the Seat of Passion
The other day I had occasion to write to a friend about Integrity:
“What I say to clients is this: “What you say you believe is irrelevant. What you do is who you are.”
Now, integrity has a few meanings, two of which are,
- an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting,
- consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcome.
While my comment to my friend reflected the second, I also meant the first.
The first definition has a lot to do with why I add bodywork and meditation to counselling with most of my clients. Counselling in general, and things in the West, are quite fractured. We seem to be quite willing to engage the world only through our minds. We get caught in distinctions and judgements.
We get lost up there.
No way out if you trap yourself in.
Now, the joke is that the first definition could also be applied to our our minds. Imagine a mind that was “undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting.”
Wow. How Zen.
The problem we have is not our minds. The problem comes with how we use our minds. Minds are meant for data storage and problem solving. They are useless for remembering the past and fortune telling about the future, as that’s nothing but the fiction we create to justify what we already believe.
Using Your Mind Completely
Darbella is teaching geometry to her students at this point in the term. She and I were talking one day, and she said, “I think I’ll ask a bonus question: ‘Think of three ways to divide an angle in half.’ ” She was thinking of mechanical methods, i.e. with a compass.
I closed my eyes, created an acute angle in my mind, and overlaid a 30–60-90 triangle. I then flipped the triangle onto the other leg of the angle. I realized that where the opposite sides of the triangle intersected, divided the angle. I tried it, in my mind, with an obtuse angle, with the same result, and also with a right angle.
I told Dar, and drew it. It worked.
She asked why. I didn’t know. (I suppose I could devise a proof…)
Anyway, that’s an elegant use for a mind.
Deciding if my approach was the best, smartest, cleverest approach is not a good use.
Yet, 90% of the time that’s what we do, and we break the integrity of our minds in the process. I often suggest to clients that they notice what’s going on up there—roles, characters, parents, teachers, all nattering away, all with opinions. And here’s the joke—they are all ‘you,’ fractured you, lecturing you, all seemingly “in there,” for no apparent reason.
The ripples of the whole self
With undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting, the mind becomes still and focused, and able to ‘see.’ It can see the still water, the pebble, the splash and the ripples, as they occur. Desiring nothing, wanting nothing, the mind rests in what is.
So, you may say, “Yeah, but if no one wanted anything, “progress” would stop.” Nope.
Progress, art, design, living fully—these are part of what I call the ‘passion system.’ Passion is an energy, a chi. Perhaps better put, it is energy, it is chi.
In Chinese thinking, Passion resides in the pelvis, along with that other famous passion, sex. Thus the lead image—referencing the seat of passion—passion for life is at home in the back pelvis.
Passion is called “a burning desire,” “intuition,” “imagination.”
My desire to come up with a solution to the angle problem led me to use my mind to do so.
Einstein said, variously,
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
“The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.”
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.”
And one from one of my heroes, Anais Nin,
“I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy.”
Definition #2 is essential,
and that’s what is captured in the Nin quote. I typically use integrity in this sense—that what I say I do matches what I actually do. This requires that I stop making judgements and excuses.
The only way we can move out of integrity is by coming up with either an excuse or an exception.
Excuses are pointers to “things out of my control.” Like genetics, political pressure, and the infamous “everyone knows.”
Exceptions are accomplished by making the present circumstance something special, as in,
“I know I said I would not yell at my kids, but this time she was so bad I just had to.”
“I know I said I wouldn’t drink when I had a bad day, but this day was so bad I just had to drink.”
And on and on.
Integrity based living is doing what you say, with no excuses, while making full use of all of you.
Passion must be freed for any of this to work. Passion drives us to create, to invent, to dance, to sing, to engage with abandon.
A client the other day, in bodywork, kept using the word “fluid” as the feeling that was arising. Metaphorically and actually. Another client, a long time ago, was an actor. She said, “When I act I feel all flowy.” I kind of liked that word.
Moist. Damp. Heated. Driven. Enamoured. Impassioned. Entwined. Intense. Flowy and fluid. The words and concepts of passionate engagement in wholeness.
Stop making excuses and exceptions. Plunge fully into the stream of your passion, engage your mind, and create your masterpiece.