Over the last few weeks my dad had a visit from his ex-wife from long ago. She is a Jewish american, now 81 years old, and on the return leg of a long journey through Israel, Greece and Jordan, visiting places and friends she had known for a long time, she stopped by in the Netherlands. We got the impression that she knew that she wasn’t going to be able to do this again, and so that this was kind of a saying goodbye tour.
She was staying with my dad and he had asked me whether I could take over accompanying her for a day, to free him up to go to a concert. So I took her to a lovely museum, and travelling on the way back by train we were discussing life and everything. Then she said to me that it wasn’t enough just to drift through life, that one had to have a passion, something that really gave you joy. Now I respect and love her tremendously, she is a wonderful lady, but this set me to thinking.
Buddhism generally doesn’t encourage you to have passions, because passions tend to be things you cling to. It leads to a very free and peaceful mode of existence, you often hear that reflected in the voices of the more advanced monks, with a certain joy and focus. But do you think that to be a complete human being one needs to have passions? Things that you could let go of but that you keep?
Would you agree that without passions you tend to end up drifting, unmotivated in life?
When Peter Gabriel released the music he did for the Last Temptation Of Christ on an album called Passion, I didn't get the reference at all. I thought it was referring maybe to a lyric or something inside. Then later when I encountered the phrase The Passion of the Christ I was equally confused.
All of which is to say that the word has so many meanings that for it to work in Buddhism I think would depend on your definition.
I heard TNH translate compassion to an audience as "to suffer with." Made sense to me and changed my idea of what passion meant.
Passion in romance, however, still has a positive connotation for me. But only up to a point.
Speaking of TNH, I have noticed in his talks that he advises us to not get caught up in our projects. It struck me that he made sure to point out that aspect of life when discussing where we get stuck or when our minds start to run. But I also know I need to remember that he never said not to have projects. Dude has like 100 books or something.
I think it might be different related to different lives of different people. I don't know anything of how Buddhist doctrine relates to the idea of a passion. But of the people I am close to my brother has a passion for mushroom hunting and hiking. My girlfriend has a passion for music. Me and my mom have things we do with our time to have a satisfying time but not really passions quite??
Getting absorbed in your passion, when done mindfully, is akin to meditation.
I think Buddhism itself can be a passion too.
I've also read (can't remember where) that mastery of an art is also simultaneously working with awareness potentially. That makes me think of how if I recall that awareness practice is made use of in Japanese Buddhism with their painting and poetry and tea ceremony etc.
I would say I have a passion for Buddhism but that doesn’t mean I get “excited” when I read a Sutta or come across an inspiring dhamma talk on YouTube.
I’d also say I have a passion for sport but that is slowly fading. It’s just Groundhog Day really! Your team wins one week and loses the next....repeat!
Certainly in computer programming there is a mental state known as flow which is akin to meditation. It is like your awareness of body and mind disappears completely and you are totally involved in the act of creation, solving one problem after the next out of seemingly inexhaustible supplies of energy and innovation. It’s a very productive state, for as long as it lasts. I believe athletes experience this too.
Perhaps Buddhism can be a passion, I’ve encountered both young and old passionate Buddhists. And things within Buddhism can be passions, for example the poem Verses of the Faith Mind by the third Zen Patriarch Sosan has always inspired me.
But I think it’s not quite the same. My ex-stepmother who came to visit has a number of strong passions in her life, for creating jewellery out of glass beads and for crafts in general. She goes to markets and craft stores and all kinds of interesting places driven by these passions. I think she meant something like that, something that brings you out into the world and makes you strong.
Being unmoved by our passions is a high state. Being driven by our hobbies is just justified trivia. It is not what you do but how ...
For example people who are unmotivated are unwell/unskilful. Dispassion in the Buddhist sense is passion discipline or focussed effort. This is why Buddhists can craft and do without being drowned and swamped ...
I think she meant something like that, something that brings you out into the world and makes you strong.
Nothing does that for me anymore.
To be honest with you, the description you've given above seems more like reinforcing the sense of self we should be trying to remove.
Or maybe I've misunderstood the thread
The one thing I have done for 15 years, consistently, to the best of my ability, could, I suppose (by some) be called 'a passion'.
How many of us can say we have done something voluntarily, without obligation, when we could have just walked away, but did not, out of deep affection and a sense of commitment?
No, not parenthood;
Not a passion I see fit to give up.
Bless you @federica 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻❤️❤️❤️
"Living".... I guess life is my passion ....Life.....there's never a dull moment...
I think it’s interesting the different views that have come out of this. Federica’s is closest to what I would have called a passion, something she has done for a long time.
An internet blurb, indicating one way the word is used in Psychology:
I think this is a useful point - is the passion obsessive, is it using you, or are you using it?
As my semi-imaginary master Katagiri Roshi once said (more or less) - Desire is desire, and what are you going to do with it?
