what is the difference between bliss and pleasure?
Pleasure is physical, physiological. Pleasure is the most superficial thing in life; it is titillation. It can be sexual, it can be of other senses, it can become an obsession with food, but it is rooted in the body. The body is your periphery, your circumference; it is not your center. And to live on the circumference is to live on the mercy of all kinds of things that go on happening around you.
The man who seeks pleasure remains at the mercy of accidents. It is like the waves in the ocean; they are at the mercy of the winds. When strong winds come, they are there; when winds disappear, they disappear. They don't have an independent existence; they are dependent, and anything that is dependent on the other brings bondage. Pleasure is dependent on the other. If you love a woman, if that is your pleasure, then that woman becomes your master. If you love a man, if that is your pleasure and you feel unhappy, in despair, sad, without him, then you have created a bondage for yourself. You have created a prison, you are no more in freedom. If you are a seeker after money and power, then you will be dependent onmoney and power.
The man who goes on accumulating money, if it is his pleasure to have more and more money, will become more and more miserable -- because the more he has, the more he wants, and the more he has, the more he is afraid to lose it. A double-edged sword: the more he wants... the first edge of the sword. Hence he becomes more and more miserable.
The more you demand, desire, the more you feel yourself lacking something, the more hollow, empty, you appear to yourself. On the other hand -- the other edge of the sword -- is that the more you have, the more you are afraid it can be taken away; it can be stolen. The bank can go bankrupt, the political situation in the country can change, the country can go communist. There are a thousand and one things upon which your money depends. Your money does not make you a master, it makes you a slave. Pleasure is peripheral; hence it is bound to depend on the outer circumstances. And it is only titillation. If food is pleasure, what actually is being enjoyed? -- just the taste! For a moment, when the food passes your taste buds on the tongue, you feel a sensation which you interpret as pleasure. It is your interpretation. Today it may look like pleasure and tomorrow it may not look like pleasure. If you go on eating the same food every day your buds on the tongue will become nonresponsive to it. Soon you will be fed up with it -- that's how people become fed up.
One day you are running after a man or a woman and the next day you are trying to find an excuse to get rid of the other. The same person, nothing has changed! What has happened meanwhile? You are bored with the other, because the whole pleasure was in knowing the new. Now the other is no longer new; you are acquainted with the territory of the other. You are acquainted with the body of the other, the curves of the body, the feel of the body. Now the mind is hankering for something new. The mind is always hankering for something new. That's how mind keeps you always tethered somewhere in the future. It keeps you hoping, but it never delivers the goods -- it cannot. It can only create new hopes, new desires. Just as leaves grow on the trees, desires and hopes grow in the mind. You wanted a new house and now you have it -- and where is the pleasure? Just for the moment it was there, when you achieved your goal. Once you have achieved your goal, your mind is no longer interested in it; it has already started spinning new webs of desire. It has already started thinking of other, bigger houses. And this is so about everything.
Pleasure keeps you in a neurotic state, restless, always in turmoil. So many desires, and every desire unquenchable, clamoring for attention. You remain a victim of a crowd of insane desires -- insane because they are unfulfillable -- and they go on dragging you into different directions. You become a contradiction. One desire takes you to the left, another towards the right, and simultaneously you go on nourishing both the desires. And then you feel a split, then you feel divided, then you feel torn apart, then you feel like you are falling into pieces. Nobody is responsible. It is the whole stupidity of desiring pleasure that creates this. And it is a complex phenomenon. You are not the only one who is seeking pleasure; millions of people just like you are seeking the same pleasures. Hence there is great struggle, competition, violence, war. All have become enemies to each other because they are all seeking the same goal, and they all can't have it; hence the struggle has to be total. You have to risk all -- for nothing, because when you gain, you gain nothing, and your whole life is wasted in this struggle. A life which might have been a celebration becomes a long, drawn out, unnecessary struggle.
When you are so much after pleasure you cannot love, because the man who seeks pleasure uses the other as a means. And to use the other as a means is one of the most immoral acts possible, because each being is an end unto himself, you cannot use the other as a means. But in pleasure-seeking you have to use the other as a means. You become cunning because it is such a struggle. If you are not cunning you will be deceived, and before others deceive you, you have to deceive them.
Machiavelli has advised pleasure-seekers that the best way of defense is to attack. Never wait for the other to attack you; that may be too late. Before the other attacks you, you attack him! That is the best way of defense. And this is being followed, whether you know Machiavelli or not. This is something very strange: people know about Christ, about Buddha, about Mohammed, about Krishna; nobody follows them. People don't know much about Chanakya and Machiavelli, but people follow them -- as if Machiavelli and Chanakya are very close to your heart!
You need not read them, you are already following them. Your whole society is based on Machiavellian principles; that's what the whole political game is all about. Before somebody snatches anything from you, snatch it from the other. Be always on guard. Naturally, if you are always on guard you will be tense, anxious, worried. And the struggle is such and it is constant. You are one, and the enemies are millions. For example, if in India you want to become the prime minister, then millions of people, who also want to become the prime minister, are your enemies. And who does not want to become the prime minister? One may say, one may not say. So everyone is against you and you are against everybody else. This small life of seventy, eighty years, will be wasted into some utterly futile effort. Pleasure is not and cannot be the goal of life. The second word to be understood is happiness.
Happiness is psychological, pleasure is physiological. Happiness is a little better, a little more refined, a little higher, but not very much different from pleasure. You can say that pleasure is a lower kind of happiness and happiness is a little higher kind of pleasure -- two sides of the same coin. Pleasure is a little primitive, animal; happiness is a little more cultured, a little more human -- but it is the same game played in the world of the mind. You are not so much concerned with physiological sensations; you are much more concerned with psychological sensations. But basically they are not different; hence Buddha has not talked about four words, he has talked about only two.
The third is joy; joy is spiritual. It is different, totally different from pleasure, happiness. It has nothing to do with the other; it is inner. It is not dependent on circumstances; it is your own. It is not a titillation produced by things; it is a state of peace, of silence, a meditative state. It is spiritual. But Buddha has not talked about joy either, because there is still one thing that goes beyond joy. He calls it bliss.
Bliss is total. It is neither physiological nor psychological nor spiritual. It knows no division, it is indivisible. It is total in one sense and transcendental in another sense. Buddha only talks about two words. The first is pleasure; it includes happiness. The second is bliss; it includes joy. Bliss means you have reached to the very innermost core of your being. It belongs to the ultimate depth of your being where even the ego is no more, where only silence prevails; you have disappeared. In joy you are a little bit, but in bliss you are not. The ego has dissolved; it is a state of nonbeing. Buddha calls it nirvana. Nirvana means you have ceased to be; you are just an infinite emptiness like the sky. And the moment you are that infinity, you become full of the stars, and a totally new life begins. You are reborn.
Pleasure is momentary, of time, for the time being; bliss is nontemporal, timeless. Pleasure begins and ends; bliss abides forever. Pleasure comes and goes; bliss never comes, never goes -- it is already there in the innermost core of your being. Pleasure has to be snatched away from the other; you become either a beggar or a thief. Bliss makes you a master. Bliss is not something that you invent but something that you discover. Bliss is your innermost nature. It has been there since the very beginning, you just have not looked at it, you have taken it for granted. You don't look inwards. This is the only misery of man: that he goes on looking outwards, seeking and searching. And you cannot find it in the outside because it is not there. Osho, excerpted from Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha,Volume 8, Chapter 5