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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Grasping Fire

The Buddha's teaching is all about understanding suffering--its origin, its cessation, and the path to its cessation. When we contemplate suffering, we find we are contemplating desire, because suffering and desire are the same thing. Desire can be compared to fire. If we grasp fire, what happens? Does it lead to happiness? If we say: "Oh, look at that beautiful fire! Look at the beautiful colors! I love red and orange; theyre my favorite colors," and then grasp it, we would find a certain amount of suffering entering the body. And then if we were to contemplate the cause of that suffering we would discover it was the result of having grasped that fire. On that information, we would hopefully then let the fire go. Once we let fire go then we know that it is not something to be attached to. This does not mean we have to hate it, or put it out. We can enjoy fire, can't we? It is nice having a fire, it keeps the room warm, but we do not have to burn ourselves in it.

--Ajahn Sumedho, Teachings of a Buddhist Monk

James: It seems that a lot of us "Buddhists" forget the Buddha's teaching on the middle-way even though we know it on an intellectual level. What I mean is that we like to become martyrs and punish ourselves because we have passions and enjoyments. We do not have to be robots and statues to enjoy the fruits of the Buddha's teachings. The key, as Ajahn speaks of is to not attach to them one way or the other.

~Peace to all beings~

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Mac said...

Hey all, I just came across a wonderful article in the New York Times that I thought was very interesting. It talks about the recent studies done showing the roots of morality in primates. Here's the link:
peace and love!

trinitystar said...

treat everything like beauty to be desired and gazed on ... but do not try to hold it down ... good advice.

Lans Hobart said...

My experience is that the enjoyment of life is nothing to be avoided. In fact, it should be encouraged. James is absolutely right. We are not martyrs to our spiritual path. The difference lies in the grasping and clinging to the enjoyment. When we try to hold on, this is where the suffering begins.

The fire analogy is perfect. It's fine to sit and enjoy the beauty and warmth of the fire. Problems arise when the grasping begins.

Prashant said...

Hey James , Thanks for your comments. And i think i am going to learn a lot from you.
Wanna be friends???

smiles :)

And yes, i have happy buddhaa with me. Given to me by my friend.

Greenwoman said...

Thanks for the story and the wisdom James. I liked that story about fire very much.

Have you had a chance to see The Last Mimzy?'d love it!

Paul said...

I can be pretty foolish because in my own life it has been necessary to pick up the "fire" and get "burned" in order to understand it. Then, once "burned", it has been necessary to avoid becoming fearful or condemning of the "fire". Purely intellectual truth never seems to do it for me. I just don't seem to learn enough from such guidance alone.

david said...

this is a great teaching. really a beautiful metaphor.


James Ure said...


I'll check out that link...thanks!!

Trinity Star:

It is good advice. I try to remind myself of this everyday so that I can stay balanced.


Well said. I love the fire analogy as well.


I would love to be friends with you. :) Cheers!!

Green Woman: Haven't seen The Last Mimzy yet...thanks for the review. I'll have to check it out.


I think that many of us have to pick up the fire quite a bit before we "get it." I know I have had to do that many times myself.


You're quite Welcome. I thought that I'd post it as i got so much from it too.

James Ure said...


Wow, what an interesting article. I especially like the information on empathy, consolation and peacemaking amongst chimps--our cousins.

Avusa said...

I had the lucky of beeing with that man in Portuguese Biddhist Union, last year!!!

What a master!!!

James Ure said...

Wow Avusa!! That's awesome!!!

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