'd like to write a little bit today on these three topics: fire, mantra & transformation.
This is a very relevant share for me, as much of my spiritual path has been shaped and molded through the application of fire and mantra.
And, like any legitimate spiritual path, the nature of this "work" and the work of spirituality (in general) is to prepare us for transformation.
Because it is the nature of life to trans-form. To change shapes. To take on new appearances. And to go through life without clinging to old and out-dated shapes or "forms". Indeed, all of creation is the result of trans-formation. From the moment the Infinite Divine Source decided to differentiate from One into Many (which was a process of TRANS-formation) i.e. the Big Bang, up until now, we are all undergoing varying degrees of transformation.
And the spiritual path, as far as I can tell, is a path from which the person -- whether they consider themselves "spiritual" or not -- acknowledges, accepts, and eventually allows this ongoing process of change and evolution.
Perhaps there is nothing "spiritual" about this -- perhaps it is merely the nature of Nature. Evolution. The impulse of the cosmos to beget more and more diverse iterations of the infinite formlessness which created us all to begin with.
All I know, is that for me, in my journey of "becoming" and growing into who I am today, I've had to trans-form. To change "formation" into new versions of "me". I've had to adapt new perspectives, new beliefs, new thought processes, and entirely new (and different) ways of living and being in the world.
All of which has led me to who I am today, which (at the risk of seeming self-aggrandizing) is more loving, compassionate, smarter, wiser, and generous version of the "me" that existed one year ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago... hell, the version of "me" today is hopefully better than the version of me that existed yesterday! [note: where by "better" I mean a version that is more generally beneficial to the existence in which it resides]
So. Enough about the topic of transformation. Moving onto Fire.
This element is so cool, don't you think?
Supposedly humans have been gathering around fires for more than a million years. I first learned of this fact from Dr. Robert Svoboda, and incredibly effective and powerful transmitter of ancient wisdom, especially the Vedic sciences. A did a brief internet search and found this piece of information which is very relevant to our discussion:
"The oldest unequivocal evidence, found at Israel’s Qesem Cave, dates back 300,000 to 400,000 years, associating the earliest control of fire with Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. Now, however, an international team of archaeologists has unearthed what appear to be traces of campfires that flickered 1 million years ago. Consisting of charred animal bones and ashed plant remains, the evidence hails from South Africa’s Wonderwerk Cave, a site of human and early hominin habitation for 2 million years."
So we can make a very profound conclusion that humans, and fire, evolved together. Woah. Think about that for a moment. Our brain and the development of our consciousness has been perhaps a direct result of our ability to harness the element of fire. Ummm. !!!!!
As we learned how to use fire as an effective tool, it in turn helped us accomplish our goals. And we must remember that every thing that has existence has its own will -- meaning fire's will to exist means that it wants to burn and stay burning. Nothing in existence can exist without a primal sort of will in this way. In order for a thing to BE in the first place, it has to have this impulse within it. The very nature of anything that exist is this intrinsic will. The yogis call this iccha shakti, which sometimes translates to desire, but is perhaps more accurately seen as cosmic will. The tangent here is to recognize that fire has it's own will, as do humans, and when the two "worked together", they sort of... helped one another. Just as any other thing in existence. It's not like striking a bargain with your neighbor. This is something far more primordial than that. Understanding this sort of... interconnection between different aspects of life helps us see the Oneness in all of it. However, this is not the main topic of our writing so we will save ourselves from what could become a long and winded tangent.
Back to the subject -- humans and fire co-evolved.
It is interesting to note that the fire element is related to the sensory organ of the eyes and of the perception of sight. In yogic metaphysics, each element corresponds to a different sense & perceptive capability. For example, smell is related to the Earth element. Taste with the water element. Fire with sight, as we mentioned. Touch with the air element. And finally, the sense of hearing with the element of ether. Why bring this up? Because a large majority of what we believe to be true is because we have "seen" it. And, if we want to change what we believe, we want to change what we "see". Or, perhaps more accurately, how we see. Easily said than done.
Yet, to the yogis, they understood these metaphysics on some deeply fundamental levels. They didn't just randomly select elements to correspond to different senses. They observed and practiced and the nature was revealed to them. It's not like fire never existed before humans came on the seen. Our early ancestors just, somehow, fortunately, we able to unlock the fire that was pre-existing in the dry wood and kindling in order to make it manifest. Just like an "E" note on a guitar string is inherent in the string itself... the string is merely an instrument to bring the sound of "E" into manifestation. The same was true for fire in this example. Humans just finally revealed it. For me, it is mind blowing to seriously contemplate this. Maybe for you, too. What my point here is that a yogi is one who brings forth the unmanifest and makes it manifest. They are the bridge from the unseen to the seen. This is the act of Creation. In a sense, it is a Big Bang happening on a micro scale ... and every single one of us has in our very possession the ability to Create. To make something never-before-seen.
However, to do this -- to properly Create -- we must learn how to interact with and influence the subtle elements that make up our nature, and all of Nature. Hence all the interest in fire.
Because not only does the fire element drive our sight (think about it: we consume with our eyes what we see, thereby "burning it up" and creating the "fuel" for what we think and believe about our reality) .... but Fire is the Great Alchemist. Fire converts objects of density to objects of less density. It releases matter from the grip of the physical properties that control it, and trans-forms it into ash (a universal fertilizer, by the way) and smoke, a combination of the air element and the ether element. It breaks things down. Essentially, fire is the universal converter. It exists on fundamental levels in our biology (how food is digested, for example), in our psychology (how thoughts/ emotions are processed), and in our ecology (how life is broken down to become compost for the next generation). The yogis would suggest that learning to build an actual relationship to this element would be of supreme benefit to any human being doing so. A few moments of contemplation and reflection on what has so far been exposed on this topic would be enough to come to the same conclusion. Perhaps. I am merely speculating. (Speculation comes from the same roots of the words "spectacle" "perspective" which come from the Indo-European root spek which means "to observe")....
So, yeah, fire is pretty cool. It's a huge part of the yogic science, and it actually pre-dates the system of yoga as propagated by Patanjali, but that is a topic for another time. What we can say is that fire was a part of the Vedas, the oldest known texts in human history, and so central a part of the Vedas that the first word ever recorded in written history is Agni -- fire. Agni, meaning fire (the root of the word "ignite"), is the first word, of the first verse, of the very first text of the Vedas. Think about that for a second.
I am at a loss for words to even continue writing as I feel that ending there is enough! To repeat -- the first written word EVER was Fire. What?!
Obviously our earliest humans cared a lot about this thing. I mean, yeah, makes sense.
Anyways! Fire. A cool thing.
I should rest for now and let you integrate this before I go into mantras. Because mantras are a form of igniting the "inner fire". But first, let's pause and absorb this so far.
Part Two will be written on Mantra. See you there.
(If you want to learn more about this... consider joining the upcoming YTT I'll be doing in Costa Rica from January 15 -- February 5, 2023... we will be working with elements of transformation, including fire and mantra, and the mechanics of spiritual transformation throughout this three week training. You will not only become equipped to teach yoga... but I've designed this training as a container of transmission. It will be much more than merely a 200 HR YTT... apply here to get on the waitlist now!)