Passion is needed for awakening. But it’s tricky. You can’t brute force your way to awakening, no matter how strong and pure (noble even!) your passion. You need passion, and you need freedom from passion. Sounds like a paradox! What’s a ‘seeker’ to do?
It depends what one means by ‘passion’? Obviously there is a history of using the language of ‘passion’ to denote what Wiki calls “the instinctive, emotional, primitive drives in a human being (including, for example, lust, anger, aggression and jealousy) which a human being must restrain, channel, develop and sublimate in order to be possessed of wisdom.”
There is also the Christian language around that word to describe the ‘passion’ - i.e. the suffering - of Christ.
But K’s use of the word passion, as I understand it, has to do with energy.
We are neither intense nor urgent and we are not urgent or intense because we haven’t got the energy. To look at anything, a bird, a crow sitting on a branch preening itself, to look at it with all your being, with all your eyes, ears, nerves, mind and heart, to look at it completely, requires energy… energy being passion. And you can’t find any truth without passion… I don’t know what significance you give to it, the feeling of complete passion, with a fury behind it, with total energy, that passion in which there is no hidden want…
But probably you are afraid of passion, because for most people passion is lust, passion that is derived from sex and all that. Or it may come from the passion that is felt through identification with the country to which we belong, or passion for some mean little god, made by the hand or by the mind; and so to us, passion is rather a frightening thing because if we have such a passion, we do not know where it will take us.
(The Awakening of Intelligence)
There is a difference, surely, between what K means by the word ‘passion’ and fanaticism, the so-called passion of people who want to destroy things, based on their belief in God, religion, ideology, political convictions, etc?
A seeker is to stay with feelings like envy, fear, greed, sorrow, despair, etc., when they arise, in spite of the urge to escape through thought.
Do you see attention as the thing to do whenever you find yourself in a mental bind?
Definitely. What I mean is something like: Passion is the energy of desire. Desire to awaken.
Ah, so that’s where you’re going with this - I should have known!
Obviously this is not what K meant by passion. Or, at least, this is not what K meant by desire.
Desire, according to K, is sensation plus thought. Thought makes an image, based on the memory of a sensation, and pursues that image. This does not lead to awakening; rather, it leads to more desire, along with its frustration.
There is a traditional view that we must purify our desires in order to find God. Perhaps this is what you have in mind?
Why is passion needed for awakening? JK had said that “to us, passion is rather a frightening thing because if we have such a passion, we do not know where it will take us.” So, what will turn that passion into action? Is it not courage? Is there not a price to pay to become awakened? And what could that price be?
By “pay attention” I was referring to what we’ve been talking about, i.e., stay with whatever it is you ordinarily escape.
Instead of getting your thrills at the precipice risking life and limb, explode and be done with such foolishness.
I will let San Juan de la Cruz respond:
The Conditions of a Solitary Bird
The conditions of a solitary bird are five:
The first, that it flies to the highest point;
The second, that it does not suffer for company, not even of its own kind;
The third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
The fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
The fifth, that it sings very softly.
Maybe something like. I see the desire to awaken as a primordial instinct, a drive to be home. Tremendous energy arises from that desire. In Sanskrit: mumukshutva.
But that would end the Quest.
Do these two poems (by Rumi and Rilke) resonate?
Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you,
As a fish out of water hears the waves . . . Come back. Come back.
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.
Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner—what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.
According to Wiki, mumukshutva (“drive, longing - for liberation”) is one of four behavioural attitudes that need to be present for the attainment of liberation (moksha) - the other three being an ability to correctly discriminate (i.e. true from false), dispassion with regards to the senses, and various virtues such as temperance, sense-restraint, forbearance, etc.
It would be interesting at some point if you could clearly articulate how your approach to the various questions we’ve been investigating into - such as ‘self’, ‘spiritual path’, ‘freedom’, ‘desire for liberation’, etc - differs, or is the same as, the general Advaita view. I haven’t studied Advaita Vedanta in the way I have studied Buddhism, so I’m still learning aspects of it as we go along.
Is your understanding of ‘self’, for example, similar to or different from the notion of jivatman in Advaita? Obviously there are also different ways of understanding what jivatman means (according to different traditions within Hinduism). One way of understanding it might be, for example, that it is a reflection of (universal) awareness cast on the form of the individual brain-body.
On the other hand, your understanding of freedom seems to be quite different from the Advaita notion of moksha - because you present freedom (on the Freedom thread) as the freedom to use imagination and creativity; whereas moksha (as I understand it) has to do with the freedom or liberation from ignorance, which is also liberation from the causes of suffering.
That they do. The yearning!
My relationship with Advaita, like with Krishnamurti and Buddhism, is, well, complicated. There are for me aspects that are breathtakingly insightful and true(-seeming, because what do I ultimately know?). And there are snags, things that bug me and keep me from ‘surrendering.’
I’m very fond of Advaita, but sometimes I wonder if it’s not a bit of a spiritual fairy tale?
Rereading what I wrote I realize it’s hardly a ‘clear articulation.’ (Surprise, surprise, right?) I’d be happy talking about my thoughts and feelings about Advaita. But I doubt it would advance the forum agenda. Perhaps we can continue the conversation via DM?
Maybe it would help a little if you were to be more explicit about which aspects of Advaita you currently feel are insightful and true, and which aspects are snags or things that bug you?
This would help other people (like myself) to understand a little more where you are coming from, so as to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. It may also help you to elucidate (for yourself) what your actual thinking is on the various matters we discuss here.
I kinda get the feeling that what we call “passion for awakening” can actually be “desire for amazing imagined state” or even “thrill of the hunt”
Personally this whole business was forced upon me - a sort of “revulsion for harm/delusion”
It came to me as a question: how is the ‘desire for awakening’ different than greed?
Somehow the wishing itself is a mistake? If say there actually is no division, then my wishing to have something different happening implies that there is division and I want to be somewhere other (better) than psychologically where I am?
Sure, but I’ll keep it short, given the forum guideline not to pursue tangents.
My issue with Advaita is brahman. I don’t see-feel the necessity for it to exist. The universe can keep happily tooling along, doing everything it does, without an unchanging brahman as its ultimate substrate. Brahman is at the core of Advaita, so doubting its realness is not trivial!
I’m aware that Advaitins would tear what I just said apart, tell me I haven’t understood what can be understood about the nature of brahman, the word, the teaching, the reality. That may be true, but you asked me about my feeling about Advaita, and there it is!
Is ‘desire’ misplaced in the psyche? Misplaced, a spillover from the actual ‘thrill of the hunt’? The tracking, outwitting and killing? Here in the psyche its aim is to always ‘find’ other than, ‘what is’?