Monday, September 29, 2008

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

……… Robert Frost (1920)

When I read Robert Frost’s poem it touched a chord somewhere deep down in my thinking and wanted to write what I felt. Sometime ago I wrote an article on the spiritual significance of the flood myth in the various religious and pagan traditions and I dwelt in depth on Vishnu Purana, wherein the pralaya or ultimate destruction of the world is through seven fires. The Purana is rich in imparting cosmic wisdom as the destruction or dissolution signifies the end of an individual through which the world comes to end in this existence. The seven fires denote the uncontrolled desires allotted to the seven chakra centres of the human body. It is very apt that Frost, writing from a western culture which had very little influence from the eastern thought, would have written from his own personal intuition as he says “…….From what I’ve tasted of desire”. This why we have the saying in English "all consuming desire".

This leads us to think what made him write the next stanza. For those of you who had seen the movie “Batman and Robin” the villain of the story is Mr. Freeze and his plot is to freeze Gotham city. But Mr. Mr. Freeze starts off as Doctor Victor Fries, a brilliant scientist, who is consumed by hatred for Batman for he thinks that his wife was killed by Batman. All the dynamic creativity of a fantastic scientist is frozen into a singular attribute of hatred.
The symbolism of the character is important. When one is consumed by hatred all of one’s positive emotions and responses freeze over. In physics we study that all motions and dynamics come to total standstill at absolute zero temperature and this is true of cold hatred.
In today’s world cold hatred freezes men’s heart to destroy innocent lives and themselves through the fires of incendiary devices. Psychopaths, fundamentalists and serial killers operate in this domain of cold hatred. Religious fundamentalism, in all forms, has killed more than 80 million humans in the last two millenium.

Only the warmth of love and wisdom can thaw the cold freeze of alienation from our fellow humans and hence from the cosmic force which has always operated in perfect harmony.

Love to you all


  1. A very topical blog. All the fundamentalism that we witness today are the result of monotheistic religions but it is sad that hinduism, which comes out of Vedic philosophy of sanadana Dharma, is also getting dragged into this unending tussle.
    Hatred is a plague and should be eradicated at all levels.


  2. Greetings. Thanks for the nice and inspiring write-up on fire and ice. I love poems of Frost - I have visited his farm-house in Lawrence (about an hour ride from Boston) many times. Your reflections are very enligtening.

    With kind regards,


  3. Dr.Fr.Francis. P. Xavier is the Dean of Physics, Loyola College, Chennai is a great scholar and the blog is enriched by his participation.
    I would like to thank him for his comments

  4. Great post! It is very apt for todays problems. We need people like you to enlighten the society.