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Jim Jarvis: a Journey Through the Fire

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Jim Jarvis, World Record Holder for Firewalking

The year was 1963. I was returning from my Coast Guard duty post one evening just after sundown. I was walking on a trail through some woods. A young recruit was walking the opposite way up the trail. He was on his way to relieve me of my post at the guard tower. He carried a pistol. He heard me lumbering down the trail and he thought I was a bear. He couldn't see me because the woods were dark. Terrified, he started shooting without warning. He fired a number of shots into the darkness in my direction.
A bullet ripped into my side, splitting me open below my ribs. The bullet plunged through my stomach and lodged in my spine. I stood up. I looked down at my body and I thought "Gee, that was a funny way to die." I said my goodbyes to the world. There was no fear, no sense of pain, no terror, no anguish, just a sense of utter astonishment. I stood and stared at my body as if it were an empty glass.
"Goodbye, mom and dad. I love you," I said. I turned around and WHHHOOOOOSHHHH, I traveled instantly out from the earth at stupendous speed through a tunnel of light. When I reached the far end of that tunnel Jesus was standing there. He welcomed me to heaven. He was smiling. He held his hand out to me as he welcomed me. His face radiated with an overwhelming brilliance. His eyes shined like the sun. I was awe-struck by his radiance and his magnificence. Words can't describe the feelings I experienced in his presence. The doctors told my mother they didn't think I would live. I was in a coma for four days. Miraculously, I came out of that coma and survived the shooting.
If you believe in Jesus your whole life, then you'll meet him face to face some day after you pass out of this dimension. If you have some other spiritual teacher or guru who is your connection to God they will present themselves to you. You'll know who they are. If you're a Buddhist, Buddha will greet you. If you're a Mohammedan, Mohammed will greet you. Whoever or whatever your connection to God is, that's who will meet you. You'll have no doubt in your mind. When I was in the spirit, nothing needed to be said by verbal communication. All was communicated by telepathy. I don't remember hearing a sound for as long as I was out of my body.

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When you're in the spirit, nothing is verbal. Nothing can be heard with your ears because everything is communicated by spirit vibrations. All my memories and impressions associated with my near-death experience are just beautiful. It was all love, painlessness and perfection. I had a feeling of being loved, protected and cared for in a safe place. Having an out-of-body experience like that made me realize there's more to this universe than meets the eye.

"I went into a dreamlike state during which I
left my fears behind me. I simply stepped into
the fire. I was so ecstatic that I forgot all
about wanting to kill myself."

Immediately prior to being catapulted back into my body, I don't recall being instructed to come back to earth to do anything specific. Some people who had near death experiences told me they came back from death to complete something in this life or because they had a specific mission or a job to do. After I had been in heaven for a period of time I saw other people up there, but none that I had known previously in my life on earth.
I saw only about 50 other people during the entire time I was in heaven. They were a mixture of ordinary people of varying ages, sizes and shapes. They were the same sorts of people you can see walking down any ordinary city street. When I awoke from my coma my grandmother asked me if I had seen grandpa up there. I replied, "No, grandma, I didn't see him. I didn't see anybody up there that I knew."
I simply woke up and I was back. I was back in my body, back here on earth.
My near-death experience changed my perspective. The doctors figured I was a goner. They thought I was dead and they were quite surprised when they found out that I wasn't. Being at the epicenter of a mystical experience like that had a mind-blowing impact on my life.
When I came back to earth I lost all the good feelings, the love, the serenity and the perfection I had in heaven. I was gripped and seized by monstrous fears when I came back into my body. I would hear an unexpected noise, be startled and fall down. Somebody would move their hand rapidly and I'd pass out from fear. I've realized as a result of firewalking that in most cases, my fear is self-inflicted. I can allow fear to run my life but if I do, it will ruin my life. Fear puts people into boxes with self-created walls and limitations. When fear rules a person, they end up with a narrow, frustrated life. The good news is that people can overcome their fears. Most of the things we fear are only what we conjure up in our own minds. Fear is essentially an illusion. Fear is the product of our own thoughts, which create a fear response in the body. Fear is not really real. It has no independent existence. It's our own reaction to what's going on around us.

