Questions to Ask About Fire

The master and the student were walking down a path between two fields. On the horizon, smoke was rising.

“Where there is smoke,” the student mumbled, “there also must be a fire.”

“Of course, of course,” the master nodded, “but there is something more interesting! What questions should we ask next?”

Photo by Dawn Armfield

Photo by Dawn Armfield

The student was at a loss, so the master answered the question about the questions himself: “If you see smoke, it is not enough to ask about the fire. You must investigate! What is it that burns? Then you ask: Who kindled the flames? Who told him to, who let him, who handed him the spark?”

A field or a house rarely burn without a cause. There is always someone who caused it. Either by intent or by negligence, which often are indistinguishable.

Do not talk too much about the fire. The fire is both a danger and a distraction. If you can stop the fire, stop it. If you cannot stop the fire, leave it burning and later rebuild. Yet always ask, who lit the fire and why.