Thursday, July 07, 2005

Extinguishing the Fire

The other night I had a dream:

I was trying to extinguish a fire using a garden hose. I managed to subdue the fire in one area, only to watch it flare up someplace else. The flames died down when I sprayed them directly, but returned as soon as I removed the water. I discovered it wasn't enough to simply douse the flames; I had to soak the embers until they turned completely cold. With great effort and care, I finally succeeded in extinguishing the fire, and then I mixed the ashes with dirt and planted a garden.

My dream reminded me of a passage I read in the Teaching of Buddha:

"...the world is burning up with its many and various fires. There are fires of greed, fires of anger, fires of foolishness, fires of infatuation and egoism, fires of decrepitude, sickness and death, fires of sorrow, lamentation, suffering and agony. Everywhere these fires are raging...

"...people should quench these fires whenever and wherever they appear by correctly judging as to what can give true satisfaction, by strictly controlling the mind in the face of unsatisfactory things of life, and by ever recalling Buddha's teachings of goodwill and kindness. If the mind is filled with wise and pure and unselfish thoughts, there will be no place for worldly passions to take root."

The Teaching of Buddha, Published by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1966.

This dream, coupled with the teachings of Buddha, remind me to reflect on the fires in my own mind, and to carefully extinguish those fires with purity, forgiveness, and kindness. By planting a garden, my dream also showed me that purification of the mind will one day bear fruit; that which caused me suffering today can be the source of joy tomorrow.

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