Pleasure and fulfillment are part of the experience of self. Can you imagine a real self who could not have these experiences? A person who could not experience pleasure and fulfillment would be more like an automaton or a slave than a real human being. The signers of the Declaration of Independence of the 13 original United States of America had this in mind when they spoke about the right to the “pursuit of Happiness.”Becoming a Sun p. 277
Today I am feeling philosophical about pleasure and fulfillment. It was good to revisit the chapter in my book on the topic.
I have a friend who grew up in an Amish community. Her extended family moved off on their own because the Amish community she was first a part of was not fundamentalist enough for her father.
As her life unfolded, she found her way to a talk I gave on pleasure and fulfillment. Her eyes grew wide. It was like I set her free inside.
An enlightened understanding of pleasure and fulfillment in a spiritual context is liberating. And while I applaud the Founding Father’s idea of the pursuit of happiness, it certainly can lead to trouble if not approached intelligently.
So what’s the difference between enlightened pleasure, fulfillment, and happiness on the one hand and addiction and gluttony on the other?
And what’s the difference between someone who knows pleasure and fulfillment and someone whose life is full of stress, hard work, and self-discipline with no enjoyment?
Good questions, right?
These differences are subtle but profound.
It all comes down to this. I know pleasure and fulfillment when the love inside me expresses through me unselfishly to my world. And when I graciously receive what my world gives to me.
There is a rhythm and balance to this process of giving and receiving. There is a pattern to it.
If I attempt to force any phase of the process—by trying to give or get more than is healthy—I create unnatural stress. When I find the natural rhythm and balance of life, I create happiness for myself and my world.
Isn’t that how it works for you?
Every human being is already a sun on the inside—a being of intense love and light. The difference is that some people have the vision and courage to become a sun on the outside. This difference is our human destiny.