Finding Purpose in Pleasure
From Coffee Time – September 10, 2011
Could it be that my purpose in life can be found in pleasure? It seems I have often thought of purpose as serving a cause greater than myself, and I have assumed that doing this would be via sacrificing my own pleasure and being competent and productive in serving God and others in some way that would be “work” or “duty.” Often this service would be from within organizations – church or other non-profits – and often, I confess, serve in part at least as part of my Idealized Self Image – establishing my identity by where I fit in the structure of these organizations. I seemed to think of pleasure as not terribly relevant to life and as coming after the fact – as a kind of reward for right action or right belief – God rewarding me with heaven when I die or punishing me with hell if I have not believed rightly or served rightly. These latter points, however, did not motivate my commitments as much as building my Idealized Self-Image motivated me to action. Or at least that’s the way it seems looking back on these times. Being seen as competent has always seemed to be a strong motivator for my efforts.
But the Pathwork lectures (and other writings I’m sure) would suggest that Life is Pleasure, a manifestation of the Life Force. So let me look at this. What brings me joy and pleasure in life? At the top of the list for me is the joy I find in engaging with the Pathwork Lectures. I cannot say what this attraction and enlivening engagement is about, but it reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha with Jesus. On one occasion Martha was busy getting the room ready for a meal, and being competent and productive in her service. However she stood in judgment of Mary who was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to his words. Should not Mary be helping Martha prepare the meal? No, Mary was finding joy in being in the presence of Jesus, and she honored the joy and pleasure she found in his presence by staying with Jesus while Martha “worked.” In this story Jesus commends Mary for finding and being devoted to “the one thing needful” – being in his presence. She was being devoted to what she loved and found great pleasure and joy in simply being engaged with Jesus.
Could this be what I experience with the Pathwork Lectures? In their presence I feel nourished and inspired, guided, enlivened, and awakened. My devotion to them could be considered selfish I suppose. Should I not be doing something productive – like teaching Pathwork, or serving the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork organization in my role as Board Member, Treasurer, and member of the Pathwork Council? Yes, there is some satisfaction in such service, but my joy comes from “sitting at the feet” of the Pathwork Lectures and applying them to my life.
But I also find joy and pleasure in talking to others about matters spiritual, about discovering and working with some of my own distortions, images, and blocks and then sharing my wrestling, exploring, and discovering in my blog or in conversations with Pat or others, in recording the lectures and making them available to those interested, in my including short Pathwork quotes on my website – all of this brings me joy, a flow out of my passion. My energy seems never to wane in these activities. I do not engage in these activities out of a sense of “duty” or for “reward” or, as best as I can tell, out of “pride.” Rather, I am devoted to them simply because they bring me such joy and pleasure. Yes, I suppose they are my purpose as well, but I do not engage in this commitment because they are my purpose, rather my purpose reveals itself as I follow my bliss, as Joseph Campbell would say. Just food for thought. Following our bliss and thereby fulfilling our purpose and destiny.