Way of Knowing: Lesson Six - Question One
What is the difference between joy and pleasure, and why do a lot of spiritual traditions denounce pleasure?
It is a very wise question you’ve been prompted to ask in your willingness to be a creator. Hmm! There is, indeed, a difference between joy and pleasure. In your human realm, in the realm of the body-mind, joy and pleasure are often deeply confused. And so the mind becomes hoodwinked into pursuing pleasure, believing it will find joy.
How, then, to distinguish between the two?
Pleasure is dependent on a specific energetic state temporarily passing through the nervous system of the body. Joy is a quality of recognition in the Spirit, or the Deep Mind, or the Heart, that transcends all conditions. A mind that is awake can know joy in the midst of what appears to be the hardships that can pass by in life.
By way of my own experience as a man upon your plane, your world would say that my crucifixion was a very painful experience. There was a lot going on in the body, but I was in a state of joy, not a state of pleasure. When I danced and sang and drank some wine and broke bread with my friends, I experienced pleasure. That is, the food substances, the vibrations of the music, created a temporary pattern of energy in the nervous system that elicited certain reactions within the brain-mind and the body itself — pleasurable sensations.
I learned, because I was taught to learn, that pleasure is exactly the same as pain in this regard. It has a beginning and an end, and it passes through the physical body and the nervous system and the brain, and that’s it. I learned that joy was becoming free of all illusions of separation.
Imagine that the depth of your mind was truly like a spacious ocean that could contain all waves that arise within the field of the body-mind without any resistance at all, without being disturbed in its depth. There could be a great storm on the surface, but the depth of the ocean is undisturbed. Joy is a quality of awareness that is brought about through the release of illusions and the correction of how the mind thinks and how the heart feels. Joy is a quality of being that is not dependent on health or disease, money or poverty, birth, death, loss, or gain. To gain something in the world does not increase joy. It may, temporarily, give you pleasure.
That should give you enough to think about in regard to that part of your question.
Why have certain spiritual traditions denounced or sought to have their practitioners get out of the pleasure trap? Well, frankly, just because of this. Because the human mind equates pleasure with joy. And therefore, when unpleasurable sensations, such as sadness, such as confusion or doubt, or such as a physical sensation from an illness is passing through the body, the mind wants to get out of that state and create a different state. But that is merely the realm of duality in which there is no freedom.
True joy comes when no passing state of feeling in the body is denied or judged, but rather, embraced and experienced because that mind realizes it is not the passing state — it is not limited or identified with the passing state. The joy-filled mind can cry like no one has ever cried before. The joy-filled mind can embrace sadness to the depth, the greatest depth, that could be imagined. The joy-filled mind is the mind that observes all things, trusts all things, allows all things, embraces all things, transcends all things.
Joy, then, is a quality of Knowingness. Pleasure is a physiological state — very temporary — of the body-mind. Why, then, would any spiritual teacher say,
Be very careful. Don’t seek pleasure.
Simply because the mind can become addicted to confusing joy and pleasure. And therefore, whenever things aren’t going right, it will try to recreate a temporary pleasurable state in the body. But all that does is continue the rut of the mind’s misidentifying itself as the body. It keeps it in the realm of temporality and not in the realm of the eternal.
Now does that mean that you should refuse pleasure? Absolutely not! Just don’t seek it. What do I mean by that? I have said to you many times that the body cannot be used to get. It can only be used to give. The Healed Mind does not need to use the body to get anything, for It sees that the body is merely a temporary communication device. It receives communications from other forms of life, other beings — rocks, trees, and human beings, and the wind and the waves and the stars — and It communicates Itself, It communicates Mind, through the body.
Many, for instance, in the realm of sexuality, are trying to use the body to get something called the pleasurable state because they think that pleasure is the same as joy. But the Awakened Mind, no longer misidentifying joy and pleasure, allows pleasurable states to pass through the body-mind, but only as a secondary effect of Its decision to use the body to enjoin with sexuality for the sole purpose of communicating to another:
I see you in your perfect innocence and would celebrate it by joining with you whole-bodily.
So It is involved in giving, and the pleasurable states, that may or may not come and are always perhaps a little different, are only secondary. And that afterward, that Mind doesn’t give it a second thought. It doesn’t say,
Wow. The lights and bells and whistles didn’t come on. It just wasn’t what it should have been.
That kind of mind is involved in getting, because it needs pleasure, because it believes that pleasure is the same as joy.
Joy is the recognition that,
I and my Father are One. And in all contexts, I can choose Love over fear.
Therefore, indeed, there is a reason that many spiritual traditions have warned its students about the pleasure thing. Often that has gotten misinterpreted and gone beyond the point of its usefulness. If a mind denies or suppresses pleasure, it has the same effect as the mind that becomes addicted to pleasurable states. It will put out as much energy to resist a passing physiological state as the addicted mind will put into seeking pleasurable states. Either one is imprisonment.
Therefore, my suggestion for you is: Do not seek pleasure, but rather, seek the Kingdom. Be the presence of Love. And when pleasurable sensations pass through your awareness in the body-mind, notice them, accept them, and be done with them. Just like when so-called unpleasurable states — sadness, anger, fear, whatever it is that is arising — notice it, embrace it, let it pass through. Get on with being the presence of Love.
Does that help you in regard to your question?
Jeshua: Did it bring any illumination?
Response: [laughing] Yes.
Jeshua: Then indeed, beloved friend, remember: The body simply cannot accomplish getting anything. It can be used for grand things — the extension of Love. That, in itself, usually will generate acceptable, passing, pleasurable sensations.
Do you have anything else, then?