Know Real Facts about Islam

Memorable Writings of
Anwar Shaikh

HOME

Author

Essays

Books

Reviews

Site Index

 

 

 

Table of Contents

 
Pain and Pleasure
Love and Hate
Fear and Favour
Tears and Laughter

 
E-mail this page Print this page

Sign GuestBook

Read GuestBook

 

A Psychological Factor

Pain and Pleasure

by Anwar Shaikh

Human conduct is motivated by a deep-rooted desire to avoid pain and pursue pleasure. This is what makes it an important issue requiring detailed examination. However, as pain and pleasure happen to be two sides of the same coin, it is not possible to discuss them in isolation:

1. Pain is the child of chaos, which is a state of rebellion against the governing principles. It is the nature of disorganisation to be hurtful. Again, it is accompanied by a lack of purpose, which serves to magnify the effect of pain, eventually ending in extinction

On the contrary, organization denotes a state of obedience to the basic laws of existence; this is the secret of becoming or life. As a general rule, search for pleasure or happiness is a characteristic of life. One can liken pain and pleasure with the phenomena of autumn and spring. The former denotes collapse of law concerning conditions which keep the environment green, gay and glorious but the latter signifies a return to the life-giving factors.

Life ought to be a spectacle of happiness though we find it riddled with pain. This state of affairs is brought about by our attitudes and can be rectified by a greater morality aiming at social justice. Neither it is possible nor desirable to eliminate pain completely but it can be reduced to a size where it serves the same purpose to life as spice has to food or sweetness to nectar.

2. Yet, pain is the fountain of pleasure; it is the distress caused by pain, which seeks pleasure as a relief. Therefore, pain has precedence over pleasure; a human baby is born crying which indicates its natural anguish, but life is not all wailing; a baby can grow up into a happy person through a process of proper development. Thus pain is endowed with a potential of pleasure as the heart- rending thunderous clouds have the ability to make rain, which brings zest to life.

3. Happiness that lies in turning pain into pleasure through personal attempt is much greater than the delight found by chance: inheriting a million pounds is a happy occasion but earning such a sum of money with one's own effort is immeasurably superior owing to the pride and self- confidence that it engenders.

4. There is no pleasure without pain because of their reciprocal existence. They are like two poles which are naturally equal and opposite but the sense of pain and pleasure depends on which of these poles is ascendant; it is dominance of the ascendant pole which makes one happy or miserable.

The condition known as analgesia (insensibility to pain) shows that one who does not feel pain lacks he ability to appreciate pleasure. Therefore those who seek pleasure, must not shirk pain, necessary to find it.

5. Life is not a pain but a pleasure. This truth emerges when we realise what life is; it mainly consists of helplessness, sickness, disease, old age, accidents, frustration, selfishness, treachery, death and burial. It is these painful events, which constitute life, yet we love it. Why? Obviously, life itself is a great pleasure and we usually want to stay alive despite our sorrows.

6. Life is made worthwhile by the fact that pain has the potential to become pleasure. This transmutation takes place through the process of hope and adventure. Were it not for this fact, life would have been a mechanical affair. As evolutionary ladder rises higher, sensibility to pain increases more intensely. For example, man is most pain- conscious. Looking at the mechanism of free will, one comes to the conclusion that life is what man makes it. What a wonderful plan of nature it is. It makes us realise that pain is punishment for misunderstanding the message of nature.

Pleasure is the hilarious castle one builds from the sharp sand of a beach; it is the delightful snowman that one creates from the desolation of a blizzard. Is it not one's own will and skill dedicated to better life, which emerges as pleasure?

It is a happy occasion to be born into the right family but such occurrences are rare like the oasis in a desert. It is one's quality of effort which is the core of pain and pleasure; laboring without reward is a pain but rewarded toil is a pleasure. Even the hope of reward at the end of a gruesome process makes pain an enjoyable experience.

