What fire does he mean? – the fire in which you will not remain. You will have to disappear completely. This crowd that you are cannot be allowed to remain, because this has been your misery, and this is your misery and anguish. This crowd has to disappear, disappear in a crystallized center.
Fire is an alchemical term; anything that needs to be crystallized will have to pass through fire. If you want to make something out of gold, the gold will have to pass through fire. First it will have to become liquid, then it will be purified – it will be pure gold – and then you can mold it into anything else. But it will have to pass through fire. And the same is going to happen to a disciple: the master is a fire, and you have to become completely liquid so that all that was wrong is burned, and all that was right has become liquid and one. Then you will crystallize.
First a master is a fire, and then infinite coolness happens through him. But the beginning is fiery, and that creates fear. It is easy to approach a priest, he is as false as you. You know well there is no danger. It is easy to pass through a ritual, you know it is mock. But to come to Jesus is difficult: you are coming near a fire; the nearer you come, the more you will feel burned. When a disciple comes really close – that’s what a disciple does: gathers courage, and comes nearer and nearer, and allows the fire to work – he passes through a furnace. Jesus is a furnace.
But when he comes out of it, the disciple is totally different: the crowd has gone, now he is a different, totally different metal. The baser metal has changed into the higher, the iron has become gold; it has been a transformation. When I say it has been a transformation, I mean it is discontinuous with the past. If there is a continuity there is no mutation, only modification. That’s what you have been doing.
You go on modifying yourself a little bit here and there. It is a patchwork, but a patchwork is never revolution. And a patchwork is not going to help you ultimately; a patchwork is a patchwork, you are never transformed. Somewhere you change a little, but the totality remains the same. And the totality is so powerful that the new that you have made will not remain new for long. Sooner or later the totality will absorb it, and it will be old. You go on improving yourself, but no improvement can lead you to religion. Religion is not an improvement. Whom are you improving? You are the illness, you are the disease, and you are improving a disease. You may polish it, you may paint it, you may give it a mask – even the ugliness may not look so ugly – but the illness remains.