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The Fire of Attention

When doing psychological or spiritual work, the alchemists remind us that we must apply the proper heat to the material arising within the vessel of the body.

If the heat is not subtle enough, too intense, not intense enough, or of the wrong quality, the transformation we seek may remain unfulfilled.

The specific nature of this heat must be discovered by each of us in the fire of our own direct experience. We cannot take another’s word for it or try to fit ourselves into their stories. We can't use someone else’s fire, or apply a second-hand flame. It takes a lot of courage and trust to allow our own unique, personal fire to disclose itself within the crucible of the heart.

An improper or premature fire, someone else’s fantasy of the flame, or a heat that is oriented in self-abandonment and self-aggression will scorch, deaden, or re-traumatize. Discovering the most skillful medicine for our unique psychic and somatic organization requires that we become archeologists, artists and alchemists of our inner experience.

At times, a more passive, slower, yielding fire or flame is ideal . . . resting our attention in the background of our awareness, infusing thoughts, feelings, and sensations with space, presence, receptivity, and compassion.

At other times, a flame that is more active, imaginative, fiery, and alive is needed. Not merely resting as onlooker or observer or surrounding our experience with witnessing awareness, but entering into intimacy with the material, into relationship with our sensations and feelings. Not witnessing, but penetrating. Unearthing and differentiating images, figures, colors, fragrances and feelings that emerge within the psychic world; dialoging, unfolding, unpacking, listening.

The invitation is never into mastery or perfection, but rather, simply, into humility and experimentation.

In this way the metaphor of fire or flame points to the activity of attention, the activity of love itself... as alchemists of the inner world, archaeologists of the soul, attention can move with sensitivity and curiosity and compassion amidst the many flavors, essences, and substances of life experience.

The heart is endless in its depth. The fire of attention can be focused . . . and burns infinitely.

You are endless . . . Infinite.

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