“There is the path of joy, and there is the path of pleasure. Both attract the soul. Who follows the first comes to good; who follows pleasure reaches not the end. The two paths lie in front of man. Pondering on them the wise man chooses the path of joy; the fool takes the path of pleasure”Katha Upanishad
It has been discussed for thousands of years, yet we fall into the same traps. Religious texts warn about the dangers of temptations and desires. Yet we still pursue completion through the fleeting escape of pleasure. Rest bite comes in the form of escapism. Momentary transportation from the self. Relief from the angst that plagues us. Yet we also return to the place we yearn to escape. Pleasure is fleeting thus the escape is fleeting.
The searching for joy in pleasure is a thankless task. A road to nowhere. A journey of lessons in hardship and pain. Joy is the inner light. Contentment. It is the realisation of completeness that pleasure offers but never delivers. With true joy, there is still pleasure but it is an addition. Unregulated pleasure is addiction. Addiction is joyless. It is a thankless pursuit. A beating by an invisible assailant. It is the unending pursuit of escape from the addiction via the addiction.
The pursuit of pleasure may be a fools path, but addiction doesn’t seek the foolish. It can trap anyone. Anywhere. It will take your life and claim it as it own. It will chase away love and prosperity. It will bankrupt and destroy. The end of alcohol use is another chance around the monopoly board. It is the advance to go. It is the second chance to walk the path of joy. To connect with the soul. To find the light that alcohol tried to destroy but never could. The light within burns bright. It always will. It doesn’t disappear we are just blinded to its beauty. In turn, we are blind to our beauty. Alcohol makes us haggard. It distorts reality. Turns us against ourselves. It offers joy but delivers pain.
The joy we seek in alcohol becomes available when we remove alcohol from our lives. The peace we seek exists in the clarity of sobriety. The clarity of sobriety brings decisiveness. Action leads to peace. Inaction and escape lead to resentment of the self. Self-hatred leads to pain. The pain needs medicating. Alcohol offers that relief but delivers more pain. Well, it did for me. That was my escape. For some, it’s shopping, sex, drugs, porn, exercise. Whatever gives pleasure and offers an escape from the current pain. Alcohol was my emergency exit from life. But at the bottom of the stairs down that escape was only more of the same. The cycle continued. I was trapped in the search for joy. The path of pleasure isn’t a path. It is a circle. Frustration ensues at the constant mistakes. Returning to the same old situations. The same old shame and guilt. It builds in severity. The pain increases and as a result, the amount of medication gets greater. Addiction is inevitable.
Pain becomes the norm. It becomes our friend. Pain is what we know. It is there for us because it is constant. But it isn’t the only option. The fear of leaving pain and venturing into joy is frightening. It is the stumbling block that trips us into the cycle. It is the illusionary chain that holds in the turmoil. There is no way but through. On the other side of the fear lays the path of joy. It is ours if we want it. If we aren’t afraid to embrace its simplistic beauty.
When the chaos begins to calm it can be frightening. Peace can be overwhelming. Especially when the noise of our mind has been a constant chaotic companion. But the lack of inner noise isn’t the same as going deaf. It is the beginning of finally beginning to see and hear truly for the first time. It is the road to enlightenment. To awakening. It is the uniting of the self and soul. Embracing each other in an ethereal hug. A bonding beyond the cosmos. It is the discovery of the light that we sought for an eternity. It is the understanding of the mistakes. It is the realisation that those mistakes were part of the learning. That without those mistakes we would never be able to be free. That without the guilt and shame we wouldn’t learn to forgive ourselves. That self-hatred can grow to self-love.
The inner void is filled with inner joy. Pleasure is fleeting and needs to be refilled. Joy is a permanent filling of the void. It is the warmth that radiates from within. It is the road we thought we were walking with alcohol but had been fooled by false promises. It is sobriety. It is clarity. It is the greatest gift in life. Not just for us but it makes us the people we were destined to be. It makes us the people that others want to be. They will ask how we got there? How did we find the path? How did we find our way from the darkness into the light? Not only because of the lessons we learned but because of love. Shown to us by others who had made the same mistakes. They made us realise that love is possible from within. Genuine love for the self and each other. Beyond romance. Beyond expectation of reciprocation. It radiates from within.
Every day becomes a gift. A JOY to be spent in wonder. Bad days come and go but the balance towards good days begins to shift. Worry can set in. Worrying about the bad things that will arise. Eventually, we learn to deal with them when they arise. It is self-belief that makes us at ease. We are comfortable. We are present and we are free.
If not we continue to chase the nightmares dressed as dreams. Keep making mistake after mistake. Instead of bathing in the light, we stagger in the darkness. Lost. Wandering and wondering. Believing that to carry on is the only option. If we just keeping going down the same road it will magically happen. That salvation will happen with a flash of lightning. Divine intervention will save us. Or alcohol will cure the problems it is causing. Because it can’t possibly get darker? Keep going down the same road if you think that it can’t…
Choose the light. Stop. Believe the ones that have learned the hard way.
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