No smoke without fire?

No smoke without fire.

This saying is an example of projection.

We hear a rumor about someone. We imagine it. This imagination combines with sensations giving it a charge so we feel it may be true. And we say no smoke without fire.

The saying is obviously not true in reality. There is often smoke without fire. It’s not uncommon with false rumors and assumptions with little or no basis in reality.

For the sake of balance, I’ll mention that we can always find something – anything – in us if we look. We are all capable of just about anything, in the right (or wrong) circumstances, and we can always find examples of something in us if we look closely enough.

So in a conventional sense, “no smoke without fire” is clearly wrong, and in a deeper and more universal sense there is some truth to it.

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CG Jung: To the extent that I managed to translate the emotions into images I was inwardly calmed and reassured

To the extent that I managed to translate the emotions into images– that is to say, to find the images which were concealed in the emotions– I was inwardly calmed and reassured.

Had I left those images hidden in the emotions, I might have been torn to pieces by them.

There is a chance that I might have succeeded in splitting them off; but in that case I would inexorably have fallen into a neurosis and so been ultimately destroyed by them.

As a result of my experiment I learned how helpful it can be, from the therapeutic point of view, to find the particular images which lie behind the emotions.

– CG Jung, p. 177, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

This is an essential part of Buddhist inquiry, the Living Inquiries, and several body-oriented therapy forms in the west. Feel the sensations. Notice images and words associated with them. Look at these. Notice images as images. Notice words as words. Notice sensations as sensations. Feel sensations as sensations. That’s how these separate out and the charge goes out of the initial bundle of images, words, and sensations.

These bundles are how our minds create drama, stress, tension, trauma, wounds, discomfort, suffering, a sense of separation, deficient and inflated selves, and more. And when the charge goes out of these bundles – and images are recognized as images, words as words, and sensations as sensations – there is typically a huge relief. A sense of coming home. A sense of simplicity.

We are more free to live from our “true nature” – that which we are with fewer of these drama bundles drawing our attention – which is a very simple and ordinary kindness and wisdom.

These bundles of words, images, and sensations are also called velcro (Living Inquiries). I used to call them conglomerates. The bundles are created from identification with the images and words in the bundle, and the stories associated these with certain sensations. And all of this can be called “ego”, although I prefer to not use that word since it has too many misleading associations and makes it all seem more solid and more like an object while in reality it’s all quite ephemeral.

And what about the term “true nature”? I don’t really like to use that term either. It can sound too fanciful and esoteric while it’s really something very ordinary and simple. In this context, it’s just the ordinary kindness that’s here when attention is not drawn into (too much) velcro.


In exploring the Living Inquiries (Scott Kiloby) I am reminded of conglomerates.

When words, images and sensations appear as one whole, one conglomerate, and is taken as real, it appears very real, and it has real consequences in my life. I perceive, feel, think, act and live as if it’s real.

When this conglomerate is examined and seen for what it is – as words, images and sensations – and each of these are recognized as words, images and sensations, the sense of reality goes out of it. It’s recognized as not reflecting reality. It’s not as, or not at all, sticky anymore.

It’s quite amazing.

It’s amazing how real a combination of words, images and sensations may seem when it’s taken as real and not examined. It’s amazing how we can perceive and live as if it’s real.

It’s amazing how simple it often is to see what’s really here. It’s already here, just waiting to be more consciously noticed.

It’s amazing how the stickiness goes out of it after it’s examined.

For instance, I dread the future.

At first, it appears as just a feeling of dread. Then I notice it’s fear.

Then I notice the words associated with it. Something terrible will happen. My life will be terrible. My life will go down hill. I will be alone. I will be miserable. I won’t have enough money. I won’t be able to function well. I will live on government support in a small apartment in Norway without any friends. I will live a sad life. 

Then I notice the images. Me alone in a small apartment in Norway. Me in misery. 

Then I notice the sensations associated with these fears.

And for each of these, I look for the threat. Is there a threat in each of the words? Each of the images? The sensations? In each of these, is there a me there that something terrible will happen to?