Thoughts on the ‘contemplation of passion’ – seeking the yearning

A big part of contemplation is the experiencing of passion.   I call this the ‘contemplation of passion’.

‘Passion’ is a word I have used for over 20 years that refers to a sense of a ‘livingness’ or ‘movement’ in life.  It’s like a force that pushes us, makes us live and be.  It has the quality of an ‘energy’ that surrounds us.  As a result of this, it is associated with the ‘presence’.  The ‘presence’ refers to what can be described as a ‘presence of life’ which also surrounds us.  It is, basically, the ‘presence of god’.  It is perceived as just ‘there’, though, without the ‘movement’ of ‘passion’.  In general,  ‘presence’ is an awareness of the fact of life, ‘passion’ is the awareness of the ‘movement’ of life.  As a result, they both go hand in hand and compliment each other.

In the hubbub of our lives we tend to forget passion.  It is as if buried under all the stuff of life.  Often, it can be difficult to retreive our passion much like trying to find some trinket in a box somewhere in your garage.

The experiencing of ‘passion’ is often felt in the ‘yearning’.  The ‘yearning’ is the movement of ‘passion’ working within us.  It is its effects upon us, making us ‘move’ and ‘live’.  This ‘movement’ is often felt as a desire, a want, or a yearning for something.  Without this ‘something’ we often feel as if something is missing.  This means that the ‘yearning’ implies a situation where we feel incomplete and are needing something to complete us.  Since we are always incomplete this yearning goes on endlessly.  It is never fully satisfied.  As a result, in the ‘yearning’ a person cannot seek for a satisfaction but, rather, the ‘movement’ or ‘life’ that is contained in ‘passion’.  This is a continually fluid and dynamic situation.  This means there’s no real ‘rest’, so to speak.  It’s like continually traveling, which is exhausting and tiring.  Because of this, a person needs to spend time away from ‘passion’ to give them a rest.  Part of the ‘contemplation of passion’ is the alternation between ‘passion’ and ‘non-passion’ to achieve a rest.

In many ways, the yearning is like a magnetic pull within us, pulling us toward life.  We could also compare it to the mysterious force of gravity, always and endlessly pulling us toward it.

By embracing the ‘yearning’ we embrace the ‘passion’ that drives it.  This means we must accept want and the feeling of yearning.  Typically, the tendency is to try to get rid of this feeling, usually by satisfying the want.  But when we embrace the ‘yearning’ we need to only feel the want, the yearning, however uncomfortable it may feel.

I should point out that the yearning is not blind want, materialism, or selfishness necessarily.  It is only like that under certain conditions.  The fact is that we all want in life.  Life is nothing but wanting, be it air, food, clothing, a house, fame, money, etc.  The question is how and what we want.  That determines if it is ‘healthy’ or not.  In reality, ‘healthy living’ is based in wanting the right thing the right way.  In seeking the yearning, we seek the healthy forms that lead us to life and beingness.

I see two types of ‘yearning’:

  • The personal yearning.  This refers to all the little wants and desires we want as individual people.  It is very specific to us and our life.  Typically, it has an object as its motive.  The object can be anything:  a car, money, fame, prestige, etc.  This yearning is linear, meaning it is to get from point A to point B.  Once point B is reached (that is, the object is achieved) the yearning usually ends.
  • The greater yearning.  This yearning goes beyond the personal yearning.  Here the yearning is for ‘life’, the ‘presence’, existence, god, or whatever you want to call it.  Here we yearn for the ‘all’ of life.  It is the ‘movement’ of life, the fact of livingness.   This yearning has no object.  In effect it is a yearning for ‘nothing’, at least from the perspective of the personal yearning.  It yearns for the ‘all’, the ‘everything’ that is life.  But this is unknown to us.  We will never know the ‘all’.  As a result, it is a yearning for something we will never really attain.  This type of yearning is like a circle.  It goes round and round because there is no object.  In this yearning the ‘fact of yearning’ is what counts, not the attaining of something.

In contemplation, we seek the greater yearning.  It takes time to feel the greater yearning, I think.  It’s not something that appears in a day.  In seeking the greater yearning we must ‘unlearn’ the power of the personal yearnings.  Only by moving beyond the personal yearnings can the greater yearning be known.  This, in effect, means we need to go ‘beyond ourself’.

To embrace the ‘passion’ in yearning requires several qualities, I think:

–  The ability to silence your mind.  Without a silent mind ‘passion’ cannot be embraced that easily.  This is because the mind will become too full of different emotions, concerns, and other things.  These generally consists of things originating in the personal yearning.  This means that part of silencing ones mind is no longer feeling the effects of personal yearnings, as I said above.

–  A person must be able to forget themselves.  They must be able to be ‘nothing’ and lose a sense of self.  This is because our ‘self’ seems to get in the way of the greater yearning.  This is often achieved by long periods of time in the ‘unknowing’.  That is, of only being aware of the ‘presence’ and ‘unknowing’ everything else.  This is the technique of ‘contemplation of the presence’.  This shows that a person needs to have experience with the ‘contemplation of the presence’ before they can do ‘contemplation of passion’.

–  The ability to ‘feel’.  That is to say, a person must be able to react to the passion and the yearning.

–  The ability to express passion.  ‘Passion’ is something that must be expressed in some form.  By ‘expression’ I mean that it cannot be contained within a person, held within like some private treasure.  It must as if be ‘flung out’ into the ‘presence’, life, existence, or god to be fully expressed.

