Monday, December 7, 2015

Curiosity is the Cousin of Passion

Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame.
Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned,
but just because you get burnt doesn't need you gonna die.
You got to get up and try, try, try. 

(Pink, Try)

"Curiosity is the cousin of passion", a colleague remarked. Wow, that phrase pushed a button; for some reason I had never associated these two words together. When I thought about it I observed that both words have something in common - in my native German tongue anyway - both have negative meaning when you take them literally, even though the concept of "passion" and "curiosity" doesn't have to be.

"Leidenschaft" means passion in German, which literally translates into "creates suffering". "Neugier" is the translation of curiosity, which literally means "greedy for news", also not a very nice mental image. Actually, even in the English language there is the saying, "curiosity kills the cat", which is the same idea; too much poking around in other people's affairs ain't good for you.

Buddhism would agree on both fronts. Every seeking, drive or ambition is equated with suffering, while compassion, meditation and mindfulness is claimed to be the only road towards happiness. Whoever runs after the fire will surely burn their fingers at one point, just as Pink puts it so well in her "Try" song. So what; I go with her carefree attitude, "just because it burns doesn't mean we gonna die; we have to get up and try, try, try".

Actually, the native English speaker is no longer aware that "passion" itself has the Latin root suffering in it. But there is another word at our disposal that is often equated with passion, "enthusiasm". That word has the Ancient Greek root, "God within", so instead of being consumed by the fire, we are enjoying a serene Force just like Moses did when he encountered God in front of the burning bush that magically was never consumed by the fire.

Curiosity gets you knowledge, not wisdom. Yet at the same time, reaching wisdom is impossible without striving for knowledge at some point. Similarly, unless we were born an old soul, enthusiasm also necessitates passion over some stretches of our journey. It is impossible to be introduced to the eternal fire without a spark coming from us.

So where does that all leave us? Well, many roads lead to Rome. Mindfulness and meditation is the Way over stretches of our spiritual journey, but if on other stretches we have bees under our bonnet what choice do we have but to face it. Repression in the name of spirituality only makes us dead, not serene. I at least have been running after success, sex and spirituality all at the same time and have burnt my fingers more than once. So instead of putting up our noses because we somehow think that we are more awakened than the fellow next door, let's dive into life like everyone else does and try our best.

We are not born to end up like moths in the fire; transcendence comes from meditative insight just as much from reaching the "been there, done that" stage after wrestling with life. The eternal fire is always burning next to us; when we connect with it we will be Home. But until that blessed moment, we just have to get up and try, try, try.

No comments: