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Should we follow passion, or do what looks practical? || Acharya Prashant
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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Questioner: My question is about decisions. It becomes very hard to decide what we want to do in life when there are so many options and there is a conflict within. The inner voice says that you should go for what you are passionate about, but the more logical side, the brain, says that you must do that which is practical. So, who should we listen to when it comes to decision-making? Should we follow our passions or be rational about what we want to do?

Acharya Prashant: No, you have to first of all consider the reality of what you are passionate about. The questioner is saying that in moments of decision-making, do we go with our passion, or with our logic and rationality as the mind suggests it to us? So, I begin with passion. First of all, enquire into it, and that should be the first thing because one is obviously biased towards her passion. Even if the mind is suggesting other things, we all feel like following the course of our passion. Since passion appeals so much to us and we feel like leaning towards it very automatically, why not figure out the truth of the passion? What makes you passionate about something? From where did one pick up her passion? Was one always passionate about such a thing?

Because, you see, there are certain decisions that require a lot of investment. Sometimes when you decide to follow the direction of your passion, it may consume a lot of your time, your energy, and also the decision might not be easily reversible. So, before you commit yourself to any such thing, especially the thing you feel strongly passionate about, it is important to enquire a little: “Is my passion arising from something that I deeply realize, or is it arising from something I am influenced by?” Because once something takes the name of your passion, we usually just ignore asking what its real source is. I am imploring you to ask, “Is this passion really my passion, or have I borrowed it from somewhere?”

In India, for example, a lot of people would be passionate about the sport of cricket. A lot of people are passionate about movies. Would you be passionate about the same sport were you born in Brazil or Russia or even in China or in the US? So, is this passion really yours? Till your class twelfth, you lived at a certain place and there was a certain environment, and let’s say you come over to Bengaluru and here the environment is totally different, and it captivates you; there is a lot of glamor, glitz, attraction, and it starts possessing you. And certain elements of your environment you start feeling very strongly about, and you start saying, “This is what I really want!” Now, is that what you really want, or is that what you have been made to really want?

“Is that me or the forces acting upon me?” It’s a very crucial question, especially in the life of young people. It must be that way. Unfortunately, often it is not. We do not give it the importance it deserves, this question: “These feelings, these passions, where I have gathered them from?”

We believe—and it’s just a hollow belief—that whatever we feel is something internal to us; that all feelings arise from an internal point and we want to call that point as the heart or something. No, most of what we feel and most of our thoughts, they are deeply influenced things. It’s like somebody is controlling us via a remote control from the outside and we are dancing to an external tune, singing somebody else’s song. And not only are we dancing to somebody’s tune and singing somebody’s song, we also feel that the song and dance is our own. It is not.

And because it is not your own, very soon you will be disillusioned; very soon you will find no sense in that music, in that dance, in that passion, in that feeling, in that attraction; all that will lose meaning. And then what will happen? Because we are disappointed with one external influence, we simply become open and available to another external influence. And then something else comes and possesses us, and for a while it gives us hope; we start calling the new feeling, the new passion, the new whatever, as our own.

So, passion is a wonderful thing. I really want more people to have the courage to follow their passion. But as I say that, I also realize that in the name of passion all kinds of conditionings and influences and, therefore, bondages operate. Conditioned passion is deeply dangerous. There would be nobody right now in this auditorium who would not be passionate about a thing or two. All of us have our own pet passions. The problem is, they are neither our own nor are they our pets. You call something your pet only when you control it, right? A pet dog.

Our passions are not controlled by us; instead, they control us. How are they our pet passions? And they are not ours. It’s like we are being hypnotized and something totally external, something totally unrelated to our own reality has entered us, captivated and possessed us, and so deeply that we do not remember or realize that “There was a point when this meant nothing to me, and there will be a point when I will be disillusioned from this same very thing. But at this moment, I am captured, I am hypnotized. I am so captured that I have started calling this as my passion.” No, that is not your passion. You will drop it. And when that moment comes, there is a lot of pain. Not only is there a lot of pain—already a lot of wastage has happened and that wastage cannot be recovered then.

Therefore, the advice is to prompt: yes, go the way of your passion. Logic must be used to determine how to succeed in your passion. Logic does not come first; obviously, passion comes first. The use of intellect is to find the way to the destination you are passionate about. The destination has to be determined by passion; logic has to be used to find the route to the destination. True, fully agree.

But there is a great danger when we say this, and I am repeating this because that which you call as ‘your’ passion is mostly a false passion. We keep falling in love, we keep slipping this way, that way, and then when we stumble, fall, get hurt, we get up and say, “Oh, I don’t know what happened to me! Was I drunk or something?” It’s a nice realization; it’s just that we don’t stay with it. We realize that the last affair was a bad one, and then we walked into another one of the same kind. That’s the truth of our passions—ephemeral, shallow, influenced, hurtful, wasteful.

So, do follow your passion. Logic must ideally be subservient to passion, true. But check your passion ten times before you commit yourself to it, which basically means you need to understand your own mind quite clearly. “What do I fall prey to? What do I suddenly start feeling attracted to? Do I have an inner algorithm that the world can crack and therefore enslave me?”

A lot of us operate in internal patterns, and those internal patterns are not new; they are very predictable. And when they are predictable, the world can use those patterns to take control of you. How do you think the various advertisers operate? How do you think the entire game of media works? They know how to influence you. They very well know that we have an internal algorithm and it’s a very simple one; it can be hacked, and they hack it every day. And they make us feel very strongly attracted to things that are inherently useless for us but we feel attracted to; we feel attracted, and then we commit our money, our time, sometimes our entire life to something that has no value actually, right?

So, it is not just persons that deceive us; there are entire systems, huge institutions that are working just to split you open, then enter your mind, and then control you from there, which is all very unfortunate, right? And remember, the ones who want to control are especially looking out for young people to control, because these are the ones that have (a) energy, (b) a lot of exuberance, (c) a life to live. Therefore, these would be the most useful slaves; they have another sixty years to live. If I can capture them, I have guaranteed myself sixty years of nice service. Additionally, he is going to earn now, and he is very valuable as well because this is a period of hormonal activity, right?

So, ‘passion’ should have been a beautiful word. Unfortunately, it is one of the most dangerous words you should be very cautious of. Do follow your passion but with utmost care. Following something random in the name of passion is obviously not wise.

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