The Epicurean philosophy suggests that pleasure is a core principle out of which we can choose ethical, refined behaviour. True and reverent pleasure, to Epicurus, was something "small and slender," marked by an absence of the misery we bring on ourselves through craving, obsession, addiction, and excess.
Pleasure is related to joy through the act of enjoyment -- a softening of the mind into presence, alert and serene awareness, delight, and gratitude; while the body -- even while moving -- rests in the lush and vital gifts of feeling, sensation, expression.
To be alive is the foremost pleasure for those with an Epicurean bent...and, I think, for those with an "I Chingian" bent too. I don't know a lot about Epicurean principles, and the more I explore them, the more I'm reminded of Hexagram 15, MODERATION.
Moderation ... is a tranquil, settled sigh ... a sweet cooling of the mind ... unclouded vision ... being-in-the-middleness ... a ripening of intention into acting and living in harmony with all that is.
I believe that there is no peace more pervasive than that of a moderate mind. And how often are our minds in moderation...?
Yes, it sometimes seems hilarious to imagine our minds as balanced, tame, humble, at ease. Yet the Buddha, the I Ching, and current science understand that our minds are constantly inundated with new information -- in our age, it seems we're distracted by something every second. Where, in the mess and rush of our stuff and doing, is that "small and slender" thread of serene being-amid?
It rivers through the very middle of our lives, like a swath of silk; it's in our every breath as the potential of peace...if we would just rest ... for a moment ...
To cease the mind's nattering -- moreso, to step outside it, as into a garden in June -- for the length of one breath ... leads to another such breath, and another ...
Breath leads to hushing ... slowing ... release ... and calm. Calm brings on an intimate relation with what is ... and suddenly we notice the flow of fresh water into our throat as we sip at this sustenance; summer-soft breezes grazing our skin; beloved eyes to gaze into; one perfect peach perfuming our fingers and chin as we eat it. The moment-to-moment gifts of life made sacred, partaken of, and thanked for ... they are passing; they pass; and we bless each one when we know in our bones that everything passes ... As poet Jane Kenyon wrote, "one day it will be otherwise."
Until then, the gifts remain with our memory and we serve them by offering ourselves as sources of kindness and calm ...