Making the Embers Bright Red

Ajahn Yatiko • June 2013

Due to our past kamma, we have found ourselves in a Buddhist community with harmony and good feelings, and most importantly, we have teachings that are encouraging us in the practice and leading us to truth and peace. We have the space and time to practice and relatively good health, and our requisites are well provided. We can recognize this and appreciate the opportunity we have. This is a helpful reflection, but it is also important to have a clear insight into the extreme rarity of this kind of situation.

When we develop this insight, it’s like waving a fan in front of a fire to make the embers bright red. We need to go over this insight and work at it until we really see it. We can do this by setting a goal, not so much to attain samādhi or to have perfect mindfulness, but rather, to arouse a clear, vivid sense of the urgency of our situation. If we are successful, and this insight arises, it can be very exhilarating.

When the embers are bright red from this insight, then it’s like starting an engine; the engine takes care of itself once it gets going. We start this engine by making an effort to see the specialness of our situation, our environment, the teachings, and the comparative rareness of this experience. We can ask ourselves, How many beings are in a situation where they are so tight up against the conditions of life that they can’t separate themselves from those conditions and it just seems impossible to get a perspective on the Dhamma? That’s the case for the vast majority of beings in the universe. Go over this insight into the rareness of our opportunity, and work at it over and over again until the embers are bright red and the engine is humming along without effort. We can let the practice take care of itself from there.