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Anatomy Of The Divine Spiritual Fire

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Speaking Tree
23rd May, 2020 12:48 IST

Spiritual fire refers to the flame of knowledge in the heart, the Jnanamaya Pradeep says the Bhagwad Gita’s Dhyana verse. This is your essential and innermost Self, that is of the nature of peace and bliss. The phrase spiritual fire is also common in Christianity and is deemed to cleanse, illumine and uplift one’s being. While evolved souls keep this fire burning, in ignorant persons, this divine flame fades under the influence of maya/avidya and gets extinguished.

Just as physical fire requires certain ingredients to keep the flame going, spiritual fire requires three ingredients to initiate and sustain it. Noble thoughts crossing the mind, latent spiritual impressions embedded deep in chitta, subconscious, and wisdom in buddhi, the intellect-- due to discretion and dispassion --serve as flammable materials.

Satasang and svadhyaya serve as oxygen. They keep the mind in elevated subtle state and keep the spiritual fire burning. If satsang is not continuously kept up, the fire of spirituality goes out. Adi Shankara in Bhajagovindam Stotra says that satsang leads successively to non-attachment, freedom from delusion, abidance in Self and finally, liberation while living. Whenever there is excessive influence of satsang and svadhyaya, spiritual fire becomes more voluminous and energetic. We normally experience this spurt in spiritual fire in the company of spiritually evolved souls, during a sadhana camp or concentrated spiritual practice in seclusion like anushthan.

One has to transcend physical and psychological consciousness to cosmic, divine consciousness at least for a moment, to enable ignition to occur. Joy derived from rendering selfless service, devout worship of chosen deity, tranquillity of mind in a meditative state or flash of intuition emanating from reflection on wisdom teaching provides a proverbial spark. Once the fire is lit, flammable materials and oxygen are required to keep the fire burning.

A strong spiritual impulse has to be generated for fire to proceed. For realised and evolved souls there is a steady flow of brahmakara vrittis, divine thoughts, with extinction of vishayakara vrittis, worldly thoughts. This state is tantamount to auto-ignition temperature where no ignition spark is required. In fact, they ever abide in divine nature forever and spiritual fire is alive forever and there is no need for any ignition to take place.

The products of physical fire are oxide gases of various elements and remnant inorganic ash. Gases such as carbon dioxide have many undesirable effects like causing global warming as it promotes the greenhouse effect. The products of spiritual fire are innocuous and disseminate perennial peace and unalloyed bliss.

Scriptures refer to spiritual fire as fire of knowledge or a well-lit lamp. The Gita conveys that just as blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, fire of knowledge turns all present and accumulated actions to ashes. This means that all accumulated deep-rooted samskara, impressions and vasanas, subtle desires, are burnt so that they do not germinate again and a seeker becomes free from transmigration circle of birth and death.

Equally important, the realised soul, knower of the Atman, passes beyond sorrow in this very birth – Tarati sokam atmavit iti, says the Chhandogya Upanishad. Shvetashwatara Upanishad regards spiritual flame as identifying oneself with nitya nija svarupa, own essential nature, whereby enlightened soul attains realisation of oneness with Brahmn, Paramatma. Spiritual fire can be taken as both the means and end, the goal of divine life.

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