1 Oct
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Fire Element

There is another method for contemplating the body that is given in the Satipatthana Sutta and discussed in Chapter 10 of Joseph’s Mindfulness book. The instructions are to experience all sensations of the body as being made up of the Earth Element (hardness/firmness), the Water Element (fluidity/cohesiveness), the Fire Element (heat/cold), and the Air Element (movement/pressure).

It’s a very interesting practice, which I won’t go into in depth here. (For that, check out the book!) Instead, I leave you with this poem. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the practice. Except, perhaps, as an inspiration!

Spanish Dancer
by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Stephen Mitchell

As on all its sides a kitchen-match darts white
flickering tongues before it bursts into flame:
with the audience around her, quickened, hot,
her dance begins to flicker in the dark room.

And all at once it is completely fire.

One upward glance and she ignites her hair
and, whirling faster and faster, fans her dress
into passionate flames, till it becomes a furnace
from which, like startled rattlesnakes, the long
naked arms uncoil, aroused and clicking.

And then: as if the fire were too tight
around her body, she takes and flings it out
haughtily, with an imperious gesture,
and watches: it lies raging on the floor,
still blazing up, and the flames refuse to die–.
Till, moving with total confidence and a sweet
exultant smile, she looks up finally
and stamps it out with powerful small feet.

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