In “Indulgence… Not Compulsion,” LaVey describes the chief difference between indulging in our desires and being compelled to do something, even if it is enjoyable: choice. It is lack of choice that produces a compulsion, and a compulsion perpetuates the lack of choice when a person is powerless to resist it. Addictions of all kinds, whether they are physical or psychosomatic, are perfect examples of compulsion. When we are free to explore our desires in a safe way so that they need harm no one, we are set free from the artificial chains that inevitably produce compulsions. And it is not just pleasure that some people fear, but also pain. Many people flee from the “negative” emotions like pain and sorrow that produce suffering, never allowing themselves to feel these like they do the “positive” emotions. This is folly. One look at the BDSM community will easily dismiss the notion that pain is always bad, and it is widely understood that delaying gratification can enhance pleasure later. Sorrow can also induce a deeper appreciation for the things we have now, a topic I discussed previously in “The Radiant Dark.” Running from these emotions and seeking only to feel pleasure is itself a compulsion we ought to avoid.

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