The Five Dimensions of Pleasure
By JR of Zen Presence
The world was created for man's pleasure. We were put on this Earth to experience all of the pleasures available. Once we have experienced all of these pleasures, our life will be complete and we can live, as was said of Buddha, "in the world but not of the world." From the orgasmic taste of chocolate to the bliss of Enlightenment, it is our duty to experience it all.
To assist with this path, Rabbi Noah Weinberg has devised an amazingly truthful ranking system to describe what he calls the five levels of human pleasure. In Rabbi Weinberg's strata-casting of the five levels of pleasure, his arrangement explains why you wouldn't wish to trade any number of lower level pleasures for even one experience of the higher level pleasures. A person wouldn't trade 10 exotic sports cars for one of their babies, nor would someone who's achieved enlightenment exchange their experience for any amount of goods from the four lower levels. I've added my own thoughts below:
Level 5 - The Senses
The lowest form of pleasure is that which is gained from the five senses. This includes hamburgers, fast cars, sex, the smell of a flower, etc. While sensory pleasures are indeed the lowest level of happiness in the human experience, it is possible to co-mingle Level 1 with Level 5 pleasures through the techniques of Zen Buddhism. For example, it's possible to experience the temporal pleasures of driving a perfectly balanced automobile while experiencing the bliss of Oneness by concentrating entirely on the experience of driving. Please see the excellent book on this subject entitled, Zen Driving by K.T. Berger.
Level 4 - Love
After sensory delights comes love. Love, according to the book of Jewish law called the Talmud, is the emotion that arises when you focus on the goodness of another. The Rabbi makes a clear distinction between lust and love and says the former isn't "real" while the latter is only gained through obtaining deep knowledge about the their partner.
Level 3 - Purpose
Producing a positive change in the world, living out your true purpose - this is the only pleasure greater than love. The Rabbi writes: "What made Alfred Nobel, the wealthy Swedish businessman, establish the Nobel Prize? Nobel was the inventor of dynamite and one of the world's largest producers of explosives. When his brother died, the local newspaper made a mistake and printed Alfred's obituary instead of his brother's. When Alfred Nobel read it and saw that his life amounted to so much destruction and killing, he was devastated. "This is my life?! I've got to do something good." It was then that he decided to establish the Nobel Prize for those who do good in the world."
Level 2 - Creation
Creation brings us closer to the ultimate creator, God. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery. Before there was, there was nothing but the Infinite. And out of the Divine Essence sprung time, space, consciousness, matter, and energy. So as God created the finite from infinite canvas, so too may we create something out of nothing. Of course, in the human experience our "nothing" is actually something.
Level 1 - Enlightenment
The ultimate pleasure is, of course, to become one with the Ultimate Creator. This is a joy which doesn't fade, tarnish, or expire. It's everlasting and all-pervasive. It's the goal every human strives for, whether they are aware of it or not.