A Catholic priest was visiting Sheffield, a mining town in England. Speaking to miners, he strongly advocated that they follow the teachings of Christ. Otherwise, the priest cautioned, one would end up in hell. He went on to describe hell as a damp, dark, cold and scary place.
The miners were unfazed with this information since hell appeared to be no worse than the mines they were already used to. Wanting to know more about hell, one miner inquired, "Are newspapers available in hell ? " On being told no, the miners began to listen to the priest a little more seriously.
The moral here is that even in the worst of conditions, one still looks for some pleasure. It is impossible to imagine a life without any pleasures, however, small it may be.
Enjoyment is the purpose of living. The expectation of pleasure motivates. AII the senses are forever in search of pleasure.
Preachers of religion are generally unable to motivate the masses since they fail to show a connection between enjoyment and the spiritual path they show. By scaring someone, one may create some deterrent effect, but to motivate, one needs to show the way to pleasure. And the higher the pleasure, the higher is the motivation.
No one wishes to live to suffer. Killing joy is killing all hope. That is perhaps why terminally ill patients take the extreme step of opting for lethal injections. It is same as suicide. No one wants to die. People consider death only if they have no pleasure left in life.
Dissatisfaction with the present can build up into stress and depression. When one fails to achieve higher pleasures in life, one resorts to lower pleasures that can harm one's body and mind. Criminals are not known to be a happy and satisfied lot and one view is that this is the reason why they turn to a life of crime.
All of us, without exception, need pleasure. And we need it now, not in a distant and unknown future. Which brings us to the obvious question : which kind of pleasure is the best for our body and soul ?
Pleasure can be divided into four broad categories. The lowest pleasure is prompted by ignorance, according to the Bhagavad-Geeta. Examples of such pleasures are eating meat, drinking or indulging in illicit sex. Such pleasures are looked down upon in most societies.
The next level of pleasure is prompted by passion, such as eating a rich meal, watching a funny movie, reading a best-seller, etc. These don't help in making advancement in one's life but don't harm either, since they are almost neutral in nature.
The third level of pleasure is beneficial, such as eating a healthy meal or communing with nature. These make one happy without doing you any harm.
The highest level of enjoyment is connecting with God. This can be done through listening to a good spiritual discourse or singing a bhajan chanting or meditation. These give a person lasting benefits, including spiritual liberation.
So why don’t people seek higher pleasures more often ? Besides the easier availability of the lower pleasures, the level of consciousness is crucial. This is the reason why the scriptures advocate ‘God-consciousness’ as the ultimate goal of human life. The higher the consciousness, the greater shall be the attraction for higher types of pleasures.
Unhappy people are attracted to drugs and drink as they appear to give some relief, but such diversions prove very costly in the long run. Happy persons shun harmful pleasures since they have safer options.