Everything, O Jatilas, is burning.
The eye is burning, all the senses are burning, thoughts are burning.
They are burning with the fire of lust.
There is anger, there is ignorance, there is hatred, and as long as the fire finds inflammable things upon which it can feed, so long will it burn, and there will be birth and death, decay, grief, lamentation, suffering, despair, and sorrow.
Considering this, a disciple of the Dharma will see the four noble truths and walk in the eightfold path of holiness.
He will become wary of his eye, wary of all his senses, wary of his thoughts.
He will divest himself of passion and become free.
He will be delivered from selfishness and attain the blessed state of Nirvana.
— Sourced from The Gospel of Buddha,
complied from Ancient Records by Paul Carus, p.58
NOTES BY LD. ‘A disciple of the Dharma’ means, loosely, anyone who follows the Buddhist path to salvation and wishes to know the rules of right conduct and achieve self-mastery. The Four Noble Truths, or basic insights of the Buddha, which were arrived at after a long and intense period of asceticism and meditation, are as follows:
(1) The doctrine of Dukkha or Suffering, which states that all existence is suffering and that there can be no existence without suffering. (2) The doctrine of Samudaya, which states that the source of all suffering is ‘craving’ or egotistical desire. (3) The doctrine of Nirodha, which states that the elimination of Desire brings a cessation of Suffering. (4) The doctrine of Magga, which states that the elimination of Desire can be achieved systematically by following the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Noble Eightfold Path, leading to enlightenment and release from suffering, is made up of eight constituent parts: Right views, right motives, right speech, right action, right pursuits, right efforts, right mindfulness, and right contemplation. Basically, these are the spiritual disciplines common to all religions: in Christianity, the via sancta (Holy Way) or vita divina (the ‘Life Divine’).
The root problem is desire or the thirst for sentient existence: Trisna in Sanskrit or Tanha (often pronounced Tanya) in Pali. Getting down to specifics, we are talking here about the two great desires that occupy the minds of men and women throughout their lives: lust or sexual desire, on the one hand, and the thirst for wealth and power on the other. The Hindu sage Ramakrishna would often refer to these twin desires, the root of all our problems, as “Woman and Gold.” Obviously he shouldn’t have used the sexist term “Woman” when what he meant was “Lust”— a passion that darkens the mind of both sexes and can only lead to enervation and endless addiction.
Here are the famous words of St John about Trishna or Tanha, the craving for sentient existence, or lust for life. The great Gautama, if he had been around to hear these words written several centuries after his death, would have understood and approved:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
1 John, 2:15-17, KJV
The Fire Sermon was delivered by the Buddha to his first five disciples at Benares, roughly 500 years before the Christian era.