In general, the technique in contemplation of embracing the ‘passion’ through ‘yearning’ is to sit silencing ones mind and sense of self.  I generaly focus my mind on the ‘presence’.  I sit in awareness of this presence about me.  Slowly, with a silent mind, I lose a sense of my self and the ‘presence’ seems to be all that exists.  I, in a sense, become the ‘presence’.  This is the ‘contemplation of the presence’.  It shows that this is the base for the ‘contemplation of the presence’ as it begins there and springs from it.

In this condition certain ‘senses’ keep coming in, a sense of yearning or want.  As one sits and experiences this want, a person should feel its ‘force’, its ‘energy’.  Let this ‘energy’ fill you and envelope you.  Do not ponder it, reflect on it, or wonder what it is about.  All that matters is the experiencing of this passion, this ‘energy’.  Being silent and selfless, a person becomes this ‘energy’.  It becomes clear that what one feels is what can be described as a ‘love’, a love for existence, for the ‘all’.  In the end, we see that contemplation seeks a ‘love’ of life, existence, and god.  From here we see that this is what all passion is about:  a lovingness of existence.  In reality, all life, all movement, all actions, are directed to that as an end result.

In addition to that, as one goes about life watch for how you want, long, and yearn for things (the personal yearnings).  Anytime you yearn, long, or want something note the feeling and embrace the ‘force’ of it.  As I said above, focus not on the object but the ‘force’.

When desiring the personal yearnigs – something to eat, wanting to buy something, a desire to go somewhere, etc. – behind this desire is the yearning for ‘life’, the greater yearning.  All the objects of personal yearning are only means to the greater yearning.   In so doing, remember always that you seek the ‘energy’, not the object of the want.  Typically, yearning makes us focus on the end result – the object – but, in contemplation, we are trying to embrace the passion alone.  When one embraces the passion alone the end result is always the same:  the presence, life, existence, god, or whatever you may want to call it.  The end result is the greater yearning, the ‘fact of life’, that you are there, alive and aware.

There seems great pain in the experiencing of passion, oftentimes.  It can make a person cry, for example.  It is best to express the feelings passion creates, be it weeping, crying, wimpering, or whatever.  When embracing the passion, everything is about the passion, regardless of what it makes us do.  This point is important as when we embrace the ‘energy’ of passion we become full of ‘energy’.  This, in turn, makes us as if ‘charged’, like a battery.  In so doing, we need to ‘let off steam’.  This means that part of the embracing of passion is the expression of passion.  There is a tendency, I think, to hold the ‘energy’ in, which isn’t good.  Part of the power of passion is our response to it.  In some sense, the purpose of contemplation and embracing the passion is to be a ‘medium’, so to speak, of this passion.  The passion must ‘flow’ through into you and out of you.  We are nothing but a big waterwheel being turned by passion.

Embracing the greater yearning creates problems of its own.  As I said above, it is primarily because it is objectless.  I often call this the ‘wasting yearning’.  Not having an object seems to make it feel that all our efforts are to no end, a waste of energy.  The objectlessness of the greater yearning also seems to make it inhuman but that’s not true.  In general, it seems that we need to learn ‘passion’ and ‘climatise’ ourselves to it.  That is to say, we need to get used to it.  But the ‘wasting yearning’ can create various feelings such as:

–  We feel that its all a waste and all a waste of time.  We feel that nothing is being accomplished.

–  A sense that we are nothing. We may feel pointless, worthless, insignficant.  We may lose a sense of who we are.

–  A sense that we cannot grasp things and that nothing makes sense.  This may give a sense of inadequacy and incompetency in life.

–  A sense of timelessness or that things are beyond us.  We may feel that we just can’t “get it”.

These can actually create feelings of low self esteem, alienation, worthlessness, frustration, disappointment, confusion, dejection of life, wondering what life is about, feeling that everything is a waste, contempt, etc.  Often, these feelings in people are often a sign that they are experiencing the greater passion I’ve found.  And so we must be watchful of things like that as it helps tell us what we’re doing.

In reality, feelings like these are just a ‘getting used to’.  But in order to get used to the new conditions of ‘passion’ we need to allow ourselves to get used to it.  This means we have to ‘trudge through it’, painful or not.  This is where it gets difficult as, because its objectless, theres nothing to look forward to.  There’s no image to strive for.  It’s as if we are striving in the dark for something we can’t see and don’t know what it is.  It’s because of this that the greater yearning is seldom really known.  There’s a tendency to stop at this point.

I have always felt that what is needed, especially, at this point is a strong image of what one is doing and a belief in that image.  In other words, a person is tested at this point in what they are doing.  Without a firm image and belief a person is more than likely to quit.

My image, primarily, is based on my experience of the power of the ‘presence’ but also that this viewpoint seemed to come up within me quite naturally.  In that sense, its a ‘trusting of myself’.  As a result, it has with it a great quality of a ‘faith in myself’, a trusting that what I do is for a good reason, even though I may not understand it.

This need of an image and a belief in that image is probably why contemplation is only practiced in a religious ‘setting’.  Religion, with its images and beliefs, keep the person steadfast and able to go beyond the dark periods.  A person not in a religious ‘setting’ is more easily inclined to give up.  What image do they have?  What belief do they have?  We see that contemplation is a demonstration of belief, a persons belief.  Without it it is worthless and pointless and will fail.

It’s for this reason that a contemplative needs to question, learn, and delineate their belief.  This should be an ongoing process.  There is no one ‘belief’.  A person must continually discover belief and grow in it.  This fact becomes quite clear in contemplation.

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