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Monday, April 7, 2008

For Good or for Pleasure

Why do you do the things that you do? Is it for the good or for the pleasure?

I was reading in the Upanishads the other morning and I read a passage about the difference between good and pleasure. It is often a hard distinction to make. But it is a very real and very profound one. Think about it for just a moment.


What is good? In one situation what is good may be different than in another. I don't think it can be defined in any hard and solid ways. It is a loose concept with few parameters. If it is self- seeking then most likely it is not the good. Seeking the good puts the self as the subject not the object. The good extends outward from the one doing the action to the furthest reaches possible. It is not contained in the action or the one committing the act. The good begins in one place but then moves outward in every expanding circle of influence. What is the good? I think it is up to each person to wrestle with that question in their own terms, life and situations.

What is the pleasure? Pleasure is that which feels good but with the self as the object and others as the subject acting towards or on the object. It tends to be, ultimately, self-seeking. Do for "me" that which I want, like, need. Pleasure is a misleading but very enticing way of life.

What would happen to the world if we started seeking the good instead of the pleasure? What would happen to our life, our community, our countries if we stepped outside of our desire to find pleasure, but rather put ourselves second and sought the good for others? How big of an impact could we have with just a little perspective change?

This is a difficult idea because the difference between the good and the pleasure is often not that big and it is easy to slip from one to the other. And to seek the good is often a personal choice. No one outside that person can address the idea of motive, they can only witness the results. My seeking the good may look very different than your seeking the good. I just have to trust in myself that the good will be carried out and not fall into judging, condemning and second guessing those near me. I think ultimately actions will be proven with results.