“One needs fire. Without fire, there will never be anything. This fire is suffering, intentional suffering, without which it is impossible to create anything. One must prepare, must know what will make one suffer and when it is there, make use of it. Only you can prepare, only you know what makes you suffer, makes the fire which cooks, cements, crystallizes.. Suffer by your defects, in your pride, in your egoism. Remind yourself of the aim.’

Gurdjieff, Lectures, 1941

Transformation & Change of Being

How can we use suffering and what is transformation of suffering? Stir up the fire and put the heart on the coals. ~ Mayan Texts As many teachings suggest, suffering is inevitable in human life. The Fourth Way teacher, Maurice Nicoll, once wrote, “Life is a pain factory.” Fourth Way writers speak of various forms of […]

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The Nature of Suffering

Suffering is a fact of human life. Some people suffer more than others, but no one completely avoids it. Have we any choice about suffering? Though a good amount of the suffering we experience is unnecessary ­­–– the result of our identifications, our sleep, our vices— much is unavoidable, part of the human condition. Esoterically […]

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The Phoenix and the Peacock 

From Taoist master Liu Yiming (18th century), on the Phoenix and the Peacock, from Awakening the Tao A phoenix appears rarely, so it is an auspicious omen. Peacocks are always showing off their feathers, so they are taken captive. In this we observe the Tao of concealment and revelation, good and bad fortune. Those who are proud […]

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Firebird or Phoenix

The Phoenix – Transformation by Fire

The Phoenix The Phoenix story has roots going back to earliest recorded history, in ancient Egypt and Arabia, then in ancient Greece and the centuries-old fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm. Legends from many countries include the Persian Simurgh, Chinese Feng Huang, and Russian firebird (Zharptitsa). The Chinese firebird Feng Huang dates back at least 7,000 […]

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The Firing Process in Taoist Alchemy

Zhang Boduan was an 11th century Taoist alchemist of the Complete Reality Taoist school. Taoist alchemy aims to create the gold elixir (also called the golden pill, or the pill of immortality) through what is called a firing process. Basically, because the teaching is hidden in symbols, one needs to be taught the inner meaning. […]

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Cascade fire

The Cascade Fire

There was a wildfire recently where I live. In aftermath of the high velocity winds, over a hundred homes were destroyed. The California fire service called it the “Cascade Fire.” I finally drove through the burnt area a couple of weeks later. The top layer of the soil was black, the tree leaves burnt from […]

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Holy Fire – the Christian Tradition

The Christian tradition speaks of fire as a purification process. Other ancient traditions also speak of the heart on fire, with purification as a necessary step. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, fire and suffering are seen as a means of both purification and transformation. An angels speaks, in canto 27 of the Purgatorio: Holy souls, you […]

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The Simurgh & The Firebird – Magical Birds of God

Legends of the Firebird The Firebird is a magical bird in legends from Russia, Armenia, and the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Golden Bird. The mystical bird is often the object of a difficult quest. Some tales describe how, when it flies, its eyes sparkle and pearls fall from its beak. In the Russian tale, […]

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Rilke on Death – from his Letters

 Rilke’s poetry and letters dwell substantially on death and the transformation of suffering, as in these excerpts from his letters. From the Letters of Rilke We simply do not know what can be destroyed in a heart through suffering, or what suffering might achieve there. As a poet, one should not even take distress for a lover […]

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From the stories of the Desert Fathers: Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire.
He said: You must become entirely flame.