An Analogy of Salvation

The Hall of Pleasure

I now find myself back in the Great Hall again and, quite frankly, I am wandering. I am wandering because I do not know where to go next. But I see the gateway to a hall that I have heard of but never visited. It entranceway is broad and beckoning and lighted. Across the top of it is written “Hall of Pleasure.”

It is said that this hall contains great stores of lovely and elusive temptations, and I wonder whether the time has come for me to taste them. I carry with me the wisdom that I had acquired from the thinkers in the Hall of Philosophy and the numbers that I had gained in the Hall of Wealth and I decide that it is my turn now to sample the pleasures of life. Perhaps that is exactly what is needful for me at this time of life. I will let their intoxications flow into the void inside me and they will give me peace.

As I enter, I am surprised to learn that despite its rather sordid reputation, this hall contains no readily apparent evil. There are no disreputable persons, no sensuous women of the street attempting to entice me, no strangers in leather jackets hawking illegal powders, no salubrious movie houses or cheap bars.

Instead I am finding old friends and others that I would like to get to know. People I don’t know welcome me like an old friend and they are very accommodating to me, a stranger. I am content with their company and we speak of many things. We speak of where we have been, what we have seen and I learn the ease of dolce far niente, and it spreads its comforting arms around us all and holds us well into the evening. It is easy to stay here.

Pleasure comes in many forms in this place and I am seeing that too often those pleasures which are necessary and good merge with those that are “inappropriate.” It is hard to draw the line between them because the consequences become so terribly vague when one is living on the cusp of temptation. I can see that one must decide beforehand where the line will be, otherwise you will always move it. It is easy to step over the line; and once you do, even for just a minute, when you look back you can hardly believe how far back it is.

As I complete my passage from being introspective and philosophical to becoming a man of the world, I see more of the facets of life, but the problem bedevils me still. And it renders even this hall to be incomplete. I am coming to the point where I am admitting that the void is a part of life that must be accepted. There is no true contentment to be found, even here in the Hall of Pleasure. This ever-present specter of emptiness never ceases to haunt me. What good are these pleasures? Is there really nothing more?

I know that I don’t belong here. I can feel it, but I don’t know where to go. I will wander out into the Main Hall again.