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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
This is such an interesting section of Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet," especially the way he emphasizes the positive nature of passion. Religious and spiritual traditions, both East and West, have a tendency to want to control or even suppress passion. Passion is sex. Passion in emotion. Passion is powerful, intense, turbulent.
Gibran acknowledges that "passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction." Passion, without limitation or conscious guidance, can become a chaotic, consuming force in our lives. But he doesn't say we should get rid of passion or that reason should subjugate it. He speaks in terms of balanced, integrated use of passion in our lives.
Passion is the engine in our lives. Gibran gives us this image of a ship: passion is the ship's sails, and reason is the rudder. The sails catch the power of the wind, propelling the ship forward. Passion is power, vitality, life!
But movement without direction is, at best, meaningless and, at worst, can lead us onto rocks. That's why we need the rudder of reason to intelligently use the power of passion's movement so that we can reach our destination.
One is not "good" and the other "bad." Both reason and passion are necessary. They must be understood, brought into harmony, used effectively to balance each other.
This may sound like a bit of a tangent, but I'm reminded of the imagery of the Christian nativity. In the traditional iconography, we see the infant Christ on a bed of straw in a manger surrounded by animals. In the gospel tale, two animals are mentioned specifically: an ox and an ass. Why those two animals? Esoteric Christian teachings sometimes explain it this way: the ox (an ancient symbol of Venus), represents sensuality and passion; the ass can be seen as embodying either the ego or reason. What are they doing in this image of divine birth? Notice that they are not suppressed; the ox and ass are not dead or chained. No, they rest, they are at peace, tamed by the presence of spiritual light. More than that, they are actually protecting the infant, giving him their strength. As one 20th century Christian teacher phrased it, "They are warming the Christ child with their breath." Viewed this way, the nativity gives us an image not of suppression, but of integration of the energies of life in support of the awakening soul.
I especially like Kahlil Gibran's summations at the end--
"God rests in reason."
"God moves in passion."
Movement and stillness, when we balance both we have discovered how to dance!
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2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
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