Rupesh Chhagan LAc   
September 13, 2011

Knee Deep in Fire
posted under Acupuncture

We are knee deep in Fire.  The sun blazes overhead in record-breaking 100+ temperatures, slurping Texas lakes up in evaporating gulps.  The bamboo, normally indestructible, browns and dessicates; it’s tenacious roots, once formidable enough to crack house foundations, now shrinks and withers.  Texans walk around with an even crazier look in their eye, hands ready to grab the sidearm that’s tucked in their waistbelts.  A lone leathery skinned man curses and shouts into the Barton Springs air.

Fire as a Medical Condition

Fire is a diagnosis in Chinese Medicine.  Fire is on the extreme end of the diagnosis of Heat.  “What is Heat?” we cellularly minded, microbiology leaning moderns ask.  But we know the answer in our bones.  The answer lies in coming out of the microscope and broadening our attention.

Chinese Medicine speaks in the language of the people.  The origins of disease are related to the interplay of the elements, the weather, and emotions.  Words like Hot, Cold, Damp, and Dry seem simplistic at first, but the implications are deep.  What is meant by a diagnosis of Heat in medicine?  What does Heat do?  Heat boils the water on the stove and cooks food.  Heat transforms water to vapor.  Heat in the stomach (ie. enzymes) digests food.  Heat makes molecules move.  Heat agitates.  Heat warms.  Heat quickens the Blood through the vessels.  Heat makes tempers and passion flare.  It inflames joints.  Heat is also the catalyst for spiritual transformation.  The yogis call it tapas.  Like a hot crucible crystallizing out the essence of a solution, discipline and concentration combine to create an inner Heat that produces wisdom from the container of the body.  In terms of medicine, Fire is the diagnosis of Heat at its extreme.  Boils and rashes emerge, toxic Fire erupting to the surface.  Manic behavior, sleepless nights, egocentric delusions of grandeur.  The spirit revealed by the eyes is too intense, like getting sunburned by someone’s stare.

Simple language, but profound meaning.  Using this simple language reconnects us with the environment and our bodies.  Spend too much time out in the blazing sun and the skin is warm to the touch for days after.  Ahh, time to shift to Cold.  Eat cool cucumbers.  Drink more water.  Less hot yoga.  Learn to witness and not react to the hot restless thoughts of summertime.

We are our environment.  We are mammals.  We are Nature.  No separation.  When we think more simply, we are better able to assess what’s helpful to ingest in body and mind and what’s good to put back into the world we live in.

Check out last year’s link to learn how to stay cool when Fire predominates inside and outside:

Fire as a Cycle in Transformation

As a natural energy in Nature, Fire is one the Phases of energy transformation in Chinese Medicine.  Energy moves naturally through all the phases, Water–>Wood–>Fire–>Earth–>Metal–>Water…, going through a cycle of transformation.  An easy way to understand this movement is through the flow of the seasons.  From Winter to Spring to Early Summer to late Summer to Fall and then back to winter, ad infinitum.  Each Phase has phenomenon that is associated with it.  You can think of a phase as a tuning fork with a particular wavelength that it creates.  Everything that resonates with that tuning fork wavelength begins to resonate alongside it.  Summer is related to Fire.  That’s where we are–knee deep in Fire.

Fire is when energy is at its peak experience.  In terms of a process, it’s when all the envisioning and planning begins to manifest into connected expression.  Using a musician as an example, the Fire phase is when she is onstage performing.  Life experience has been gathered, the instrument has been practiced, the chords and words have been created, the song is born, and then, in Fire, the musician connects with listeners and performs her song.  The audience is touched, tears and smiles and inspiration bloom like flowers.

The Heart is one of the main organs and meridians (pathways of energy in the body) that relate to Fire.

Joy is the emotion of the Heart.  When we become masters of our Joy, able to experience the feeling within the body, neither repressing nor over-expressing, the virtue of the Heart issues forth.  The musician appears grounded in her seat, the music coming forward without a feverish quality, without causing her exhaustion, expressing the deepest wisdom within her and touching that in her audience.  When uncontained,  joy fries the nervous system and we wind up like Ozzy Osbourne.  When joy is repressed, isolation and an uninspired life ensues.

When joy is deeply felt in the body and skillfully expressed, a human is truly present.  Connected to the space and time of the moment, right action is the outcome.  Propriety is the virtue of a balanced Heart.  This is the ability to do and say the right thing at the right time without effort.  There is a deep attunement to the moment, oneself, and the beings we are connected to.  Social behavior is in accord with Nature.  Ritual and ceremony become gestures imbued with the profound alignment of heart and mind, instinct and thought blend in harmony.  It is a Zen Masters deep bow to the desperately seeking student who suddenly softens into what is.  It is the outstretched hand of child sharing his food with a hungry stranger.  It is jazz improvisation without ego.  It is the civil rights leader who continues to stand upright and speak truth while a sniper’s crosshairs fall on his heart.  It is simply being in accord with the Way.