Buddhism and Christianity are closely linked. Deep Eastern philosophy and classic Western philosophy agree on the same core values.
So, too, do many great books. Those of Homer and Virgil and Shakespeare. Apparently. I haven’t read them yet.
The primary thing they agree on – do not give in to pleasure. Pleasure is the root of all evil. All suffering.
From pleasure we see the deadly sins emerge. Lust of the pleasure of women. Gluttony of the pleasure of food and drink. And five other sins.
Pleasure is at the root of the commandments. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in thy neighbor’s wife. Thou shalt not seek pleasure in killing someone, even if your life would be more enjoyable. More pleasurable.
In fact the devil, the tempter, represents the temptation to simple pleasure. The forbidden fruit, the mana in the desert.
In Buddhism, we learn pleasure is the root of all suffering, and that this suffering is inherent in all humans. In psychology, Buddhism is validated.
All disciplines are connected. Even different philosophies.
In psychology, we learn that the brain evolved to seek pleasure in order to fulfill two animalistic functions: survival and replication.
The modern world feeds on this evolution. It takes advantage of the evolution of the brain. It takes advantage of natural selection. Of our base nature.
We are sold candy which appeals for the same reason fruit of a tree appealed – its sweetness was once a sign of nutrition. Today that sweetness is replicated with processed sugars to give us pleasure.
Sex is awesome and has more obvious survival and replication implications. You either had sex or your genes didn’t replicate and your bloodline thinned and your tribe became smaller and weaker and more threatened by other tribes.
Sex, even the natural act that precedes replication, can be abused.
It is in the search of these pleasures that we find ourselves removed from the moment and we, according to the Buddha, suffer. We are living in the future. Being hopeful of things to change.
Buddhism says to eliminate the need to want pleasure. Buddhism teaches us that this can be reached by meditating. When we meditate, we learn to focus. We focus our thoughts and eliminate being subject to feelings, thoughts, and behaviors we don’t want.
The Bible also teaches us to not seek pleasure. Not just in the commandments, but in the imitation of Jesus. Jesus was repeatedly tempted with pleasure by the devil, which he rejected.
Eve ate the apple god forbid because it was the most attractive. She gave in to pleasure and lived her life in shame.
Now, one doesn’t have to live in shame because they chose pleasure once in their life. But it is shameful to always be needing a high – whether drugs, alcohol, food, or sex.
This chase of pleasure is shameful because it’s enslaving. Needing pleasure is voluntarily submitting to that pleasure and the need of that pleasure.
To be free, one must reject pleasure.
Pleasure is a powerful force with powerful bounds. Those bounds become stronger when pleasure is given into.
Psychology tells us the brain rewards pleasure. We are likely to repeat what is pleasurable, since it feels better than not pleasure.
If a caveman ate a fruit and didn’t die of poison, he was likely to return and eat that fruit. He was rewarded with nutrients which reinforce that he should be eating the fruit.
So, too, the pleasures today encourage us to return. Only now there are billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores that throw pleasure at you.
If one follows the Buddha and Jesus’ example, he will see that the billboards and TV commercials and lingerie stores are only offering to tighten your own shackles.
At least, according to the Bible, Buddha, psychology, and me.