“Contemplate the fire, contemplate the clouds, and when omens appear and voices begin to sound in your Soul, abandon yourself to them without wondering beforehand whether it seems convenient or good to do so. If you hesitate, you will spoil your own being, you will become little more than the bourgeois façade which encloses you, and you will become a fossil” — Hermann Hesse.
The writings of Hermann Hesse have been a constant source of inspiration and nourishment in my youth and into the present time. This particular quote has always gripped my mind, burrowing deeply into my psyche establishing a haunting presence. The words of Hesse evoke Vedic / Tantric imagery for those with the eyes to see: “contemplate the fire” (Agni), “contemplate the clouds” (Vayu), adumbrating two of the most important Primordial forces of Being held sacred in Vedic / Tantric phenomenology and ontology. The ancient texts of the Vedas revealed this idea over and over in the thousands of mantras and slokas in honor of Agni, Soma, Vayu, and Surya to name just a few of the Devic forces hibernating within the eternal sonic theology of the Rishis: the Apaurusheya shabda, the “authorless sounds” of the Cosmic Mind. However this quote wields its power not for its echo of ancient ideas but rather for its practical application in our daily lives.
The modern lifestyle is robotic and opposes any type of spontaneous expression. This is one aspect of the “hesitation” which Hesse expresses in this powerful quote. The modern life is predicated upon structure, predictability, safety, rationality. All of these are not found within the systole and diastole of the Soul, nor in nature. The contemplation of the elements is a powerful meditation which can return us to the doorway of the Soul which is locked shut by a modern mechanical world which worships technology and science as the new Gods. People walked blindly like zombies in a somnambulistic trance gazing into the screen of an iphone and often literally “watch” events via the screen of their iphone instead of using the eyes to watch what is literally in front of them!
When we contemplate the elements the mahabhutas or five elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth we can cleanse and heal our senses, the true doorways to the Soul. This is one of the most important rituals of Tantra and the worship of the Goddess. This is a life lived outside of technology and its empty promises of ersatz salvation and redemption. This is a life lived immersed in the whispers and susurrations of the Soul, which speaks to us in symbol, poetry, metaphor, and omens.
To undertake this journey into the elements we must forget what “makes sense” and what is convenient and must step outside of social conditionings and embrace chaos and the beauty of the dangerous and unpredictable. The beauty of nature, the mundane expression of the Goddess speaks to us unendingly, we just have to listen. Hesse also wrote:
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth… A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear the trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors of life. It leads home. Every path forward leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
This is a powerful and subtle expression of the ultimate truth of Tantra, the pathway to the body of the Goddess. How much time are you spending in nature? How much time are you spending listening to the sky? The whisperings of the tongues of the fire? The rustle of the wind in the trees? How much time do you spend away from the Ahrimanic forces of technology?
I encourage everyone to ask themselves these questions. Open your eyes and ears and listen to the whisperings of the Soul. One day you will be a fossil. Why be one while you are alive? You will be bones and dust soon enough, perhaps even tomorrow. So while alive, live with passion and freedom. Live a life of passion, spontaneity, and inspiration.