184 QUESTION: As this lecture [Lecture #184 The Meaning of Evil and Its Transcendence] says, there are things in me that I feel are wrong, evil. Yet I enjoy them – they feel pleasurable. But I feel guilty. For instance, I overspend money. I negate that aspect of myself completely. Can you help me?
ANSWER: This is a good example. I hope to hear many more personal problems like this, so I can help you specifically with them.
Now, what you describe is so typical. You negate everything about your destructive impulse. You are thus confronted with an insoluble predicament: either you give up all pleasure connected with overspending and irresponsibility in order to become decent, mature, realistic, self-responsible and safe, or you take pleasure from the negative trait but at the tremendous cost of guilt, self-deprivation, insecurity, and fear of not being able to run your own life.
Once you see that behind the compulsion to overspend and be irresponsible is a legitimate yearning for pleasure, expansion and new experience, this predicament will cease to exist. In other words, you must incorporate the essence of this wish without acting out the destructiveness of it.
You will then have much less difficulty putting the wish into effect in a realistic way that will not defeat you in the end. You are now stuck in battling with one of these typical either/or problems. How can you really want to give up irresponsibility if responsibility implies living on a narrow margin of pleasure, and confining your self-expression?
Since you do not really want to give up the irresponsibility, you feel guilty. Thus you reject that vital part of you which rightfully wishes to experience the pleasure of Creation at its fullest, but does not yet know how without exploiting others and being parasitic.
If, however, you can fully accept the beautiful force striving for full pleasure underneath the irresponsibility, and value it as such, you will also find how to give it expression without infringing on others, without violating your own laws of balance. You will not have to pay the needless cost of worry, anxiety, guilt, and inability to manage well. You only pay that when you sacrifice peace of mind for a short-lived pleasure.
The pleasure will be deeper, more lasting, and totally free of guilt when you combine its rightfulness with self-discipline. If you can reconcile desire for pleasure with self-discipline and responsibility, you will express the inner knowledge that says, “I want to enjoy life. There is unlimited abundance in the universe for every contingency. There is no limit to what is possible. There are marvelous things to be experienced. There are many beautiful means of self-expression.
“I can realize them and bring them into my life if I can find another, not self-destructive way to express and obtain them. The very need for self-responsibility and self-discipline in their most profound sense will make increasing joy and self-expression possible. Without these traits, I must remain deprived and in conflict.”
The discipline will be much easier to acquire, the willingness to do so will grow, when you know that you have a perfect right to use it for the purpose of increasing pleasure and self-expression.