The Meaning of Crucible

crucible spiritual community
January 16, 2019

Shambhavi describes the literal and more alchemical meanings of “crucible.” How is a spiritual community a crucible? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

There’s a particular term that we use in Jaya Kula which is “crucible.” Some of you may know that Jaya Kula is run almost entirely by volunteer labor—seva, or service. This was a decision that was made by the community back in Oregon. We had some community meetings and discussions. And then the larger mandala of people decided that they wanted to give it a go and see if we could run things using seva alone.

At that time we formed a coordinating body that’s called the Crucible. So the Crucible is literally a group of people. Now there’s a crucible on the West coast and another on the East coast. It’s usually 5 to 8 Jaya Kula students—some are initiated, some aren’t. They’re responsible for the different areas that need to get taken care of in Jaya Kula. So things like: coordinating the cleaning and setup of teaching spaces, keeping things supplied, doing some bookkeeping and money stuff that needs to be done, doing communications with the newsletter or communications to the mandala, overseeing/coordinating technical problems, and planning and coordinating events and fun stuff.

I was the one that came up with the name “the Crucible” for that governing body. Then everybody wanted to know—what do you mean by Crucible? Why are we calling this the Crucible?

There’s a kind of an incense burner that I’m very familiar with that’s called a ding, and it’s a crucible. It’s a little 3-legged incense burner, usually made of ceramic or porcelain. You burn incense in it, and you also make offerings in it to ancestors. You can put food in a ding. It can be cooked food. This is just like in our Hindu tradition when we put food on a plate or in a bowl and offer it at puja. In the Chinese tradition they use this little ding. They’re called censors also—ding is I think the Chinese word. I learned about these from the person that taught me how to do divination, and that was the first image that came to mind.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.