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The Pleasure Trap

Came across this passage while I was adding to the quotes of the day on Kinfonet. Maybe some here will find it relevant to the approach Jackie is experimenting with in the dialogue meetings, though it might raise more questions than answers. It is from Commentaries on Living:

“Good heavens, you are stripping me of everything: of my vanities, my desire to be famous, even of my drive to put across some worthwhile ideas. What shall I do when all this is gone?”

Your question indicates that nothing is gone, doesn’t it? No one can take away from you, inwardly, what you don’t want to give up. You will continue on your way to fame, which is the way of sorrow, frustration, fear.

“Sometimes I do want to chuck the whole rotten business, but the pull is strong.”

His tone had become anxious and earnest.

“What will stop me from taking that path?”

Are you asking this question seriously?

“I think I am. Sorrow, I suppose?”

Is sorrow the way of understanding? Or does sorrow exist because there’s no understanding? If you examined the whole urge to become something, and the path of fulfilment, not just intellectually, but deeply, then intelligence, understanding, would come into being and destroy the root of sorrow. But sorrow does not bring understanding.

“How is that, sir?”

Sorrow is the result of a shock, it is the temporary shaking up of a mind that has settled down, that has accepted the routine of life. Something happens - a death, the loss of a job, the questioning of a cherished belief - and the mind is disturbed. But what does a disturbed mind do? It finds a way to be undisturbed again; it takes refuge in another belief, in a more secure job, in a new relationship. Again the wave of life comes along and shatters its safeguards, but the mind soon finds still further defence; and so it goes on. This is not the way of intelligence, is it?

“Then what is the way of intelligence?”

Why are you asking another? Don’t you want to find out for yourself? If I were to give you an answer, you would either refute or accept it, which again would impede intelligence, understanding.

“I see what you have said about sorrow to be perfectly true. That’s exactly what we all do. But how is one to get out of this trap?”

No form of external or inward compulsion will help, will it? All compulsion, however subtle, is the outcome of ignorance; it is born of the desire for reward or the fear of punishment. To understand the whole nature of the trap is to be free of it; no person, no system, no belief, can set you free. The truth of this is the only liberating factor - but you have to see it for yourself, and not merely be persuaded. You have to take the voyage on an uncharted sea.

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You see, each one of us is that man. We ‘think’ we are different but each one of us carries the same knowledge, the same desires, the same ignorance, the same sorrow. This is what we do not see. Our cup is so full of knowledge that we cannot see and we do not want to let it all go and so the sorrow continues, the cleverness continues, the knowledge with its ‘centre’ continues…is it possible to see the truth of this for ourselves?

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Until the cup is empty.

Thanks for sharing.

But waiting until the cup is empty may take a lifetime; and it’s then just another line of sorrow. What is in the cup? What am I? Every idea or image I have about myself is worthless because each time I try to look, the image changes, shifts position, becoming vaguer so I lose interest or becoming something else to attract my interest; and then the new image sets me off again on the same pointless journey. And I am always coming back to myself. So can I travel in a totally different direction, not using images to guide me? That means there is no journey at all.

Dear Paul, isn’ t stating that there is no journey at all already an image, an idea?
Erik

It is only an image when compared with an image of a journey. Do you see a journey? If you do, then ‘no journey’ will be an idea. So forget the notion of ‘no journey’ and let’s look to see what makes sense in the idea of a journey. Am I ever going to arrive anywhere else from where I am now, psychologically?

Dear Paul,
but you stated that there is no journey. Why are you talking of a journey at all then? And another question which arises from your last one is: What are we psychologically now? What is the psyche? I see a link to our question about the function of naming. Is there any psyche, any psychological field indepedent of naming? Does the psyche exist without naming?
best wishes
Erik

I asked a question, which was: Can I travel without using images? That is, to travel anywhere inside the psyche, inside the realm of the psychological self, without using images, symbols, labels or names. When I put that question, isn’t it immediately obvious that I can’t? My entire psychological journey involves images. Without those images - which I have been accustomed to generating and exploring for decades - no psychological journey is possible. So actually there is no journey except as a journey through ideas, because wherever I arrive at as an idea, I am always going to find myself back at the same place, facing the same problems.

So I am nothing now. And tomorrow I’ll be nothing. And yesterday I was nothing. But the established psyche still wants to be something more than that; and so any idea or image is better than just being nothing. But the whole point is very simple. There’s the fact of being nothing; and there’s the idea of being nothing as a reaction to the idea of being something. So what is in the cup? What am I? Anything I posit as ‘me’ must always be an idea, a version of an observed self from the point of view of an observer, who is also myself. Living like this there must always be conflict because of the separation between the observer and the observed, between the image-maker and the image.

Now, come back to the other question: Am I ever going to arrive anywhere else from where I am now, psychologically? The moment I assume any psychological existence I am going to be caught in conflict. So I’ll start out from a state of conflict and I’ll arrive back at a state of conflict. And by the time I’ve finished with this ludicrous, pointless journey, my whole life has gone by.

So where are we now? Must we give it a name? We must label it as conflict, despair, hope, loneliness, isolation or any one of a thousand other names? It’s going to be a useless label applied by a useless labeller. Therefore, what is the fact of where we are now?

Dear Paul,
so the question is again, is that what you wrote a fact to you or just an idea? Where are you now?
best wishes
Erik

That’s the wrong question. Where are we now? It’s no good me being in one place and you in another. Where are we now? Do we need to apply any labels? It may be necessary; I don’t know. That’s why I am putting the question.

