Revelation by Fire

This last week is about reflection–about what we’ve learned during the last month. So much has happened. So many trials…have I passed?

That was my question this morning during prayers. In studying the Gathas I picked up on how personal Zarathushtra was in his prayers/conversations with the divine. His words are poetic but not contrived. He pleads, he begs, he celebrates, he questions, he’s…a man–like many of us–in search of truth.

I found this verse a few days ago which resonates with me quite deeply:

“I will sing Your praise
uniting myself to the Good Mind. Bless this work
begun in Your name, O Mazda Ahura. As long as I have
the will and the strength
so long will I preach the search for Truth.”

–The Gathas, Yasna 28: 4

I’ve chosen this verse as the official prayer for Project Conversion; to help me begin each day. And so I recited this prayer this morning in the presence of my new fire pot.

This month has been a whirlwind. Who is right? Where is the proof? With whom do I associate? I stared at the flame as it whipped about, much like the darshan ritual of the Hindus as they seek the face of the divine.

“Lord, I am here. Confusion and struggle have drawn me into the dark. This is as far as I can go on my own. I ask you to meet me here and guide me out. I cannot do this alone.”

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and the questions stopped. This is where prayer–that is, speaking–ends and meditation (listening) begins. The noise returned but I let go, one by one, the battle sounds–the clang of metal and screams–of confusion and frustration. Consciousness gradually seeped inward. My skin numbed and my head slowly bowed. I felt heavy, as if the mass of my being gravitated toward a hotter, brighter core. I couldn’t think. I could only be.

Then, something odd happened. In that absolute silence, I felt compelled to reach toward the flame. I opened my eyes and found the flame still–an orange and blue spear-point of light and heat. I spread my palms over the flame and as in darshan, washed my face with the warmth. But once wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I didn’t want to leave this place. Peace…hot, dense, abstract peace was within and without me in a space that defied everything. Nothing else mattered. It’s as if I gleaned the wink of God himself.

And then, in my ecstasy, the fire burned my hand.

I snatched my hand back and cringed. It was as if God had smacked my hand for peeking behind the curtain; for tasting forbidden fruit. But it wasn’t long before a narrative as clear as morning birdsong unfurled in my mind. I closed my eyes and bowed my head. This is what I learned.

Just as the Zarathushtis teach, Fire is the symbol of God because it exists on our visible plane, but cannot be expressed fully in terms as matter. Fire then, straddles the worlds of matter and spirit. Since the dawn of modern man, we have used fire’s heat to warm our homes, cook our food, brighten the night, and illumine our imaginations. All these things, all of these uses, come from the light and warmth of fire–its manifestations–but not fire itself. We cannot know fire itself because it is pure expression of both spirit and matter and thus destroys anything that is too close. Only fire can know fire and is therefore joined with itself when two flames meet.

Mankind, and everything else in existence, is a combination of matter and the divine spark (fravashi). This is why we cannot fully know God–not because he doesn’t desire us to–but because he is pure expression (Fire) and therefore the matter that makes up the other half of our being is dissolved upon contact. We interpret this as pain, or being burned. Only when our souls are released from this existence can the flame that is our spirit fully interact with its divine source. The warmth and light by which we perceive and enjoy God is via his attributes are what the Zarathushtis call the Amesha Spentas. They represent such aspects as Truth, Wisdom, Devotion, Love, and Asha among others. They are the Warmth and Light we can interact with.

The lesson went deeper. On a more practical level, the flame reminded me that we as creatures of matter and fire, are called to interact with both. To constantly seek the divine (to touch the flame) and forsake our companionship with the matter of creation is contrary to our existence. We are to love our fellow creation. We are to long for one another–from atoms to humans–because we are all the sparks of God’s creative thought.

Ahura Mazda’s First Thought
blazed into myriads of sparks of light
and filled the entire heavens.”
–The Gathas, Yasna 31: 7

Frashokereti–that moment when everything is made perfect and wonderful–cannot happen until we all coalesce as one in purpose, truth, and light. We see the warmth of the divine spark in one another and are drawn to it, because man is naturally drawn to the flame. It is primal. It is us.

So as we pray, as we seek God, do not forget your life and all therein. Our world was created and ourselves placed within that we might enjoy every discovery and moment of existence.

As the narrative faded in my mind, the weight inside me grew lighter, warmer. A fiery bloom unfurled inside my chest and all the questions and conflict of the month burned away. I was thoughtless, without worry. I could finally open my eyes. No scar or redness on my hand. I looked up.

The flame in my fire pot was gone.

Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr
  • Pagolesher

    Thank you.

  • Nicole

    Beautiful :) Welcome to the inner life…to feel the Divine presence within oneself is the sweetest blessing…you will never forget it. After such, one develops shraddha…a Sanskrit term mistranslated as faith…but what really means a deep seated feeling that no matter how many doubts may plague one’s mind…if your heart you know that Divine Love is real and present…

    Never let that go.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you. I’ll be sure to hang on for dear life.

  • Candace Moore Hill

    Excellent Andrew. Well said and well done. There’s a verse to a song that goes:

    If no for my tears, I would burn in the fire of my love
    If not for the fire, I would drown in my tears.

  • Nina

    Hey Andrew,

    The images in this prayer have always intrigued my small mind. Your words about the symbol of fire brought the line to my thoughts. No great wisdom to offer here, just more things to wonder about.

    “I entreat Thee, O my Lord, by Thy Most Great Name whereby Thou didst separate light from fire, and truth from denial, to send down upon me and upon such of my loved ones as are in my company the good of this world and of the next. Supply us, then, with Thy wondrous gifts that are hid from the eyes of men. Thou art, verily, the Fashioner of all creation. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Most High.

    (Baha’u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u'llah, p. 125)

    Thank you for adding your voice to the “good of this world”
    :) Nina

  • World Wonderer

    There’s a special tablet in the Baha’i Faith called “The Fire Tablet.” Some excerpts: “…Indeed the hearts of the sincere are consumed in the fire of separation: Where is the gleaming of the light of Thy Countenance, O Beloved of the worlds? Those who are near unto Thee have been abandoned in the darkness of desolation: Where is the shining of the morn of Thy reunion, O Desire of the worlds?… Coldness hath gripped all mankind: Where is the warmth of Thy love, O Fire of the worlds?…Darkness hath enveloped most of the peoples: Where is the brightness of Thy splendor, O Radiance of the worlds?…Thou seest the Dayspring of Thine utterance in the darkness of creation: Where is the sun of the heaven of Thy grace, O Light-Giver of the worlds?…Were it not for the cold, how would the heat of Thy words prevail, O Expounder of the worlds? Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds?…Should all the servants read and ponder this, there shall be kindled in their veins a fire that shall set aflame the worlds,” Bahá’u’lláh.
    Baha’is believe there is but one sun and it’s light is reflected in the pure, polished mirrors of God’s Manifestations, the Prophets of all the world’s major religions including Zoroaster.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve always enjoyed the mirror metaphor.

  • Kitsune


    I disagree with your theory. To me, you missed a point that was being made. Why were you bringing the Divine to you? Why did you not bring yourself to It instead, or meet It halfway? In your ecstasy, you became, for lack of a better word, greedy. Even in Zarathushi they teach you that you are a partnership, and in such a relationship it takes two to make it work, does it not?

    Much like a parent, the Divine seems to have tried to “correct your behavior”, metaphorically speaking, and much like a lover, the Divine also comforted and consoled you. Just like mythology stories, there are always several points to any lesson that is being told. Icarus fell from the sky not because the Gods decided to punish him, but because he failed to listen and instead was drunk on the ecstasy of freedom and joy. It is wonderful to feel that soul exploding feeling that comes with being in the presences of the Divine, but don’t forget your head.

    Don’t be that shy and awkward guy who stammers and stutters when a pretty girl talks to him. lol

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for your thoughts, Kitsune, however I’m not sure we are looking at the same post because everything you’ve said here aligns with what my post revealed.

      In your first objection, you ask why I brought the divine to me instead of going to it. In my post’s opening I shared my prayer in saying that I had gone as far as I could in understanding and effort and I asked the divine to help me see Truth (as Zarathushtra constantly states in his prayers). Would this not be the two of us “meeting half way”? In your own tradition, do you not invoke the gods according to their abilities to assist you in daily life? I did the same.

      In your second objection, you talk about not forgetting my head while in the ecstasy of the divine. Again, my post clearly marked two learning points: the first was the metaphoric realization of God’s nature in Fire. The second was the practical application of not forgetting to live, love, and function in the material world (that is, apply what you’ve learned) because creation and interaction with the creation is just as important as seeking the divine. In other words, live a balanced life. This is what Zarathushtra taught over and over again.

      • Kitsune

        Maybe I was not understanding the post correctly or expressing what I was asking correctly, and that is completely my fault. What I probably should have asked instead was why did you not lean into the flame? When I said why didnt you go to the Divine, I meant leaning in, or bringing the flamepot closer to you, since you equate the Divine with Fire. A miscommunication on my part, please forgive the confusion. I dont think you would have been burned if you had brought your face closer into the warmth and light, but then again, you probably would not have learned this lesson either.

        In my second point, I was trying to specifically talk about that moment between you wanting more of the warmth and you being burned. I completely agree with your observation of living a balanced life and not just focusing on the spiritual part. Balance is very important, and Zarathushtra and every other prophet knew this, and this is no exception in my beliefs. I wasnt trying to dispute that part. =) Another miscommunication on my part. Again, I dont think you would have been burned if you had not “lost” yourself in the Divine in that* moment, but yet again this lesson wouldnt have been learned either.