My passion - my calling, if you will - was complex, and I was living in it once. Then circumstances changed, and living it became largely impossible. The only thing that remained was painting, and I continued to do that while still clinging (obsessively?) to the notion that circumstances would change again and return me to where I was previously.
They didn't, and I wasted a lot of time and grief waiting for them. Then, later on, I finally had to accept that I was stuck in the slime of the past, the clock was not going to turn back - and at that point my obsessive passion became harmonious.
Passion is like a big, ill-tempered snake - what's the best way to catch it?
If your paid work can be called a passion then caring for individuals with intellectual disabilities and to help people in general is my passion.
Between the ages of 12 and 15 I volunteered 90% of my lunch hours to help out in the Special Ed department of my Junior High.
For 2 years (14-16) I volunteered my Sundays to being a porter at the hospital in my town.
In my High School (18) I volunteered weekly reading to a young man from the Special Ed class for an hour a day.
For 22 years I have worked as a Human Services Worker, a Residential Rehabilitation Worker, a Frontline Care Giver, and for the past 4 years I have been a Behavioral Interventionist.
I also a volunteer at our local Ground Search And Rescue as a searcher, currently in my second year.
I have been caring for people, paid and unpaid, for 28 years, if that's not a passion, I don't know what is.
I think that is a very good way of looking at it, obsessive versus harmonious passions. An obsessive passion takes over your life without you wanting it, while a harmonious passion provides purpose and you end up surfing on it and directing its waves.
For a long time I have had a thing with pottery, and once when I visited the United States my stepmother took me to see a nearby potter’s workshop where some famous artists did their potting. It was very special, a rare treat which I treasure in my memory.
I am cautious of reprisal here for breaking out overused Tolkien, but it did jump to mind: "Not all who wander are lost."
My life's passion is something I do not get paid for (alas!). Translation is my passion, but good luck finding a job translating Buddhist texts!
I do court reporting, copyediting, and transcription to make ends meet. It lets me unleash the inner spelling-and-grammar freak.
By the tail, with a crook-stick. And a large, deep bag.
I think that covers it.
It's a technique I use on the very rare occasions I ban people.
Works for me.
To leave this place a little better then I found it.
Peace to All
Dang, I feel the urge to do a painting of that ...
Happy to pose - fully-clothed...
Genealogy is my passion. Been doing it - unpaid - for 15 years. I love it.
Your life’s passion?
Boiled or baked ?
I've always thought of myself as being pretty unambitious and temperamentally moderate and dispassionate. At the same time though I've dedicated much of my adult life towards the pursuit of personal growth and self knowledge, to the point where they basically run in the background. I don't really feel passionate about it, like I have some great goal or vision, I'm more of a one foot in front of the other plodder about it.
Well said @person
It seems to be working for @Bunks
Deep down in the core of our Best Being, we know Her (The Truth). We know The Path and the qualities. We strive with gentle determination.
Some are tempted by progress, spiritual ambition, conviction, belief that enlightenment is close or a myth ...
... then our plodding becomes the gait of The Straightened ...
gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā
Bonus track ... Walk on, Bye ...
To be lacking in obsessive passions doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t deeply held feelings underneath. Still waters, deep grounds...
That is well-said, it speaks well of you that you know these things about yourself @person. My life has been much more in the theme of enthusiasms and passions, I’ve gone chasing after the things that I have felt enthusiastic about.
I would agree. I think passion is a combination of joy and meaningfulness that can be shared with or of service to others. My goal is to embody this through my work and my relationships - to "do good".
Welcome to our humble abode.
Do good? Simple eh! GOAL!!!!!!!
... meanwhile ... Pass I on ...
I will be in the humbled corner, feeling Nothing ... 🤦🏼♀️💗🦞
passion can be transmuted into right effort,energy,setting the 8fold wheel moment.
passion evolkes the phraise,beginner mind endless (passion)possibility,experts mind few(calm passion).zen...
A couple of years ago I read, The Push by the rock climber Tommy Caldwell. It recounts his journey from kidnap in Kyrgyzstan, through the loss of a finger and a broken heart, to completing the hardest rock climb in the world, a 19-day ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan. Anyway, the book is largely about the nature of passion:
I found this really inspirational to give myself permission to have a passion for climbing. Sometimes, though, this passion has definitely crossed over into a form of self-identification. If I'm not climbing as hard or as often as I'd like, it can feel as though I'm letting myself down. So having a passion, good, but identifying with your passion, not so good.
Edit: He goes on to say this, which I think is really interesting:
I think there is definitely some aspect of the truth in that. As long as you find something that allows you to express the best of yourself, then maybe it doesn’t matter so much what precisely it is.
As lay persona, ideally we turn our experience into the means of climbing from the mire into the purelands (They are the same place incidentally). Lay practice is a harder way than the cloistered but potentially more rounded and even faster with good motivation, intent and a guidance system ...