Life and Fire

September 27, 2011
Jesus said, “I have cast fire upon the world, and look, I’m guarding it until it blazes.”  —Gospel of Thomas, 10

People love fire. They cook with it, they dance around it, and they like to just sit around and watch it. Why are people so attracted to fire? The answer is that life and fire are two similar processes. Both processes involve light and matter.

I’ll explain what I mean.

If there were no light, there would be nothing. Every particle in the universe would be motionless, and the temperature would be absolute zero. Absolute zero means no heat. No heat means no motion. No motion means no space-time. No space-time means nothing.

If the last light were to go dim, the universe would no longer exist.

Light might be called “eternal,” since the universe began with light’s warm touch (which implies that light does not originate in the physical universe). Light means heat, and heat means motion. When things move, things happen!

Light gives matter energy to move around and get into different configurations, like carbon atoms and water molecules and amino acids. Light also provides the energy that the right concoction needs to bridge the gap between being and being alive. In a sense, light is life!

Light—the Sun—makes life possible.

Once alive, matter needs light (and other things) to sustain its life. Plants receive light energy from the Sun and store it. When the plants die, their matter still contains light energy, which becomes part of the soil and enriches it for other life to use until the light energy’s release from matter.

If a plant is eaten, its light energy is passed on to an animal, which uses some of the light energy in its own body and passes the rest on as bodily waste. Bodily waste is also useful to fertilize soil, as it is still rich in light energy. When the animal dies, its light energy stays with its body until passed on through digestion, decay, or eventual burning.

Of course, plants can burn, too—even better than animals. This is because their light energy is less diluted with other compounds: it’s more “pure” in plants than in animals. When organic (plant or animal) matter burns, the light energy that entered the original plants is released from matter, back into light:

Light energy + Matter = Organic Matter

and

Organic Matter – Light energy = Matter

Organic combustion is the separation of light energy and matter. When we watch a fire, we are witnessing the escape of light energy from organic matter. This includes the burning of petroleum products, since petroleum (as a fossil fuel), is formerly organic matter that still retains its light energy. That’s why it can burn so well!

When we watch a fire, we are effectively watching a resurrection, the return of light energy from its temporary entrapment in matter back to its original state of unbounded freedom.

The absence or presence of life in matter parallels the cycle of light energy in organic matter. Light is the visible manifestation of Life in matter, and fire sets light energy free from matter! That’s why light—especially fire and particularly the Sun—captivates us so.

(Written in 2006 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)

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We Are Alone in This World

September 19, 2011

We are all utterly alone in this world. Though we may share the company of other people, we are ultimately our own companions.

When we hurt, we alone hurt, even if others try to hurt with us. When we exult in our achievements, we enjoy them ourselves, though others may pat us on the back. People come and go in our lives.

Have you reconciled yourself with the fact that you will die alone?

Someone may be present at both your birth and your death, but when you shed your mortal coil you will leave them behind—alone, as they always have been. In the days in between, that person will not have been a constant companion; you will have celebrated and grieved without them at some point in your life.

And they will have done the same without you.

We try to console ourselves from the thought of our isolation from others by surrounding ourselves with other people, or animals, or things. There is value in this, as long as we don’t succeed in deluding ourselves that we truly share our lives with others. Our lives are our own and, though we may seek to share them with others, other people don’t share our experiences or our perspective.

They can’t.

Our experiences are what we are. Not only do they affect who we are, but they proceed from us. Our mindset creates our experiences as we are reflected back to ourselves in the events and relationships that comprise our human existence.

Paradoxically, though, we are not alone. As our deepest selves are reflected in our experiences, we can come to know ourselves intimately by paying attention to what happens in our lives, all around us.

In this way, all that we know and all that we can see is part of us while we are alive.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


When I Die

September 15, 2011

Even when I die, I shall live…not as I, because he will be dead. But, though I be gone, the real I, which pervades All and never dies, lives on in all beings–so that I continue to live in all beings.

I will live their experience as they live, breathe, and move. I am and will be them, too.

I will be the caterpillar crawling on the dew-covered leaf. I will swim with my fellows in the blue waters of the Caribbean. I will crawl through caves, blind, where light never reaches. I will experience childbirth—both natural and “modern.” I will die on the battlefield (again?).

I will know love, hate, and sorrow. I will be rich and I will live richly. I will live a tragic life, dead before I’m grown—at my own hand.

I will experience, through All That Is, Life—in its full intensity and meaning.

All That Is is in me, living through me, connecting me intimately with all of Life. Call it Brahman or God or Life or All That Is; it’s the same. It’s One.

It’s you and it’s me. Can you see it?

(Written in 2004 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


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