The Passion We Must Never Lose

May 31, 2012 § 12 Comments

“When there is no desire, all things are at peace.”   Tao te Ching, Chapter 37

The Tao tells us, again and again, that we must lose all desire.

Yet I cannot imagine a life without what we think of as desire, a life without passion.  The longing, the feel of the passionate embrace, the electricity of another’s presence.  Also the passion for art, for moments of intense experience, for life itself.  To lose all sense of desire and passion would be to feel numb and adrift.  It is for me an unimaginable form of existence.

And so how can I reconcile the Tao teaching with the indispensability of passion in my life?

The “desire” that the Tao would have us lose is the desire for some thing or some outcome.  Simply wanting sex or more money is this sort of desire.  This desire is present when we seduce another or when we feel “driven” to achieve some outcome.  It is this kind of dualistic thought and scheming that the Tao counsels us to set aside.

When we feel the passion that is not wrapped up in outcome, we are fully present and engaged, simply existing in our passionate moment.  We may be in the arms of another, or standing before a transcendent work of art, or simply feeling the sting of the salty air whipping across the sand.  In such a moment, we lose all sense of separation, no time exists but that moment, we seek nothing beyond what is right there, right then.  This is what we live to feel- the passion we must never lose.

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§ 12 Responses to The Passion We Must Never Lose

  • Jessie says:

    Well, yes, this is the part that I don’t get. Not that I am a serious student of the Tao. But over the years I’ve been interested in, practiced and greatly benefited from various forms of meditative practice, especially yoga. When I was young I flat out said that I refused heaven — the puffy white clouds, the harps — forget about it. Fairly early on I figured out that the “peace that passeth understanding” is something else again — but I still can’t really say that I embrace it. I vacation as close to it as possible whenever I can bring myself to practice, but there is a certain instrumental quality still. I want to get back out there to the world of desire — I can let go for awhile only because I know I’m coming back. And I’m not persuaded that desire without an object would satisfy — or, frankly, that there is any such thing. Sometimes it seems to me that I see glimpses now, but then I wonder if that is just middle age — losing my edge.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post, and namiste!

    • Thomas Ross says:

      Jessie, thanks for reading my work and leaving your thought-provoking comment.

      Happily, I can say that I’ll look forward to a more sustained conversation about this with you over an espresso sometime. For now, I’ll say that in my life I’m seeking to marry these Zen insights and teachings with a strong and visceral existence. Don’t want to lose “my edge” either. In fact, supposing that these lessons will sharpen that edge.


  • Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as clean as when I arrived. I’ll be back!

  • DIRNDL SKIRT says:

    Your last paragraph, especially, helps me with the concept of passion I want to embrace (no pun intended 🙂 Passion and Peace would seem to be almost interchangeable, as I imagine them to be and feel.

    • Thomas Ross says:

      I also feel that the deepest, truest passion is felt not when we are agitated and busy in our heads but rather when we are at peace. The feelings run deep while the body and mind are centered.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It means a lot to me.

  • colourtheday says:

    So happy i found your blog:) Thanks!

  • Suddenly Jamie (@suddenlyjamie) says:

    I am interested in learning more about the Tao, but have never been able to embrace that shunning of desire. We are humans and desire is, I believe, part of who we are.

    Thank you for helping explain the difference between a grasping desire for a particular outcome vs. the joyful passion of appreciating a moment or experience for what it is – no ulterior motives, assumptions, or expectations. That makes all the difference in the world.

  • jennlaurent says:

    Such a beautiful reminder of the importance of the journey and living in the moment. It is interesting because the strongest passion and desire seems to exist when we are not focused on the outcome. Thank you!!

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