by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Chapter 13
The Warming Fire

When the earth is shaking, sit still!

--Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett

The First and Last Resort

Just to sit still and look up--it does not seem like much, but it is in reality the first and last resort of the contemplative.

It is the first resort because it is almost always both possible and good to give ourselves a chance to look before we leap. It is the last resort because taking refuge within our wonderful True Nature is something that we can do when all else fails--or just when everything is whirling around our heads and we need to find a true Place of refuge.

Voices of Fear and Doubt

Voices of fear proclaim that unless external conditions arrange themselves in a certain way, everthing will end up in disaster. Voices of doubt proclaim that there is no true Refuge.

The truth is that there is always a Place of refuge within our own Heart. Even if the whole universe goes up in smoke, the Eternal is, and all that has gone up in smoke is of the Eternal.

Through conversion, voices of fear and doubt become voices of spiritual certainty--voices that proclaim that we are always safe in the Hand of the Eternal. The key is to use the arising of fear and doubt as the reminder to withdraw within in meditation.

Sitting at the Fire

Imagine that you are in a dark wood at night. It is very cold. You have made a little fire and you sit very close to it and are warmed by it. Shadows flit through the trees, beasts howl in the distance, but nothing that threatens, or seems to threaten, can come too close to the fire.

This is a metaphor for the way in which we find safety and comfort in meditation. The fire is the inextinguishable flame of our own Buddha Nature. No matter what is happening in the world, we can draw close to that flame in meditation and allow it to warm and console. In that Place, shadows are recognized as shadows, unrealities are recognized as unrealities. In that sacred Place, it is enough that the Eternal is, it is enough to know the Lord of the House. It is enough to sit still and look up.

The Last Word

When we cling to our own likes and dislikes, we are blinded to the fact that the last word in all things does not belong to man: the last word belongs to the Eternal.

To live a life of faith is to continue to trust that the Eternal always does have the last word, and that this last word is always utterly benevolent. Our own actions of thought, word and deed, and the consequences of these actions, as well as the actions of all other beings, and the consequences of these actions, are inextricably part of the Flow of Immaculacy, and within that Flow Good always prevails. We know this when we sit close to the fire of our wonderful True Nature and allow It to help us naturally.



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