What is the connection for you between pleasure and joy? Is there even any difference between joy and pleasure?
When you do things that give you pleasure, is your life more joyful? How are they different?
I have friends who have serious questions about my being the Strategic Monk. They think of monks as people who renounce things and give up the joy of life for no good reason. They see monastic life as full of repression and suffering, people punishing themselves for being human. For them, giving up pleasure is pointless and unhealthy.
Monks are some of the most joyful people I know. Their vows to abstain from certain behaviors do not grow from a desire to remove the joy from the world. Monks recognize that some pleasures can be distractions that keep us from the deeper joy, and they intend to avoid those distractions.
They let go of some of the pleasures of life so they can revel in the sacred joy.
I appreciate the pleasures of the world around me. I take pleasure in the conversation of interesting, engaging people. I am moved by beauty in many different forms. I enjoy the pleasures of an delicious meal, great sex, visiting new places, making new friends. I take great pleasure in an excellent craft brew. These pleasures can point the way toward joy, as long as they do not become ends in themselves.
For me, the difference between pleasure and joy is based in the ways I can choose and control pleasures. I can manage my pleasures; my pleasures are up to me.
Joy is overwhelming because it is beyond my understanding. I can be filled with joy while dealing with some very unpleasant experiences. Joy is outside my control.
Where is your joy today?
[Image by kelsey_lovefusionphoto]