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Lessons from the Fire: Transformation or Stagnation?

Lessons from the Fire: Transformation or Stagnation?

Imagine you are sitting around a campfire with friends. You feel the warmth of the heat, but begin to be transfixed, almost hypnotized by the changing shapes of smoke dancing above the flames.

As the smoke moves in various patterns, a face can be seen. While forgetting your surroundings, you imagine the face you see in the smoke to be who you are. First you think, “How did I get in this smoke? Did I do something wrong? Am I being punished?” Perhaps, followed by the fear, “I’ve got to get out of here before this fire burns my smoke-shaped face.”

You even say out loud, “Hey, do you all see my face in the smoke?” No one does because from their vantage point, the smoke takes different shapes, offering a distinction in experience. As no one but you sees your face shaped out of the smoke in sight, you feel sadness. “No one sees me or understands the uniqueness of my experience.”

While the fate of the smoke-shaped face comes and goes, you suddenly realize, “I am not the shape of the smoke in sight, I am the witness of it.” You then return to your perspective as one of many observers sitting around a campfire. You say to the others, “I just had the wildest spiritual experience. I lost myself in the shape of a face I saw in the smoke, only to realize, the one experiencing it is so much bigger. I no longer think I am the smoke about to be burned by the fire. It can warm my skin, but it cannot touch the observer in any way. I now understand the nature of ego.”

As you share this insight to a mixture of resonance, silence, and confusion, the experience deepens. Everything you just realized was fundamentally true, but to stay there would be the creation of the spiritual ego. If ego were the face molded out of the smoke in view, the spiritual ego could only be the face of the one viewing it. Then you hear a voice within your heart, “Are you ready to go even deeper than this insight?” Just as you are about to answer yes, your experience changes. Suddenly, you realize the shapes coming and going in the smoke and each person sitting around you are all equal expressions of the fire in sight. It’s as if the identity projected onto the face molded out of smoke, and even the identities of the observers around you are all unique ways the fire gets to know itself.

When you thought you were a face dancing in smoke, your experience skimmed along the surface of reality, where you feared being burnt by the fire. Even when seeing yourself as the observer, you were a character separate from the power of the flame, close enough to be warmed by its heat, but without a direct realization of its infinite brightness and eternal power. Having taken things deeper, you have realized you are the eternal flame of existence, fueling the joy of self-discovery as both the observer of the fire and the beliefs projected onto the shape that smoke takes when viewing it.

As the fire, you are the Source of all experiences and the intersecting point of connection that makes you and the people around the campfire one united reality, even while experiencing it as separate witnesses or observers. Then a fear arises, “How will I stay the fire? What if the others begin engaging me as their separate observer selves and pull me back into my body?” Then your experience deepens: If the smoke and observer are equal expressions of the fire, then it cannot be wrong to experience myself this way. It was only limiting and dense when I thought I was only the face shaped out of smoke or the observer of the fire. Now that I know I am truly the fire within it all, just as everyone else is, I accept it is the will of the fire to explore interchanging experiences, whether as smoke, the appearance of people warmed by the flames, or the witness learning from its observations. You realize that even if pulled back into the infancy of smoke, or the adolescence of observation, you have always been the fire within it all; expressing the power of light that doesn’t know how to dim, diminish, or shine less brightly.

Applying this to your life, the faces shaped out of smoke are the ever-changing landscape of thought. You are not the character each thought suggests, but the source of thinking itself — existing just underneath the surface of your experience. The belief that you are these smoke-shaped thoughts and nothing else is the nature of ego. This is learned by the spiritual ego, or the observer of the smoke, which happens to be a more densely-shaped smoke imagining itself still separate from the fire in view. All the while, the truth of your infinite nature exists as a fire that cannot be extinguished that experiences itself as a world of thought and observers that come to life out of a timeless dance of smoke and ash.

Once you know yourself to be the fire burning brightly in every heart, it is the will of the fire, beyond the grasp and understanding of personal will, that decides whether any moment is experienced as the smoke, the observer, or the fire itself. From this space of clarity, being the smoke or the observer no longer contains fear or limitation, since it is merely the way in which an inextinguishable fire of consciousness grows and expands. The fate of smoke can change, just as the perspective of the observer. All the while, you are a fire burning brightly within and throughout it all, with nothing to figure out, process, or keep straight. Even if there were something to process, it would just be the billowing mental smoke that reminds you how intelligent and powerful of fire you happen to be. This is the moment you are free.

You cannot go backwards after knowing this. It’s not a belief to maintain or an idea to defend.

It’s just the way things are.

Now you can truly enjoy the magnitude of the campfire, no matter the differing experiences of those around you.

All for love,

Matt Kahn

Breaking the Habit: Strategies to Overcome the Tendency to Gossip

© Copyright 2024 Matt Kahn All For Love 

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