From Passion to Compassion

From Passion to Compassion

By Anand Krishna
For The Bali Times

Our first encounter with the word kama is most probably through Kamasutra, the famous eastern classic on sex. Kama however is not limited to sex in the sense of lovemaking. Kama is more correctly defined as passion, or desire.

Sutra is thread, or string. The word is used here in the context of a puppet player who holds his puppets with thread or string. Their movements are governed and directed. Hence, a puppeteer is called Sutradhaari, as also God, the Greatest Puppeteer. Nowadays, movie and show directors are called sutradhaar in Sanskrit, or sutradara in Indonesian.

Kamasutra implies that passion or desire must be governed, regulated and managed properly. For passion is energy, and desire is energy.

There is an old saying in Sanskrit, “Energy Waste is Life Waste.” It is also said that, “Energy is life, and Life is Energy.” We all have an iota of this energy within us, with which we live and procreate. This is the sexual energy that ensures the continuity of life.

So passions, desires and sex are all interrelated. They are all manifestations of energy. This is the energy that creates. Hence, the same energy is also behind our creativity in all other fields, and the ability to analyze.

What happens if this energy is solely consumed to sexual activities, i.e. lovemaking, masturbation, etc? We will be left with no energy to express our creativity in any other field. We can be productive, but not creative. Similarly, we can still think, but will not be able to think deeply, analyze and discriminate.

On the other hand, philosophers busy philosophizing about life are left with no energy to actually live, enjoy and celebrate life.

I have met with several politicians who are so engrossed in politics that they have no energy left for anything else. This is the case with professionals in other fields too.

It is for this reason that the ancients advise us to manage kama effectively and efficiently. There is no prohibition on using kama for sexual activities. Indeed, if you want to become a Caligula, then use all your energies for that. No problem. However, if you want to be creative in other fields too, then moderation in sexual activities would be advantageous.

Similarly, if you just want to be filthy rich, then you may direct all your energies to money making. Think of nothing else.

Life offers innumerable options. Life is all about choices. A philosopher may philosophize about choicelessness. But that is also a choice. Being choiceless is as much a choice as choosing one thing over another.

We must, therefore, think deeply before making any choice. We must analyze all the options we have, before settling on any one of them. This is also the reason why students are advised to refrain from sexual activities. During the school years, they need to focus their energies on so many activities that concentration upon sex could be disadvantageous.

These, however, are merely guidelines. How we use our energy – how we make use of kama – is ultimately our decision. We are the masters of our selves.

There is a phenomenon of the flowering of kama, when passion is turned into compassion. This is a universal phenomenon. We all can experience it. We all have the potency to climb higher on the ladder of passion and attain compassion.

Passion and compassion, both are the manifestations of kama. When you are obsessed with your personal welfare, the welfare of your family, your community, your institution, your this and your that – then you are being passionate. Passion is always selfish and egoistic. It does not know the language of selflessness.

Compassion, on the other hand, knows the language of selflessness. It can work for the benefit of all, for the welfare of all, for the betterment of all, for the progress and growth of all. Compassion is when we truly understand the spirit behind the saying, “One for All, and All for One.”

Between passion and compassion is the state of love. In passion, you are you, and I am I. Passion is individualistic. Love is fraternity, brotherhood and togetherness. Love is the union of you and I. Love is the mating of our distinct individualities. Love is where we meet. Love is where I am for you, and you are for me.

Let us summarize:
• Passion is You are You, and I am I. Passion is taking, taking, and taking.
• Love is You and I. It is taking and giving.
• Compassion is All, All, All. It is giving, giving, and giving.

At the level of passion, kama has been producing power-hungry Alexanders, Mahmuds of Ghazna, Genghis Khans, Napoleons and Hitlers.

At the level of love, we find Mahatma Gandhis, Martin Luther Kings and Mandelas. This is where we care for others.

At the level of compassion, we meet with Krishnas, Buddhas, Jesuses, Muhammads and other spiritual beings. This is the state of selfless service.

Kama is the third purushartha, or the third most important pillar in the structure of human life. We have previously discussed the first two, dharma and artha, or righteousness and wealth.

On higher planes of consciousness, kama transforms itself into sankalpa, or willpower. More on that later.

In the meantime, let us meet next week to explore the fourth and the last purushartha, moksha, the ultimate freedom, liberation, salvation, or whatever we may call it. Until then.

The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 120 books. To know more about his activities in Bali, call Aryana or Debbie on 0361 7801595 or 8477490; or visit and

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