The purpose of pleasure and pain

The topic of pleasure and pain and its function in life is riddled with false assumptions, guesswork and misinformation.

The article on Wikipedia states: ‘One approach to evaluating the relationship between pain and pleasure is to consider these two systems as a reward-punishment based system. When pleasure is perceived, one associates it with reward. When pain is perceived, one associates with punishment.’

This reward-punishment notion is widely accepted but when pleasure and pain are observed through the lens of occult insight it’s refuted by easily observed facts.

Pleasure and pain in some degree are common to all forms of life (on all planes); and their function and observed effects conduce to education. Any pleasurable or painful experience undergone by any life-form contributes to the intelligence of the soul occupying that form.

You can easily confirm, through observation, that pleasure and pain are used to educate souls, and are the only means by which any soul can be educated to accomplish anything.

If destructive conditions arise a life-form must learn to avoid or overcome these conditions. It must run away (Saturn) or fight (Mars) and defeat the environmental menace – otherwise it may perish.

Through evolutionary experience the sensation of pleasure (stimulating actions that would quickly seek beneficial conditions) and the sensation of pain (stimulating actions that would preserve the organism from destruction) have developed to a high degree of intensity.


The capacity to feel pleasure was developed, little by little, by the evolving organism to inform it that it was being successful. And as an organism advances up the ladder of life, its sensitivity to pleasure increases.

Pleasure is a sensation which was developed to inform an organism of what things it should seek and tolerate.

It has one purpose: to inform your soul that a favourable condition is present. When, therefore, your soul triumphs over a condition which threatens your life or welfare, it experiences pleasure.

Pleasure gives rise to a consciousness of harmony.


The capacity to feel and recognize pain was gradually developed by the evolving life-form for the sole purpose of informing it that it was being destroyed: and as it advances its nervous system’s sensitivity to pain increases.

Pain has only one function: to inform your soul that a destructive condition is present and that it is failing in some measure to fully adapt itself to its environment. And your soul, being informed of this destructive condition, sets about, to the best of its ability, to avoid, destroy, or, otherwise overcome, this menace to your welfare.  

Pain gives rise to a consciousness of discord.

Your soul’s sensitivity to pain is one of its most valuable acquisitions because it keeps you informed as to how well you are faring in your daily life.

Ability is only developed through effort to overcome difficulties and a difficulty is a painful condition. Difficulties such as threatened destruction or the blocking of a strong desire cause your soul to register pain; but when it triumphs over threatened destruction, or realizes a strong desire, it registers pleasure.

You learned to overcome difficulties by encountering and striving to triumph over them: and like all life-forms you only learn through effort.

Pain, which is the consciousness of discord, drives your soul to effort; and pleasure, which is the consciousness of harmony, attracts your soul to effort.

So, your soul may be driven by pain or led by pleasure.

Pain is also the prod that nature (God) uses to compel life-forms to learn and accomplish tasks of greater and greater complexity.

Pleasure-harmony and pain-discord in character building

Hermetic astrology teaches that the aspects formed by the planets afford nature the assurance that there shall be no stagnation.

Squares and oppositions, and their corresponding influences, are testing forces which properly used enable you to build strength, initiative, resistance, determination and faith.

Instead of permitting easy living and inactivity they bring pressures to bear that arouse an inner thought-cell disturbance which, in turn, engenders a desire and determination to do something.

In the case of a birth chart square, the desire energies mapped by the two planets were never reconciled, and in the case of an opposition the desires mapped by one planet fought with the desires mapped by the other, each desire seeking supremacy.

The thought-cell desires mapped by both aspects are heavily charged with emotion and unless harmoniously reconciled will struggle and work within your soul or unconscious mind to attract unfortunate events and conditions.

Squares and oppositions impose outer-world discord – unpleasant situations and conditions. In your progressed chart they’re painful inner-astral-plane forces that do not permit laziness, idleness, inertia or slumber.

They indicate times when you’re predisposed to struggle (and suffer) – physically, mentally and emotionally; and if you do nothing to address the discord the thought-cell desires and activities set in motion will bring misfortune from which you try to escape.

In striving to overcome the difficulties, or endure with fortitude the misery and pain, they bring you have an opportunity to build character. Nature permits no stagnation; life-forms must struggle or perish.

Usually some distress is necessary before you begin to struggle to escape the pain; but when tough times result in great stress and strain your own thoughts have the power to engage in pleasant, harmonious thinking.

When everything is falling apart it is fine training to try to maintain inner harmony. When everything is going wrong it is the best form of discipline to maintain positivity and courage; and when losses take place you have the opportunity to test your ability to carry on.

Without the hard times your character would remain weak and soft.

Life however is not all stress and struggle.

Astrological discord stimulates character development which you put into practice during times of astrological harmony. That’s when you attract favourable environmental conditions, opportunities and advantages.

Progressed sextile and trine aspects indicate inner-world harmony when you can move ahead rapidly, not in the development of strength of character, but in using whatever strength, initiative, determination and resistance you have developed in times of discord and stress.

When a progressed trine or sextile comes along your outer-world environment becomes helpful and supportive and your character develops through accomplishment rather than struggle.

The hard training done under astrological discord is now ready to be put into practice as supportive environmental conditions promote personal progress and development.

Your intelligence and ability develops through pleasant and painful experiences and your character building takes two forms.

One promotes the development of an uncomplaining fortitude in the face of adversity: of acquiring the ability to maintain initiative, determination and faith in spite of disaster. In the vernacular, it is learning how to ‘take it’.

And the other promotes the development of the ability to prevent adversity: of taking the necessary precautionary measures that will avoid suffering and avert disaster. In the vernacular, it is learning how to ‘dish it out’.

Pleasure and pain are used to educate souls, and are the only means by which any soul can be educated to accomplish anything.

Author: Elbert Benjamine

Astrology for Aquarius – sharing our knowledge

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