Something at the forefront of my mind recently has been the balance between passion and intellect.
I believe as human beings, we are always striving for this.
I like to think that, on a fundamental level, we are all everything. We are not just one thing as opposed to another—this quality and not that, this kind of person and not that kind. We are neither purely intellectual nor purely emotional. It appears as though striking a healthy balance between the two allows us to round out our personality and straighten ourselves out.
It seems to me there are two rather distinct energy fields operating within the domain of human consciousness. I know it is not that simple, but it certainly feels that way. There is the function of the intellect, the function of emotion, and a broad-ranging spectrum in between.
It is quite clear when we are operating in one field more than the other. For instance, when we get that “in our head” feeling of being detached from the physical world, totally enveloped in our thoughts and disconnected from our bodies, then we are acting largely out of our intellectual propensities.
Another example would be when we feel that kind of volatility and explosiveness (for example, the embittered ex-boyfriend or girlfriend), sensing everything that is happening capriciously and impulsively, finding ourselves unpredictable, perhaps even to the extent that we make erratic decisions that go against everything that we think. Like this, we are likely acting predominantly out of our emotional propensities.
Again, I know it’s not always that simple, but, for whatever reason, people tend to gravitate toward extremes. That’s certainly been the case in my experience—I’ve had my fair share of intellectual self-absorption as well as nonsensical, passionate excursions.
What I want is to attain a balance between these two forces—to harmonize the opposites within the deepest expanses of my own soul so I may move through the world powerfully and effectively.
Oscar Wilde in his novel, A Picture Of Dorian Gray, reinforces this sentiment:
“To note the curious hard logic of passion, and the emotional coloured life of the intellect—to observe where they met, and where they separated, at what point they were in unison, and at what point they were in discord—there was a delight in that! What matter what the cost was? One could never pay too high a price for any sensation.”
Here, Wilde intertwines the field of passion and the field of intellect and conveys the entangled nature of these two seemingly divergent forces.
He also alludes to the role of observation in regards to understanding the flux of these forces. If we can really inquire into our nature, observe our movements inwardly, and become aware of what is happening inside of us, we can potentially harness these forces and allow them to flow in unison.
Wilde goes on to explain the manners in which this quintessential balance unveils the mystery of life:
“Ordinary people waited until life disclosed to them their secrets, but to the few, to the elect, the mysteries of life were revealed before the veil was drawn away. Sometimes this was the effect of art, and chiefly of the art of literature, which dealt immediately with the passions and the intellect. But now and then a complex personality took the place and assumed the office of art, life having its elaborate masterpieces, just as poetry has, or sculpture, or painting.”
I’ve certainly found in my recent expeditions down the literary path, that there arises a certain quality of being, a deep feeling within myself that I suppose could be described as a sense of communion between my emotional body and my intellectual ambition. It’s like these things weave together and come alive within the workings of my own psyche—within the framework of my own soul.
He also describes the experiential side of this—that this internal harmony of passion and intellect is to be wholly embodied in real time. As is within, so goes without; which is to say our inner-state reflects how we interact with the world.
We cannot simply read something interesting and immediately become fully-actualized human beings. It takes a tremendous amount of effort, and some people are bound to be more gifted than others at personifying this quality of being—this balance of mind and body—in a manner that rightly coincides with the external world.
The way I like to think of it (and I try to implement this in my daily life as much as possible) is to approach my existence as an ever-extensive work of art. I’d like the myriad aspects of my soul to come together in a way that is deeply fulfilling and holistically effective. Life requires the art of balancing one’s passions with one’s intellect, and in looking at it this way I find I create a sense of flow in my life. A sense of togetherness as well as earnestness and sincerity in dealing with my problems.
“Soul and body, body and soul—how mysterious they were! There was animalism in the soul, and the body had its moments of spirituality. The senses could refine, and the intellect could degrade. Who could say where the fleshly impulse ceased, or the psychical impulse began? How shallow were the arbitrary definitions of ordinary psychologists! The separation of spirit from matter was a mystery, and the union of spirit with matter was a mystery also.”
It seems to me that the trick is to recognize we are made up of many things, perhaps most fundamentally of intellect and emotion. In truly seeing how we are encompassed by this vast collection of thoughts, feelings, fears, sorrows, joys, and a million other things, we may begin the work of bringing ourselves together as one unified force of nature—one field of consciousness.
Oneness. This is what we are after. A deep and abiding sense of equanimity.
Let’s continually cultivate this balance within ourselves, and perhaps through the process we will come to feel more grounded, more confident, and ultimately happier.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: The Awkward Yeti/Instagram
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Supervising Editor 1: Taia Butler
Supervising Editor 2: Catherine Monkman