Second Accident

I had a second accident which resulted in a near-death experience at the age of 33. My second accident was caused by spinal injuries I received when I was shot at the age of 21. At the age of 33, I had a car crash at over 100 mph which put me into a 28-day coma.
I was driving my car one day when I experienced post-stress brain syndrome seizure. I lost all control of my leg muscles. My legs locked in a spasm. My right leg extended, putting pressure on the accelerator pedal. I smashed into a bridge abutment doing in excess of 100 mph. It was a miracle that I survived the accident at all. My body whipped around inside the car so violently that I took out both the driver's side window and the windshield with my head. My heart stopped three times. The doctors told my mother I would probably never come out of that coma. They said that if I ever did come out of it I would be a complete vegetable. When I finally did wake up they said it was a miracle. However, my memory was almost completely wiped out. I knew next to nothing. Almost every memory was gone. I spoke in syllables that were similar in sound to Chinese. I had to learn everything, including the English language over again from scratch. I didn't recognize my wife, my children or my mother. I didn't know anything. I was just like a 33-year old newborn baby.
I learned what children were, and I became aware of what the word "grandfather" meant. I was astounded to discover that I was a grandfather. I couldn't remember ever being married or having children. I do remember being in a wheelchair. Then I learned to crawl, learned to walk and learned to eat again at the age of 33.

Recovering From a Near-Death Experience

Recovery was tremendously slow for me. After nearly a year, the doctors let me go home from the hospital. When I got out of the hospital, a nurse took care of me. It wasn't long before we got married.
She soon found out that it wasn't much fun being married to an hemiplegic. I was a cripple. In addition, I was very negative, and sometimes even violent. I was afraid of almost everything and everybody. She divorced me. I was crushed by that divorce. It was one more thing to add to my list of considerable physical, mental and spiritual woes. As the days rolled by, I seriously considered committing suicide. I hobbled down to the railroad tracks on my crutches and sat there for hours. I waited for the train to arrive so that I could jump out under the engine wheels and kiss the world goodbye. Trains ran infrequently at the time. Eventually, I got bored waiting for a train. I limped back home. In the blackest of depressions, I propped myself onto my crutches and shuffled up to a nearby bridge. I contemplated jumping off. Fear kicked in when I realized that the bridge was only 56' high. I knew I would probably survive the jump. I was a failure at everything, including suicide. My mental confusion and disorientation were so great that I couldn't even comprehend what a barking dog was. Somebody honked a car horn behind me. I was startled by sudden noises. I passed out from fear. I fell down a number of times and injured myself. I rode in a car one night and I noticed the headlights from an oncoming car. Terror struck me. I thought the oncoming car was coming through the windshield. I dove to the floor.
I couldn't go outside the house for days on end. I was house-bound by fear. I was terrified that something in the outside world would get me. One day when the grip of fear loosened its hold on me slightly, I went to the store. A woman named Beverly talked to me about firewalking. She said that if I really wanted to change my life and overcome my fear I should learn to firewalk. Beverly said a firewalking instructor was coming to town soon. He could teach me to overcome my fear. After my coma, fear paralyzed me mentally, physically and spiritually. Fear can be a prison which is worse than any bondage that has ever been invented. Firewalking didn't scare me. That seemed like a perfectly sensible way to overcome my fears. Anything short of death would be a great improvement over the fear-filled life I was living.
The firewalking seminar was held in Richland, Washington on the banks of the Columbia River, a beautiful setting. It was like a dream when I first firewalked. I went into a dreamlike state during which I left my fears behind me. I simply stepped into the fire. I firewalked four times the first night. I was so ecstatic that I forgot all about wanting to kill myself.
I looked down at the fire. I noticed a bright cherry red coal. It was just beautiful. I thought about picking it up. I passed it by and strolled on across the fire. After I'd walked over 100 times I actually stooped down to pick up a bright, glowing coal with my hand. When you're in a state of unconditional faith, you're one with the fire, one with the universe. I let go of many fears as a result of firewalking. I've continued firewalking and I still do every chance I get. This continuing experience of firewalking has changed my life. I've never gone back to my old fearful ways of living. I can't imagine where I'd be without it. Probably in a nuthouse or dead. I'm sure that without the firewalk, eventually the train would have come and run me over or I would have jumped off a bridge. My number would have been up a long time ago.
The day after my first firewalk, my feet were ice cold until noon. I was emotionally charged up when I realized what I'd done. The next week, I knew I had to go down and show my grandmother and my sister firewalking. I felt that I had learned a great new trick.
I hitchhiked to Hillsboro, Oregon and built a great big fire. The fire was about 15' long. You see, to impress grandma I thought I had to build an extra big fire. I stacked lumber up on end so that the flames shot high up into the air. That was a great experience for me. It was the first really positive thing I did after my accident. My relatives invited all their friends to come and watch me walk on fire. About 20 people showed up. Prior to walking on the coals I took my shoes off and showed them all my feet. I had one little blood blister on my right foot. Except for that, my feet were in perfect condition.
I walked the fire about 8 times that night. Afterwards, I went into the house, showered and scrubbed my feet good. Then I came out and showed them all my feet again. There were no water blisters. My feet were in the same condition as they were before I had firewalked. They couldn't believe their eyes.
Every time I visit my clan in Oregon they want to see me firewalk again. I've done other demonstrations of the power of the mind for them. I've bent rebar with my neck and broken bricks with my bare hands. The firewalk transformed me. Before I firewalked, I was a poor, pathetic, wizened old man in a wheelchair. People needed to be very quiet and sedate around me. They didn't dare make any fast movements around me because they might scare me. I was extremely irritable. Sometimes I reacted violently. They used to say, "Here comes poor crazy uncle Jim." Now they say, "Oh, great! Uncle Jim is coming! We can have a firewalk! Let's have a picnic and invite all of our friends to come and meet him."
A fire tender is always needed at the firewalks. I volunteered to do that job. That gave me the opportunity to participate in many firewalks. I was surprised to discover that I inspired other people when I told them the story about my near-death experiences. I shared how the firewalk had liberated me from my fears. I told my story, and explained how the firewalk could help them overcome their fears. This sharing helped a lot in my recovery process. I felt I made a positive contribution to others. I was inspired and motivated by this big change in my life. I hitchhiked to Seattle to fire tend whenever I could.
Firewalking gave me a positive belief that I was capable of doing just about anything. This conviction carried over into every other aspect of my life. I have learned to use the same techniques I use in firewalking to deal with every fear that comes up for me. I always ask myself "What's the worst thing that can happen? Am I willing to accept the risk?" If I'm willing to take the risk, then I ask "What's the best thing that can happen?"
People can change negative behaviors caused by fear into positive behaviors such as love and excitement. Love and excitement create beneficial and positive results. Positive people are like magnets. They draw good things and good results to themselves. If people are positive, then other people want to be around them. Love is an extremely positive emotion.
Because of my accident, I only have 15 years of accumulated life experience in my memory banks. I lived nine of those years in total fear. I have been healed from that fear as a result of firewalking. I've been granted a reprieve from fear. I never have to go back to living a fearful life. I experience a high degree of spiritual growth today. Firewalking is helping me become the person I aspire to be.