7. Living is the only purpose of this life. Obviously, future-life, if any, is a product of this life, but this life is not possible without desire. Therefore, the sages who held desire as the fountain of pain and condemned it, failed to understand the nature of life.

8. Desire to life is what rain is to a parched field, virility to a man, sword to a soldier, vision to an eye or luster to a diamond. Just assume for a second that you have no desire at all, that is, you have no wish for a mate, a family or friends, and you have no longing for self-improvement by way of education, cultural refinement, power, riches and so on. Such a person is no more than an animal for having no purpose but to keep breathing slowly.

It is certainly desire which gives life the highest magnitude by bestowing upon it a purpose and discipline: Thus desire is not a sin but sin is having no desire. Without desire one has no goal, without a goal one has no character, and without a character, one ceases to be human.

An achievable dream is a genuine desire, worthy of any effort. A genuine desire exhorts you to weigh your courage, improve your skill and measure your tenacity and will. It further challenges you to prepare a strategy and accept a high discipline to enter the battle for achieving what you want. Once you have made the best effort, you can do no more. Just the self-respect of attempting is sufficient to unleash your hidden springs of pride which are always accompanied by a feeling of satisfaction imbued with lasting happiness. A struggle for a genuine desire is its own reward. Even failure brings no real pain and success counts as icing on the cake, rouge on the face or varnish on the nails.

Troublesome is the fantasy that is just an idle talk, a day-dreaming, a pie in the sky. Such a desire represents a disturbed state of the mind. It is source of pain because it takes over your conduct the same way as a rider controls a horse. A false desire is an incitement to day-dreaming but a genuine desire acts as a barometer of possibility and sets the goal within one's means. A genuine desire has the same relationship with you as petrol has with the car that you drive. Though it supplies the driving power, you steer yourself to reach the destination of your dreaming.

9. Achievement is synonymous with desire. You cannot achieve without a desire. Your achievement being the representative of your skill and will, is a measure of your personality.

Never renounce a good achievable desire unless you have a similar or a better alternative. Since achieving a desire is a source of happiness, causing other people misery to be merry yourself is not desire but a form of sadism, an extreme sickness of the mind. A person who bulldozes the homes of poor people to build a palace for himself, is not expressing his desire to look great, but advertising his inhumanity for being a schadenfreude he is a pervert who knows nothing about the sanctity of pleasure: he is a vulture who is pleased by the sight of dead bodies; he is a wolf who feels privileged to detest, molest and digest any lamb he can find.

10. Genuineness of a desire depends on one's deservedness. Thus a deserved desire is a virtue but an undeserved desire is not.

11. A failed attempt to realise a genuine desire is far more pleasing to the wise and manly than the cheated success is to the fool and cowardly.

12. The greatest happiness is the one that arises from the pain suffered for promoting the cause of the unhappy. It multiplies itself as brightness of the glow-worm is magnified in the dark; it is a delightful echo which keeps repeating itself from vale to vale; it is a shield of the contented mind which the forces of misery cannot penetrate.

13. A shared pleasure is immeasurably more righteous than a self-centered pleasure. It is like the bread-basket of Jesus which cannot be emptied, no matter, how large the number of eaters; it resembles the drops of water which join to form immensity of an ocean; it is a symbol of philanthropy which raises an animal to the status man: this is the power, which elevates man to the dignity of God.

14. The ability to endure pain with dignity is not only a sign of maturity but it also prepares one to become a connoisseur of delight. The more pain one has suffered, the longer one has pined for pleasure. The greater search for a thing denotes its value generally, and to the searcher, especially .

15. Being born lucky is far less enjoyable than forging one's own luck, which involves a good deal of pain, thus correspondingly enhancing the zest of pleasure. Lucky birth can be like a carcanet around the neck of a dog, which does not know the difference between a jewel and a pebble. Conversely, the self-made luck is like a beautiful garland whose flowers have been picked by the wearer after a long search for their special fragrance.

However, there is a sharp difference between enduring pain with dignity and getting used to pain. The former implies an august personality for its great capacity and the latter displays a debilitated mind for being indifferent to cure, and thus seeking reconciliation with misfortune. Such a person is like a bat, which prefers darkness to light; he is a mental leper, who finds leprosy a better means of attracting people's pity.

16. Ignorance though pain, is still a form of pleasure when it acts as an antidote to the harshness of reality. By treating the foul as fair, the foe as friend the frightful as felicitous, it raises hope and provides the will to continue journey of life. Yet its message of hope, happiness and hilarity is devoid of the truth that mankind urgently needs. It is like the scorching sand of a desert which appears as sea to the thirsty wayfarer, who keeps marching towards water with a greater zest but never finds it.

Poverty, hunger and disease are forms of pain but the pain arising out of injustice is even worse. Whatever perpetuates injustice is painful. This is why that wrong law is a form of pain and so is its willful application. The same is true about evil customs and their dominance. The society governed by such laws and customs is a reflection of hell on earth. The preacher who tells you to bear legal and social pains with a smile because this is the will of God or this is what law requires, is the Devil Incarnate. No obedience is owed to such a God, the law or the preacher. This type of obedience is a mark of insanity. Does your survival depend on kissing the lips of a cobra or beating its head off? Does your safety require jumping into fire or extinguishing it with all the means at your disposal? If you favor the foe then what can you offer your friend? If you hold night as bright how will you describe the day?

Obedience is bliss only when it is based on genuine assessment, the product of conscience.

In a society where masses suffer the pain of hunger, disease and injustice, the pleasures of those who are above the level of misery, is a form of perversion unless they make a determined effort to make their fellow-beings happy.

17. Happiness is the basic human right. Of course, individual choice plays a great part in one's happiness but the social conditions equally affect people's mind. Society owes a duty of happiness to the members who constitute it, and its own health depends on the soundness of its individuals. It is no different from a tree whose vigor is directly related to the verdure of its branches; it is like the night-sky whose illumination is dependent on the glitter of stars.

l8. Pleasure of losing can be as great, or even greater than the pleasure of winning. When one loses one's life or property to defend one's ideal - secular religious or national, one does it with a great sense of joy. Loss of limb or wealth in the service of one's sweetheart brings far more happiness than the pain that the sacrifice involves. It is like losing a seed in the ground and finding that it has multiplied a hundred times.

19. What is pain to me, may be a pleasure to you, and vice versa. How? It is because understanding is usually a matter of interpretation. A happy play of words is preferable to a miserable interpretation if the event or words may suggest such a construction. Maximizing happiness is a virtue and not vice provided the interpretation does not seek to mislead. Happiness is wanted so badly that people use devices of self-deception to see and hear what is not there. Look at the day-dreamer who amuses himself with vagaries or the believer, who is certain that his guru, prophet or messiah has the power to get him into paradise ebullient with fabulous luxuries.

20. Pain begets pain but pleasure does not necessarily beget pleasure. Why?

Pain begets pain because most people are vengeful; their pride dictates them to retaliate and they think of forgiveness as a fool's hobby.

Pleasure does not necessarily beget pleasure because people find expressing gratitude as an exercise in self-degradation.

Do not cause pain to others because it is likely to rebound on you but when you make someone happy do so without any idea of return.

21. What is pleasure?

It cannot he defined. Concept of pleasure changes from person to person and therefore resembles wine which adopts the shape of its container. Again, what may please one in childhood may cease to please during adolescence, and is likely to change again during one's middle and last years.

As old age creeps in, the desire for corporal pleasure decreases with a corresponding increase in one's yearning for avoiding the pain. It happens owing to physical deterioration.

Our fitness plays a central role in the appreciation of pain and pleasure yet not many of us pay attention to bodily soundness.

22. One man's pleasure may be another man's pain. You may not have done wrong to someone. So great are the pangs of inferiority complex, jealousy and malevolence, that the mere fact of your being happy, may make someone painful to plan your destruction.

