Dancing with the Fire – Chapter 3a


The intelligence capable of orchestrating the diversity of all the cells in the human body is equally capable of orchestrating the diversity of the human family.

Ken Carey

To view the universe anew is to change in feeling and being. Just as there is no mind without body, no spirit without matter, there is no cognition without affect, no observation without personal change, no unmoved mover.2

George Leonard

The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.

James Jeans

It does indeed seem possible that we alive today could witness the beginnings of the emergence of a high-synergy society, a healthy social superorganism. If so, we could be among the most privileged generations ever to have lived.

Peter Russell

Most people wonder “why?” Why stand barefoot before a path of glowing, red-hot embers and choose to step forward? Why  run the risk of serious pain and injury? Why dance and sing with strangers around a fire in the dark; why take part in an ancient and primitive rite of passage; why even ponder such a strange and unlikely activity?

The discovery of fire by human beings, and the relationship  we have developed with it as we have learned to harness  its power and turn it towards purposeful good, marks a major step in the evolution of our species. Fire as made it possible for most of the people of this planet to live in otherwise cold and forbidding climates. It has given to our diets a vast array of foods that, without cooking, we would find unpalatable and of dubious nutritive value. It has enabled us to work creatively with metals, opening an entire industry, from the forging of the simplest tools to the fabrication of the minutest microchips. It has provided the power source and driving force of the industrial and postindustrial ages, the life-blood of our automobiles and airplanes, our cities and factories, our most complex surgical operations, our rockets to the moon.

Even in warmer tropical climates where fire has not been necessary for heating, cooking, the development of tools, or the fuel of industry and transportation, people have known that their lives depended upon fire of the sun and have treated their earthbound fires as offshoots, or little brothers, of that greater fire. Though the choreography has differed from one time and place to another, all primitive cultures have developed and followed certain rituals involving fire. Human culture universally sees fire an essential element for life on this planet, worthy of love, reverence, and thanksgiving, perhaps even of adoration and idolatry, and most certainly of respect. Thus we tend to view the discovery of fire as one of the most important moments in the history of humanity.

Pondering the discovery of fire, I imagine a brave and curious human being coming upon a blaze in the forest or on the plain, quite attracted to the fire’s warmth, to its beauty, to its dancing, flowing quality so similar to water. Such a person would quite naturally reach out to touch this bright, new substance, and thus discover—ouch!—that fire is hot and fire burns.

The discovery of fire involved the simultaneous uncovering of this fundamental law, the simple and painfully obvious truth that fire burns.

Over time, early men and women learned to turn fire’s burning towards purposeful good. They learned to heat their homes, to cook their food, to melt and forge important tools and implements. They learned to control fire, to harness its burning energy and use it, though ever mindful of the painful lesson that, if careless, fire could all too easily burn out of control, changing from life-improver to life-destroyer. This has always been fire’s essential nature: it will burn, possibly for good, possibly for ill, but it will burn. Outside of the firewalking experience itself, the law has always been: fire burns.

Early in life, each of us gets indoctrinated into the nature of fire. We touch the hot stove, the burning candle, the lit cigarette, and we personally discover fire—Ouch!, hot!, this stuff burns! As we grow, we learn to use fire in a myriad of helpful ways, and, inevitably, we pick up our share of accidental burns. Throughout our lives, again, outside of the firewalking experience, we never encounter anything but confirmation upon confirmation of the basic, unalterable fact that fire burns.

Therein lies one answer to the question, Why walk on fire?

Each time a person successfully brings bare flesh into contact with the extreme heat of glowing embers, and does not burn, then he or she demonstrates that we can reverse, suspend, or at least modify this most concrete and unquestionable of natural laws. The fact that fire burns, juxtaposed with the fact of successful firewalking, suggests that human beings can play some role in the formation of physical reality and its governing laws. Furthermore, in opening to that possibility, we must wonder if other natural laws have the same flexibility, and if there exist other unsuspected human resources that we might learn to bring forth.

