Express train of thought

An interestingly fruitful random chain of thought, starting with the last entry:

Speaking of Eliot: Part III of the Wasteland is called "The Fire Sermon." I've heard people tell me that this is a reference to a sermon held by the Buddha to a group of fire-worshipping monks. I've always wondered what he said. A quick dash to google presents me with the following little rhetorical treasure:

"Monks, the All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye -- experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain -- that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, and despairs."
(The Fire Sermon. Excerpt)

Which made me think of Heraclitus' fragment 20: "This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or humans has made; but it was ever, is now, and ever will be an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out." (41 is also very good).

Which brings me full-circle, because Eliot uses Heraclitus as the epigraph for Four Quartets. A connection established between three great writers and thinkers across 2500 years. Not bad for a random three-minute walk through the internet, if I should say so myself.

Interesting: Buddha and Heraclitus were born within 6 years of each other. Maybe they were both influenced by the same thinkers? I know people have thought so.


Blogger Gaute said...

Monks, my hands are aflame. Do I dare to eat a habañero?

November 21, 2004 10:24 pm  

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