Faith Healing

After my accident I was in a wheelchair for a couple of years. My doctor said I would never get out of that wheelchair. I was an hemiplegic. My left arm and left leg were so dead, you could drive nails right through them. I would never have known it. I had no feeling whatsoever in the left side of my face. When I smiled, the right side of my face would smile, but the left side was completely dead. Before the firewalk my mother asked me to go to a healer who healed by laying his hands on people. I was still in a wheelchair when I went to a faith healer by the name of Norm. I saw Norm twice a week over a period of twelve weeks. My physical body was healed greatly by his treatments. My spiritual body and my mental body were both in serious need of healing. I had brain damage. By the time I attended my first firewalk I was out of my wheelchair. I believe that was a result of the faith healing I experienced in my sessions with Norm.
When I went to see Norm I thought it was really strange that he laid hands on me. I felt tremendous heat coming through his hands. I found out later that was energy. It felt like he was snubbing cigarettes out on top of my head.
Those treatments were intense and painful. After going to the healer, I felt really great physically for the next 2-3 days. When I started feeling poorly again I told mama that I needed to go back for another visit with Norm. I saw Norm and then went home feeling marvelous for another 2-3 days. Then the pain would come back and I'd start hurting again.
After my 8th session with Norm, I got up out of my wheelchair and walked with the aid of crutches. At first, I could just barely walk across the room. Later, I improved to such an extent I could walk outside and sit on the porch. My healing progressed slowly. I developed the ability to walk down the block to the corner and back again. Then I realized I was already halfway around the block. Instead of going back the way I came, I decided to walk completely around the block.
One day I was sitting on the porch. I noticed an orange.
"Hey mom! Watch this!" I said.
I picked up the orange and threw it at a telephone pole in front of mama's house. I threw the orange with my left arm which had been hopelessly paralyzed before my visits to Norm the faith healer. The orange hit the pole. That astounded all of us. During the next couple of years I went back to see Norm about every other month. I always experienced a benefit from having him lay hands on me. His treatments gave me lots of energy.
Norm taught me a lot about healing. We had many long and interesting discussions. He said I was probably the most dramatic case he ever had. That made me feel good. I started laying hands on other people. I healed a lady of hiccups. I worked on people with headaches. I laid hands on for healing whenever the opportunity arose.
It's been a marvelous life. I believe in God. I don't have any favorite set of doctrines. I respect all religions. I believe in people. I believe in the human race. I believe in the power of the mind. I believe in positive thinking. I enjoy sharing the reasons why I believe.

Achieving Two World Records for Firewalking

I have achieved two world records for firewalking. That includes the hottest fire and also the longest fire ever walked on by a human being. That achievement qualified me to talk to people about my experiences. Before I firewalked, I was extremely withdrawn and antisocial. I couldn't even talk to small groups of people unless they were my close friends. I was afraid that somebody would contradict me. I couldn't stand to hear anybody say "No, you're wrong." I had an enormous fear of criticism before I firewalked.
Firewalking changed my perspective and transformed my life. Before I firewalked, I was an hemiplegic in a wheelchair. I didn't even want to live. Within 10 years I recovered from being a cripple. I walked twice on the hottest fire ever walked barefoot by a human being in the recorded history of the world (the digital readout at the time of my walk was 1,556). Three weeks later, I walked twice over the longest firewalk in the recorded history of the world. That fire was 120' in length, with temperatures measuring over 1,000 Fahrenheit.
A friend of mine came up with the idea of going for a world record for firewalking. I said, "Well sure, I'd like to fire tend. I guess I'll probably walk on it." The staff of the Guinness Book of World Records was notified as well as all the senior firewalkers in our community. There were about 22 of us at the time. All of the paperwork was completed and the event was very well organized. Scientists from the University of Washington were present to verify the temperatures with pyrometers. A doctor was present. Witnesses and spectators gathered there. I assisted with the preparation of the fire.
We had fans blasting air through the fire to get the temperature as high as possible. This created temperatures equal to a blast furnace. Aluminum engine blocks for automobiles are poured at only 1,100. This fire's temperature was over 1,500. It takes a lot of work to get a fire up to a temperature that hot.
The previous world record temperature was 1,494. Our fire was an average of 52 hotter than the previous world record. We burned a ton of wood, a cord of oak and a cord of cherry wood. We blew thousands of cubic yards of forced air through it. I noticed that the metal chairs over 20' away from the fire were too hot to handle with my bare hands. Several people made the mistake of trying to touch those chairs and burned their hands.
I was accustomed to follow the first walker. About five seconds after the first person walked, I became the second person to walk on the world record hottest firewalk. A total of eleven people walked across that fire. I felt no heat on my first walk through the fire. I had felt extreme heat when I was raking the fire. But when I walked across it barefooted there was no sensation of heat at all. My theory is that when a person is in that focused mental state, their vibrations become the same frequency as those of the fire. I believe that's one of the main reasons why firewalkers don't burn their feet.

