From July to October each year, Buddhist monks & nuns observe the 'Rainy Season Retreat' (Vassa), a tradition established according to the calendar and climatic conditions of the middle Ganges valley, where the Buddha lived and taught. However, here at Dhammagiri near Brisbane, South-East-Queensland, the month of September is actually the driest season in the year, with hightened fire danger. Ajahn Dhammasīha uses the occasion to develop the metaphor of firefighting in the sense of extinguishing the 'fire' that burns our heart internally, namely the fire of defilements ('Kilesa'): Greed, lust, anger, aversion, delusion and so on.
♦ Just like we quickly dial 000 (Triple Zero) when we notice a dangerous fire, so we should call to mind the 'Triple Gem' (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) whenever we become aware of defilements burning in our heart.
♦ Just like firefighting is a highly qualified profession requiring extensive skills, so we have to be superbly trained in order to deal with the defilements threatening to overwhelm our heart.
♦ Just like domestic fires, electric fires, petrol fires or toxic chemical fires require totally different techniques & materials to extinquish them, so we have to know which meditation object is most suitable for each defilement. For instance, mettā (loving kindness) against anger; contemplating impermanence against greed; and so on...
♦ Just like firefighters have to be always on high alert, so we have to be ready to respond immediately whenever the defilements arise in our heart.
♦ Just like we install fire alarms in our homes to be warned in time, so we have to develop sati ('mindfulness') to recognize the first sign of the defilements arising inside.
The simile is rich and rewarding to contemplate in detail, encompassing manifold aspects of our Dhamma practice.