I come with a fire, I’m burning this whole city down till I got what I came for because I’ve been sent by the greatest of heroes. I’ve been sent by his Love. Rama Chandra. –Lyrics by Dhanya
Recognizing the radiance of both introverts and extroverts.
The nature of fire (Pitta) and the nurture of Soul fire (Tejas).
by Swan Michelle
The Sadhu and The Snake
There was once a Cobra living outside of a village in Southern India that all of the villagers were afraid of as they knew the snake was poisonous. They did not want to get bit, suffer, or die, which many had due to the snake’s venomous nature. The Cobra, on the other hand, noticed that her close contact to company began to suffer and she began to feel very alone.
One day a Sadhu was passing through the village and sensed the snake’s despair. He thought the snake quite magnificent and regal and so he approached the Cobra to offer any solace that he could. The holy man advised that if the snake no longer hurt others, the snake’s suffering would lessen.
And so, the snake stopped biting anyone, she stopped acting scary, flaring up her glorious hood, and no longer poisoning others with venom, She truly did her best to refrain from frightening anyone that approached.
Soon, word spread to all of the villagers that the snake would not hurt them and that there was no reason to be afraid. A group of young children approached the snake and tested this rumor. And it was true. The snake did nothing.
Now the snake was suffering deeply, in and out. More and more, the Queen Cobra suffered. Bloodied. Broken. Worn. Lifeless. Exhausted and near death.
One day, the Sadhu was walking through the Village again and saw the snake beaten, bruised and weak. The Sadhu asked what happened. After listening, the Sadhu stepped back, gained space with the snake and said, “ You’ve lost your nature completely. I never asked you to stop being a Cobra. You don’t have to bite or kill everyone. But I never advised you to stop hissing. Flair up your royal hood, Keep your hiss. You are a Cobra after all.”
Life and self recognition entered back into the snake. The cobra puffed up her royal, colorful hood with dignity, and hissed fiercely at the Sadhu with quite a terror. Pleased, the Sadhu left, assured the snake was in her balanced nature once again, She was a snake after all. and now balanced, no longer inflicting unnecessary pain or violence onto others.
Soul Fire – “Tejas” in Sanskrit
“Everyone who wills can hear the inner strength. It is within everyone.” -Mahatma Gandhi
A Soul fire is the spark of the embers of creation itself. It is the drive of life and the Soul’s willful ignition to exist. We’ve all got it. It’s our innate passion to survive, united with the yearning for meaning and endless conviction. No one has more or less of as it as it is the embers of our beginning, the light that never goes out and the force behind our inspiration.
Each of us needs our individual, willful constitution in our lives. We need the fire of an idea in the form of you, with that dignity to persevere and to shine out your meaning. This physical fire of will is a fraction of the soulful one, yet unified with a soul fire, your efficacy, seen or unseen, known or unknown, is vital and unstoppable, like “my will AND they will.”
Extroverts and Introverts
“You can’t push yourself into enlightenment. You can only wait for Grace.” Ram Dass
My Mother is a passionately quiet artist. She is very ignited and inspired, adores solitude and has no problem at all being by herself. It is where her most provocative creations take place. I have always admired her radiant depth, not needing to be the entertainer. With no drive to be the life of the party, she has always handed over the role to someone else since she’s more interested in putting her energy into her next art piece or contemplation. She finds too much stimulation and socializing exhausting; it isn’t where she glows. Her nervous system has a high reaction to it. Knowing this about my mother, although I am not exactly the same, I have never expected her to be different nor would I want her to be. This is her unique gift and her nature.
Culturally in our country we are Pitta by nature (which we will get to). We have been socially programmed with the belief that seen and outgoing is what we should strive for, since these attributes appear to be more successful, make more money, have more sexual prowess or prospects and are signs of a healthy, socially magnetic temperament.
Introverts have historically been put down in our culture with a stigma of being non-influential, repressed, unlikely to be famous , lacking the allure or novelty that pushes popularity to something that is exterior.
As advertising came to light in our culture around the 1920’s, it’s first marketing focuses were on teaching businessmen to “talk more and outshine the rest.” Later, in politics, it became normal to slander and defame the opposing contender. Competitions were won by degrading and pulling up dirt on opponents in debate. In the 50’s, women were taught to be the prettiest of their friends as to keep her husband’s eyes on her alone, glamorizing value solely by image as their primary source of worth.
“A lamp is not lit by discussion but by being ignited.” Shyam Das
Being humble, sitting in deep meditation poses, not having to prove oneself to anyone, being internally rich and at ease or being alone meant you were not socialized, not a prospective mate, would not be successful, did not care about adding to society and were not self assured since fame, looks and recognition meant you were mentally healthy, outstanding, and a prominent member of society.
