2022-10-05 Consciousness (3 of 5) Consious of Pleasure
3:23PM Oct 5, 2022
So, as I repeating what I've said, the first few days, I understand consciousness, or awareness, I use the word more or less anonymously, as, in the sense when people have that it's a thing, you know that we have this thing called consciousness, whatever that might might be kind of a, something that's always there, and maybe something that has some kind of you, unit, you, you kind of United feeling or whole feeling. People talk about consciousness that as a thing, to the degree to which it is a thing, it's a it's a gestalt, it's a combination of many different things, integrate together many different biological, physiological and mental cognitive faculties kind of working together in a hole. And without necessarily our choice or our direction for how to be done. And, and then if the holistic working of it all can make it feel like there is such a thing of consciousness, which is its own thing. And with the idea that when every time people have to deal with everything else disappears, what always will remain to some kind of pristine consciousness. I don't think that's the idea of, of the, of early Buddhism. But the idea that, that what we call conscious of the idea we have of it is a sum total of all these different attentional faculties we have in cognitive functionings, that we have, I think, is a very rich idea. And, and is conducive to putting greater value in our capacity to be aware to be attentive, because the whole attentional system works better. When it's kind of all being known, or there's space for it all to be there, there's, if we're caught up in preoccupations, it's like, we almost limit how much space there is in the mind, or how much free RAM there is in the mind, for processing and working up all the other things that can be going on. And sometimes even the, you know, we reached the limit of how much our active memory can handle. And so we get stressed and, and things begin kind of breaking down. And that kind of psychological biological system meant something as simple as being so busy with work and activities and doing things that we forget to drink. And even though their body has signals, it'll tell you, you're thirsty, they're overridden by the intensity of focus on something. And so that's true with many things in our life, that, that if we're too focused or too preoccupied, we're not going to avail ourselves or notice and allow to function all the rich systems of attention and data gathering and processing that exists within us. And so one of those is the pleasant the capacity to feel pleasure and pain. These are very important parts of life without this, our life would probably not really work. People who don't feel pain, sometimes will damage themselves tremendously, because they don't have to get the signal that that, you know, they put their hand off the hot stove or that they should stop, you know, sawing into their fingers when they're actually trying to saw the bread or the vegetables.
The idea that pain you know, there are a few people in the world apparently can't feel pain. There's an imagine there's people who can't feel pleasure. And that's unfortunate, just for the pleasure sake. But pleasure is the vehicle in which other information is coming to us. And, and other systems within us begin operating. And as I said before, I think in Buddhism, where there's a very strong mindfulness practice strong emphasis on being present for the pleasant and pleasure of, of our experience. That's a very valuable exercise to do. It's very valuable to tune into it and develop equanimity to it. But the but it's also valuable because if we have equanimity and allow the pleasure and pain to be there, we might also parts are appreciating that is part of its it's not just kind of mechanistic pleasure and pain. I mean, it's the part of us that's kind of visible, or the felt part of a bigger system of, of human functioning going on, behind that, or I'm just part of it. So if something as simple as a human touch, human touch can feel pleasant, and, and that's nice that it's pleasant. But there can be so much, so much can happen physiologically and psychologically, with physical touch, if it's pleasant, that it can be reassuring, it can be nurturing, you know, you know, touching a child or holding it baby, Holding, holding it print for me is necessary for them to really be able to mature the whole system of a premature baby. And so this idea of touch, support supports the growth, the development of some of human beings as they grew up as children touches valuable for our sense of safety, a sense of social connection, a sense of nourishment inside. And so the pleasure of social touch is fantastic. There's the pleasures then of sexual touch. And, and that can also be wonderful. But sex that has a very different mechanism may be or other things going on involved there to an end, a sexual touch, the pleasure there is so clearly connected to so much more than just the place that's being touched. It's part of a bigger system and hormones and all kinds of things going on aesthetic pleasure, where does that come from? And what what are all the systems that are operating when we see something really beautiful in nature, or we see beautiful art or something that said, saddhā, satisfaction, inspiration, and might feel that the inspiration might feel very pleasant, that pleasure is more than just some simple pleasure, there's probably all kinds of processes within us that have been activated. And apparently, there are many pleasure centers in the brain. And so, so these, you know, just pleasure is not just, you know, physical pleasure are the sensations sensing itself being pleasant. It's a process in the brain. And, and so, to allow ourselves to have simple pleasures, and not deny them, can be very helpful for this integrated awareness, full awareness that we're trying to develop in mindfulness. And, and as that gets developed, it also then hopefully, develops our capacity to be with pain, that we're not holding on to pleasure are expecting it to be there all the time. But we also learning a nonreactive way of dealing with all things, because pain too, is an important system for us. And what I've learned through mindfulness practice, is that I've learned to pay careful attention to pain when it arises.
Because part of the function of pain, sometimes it's a danger signal. And sometimes I pay attention. And if I could feel that there's a little bit of signal of danger, in the pain itself, that I can't specify how that is or how I know. But sometimes it's clear there's a danger, something's about to go wrong or bad. And in other times, it feels like okay, this this pain is okay, it's, you know, who knows, I, I injured myself the injury injuries over it over but now it's healing and, and now there's pain there, just there that's leftover that needs to be there until it settles down. And I don't feel a danger anymore. And so if I feel danger, then I'll then I don't just practice mindfulness and acceptance of it. I will try to avoid the danger if it's possible. I'll try to like five sitting in meditation, and I feel a sense of danger and how I'm sitting, I'll change my posture. But if I don't feel that sense of danger, then I don't. So this pain is also connected to all kinds of steeper systems that are providing information. And so as we begin tuning into this world of pleasure and pain, the that itself can feed back on to what we might call consciousness. So the sense we have a bit of awareness and the sense of awareness and consciousness can take a different shape, depending on you know, I know exactly shape is the right word, these are all metaphors are something that doesn't really exist, but we have a kind of intuitive sense for. And so the consciousness or awareness can, can feel either contracted or expanded expensive. It can feel tense, if there's a lot of pain, and they can feel the pleasure and in it, that kind of goodness, and it then expands. And so, so much so that some people feel that consciousness in and of itself has bliss as part of it. And I don't know if it you know, I don't think it's in and of itself. But as things get simpler, and simpler and quieter, and the awareness can, can kind of tune into these other systems, they're working in harmony, the sense of harmony, creates pleasure for awareness itself. And so there's many pleasures, the pleasures of sleep, the pleasures of eating, the pleasures of, of drinking, the pleasures of sex, the pleasures of exercise, all these can provide pleasures, not just the physiological surface pleasure of the moment, but they tap into something deeper within. And they be a sense of satisfaction and inspiration, something. So, so this is the pleasure and pain is part of the part that pieces of this Gestalt, this whole, that contributes to our sense of being conscious. And so what I'd like to suggest for you, if you would like, for the next 24 hours, is to give a kind of risk, respectful attention, maybe even reverential attention to the simple pleasures and pain of daily life, with the assumption that they're not simple. They're just kind of like the tip of a vast inner network, and maybe even interpersonal network that is somehow being conveyed or carried or evoked by the pleasure in pain. And offering respect to that means, make room feel that's feel what's going on in some bigger, bigger way. Allow yourself to feel that pleasure. Allow yourself to feel the pain, so you can not feel pain or pleasure for itself. But see if it kind of helps you connect to some deeper, fuller dimensions of who you are, how your system how your body mind works. So thank you very much, and I look forward to continue on this theme of our attentional faculties tomorrow.