There are a lot of people who feel that the proper way of following a spiritual discipline is by denying their simple humanity. They have become so suspicious of pleasure that they think there is actual value in being miserable: 'I am a religious person so I shouldn't enjoy myself.' Although their aim is to achieve some form of eternal peace and happiness they make a point of denying themselves the everyday pleasures of life. They view these pleasures as obstacles, hindrances to spiritual development, and if they happen to experience a small amount of pleasure they feel uncomfortable. They cannot even eat a piece of chocolate without thinking they are 'sinful and greedy'. Instead of accepting and enjoying such an experience for what it is, they tie themselves up in a knot of guilt and self reproach: 'While so many people in the world are starving and miserable, how dare I indulge myself in this way!'
But such attitudes are completely mistaken. There is no reason at all to feel guilty about pleasure; this is just as mistaken as grasping onto passing pleasures and expecting them to give us ultimate satisfaction. In fact, it is just another form of grasping, another way of locking ourselves into a limited view of who we are and what we can become. Such guilt is a perversion of spirituality, not a true spiritual attitude at all.
(Extracted from 'Introduction to Tantra' by Lama Yeshe. Contributed by Alan Clewley)
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