Jesus said, I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes. (10)
In the East fire is not regarded as a mere source of heat, but of transformation. It is further believed that fire’s natural or proper abode is in the higher regions, and that it has the power to transfer material substances into those regions by reducing them to their subtle components. This concept is the basis of the Vedic fire sacrifices and is found in other religions where candles and lamps are offered before sacred depictions and in places of worship. A great number of Vedic hymns are addressed to Agni (fire) as the mouth of divinity, the gateway to supernal existence.
It is no surprise then that the ancient yogis spoke of spiritual practice as tapasya–the generation of heat (tapa). Especially through meditation we enkindle the fire of divine consciousness. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad speaks of it in this way: “As the form of fire when latent in its source is not seen and yet its seed is not destroyed, but may be seized again and again in its source by means of the drill [a pointed stick whirled to produce fire for the Vedic sacrifices], so it is in both cases. The Self has to be seized in the body…. By practicing the friction of meditation one may see the hidden God, as it were” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 1:13). “Practicing the friction of meditation, one should apply himself to the best of his strength” (Dhyanabindu Upanishad 22-23). “The accomplished adept completely burns up and reduces to ashes his ignorance of the atman” (Kaivalya Upanishad 11).
Meditation is thus the fire which transfers our consciousness unto the heights.
The mission of Jesus
In the context of what we have just been considering, we can see that Jesus did not come to teach a dogmatic philosophy or reveal himself as a new god to be worshipped. Rather he came to establish a way, a means, to realize God. He was a yogi come to teach yoga to questing souls. He was truly “guarding it until it blazes,” though in time much of the fire was lost. Yet it still shines in the world.
Guarding our own fire
We must enkindle and then guard our own fire until it blazes forth in divine illumination. Like Jesus we must say: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). And like Saint Paul: “We are labourers together with God” (I Corinthians 3:9).
For “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).
Read the next section in The Gospel of Thomas for Yogis: What Will You Do?