Is it possible to live in a world that does not contain pleasure, but a tremendous sense of joy and bliss?
Pleasure is the structure of society. From childhood until death we are secretly, cunningly or obviously pursuing pleasure. So whatever our form of pleasure is, we should be very clear about it because it is going to guide and shape our lives. It is important for each of us to investigate closely, hesitantly and delicately this question of pleasure, for to find pleasure, and then nourish and sustain it, is a basic demand of life and without it existence becomes dull, stupid, lonely, and meaningless.
You may ask why then should life not be guided by pleasure? For the very simple reason that pleasure must bring pain, sorrow, frustration, and fear, and, out of fear, violence. If you want to be free from sorrow, you must understand the whole structure of pleasure.
Why is the mind always demanding pleasure? Why is it that we do noble and ignoble things with the undercurrent of pleasure? Why is it we sacrifice and suffer on the thin thread of pleasure? What is pleasure and how does it come into being?
Pleasure comes into being through four stages - perception, sensation, contact, and desire. I see a beautiful car, say; then I get a sensation, a reaction, from looking at it; then I touch it or imagine touching it, and then there is the desire to own and show myself off in it. Or I see a lovely cloud, a mountain clear against the sky, or a glorious sunset, or a beautiful face.
I can look at it with joy and the next moment forget it; or else the mind steps in, and then the problem begins; my mind thinks over what it has seen and thinks how beautiful it was; I tell myself I should like to see it again many times. Thought begins to compare, judge, and say, 'I must have it again tomorrow'. The continuity of an experience that has given delight for a second is sustained by thought.
It is the same with sexual desire or any other form of desire. There is nothing wrong with desire. To react is perfectly normal. But then thought steps in and chews over the delight and turns it into pleasure. Thought wants to repeat the experience, and the more you repeat, the more mechanical it becomes; the more you think about it, the more strength it gives to pleasure. Thought creates and sustains pleasure through desire, and gives it continuity, and therefore the natural reaction of desire to any beautiful thing is perverted by thought. Thought turns it into a memory and memory is then nourished by thinking about it over and over again.
Watch it in yourself. The very demand for the repetition of pleasure brings about pain, because it is not the same as it was yesterday. You struggle to achieve the same delight, and you are hurt and disappointed because it is denied to you.
Where there is a search for pleasure there must be pain. If you want to end pleasure, which is to end pain, you must be totally attentive to the whole structure of pleasure - seeing the whole meaning and significance of pleasure. Then you will have tremendous joy in life. You cannot think about joy. Joy is an immediate thing and by thinking about it, you turn it into pleasure.