The Burning Self


Brilliancy of the burning self! These flames of hell blaze up, seize earth, are about to invade heaven--no ledge to put my foot on, no cave to hide my body in, no refuge for my soul. All havens, all old friends are horribly consumed in these hellish flames. Even my adored God and Buddha, in these highest heavens, melt down in these deep fires of hell. Unable to kill the flames, I tried to escape them. I ran to persons, to things. I prayed to God and Buddha, reciting Nembutsu, trying to find power--All in vain.

Now at every breath the monstrous flames assail me. I jump on anguished screams, I crouch on silences. Writhing, I strain with the thought "I don't want to burn, I don't want to die," but the raging flames advance upon my legs and arms, and reach my head.

I am not aware of it, but I stand in these flames like the god of the fire.

Now the burning has caught my whole body, reaches up and grasps my soul. "Death! I am all fire." Sobbing, I hurl myself into it.

How strange, that at this moment I should gain a new life. Spirit of Burning, radiant with the flames of hell, Spirit of Quietude, shining throughout all worlds and space! Now moving on emboldened, without regret or fear, without thought or qualm, with only this burning of the fires of hell, I overgrow the entire universe.

No man gains a new life unless he dreads the fire that will consume his body and soul, unless he mourns its coming. But no man knows enlightenment unless he surrenders to this fire of hell.

Flames of the creation of my total self are my only enlightenment.

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