Fire feeding on fire.
Everyone understands that burning wood produces fire. But when fire feeds on fire, that is a rare condition that yields the greatest illumination. Two flames come together and yield light more magnificent than either could have given forth alone.
In the case of community activity, this means that when one cooperates with others, the accomplishments are greater than what the individuals can do on their own. Such a situation requires a harmony that will generate ideas, inspiration, as well as momentum for growth and action. If the combinations occur properly, the results will be like fire upon fire and will illuminate the world. Sometimes, the combination comes down to just two people. If two people join forces, neither sacrificing their individuality, but only lending their power to an endeavor, there will be a wonderful situation that will both benefit others and encourage greater growth in the two people as well.
Fire feeding on fire can also mean the swift exhaustion of all energies involved. One must be careful not to lose one’s own personality in any joining. The idea is integration, not assimilation. No matter what can be achieved in joining with others, it is wise to remember that we each walk this path independently. The ultimate truth of the journey and its final rewards are still for each of us to face alone.
The Shining of the Sun and Moon
The way the sun works, it climbs into the sky in the daytime, thus illuminating the outward, then goes behind the earth at night, thus illuminating the inward. The way the moon works, in the first half of its cycle it produces light, thus illuminating the outward, then in the last half of its cycle it withdraws its light, thus nurturing the inward. Sun and moon, illuminating outside and inside, are all one light.
What I realize as I observe this is the Tao of using illumination. If people can use illumination outwardly, be careful about what they say and do, refrain from any inappropriate conduct, not dwell on anything but the Tao, not be distorted by the power of sensuality, intoxicants, and material goods, not be seduced by wealth or status, success or fame, not be stained by mundane feelings connected to worldly situations, then they can illuminate the outward as do the sun and moon.
If people can use illumination inwardly, do away with falsehood and maintain truthfulness, leave confusion and return to reality, learn to master emotions, clear up feelings, clean the mind, melt away the human mentality and activate the awareness of Tao, carefully avoiding even the slightest errant thought, then they can illumine the inward as do the sun and moon.
When the inward and the outward are illumined, and all is clear, you are one with the light of sun and moon. When developed to its ultimate state, this is a round luminosity which nothing can deceive, the subtle body of a unified spirit, pervading the whole universe. Then you have the same function as the sun and moon.
Awakening to the Tao
By Thomas Cleary, Liu I-ming
Illumination is an interesting word. it can mean to light from without, or from within. In this world, all our energy originally comes from without, from the sun. Within ourselves, all our energy comes from within, from inside ourselves. We can be illuminated by the light of the sun, or by our own inner energy. When we connect with other people, we can make use of even more energy to accomplish greater things.
But another part of illumination is to shed light on other things, to reveal that which was hidden and bring it out into the light. If we ourselves can cast a strong light, we can illuminate those things around us and bring them more clearly into focus, both for ourselves and those around us. Tao helps strengthen that inner light so you can see things more clearly.