This explains the draw of the firewalk, its beauty, its lessons, its awesome power: that we as human beings can connect to and play a role in the creative processes of our world. People walk on fire as a way of graphically demonstrating their active participation in the creation of reality. Reality can be shifted, altered, changed, and created anew, and the human spirit can and does play a causative role in such change and re-creation.

This does not just mean that we create change through our deeds and actions, but that we contribute to the continuing creation of reality through the special medium of human consciousness. It means that our thoughts, feelings, words, and deeds matter; that our attitudes, our beliefs, our aspirations, and our dreams matter; that our essential human consciousness matters— makes material; that our inner worlds exert influence in the
manifestation of external reality. A person dancing through hot coals demonstrates: “How I think matters, how I feel matters, my beliefs and desires matter.” The firewalker realizes that the next few steps in her life will unfold according to her own unique way of being in the world. The fire will burn, or not, depending largely upon her own personal responses to her world, and her own personal state of consciousness.

Since the days of Galileo and Newton, we have grown to believe in a universe ordered, structured, and governed by natural laws, the workings of which we can observe, understand, and intelligently manipulate, but which ultimately exist previous to and apart from the human experience. Such a viewpoint draws a firm line between the objective world, which exists external to and independent of human consciousness, and the subjective world, which derives from a person’s thoughts and feelings. It argues that the formation of the objective in no way depends upon the subjective, and that a person’s internal states have no causative effect upon external reality. Indeed, our medical science has only with the greatest reluctance begun to give up its steadfast denial that a person’s thoughts and feelings can have a causative effect upon his or her own body. Most scientists still consider it quite irrational to say that a person’s thoughts and feelings can have any effect whatsoever upon the external world.

This way of looking at the world has enabled us to chart with precision the movement of planets, stars, and galaxies, to know exactly when the sun will rise and set each day, to understand the workings of levers and wheels and pumps and gears. It enables us to drop a steel ball from two miles up and predict to the millisecond when it will touch ground. It enables all of the miracles of modern transportation, communication, and computation.
It enables us to understand the atomic and subatomic structure of matter and to use that understanding to unleash extraordinary energies. All of this and so much more has grown from a worldview which insists upon a firm separation between the internal world of human beings and the external world in which they move, a worldview which makes a great deal of sense, a worldview proven again and again by the very gifts and wonders which it enables. To argue against this point of view—to say that human thoughts and feelings have a creative impact upon the formation of reality—would seem to open a door into chaos and confusion, and to refute the clockwork universe that science offers and so amply demonstrates.

The worldview that I propose does not deny any of the veracity or the validity of science. Rather, it says that science has done a good job of describing the world thus far and we still need to broaden our basic understandings. For instance, at the time of Isaac Newton all of the laws of quantum physics held every bit as true as today. Quantum physics does not deny Newtonian mechanics; it encompasses it and then goes beyond. The successful evolution of the Newtonian worldview eventually enabled the insights and applications of quantum mechanics. Likewise, the successful evolution of quantum mechanics now suggests a new science—one that will successfully blend the subjective and objective universes and that will describe the role human beings can play in the continuing creation of reality.

Physicists first sensed this shift to a new science when, contrary to all of their training, the dividing wall between the objective observer and the externally observed began to break down, along with many of the other basic assumptions of classical physics. Starting with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in 1905, the tidy clockwork world of Newton and Descartes, with its separately defined objects and its clear cause and effect relationships, slowly unraveled until Einstein himself declared: “It was as if the ground had been pulled out from under one, with no foundation to be seen anywhere, upon which one could have built.” Though many different discoveries and revelations would contribute to this shift toward a quantum worldview, probably none so thoroughly unsettled the scientific world more than the suggestion that total objectivity—the very backbone of scientific investigation and experimentation—was fundamentally impossible.

