Principle 6 Pleasure 5 – 2021

“If you pursue pleasure, you enchain yourself to suffering. But as long as you do not harm your health, enjoy without inhibition when the opportunity presents itself.”

Principle of Valid Action Six. Pleasure. Week 5
Last time: A Look Ahead
This time: some friends chip in.
Illustration by Rafael Edwards
Here’s a new work from Rafael Edwards. Though it features an ice cream it puts me in mind of the  Magic Cake we talked about in the first week of reviewing this principle.
It also reminded me of the old story, related to the principle of pleasure  (I first heard it as a Zen story) particularly to an aspect that came up on an earlier meeting, i.e. the liberating effect of enjoying pleasures (that present themselves) and letting them end there, that is they are enjoyed and “end in themselves.”
 
This story tells of two monks, a novice and his teacher who had set out on a pilgrimage. During their travels came to a river where a young woman stood on the bank, distraught because she was unable to cross. The monks were not only sworn to celibacy but also not to touch or even look directly at a woman (this was/is a real thing). 
 
Without missing a beat the teacher picked up the woman and carried her across the river. The novice monk wa speechless in his embarrassment and shock. They continued their journey but didn’t speak for quite a long time. Finally the novice monk spoke and asked how his elder could have broken his vows by touching that woman. The senior monk replied: “I put her down back at the river. Why are you still carrying her”?  
Priyabrata Roy Chowdhury
This Week
Over the last four weeks we considered this principle in general: what it means, how it fits in with the others, etc. We also looked at how we did, or didn’t use this principle in past situations and how it applies to the present, and might in the future. This week we’ll wander further afield.

 

General Considerations and Personal Reflections:
I offer these thoughts in the spirit of dialogue and exchange, and look forward to hearing your thoughts about, and experiences with, this principle.
 
The pursuit of pleasure is a trap. It locks us into a game where we get the pleasure we sought — which at the very best leaves us satisfied for only a moment then regretting the absence of the pleasure — or we don’t get the pursued object or situation leaving us unsatisfied. 
 
Previously when discussing this principle I received some emails that helped me focus on related aspects of the principle. Julia in Istanbul mentioned a quote that apparently comes from a talk that Silo gave in London in 1975. She said that: 
 
“…I found an interesting talk or chat of Silo from 1975 in London, The search for an object. I found it very interesting to understand how this seeking for pleasure works…I just copy here the part which I wrote out from the book, the one I’m talking about….”
 
“Accepting a pleasing object is very different from continually seeking that object. It’s the imagination’s search that is contradictory, not pleasure itself. 
 
When you eat something you like, that doesn’t give you contradiction, a contradiction arises when you keep looking for the pleasure of eating. Suffering lies in the search for pleasure, not in pleasure itself. 
 
The most that can happen with pleasure is that the tension of searching for it gets discharged…in the pleasure system, there’s always tension and relaxation at work. 
Even a painful situation becomes pleasurable when we remove the pain factor. That splinter that’s bothering you, after it’s been pulled out, you feel pleasure…
 
Pleasure itself – pulling out the splinter, or eating when you’re hungry- never causes contradiction. What causes contradiction is when you keep looking for pleasurable ways to get rid of inner tensions.
 
The search for pleasure sets up a vicious circle: We’re trying to get rid of our tension, but we put all our tension into that effort. That puts us in a feedback loop because we keep feeding the search with our tensions, and the harder we search, the more our inner tension grows. So instead of moving from a system of tension to one of relaxation, we stay in a system of growing tension. And as our tension increases do our aggressiveness and our internal contradiction.”
 
Purportedly from: On the Search for the Object. Silo. London  1975. I say purportedly only because I was unable to find the source for these interesting thoughts. (Also please note while there’s no reason to doubt the authenticity of this talk ,Silo did not include it in the selection he made when compiling his Complete Works or on Silo.net.) 
 
It was a couple of years ago that David R. in California wrote mentioning that: 
“…A long time ago in a discussion about this principle with Bay Area friends the point was made that there is a tension and stress involved in PURSUING and that that point alone is an important part of understanding the principle. This has always stayed with me….”
 
Both their comments were helpful to me, and both take us nicely from the principle of pleasure, which addresses the pursuit of pleasure and its consequences and next weeks principle which is more general in that it focuses on the pursuit of any end. 
Remember:
Sometimes meditation requires you sit down and close your eyes — but that’s less than half the story:
The principles of valid action can be made into a kind of dynamic meditation in daily life. With time and application, these efforts give all my activities a particular tone, mood, and mental direction.
 
Worth Repeating:
This principle is a challenge to find a new way of relating to the things (situations, people, etc) that  attract me. Can I find a way to be neither avid in pursuit, nor fearful in enjoyment, of pleasure.
 
Coming up:
Next week we’ll turn to the principle 7 called “the principle of immediate action”. It says: 
“If You Pursue An End You Enchain Yourself. If Everything You Do Is Realized As An End In Itself You Liberate Yourself.”
 
Note:
These notes have been posted on WWW.dzuckerbrot.com, Facebook (Community of Silo’s Message Toronto Annex) and sent to our email list.
 

Want More:
General information about, the principles, materials, parks, etc can be found at  www.silo.net or www.silosmessage.net
There are currently 2 Parks of Study and Reflection in North America. These are Red Bluff (www.redbluffpark.org) in California and Hudson Valley (www.hudsonvalleypark.org) in New York. The Parks of Study and Reflection are projects built and paid for by individuals inspired by Silo’s teachings. More information is available on their respective websites.