Pain/Pleasure Principle

58 QUESTION: Would you elaborate on the statement that pain and pleasure are the same in the healthy and developed form?

ANSWER: I will try to find the right words, for it is difficult to convey in the limited human language something that can hardly ever be experienced by a human being, and is therefore outside the realm of human understanding.

Let me try to put it this way: the personality who has reached this state remains unaffected by negative events and is therefore truly independent. Pain, or what would cause pain to someone who has not reached this state, will have a creative, uplifting effect, causing inner growth and additional strength and freedom.

While pain is known to be inevitable, it is not sought: it is taken in stride and allowed to serve a constructive purpose. When this purpose is fulfilled, it ceases to be pain. With a human being who is truly advancing on this Path, one can observe this to some degree.

A painful event comes your way. You will first suffer. But instead of extending the period of suffering unduly by wallowing in a feeling that the suffering is senseless, not realizing what can be learned from it, you will fairly soon come to the point where the painful occurrence gives you an important new recognition about your soul, freeing you forevermore of some chains of ignorance and darkness.

The moment this recognition is reached, the pain ceases, even though the outer condition that caused the pain still prevails. Thus the very incident that has caused you acute pain before the recognition, now becomes a source of joy. And here I mean healthy and constructive joy, leaving no bitter aftertaste.

The higher the development of the entity, the shorter the period of suffering, and the faster the arrival of the moment when the negative incident ceases to be painful – until finally the moment of recognition and joy occurs at the same time as the painful experience takes place. When this state is reached, pain and pleasure become truly one. Then one has outgrown the world of opposites.

You must not expect in this life to reach the point where pain instantly turns into pleasure. In fact, this would be a dangerous expectation, since it approaches so very much the unhealthy attitude of looking for pain that is in you anyway. Moreover, it would lead to the nonacceptance of life as it is in your reality, namely a mixture of both pain and pleasure.

Only by fully accepting both can you come out of inviting pain in an unhealthy way, and thus steadily, though slowly, you will approach the point where pain will no longer be. So do not even search for that. Simply try to make the painful experience a constructive one. That is the best, the only way for now.

QUESTION: Would you say then that some of the martyrs of the Catholic church, for instance, confused the two attitudes?

ANSWER: Very often, indeed.

QUESTION: In other words, what the human being can do, if I understand it right, is to take it as a philosophical concept?

ANSWER: Yes. Beware of trying to strive for it now, for it may be exactly the opposite of what you really want and need for your soul.

 

QA120 QUESTION: Under experience [Lecture #119 Movement, Consciousness, Experience: Pleasure, the Essence of Life], you talked primarily about the pleasure principle. Recently it got me confused, because in our world of duality I always thought that pain is the other half of the pair, in the opposites of pain and pleasure. Would you talk about pain?

ANSWER: Any duality comes into existence only because the original concept or principle is misunderstood or distorted. There need be no duality otherwise. Now, with this pleasure and pain principle, it is the same here. The universe is constituted in such a way that in reality – in other words, beyond the human sphere of duality – there is only the pleasure principle. There is unending bliss.

It is the error of the human realm that creates its opposite. But the opposite – pain – is a result of the inverted pleasure principle. In other words – to be more practical, to explain the same thing on a practical level – pain comes into existence because pleasure is withheld.

There are degrees of withheld pleasure. Up to a point, if pleasure is withheld, it is a neutrality; there is nothing – no pain, no pleasure, nothing. But when pleasure is more and more withheld, it becomes pain. So the principle of pain derives from the distorted principle of pleasure.

QUESTION: Is it possible for one human being on this plane to be without pain?

ANSWER: No, because if the human being were capable to live in such a state, incarnation on this sphere would no longer be necessary. But there are degrees. There are relatively healthy people who experience a minimum of pain and a maximum of pleasure. But, of course, there are also those who experience a minimum of pain, but this then does not necessarily indicate health if by a defensive mechanism one withdraws from involvement, and if one equally lacks pleasure.