"Surrender to Faith or Surrender to Fear"

After I walked across that record-breaking fire the first time, I heard a voice as if it were from out of the sky saying, "Now let go and let God." I was amazed to find myself walking a second time.
Nobody was hospitalized by walking that world record firewalk. A couple of people did get minor blisters.

Mental Preparation Before Firewalking

Before I firewalk, my mental preparation is pretty much the same each time. I bow my head and say the Lord's Prayer. After I say "amen" I walk. Everybody seems to have a different way of preparing to walk on a fire. I know one firewalker who says "Haagen Daz, Haagen Daz" before he walks. Haagen Daz is ice cream. We have other firewalkers that use the phrase "cool moss." My mind won't take glowing red coals and turn them into cool moss. Firewalkers will use any number of techniques to achieve mental focus. A person should do what works best for them individually, and puts them into that state of mind.
People will tell you "This is how I do it." They'll go on and on about what works for them. People should use anything that brings them into a state of total faith and gets them safely across the coal bed.
I'm not a "religious" person. I consider myself to be a spiritual person. In my opinion, we all are. When I talk about the need for faith, it doesn't mean that a person needs to be religious. The most important thing is for a person to have a positive attitude and walk the fire with humility. We're all spirits having a human experience. It's very important that we believe in ourselves. There's no one set rule that seems to work for everybody all the time. Each individual needs to take advantage of whatever works for them and use it.
I've made my share of mistakes in the fire. The fire has taught me that ego can get you fried. The first time I firewalked in front of a television camera I looked at the camera and thought, "I wonder if they're getting a good profile of me." The result of that distraction was that I fried my feet. Another time was at my birthday party. I had a drink or two. I laughed and joked, saying "I hold the world record. I don't need to focus. I'm too big for this stuff. I've got it all licked." I walked onto that fire and pretty well cooked myself. Another time I looked out into a crowd of spectators and saw an attractive lady about my age.
I thought, "I wonder what that lady thinks of me."
Again, I blistered. Since then, I've learned to put my ego on the back burner before I step into a fire. I have plenty of ego, but I know when to put it away. Ego no longer controls my life. Firewalking taught me the importance of keeping my ego in balance. Ego has its place, but it's not at the firewalk.
To be in a proper state of mind to walk on fire a person should be calm, cool and collected. A person should have total faith. For a person in that positive state of mind, firewalking may be no different than walking across a lawn on a dewy morning. I can't be angry at somebody and expect to walk on fire safely. I can't be having words with my girlfriend, for instance, saying "You go fly a kite because I'm going over here and firewalk!" If I'm upset, I need to get into a calm, cool and collected state of mind or I have no business walking on fire.
Sometimes I've achieved that relaxed state of mind. Sometimes I've stopped and stood in the fire without getting burned. Other times, I've stooped down, picked up a hot glowing coal and ate it. I've covered my feet with hot, glowing coals. Sometimes I've picked them up and licked them as if they were ice cream cones. I don't consider that to be bizarre. It appears strange to other people, but it's made possible by a certain state of mind. Some people have somersaulted or cartwheeled across the fire. People have walked across on their hands. I usually talk as I stroll across. I like to praise the Lord when I walk on fire. That's my favorite thing to do. I allow the Holy Spirit to take hold. There's no telling what might become possible for a person. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Be a demonstration of what God can do. When I'm in that space I feel like there are no limitations. It's almost like a dream state to me. Everything in my life seems to go smoothly after I come off the fire. You couldn't write a movie scene any more beautifully or perfectly. Those good feelings are the result of a positive, focused mind. When I'm out of focus, I can feel it. I realize it. Sometimes my attitude gets a little fuzzy and I'm out of focus. That reminds me of how smoothly things do go for me when I'm focused.
I'm not saying I never experience anger or that I never experience any number of positive or negative emotions. I allow myself to feel anger or upset sometimes just to remind me that there is a difference. The mind of God is limitless. There is a state of mind which is one with the flow of spirit. Sometimes I get out of that flow. Sometimes I get angry. I get cold and tired. I get upset with people. I allow myself to be upset for a limited period of time. When I get tired of being miserable, I can refocus again.

