Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Building Fires and Building Companies

"Starting this company is like starting a fire, and each little success is like a spark on the kindling we've gathered. We have to nurture and encourage these tender little flames. Be careful not to smother them."

The metaphor came to me naturally. It gave me new appreciation for all the time spent struggling with campfires as a teenager. This memory of a concrete experience allowed me to shed helpful new light on a tough, abstract scenario.

I found myself wondering about the inverse though. Starting a fire is like starting a company because fire building is a fundamental metaphor for creation. Which of the two, fire building and company building, is the more powerful act? To what extent is a simple life, stripped down to the essential metaphors of experience, the most powerful state of existence? I think Trungpa Rinpoche touched on this in Transcending Madness when he talked about an approach to life where water is Wet and fire is Hot. All phenomena are experienced as their underlying symbols. (I might be remembering this wrong. Don't have the book with me on this trip.)

In this alternate experience, lighting a fire is all creative acts and all destructive acts at once. It is Shiva dancing, with the Ganga flowing from his matted hair. There is no need for contrivance because the story of the universe (vast, infinite, expansive) is unfolding completely with every moment.

The interesting twist is that this shift in perspective does not actually necessitate any shift in activities. True simplicity lies in our relationships with phenomenal experience, and has very little to do with the content (the perceived 'other') of that experience.

Have I answered my own question? I think that neither company building nor fire building is a more powerful act than the other. A simple life, stripped down to the essential metaphors of experience, is indeed a powerful state. However, this says very little about what we do and instead places emphasis on how we do it.

This is one of the reasons why I meditate.


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