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.
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.