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On Pleasure and Pain

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability. For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word. However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.

Speaker: The deeper I´ve gone into the course, my life has really, slowly, started to simplify. But it´s not been a simplification based on the aesthetic paths, the old way was sacrifice. If any of you have studied some of the old mystical paths or aesthetiscism where people would literally do harm to their bodies, to sacrifice. In Catholicism [they would be] doing all these different things, Hail Mary’s [etc] that was like paying for sins, that even take place with projected out onto the body.

There was a group that came right after [or around the time of] Jesus, around the first century, called the Gnostics. Some of you have probably heard about Gnosticism. A lot of the Gnostics got a part of His teaching; ´My Kingdom is not of this world´ ´The Kingdom of God is within you´. The Gnostics really got the fact that the world was not real, that Jesus was speaking of a Spiritual Kingdom, that it wasn’t an earthly kingdom that the Apostles and the Jewish mindset were looking for. But, the belief in sacrifice in the ego is so deeply rooted in the mind, that they kind of fell into the ego traps that may be called ‘making the error real’, where they thought, “If the world is not real, then the world must be bad, so, the body is part of the world so the body must be bad and therefore I’ll starve the body, or I´ll go out into the desert and I´ll do things to harm my body, to prove to myself and to God that the world isn´t real”, and unfortunately the ego loves that. That’s like playing into its hands, because whenever you judge something as negative or bad in the world you make it real. Remember, when we get back to the thing about projecting duality, and judging things good and bad and so forth? Once you judge something as negative in the world then you reinforce it in your mind as being real.

Then there was another sect of the Gnostics, they kind of said, “The world is not real, so we can indulge in all the vices and pleasures of the world” and they taught that if you didn´t get them done in one lifetime, you would reincarnate and come back and you could just keep indulging in the vices of the world until you were free of them.

But as the Course teaches us, that doesn´t work either, because the vices, or pleasure and pain both make the body real. If any of you have ever had a splitting headache [and] you are trying to do your lesson ´I can see peace in this´ or ´there is nothing to fear´, when you’ve got a splitting headache they just don´t go together.

The pain reinforces. Pain is like a witness that says, “I am hurting here, I am guilty, or I am fearful or I am frail.” And pleasure does the same thing, because pleasure focuses the mind, or identifies the mind in the body; the sensations of the world. The Hindus and all the great mystics of the world have kind of got to this thing of pleasure and pain. Khalil Gibran, you might have read The Prophet, it has come through in so many different kinds of ways that really they´re like two sides of a coin.

The ego doesn´t tell us that. The ego says, “Maximize pleasure and minimize pain”. Avoid pain, isn´t that pretty common wisdom in the world? The mind in a deceived state actually believes it can tell the difference. Doesn´t it seem like that? Do pain and pleasure seem the same to you? In a deceived state they seem to be very, very different, but what the Course is teaching us is that they are just two sides of a coin.

And there’s all these passages [such as] ´those who seek for pleasure cannot avoid pain´. [There is] this connection, the Course calls it ´the attraction to guilt´, people with addictions, whether its alcohol or marijuana, or sexual addictions or food; these physical things that seem to be attractive. That seems to be like this little band aid over this terrible lonliness and emptiness that´s felt inside. It´s like, “This is a little quick fix. That food, I can have that hot fudge Sunday that I love and it brings me a lot of pleasure and it takes my mind off the lonliness and the emptiness and the despair that I feel”, for about ten minutes, and then it´s like, okay another couple of hours, “What’s next? What am I looking for?” You can use movies, wanting to just sit in your house all day and watch movies, “I don’t want to face the world. I want to just be distracted.”
It’s the same dynamic, and the Course is so great because it’s finally starting to unveil the ego and all of its schemes. [The ego whispers] to the deceived mind, “the pleasure is good” and to itself it whispers, “ it is death”. The Course is starting to unveil just how crazy and insane this ego thought system is.

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