• Strong feeling or emotion
  • The trait of being intensely emotional
  • Something that is desired intensely
  • An irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action
  • A feeling of strong sexual desire
  • Any object of warm affection or devotion

What are you passionate about? Anything? It’s strange to hear the word “passion,” isn’t it ? It seems it doesn’t often get used these days. Maybe the reason we don’t hear it anymore is because it’s an old fashioned word that has been replaced by a new one. What could the word be I wonder? Oh yes, how about apathy (an absence of emotion or enthusiasm).

Every day, every place I go, on every street corner, I see it. A total lack of enthusiasm. Every morning on public transport, you can see it on people’s faces as they trundle along to work. Before you blame the time, I know it’s early in the morning, so some people may not be quite awake, but that’s the point.

They are tired, so very tired, from getting up early every day, spending hours on the train, the bus or underground (or if they’re unlucky, a combination of all three), doing the same job, day in day out for a little bit of money, tied to monotony, due to financial commitments caused primarily by borrowing huge amounts of money to buy your own house (even though it takes you 25 years to pay back the money to the bank). So you trundle on. Every day. Every week. Every year.

I’m not saying you don’t like your job, far be it for me to interfere in your choice of occupation; you may go as far as to say you love your job, that it is a satisfying career, and you are glad you do it! But where is the passion?

I have always liked my jobs. They were always satisfying and interesting. I used to enjoy going to work every day. I used to enjoy playing sport in the evening, going to the pub for a few drinks, going out for a meal, or maybe going to the cinema, and get up again the next morning for another day of work. I was quite happy. Half asleep, but quite happy.

I really enjoyed work, but I wouldn’t say I was passionate about it. To me someone who was passionate was probably a little obsessive!

I used to know someone who was passionate about rugby. He would go to every game, home and away, and his whole conversation in the pub was centred around his passion for the game. He had played when he was younger, was involved in his local team helping youngsters, and even when he was dressed casually he’d always have a rugby shirt on. “Wow!” I thought, “he’s totally obsessed (having or showing excessive or compulsive concern with something) with the game; that can’t be healthy.” But what I was missing out on was that he was passionate. He cared so much, and he was prepared to do anything to help the game of rugby.

On reflection, I admire him for it.
So I ask you once again, what are you passionate about? It could be your work, your community, your sport, your hobbies, anything. But you have to be truly passionate, not just “quite interested.” Let’s change tack for a moment while you ponder that question.

The word passion is more commonly used when referring to a couple.

“They were entwined in a passionate embrace.” What does that mean to you? How does thinking about that make you feel?

Try to think of the last time you had a passionate embrace, and try to imagine the two of you standing or lying down, looking into each others eyes. You can almost feel the flames of passion coming out of every pore. The way you clasp each other in your arms and squeeze each other like you have never squeezed anyone before. You cannot hold them any more tightly than this or they would stop breathing, but you can’t stop. You touch them all over.

Your heart beats faster, your breathing becomes more shallow, you can think of nothing else but holding the one you love. You are them, and they are you. You become one. Integrated in the moment.

Ok, now hold it there. Keep that feeling in place for a moment. Visualise it. Hold it in your mind, in your heart, in your blood stream, in your lungs, in your legs, and your arms. You’ve got it! Now take that feeling and keep it there, inside. That’s passion – portable style!

A moment ago I asked you what you were passionate about. After the last experience we visualised together, can you honestly tell me that what you feel for rugby, football or your job compared with that?

We all have that passion inside us, ready to be awakened, but for most of us, that passion stops when we leave the bedroom. But imagine taking it with you, I mean really. What amazing things you could do when the passion is ignited.

I discovered this by accident. I discovered that by developing awareness of myself, awareness of my surroundings, I started to notice things. Things that just didn’t seem right. The more I saw pain, suffering, greed and apathy the more angry I became. I saw pain everywhere I looked. I could not believe I hadn’t noticed this before. I was probably too busy being passionate about running or my girlfriends.

Something started to brew inside me that was more than anger. I could feel the flames being ignited inside my whole being. Why did I care so much? Why was I interested in things I had never been before? Why did I notice things so much? I would have preferred just to carry on with my old life, but I couldn’t do it. Suddenly I realised what had happened.

I became passionate about life

I feel the same right now as I’m writing this. I can feel the flames inside me, and they will not extinguish. The flames of love. The flames of compassion. The flames of empathy. Can you feel it? That you love life so much it hurts (maybe not just yet!); that you will not rest until others feel it too? Not in an intellectual way that says: “Oh yes, I understand what you’re talking about,” but in the same way you feel passion when you are embracing someone you love?

Passion about life is the same feeling. The interconnectedness of it all. The link between my blood and the tree. The link between my self and the other selves around the world. The link between my compassion and your hatred. The understanding that you are part of life and it is part of you. There is no escaping – only denial that everything is linked.

So what do you do with your new found passion? Do you, like me, decide to write a book to help others understand what it is to be passionate about life, or do you sell up everything and decide to become a monk? Or do you carry on doing what you’ve been doing, working in your same job, doing the same things you used to do. Going to the same pubs, the same restaurants, the same football games…

I wish I could say you could have this passion and just carry on like nothing ever happened, but I’m sorry, it doesn’t seem to work like that.

Often I have actively considered giving up the lifestyle I created, and going back to a nice job in information technology, eating meat again, having a laugh down the pub with mates about nothing in particular, purchasing a nice three bedroom suburban house, with a nice labrador to go out for walks with, three kids, and a fat mortgage. But I just can’t.

Sometimes I feel deep pain inside when I realise that there is no turning back. For me, life is a one way ticket, no returns. I cannot go back to my old way of living. My body is the same but my mind is not.

I cannot show you what to be passionate about, nor can I force you to be passionate when you are not. All I can do is show you my passion and hope it triggers something in you. The problems in the world can be solved by you, by being passionate about wanting to help, about wanting to make a difference, about wanting to help others and become more compassionate.

It may just be coincidence, but passion is only three letters away from the word compassion.

Kindle the flame inside

by alan macmillan orr

‘the natural mind – waking up’



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