Pleasures whose only remaining trace is shame

“These pleasures rule every material pursuit, but the zeal for such things achieves no goal, for there is no way, by nature, of preserving the momentary pleasure which people experience, so that the pleasure which they so zealously acquire is stored away for them. On the contrary, it is as though those who love pleasure have grasped some deceptive phantom. Its splendour disappears immediately, and it passes into non-existence.
Shame is the one trace of such a phantom which remains after the departure. It stamps a deep and enduring impression of these activities on these people. By means of these traces one might arrive at the point of discerning the nature of the beast, so far as it can exist, by using the skill of hunters who follow tracks. For they too recognize the animal by its track when the prey is not seen. If, then, a boar or a lion is made known by its peculiar tracks, it by all means follows that the nature of pleasure too is revealed by the track it leaves behind. Yet truly its track is shame. So it seems then, the pleasure which stamps such an impression on the soul is either, without doubt, shame itself, or is productive of shame.” St. Gregory of Nyssa, ON The Inscriptions of The Psalms, Book 1, Chapter 6

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