On Outer and Inner Fires
Updated: Jan 6
Reading the news about the fires in Australia: 15 million acres burnt to the ground, half a billion native animals killed, at least 24 people dead and thousands evacuated from their homes. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is content with the current climate policies while his country is the world's third-largest exporter of CO2 in fossil fuels. Meanwhile, another world leader, Donald Trump, orders the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by a drone strike, fanning the flames of war in the Middle East. In Israel, my country of origin, Prime Minister Netanyahu is knee deep in corruption allegations while private corporations are drilling for natural gas in the Mediterranean and selling it to Jordan. It seems very few people there are interested in the climate crisis, not to mention the occupation and subjugation of millions of Palestinians.
But I have long lost faith in the ability of world leaders to be responsible and take action for the sake of their nations. They are part of an old world order and so are the nations they supposedly represent. The fires that yesterday were in Brazil are today in Australia and tomorrow who knows? Those fires are blind to nations, races and genders… It is we who have to realize what the fire already knows: humanity is one, a single organism split into countless bodies, a child of the earth.
This realisation, so simple to utter yet so hard to grasp, was pointed at since ancient times. It is what the Buddha meant when he said: “Radiate boundless love towards the entire world”. It was written in the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. And it was made flesh in Jesus Christ: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”. These are but a few examples of enlightened individuals in the History of Man who bore witness to the truth.
It took many hundreds of years until larger groups of people felt this impulse within them and cultivated it. And so came about the establishment of Anthroposophy (“If the rose adorns itself, it adorns the garden”), of Integral Yoga ("we have to feel ourselves one with all things and beings, to identify ourselves with them, to become aware of them as ourselves, to feel their being as our own, to admit their consciousness as part of ours, to contact their energy as intimate to our energy, to learn how to be one self with all”) and of Universal Sufism ("As water in a fountain flows in one stream, but falls in many drops divided by time and space, so are the revelations of the one stream of truth”).
Compared to the fires raging in the outside world the fire lit by this impulse is still faint. Yet it must spread faster and kindle in our hearts the fire of selfless action. And this fire must burn ever brighter if we are to survive the consequences of our collective unconsciousness, if humankind is not to destroy itself.
I noticed people urging others to pray for rain to come down in Australia. I am reminded of the story of The Drowning Man who refused two rowboats and a helicopter because he was praying to God to save him. How many more fires, dead animals and displaced humans will it take before it is finally time for us to awaken? Before notions of love & truth guide our thoughts as well as our deeds? Before we realize that saving the world and saving ourselves are one and the same thing?