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Lions Roar : July 2014
I Look at Pleasure and I Get Scared Philosopher Simon Critchley & the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Simon Critchley: The word “happiness” is strange. Is hap- piness pleasure? Coffee gives me pleasure—it makes me happy. There’s that basic model of happiness. Or you could say, the more coffee I get, the happier I get. That would be a quantitative idea of happiness. Or you could go qualita- tive and say, it’s not any coffee that makes me happy—I want good coffee. So it’s not just about pleasure, it has to be exquisite pleasure. Philip Seymour Hoffman: I would definitely say pleasure is not happiness because I kill pleasure. I take too much of it in and therefore make it unpleasurable, like too much cof- fee and you’re miserable. There’s no pleasure that I haven’t actually made myself sick on. So I look at pleasure and I get scared. But I have three children, and I think I’m happy when I’m with them and they’re okay. Something happens in that moment when I see them enjoy- ing each other in front of me, and they let me enjoy them in turn. I’d say it’s happiness. Simon Critchley: Nor- mally we think happiness is something that lies within. I don’t think that’s true. Happiness lies with- out, in our relationship to people, so happiness is achieved through acts of love. And what is love? Love is to give something that you do not have and to receive that over which you have no power. Love is not a contractual rela- tionship. It’s not a mutual exchange. It’s not “If I give you this, you give me that.” Philip Seymour Hoffman: I love my kids unconditionally. But when they’re enjoying each other and they let me enjoy them, there are moments when something else creeps in, and I’m not conscious of the love. I’m conscious of my own childhood. It’s like they’re taking me back and I’m going, “Oh, God, it’s so good to be young and enjoying each other.” It feels good. Simon Critchley: There’s the line from Magnolia: You might be through with the past, but the past isn’t through with you. A sixteenth-century Tibetan painting of Abheda, one of the original disciples of the Buddha. SHAMBHALA SUN JULy 2014 31