Monday, May 16, 2011

God is Pain, God is Pleasure

Did you know that pain and intense, intense pleasure are activated in the same part of the brain, at least in a study done on women?  The Count of Monte Christo once claimed, and continues to claim to every reader who reaches the end of his lengthy vengeant story, that he would not have understood joy had he not understood pain.  Yet this study shows that somewhere, some more significant binding ties together pain and pleasure, not simply "understanding by contrast." 

This study also brings to mind the verses that call out for God's children, the benefactors of Prometheus, to live ever in sorrow, ever in deepest joy.  "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Phillipians) and yet "sorrow is better for the soul than joy" (Ecclesiastes)--"mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice," when somewhere in the world someone always has a reason to begin celebration and someone else a cause to weep.  I have often read these as a dual life, in which our deep internal joy for the love the Lord bears us carries us through the sorrows that prick us to the heart, as if our beings were marbled with joy and sorrow.

Yet perhaps, rather than marble, the joy and the sorrow come from the same stone.  This is a wondrous mystery, but perhaps God allows sorrow not that we might understand joy, but that we might be able to experience it.  It could be that the exercise of pain that we receive now only prepares us for the ability to feel the intense pleasures of heaven.  Pain itself does not harm anyone, and only serves as the warnings of unhealth, but the terrible practice of the intensity of its sensation perhaps strengthens the weak desires and tastes of our beings to really indulge in unbridled enjoyment.  Of course these things are metaphorical speculation...

But on a higher level, does this not lead us to consider the mystery of the nature of God himself?  Consider the consequences of pain to a God who feels so much more intensely than we do--after all, our vision carries a tiny piece of the visual spectrum, our smell only a bit of the possible sensations of the nose, surely our feelings and the emotions in that tiny hypothalamus must be very limited indeed compared with those of the Being of Infinity Himself!  Consider also how every time someone we love experiences joy, our hearts beat a bit faster--how much more must God, in whom exists ultimate love, thrill at the prospect of our happiness?  And if pain and pleasure are intimately connected, somehow, perhaps God is not merely marbled with pain and pleasure, but He himself is the severe, dangerous, yet incredibly beautiful source and combination of the whole intensity of both!  This thought makes me tremble and admire and love.

Information on pain and pleasure from Discovery Health
P.S. on the title--if p=true, reverse p does not necessarily equal true.  Neither pain nor pleasure are God.

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