For a limited amount of time, it is possible to build such a defense mechanism that a human personality lives and experiences a minimum of any kind of feeling, positive or negative. Any kind of sense impression is dulled.

In this withdrawal and numbing, there comes a point when this withdrawal-from-pleasure-in-order-not-to-experience-pain must swing the pendulum in the opposite direction so that pain temporarily – in order to straighten out the imbalance as a result of one’s own determination – brings an overemphasis of pain, until the numbness is removed and the personality begins to involve itself in a healthy way. This is the straightening out process.

In such an instance, a minimum of pain, if it is accompanied with a minimum of pleasure, does not indicate relative health – it indicates a lack of health even more than a maximum of pain. Do you understand?

QUESTION: Yes. Somewhere else in this lecture you said that the child has the maximum, or wants to experience pleasure only when it wants it, as it wants it. And also you said the child is asocial, but a child cries in the moment something is not pleasurable, so he must feel pain. And how does a human being live in the social structure in which the child does not live and drive for pleasure always?

ANSWER: Well, you see here, this is a very important point. The transition from pleasure only in an asocial, completely self-centered way of the child, to the highest state of being – pleasure only in a completely social, unegocentric way – is the transition and development of the human being. The grown-up, the adult human being, has to learn to cope with this transition. And this is where the difficulty comes in for man.

He fluctuates between the desire for pleasure and the drive for selfishness – the conscience where this apparent alternative seems to dictate you have to give up pleasure in order to be unselfish. This is one of those typical dualities of the human sphere. It is a temporary state.

I can only say that all of you who have occasionally, in this Pathwork, obtained deep insight into yourself, must at this instant realize that this duality, this alternative, is illusion. It is not a question, in reality, of having to give up pleasure in order to be unselfish. Each deep insight brings this recognition in one form or another.

The human struggle is just that – to find this point of reality where it is not the one versus the other: the unselfishness, the concern for the other versus one’s own pleasure. In reality, there is no interference. On the contrary!

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this truth is to discuss a certain phase that many of my friends who are deeply involved in this Pathwork are working on at this present time. Not all of you; some of you will come to it shortly. But many of you have reached this phase in the work where you confront yourself as the man or as the woman you are, where you battle with the masculinity or femininity problem within yourself.

Those of you who have reached this phase have begun to realize that each one of you, man or woman, has somewhere deep within himself a fear of and resistance to being his own sex. The man, although desiring his masculinity on another level, in his specific basic ambivalence fights against his masculinity. Perhaps he fights against it by fear of responsibility, by rebellion against responsibilities, demands and obligations, and the necessity to take an active hand in forming his own fate. Unconsciously, an envy of the more passive role of womanhood exists.

While on the other side, woman fears her own femininity in a feeling of helplessness by being passive, by humiliation, by the necessity to not be in an exaggerated control of herself, and therefore unconsciously envying the man. This fundamental problem of man and woman – and therefore of humanity, for humanity consists of man and woman – defeats the pleasure principle.

Only by wholeheartedly embracing one’s own role without any unconscious rebellion against it will one be unselfish, concerned, outgoing, communicating with the other, while at the same time experiencing the highest pleasure on all levels. And perhaps this is the best way to demonstrate what I’ve explained before as a theory only.

As a theory, these are merely words which you may or may not believe. But when looking at this fundamental human problem of each person in some way, deep down – some more, some less – fighting against his own sex, thereby cutting off communication and therefore withdrawing into an isolation and becoming asocial, while at the same time defeating the pleasure principle – when you think through what I say here and really meditate and try to feel the truth of it as applied to you yourself, to each one of you individually – you will begin to comprehend on the deepest possible level, that the pleasure principle is not opposed to outgoingness, communication, unselfishness or lack of egocentricity, as it is with the infant. While with the infant these are mutually exclusive.

QUESTION: If you talk of pleasure, do you mean serenity or do you mean joy?

ANSWER: I mean every kind of positive feeling and experience on every possible level, not only spiritually and mentally, but emotionally and physically as well. Now, it is a strange phenomenon that many people, in their unconscious and as yet undiscovered rebellion of and resistance to their own role in their own sex, shy away from the physical and the emotional level – while they can in one way or another associate the pleasure principle spiritually and mentally – and therefore somehow believe that the emotional, and in particular the physical level, are opposed to spirituality.

This is because they are still deeply involved with a misunderstanding and the duality of pleasure versus lack of egocentricity, outgoingness, communication and relating. On a certain level, in order to be not selfish, one may have to forego one’s own pleasure – or apparently so – but only in this transitory state. And in this misunderstanding, one may deny the physical, in a fear of an exaggeration of it. But when one overcomes this duality, this fear, this misconception, all levels of being are equally involved in the pleasure principle. And one is no lower than the other.

 

QA148 QUESTION: An absent friend who has been on this Path for quite a while when here in New York, is now very ill and living away from here. She has asked the following question, which will be sent to her on tape: “In your lecture number 140 [Lecture #140 Conflict of Positive versus Negative Oriented Pleasure as the Origin of Pain], you state ‘when a disturbing force goes into an opposite direction, it is the existence of the two directions that creates the pain. It is ascertainable that this is what actually causes the pain by the fact that when struggle is given up and when the individual lets go and gives in to the pain, the pain stops.’

“I have pondered over this for a month, because I have been experiencing physical pain, which no amount of accepting and letting go has seemed to relieve. Conversely, much perception and insight has come in realization of the positive and negative mental and emotional aspects, and I realize that pain has caused growth.

“In that aspect, the pain was a positive factor in my growth. The struggle against pain seemingly was not involved, or I do not see where it was. However, even now, when drugs relieve the pain, it returns to an unbearable point if I stop taking them. I have been told again and again this is karmic.

“I know it is caused by a lifelong struggle between the spiritual needs and ego needs. I feel these are being integrated rapidly and that the pain has played a strong role. Will it disappear with the integration? Have I overlooked some factor? Am I struggling against pain itself? Can you give me some help?

“As you know, the lectures have been a fortress of strength and wisdom in this process of development. I want to express my gratitude and joy at being privileged to share in it, and to the spiritual forces at work through and with the medium, and to Eva Broch’s dedication to this work.”

ANSWER: There are several answers that are all applicable to this question. In the first place, it is quite true that pain or any misfortune or any crisis – any difficulty in man’s life – can, if the individual chooses it, become a tremendous stepping stone.

The seemingly peculiar nature of negative occurrences are to man – whether they be pain or anything else – at one and the same time an effect of a cause which you might call karmic. And at the same time they are the very medicine. They are long-drawn effects of causes and more and more links in a chain reaction.

Now, the more the effect is removed from the original cause, the more difficult it becomes to untie the knot. Therefore – and this is the reason that the acceptance of pain is impossible – if the effect is too severe, it cannot really be accepted. One can only use it in such instances as a stepping stone from which to learn.

The more one learns, the more it then becomes possible to open one little knot after the other – to let go so that the knot becomes loose enough – instead of straining, which one does when one battles, and the knot becomes too tight to untie.

Very severe physical or also mental pain is a tight strain that makes the knot tighter. It is, as I said, not possible on that level of experience to untie it. The pain must have lessened and become bearable to do so. In order to make this possible, what you do, my friend, is right. You seek the lessons; you seek to understand what is to be learned.

I will now turn to a more personal answer to your question. Have you overlooked something? Is it true that you are battling against pain on a deeper level than you are aware of? Now, my answer is this – and this may not only be useful for you but also to all of my other friends who listen to this question here.

It is not true that you battle against the pain as such, but you do battle against the origin of the pain, which in its original form is pleasure. Do not ever forget the pleasure/pain principle is one and the same fundamental energy current.

When you now read this last lecture in which I spoke very specifically about this inner nucleus, where the pleasure principle is attached to negative situations in the psyche, you will perhaps begin to sense that your particular distress is a straining away from that inner situation. And you might find a new approach to your problem from this point of view.

You, as many other individuals or human entities, are very much geared in the dualistic concept. You encounter your own problems with a punitive attitude, “Where am I wrong?” Now, there are many layers and areas and attitudes in man where he is indeed wrong, where indeed he does not want to see his wrongness, his justified guilts.

But there are other areas where this approach leads into a dead-end street. This is the case with this problem with you; you consciously as well as unconsciously approach it in a spirit of good or bad. Even your way of expressing “the spirit needs versus the ego needs” contains this good versus bad, this punitive attitude toward your innermost problem.

This attitude cannot possibly lead to enlightenment and a loosening of the knot, because it implies “my spiritual needs are good; my ego needs are bad.” In that attitude you split yourself in half. Try to find: Where is your basic life nucleus – with its vital live energy, with its vibrant pleasure that is part of the cosmic reality – impeded in your psyche?

And where do you judge yourself for this impediment or for this shadow that has involved your deep life center? Because of it you battle yourself; you run from yourself; you fight yourself. And this is how the pain came into existence.

The more one battles, the more one is involved in this wrong kind of self-criticism, the further the alienation from this center, and the less is it possible for this center to express itself as it exists now. Consequently, health and balance must be impaired – first the emotional well-being, and eventually the physical well-being.

Now, this is the answer, and I believe that even though you cannot be here at this time and benefit from the personal contact that you have had for quite a while, that you are probably in a position to do something with these words. And should you have trouble, do not hesitate to contact the instrument through which I speak for guidance through writing. Love and blessings go to you.

 

QA148 QUESTION: I have a question about the punitive attitude one has towards oneself that you talked about. I realized some time ago that a usual thought that occurs to me in the morning when I face the day is, “What is wrong with me?” I very quickly find an answer although it might be different from time to time. Can you enlighten me a little bit about the origin of this persistent accusatory questioning that I have?

ANSWER: Yes. Again now, with the recent developments, generally in this Pathwork and specifically in your own work, I transcend all these various layers we were concerned about in the past and try to go to the root of the problem, which indeed is connected with the last lecture [Lecture #148 Positivity and Negativity as One Energy Current].

Here the constant accusing is your battle against your own nucleus of a pleasure/pain syndrome. The self-rejection and the fright of meeting these aspects is so intense that you cannot allow yourself to experience both sides of the same coin within yourself, and therefore you pull away, you push away, and you deny yourself both – or you try to deny yourself both aspects, each in a different way, each on a different level of consciousness.

You are indeed very near this realization where you can truly experience the reality in you of what I said here. But this must be the way. This will be the way, that you will come fully to inner life when you no longer push against a bad, and therefore must deny the good that must always and at all times remain desirable.

For it is life’s nature, life’s essence, life’s very characteristic to be infinitely blissful. When man, through his distortions and through splitting himself off, turns this potential bliss into negative aspects, he will fight this negative aspect and therefore must deny the bliss that is possible, and therefore must be further conflicted by longing for the bliss, while at the same time denying it.

QUESTION: Can I ask you something further in connection with this? I now begin to realize that when I accuse myself in this way, I am pushing against what I consider a weakness, and I condemn myself for this weakness. Is it possibly true that by doing that, I, at the same time, condemn myself for the pleasure I find in this weakness? Therefore I condemn myself for any kind of pleasure, because it seems to me that at that time the only pleasure can be found in this kind of, what I consider, weakness?

ANSWER: That is entirely true! In fact, what you just say here is really exactly the same as what I explained. And it just requires on your part to go on working this out and specifically stating into yourself that you do not want to turn away from this – both the pleasure and the negativity in you; that you want to experience it in its essence, as it is there, and see it operating.

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