Even Buddhism, a contemplative non-religious approach, although present in the 1840’s in the United States, was not accepted in our country or religious landscape against an inflated highlight of striving success and ego oriented ideals.
An encoding of dominance, being the best (and the others the worst), through an “us versus them” approach is at our social and cultural core. It is difficult not to pick up on a surrounding collective unconscious, imprinted with image and persona as marks of praised and rewarded social conformity.
There are so many ways to shine and stoke progress, art, ideas, passion, enthusiasm, and a climate of passionate social and internal change. Sometimes a soul fire in action is obvious. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes what looks like a Soul fire is not and this may be difficult to detect since we are so programmed to see only what catches our eye.
We all run at different temperaments. Some of us have a more fiery constitutional physical nature than others. Yet, recognizing the nature of our physical imbalances may more deeply align us with a Soul Fire. Just like you would tend to fire, a Soul fire needs recognizing and nurturing too.
When I think of those beings that have had a timeless influence, I imagine they had some fire in their physical constitution at the core of their nature. Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ, and Gautama Buddha are a few that come to mind. It is also clear that this power, even under dominant and forceful exterior conditions, held an interior blaze that could never be put out, as it withstood tremendous struggle by the vehicle of an indomitable and tenacious personal will that they carried forth.
In contemplating these role models, it’s clear that a merge of Soul Fire and their strong willed nature had balanced expression, which allowed them to fulfill their willful missions.They did not nurture a disproportionate inhibitory nor excitatory disposition, yet remained true to their nature and Soul’s calling.
How can creations be so sparked except by the balance of some form of solitude, from which to contemplate, listen, gather and undo the programs that lack vision? Consider Albert Einstein’s theories, a Shaman’s downloads in the jungle, Leonardo DeVinci’s art, or Mary Olivers poetry. They spent long moments alone from which to gather and rekindle their fire in search of deeper meanings that they knew existed beyond a social encoding or social brainstorming, Their mastery’s quest was a trail blaze that added warmth to the collective consciousness to whom they shared it with.
A beautiful example of humility in Susan Cain’s book “Quiet In A World That Can’t Stop Talking”, recommended by my Mother, was Rosa Parks. She had the fire of unified will to state quietly and simply that she would not get up from her seat after working hard, long hours all day as she was tired, just like anyone else. As profound as that statement became, she accepted little spotlight or photo opportunities at the time in 1955 even if we know of her and her heroism now. She held strong and did not back down from her hiss yet needed no reward, she did not bite, and wanted simply to go home.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, a well spoken, fierce, honest, magnetic, wise, charismatic and driven man, was asked to be front and center and did so as was needed. It was his nature to do so. He hissed much louder. Unifying a vision of non-violence that according to King Mahatma Gandhi helped instill, affecting a mass state of consciousness via the South while remaining simple and renounced. They urged anyone dedicated to their causes to use passive resistance and non-violence, prompting them not to bite nor belittle what seemed to be “enemy’s”. These historic hisses we still repeat in the praises of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s quotes and Mahatma Gandhi’s profound and fiery quotes today. This is the power of Soul Fire at the core.
“Bloom beautifully/dangerously/loudly/softly. However you need, just bloom.” -Rupi Kaur
Nature Versus Nurture:
In Ayurveda, a constitution, which is our physical nature, is an inherent imbalance that will always need some harnessing.
Nurture is indeed a secondary concern in Ayurveda after understanding our nature. Just like the snake knowing it contained poison but wanted to work on no longer poisoning others, not knowing our nature is the beginning of the cause of more pain and more suffering.
None of us can get away with not recognizing our nature and all of us need tools to actively keep ourselves in check. It is our duty to nurture and tend to our fire. How we nurture our temperament with the environment we are subject to can further imbalance us or create a space from which to more effectively and consistently embody our Soul Fire.
“Devote oneself to the practice that will enable you to remain undisturbed under all circumstances.” –Shri Ananda Mayi Ma
Driving Force: Fire Container: Water
Hot , Light, Oily, Unstable, Clear
Fire Attributes in a person:
Transformation, light, burning, metabolized, heat, gives, projects, assimilates, information, sharp, perspective, completion, clear perception, discernment, shedding light, action, piercing, edgy, moves, magnetic, alluring, inspiring, needs the Truth (different from opinion)
Physical Anatomy and Anatomical Actions of Fire:
Eyes, seeing, digestion, metabolism, transforming, assimilation, hunger, thirst, secretions, liver, blood, spleen, most moderate of all constitutions, medium features, medium structure, moderate musculature and flexibility, flushed skin, hot body temperature, strong appetite, fast digestion, sharp mind
The Pitta Dosha is the embodiment of fire in a constitutional nature. Anything from how we see things, speak things, digest things, move, think or sleep as the element of fire’s embodiment is a Pitta constitution.
