One of the things we need to understand with koans is that there is no pat answer to a koan; instead you may find three or four different teachers responding to the same koan by emphasizing a different aspect of it. The thing that makes koans so wonderful is that they have so many facets to them. A koan can be used to help make a particular point about the teachings, which is the way I’m going to use this koan today—to take up the question of morality and ethics.
“Right off, we should understand that the place of wisdom and compassion is where all the buddhas in the three worlds turn the great dharma wheel in the fire.” The fire is always the place of practice. The fire is conflict. The fire is samsara. The fire is delusion. The fire is pain and suffering. The unfortunate thing is that when we face difficulty, we tend to turn away from practice, from the very thing that has the power to transform the suffering. The only time transformation can occur is when we’re at the edge. That’s where we practice: in the fire.