The situation is even worse when one has deliberately created conditions to enjoy the misery of others. The merriment of such social predators visit their own children and grandchildren as the evil effects of their misdeeds.

Retribution of evil never goes amiss; if the direct target escapes it, somehow, it will find a substitute.

23. Happiness is a reflection of the consortial devotion: this situation arises when two people fall in love and choose each other as life-partners; their association is based on mutual respect and a passion of deep longing; convenience is alien to it; conviviality forms its integral part. Couples in love are more angelic and less human; they are eager to give rather than take; they respond their partner's omission with love and not hate.

The concept of consortial devotion is beyond the comprehension of those who lack the ability to befriend. Such people are born to be miserable; they are like the woman who has everything except the ability to conceive and therefore unable to enjoy the pleasure motherhood; they are akin to the person who has a tongue but cannot speak, possesses ears but cannot hear.

Loving is the gift of God, not available to devil-worshippers.

Life is for living; it is painful only as long it is not lived. It is bubbling with the potential of happiness which can be realised by full living only. How can you find a pearl without diving into the sea? How can you get butter without churning the milk? How can you express your patriotism without staking your best for your country? How can you realise the pleasures of championship without grappling with the most formidable antagonist ?

24. This planet is not the abode of misery; those who believe it to be the fountain of anguish, are themselves the cause of desolation. They are a burden on it, and the sooner they depart, the better the chances of happiness for the rest. This is the place to be happy and cultivate one's potential for eternal happiness.

If you have not lived happily and made this earth a happier place for others to live, you have not lived, and thus failed to discharge the obligation that you have to life.

Life is a challenge whose fulfillment depends upon attaining the goal of happiness. Thus we have a duty to make this planet the abode of bliss. The combatant who refuses to accept the challenge of his adversary, has only himself to blame for the ensuing misery. The patient who surrenders to pain by committing suicide instead of trying the bitter remedies for lack of guts, cannot accuse the doctor of incompetence .

25. There is a remedy for every misery. The determined search for happiness is itself a cause of satisfaction. Your frame of mind and the way of thinking and interpreting can act as a barrier against unhappiness. If you have failed to get exactly what you want, a substitute may be equally pleasing.

26. If you are unhappy, find a friend. He is the person who values your happiness as much as his own. f Friends are not non- existent but they are rare. Is it not the nature of all good things? It entails a lot of toil to locate them. If you have been unlucky, try again.

All that glitters is not gold. It is foolish to take a pebble for a diamond, a bead for a pearl, a clown for a clergy or a kangaroo for a camel.

27. A noble enemy shall not be pleased by your misfortune, but a fair-weather friend will feel glad when you are sad; he will be relieved when you are grieved. Yet he does it with a skill, which makes you believe that the Devil is more humane than God and lamb is more merciful than wolf. It is his hypocrisy equipped with verbosity which makes him what he is, and thus detection of his intentions becomes difficult, if not impossible.

28. If you cannot find a friend, examine yourself to see if you are a worthy friend yourself. If your introspection is honest and exonerates you, it may as well be that you learn to be miserable on your own, though it is a negative course of action, which I shall be reluctant to adopt myself.

29. The pleasure offered is superior to the pleasure begged for. Once you have made repeated attempts to please someone but failed, do not waste your courtesies any more. l he person is not worth pleasing. As there is no blood in a stone, a sewer lacks the ability to emit fragrance, a blind man cannot see, a deaf person cannot hear, a cripple cannot run, a butcher cannot be kind to animals and a cobra is incapable of showing loyalty to its keeper, a person who cannot be pleased, is a devil in human form.

30. Life has a purpose. Those who think of life as an accident, or something which just comes into being and then fades away, cannot be taken seriously.

What is the purpose of life? As nobody likes dying, and wants to live for ever, eternity is the real purpose of life. This life is its own end. Therefore, the true pain is the ignorance about the purpose of life, which leads to its wastage.

Is it possible to live for ever? Yes, of course it is.

