Over the last three 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. This week we’ll try to understand how we might apply the principle in the future.
General Considerations and Personal Reflections:
Here are some personal reflections. I offer them in the spirit of dialogue and exchange, and look forward to hearing your thoughts about, and experiences with, this principle.
This week we turn our focus to the future. It is there, in the times ahead, that I hope to reach the desired pleasurable objects, persons or situations. Even if I seek to re-live, or re-create, or re-experience something from my past, it is in the future that I place this hope. And it is in the pursuit of that future pleasure that I can become trapped.
One of the participants in our first week of conversation on the principle of pleasure pointed something about which many of us have certainly wondered. It’s not just that the pursuit of pleasure seems natural, and automatic, but also if we don’t pursue what we desire how will we ever accomplish anything?
This very basic question reminded me of how these proposals so often cut to the root of things in novel ways. For example, what is being suggested here is a very different attitude or way to move through “the world of people and things” than the habitual. It seems to suggest that there is another way of doing things or perhaps it’s like a challenge to find a new way of relating to the things (people, situations, etc) to which I’m drawn — like in the story of the Magic Cake (related in Week One of this Principle) neither avid in pursuit, nor fearful in enjoyment.
As the Bengali Baul poet Bisha Bhunimali says of the bee and the flower:
The bee is avid
and unable to leave.
So, you are bound.
And I am bound —
Where is freedom then?
There are certain principles, this is one, that remind me of the radical nature of Silo’s suggestions. With this principle, it’s both because of its implicit challenge to find a fundamentally new approach to living, and for it’s affirmation of radical freedom. It only places one restriction on our liberty saying: you can do things “…if you do not harm your health…” As we’ll see next week other principles clarify or add limits, or clarify direction, by reminding us that our actions are valid only if they “…treat others as you wish to be treated…” Finally they make explicit where the limits of legitimate freedom are to be found, telling us, “If you do not harm anyone, you are free to do whatever we want.” Just as this principle is a long way from my normal, habitual, automatic ways of facing life, it is also a very long way from conventional moral codes, commandments and regulations.
Unlike such traditional references, this one doesn’t pretend, based on whatever authority, to answer all our questions. Rather it purposely invites more questions. For example, what do I mean by pursuing, what defines my health, and so on. That is necessarily so because the laws behind these principles are known directly only in what we call valid action and through ones own registers of unity and contradiction.