In this house, this attractive house which most would love to live in, is a wood burning boiler which I have been ‘feeding’ these past days. As I type the smell of wood smoke fills my nostrils – all of my clothing is now infused with wood smoke through and through. There is no getting away from it. Feeding a fire for most of the day takes dedication, and time. Penelope, the name of the house and the boiler combined, sits in the back of my mind. A constant presence calling me back for more wood every couple of hours or so. And just so it is clear, there is nothing other than the wood burner and wood storage in the house. No accommodation, none.
But what is interesting is the affection everybody has for Penelope. This simple ol’ wood burning monster all be it housed in rural luxury is the object of affection in the community well past what might be normal for a functional piece of equipment. I think what we are looking at is a case of anthropomorphism and while I am not much up for doing that I’m (almost) hopelessly drawn in. No, I don’t knock on the door before entering but I do ‘speak to her’. There is a living belching mass in that house. I’m honoured to be it’s keeper however I’m keeping things on a strictly impersonal level from now on. I’ll let her know!
On a not completely unrelated subject this afternoon I was contempating talking about Nirvana to a group here on an introductory retreat. That’s Nirvana the extinction of suffering, the third of the Four Noble Truths. That’s the extinguishing of the three fires of greed, anger and delusion which keep the wheel of becoming turning. However when it came to it I talked about how Buddhist practice brings about a changed relationship with existence. One where the sense of separation between me and everything else transforms to one less person centered, less me centered.
Penelope is not personal or impersonal and in a real way we are not two. And, anybody who has ever fed a fire falls in love, just a little.
Do take a look at that link wheel of becoming. It is a great infographic on the basics of Buddhist teaching.