The quantum worldview so often runs in opposition to common sense that, however well quantum mechanics may accurately describe subatomic reality, it seems to hold little relevance to “normal” reality. For many of us, the natural laws of classical science obviously describe the whole picture in our day-to-day affairs. However, as a wealth of recent literature makes clear, there have always lived people, and at times entire cultures, for whom the quantum worldview has made perfect sense. Mystics and shamans, Taoist priests and Sufi dervishes, yoga masters and Indian healers—for such people the insights and revelations of quantum physics seem neither surprising nor alarming. Indeed, they have been describing the world in similar fashion for thousands of years. And while they may not have developed the technologies of Newtonian science, they have followed more ecologically grounded and environmentally sane ways. Nothing in the quantum worldview must ultimately run counter to common sense, though the senses common to twentyfirst-century Western humanity suffer from such a wide range of imbalances and aberrations that it will require a major leap in understanding to embrace this ancient-new reality.

In their Manual for Co-Creators of the Quantum Leap, futurists Barbara Marx Hubbard and Ken Carey outline some of the steps toward this new worldview. They assert, “Quantum transformations are traditional. Nature proceeds by long periods of incremental change marked by radical discontinuities, such as the leap from non-life to life, or single cells to animals, or animals to humans. Therefore we expect a quantum change to occur
from humans to the next stage. Hubbard and Carey feel that the key to this leap lies in the evolution of the human race to a level of consciousness through which it will actively participate in the continuing creation of reality. They speak of the “co-creative human”—one who has awareness of and alignment with the intention of creation; one who consciously cooperates with the designing intelligence; one who awakens to and makes manifest the next stage of evolution.

This presents a different “evolution” than the one that science has developed for the past hundred years. To the scientist, evolution occurs as a logical unfolding of circumstances set into motion billions of years ago. There happened, according to evolutionary theory, a “big bang” out of which all of the matter and energy of the universe came into being. From that moment forward, things have evolved, one thing leading naturally and linearly
to the next, various chemicals interacting with various other chemicals. Some water here, a few lightning flashes there, and stars evolved, planets evolved, our unique planet Earth evolved, our special earthen atmosphere evolved, non-life evolved into life, life evolved with Darwinian logic, apes into Homo sapiens, and so on. This scenario requires no actual creative intelligence, except perhaps at the time of the big bang. After that, He, She, or
It sat back and rested, apparently content to just watch the show. The death, or at least retirement, of God seems critical to this way of thinking, for the allowance of a continuing creative intelligence, an intelligence still actively participating in the creation of reality, might deny or confound the scientist’s desire to perceive and understand an orderly universe.

The evolutionary perspective that Hubbard and Carey describe assumes a continuing creative process—a divine presence, the will and hand of God—which has organized and directed the unfolding of our world and all worlds from the very beginning of space and time. There probably was a big bang (“And the Lord said, ‘Let there be light!’”), followed by the slow and gradual movement, or evolution, of the Divine into more and more complex forms with greater and greater capacities for self-consciousness. This evolutionary perspective assumes divine intention: to become a world as gloriously complex as Earth, and to become a race of creatures capable of consciously knowing—of knowing that they know—that they embody the Divine, with the destiny to become active participants in the continuing creation of reality.
“Our awareness that God or the designing intelligence of the universe is expressing as us is the ‘open sesame’ of the next stage of evolution. We must not shy away from this profound leap simply because our past experience seems to counsel against it. True, the mass of humanity has thus far demonstrated neither the power, nor morality, nor even the inclination of gods embodied. Evolution means change; we can change. Let’s not be caterpillars arguing against the possibility of flight.

We know that a child, while unable to perform or even imagine the procreative acts of an adult, certainly carries those acts in potential. Given time and proper nourishment, the child will grow, and one day, magically, astonishingly, the child will change. It will have reached its new stage of growth, and a whole new set of rules and possibilities will apply.

Humanity has been such a growing child and now, with all of the fear and excitement of emerging sexuality to a budding adolescent, the world changes within us and around us and calls us to actively play in the greatest sex of all, the creation of reality. As George Leonard writes, “But this new species will evolve…. What was once impalpable now summons us to dismantle the walls between ourselves and our sisters and brothers, to dissolve the distinctions between flesh and spirit, to transcend the present limits of time and matter, to find, at last, not wealth or power but the ecstasy (so long forgotten) of commonplace, unconditional being. For the atom’s soul is nothing but energy. Spirit blazes in the dullest clay. The life of every woman or man—the heart of it—is pure and holy joy.

