Recovering The Inner Fire

Fire of Love

 Daniel N. Robinson, in one of his lectures relays the story of the King, Croesus, who had become so wealthy that for centuries after his death if someone became wealthy it was exclaimed: 'You've become as rich as Croesus!'  

 Now, as Robinson tells it, Croesus, who amassed a fortune, was "all puffed up with his own wealth and power." (Daniel N. Robinson Herodotus and the Lamp of History, Lecture 6, The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition, p. 89)  

 Here we have in Croesus, a prosperous being who 'had it all,' at least in external terms. Croesus possessed lots of land, houses and slaves. He had fine clothes to wear and beautiful things to behold. He regarded himself a comfortable or contented man. He was known to say: "I am the happiest man in the world."  

 Well, there was then another man whose name was Solon. Solon lived very differently and was known as a wise man. So wise, that for centuries after his death, it was said that the highest praise you could give to someone was to declare: "You are as wise as Solon!"

 As the story goes, Croesus, (who appears to have been lacking in the self-awareness department) was anxious to meet Salon to impress him with what he had attained. Like, da!! - as if Solon would care! 

 Which just goes to show that you can have attained everything the world has to offer and still feel insecure. Out of that insecurity, there is the feeling that there is always yet another person to try to impress.  

 You'd like, in particular perhaps, the approval of some widely respected wise man. It's been a little disconcerting after all, that the great wise man, Solon, has yet to appear at one of your grand bashes.

 Maybe, Croesus thought, if only Solon could see for himself all that he had accomplished,  he would be just as impressed as everyone else was.   

 Upon his arrival, Croesus led Solon through his palace and showed him the stately rooms, the fine carpets, the soft couches, the rich furniture, the pictures, and all the books. Then he invited him out to see his gardens, orchard and stables. He showed the thousands of rare and beautiful things that he had collected from all parts of the world. 

There then comes the exchange between the two men, as Professor Robinson imagines. Says Coresus: 'I'm so 'very, very happy to meet you.  You're a wise men, etc., etc., and the conversation doesn't go very far before Croesus asks: "By the way, who would you say is the happiest of men?"  

 Now you know of course what Croesus is hoping to hear. "Who would you describe as the most fortunate of all human beings in your acquaintance?  Nothing personal here, mind you; just sort of tell me here in this royal setting, well, who would you say is the most fortunate of people? Who would you say is the happiest of men?"    

 "Solon responds by mentioning first somebody that no one has ever heard of, and Croesus wants to know who that is. "Well, oh, he's just someone greatly admired by his people."

 "Oh, well, all right. Well, who would you say is the second most fortunate man you've ever known?" The questions are pathetic and you just know that Croesus is not going to be able to impress the wise man. For Solon does not think for a moment that Croesus knows anything about happiness. Croesus is just another in a long line of beings who has lost his soul in the attempt to gain the world. 

 Stories abound throughout history of people who have been caught up in worldly pursuits and who have lost touch with the spiritual dimension of their existence. Perhaps once there were considerations of a spiritual nature but after years of neglect, the light has gone out and the why of one's being has become fuzzy. The vision has become ancient history, now dim, blocked out by this or that distraction.  

 How easy it is to forget an early vision of a life of inspiration, wholeness and integrity!

 At my ordination to be a Protestant minister, the words were read from Jeremiah: "But if I say, I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name, his word is in my heart like a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot." (Jeremiah 20:9) The fire of conviction burned so strongly in me.  

 When in my life I've lost touch with that inner fire, I have been the most miserable of human beings, for, quite frankly, I have never tasted anything that compares with the experience of the fire of God's love that had literally knocked me to the ground when I was twenty years old. It was the pivotal experience of my life. 

 My life has ever been about whether I would remain true to that inner experience or not. I recall at the time that everyone I consulted downplayed or minimized my experience. I began to feel almost apologetic that I'd had such a powerful experience. Perhaps, I thought, if I'd been more balanced such a thing would never have happened to me!  

 Many years have passed, however, and nothing has changed. The experience of the inner fire, filling me up and knocking me down, remains the experience against which I measure everything else.   

 I reread Eric Baylin recently, a man who I'm certain would understand the explosive nature of my spiritual experience.  

 Eric writes about how in deep meditation he saw himself as he was at five years of age. The experience was revelatory.

 He calls it a moment of unmasking - a "grace filled moment of deep recollection." The experience in deep meditation helped him to recover the why of his existence that had become fuzzy over time. 

