• Emily Corley

Bodhisattva Inspiration, Fire Style



The Fire Element: Summer

This is one of those very hot late July mornings when I want to do nothing but sit in front of a fan or find air conditioning. Fire energy gets very close, in your face, has the capacity to rise up like a pot of boiling water. Its easy to follow the annoyances: the buzzing of the ever present flies, sweat, hot flashes, irritations. Or the exuberance: swimming at the beach with all our friends, parties, music, back yard barbecues, the explosion of activity. We almost feel guilty if we’re not participating.

On the inner level fire is about connection, intimacy, friendship. We read romance novels, feel lonely, dust off our ability to flirt, be dashing, funny and alluring. We cook and eat and laugh together.

On the deepest level fire is about love and devotion. Its about our capacity to live from the depth of what Christ called the Kingdom of Heaven.

Or not. Lately I have been feeling like that Kingdom is alien territory. My version looks more like what’s showing up this summer at the movie theaters (a.k.a. Cowboys and Aliens) strange, distant and foreign, shrouded in a vague depression. This too is the realm of fire. We’re on the right track if our ‘alien territory’ wakes us up.

My spiritual inspiration has arisen from many traditions over the years, beginning with my Catholic youth. With hearing the simplicity and purity of the Lord’s Prayer in what felt like a cathedral to a seven-year-old, St Patrick’s church in my hometown. With being asked to pray and not knowing how to pray in that church, both filled with people and so quiet you could hear a pin drop (or my new shiny, black, patent leather shoes clicking on the marble floors…).

Tibetan Buddhist teachings and meditation practice are now the core discipline of my spiritual journey. On this hot, hazy morning, wondering why I meditate, I am moved to share the inspiration that has done what fire will always do: transform the situation. Its both close and in my face: passionate, alive and very close to my heart.

This is a passage from a Sogyal Rinpoche’s book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which I recommend wholeheartedly. Sogyal Rinpoche is a warm, ordinary, and devout Tibetan Buddhist teacher who understands the western mind and experience. He writes:

"The teachings of all the mystical paths of the world make it clear that there is within us an enormous reservoir of power, the power of wisdom and compassion, the power of what Christ called the Kingdom of Heaven. If we learn how to use it – and this is the goal of the search for enlightenment – it can transform not only ourselves but the world around us. Has there ever been a time when the clear use of this sacred power was more essential or more urgent? Has there ever been a time when it was more vital to understand the nature of this pure power and how to channel it and use it for the sake of the world? …. What my masters and I are hoping to inspire here is a major leap forward toward the conscious evolution of humanity….The most compassionate insight of my tradition to the spiritual wisdom of humanity has been its understanding and repeated enactment of the ideal of the bodhisattva, the being who takes on the suffering of all sentient beings, who undertakes the journey to liberation not for his or her own good alone but to help all others….What the world needs more than anything is active servants of peace…bohhisattva lawyers, bodhisattva artists and politicians, bodhisattva teachers and scientists, bodhisattva technicians and engineers, bodhisattvas everywhere, working consciously as channels of compassion and wisdom at every level and in every situation of society…

And Teillard de Chardin:

Some day after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity,…we shall harness…the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

And Rumi:

O love, O pure deep love, be here, be now

Be all; worlds dissolve into your stainless endless radiance,

Frail living leaves burn with you brighter than cold stars:

Make me your servant, your breath, your core.”

Feel free to read the whole passage, pages 366-70.

Be inspired, you bodhisattvas!