Four Types of Pleasure
By Gil Locks
There are four types of pleasure in this world. Each is experienced primarily through its own sense. The lowest of these pleasures is physical pleasure. Imagine having your favorite food in front of you. It looks good. Your mouth actually begins to water. You pick it up and taste it. Boy, is that nice! The flavor fills your mouth, and you feel a genuine sense of enjoyment. As long as the food is proper to eat, this is a wonderful thing to do. It is permitted, even applauded. We are supposed to enjoy G-d’s wonderful creation.
The next higher type of pleasure is emotional pleasure. Emotional pleasure utilizes an entirely different sense than physical pleasure.
Imagine that you have been away from your family for a long time. You are arriving home on the train, and you look through the window and see them standing there waiting for you. You call out, but they cannot hear you. Your heart goes out to them. You love them so much. Emotional pleasure is much greater than physical pleasure.
The next higher pleasure is intellectual pleasure. Whereas physical pleasure is recognized through the physical senses, and emotional pleasure is recognized mainly through the emotional heart, intellectual pleasure is experienced primarily through the mind.
Imagine that you worked on a very important project for a number of years. If you can solve this problem you will be able to bring a great benefit to the world. It has been very frustrating. The solution has escaped your every effort. Then, the answer pops into your mind. You see that you really have the answer. How do you feel? You feel wonderful. Your mind soars. This pleasure is much greater than both emotional and physical pleasures.
Then there is the highest pleasure attainable in this world. It is an entirely unique pleasure. It is a joy that is not at all physical, but obviously, without the physical body you would not be here to experience it. Neither is it emotional, nor intellectual, although your heart and intellect surely recognize and respond to this pleasure. This is spiritual pleasure.
When one is blessed with the true spiritual blessing, i.e. when G-d reveals His Glorious Presence, you realize the truth of the words of the Sages, “Man is created solely to delight in G-d and enjoy the radiance of the Presence.” [i] Everything else in the world exists only to bring us to this moment.
[i] Ramchal, Mesillas Yesharim Chapter 1
from the April 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine