Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Spiritual Cultivation is Not Just "Follow Your Passion"

One of my students had a question regarding a new-age author who suggested the following advice, not uncommon in our modern culture:
"He says that if in your work you are being distracted with something else, then maybe you should do what you are being distracted with, i.e. follow your passion. Which is common sense of course."

Note that this was even noted as "common sense".

But in fact, this is terribly bad advice to give people; as 'distraction' and 'passion' are not the same thing.

Most people don't have any idea what their passion is.

If they do know, and follow it, they will find that there are all kinds of "distractions" that try to drive them AWAY from those passions, because it turns out that following one's passion requires enormous discipline and very hard and often boring work and many sacrifices and lots of other things that aren't fun.

And your passion requires CHANGE.

It requires that you be almost a completely different person when you come out of the process than when you started, and if you are not willing to make that kind of change, the no-longer-being your existing conception of self, then many of the 'distractions' are likely to be things that are also tempting to you precisely in order to try to get you to keep being who you are right now.

They're saying "look, you find this really interesting, right? Come follow this wild goose chase of things you find interesting instead of that one really hard thing you're trying to do".
And before you know it, years have gone by and you've started ten thousand things and finished none of them.

You need to find out what you actually love (as in, what is your actual will), not the lies that you tell yourself about the type of person you'd like to be because you hope other people will see you that way, or because someone else told you its what you have to be like, but what you are actually want to accomplish, above all else. As precisely as possible.

And then you have to follow that thing you love no matter how hard it is or how much struggle and suffering and sacrifice you go through in it, until it kills you.