Burning Issues

As far as consciousness is concerned, we are in the Information Age. Ideas spread quickly, like wildfire, via the world-wide-web, which is as fine a literal metaphor for our interconnectedness as any.

By Joey Ayala

Greg Rakozy

Three things cannot long be hidden:
the sun, the moon, and the truth.
— Buddha


FIRE IS IN ALL things, both literally and figuratively, because fire is in the sun and without the sun, well, there wouldn’t be what there is now.

Fire was cast down by the sky-gods in the form of lightning. It was a firebird come to feast upon and nest in the forest.

It leaps from the earth’s bowels in a geological orgasm, in a mating of molten rock and atmosphere.

It is the energy serpent that zaps upwards from our anatomy’s nether regions through our spine, to light up our chakras like a sci-fi movie special effect.

It is, as the churches of guilt would have it, from a place of infinite burning, a place of suffering and damnation — the color-coordinated wallpaper of an obsessive-compulsive interior designer named Satan. And it is also the angelic sword that bars our way back to biblical Eden.

It is the presence of the Holy Spirit, hovering above heads anointed with virgin oil (or, at least, low-cal canola). It is the flame in the speaking bush that made Moses the first recorded victim of the cosmos’ Candid Camera sense of humor.

Fire is heaven, fire is hell. Fire is the suns in the sky. Fire is in the eyes of your lover and in the heat of your loins. It is the birthday candle and the cremation. It is the Phoenix resurrection and the burst of spirit that photocopied Jesus’ face onto his mummy bindings.

Fire was probably the first television set. Our ancestors gathered around it and gazed into its seductive writhing for hours on end, thus inventing primetime programming, entertainment and sinugbang stegosaurus all in one pre-historical swoop. Censorship came much later, of course.

Even the history of the human race can be traced through its use of and relationship to fire and the sun.

Nomadic hunting and gathering was the direct pursuit of solar energy — we followed around whatever animals and vegetables and fruit happened to be in season just as we followed fire in its natural forms and tried to capture it. (Animals and plants, by the way, are expressions of forms of solar energy via photosynthesis.)

Agriculture was a recognition of cycles and patterns, a taming of plants and livestock, and the domestication of fire was a taming of the sun. Human started burning wood and learned to cook — one step removed from direct consumption of solar heat and products of photosynthesis.

Then we started burning coal and oil — ossified wood and ancient organic stuff. Another step further away from the sun. And the Industrial Revolution went into high gear.

Then we started probing for the suns hidden in atoms, moving even further away from the Sol yet moving towards it at the same time. The Nuclear Age.

And here is where we teeter-totter, energy-wise at least.

As far as consciousness is concerned, we are in the Information Age. Ideas spread quickly, like wildfire, via the world-wide-web, which is as fine a literal metaphor for our interconnectedness as any.

The time it takes for a critical mass of idea-sparks to accumulate has been cut down to the time it takes to construct and send an e-mail message. The sphere of human awareness is now always at the combustion point.

But too much fire is too much fire.

If you get too fired up about something, you could get burned out. You could even get fired. You could get cooked in your own fat, left in ashes.

Too much fire is war, nuke power and armaments. Even fire is deadly.

And perhaps, the most insidious of all social fires is that appetite for consumption and appropriation disguised as altruism and patriotism.

In the body, too much fire manifests as an overly-strong appetite, a dry throat, maybe even a fever. And in the societal body manifests perhaps as social unrest and mob rule. Our rule of the gun. Or poverty — where poor people are the kindling to the fire.

Is it good or is it bad? Well, no judgments here. Moderation is the way to go as far as the elements are concerned. We need all of them, in a particular balance.

Fire is the passion and the desire for life, experience, meaning, knowledge, wisdom, prosperity, creativity and pleasure. Et cetera, et cetera. If fire is the drive to live, it is therefore also that which makes one capable of taking another’s life.

Fire is involved in the brain’s workings — in the form of minute electrical pulses. Little lightning bolts. It is the sparks that fly; the bio-chemical interaction between two mutually-attracted people.

On the no less wondrous side, fire is the face of oxidation. Living in a sea of oxygen, we are all on fire, oxidizing at different rates. We are all suns, all stars, all light-givers and illuminators, all heat-radiators.

We are fire-beings all.


Photo by Greg Rakozy

EDITOR’S NOTE: Burning Issues by Joey Ayala first appeared in Earthian Magazine for its Fire Issue in 2000 and is posted in BrownPot with permission from Earth Publications, Inc.