Posted by: Upāsaka | 07/08/2015

Making Fire

I have been fortunate enough lately to be working on design projects that allow me to listen to Dhamma talks throughout the course of the day. Mainly I have been listening to Ven. Ajahn Achalo so I believe it may have been him who brought up the analogy of a meditator being like a person who wants to make fire by rubbing two sticks together. The parable goes something like this:

A person comes along who had heard there is fire in two sticks of wood and they one need only to rub them together to produce it. So,  the fire seeker begins rubbing them together,  keeping at it until they begin to smoke. But, because it is such hard work, they decide to take a break to rest their hands. Once they have rested they return to it but now even less time passes before they decide to take another break-this time before any smoke appears. And so it goes like this,  with the meditator ribbing the sticks together in fits and starts, getting more and more discouraged until finally throwing the sticks away in disgust, giving “there’s no fire here anyway,  what’s the use? ”

In so many ways this parable is an apt description of my practice and I wouldn’t be surprised is it weren’t so for many of us. As a result of reflecting on this I propose a challenge to meditate for 30 hours in 30 days which is a modest goal but one which should generate enough friction to at least cause some smoke to arise. I think I’ll post this challenge to Dhamma Wheel and PAD and see if anyone else is interested. Sukhi hotu!


  1. I was meditating 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening for over two years, and then we moved to a new home in February. I lost my designated meditation space in the move, and had to try to do the best I could with various corners in various rooms. In the old house I had a tiny room–a closet with two windows–that served perfectly as my sacred space. In the absence of such a space I have been meditating just 30 minutes in the morning, which sometimes ends up being 30 minutes in the afternoon, or 30 minutes in the evening depending on how chaotic the day gets. It’s a thorn in my side to not have a special space for my cushion, bell, books and blanket–but I know that adapting is part of the process here. When are you starting the challenge? It might help to commit to evening sits publicly–I might then hold myself accountable.

    • Lorien,

      I have started but would love to have your company. I generally sit for 35 or 25 in the morning at around 5am, 15 at 2pm and 35 or 25 at 9:30pm. Let me know if the time works for you and every good blessing to you!

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The mud, the lotus and the pale golden blue.

Dirk Pieters

writer, buddhist, yogi / schrijver, boeddhist, yogi

لا إله إلا الله

The Knowledge is Provisions from Allah, May Allah guide us and strength our Iman & Taqwa. Ameen.