All Is One Movement


I used to believe that everything was ultimately motivated by one of two things- the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. I thought that on some level, whenever I made any choice, I had decided I was going to achieve one of these two goals through the decision that I’d made.

When I ate a hamburger a McDonald’s, I was either doing it because I was famished and needed the massive boost of everything it contained, or I wanted the happy feelings that came from eating a gigantor Double Big Mac.

When I pursued relationships with others, I was either trying to stave off loneliness, or pursuing the enjoyment of romantic conquest.

I see now that all of my decisions are, in fact, motivated by both simultaneously. It is merely my focus that was different. My focus, I believe, is determined by which result I stand closer to- pleasure, or pain. The reality is that all my decisions, and all my actions, are part of one continuous movement away from pain and toward pleasure.

I heard someone liken time to a wolf, always chasing behind us. I have taken that analogy and used it to describe this single movement inherent in my every decision and action.

In the diagram at the beginning of this post, pain, which comes from unfulfilled need, is the wolf ever chasing behind me. Pleasure, which is the satisfaction of need, is the rabbit I am ever chasing before me. If I stop moving, not only will I never catch up to the rabbit (pleasure), but the wolf (pain) will catch up with me.

If I try to move faster, the rabbit matches my pace, zigzagging all over, impossible to catch and hold. As I move faster, the wolf not only moves faster as well, but I become easier for it to follow with all my clamor. Moving faster is also harder for me to sustain, and wears me down sooner.

If I move more slowly and carefully, the rabbit slows down and it is easier to approach. As I move more carefully, the wolf has a harder time tracking me and stalking me effectively, and slows his approach as well.

If something slows me down, and the wolf is near, it is him that I am focused on. If the wolf is far behind, and I am close to the rabbit, it is him that is my focus.

So, being idle means a quicker death, and moving faster means a quicker death. Moving slowly and carefully means catching up with pleasure and avoiding pain.

3 thoughts on “All Is One Movement

  1. Could it be that both are parts of the mind, and if we just sit, we will see the illusion of both? Just a thought. Ooops, did not mean to make a pun. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

    • When I think of pain, I mean that which is caused by unmet *basic* needs, such as food, sleep, social needs- needs of survival. that’s why i thought the wolf was a good symbol- you’re dead if you ignore him.

      I’ve heard similar things to what you suggest in other places. It is an intriguing idea.

      I have begun taking in a lecture series on Buddhism. I just got into a lecture called ‘All is Suffering’ (dukkha?) which, if I recall, is one of the four noble truths (I hope I don’t sound too ignorant if I’m getting these wrong). I hope to gain a proper understanding of the Buddhist views on overcoming suffering.

      I’m going to think on your idea this weekend.

      BTW- I have been secretly envious of your meditation practice whenever I read anything about it. I had been having a very hard time maintaining a meditative state, until I listened to a Buddhism-inspired guided meditation recording. I had been ‘contriving’ my breathing as I tried to be mindful of it, trying to force it to be diaphragmatic. Following the instructions of the recording, was able to maintain the state when I just let my body breath on its own. Today, I read one of your posts mentioning the retreat in Sri Lanka and I was SO INSPIRED (rather than my usual envy). I’m combing your blog for everything meditation-related now.


      • To tell the truth, I’d gotten away from meditation for a number of years. Then a huge traumatic event happened that almost forced me back into the practice. Since then, I’ve learned to enjoy the process. I’ve learned to appreciate meditation because I’m seeing changes in my thoughts, feelings, and reality. Now I see that every great teacher had been trying to guide me towards a consistent meditation practice. Buddhist monks, Aikido Senseis, Wayne Dyer, Amma (The Hugging Saint), and Surfing Gurus all told me that meditation is the key to life.
        As soon as I am able to get childcare, I want to do a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat. Maybe you can join me.
        {{{hugs}}} Kozo

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