Neither Pleasure Nor Pain; Simply Delight

delight

Neither Pleasure Nor Pain; Simply Delight

Delight of being is universal, illimitable and self-existent, not dependent on particular causes, the background of all backgrounds, from which pleasure, pain and other more neutral experiences emerge. When delight of being seeks to realise itself as delight of becoming, it moves in the movement of force and itself takes different forms of movement of which pleasure and pain are positive and negative currents.

SRI AUROBINDO, In The Life Divine, Book 1, Chapter 11, pp. 98-99.

Delight is not the same as pleasure or happiness – it is several notches above either of these. It has a constancy that pleasure and happiness do not have, and a quality that surpasses both. Sri Aurobindo has talked of delight both in relation to the Creator and the creation.

It is often asked why the Divine chose to create the material universe? The Divine is all-powerful, and therefore has all potentialities, including those of manifestation and non-manifestation. But still the question remains why it chose to express the potentiality of manifestation. Logically, either the Divine was compelled to manifest, or it chose to do it on its own. The Divine feeling compelled to do something implies a force stronger than the Divine, which is incompatible with the very concept of the Divine. Therefore, the Divine manifested itself because it wanted to. In other words, the Divine enjoyed doing it, or did it for delight. Hence, delight (ananda) is considered one of the attributes of the Divine.

The creation that the Divine became in the course of manifestation carries the essence of the Divine. Does the essence include also the cpacity to experience delight ? The suggestion might appear preposterous because life is normally considered to be full of sorrows, pain and suffering. However, Sri Aurobindo has made a significant observation when he says that the dominant feature of life is the delight of existence, on which are superimposed waves of pain and pleasure. There is a certain delight in the very fact of existing – that is why nobody wants to die. Pain and pleasure are the habitual responses to contacts with the world, but the habitual responses are not obligatory. What normally gives us pleasure may sometimes give pain, and vice versa. For example, sex with a loving partner is pleasurable, but rape is painful. Losing money is painful, but giving away money in charity gives pleasure. Lack of sleep is painful, but a mother who sacrifices sleep to look after her sick child finds pleasure in depriving herself of sleep. Since pain or pleasure are not inherent in a contact but depend on our response to the contact, the response to all contacts may be blunted by experience or by attitude. It is also possible to respond to all contacts with equal delight (samattva) by cultivating spiritual discipline. Thus delight of existence is not the exclusive preserve of the Creator; It has planted the delight also in its creation. 

Author: Ramesh

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