Study of the Isolate Way: Second Precept

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by nerfherder, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member

    2. mi-ni tanoshimi o takumazu

    Tokitsu: Do not seek pleasure for its own sake
    Wilson: Do not scheme for physical pleasure.

    Mi: "the body" "oneself"
    Tanoshimi: "pleasure" "enjoyment"
    Takumazu: negative form of the verb takumu, which means "to elaborate, look for a good means"

    On the face of it, this particular precept is an absolute negation of the idea of Indulgence. Indulgence (as opposed to compulsion) is the idea of a joyous celebration of the senses; choosing to enjoy good food, good drink, good company, whatever we would engage in, in full awareness and consciously present in the moment, what brings us joy.

    While I was actively training in Hapkido, I wrote the following:
    Some level of self-discipline is required to make the mental shift to "every minute training" (as my instructor likes to suggest).

    Yet for me, class time, stretch time, practice time is something where I experience feelings that go beyond merely pleasant. Enjoy it? It's reaching the level of a passion for me. Am I seeking pleasure for its own sake as I train? I am not seeking pleasure, but the seeking, the finding, and sometimes the not-finding give me a joy that goes beyond merely "pleasant."

    Tokitsu mentions the views of others who consider Musashi's extreme pronouncements on this as masochistic in nature. Who is renouncing pleasure? I certainly am not. A good many pleasant things are pleasant - but do not give me the sheer cutting joy of training. Am I eventually going to end up focusing on that which is essential? Is that the inevitable outcome of this Work I find myself doing?

    This in the author's notes caught my eye: "There is old age in youth, death in life, hatred in love, separation in meeting, bitterness in pleasure, and so on."

    I don't have a way to explain the gut feeling there, but is it approaching an understanding of the inside-out spinning circle of our own creation, destruction and recreation of the Self?
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    To not seek pleasure for its own sake: I believe this applies specifically to pleasure as sensual gratification, gratification of the senses in and of themselves and frivolous amusement. I do not believe it is meant to prohibit seeking joy.

    To not scheme for pleasure:

    "Scheme" has the meaning of subterfuge. Of concealed and covert maneuvering or plotting. It has an aspect of taking somebody by surprise, even by deception. There is even an element of conquering, as a commander in the military might maneuver to catch an enemy by surprise or at a disadvantage.
    How this might apply to pleasure seeking:

    With each of the above pairs of opposites the positive pole is enhanced by the presence of its opposite.

    It is said that to appreciate or to perceive anything sensory we need to have experienced its opposite or its absence.

    Bitterness in pleasure and the denial of pleasure are forms of pleasure. Pain and abstinence, have in human experience been encouraged or sought in the realm of pleasure or thinking about it. We know there are people who experience pleasure by self-denial or pain and suffering.

    These are extreme cases and are to be avoided, as should the indulgence of desires for gratification.

    How to integrate these 3 statements: Do not seek sexual or other frivolous pleasures for themselves or preoccupy oneself with their absence. Do not look to another solely as a source of pleasure or a tool for such. To do so degrades the hunter as well as the prey. Pleasure is a bi-product of living well. It is not something to be sought in itself or put above any other thing. Pleasure does not advertise itself. And what may be advertised as pleasure may be altogether different. Recognize that pleasure comes in many guises, and can be found masquerading in all things.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  3. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    In this clarification, he seems to be saying there is no one thing; that there is no "pure" thing in the sense of there being an essential essence of any one thing, even those things that seem, in the moment, to be one thing. "...and so on." indicates an infinite extension of things that are not one thing, though they may appear so.

    He may be talking about potential, and about the opposites contained in all things. He is definitely talking about Time and what is real and what is not real for all time, which is a different way of seeing and very wise.


    "Do not seek pleasure for its own sake."

    Two Ways of Seeing this, for me.

    There is no such thing as the essence being sought when one is seeking to duplicate a remembered moment of pleasure. A myriad of unrepeatable events created the pleasurable memory sought, created the pleasurable moment remembered.

    In seeking that moment, you will lose this one.

    More importantly, simply be present to what is, be present fully and solely to savoring Now. Nothing ever holds still, and cannot be duplicated. If you are remembering a past pleasure and comparing it to this moment or if you are anticipating a future pleasure and savoring it in place of this moment you will never be truly present to any moment. Your life will be one of anticipation or regret, but never presence.

    That would explain the nature of the clarification.

    Now I will read the other postings.

    Thank you Nerfherder.

    Thinking in these ways is changing my thinking parameters. I love that.


  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Looking at it this way there is the contrast between being and coveting.

