The Fire Tender of the Heart

There comes a moment in every spiritual seeker’s life, when you must choose. You must choose whether or not you are courageous enough to change, or whether you will do what you have always done, and reinforce the negative habits of karma. These choices can be small or dramatically life changing, but learning how to make a conscious choice can be a purposeful, deliberate act. These conscious actions can ignite the fire of the spiritual seeker’s heart.

But the fire tender of the heart must understand their own capacity to heal and transform and love. Just like a fire consumes the wood, the inner fire of the yogi’s heart can consume anything that life brings. You can learn, through your own devotion, to consume life and even death. When the heart fire is tended diligently with the force of love, the world opens up at the feet of the yogi. The daily fire sadhana becomes one of devotion, and as you make an offering of your heart, you pour your heart out and learn how to live in the ongoing reality of love. For in the deepest quiet of meditation, the crackling fire of the devoted heart can be heard.

You sit as Lord Shiva, next to the sacred fire in the dhuni, with the tiger skin wrapped around your waist. You hold the cool metal rod of the trident, piercing the three worlds with the depth of your devotion. You who dare to lay your own heart open receive the world in its antiquity. You are given the wisdom teachings through movement of Kali Natha Yoga. This is the dance of the sun and the moon, the wood and the fire, Shiva and Shakti. This is the pulsation of the universe, where sound and silence intersect and merge, where Om emerges from the quiet of Shiva’s own heart.

The fire tender becomes the pujari, the priest, the guardian of the rituals of the heart, bowing to the elements, serving the cosmic forces and the cosmic good. The fire tender vows to care, to learn, to love and to serve. To listen for the potent moment when all hearts align and you know, without question, that you were born of the goodness, and you will one day return to that place of oneness. You decorate the heart’s own dhuni, with the flower petals and the ash. You offer the ghee, the oblations for the hearts raging fire to consume. My guru Ma Jaya used to say, use it all as fuel. For when you use all of life to keep the flames of the heart strong, everything teaches you to become one with the moment. There is no separation, no duality, nothing you cannot consume.

As your heart breaks in times of sorrow or pain, you learn to allow it to be broken open. You must breathe and move and serve and feel all of it. It takes courage. As you sit in meditation each dawn, light the candles, offer the flowers and the incense, and open your inner heart. Ask all the gods and goddesses to teach you how to keep your heart open. Feel the fire of your simple human heart burning bright with love and pain and devotion to the moment. Ask the Mother to teach you to honor the fire of devotion within your heart and to love and forgive and heal and love even more, no matter what. Let the moment take you into the dark, quiet realm of Shiva, who sits in the cremation grounds, with the funeral pyres raging all around. Sit in the deepest silence and learn to wear the ash upon your skin, to dwell in the silent reality beyond life and death. There you live listening to the pulsation of the cosmos in every single breath.

Namaste and Love,
Swami Jaya Devi Bhagavati