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Transforming Desires into Wisdom
Consider for a moment that you have gone on a picnic to a forest, and that you have taken along all the articles necessary for cooking and preparing your food. Just before you start your meal preparations, you gather up three stones and arrange them as a base for the cooking vessels. Next you put some water in the vessel and then you add the rice. Underneath the vessel, in between the stones, you make a fire.
What is the purpose of the fire beneath the vessel? It is through the heat of the fire that you can cook the rice which is in the vessel. Without the vessel, if the rice were to be put straight into the fire, you would not be able to get the food that you want. The heat of the fire gets transmitted to the vessel, and on from the vessel to the water, and finally from the water to the rice. In this way the rice gets cooked and you enjoy your meal.
In this forest of life, you are searching for bliss, which can be compared to the food that you prepare. The three stones are the three basic qualities of inertia, activity and purity, underlying all natural phenomena and human activities. Your body may be considered the vessel. Your feelings and desires are the water, and your spiritual yearnings and aspirations are the rice. The fire which you have put between these three stones is the purifying practice which is used to acquire wisdom. This purifying fire which must continue for some time, has to be applied to the body, and through the body to the feelings and desires; these in turn will be cooked and transmuted into the highest spiritual yearnings. Finally, this process results in the cooked product, the spiritual food, the knowledge of the true self, which you have been aspiring for. This knowledge grants eternal bliss.
It would not be possible for you to realize such spiritual wisdom directly in your heart, straight off, without first going through the cooking process. Through the body and your good actions you have to burn up your desires, transform them into spiritual yearnings; this will then lead to the realization of the highest knowledge.