February 10, 2009
I just returned from a raw food/permaculture retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii. What struck me most about the Big Island are the presence and the energy of the active volcanoes there.
It is really something to see the red hot molten lava constantly flowing from the ground literally creating new earth with each passing minute.
Seeing this red hot lava issuing constantly from the earth got me thinking about the role of passion in our lives. Passion is the fiery energy and emotion that is the prime engine of action in each of our lives.
Very little that is truly creative or significant is ever created without the presence of some kind of passion from the person or people involved in the particular creative event.
There are some people who see passion as something that has no place in spiritual life. Oftentimes, passion is actually viewed as a destructive element in one's spiritual practice. It is seen as an influence that can be, at best a distraction and, at worst the source of some kind of evil.
Yet, if examined carefully, a practice and a life without passion is a place with no depth and with no significant impact.
Real spiritual life requires great initiative, creativity and devotion. When we undertake a deeply spiritual life, we are setting out on a mission in which we are sure to encounter many obstacles (both internally and externally) on our way to our desired objectives.
In order to meet and persist through these particular challenges, we need the full capacity of our mental, emotional and physical resources. In order to maximize our reserves and resources, we require great stores of passion. There can be little doubt about this.
Without the necessary amount of passion, our response to any perceived challenge will most likely be flat, without intensity and with little endurance.
Now, let us examine what exactly passion is and how we can raise the level of passion in our own lives, especially in a way that adds to our lives positively and not in the negative ways that passion is often associated with.
Passion, for me, is the energy of life and of the natural world. When a person is connected to life and to the natural world on a deep physical and psychic level, the energy of passion flows through that person and everything that person does. We can see this clearly in children and younger people. They have not as of yet lost their deep connection to the natural world and thus, have deep reserves of passion and energy.
The reason why many older people do not have these same reserves of passion and energy is that poor health due to lifestyle and heavily conditioned beliefs tend to interfere with a person's capacity to remain deeply connected to life and the natural world. When we have strong and youthful bodies and open minds, we naturally have a deep affinity to the life force that flows through the natural world.
Now, it is important to say here that passion by itself is not enough. In fact, it is true that passion without discrimination and intelligence will most likely lead to actions that are self destructive in nature.
Many people are afraid of having any amount of passion in their lives precisely due to this reality. There are many people who will consciously find ways to decrease the possibility of passion in their lives so as to avoid the intensity and complications that arise from the presence of passion.
If you are a person that is not interested in creating anything of great worth or significance in your life than passion is something that you can easily do without. However, if you are a person who wants to live a rich and vital life filled with meaning and inspiration than passion is something that you cannot do without.
A life with passion is a life that is less easy to control. It is oftentimes a life that is more chaotic and challenging in general. It is a life that necessitates intelligence, sensitivity and responsibility.
The most destructive kinds of actions that result from passion are those that are combined with ego-centered behavior. That is, those actions that result from a person that acts only for the benefit or profit of him or herself.
It is important to have at least an intellectual understanding about the spiritual view of one's self in order not to be motivated purely by ego-centered action.
The spiritual view of one's self is that there is no actual separate entity that is known as the self. The spiritual view is that everything, even the self itself is an aspect of the Divine reality.
This means that any action that is motivated by the idea that the self is a separate and distinct entity goes against the nature of spiritual law.
When a person understands this and ultimately acts from this place than the destructive aspects of passion can easily be avoided. At the very least, this understanding of spiritual law will illustrate the folly of combining action with ego-centered motivations.
When we act from a place of benefiting the greater good, then passion becomes an engine for noble, inspired action.
All of us who believe ourselves to be serious yoga or spiritual practitioners then have a responsibility to build great passion in our selves and our lives.
Passion is the kind of spiritual "fuel" that can ensure great success in our practice, our studies and any of our inspired undertakings. If we are to accomplish great things in our practice and in our lives, the role of passion is a critical one.
Just remember that the inclusion of greater passion in our lives means that we also need to add greater amounts of discrimination, responsibility and understanding as well. One without the other usually leads to incomplete action of some kind or another.
Finding ways to greater passion means that we need to find ways to forge a greater connection to life and to the natural world.
This means taking greater care of our mental, emotional and physical health. Making sure that there is increased harmony and balance on all levels. Clean food, air and water are essential to this process.
Equally important is the care of our mental and emotional lives.
Naturally, when there is balance and harmony in this way, both internally and externally, you will find there will be a natural increase in passion and energy.
Remember, that it is this very energy that is the stuff that miracles are made of.