“Just so you know, I have no idea what to expect and claim no responsibility for whatever happens here,” Tyler says to us as we walk up the driveway. By the side of the mountainside house a circle of people sit around a fireplace finishing a mantra they chant together. They smile as we approach and one middle-aged blonde woman wearing a necklace of prayer beads pulls out a couple plastic chairs to welcome us. We’ve just stepped into a Puja fire ceremony to celebrate the full moon.
It appears as though everyone present knows each other and what to expect so there are no words spoken as, after a few moments of being settled, the blonde woman asks us to focus on our intention for the night. She then tosses a handful of flowers into the fire. Then the young man next to her silently follows suit. I look around and each of the dozen or so people gathered around the fire all hold a bunch of flowers or fruit in their lap. I look under my plastic chair to find a bunch of my own.
Dusk is just beginning to set and the tropical orchestra of the insects’ music accompanies the soft crackle of the fire, which illuminates the paintings of presumably Hindu ascetics set up in an altar-like arrangement behind the blonde woman who sits across from me. She, like the others, is silent, either closing their eyes or staring into the flames before occasionally tossing in a fruit or flower. The fire’s glow deepens as the last of the day ebbs from the sky. I let my focus fall on the fluid dance of the flames and my mind empties.
As the world is our teacher, my lesson tonight arises from the fire. Gazing further into the dancing flames I begin to feel a sensation in my solar plexus that creeps wider and wider like the movement of water spilled onto a paper towel. The sensation grows and grows, igniting a wave of warmth that spreads out of my trunk and out through my arms and legs. A smile spreads out across my face.
I look up to the mountain on my left as the full moon emerges between the dark silhouette of palm fronds. I get up from my chair and toss my bunch of flowers into the fire. Sitting back down, I savor the lesson.
I see that our fundamental nature is like a flower of soft flames hidden within a nest of extraneous lotus petals. With just the slightest breath of attention, these soft flames roar into a blaze, engulfing the nest and illuminating the Truth that surrounds us.
When our mind’s eye breathes attention into the very center of our being and flows into the root of Love that connects all beings, then all worries and doubts, fears and agonies, burn away
flower petals in the fire.
BY: Tomás Quiñonez-Riegos