Why Continue to Firewalk?

People go jogging every day to keep their physical bodies in shape. I firewalk every chance I get. That helps me keep my mental focus. It keeps my spiritual body in shape. When I firewalk, it gives me a chance to demonstrate the possibilities to other people. Each one of us has a positive or a negative effect on the people around us. What I do can help other people overcome their fears. The bottom line is this: I do it strictly for myself. When I'm helping myself, it benefits others around me. Firewalking exercises my mental capacities. It gives me mental peace, and harmony with myself and others.

Breaking Bricks

There's little difference between breaking a brick with your bare hand and walking on a fire. They're both accomplished by mental focus. They're just different types of mental focus. Some people claim that in order to break bricks they have to bring up violent thoughts. As a rule, I don't entertain violent thoughts. I don't want to impress my consciousness with the idea that violence has any real power in my life. When I focus on breaking a brick, I do it with love. That shows people the power of love and the potential of a focused mind. The mind is the most powerful tool in the universe. We need to program it rightly.
Breaking bricks is a process. It takes mental focus and commitment. It involves programming your own mental computer, your brain, for success. I break bricks to show people the power of being focused. When I'm alone I break bricks as an exercise to focus my own mind. I bend rebar to demonstrate to people the power and potential of their own minds. Jesus said "Anything I do, you can do also." I enjoy teaching people how to do the things I can do. Undoubtedly, other people will be able to accomplish more than I can.
It's impossible to demonstrate mind over matter exercises with an unfocused mind. Let me give you an example. Throw a steak on the grill. There's no consciousness in that steak and it will naturally fry. Take a cadaver arm and try to break a brick with it. You can swing it and try smashing a brick with that arm. If you do, you'll end up with a sack full of pulverized pulp, because there's no consciousness in a cadaver. Put a piece of rebar against a cadaver's throat and apply the same amount of pressure it takes for a conscious human being to bend the rebar. You'll shove it right through the trachea and out through the back of the neck. There's no consciousness in the cadaver to prevent the bar from piercing the throat. It takes focused consciousness to successfully do mind over matter exercises. Put a stick of rebar up to my throat and start pushing. If I'm not focused I'll cough and gag on it. The bar won't bend.

"After I walked across the world record
hottest fire the first time, I heard a voice
as if it were from out of the sky saying,
'Now let go and let God.'
I was amazed to find myself
walking a second time."

If I'm not focused, the brick won't break. My hand will hurt for a long time. If I'm not focused when I walk on fire, I believe I'm liable to get blistered.

Just Do It

Firewalking is a powerful tool for changing your life. Firewalking has been practiced for over 5,000 years in 60 different countries since people first discovered fire. Native Americans firewalked on this continent thousands of years ago. Fire can be frightening. In spite of that, people eventually learned to use the fire as a tool. Then they learned to walk on it. