Common steps and sub-activities
Relearning - Function relearning - Converting the pursuit of pleasure
This problem is a form of extension of that of the conversion of desire. The man does not desire to own the thing that gave him pleasure, but wants to repeat the experience - get the same pleasure again and again. It becomes an inexorable pursuit of experience of the pleasure obtained from the first experience. There is nothing wrong in wanting to have pleasurable experiences – even to plan to make them more likely to happen; what is wrong is the obsessive pursuit of them and yet again the incorrect belief that the experience that gave pleasure the first time can be repeated. That experience will only ever occur once.
Yet again, our systems are working against us by fooling us into believing that 'pleasurable moments' or 'pleasurable experiences' somehow repeat themselves if you pursue them. They don't.
So what is the answer? Again, I have summarised J. Krishnamurti's ideas into the following points rather than providing a quote:
- If an experience gives you pleasure, use your heightened perceptions to record in memory every last second of your experience. Savour it, appreciate everything about it. Record it, repeat it in your head so you don't forget it
- Enjoy the moment
- Then, do not expect to ever be able to repeat that experience again, enjoy it is for what it was at the time you enjoyed it.
- Repeat to yourself. “I have enjoyed this moment. I have taken advantage of the fact I was lucky enough to have been given this experience and I thank [whoever you want to thank] for providing me with this enjoyment”
- And repeat. This moment cannot be repeated. It is a memory I will carry with me and enjoy again and again by recalling it, but at no time in the future will I ever be able to repeat the same set of circumstances that gave me this pleasure. I must now move on. There will be new perhaps unexpected pleasures in other areas that I may not have anticipated and they may be the more pleasurable because I have no expectations
- Anticipation of experiences is pointless. If you build up your expectations you can only be satisfied or disappointed. If you have no expectations you can never be disappointed .
An old lady had had an idyllic youth in a seaside town. A refined and genteel resort, it had in her day been quiet and uncrowded. She remembered long summers on the beach playing with friends, warm nights with the smell of the sea still in her hair, the stress free and carefree life of a child. She married, had sons, moved north inland far away from the sea. Her husband died and her sons lived far away. As she grew older she slowly became obsessed with the idea she wanted to go back to this place. In her mind was the memory of the way it was. She imagined somehow that by going back she would be free of loneliness and old age and she would be 'home' somehow. Instead of enjoying the memory of such a carefree and happy youth, she longed to go back to relive it. Eventually she did get to go - a long tiring coach journey with a day to look round, a night in a second rate boarding house with mediocre food and the long journey back. Of course it had changed, the beach was much the same, but all her memories of it had been idealised, the houses looked shabby and run down, there were amusement parks littering the promenade, the place seemed tired and seedy. And of course there were no friends to greet her and no home to return to after her walk around. She felt older and more lonely. And it shattered what had been happy memories by replacing them with the image of the seedy place her childhood home had become.
All things must pass, all things must pass away.
Lives of the Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius
Nothing endures but change.
There is nothing permanent except change.
Nothing is permanent except change.
The only constant is change.
Change is the only constant.
Change alone is unchanging