Outward. Action. Noticeable. Leader. Follow-through. Initiator. Independent. Direct. Discerning. Decisive. Vision. Motivated. Goal oriented. Passionate. Warm hearted. Loving. Caring. Driven. Trailblazing. Transforming. Self lead. Truth Seeking. Focused. Forward thinking..
A Pitta in balance is someone with a plan and execution. They will work hard, stay focused, take responsibility, and encourage others. They are bold, direct and clear. They transform quickly. A Pitta dosha both desires and needs the Truth. Light shedding is their driving force.
Any constitutional nature is prone to imbalance. Pitta is the combination of 2 other constitutions in this system; the embodiment of equanimity. Knowing the nature of fire, which is an outward and upward life force means projecting more than receiving, doing more than being is likely.
When moderation is lost in a Pitta, perfectionism, judgment, anger, jealousy, short temper, narcissism, self cherishing, rightness, argumentativeness, irritation, or hurtful violent tendencies in thoughts, a sharp tongue or actions persist.
When they are out of balance, they turn into a fire pit. Their skin turns red and breaks out, their Ph gets acidic, they sweat more, are always hot, hot headed, hot blooded, liver toxic and endlessly ravenous.
An imbalanced Pitta will strive for a false image of perfectionism that can’t ever be achieved when they are out of balance. They will attach their worth to their image, or strive for a reward and recognition that is never good enough. This type of a fire that can’t find inner reward or satiation and so they blame and put down others, looking for others imperfections from which to create the “us versus them” lens to feel better about their inner shame and inner self critique.
“We are hard on each other because we are using one another as a launching pad to get out of our own shame.” –Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Our social constructs have also taught us all to seek reward. Pitta’s tend to fall into this trap ever so easily since they work so hard and do need cool down time. This is part of their nature.
Pitta’s are also often known more so as extroverts, but look closely. It is not necessarily so that they all are. Generally warm at heart, some run hotter than others. Many introverts have historically been and are indeed leaders too and have it in them to be so. They simply just shine in a different way.
Reward orientation, as a nurtured cultivation, can manifest in any constitution since it has been culturally programmed into us. If you observe a Pitta doing this with some self aggrandizement, having an imbalanced Pitta party, one of the most damaging things you can do to them is judge them as they do a lot of harsh and harmful “not good enough” internal dialogue. Being direct a Pitta gets. That a clear hiss that they appreciate. They like clarity.
When you eat something hot the remedy is to eat something sweet to put out the fire in your mouth, right? If you are dealing with a Pitta, do that. Be understanding, sweet, or step back from the fireworks as to not get burned. You might even leave as the flames further ensnare. Meeting fire with fire is just more fire. It’s not the antidote.
Perfectionism, a trait common to an imbalanced Pitta, is a trait commonly mistaken as tejas, Soul fire, yet perfectionism and perfection are quite different. Perfection is already happening from a Soul fire lens. Perfectionism is a false shield of protection to remain liked, recognized, worthy and seen as having it all together on the outside. The lens of a Soul fire inherently knows there need not be any shame in being “ordinary” from the visionary lens of a Soul fire because there is no such thing.
The book Quiet; The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain draws a comparison of a dandelion flower as the extrovert to an orchid as the introvert. The orchid, fragile, is often incredibly sensitive to surroundings. A dandelion is often resilient to many changes, transmuting them. Both enhance the balance of our ecosystem and especially in moderation. Truly, it is more about knowing where we are imbalanced and not so moderate because it is only there that we are vulnerable to being hurt or hurting others. We don’t have to stop being ourselves. That was were the Cobra became vulnerable. A Soul fire is invulnerable.
Well I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of Hell
But I won’t back down
No I’ll stand my ground
Won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground
And I won’t back down (I won’t back down)
Hey baby, There ain’t no easy way out (I won’t back down)
Hey I, will stand my ground
And I won’t back down
Well I know what’s right
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground
And I won’t back down
Lyrics by Tom Petty
The powerful, changing mechanism of tenacity and alignment of principles with Soul fire will always override the destructive and short lived traits of forcefulness.
Gandhi, a radiant example, had the power of Soul fire behind him. An entire Aristocratic country applied force, self-serving and one sided will. Gandhi acted from his humble and fiery nature AND the Creators. There are only remnants of buildings left of the British in India now. India regained herself back and her nature along with it.
A Soul fire can never go out so go all in.
Oh and PS:
If you read “Quiet. Living In A World That Can not Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, you might know that Elenor, a self proclaimed introvert, helped write this speech for her husband.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Teddy Roosevelt Speech entitled Citizen In A Republic in Sarbonne France 1910