Burning burning burning burning
O Lord Thou pluckest me out
O Lord Thou pluckest

from T.S. Eliot – The Waste Land on Rap Genius

Meaning

Again Eliot alludes to Buddha’s “Fire Sermon,” in which 1000 white-robed acolytes from all castes gathered and were told that the flesh, existence, connection, are all burning and that even the ascetics are burning with attachment.

Bhikkhus, all is burning. And what is the all that is burning? The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning.

Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion.

I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs.

The ear is burning, sounds are burning…

The nose is burning, odors are burning…

The tongue is burning, flavors are burning…

The body is burning, tangibles are burning…

The mind is burning, ideas are burning, mind-consciousness is burning…Burning with what?

Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion.

I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs."

There is also a reference here to the destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, when the city was razed to the ground by the Romans leaving only ruins and rubble. Legend has it that the Romans then sowed the land of Carthage with salt, rendering it infertile.

The following lines are from St. Augustine’s Confessions Book 10:

but Thou pluckest me out, O Lord, Thou pluckest me out; because Thy loving-kindness is before my eyes. For I am taken miserably, and Thou pluckest me out mercifully; sometimes not perceiving it, when I had but lightly lighted upon them; otherwhiles with pain, because I had stuck fast in them.

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