        Please let me know if this makes more sense. :)

        • Anonymous

          Very clear, thank you. Indeed, there are times when we long so deeply for answers…for a gleaning, that when we recieve them, we don’t want to let go. This month was a longing for me to find a simple comfort, a safe place, and when i finally discovered the divine in that fire (my window for this month), that i didn’t want to let go. The burn was the “waking” from the daydream, that teaching moment when i must leave the etheral plane i am visiting and return to my world fresh with insight

          • Kitsune

            I can honestly tell you that it gets…. well, easier. The intensity of the Divine never lessens, and in fact will only increase, but as you become familiar with the Divine, you begin to be able to hold yourself together better. Good luck Andrew, and Blessings to you in whatever form you need. :)

          • Anonymous

            Blessings to you, my friend.

  • Phyllis

    Hi Andrew,

    I really look forward to reading your posts – you write with such clarity and poetic vision – and this particular piece moved me deeply. You captured the lifelong struggle to reconcile our dual nature. I’m hoping it’s appropriate to share here something I wrote a few years ago that expresses my own efforts to balance the material and spiritual aspects of my being. The imagery is different – air symbolizes the physical world and water the spiritual reality – but the theme is the same, I think, as what you are writing about.


    Since the beginning of the idea of me, I have been dolphin – ocean-dweller, air-breather.
    Not fish, who lives and breathes in water.
    Nor bird, who lives and breathes in air.
    Rather some paradox, some tangled form whose essence is two realms interwoven.
    I was conceived in the world of spirit and will return there;
    I swim nowhere but in the ocean, yet I cannot fill my lungs with it,
    for I am – in this phase of my journey – dependent on the material world.
    To finish my work here I must hold focus,
    resign myself gracefully to this dependence and not lament it,
    Use it to keep me humble and grounded, remembering always to be grateful
    for the life-affirming urge to visit the surface.

    Each separate dream of each separate being on each separate night is an expedition by itself
    And all are threaded together to become nothing more than one instant in God’s ancient dream.
    In the first scene of the first act in the play of my life, I found my Lord, the Best-Beloved
    And I – still so unaware – heard with inner ear the whispering of His voice
    And knew with a certainty that had no beginning or end what God dreamed for me.
    He has dreamed that I am designed for the work of unity.
    He has fashioned my soul to reflect His Name the All-Connecting
    Has molded my heart to sing His Name the All-Embracing
    Has shaped my will to proclaim His Name the All-Loving
    Every wave and current and tide since my earth-birth has moved me in this direction.

    Hundreds and thousands are the lovers who have pulled me,
    Uncountable the whims of the universe that have tweaked my path.
    To name every one I would have to write word upon word upon page upon page
    Until I am too old and tired to hold a pen.
    To condense them onto one leaf, gather them all into a single symbol,
    Is a job for someone more perseverant than I.
    For I am only dolphin, and I have much work still to do.
    How can I write when I’m swimming?
    How can I swim when I’m breathing?
    How can I breathe when my longing
    Drags me drowning into the sea?

    Phyllis Unterschuetz 6/6/06

  • Michael Solender

    Perhaps in the stillness and mindful contemplation, your reach for the fire was a reminder that even when we achieve inner peace, calm and even perhaps understanding, there is the physical world in which we exist – complete with dangers such as fire and the presence of man made and natural occurrences that we need to coexist with. Maybe this was a yearning to find the boundary for that coexistence or maybe it was nothing more than the simple act that it was. Regardless there is indeed a powerful metaphor I think in knowing spirituality, belief and God exist both within us and outside of our being. Just as stones can fill an empty glass to the point where no more can be added, water can be poured into that glass and occupy considerable space and volume, so can extemporaneous influence and counter belief permeate our thoughts and actions though on the surface or in our minds, souls and spirits are quite full like the glass filled with stones. You may have learned more in this experience than you are aware of at present..a thought provoking post.

    • Anonymous

      The water/stones in a class is a perfect analogy Michael. I think you’re spot on, however only time will tell the details.

  • Pennylg

    I love your explanation of the metaphor of fire as a symbol of the divine – straddling the worlds of matter and spirit; we can only know it by its attributes but cannot truly “know” fire itself. Well put! Thanks for sharing your marvelous insights, Andrew.

  • Pingback: Coolnesses major and minor | sightless among miracles

  • KoraKaos

    Eloquent and lovely. I stumbled across you today; I think I’ll follow you and see what more you have to say. Namaste.

  • Phyllis

    You’re welcome to share this poem however you like, and I appreciate your keeping my name attached to it. It’s interesting to hear your interpretation, which is different from what I was thinking when I wrote the poem, although it works just as well – or maybe better in some ways. I see myself immersed in the spiritual world (water), but because I am still dependent on the material world at this stage in my journey, I cannot yet give myself over to completely to the ocean. Like a dolphin I am still continually drawn back to the surface to breathe the air. My yearning for the spiritual world draws me down into the depths, but my realization that I still have a lot of work to do on the physical plane means I have to keep coming back up. I wrote this in response to an assignment in a dream circle; the facilitator asked us to describe in one page an image that summed up our life’s journey and purpose. Thanks for your interest. I’m happy the poem is meaningful to you and delighted that you want to share it with others!