all kinds of both religious and nonreligious nonsense.
From the internal perspective, the spiritual principle of awareness embraces pleasure in all its forms. At the level of emotion pleasure, it takes on various symbolic meanings on the external level. The meaning it takes is contextual as well as cultural, and has been used in religion in many different ways. In some religions, pleasure is seen as something to be suppressed, controlled. denied, or as a gift to be given to the God or gods as some form of sacrifice. It has also been seen as something one experiences in relationship to God or gods, i.e. , “take pleasure in the Lord” or “may my acts be pleasing in your sight, Lord.”
For the spiritually aware, pleasure is embraced in all forms simply because we are pleasure seeking beings. Pleasure is part of who we are. The question could be asked, “How is pleasure balanced in our lives”? From the internal perspective pleasure is balanced through spiritual awareness. The more spiritually aware one becomes, the more pleasure is harmonized with all other experiences that bring love and compassion to all other human beings and all other forms of life on the planet. In other words, the balance of pleasure is basic to one’s state of awareness.
If one’s awareness is only on the physical plane, then pleasure takes only the form of “What can it do for me?”. What pleasure can do for “me” is in all three realms of human existence-physical. emotional, spiritual-and is all about “me” and the pleasure I derive as it feeds me. Often times, at the religious level, one uses pleasure through self-denial or through actions to please the God or gods. The view is always about “self.” For the mystic, pleasure is balanced by awareness and is neither repressed nor indulged in at the expense of others.
From Journey with a Modern Mystic written by Rev. Dr. David Kenneth Wheaton Ph.D. Read by Rev. Dr. David Kenneth Wheaton Ph.D. © Rev. Dr. David Kenneth Wheaton Ph.D.