A magnifying glass could be used to start a fire, if the conditions were right and one knew how to use it. Where I live the light of the sun is too diffuse to create enough heat to start a fire. But if I were to have access to a magnifying glass and received instructions as to how it could solve my problem, I could focus the sunlight to make a very concentrated ray of light, which, when it touched a surface would result in the heat I needed.

But the material that the light touches also needs to be of a certain quality. It needs to be something that would be able to be ignited. We can call it kindling. The material, very fine, would need to be laboriously gathered, collected, and placed in such a way that the concentrated rays of the sun would ignite it. This would require effort. Most likely I would even have to make the material by whittling away at a larger stick of wood, making shavings through the contact and friction of my knife against the stick.

The sun’s concentrated rays and the kindling are required. But a third requirement is the magnifying glass. It is something a person must search for and find. Without the magnifying glass, my efforts will come to naught. I might assemble much material for kindling. I might look for and find places where the rays of the sun shine more brightly that usual. I might have a real wish to make a fire, and have studied with intelligent people about the nature of fire, but it means nothing.

The rays of the sun are from on high. It is an energy that illuminates everywhere. The kindling is the truths about myself, hard won through the long labor of an honest inquiry into the facts of who I am. The magnifying glass is my participation in a shared investigation with others who are also trying to find an answer, so that a fire might be created, illuminating all of our lives.

I need the magnifying glass. With it, what I wish for is possible. Without it, nothing is possible.

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