Of pain and pleasure

The wisdom of words is not always readily seen or understood. For instance, I came across this statement while still a student and it had me puzzled: ‘Pain and pleasure woven fine, Clothing for a soul divine.’ The years spent in the school of life, however, revealed its meaning and value.

Both ‘pain’ and ‘pleasure’ are concepts with limited appeal – ‘pain’ because it denotes suffering and ‘pleasure’ because it has overtones of indulgence. While no living being escapes either of them, experience teaches us that the manner in which we deal with them moulds our personality and defines the persons we are.

It is human to fear and avoid pain. When one is in the throes of physical or emotional pain, it is difficult to see that it possesses certain positive aspects. Imagine that you cannot feel physical pain. You could let your clothes catch fire and not be aware of it until you were badly burnt. Also, many a disease lets itself be known by the pain it causes.

Emotional pain works in a similar manner. It brings the message that we need to change our approach or see things differently. It can awaken sympathy in our hearts, enabling us to reach out to others in empathy. We are able to put ourselves in their situation and guide them through their difficult times because we too have been through them. We build bridges with others, become more compassionate and turn into better human beings.

Can and does pleasure achieve the same thing? A great number of people view pleasure with trepidation and doubt. They believe that it has the power to make a person easy-going, lackadaisical and even lazy.

They assume that anybody who is happy and relaxed has lost the urge to excel or to work sincerely for the common good. He cannot be a hard worker and is always looking for ways to shed responsibility. In reality it is the other way round.

Though sin can be a pleasure, not all pleasures are sins. Simple healthy ones like reading, gardening and sports not only rejuvenate the mind and the body, but educate us as well. Far from breeding discouragement and carefree ways, they motivate people to do better and achieve even more.

These are people who love what they do, are highly motivated by their own enthusiasm to scale better heights in whatever they undertake. They are easy to get along with and have a sharp learning curve. They inspire others with their cheerful ways and are therefore good team players.
It is, in fact, only the baser pleasures that can harm and lead one astray.

The secret then lies in knowing how to face pain and pleasure and deal with them in a successful manner. Instead of letting them rule us, we can learn from them the rules of life.

By controlling them and not letting them control us, we become liberated beings. We are then free to mould ourselves into the integrated persons that we want to be.

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