Pleasure and the Happiness of Release

Pleasure and the Happiness of Release

The Buddha taught that happiness comes not through gaining or possessing things, but through release. You might inquire into your own experience to see if this is true. When you desire some pleasurable experience or object, notice the experience that surrounds that desire:

What do you need to go through to get it?
What does it cost in time, effort, and resources?
Are you happy when you get it?
Is there any identification with the experience, entitlement, arrogance, expectation, or conceit?
Is there any fear that the pleasure will end or that the object will be lost?

When you are present for a pleasant experience, you will be able to distinguish between the present moment pleasant feeling and craving for more pleasant feelings—a craving for it to last or for the experience to be repeated.

Does your happiness really depend upon gaining the possession or sensual experience, or perhaps happiness arises because desire has ended?

Experiment: Sometimes, intentionally abandon the desire without pursuing the object or experience that you desired. Are you happy when the desire ends even if you did not gain the object?

The Buddha warned that attachment to sensual pleasures is an obstruction to awakening, but there is another kind of pleasure that is a vital support for awakening. Pleasure associated with meditative development should be appreciated, cultivated, and enjoyed without fear. This wholesome pleasure leads to the ending of craving, the ending of suffering. It is a happiness that arises with release.

Taste the joy that comes with letting go. Whatever you might let go of today, let the ease of mind associated with that relinquishment be a vivid source of happiness. Take a moment to suffuse the mind with the happiness of release.

You might discover how letting go is a more fun and rewarding than clinging!

Walking the Path Course assignment for August-September period:  1) Discuss your experiments with mindfulness of pleasure and letting go with your Dhamma Buddy. 2) Read chapter 8 in the Art of Disappearing by Ajahn Brahm before our meeting in September.