There have always been those individuals, rare for the most part, who have understood this evolving life of “pure and holy joy” and have been able to practically demonstrate their active participation in the continuing creation of reality. Humanity has recognized these individuals, proclaiming them as Christ and Buddha, or as masters and saints. Hubbard has referred to such people as “evolutionary mutants,” those who demonstrate the next stage of human evolution through such practices as healing, telepathy, manifestation, prophesy, etc. They have lived their lives as beacons, as fingers pointing toward the future, often echoing the words of Jesus: All that I do, you shall do, and more. They have left a wealth of guidance for the evolving human, maps for the evolutionary journey, teachings which may have eluded us in the past (like teaching sex education to a three-year old) but which begin to make sense during this age of transformation.

I like to think of the firewalk as yet another old evolutionary mutant. The practice of firewalking has existed for thousands of years in dozens of different cultures as a powerful teaching for the evolving human. It has served as a graphic demonstration of what people can do, and as a clear and usually unforgettable model of humans interacting with their world in a more evolved manner. Many have found that the simple act of viewing a firewalk, or even a video of a firewalk, has greatly expanded their vision of human potential. The firewalk has further served as a practical course of instruction for those who would consciously pursue and support their unfolding growth. Each journey across the fire offers an immediate lesson in the essential connection of mind, body, and environment. We mostly perceive a firm and solid wall separating our ordinary, pre-evolutionary world from the extraordinary world of evolving humanity. The life of each evolutionary mutant has served to soften this wall, causing breakthroughs, opening windows, and making cracks that the rest of us might peek through, catching glimpses and fleeting visions of our future possibilities.
The firewalk has been a dancing through these cracks, an actual experience of stepping over the border between the two worlds and, if only for brief seconds, breathing in the special vibratory quality of a long promised land.

I believe that the firewalk has arrived here, in the heart of scientific culture, and now, at the onset of a monumental evolutionary leap, because it can ultimately serve as a bridge between the two worlds, greatly reducing the stress and danger of the leap. Firewalkers agree with the findings and conclusions of the Newtonian worldview: that we live in an orderly universe, and that natural laws govern the ways of our world. In addition, firewalkers suggest that a creative process intends the orderliness and informs the laws of nature—a continuing creative process underlies and ultimately causes all of manifest reality. We, as conscious human beings, play a vital role in that process. God is alive and well, humans have just begun to fully realize this, and walking on fire serves as a preview of coming attractions. A major message of the firewalk and theme of this book is that a continuing creative process—which I will refer to as the “co-creative process”—determines the way the world manifests, the very fabric of reality and the laws that govern it. Each of us, to the extent that we consciously embrace our potential, has an integral place in that process. This means that reality arises as more than just the mechanical and linear unfolding of prior natural laws. The combined input of all of the conscious life on this planet continuously creates the world anew.

The difference between the person who walks across a bed of coals without the slightest sensation of heat or pain, and the person who takes one step and experiences searing heat and serious pain, has little to do with the texture of the skin, the speed of the walking, the heat of the coals, the amount of moisture on the feet, or any other external consideration. Though such considerations contribute to the final outcome, ultimate success and failure during a firewalk stems from the individual walker’s internal process, or present-time state of consciousness—the sum total of his or her thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and expectations. Walking on fire shows that our internal world continuously influences our external world, that our thoughts and feelings have creative power, that we play a key role in the co-creation of reality, and that we share in responsibility for the unfolding, evolutionary process of life on Earth.

Of course, we do not have to walk on fire in order to experience our role in the co-creative process. We must, however, consciously step into that possibility—the possibility that each of us shares in the creation of this world. Such a step may well feel frightening, as we venture into an unknown realm with immense responsibilities. Still, if we want to move forward in life, we must take the step. It can so easily lead to dancing.

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