Among the most despised gods of the savagely civilised ancient Greeks, was Kronos, the God of time.
It flickers softly, as the airflow passes through. Fire is not light. It is not heat. The fire is not the mere sacrificial smoke, or the altruistic, dead or dying fuel which feeds it.
Define it, the philosopher challenges our limited three dimensional minds. Define it, the philosopher screeches loudly. The fire burns destructively ahead of us, and yet we worship it for what it creates. We fill our churches, temples and synagogues with the flame of this magical, mysterious dead being.
The reason we struggle with defining fire is the same reason that we struggle to define life or love. Scientists say that we do not truly see the world. It is this reason that permits optical illusions, and allows colours to appear different than they are when the illusion of shadow is permeated through the mind. We see a very limited small part of the world, and even that the mind filters out, we see only what we need to survive.
It is easy to define a chair. The sky is less easy, the mind can easily comprehend it.
What we struggle to define, we the creatures who believe, in our major world religions, that God created us to name all the creatures of the world: is that which consistently changes, and that which itself is change. I am a sinner, I am a saint… The old popular music song brays against the world. Many authors of novels, of late, have come to despise the fiction art: refusing to believe that the caricatures of fiction can exist in real life. That which changes is hard to define. Fire itself is change. It is why we struggle with it.
Fire, ignites infinity. The basis of Buddhism, a spiritual suicide. The Buddha believed that life was suffering, and that Nirvana needed to be reached, that a being always coming out the birth canal as something different, is something that needed to be stopped. The God of Christianity calls himself I Am. He insists that he does not change, and that in the end all judgements will be final. Our major world religions circle around change. Repentance, reconciliation, and the criminal justice system depend on the concept. That which is most easily defined can never change.
Fire fascinates us because it is never the same, from the moment we look at it, from the moment we are born and from the moment we die and pass from this world. Fire is never the same, this fraying thread of a candle in the vicious and softly caressing winds.
It is said that if something is unexpected enough, the brain does not even perceive it. If it does perceive it, it does not remember it. And if it does remember it, it remembers it for ever, for whatever it is that it is deemed important enough to be remembered, despite being unknown, must inevitably have an impact upon our survival.
Whether baptism or a hallucinogenic spirit journey, guided by the beating of drums and the shaman's incessant whispering, the concept that a person can become something that they are not is the core of our spiritual being as human beings.
Change, the fourth dimension, is the foundation of the spiritual human person, and the basis of all of our religions. That is why we fear the unknown, it is why we dream and imagine and long and lust.
Life is the opiate of the scientific community, is what they seek to create with every discovery as they move forward. Life, change which directs itself.
Fire ignites our infinite intrigue, for it appears to mimic life, for life is change. And yet, the random flickering of gaseous flames is not alive, yet it somehow is still unpredictable enough to appear so to the human mind.
And fire is what differentiates a human being, from many of the beasts upon the plains and from the named and unnamed things hidden subtly within various mysterious forests, and from the creatures that inhabit the oceans that decorate and accessorise the ever fertile planet Earth.
To which change do you direct your aeviternal life? From the moment of our conception, we are never the same, and upon death our mortal body will decay, even in death our form will always change, and in the end there will be nothing left of us, we only exist for as long as we change.
Like the fire, we will never be the same, and even in death we will never be the same until we are void. To what do you direct your aeviternal life? How do you, a creature born of fertile earth – define yourself, if you only exist for as long as you are change? You're not fuel which feeds the fire, you are not the smoke, you are not the light, and you are not the heat. Like fire, you, life, at a cellular level, take in oxygen and fuel and release the smoke of carbon dioxide, and with it the energy that drives on the change, the fire within you that goes on until you are no more.
Fire ignites infinity, because like fire we may not truly be alive, we might simply be random chemical processes, a reaction as old as life itself. Fire ignites infinity, it is an analog for all of our spiritual lives, our strange and incessant search for meaning, for something constant and unchanging, for something as yet still alive, in the change that is our lives.
Sunday 15 February 2015
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