Dear Paul,
if that is your question, should we then not start with the facts instead of explanations? The fact is the labelling. The fact is a psyche and a wanting. If the nothingness you talked about would be a fact there would be not need to ask these questions. So can we start with what we do, labelling, having ideas, wanting to fullfill them and living in conflict. And from there we could go, for example start with the question what is labelling at all? Definitely it involves knowledge, otherwise we cannot label. But which function does it have? If I want to find my way home, I have to label, name the way, the address and have an idea of the road to take. So there is an image which can help me to go home. That image then is a tool we can use to fullfill a task. But is the tool the important thing to find my home? Is there a guarantee that I will arrive at home safely? Obviously not if I am not attentive for what is happening now. So the image is like a map but without our attention for what is happening now - people crossing the road, change in weather, traffic jams etc - the image, which in itself is limited, because it is not the real thing, the actual way now, without attention it cannot fullifll its proper function. So what does that mean now for the psychological responses where we label, form images?
best wishes

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You can send me an accurate map of where you live; and I can visit you using this map. It uses knowledge, labels and has a proper function.

Can you send me a map of who you are so that everything about you is seen? And would you send the same map to everyone? Or would you send different maps depending upon the recipient? Or, put it the other round, what would you do with a map I sent to you? How would you read it, knowing that each label or symbol on my map could have many different interpretations?

So for the question, ‘Where are we now?’ we can provide a quick accurate geographical answer. And anyone else could follow it. But, psychologically, where are we now? Do we need to apply a label, either to what we are doing collaboratively or to a particular personal state of mind, in order to help us meet one another? In the same way that a geographical map helps us to meet one another physically as two human beings.

Dear Paul,
yes I can send you a map of where I live because my home and the way to it physically exists. But does the psyche exists in itself or is it just labelling and thinking? As there is no psyche without knowledge and images produced out of it, the psyche is bound to the image, the labelling. On the contrary the way to my home and my home exist independently of the labelling and the images. So the psyche is dependent on the labelling. The labelling even creates the psyche and therefore creates its own function. It creates something which does not exist and than reacts on it which causes conflict. But all that might sound logically but is it a fact to us which means do we not label anymore ourselves and stop it now or is that only an idea, an image? The latter meaning we continue labelling ourselves.
best wishes
Erik
Erik

Hi Erik.

So - why do one label/name something (including feelings) more than for communication?

Dear Viswa,
very important question. I would like to add, why would one want to communicate feelings at all? There might be situations e.g in a hospital where it makes sense to communicate pain but why label any feeling? Even we label things for more than communication, that labelling is only about our feelings. We said that labelling is knowledge. And knowledge is something we can hold, accumulate and store. Gives us the labelling of feelings maybe the impression we can hold on to feelings? Opens labelling to us maybe the possibillity to be? But can we ever hold on to a feeling or can we only hold on to memoreis knowledge which never are the original feeling?
best wishes
Erik

First of all, are we aware that we are using labels? Not theoretically aware as yet another idea, but actually and directly aware of the label as it hits home. It may come to us as a reaction to a self-induced memory or as a reaction to something one encounters in the course of daily life, in the midst of a conversation or watching TV. Because it is a habit, the labelling goes largely unnoticed. So, can we be aware of this moment when the label enters consciousness?

It may be in order to avoid a much deeper communication. I may tell you I am sad in order to avoid something else because the use of the word ‘sad’ takes us both off in another direction. It takes us into an area where we are comfortable with the description.

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So shall we inquire this ‘labelling of feelings’ in more deeper sense?

From our childhood till this date - we are grown up/educated in a society - to label things and this labelling is useful for ‘categorize’ everything. Eg: we label a thing as an ‘apple’ and categorize it under the head ‘fruit’ and a being as ‘lion’ and categorize it under ‘wild animals’.

Likewise - we are educated by categorizing the feelings under two heads - ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’.

When we are child and got angry - we doesn’t know about labelling - but our society,teachers,parents,etc… teach us by labelling it as ‘anger’ and categorize it under ‘bad feeling’ and say that - “you must stop it as it is not good for health and environment”. Then we grow - we label everything as such and categorize as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

So - if we throw out all categories - then there is no purpose for labelling and this ‘labelling’ not happens to compare it with memories(i.e. category). Then we can ‘see’ any feelings - without labelling,describing,etc… as a whole.

Please don’t treat this as an idea. Just inquire about this and let me know your observations/questions too.

Dear Paul,
when do we usually realize a label? When there is conflict, a problem and the immediate wish to solve it. As you said before, the labelling causes the conflict. So can we stay with the conflict and our wish to move away from it? Can we percieve that we are conflict, labelling and reacting on that? And can we be aware of labelling not of every single label but the process in itself which creates the psycheß
Erik

Dear Viswa,
do we see that the psyche is created through our labelling of feelings? If so, why do we do it? A feeling is something which is only now. It changes frome moment to moment as it is connected to our organism and its senses. As every moment changes the reaction of our organism is never the same - the answer of our nervous system- and so our feelings. The labelling is just knowledge and never the original feeling which moves from moment to moment, always being new. The only thing we can hold then is the labelling. This labelling is not existing in a vaccum. It is existing in our organism, which is a whole and this organism than reacts with its nervous system to these labels and images creating feelings. These feelings are created by us through labeling, the psyche whereas the immedeate answer of our organism in a moment like danger or the seeing something beautiful or hunger is a feeling which arises out of our existence and the relation within the physical world. With our labelling we interfere in that. But why? Especially when it creates conflict? Is it because we cannot stand feelings being nothing which one can hold on to? Is it because we do not want to be constant change and therefore always faced with the new? Do we want to be in touch with something permanent? The means to it would then be knowledege and labelling. But holding on to it we already must have labelled the process of labelling more important than what really is. We must have labelled holding on to something more important than change, the image more important than the fact. Is it that we fear the whole of we which we are a part but we are not really important?
best wishes
Erik