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Why Does Pleasure Make Me Feel Guilty?

Editors comment:
A delicately beautiful talk from the archive on the essence of pleasure.”
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When: February 12, 2002
Afternoon Meeting

Q: My question is about pleasure, pain and guilt. I’ve recently noticed that I’m experiencing a lot more pleasure running through my body but I seem to believe it’s sinful. I feel guilty and then create physical pain in my body. For example, making love can feel wonderful and fulfilling, but the next day I won’t be able to see properly or I’ll have physical pain. It’s the same if I enjoy dancing. I’d love more understanding around this.

John: For pleasure to become stable requires a stable opening of the heart. When the heart is not stabilized in being open then it can experience pleasure, but after experiencing pleasure you will always want to close. Let your heart remain open – not just during pleasure, but also after. Let the heart glow after pleasure. Letting such a glow be there takes apart the patterns that would have you closing just because there was pleasure.

The glow in the heart after pleasure doesn’t come from the enjoyment of pleasure. It comes from the enjoyment of the goodness of pleasure. It’s the enjoyment of goodness that makes the heart glow. When you’re experiencing pleasure, let your awareness go to the knowing of the goodness in it and remain in the knowing of that goodness even after the pleasure is gone. If you’re not remaining in the knowing of the goodness that’s in it, then after the pleasure is gone you’ll close. When you’re remaining in the knowing of the goodness that was there, that lets your heart not only remain open but it makes it glow; being in touch with the essence of pleasure, not just having pleasure because then you’re missing what pleasure is for.

The essence of pleasure is goodness. If you’re not being in touch with the goodness of the essence of pleasure, you’ll feel guilty in having pleasure. Love the goodness of it and you’ll remain open to pleasure. If you’re not in touch with the goodness of it, it will be easy for you to pursue pleasure and then, when you have it, closing it down: running after and running away from. When you’re in touch with the goodness that is in pleasure, and you’re abiding in such goodness, you won’t be pursuing pleasure or running away from it afterwards.

Pleasure isn’t about the experience of it. Pleasure is about your knowing of the goodness in it. The goodness in it isn’t an experience. It’s a knowing within the experience, you being the knowing of goodness instead of being the experience of pleasure. Love the goodness of it and the heart becomes stable in openness.

Q:  I feel a lot of relief in my body. It makes sense because I’ve been believing that pleasure is bad. Thank you, John.

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