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Namah Journal


The Fire of purification

James Anderson


One must be conscious of the Fire within if one wants to progress. This flame should always be nurtured and it is up to us to each one of us to tend to it. The Fire purifies the being and unifies our will. It is the seat of all aspiration. When we offer everything to the inner Fire throughout the day, it will take us to the threshold of transformation.

“A fire is burning there, in the deep quietude of the heart. It is the divinity in you – your true being. Hear its voice, follow its dictates (1).”

No one can walk the path of Integral Yoga without repeatedly immersing the being in the Fire of purification. It is our own essence and very necessary to our wholeness as well as our spiritual progress. Without this presence and without this purification, we lead a very murky, insubstantial existence. It is what brings harmony to the discord inside. The instruments with which our soul co-habits have to be cleansed so it is very necessary to our well-being.

This Fire is the embodiment of our aspiration. Deep within the heart there is a fire that burns. It has been lit by the Mother and it is up to us to tend to it at all times. In some of us it might bring the merest flicker. It is a spiritual death whenever it goes out. We have to be awake to nurture it and once we experience its presence, it becomes more and more a dynamic part of our being. It is an experience which has to be lived. Once experienced, it must be reinforced by practice. It is by being present with it that we feel or witness its growth. Having experienced its presence once, we have to offer ourselves again and again to the flame.

It is one of the first experiences one comes across in Integral Yoga. Do you recall when your life was ignited by the Mother? It was that moment. Suddenly we are summoned! Previously we had found ourselves armed with doubts and questions. Our existential foundation had been shaken and there was an aching disenchantment with the ordinary life. Suddenly, in a glittering moment of illumination, those clouds for a while disappeared. It was then we started looking earnestly inside and the work began.

So the Fire represents the yearning for a better, truer and nobler life. We have to separate ourselves from the pack. It is the aspiration for the Truth but we all live surrounded by falsehood, within and outside of us. It can be said that most people are in love with their impurity. For instance who can envisage living without desire? The thought is almost inconceivable. We must really want it. This purity must almost become our life-obsession. It is this aspiration which separates the false from the true and is the yardstick of our sincerity.

The Fire is what makes us conscious and as our consciousness rises and expands, its flame rises higher. The most important component of our integral health is the development of our consciousness. We either grow and expand or slide back and disintegrate; there are no in-betweens. What propels us forward is always this longing and this state releases us from the victimhood of our conditioning.

Initially, our aspiration is powered by personal effort. Each is dependent on the other and the thirst for the Divine is what brings our practice forward. In the beginning it is all we have. This yearning has to be nurtured and, initially at least, ring-fenced from negative outside influences. There is so much that can draw us to the surface and here there is only ignorance, clinging and grasping. The surface offers only a passport to misery. We have to completely orient our life inside and we succeed in this by realigning and reinforcing this process.

As long as the ego is present we have to apply effort. So, at the beginning, we have to extract whatever is constructive in the ego to propel ourselves forward. The elements that yearn need to be extracted from those that recoil, because it is the yearning which gives our work a more tireless persistence. Gradually we have to make this Fire the most important thing in our life. As the saadhanaa unfolds, we finally reach a stage where the ego has to surrender to the Fire itself.

Every false movement and blemish we offer from inside gives fuel to the Fire and propagates it. No progress in Integral Yoga is possible without surrender, so we offer everything within ourselves to the Fire. We are so graced to have such a tangible personification of the Fire in the Mother Herself. When we surrender to the Fire, we surrender to the Mother Herself. She embodies all we aspire for. Look at her photo and you see the Fire. As her children, we can lay everything at her feet. It is the same thing. We should offer our virtues as well as our flaws, because everything in human nature is mixed in essence. The Fire is also the Will for progress. Unite yourself around it and consciously observe all your cravings and impulses become a single inexhaustible Flame.

Try to keep your consciousness always turned to the Fire. When you are going through your daily activities remember to always add fuel to it. Our practice should become a seamless process. It is your aspiration which will ensure this. There is so much that is twisted and tainted in our nature but it is better not to focus solely on the defects but to offer all, even the activities themselves. After all, it is an integral solution that we seek.

The moment a wrong movement arises in the being, catch and offer it to the Fire. It works with desire, it works with anger and it works with everything. The secret is to be always conscious. You must be attentive and awake. Nobody can predict when the movement is going to come but there are certain triggers which in time you will begin to recognise. But you must always remain alert and poised. Don’t expect anything: just observe. When you are conscious you will instantaneously feel the movement appearing. As soon as it surfaces you offer. The consciousness can resolve everything. Maintaining a continuous flow of consciousness in the early stages is impossible but when one surrenders one’s practice, magical changes can happen. We are all evolving and the aim is to fill those gaps and intervals of unconsciousness with the dynamic attention and awareness that represents our consciousness. It is an exercise in living truly and it is still a matter of personal effort.

Sometimes the Fire might scald and bring suffering and pain. Don’t run away from this: it occurs when we surrender something our ego doesn’t want to give up. There is a part in us that craves to always hold on. We have to become conscious of this part and always offer it to the Fire. When we do this it is likely to hurt. These proclivities and attachments have only become a habit. Allow the Fire to dismantle all your habits. We have to learn to walk through its flames; this is the work of a lifetime. Eventually though, each motion of surrender brings a feeling of completion and release and each successive offering liberates the soul from our bondage to limitation and misery. It fills a lack in the being. We start by offering the obvious blemishes and end by offering every moment of our daily life. It is a simultaneous and spontaneous process.

As the process of purification unfolds, our nature will gradually get emptied of its more ignorant contents. What we yearn for is a transparent nature that radiates around the soul. Everything should be a reflection of the psychic being because in reality this entity is all that we truly are. What we yearn for is a nature that truly assists our growth. So as we purify ourselves, our aspiration becomes more single-pointed. Our mind becomes clearer and our whole disposition turns positive. We start walking a path of synchronicity. Things fall into place; we feel more guided. The purification sharpens our concentration and makes our work more truly effective and dynamic. There is nothing left to distort the all-seeing vision of true concentration.

Finally offer your body to the sacrifice. This is not for renunciation but transformation. The physical consciousness is loaded with tamas and impurity, but you might find a good will in the body that makes it a more ready accomplice than other parts of your being. If we are sincere about our work, the body must always be included. It is the final link in the transformation and when it also passes through the Fire, the surest guarantee of our glorious destiny.


1. The Mother. The Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 3. 2nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003, p. 1.

James Anderson is a member of SAIIIHR and coordinating editor of NAMAH.

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