    Almost between pleasure and fetish. Looked at from this dimension, scheming for pleasure or gratification would be a fetish, that is a course of action to which one has an excessive attachment.
    Yes, I think this is it. This would be only being. Open, present and involved in the moment. Only yes or no.
    This statement, Cedar, captures the essence of being, the treasure that comes from presence and the respect for self and other. In the moment and nothing more.
    If we fetishize pleasure or even love, we forsake it. It will never, ever be there. Because the attachment will dominate.

    Because doing so makes the pursuit of pleasure into something else: aberration, battle, debasement, yearning, lack; these inconsistent with sweetness, which is pleasure at its root.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  5. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member

    What's interesting in your responses is you're anticipating future precepts. When I first started this project with other friends, we were looking at it from a specific religious/philosophical perspective. There is a real gift in seeing this through the filters of other perspectives. :)
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Perhaps this is related to the design principle of "form follows function". Which is to say, that how things actually work is most important - looks are secondary. It is easy to design things that look good... and don't work well. If in life, we are seeking the end result, without going through the right process, we fail. We need to seek the right process and focus on it.
  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    This is something to remember. We are living a life; we do live in time. Doing what we do in the moment we are in with our whole hearts, concentrating on the Now, which it always is, will bring us through in a particular direction where we can never arrive ~ but our direction, the nature and heart of our journey will be correct because we are Present in each passing moment.

    We are living consciously.

  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think Nerf's comment here is consistent with the guidance provided by Wilson and Tokitsu, to not scheme for pleasure and to not seek pleasure for its own sake.

    Pleasure found through "good food, good drink, good company" is the essence of life. I would add to this pleasure through good work, good friendship and good play.

    What is the difference between pleasure sought for itself, and pleasure which comes from engagement in life itself? Is this a pedantic or essential distinction?

    I think the latter. It is a matter of style, the manner of doing something.

    Let's look at the pursuits that Nerf points out, good food, good company...Good food involves more than just the eating. The concept of the meal. The gathering of its ingredients. The attention to preparation, deciding upon flavors. The menu. Condiments. The serving and beverage. Possibly eating with others. The table. And all that goes with that. What gives a meal its distinction and its meaning are stylistic elements. How we set about doing something. How we get there. The means and not the end in itself.

    Dining in a restaurant. The ceremony of it. The ambiance. Even finding parking. The pressure. The anticipation. How far to walk? Crowded or not. The diners. Who are they? Choosing. Sneaking to look at other people's plates. Communicating with the waiter. The presentation. The space. Colors. Lighting. Booths or tables. A favorite? Windows or lack of them. Another favorite: The noise of and animation of everybody together. The arriving and departing. Feeling together with strangers. Coming together to eat. Never to be seen again. Gathering ones coats and putting them on to go out into the dark, damp street. Street lights. Walking to the car. Style.

    In Guatemala, we loved a small family style restaurant, run by an old woman. Now old, she had been a red head!!! (On re-reading I remembered her nickname: La Concha. And that was what her restaurant was informally called: "La Concha's.")

    The restaurant was at the back of a tiny bakery/grocery store. In front of the cash register was maybe 50 sq ft.

    The few tables in back were long and family style, where you would sit at the next available space. The walls were lacquered red. Sun streaming in. The food was prepared next to us. Without a separate kitchen. Diners were in the kitchen.

    When diners, strangers most of them, finished eating and rose to leave, each would make eye contact with each of the other patrons and say, "buen provecho." Translated roughly this would be, have a good appetite or eat well. I did.

    While the food was marginal, I never ate better in my life. (To find food I liked I asked for a large composed salad, vegetables fresh all. Or put another way, with all of the fresh vegetables that could be had. Plenty of fresh chopped boiled beets (remolachas in Spanish), cucumbers, boiled potatoes, and chopped eggs, tomatoes, and iceburg lettuce. With salt and vinegar as a dressing. And a tiny bit of mayonnaise on the side. It was divine. I lost so much weight. That became my principle meal. Twice a day. (I forgot the 2 bottles of Guatemalan beer.)

    The point I am making is that some of the most pleasurable meals in my life I enjoyed despite the simplicity of the food.

    I have had meals in fine restaurants, the kind that people obsessively seek out and pay hundreds of dollars to enjoy. Restaurants that obsessively fascinate their patrons.

    The word fetish comes from the Portuguese word for obsessive fascination.

    The pleasure of dining at fine restaurants in a metropolis, I want to enjoy again (with M). I will certainly enjoy the food. But I will be seeking the experience as much as the pleasure. And that is what will make the difference. I will exhilarate in the style and not the substance.

    I think this is what Insane meant in her comment about this precept that form follows function. *I am also thinking here about the Slow Food movement.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015