And Eliot’s reading of Warren’s translation resulted in his naming the third section of his 1922 poem ) is ‘The Discourse about What is on Fire’, or simply, ‘Burning’.And, while the so-called ‘second sermon’ is more like a Socratic dialogue than a sermon, this ‘Discourse on Burning’, is more rightly called the ‘third sermon’ – the third teaching of the Buddha.The fire-worshipping ascetics believed that tending the sacred fire, performing fire-rituals every morning, pouring ghee into the flames to feed the gods, was the way to salvation. Elsewhere, having used this same framework, he asks, is there anything else in experience apart from this all this? It is a way of characterising our basic psychological afflictions.Of course, it is a quite reasonable and sensible belief that there is a world independent of our sense-experience, but all we ever have to go on is the experience of our senses. So everything, the whole of our experience, the whole world, is burning. Compulsion and hostility are emotional – they characterise attraction and aversion reactions to experience – while confusion is intellectual – characterising basic lack of understanding of what is happening.’ And he came to the conclusion, ‘I will teach them about the six senses and their objects, comparing them to what is burning and blazing, and in this way they will be able to obtain arahantship.’ Then he spoke this formulation of the Dharma in order to teach the Dharma to these people.The commentary can be a bit dry and literal in its interpretations of early Buddhism, but in this case it is very helpful.
Then we hear that, once there are sixty arahants, the Buddha sends them out in all directions, exhorting them to ‘wander for the well-being and happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well-being and happiness of gods and human beings’.The Buddha then wanders eastward, towards Uruvelā (where he had gained awakening).On the way he meets a group of thirty young men with their twenty-nine wives.Whatever one might say, he brought it round to sex.Beds, beaches, lawns, woods, floors, bicycles, breakfast, dinner, tea – it all triggered compelling ideas of various sorts in my friend’s mind.