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When our search for what gives us pleasure becomes a strong pattern in our lives, we find that we are obliged to move repeatedly towards the same things—certain types of people, places, situations, sights, sounds, smells, and so on. We have accumulated impressions from the past, and when we encounter a similar impression in the present, we feel attracted towards the object that is the source of it. It is almost as though we need a kind of “fix.” If we do not get it from time to time, we feel inner dissatisfaction.
We have all experienced a response of warmth and affection deep within ourselves when someone or something really touches us. Based on such experiences, we come to believe that the only way we can access such feelings is through these objects, and so we try to intensify and solidify our relationship to them. When there is need, dependency is already forming. We begin to rely on that person, situation or item in order to get in touch with this pleasurable feeling. Pleasure easily becomes pain through this dependency, whether it’s in the form of a cigarette, making love or the need for approval.
Although our feeling of pleasure may have arisen out of contact with an external object, we must ask ourselves whether that object is necessary in order to feel happy. There can be a deepening happiness when there is less dependence on external factors. Meditation has an important part to play. As our meditation deepens and we discover inner contentment, we reduce our reliance on external factors significantly. Reducing such dependency takes pressure off our mind. It creates an opportunity for natural warmth and contact with the world. We experience a spacious quality in our relationships.
We remain alert to the circles we move in. We offer and receive affection and we remain mindful. Meditation creates the space within that enables us to understand the dynamics of our interactions with others. Through inner peace, we establish a clear connection with the people we meet….
The pursuit of the pleasant should never be a priority in life. If we spend our life constantly going for what we like, we find ourselves trapped in the cycle of satisfaction/dissatisfaction. We need to explore our infatuation with the pursuit of pleasure, the consequence of making this our priority, and how to release ourselves from it. We pay a price for the constant demands we place on others and the environment as we try to secure whatever we want for ourselves.
We can know a natural happiness and joy in daily life that has nothing to do with money, goods, or getting attention from others.
–Christopher Titmuss, from An Awakened Life (Shambhala Publications)