Don’t Throw Wood on Fires You’d Rather Not Feed

Sometimes we feed burning thoughts in our own minds. We feed swirling emotions. We may respond to people who are angry and in pain with words that (no matter how good our intentions) just fan their flames, and set both our homes on fire.

Another person’s anger, resentment or unhappiness is like a spark that they struggle with. At the core of their hearts they are seeking help. Deep down, they are trying to find a way to put out the fire.

Sometimes we need just to hear them deeply and be silent. To not be touched by their anger, judgments, delusions and fears. If possible, responding with peaceful words, love, understanding and mindfulness can be very helpful.

When we do this successfully its like bringing water to their fire. Our love and peaceful presence helps deprive the sparks of oxygen, of the fuel that enables the flames to burn. The sense of fear and separateness they had been experiencing is extinguished by a feeling of love and connectedness.

Unfortunately, when people’s words seem to attack us, this can be very difficult to do. Once our own defense mechanisms have been triggered, we may feel a natural response to attack back.

Defending and attacking is an essential role of the ego. It is like our body’s immune system, like when our temperature rises to kill a virus. Our struggles are with a natural defensive response which evolved over the course of evolution, to protect us and the one’s we love.

The problem is that as soon as we become defensive, or start to attack someone back, we co-create the same fire within ourselves. Our minds automatically respond and protect us, dualistic thoughts swirl, negative emotions spin. And so the dramas in our lives begin again…

Our challenge is to see how this is a dead end street. If our goal is to restore peace, harmony and happiness in our lives and to help others then we must become skillful at cultivating love and fearlessness in all situations, so as to put out these fires.

~Christopher Chase

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