Friday, January 29, 2010


I was talking to a friend the other day and somehow we got on the topic of passion.  He said that he's always thought of passion as a good thing.  I think most people tend to think of it that way.  They see passion as a desirable force that motivates one to act and gives one a sense of purpose.  These things are, in fact, accurate.  Passion is invigorating.  A lack of passion can make life seem dull or without meaning.

Like most things in life, however, passion can be a force for good or for evil.  A quick review of the definition of the word makes this clear.

*Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate
*An outburst of strong emotion or feeling
*A strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything
*Violent anger
*An abandoned display of emotion, especially of anger

In fact, the word passion was originally used to refer to the "sufferings of Christ on the cross."  It wasn't until much later (1638) that the word was used to denote enthusiasm.

When you think about it I'm sure you are familiar with the relatinoship between passion and anger.  There are those who are invigorated by their desire to exact revenge on one who has wronged them.  There are those who are empassioned by their hate for particular groups of people, e.g., members of the KKK.  Sometimes a person is so passionate about a cause that he or she no longer recognizes limits and/or infringes on the rights of other people.  For example, there are people so strongly opposed to abortion that they advocate killing a doctor because he or she performs abortions. 

The reason I'm writing this post is because I've noticed that people have a tendency to idealize passion.  I think it's important to remember that passion in and of itself is neither good or bad -- it is the intention of the empassioned that makes it so.


  1. You have explained passion with clarity.It's very true that passion by itself is neither good or bad but it is our making of it!

    your mandalas in the sidepanel are beautiful!

  2. Just like so many other things, it's all about what we DO with that passion. As with pressure, it can work for and against us. Are we wise enough to know the difference, and discipline enough not to cross the line?

  3. what's interesting is that you sometimes find the opposite in Buddhist communities. People suppress passion, thinking that it's "against the rules" or something. The stereotype of the always calm, mostly quiet monk or nun kind of runs amok amongst us.


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