Are You on Fire?
We recently took three days off and went to a hot springs. There’s one bath there that’s hot enough to boil an egg. When I first step into the molten water, I cringe. I’m only in up to my knees but already it seems impossible to go deeper. My whole nervous systems is shouting “Get out of here!”
That’s what it’s like when you’re moving deeper into your life.
Everything heats up. Your mind, emotions, body, relationships…everything’s on fire. In the ancient language of Yoga, this fire is called tapas. It’s what’s burning in times of transformation when you’re moving to a deeper level of authenticity and embodied wholeness in your life.
You don’t light this fire.
The fire of transformation or tapas arises not through effort, will power, or goal-setting—but through awareness. Effort, will power, and goal-setting generate improvement not transformation.
Transformation takes less effort and more awareness.
The fire of transformation is stoked by the naked, uncontrived awareness that sees— without blinking—that your old patterns of thought, speech, and action are outmoded.
Seeing this can feel like stepping into incredibly hot water.
It generates a burning sensation all the way to the bottom of your soul.
And rather than allow the tapas to burn and the transformation to proceed—there’s a tendency to pull away. How? By moving into action.
By doing something to fix, modify, or improve the patterns of the past. These strategies can be very useful. If what you want is to
improve. But it’s not transformation.
To transform, you don’t have to know what you want.
You don’t need clear goals. Or steps. Or programs. Or even a vision. You only need to rest in the fiery awareness that emerges as you see that the patterns of the past no longer serve you.
The patterns of the past are…past.
That’s the simple—burning—message of the fire of tapas. Your past patterns have taken you this far but can’t take you deeper. Naked awareness heightens your sensitivity and illuminates the tension between the well-honed patterns of the past and the fiery imperative of your soul. Awareness turns up the heat.
And your whole system reacts.
Your mind starts spinning and kicking up dust, pebbles, thoughts, and emotions. You want to move out of the fire. The burning awareness that the life you have known is over—can feel too hot to handle.
It’s true. The old patterns of identity cannot handle the fire. Your old way of being has had its day. Now it’s time for the fire to do its work.
The fire is there to teach you, purify you, and transform you.
This teaching, purification, and transformation occurs as you stay steady. You don’t have to do the transforming. You can’t. The fire of awareness does all the work. Your role is to stay present. To allow that which is burning away to do so.
What’s burned up in the fire?
Your outmoded self-images— ways of imagining who and what you are. As these selfimages dissolve away, the fire reveals a deeper teaching: You are not your self-images, not your personal or cultural history.
You are not the ideas, projections, hopes, or fears you have had about yourself.
As self-images fall away…you do not disappear.
But the you that remains is not an idea or projection. It’s a living presence that has more in common with the fire of awareness than with thoughts of self.
Discovering this fiery self, beyond words and ideas, you suddenly find that the hot spring isn’t boiling you alive. It’s healing you. So, you eagerly step in deeper. Deeper than you ever imagined.
This is article is adapted from 50 Ways to Leave Your Karma– a multi-media spiritual transformation program created by Eric Klein. A special thanks to Susannah, Jen & Marianne for inviting me take part in their Creative Joy Project. They will be hosting a Creative Joy Retreat from June 28 – July 2, that promises to set your creative world on fire.