The ability to appreciate pain and pleasure sets the standard of human values; one cannot do justice without assessing the size of pain or pleasure. How will you punish someone without knowing the degree of pain he has caused others and how will you rewarded a person without determining the value of pleasure he has imparted someone else?

A person's ability to appreciate pain and pleasure also determines hit level of humanity. When someone else's pain and pleasure makes you sad or glad, you have developed a conscience, the natural symbol of cultural attainment. The difference between a brute and human is that the former has no conscience but the latter has plenty of it. Conscience is to man what light is to the glow-worm, which leads it in the dark; it is the staff of the blind which guides and protects him. It is the automatic brake which applies suddenly when one is about to march off to a wrong cause.

31. Finally, the demands of realism prompt me to inquire into the relationship of sex with pain and pleasure

Bluntly speaking, I dare say that pain and pleasure have no meaning without sexual relationship. Why? Just look at the following:

a. When a boy is about 15 and the girl is thirteen, they experience a sudden awakening of sex consciousness. The boy adopts an aggressive approach towards the girl, who finds herself dragged towards him, yet restrained by a sentiment of modesty, and a sense of self-evaluation, which requires the lover to make the first move, because what becomes easily available devalue itself.

It is sexual urge which creates the flagrant flogging and fantastic. emotion of love; once active, it cannot be made passive unless it has achieved its goal. Such a goal is usually a girl for a boy, and vice versa. Sexual urge is a love-bond between man and woman the same way as gravitational pull is between atoms, molecules or heavenly bodies. Union of sweethearts is the greatest pleasure and the failure to unite is the greatest pain.

Love leads to coitus which is the most intense pleasure known to both man and beast.

Copulation though usually considered an act of vulgarity in fact, is the source of the greatest wonder called "man". It is human conscience which makes the presence of this cosmos felt; without man (i.e. man + woman) existence or non-existence of the world does not matter jot. But man, as we know him, cannot come into being without the carnal urge. Thus sexual intercourse, is the process of making man which ought to be the happiest exercise for the universe itself.

Coitus has got to be the most intense source of pleasure. If it were not so, animals would not indulge in procreation, which is the first priority of nature, and this is why it bribes the living, beings in a hundred and one ways to indulge in this activity. Dichotomy of animals into males and females is simply:

1. to create sexual pleasure which persuades, prompts and provokes them to seek each other, and

2. improve the lot of species through love-making.

Even plants are not immune from this division of gender. Nature prefers cross-fertilization to self- fertilization. Thus the plants which practice cross-fertilization, or in lay language, indulge in sexual intercourse, develop beautiful colours, but the ones which are pollinated by winds, remain drab and unattractive.

Beauty is obviously the reward of sexual urge which incites further beautification.

The improvement of species is at its best in humans. Their intelligence leading to arts, sciences and innovative excellence, results from their sexual behavior. Asexually produced humans, assuming it was possible, would simply be another form of vegetable. Human conscience is yet another product of coitus.

Sexuality is not a game but an act of love and honour. It is naturally subject to a code of morality; when it is defied, not only venereal diseases visit the offenders but social sanctions also display their wrath by way of broken marriages, unwanted children and family vendettas.

Again, morality is the foundation of happiness. Satisfaction gained through deception, disloyalty and deviation, is nothing but a mirage which make the deserts and appear as water because the sanctions of conscience eventually become operative to enforce their psychological punishment which can be terrible.

Having no sexual urge or abusing it is a form of pain, but its proper use is a pleasure.

Such is the dignity of sexual pleasure that even the excruciating pain of child-bearing ranks as the greatest pleasure of motherhood.

Like all other pleasures, sexual delight also has a painful side: an easily-pleased woman is a blessing but a quickly-displeased woman is the scourge of God. Similarly, a woman would exceed the virtues of a thousand angels if she did not nag.
 
 

 

 

 A Psychological Factor

 

Home   |   Essays   |  Books to Order  
2008 Islam Review and Anwar Shaikh. All rights reserved
No portion of this
site may be reproduced without written permission of publisher.