Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tales: of Passion, Light & Dark


You'll often hear it said that you must have passion for the important things in your life, and this is true of course, but it depends on what kind of passion. Passion energizes a state of action that can lift us to a higher plane of conscious being, or one that can raise our lowest expressions to a level of destructive dominance. It's a kind of moving emotional fulcrum that can make great things possible, but, when shifted, can also create a terrible self-serving momentum. This second state of passion is re-sponsible for what Christians call "sin," what Buddhists call "selfish cravings," what a 12-Stepper calls "instincts run amok," and what is often in a court of law referred to as "crimes of passion."

On the personal and world stages, this kind of passion drives so much of all the craziness around us that you could almost call it "life," or "history." It's the kind of passion that's often driving the goal of "doing what's right for the common good,"  but for whose common good? If there are winners and losers, it's probably not the kind of passion that invokes the interests of love and reason, but a passion that's fueled by ego-inspired ambition and fear. There are easy ways to tell the difference: How do others really honestly feel about it? And, what remains in the aftermath?
There is Love, and there is Hate. There's day and night, and "good" and "bad" - each burns as hot, each is equivalent to the other. Each is part of what is, so it needs to find a balance. The evidence of a passion that entails com-passion (as in com-municate, com-munity, or .com), shows the rewards that Love brings: equality, tolerance, abundance, responsibility, balance. The evidence of passion driven by ambition and fear is all around us, justified by the dictum "as long as you have passion for what you're doing." No one is surprised that madmen are quite passionate, and at the heighth of passion, any one of us is capable of throwing their life, and the lives of others, horribly out of balance. Collectively, it has happened to the world.

It's at that very personal level, when we're really honest about our motivations, that we can experience the real potential and effects of our passions. Is it just about what I want? How will it effect others? If the answer supports and encourages others, and celebrates a shared accomplishment of sorts, then it's a passion that's com-passion. If not, the momentum may take you into some dangerous ego territory, and make it difficult to get back.
Not to pick on Picasso, but...he was a very passionate guy, full of passion for his art and the women in his life. You could call that a good thing, if it's only the production of his art that matters, but a spirtually growing person knows that it often isn't what one is most famous for that's really most important in their lives. So what did he leave in his aftermath? Thousands of ephemeric artworks, many truly beautiful, many that are contested, and absurdly over-valued; a memorable chain of painfully destructive relationships, created by passionate self-centeredness; a history of emotional distance from his children; an obsessive need to project his virility and machismo.
I only invoke Picasso as an example of the "success" of passion as a justification for "passionate inspiration." I love a lot of his work (Moulin de la Galette, Portrait of Stravinsky), but truthfully (in my opinion) much of it is a redundant effort to capture an aesthetic that can be seen in more successful forms everyday, on the walls of any pre-school.
Now that's a higher plane of passion!

"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."


..................anonymous pre-schooler

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