 While meditating, he saw himself in a tunnel-like space, zooming from his current age backwards towards childhood. At the end of the tunnel - there he was at the age of five!  

And what did he see in his five year old self? A face that was shining with light and a corresponding sense of a "brilliantly alive feeling."

Eric says that the reconnection with his five year old self was "a startling moment of recognition." He saw that that little boy was in touch what something essential, something that "lay at the heart of who I am."  

 He thought in response: 'How could I ever have forgotten that and how I felt?'

 Inwardly, Eric embraced that shining light and then started zooming back toward his present age and size.  

 As he travelled back, he saw the various roles he had played, all of which had served, as he became attached to them, to bury that sense of himself as "shining light."  

 He says that there were certain feeling qualities associated with each role he had played - with each mask he had put on. He then says: "I was none of these. Only the shining feeling was real."  

 When Eric came out of meditation, the feeling stayed with him. "Again and again I repeated. Don't ever forget this. Don't ever forget this. Don't ever forget this."  

 But we do forget, don't we? We forget what we cared about most. As I said, the why of our existence gets fuzzy. We casually dismiss the intangibles that shaped our deepest sense of being and instead focus on endless diverting practicalities. 

 Eric's insight because of the meditation experience was: "What I had taken for real, the costumed layers of my life, had only shielded me from the "shining interior of the heart." Eric confesses that he had buried what was most real in order to get on with this or that in his life.

 He now resolved never again to lose touch with that shining light and its world of wonder and possibility."

 He quotes from the Meditation Master, Gurumayi, who said: "Once you see the face of the Truth, even for a second, you can never forget it. In that brief moment, the Self fills your heart with its own essence, which is ambrosia. It fills your mind with its essence, which is knowledge, and your understanding of life is permanently altered." 

 It is, Eric concludes, that in that most intimate and innermost sense of ourselves that we discover the Divine." - the why of our existence. (Eric Baylin, The Mask of Shiva, Darshan magazine 1996, #117, p. 14)  

 I can do no better here than to share the challenging words of Gurumayi to remain in the awareness of the inner light, the inner fire: She says: "We meditate to maintain this experience at all times. So that this brightness will illuminate our minds, our intellects, our hearts, and our entire being."

 "The practice is within you. It is nowhere else. To experience God you do not have to go to a temple, a mosque or a church. (Although surely you will go somewhere to keep the company of those who share the spiritual journey.)  There is no more "you have to" or "you are supposed to."  Wherever you are, the experience is there. Wherever you go, the practice goes with you." 

 Gurumayi continues: "As you start conserving energy in the body, and instead of misusing the energies of the body, mind and speech, you allow this fire to grow with you, then, when you do speak, your words have power.  When you do think, your thoughts have power. Wherever you go, your presence has power."

 "This is the fire of love. The Lord is fire. Do not lose touch with this. Always stay absorbed in it. This fire has been awakened inside, so remain aware of it and allow this fire of grace to work through you and for you."  

"Never, never leave the inner contemplation. Never, never leave the inner fire." (Gurumayi Chidvilasananda p. 171  Kindle My Heart Vol 11) 

 In closing, I would like to share the poetry of Mirabai who was struck by the fire of love and totally overwhelmed by it. In her song she says: 

 "O Mother, what kind of love is this? 

The pain of separation has not left me,

But still the happiness of the self is incessant.

What kind of love has been awakened in me?

 O Mother, what kind of love is this?

I am suffering from the pain of separation, 

Yet I am so ecstatic.

I am ecstatic and miserable at the same time.

 What kind of love is this?

My body is burning with the fire of love.

My eyes are flowing with the light of love.

It seems that all the sins and sorrows and cravings of my life

Have been used as fuel for the fire of this love.

 In the madness of this love,

I have forgotten the distinction between the lover and the beloved.

I laugh in love.  I cry in love.

I lose myself completely in love.

 What state has befallen me?

What has become of me?

Whatever I turn, I see only my Lord, my Beloved.

My ears hear only the sound of His flute,

And in my heart the Lord is seated.

 O Mother, what kind of love has been awakened in me?

I am blessed with both the bliss of meeting Him and the pain of separation.

Mira seeks refuge in You, O Lord. 

I beg you, come to me at the last moment

And meet me in death.

 O Lord, what kind of love is this?

What kind of absorption?

I am madly in love."   

What we are