Watching the fire ~ how to go beyond emotions and passions

Watching the fire ~ how to go beyond

Imagine that your strongest feelings, those emotions that you simply cannot control or order, and which drive you to the brink of breakdown are not simply inside your mind. See those feelings as a fire in a desert place, blocking your path onward.

It’s a hot fire, burning with fury and the heat coming from it is intense and you can feel your skin scorch as you stand too near.

You might try and put the fire out by pouring water on it, but there is no water source nearby and the water you carry is insufficient and
moreover you need it for your journey ahead, if you are ever able to move past this conflagration.

You might also think of using your coat to smother the flames, or indeed kick sand onto it, but this is fraught with danger. You will almost certainly get yourself seriously burned and maybe even burn up totally.

But the fire is blocking your way and there’s no way around it.

So what to do?

Sit down, a short distance away where you can feel the warmth of the flames but not so close it is uncomfortable. Now is the time to watch those licking tongues of fire, and see the dancing images hidden inside them.

Watch the fire.

After a time, you will see that it has lessened. Do nothing yet. Watch.
Keep watching.

In good time, the fire will burn all its fuel and it will go out and
then, you may pass. If you try to put the fire out, you will just
fuel it, but if you let it consume itself, it will reach its natural

So it is with powerful emotions like rage and jealousy, those fires that will destroy if you let them. Do not feed them but let them consume themselves and you will be left with harmless ash that the wind will blow away and leave no trace.

I’ve made it sound easy but I know from bitter experience it is not easy at all. But it is possible, and knowing it is possible means making the jump from a cerebral knowledge to putting it into practise much more feasible. Each time I find myself overwhelmed with emotions that seem to rampage like rioting madmen through my soul, I try to step back and think of that fire burning in the desert, and once a small part of my consciousness recognises that this state is, and must be, temporary, I find that the rioters lay down their weapons and eventually walk away, muttering.

It’s sure worth a try rather than letting those passions rule you and make you do and say things you regret later.

12 thoughts on “Watching the fire ~ how to go beyond emotions and passions

  1. You express it much more eloquently than any other I have read or heard; and invariably give a hopeful outcome, too. Thank you, once again, for finding the way through. K x


  2. This sounds similar to what I tell the kids when they complain about things that aren’t that great: Use mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

    In other words, the more it bothers you, the more it will bother you.


    • It is a good way of getting through difficult things.
      Beware, what you tell your kids, they one day tell back to you; my daughter does this to me now a lot!!


  3. I love the imagery but I know I would find it tough to do in practice as would prefer a quick resolution. Emotional explosions are more my nature – turning the fire on to itself to put it out. It is really whatever works for the individual. But the quiet fire-watching sounds much more peaceful and will certainly give it a try next time. Great advice.


    • I tend towards the explosive side myself, which is why my mentor told me about this method. I don’t always(often) manage it.
      I do also know what you mean about resolution; I get obsessed with closure in particular.
      Thank you for visiting. It means a lot to me!


  4. Hello, Vivienne,

    I have just come across this meditation of quiet fire watching on your website.
    I’d be very interested to know where it comes from ?
    from what traditional teaching: is it Zen, Daoist, Indian ?? or what?
    thanks a lot for any information,

    I am a person, but not knowing Aboriginal Australian language, was unable to write privately.



    • hello Jean-Marie. The basis for this meditation was taught to me by someone who is from the Coptic Christian tradition but I think it may originate in Sufi teaching.
      I hope that helps.
      best wishes,


  5. Thanks a lot, Viv
    I was surprised, because I have it in a Taoist book
    with other scenes to watch quietly, such as mountain, waterfall, clouds, the tide,evergreens, and blossoms, for different benefits related to their kind of energy
    so enjoyable
    all the best,


    • I think that many of the traditions share concepts and practices; truth, after all, does not wear labels!
      Glad you enjoy this sort of meditation. I’ve written quite a number of guided meditations using aromas, and even a small pamphlet of them. Have a look on the side bar under meditation or on the page marked meditating with aromatics.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.