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7 years ago  ::  Jan 03, 2008 - 11:08PM #1
mwhite
Posts: 4
When reading about the differences between Eastern and Western philosophy, I often see a dichotomy made between "peace of mind" (which is supposed to more important in Eastern philosophy) and "passion" (more important in Western philosophy).  Do you think this is a true dichotomy?  I guess the question partly depends on the definition of "passion," but does passion necessitate some amount of attachment, etc.?

Thanks for your responses!
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2008 - 3:00PM #2
ronnewmexico
Posts: 490
Well to venture a reply as there are none, and to state this is just to my very limited understanding and knowledge, and a only inconsequential consideration of the question, as I have not spent any time with it.

It could depend upon context  considered, but it seems  passion and peace of mind are being put on the same stick. Somewhere upon or part of the same stick.

Personally I find this not to be so. I am Tibetan Buddhist and my main practice(though I have a very small minimal practice of such) is study of mind(Mahamudra). This study is enhanced by passion, or the examination and study of minds response and utilization of various passions. Not to engage in these things actively, but say one may venture to a horrible place to encounter or observe the emotion of fear. So a passion may be seemingly used to educate our ignorance. We thusly watch mind.  A desire for instance may be enhanced mentally(but not acted upon) to see what it is and how it works, how it creates itself.

So it seems they are not part of the same stick, one as not being on one end and the other on the other end. One is used to find the nature of the other. Passion reflects nature of mind it seems. Passion is not in this practice extinguished or smothered but may actually be mentally enhanced to furthur the practice.

The end result of understanding mind and how the mind and things work, is of course, peace of mind, equinimity. This is however not a smothering of passion, but a understanding of passion, seemingly. 

Passion as forceful direction. Certainly one could be considered to utilize a passionate need to provide compassionate action to others as a means to spiritual progression. But this also would not seem any equilivency. Though the passion for such(compassionate action) is engaged, the result is undeniably peace of mind or a happy state. So in this manner also they are not opposites on the same stick.   

This all to the very limited understanding and knowledge of one with a very small laypersons spiritual practice, and  the question perhaps not being considered fully or as intended.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2008 - 4:53PM #3
RenGalskap
Posts: 1,420
I don't think you can divide eastern and western philosophy that way. For example:
Wikipedia article on the western philosopher Epicurus
Wikipedia article on Stoicism

In general, any philosophy that tries to teach us how to live tends to have tranquility as a goal, and therefore discourages passion. Philosophies that focus on other matters tend to treat passion in a more neutral way.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2008 - 8:12PM #4
mwhite
Posts: 4
Ren, peace of mind was definitely important in some Greek philosophies, but many modern philosophers have emphasized something closer to "passion."  Of course, "Western philosophy" includes a number of different ideologies, and it would be a mistake to say that peace of mind has no place in Western philosophy (and vice versa with passion in Eastern, I'd guess), but in general, I think the focus is more on "passion."  But in any case, the question can be removed from the context of Eastern/Western philosophy, I think...  In the framework of Buddhism, is there a place for passion, or is it seen as working against peace?
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2008 - 8:12PM #5
mwhite
Posts: 4
Ren, peace of mind was definitely important in some Greek philosophies, but many modern philosophers have emphasized something closer to "passion."  Of course, "Western philosophy" includes a number of different ideologies, and it would be a mistake to say that peace of mind has no place in Western philosophy (and vice versa with passion in Eastern, I'd guess), but in general, I think the focus is more on "passion."  But in any case, the question can be removed from the context of Eastern/Western philosophy, I think...  In the framework of Buddhism, is there a place for passion, or is it seen as working against peace?
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2008 - 11:48PM #6
RenGalskap
Posts: 1,420
On the whole, modern western philosophy doesn't deal much with passion. I'd have to know specifically which philosophers you're comparing before going any further.

"Passion" can have different meanings. Since you're opposing it to peace of mind, you seem be using it to mean emotions that disturb the mind. Different Buddhist schools have different approaches. One of the Pali suttas says
[Quote]Thus he will not be elated by gain and dejected by loss; elated by fame and dejected by disrepute; elated by praise and dejected by blame; elated by pleasure and dejected by pain. Having thus given up likes and dislikes, he will be freed from birth, aging, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and despair; he will be freed from suffering, I say.[/Quote]

On the other hand, tantric Buddhism tends to work with transmuting passions. In rare cases, this may even involve sexual passion. Tulku Thondup writes that the true nature of the five emotions are the five primordial wisdoms.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 05, 2008 - 12:43PM #7
citizenzen
Posts: 49
Passion requires thirst, volition, attachment and is the opposite of peace.
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2008 - 1:09AM #8
Kartari
Posts: 2,170
[QUOTE=mwhite;185908]When reading about the differences between Eastern and Western philosophy, I often see a dichotomy made between "peace of mind" (which is supposed to more important in Eastern philosophy) and "passion" (more important in Western philosophy).  Do you think this is a true dichotomy?  I guess the question partly depends on the definition of "passion," but does passion necessitate some amount of attachment, etc.?[/QUOTE]

I also disagree with this way of separation.  I find that a more accurate means of separation has more to do with inward vs. external locus of control.  Easterners tend to place their focus on inward examination while Westerners tend to look outward.  This is a generalization, however, as some philosophies diverged from their regional tendencies.

For example, Christianity traditionally places personal salvation in the hands of God (an external being) while the Buddha puts the emphasis on meditation and self examination (both inward practices) as crucial to enlightenment.

And I'm far from being the most well versed person in philosophy, so I may be entirely wrong. :)
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2008 - 1:22AM #9
Kartari
Posts: 2,170
[QUOTE=citizenzen;189739]Passion requires thirst, volition, attachment and is the opposite of peace.[/QUOTE]

I wonder if it is not passion that presents a problem for peace, but rather the attachment to passion?  Can one not be free from thirst, volition and attachment and also have passion?
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7 years ago  ::  Jan 08, 2008 - 9:12AM #10
citizenzen
Posts: 49
[QUOTE=Kartari;196592]I wonder if it is not passion that presents a problem for peace, but rather the attachment to passion?  Can one not be free from thirst, volition and attachment and also have passion?[/QUOTE]

Passion is almost by definition something that involves obsessiveness or attachment.

But, hey, I'll roll with it, if you promise not to become attached, then OK, you can feel passion towards something and still become a buddha.

Promise?
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