What Is Passion?

From Krishnamurti’s Book THE URGENCY OF CHANGE

Questioner: What is passion? You’ve talked about it and apparently you give it a special meaning. I don’t think I know that meaning. Like every man I have sexual passion and passions for superficial things like fast driving or cultivating a beautiful garden. Most of us indulge in some form of passionate activity. Talk about his special passion and you see a man’s eyes sparkle. We know the word passion comes from the Greek word for suffering, but the feeling I get when you use this word is not one of suffering but rather of some driving quality like that of the wind which comes roaring out of the west, chasing the clouds and the rubbish before it. I’d like to possess that passion. How does one come by it? What is it passionate about? What is the passion you mean?

Krishnamurti: I think we should be clear that lust and passion are two different things. Lust is sustained by thought, driven by thought, it grows and gathers substance in thought until it explodes – sexually, or, if it is the lust for power, in its own violent forms of fulfilment. Passion is something entirely different; it is not the product of thought nor the remembrance of a past event; it is not driven by any motive of fulfilment; it is not sorrow either.

Questioner: Is all sexual passion lust? Sexual response is not always the result of thought; it may be contact as when you suddenly meet somebody whose loveliness overpowers you.

Krishnamurti: Wherever thought builds up the image of pleasure it must inevitably be lust and not the freedom of passion. If pleasure is the main drive then it is lust. When sexual feeling is born out of pleasure it is lust. If it is born out of love it is not lust, even though great delight may then be present. Here we must be clear and find out for ourselves whether love excludes pleasure and enjoyment. When you see a cloud and delight in its vastness and the light on it, there is of course pleasure, but there is a great deal more than pleasure. We are not condemning this at all. If you keep returning to the cloud in thought, or in fact, for a stimulation, then you are indulging in an imaginative flight of fancy, and obviously here pleasure and thought are the incentives operating. When you first looked at that cloud and saw its beauty there was no such incentive of pleasure operating. The beauty in sex is the absence of the ‘me’, the ego, but the thought of sex is the affirmation of this ego, and that is pleasure. This ego is all the time either seeking pleasure or avoiding pain, wanting fulfilment and thereby inviting frustration. In all this the feeling of passion is sustained and pursued by thought, and therefore it is no longer passion but pleasure. The hope, the pursuit, of remembered passion is pleasure.

Questioner: What is passion itself, then?

Krishnamurti: It has to do with joy and ecstasy, which is not pleasure. In pleasure there is always a subtle form of effort – a seeing, striving, demanding, struggling to keep it, to get it. In passion there is no demand and therefore no struggle. In passion there is not the slightest shadow of fulfilment, therefore there can be neither frustration nor pain, Passion is the freedom from the ‘me’, which is the centre of all fulfilment and pain. Passion does not demand because it is, and I am not speaking of something static. Passion is the austerity of self-abnegation in which the ‘you’ and the ‘me’ is not; therefore passion is the essence of life. It is this that moves and lives. But when thought brings in all the problems of having and holding, then passion ceases. Without passion creation is not possible.

Questioner: What do you mean by creation?

Krishnamurti: Freedom.

Questioner: What freedom?

Krishnamurti: Freedom from the ‘me’ which depends on environment and is the product of environment – the me which is put together by society and thought. This freedom is clarity, the light that is not lit from the past. Passion is only the present.

Questioner: This has fired me with a strange new feeling.

Krishnamurti: That is the passion of learning.

Questioner: What particular action in my daily living will ensure that this passion is burning and operating? Krishnamurti: Nothing will ensure it except the attention of learning, which is action, which is now. In this there is the beauty of passion, which is the total abandonment of the ‘me’ and its time.