Fire Water Wind

Fire Water and Wind


The graphic metaphor, Fire Water and Wind, works and is instructive on many levels. Since we have been warned that it may be the case that our pondering lacks depth, let's use this graphic metaphor as an example of just one out of many ways in which we can add depth to our ponderings. When we look at the piece of art above, those of us who are not art specialists usually take the position expressed by the saying "I don't know much about art but I know what I like". That, I imagine, is fair enough and I will take that view as representing our first shallow level of pondering. It is a piece of art and one likes it or one doesn't.

Let's move on and go one level deeper by beginning to explore and to imagine the intended meaning of the piece as a graphic metaphor. When we stop and think about it, the artist has completely captured the original dynamic engine of nature through the use of only the three elements "Fire Water Wind".  When we ponder that dynamic engine we can easily see that the Sun (Fire) heats the Water causing Clouds to rise up and form and the Wind to blow. The cycle illustrated completely defines the total workings of a natural engine involving the causal  power of the Sun (Fire) as the original cause that sets into motion the enormous natural forces at work on Earth (Water Wind). 

Fire Water Wind is then a very simple and neat graphic metaphor that expresses the original dynamic engine of nature and we could leave it at that but I think that there there is more on this level that we haven't as yet looked into and pondered. Not the least of which is the fact that "Fire Water Wind" is a universal metaphor. It is of some significance that every single human being on this earth regardless of time or place has experience with the same three elements that are employed in this graphic metaphor. It is also the case that this graphic represents a single engine. The engine is a single entity and though the elements can be separately named there is really no separation implied in their existence and functioning.

Continuing on then we can become aware of the fact that the original dynamic engine of nature the Sun (Fire) assumes its proper role as the original cause of all of the action that is graphically represented. Without the Sun (Fire) nothing would be animated, that is to say that there would be no changes and movements of Water and Wind, and in any case without the Sun (Fire) nothing would be seen, there would of course just be total darkness with nothing moving within it. Without the presence of the Sun (Fire) then there would be no natural engine. The subject of the graphic is then the primary importance of the Sun (Fire), without which nothing would appear in the world and nothing would change. Because of the existence of the Sun (Fire) however, things do in fact appear and do in fact change. 

 Concerning Water and Wind, when we ponder them in relation to their original cause (Fire) we find that though they project real power in the natural world, that power is caused and set in motion by their interaction with the power of  the original cause (Fire).   So when we ponder this graphic metaphor as representing the totality of an original cause setting in motion any and all that is seen and any and all that changes we have added some depth to our pondering of the original dynamic engine of nature and we could call it a day but there is, I think,  more to explore at this level of pondering. 

We have mentioned Water and Wind as representing rising up, movement or action and by extension we can assume that the rising up, movement and change shown in the graphic metaphor represents a generalization of all of the cycles and changes that every detail of the natural world goes through. We have also noted  the role of the Sun (fire) as being the original cause of all of those changes and movements. There is however more to be said about the role of the Sun (fire) as we ponder this graphic metaphor. Though it may appear otherwise (the apparent changes that we call sunrise and sunset for instance) the Sun (Fire) is, by anyone who ponders it, understood to be always shinning and unchanging.  From that observation comes the notion that the image of the Sun (fire) not only represents the unchanging original dynamic cause of the engine of nature but also the unchanging immortality of the original cause. On the other hand all of the changes in detail that are set in motion as a result of exposure to the original cause can then be understood as representing the cycles of change, the seasons, birth, weakening and death. In short mortality.

 Following along with this examination of the causal nature of the Sun (fire) as it is represented in this graphic metaphor we can also easily discover that the Sun is both unchanging and indiscriminate in its role as the original cause of the dynamic engine of nature and of all of the changes that flow freely from the workings of those changes. The metaphoric Sun then continuously and indiscriminately shines at its maximum, never more, never less. Through pondering this graphic metaphor of "Fire Water Wind" we can also discover that the Sun or original cause of all that is seen or changes is not in any way affected or influenced by the causes and changes  (seasons, earthquakes, floods, typhoons, babies crying at night for example) that it sets in motion in its role as the original cause of all that is animated, moves and freely changes in nature. 

To recap then, on one hand we have the Sun (fire) as a graphic metaphor for the original cause of all that can be seen and all that changes. That original cause is reasoned to be immortal, indiscriminate, unchanging, free, unlimited and unaffected by the workings of the causes that it sets in motion. While on the other hand we have identified "Water Wind" as any and everything that changes according to the limitations of the cumulative causes that once set in motion define their workings (causality) which are totally dependent upon the original cause (fire) the Sun.  

So the subject of the graphic metaphor "Fire Water Wind" is causality and it makes claims concerning the understanding of   causality. Those claims start with the fundamental claim that there exists an original cause of all that is seen and all that changes. That claim is by no means original. Throughout all of human history getting an understanding of causality has been a major concern.  In that regard there has been speculation as to the nature of the reasoned original cause and speculation as to the nature of things that change. Looking at our human history it is clear that the vast majority of our human thinking and speculation has been directed at discovering the reason why and the nature of things that change.

 From the point of view of the Tenrikyo dynamic mission however, all of the speculation concerned with the causality of all that is seen and all that changes falls into the category of "worldly common thinking".  From the point of view of worldly common thinking causality yields action that can be perceived by an individual or a group or by all human beings as either something that is welcomed or as something that is unwanted. We call causes that are welcomed "good" and we call causes that are unwanted "evil". Obviously from the point of view of an individual or of a group the same causal action can be understood as being good from one point of view and as evil from a different point of view. The difference has nothing to do with the original cause which illuminates both causal points of view equally and can be understood as being a matter of subjective self centered choice. In terms of causes that are good and welcomed by all human beings, nobody complains about having good health, good food to eat or clean water to drink for example. On the other hand the subjective experience of illness and other troubles are usually understood as examples of evils.

 From the point of view of the Tenrikyo dynamic mission the one truth of origin, the original cause of all things in detail cannot be known or understood in a worldly common way. That is not to say that there is anything inherently evil about worldly common thinking. Worldly common thinking can be and is used as a basis for a teaching that is in accord with the order of the path held out as the dynamic mission. That is to say a teaching that is based on quickly quieting one's mind, testing, revealing and proving the one truth of origin, in so doing awakening to the knowledge and understanding of the original parental heart. Using worldly common means as a basis for a teaching is however a very tricky means as the truth of origin understood in a worldly common way is just that and cannot reasonably be understood as the same for all human beings at all times and in all places. It is important to keep this in mind as it is very easy to get and stay "lost" in worldly common thinking no matter how well intentioned it is.

So we have done some pondering and have identified a generality that the graphic metaphor Fire Water Wind is meant to teach about causality. Specifically about the role of the first or original cause as the initial and indiscriminate sustaining power and engine of all natural changes in the world. Further we have proposed  that the outturned human mind, that is a mind that is actively looking out into the world and engaging in worldly common speculation on the worldly common causes of the changes seen and experienced in the world cannot know or understand the one truth of origin from that point of view.  The bottom line concerning original causality and the causes it sets in motion in the natural world is that it is all about what (Fire) the original cause, does indiscriminately. If "Fire" represents the mind of God as the original cause of all things then "Water Wind" represents God's constantly changing body.

 Let's step down and go a level deeper.

| On to Internalizing the Metaphor Fire Water Wind |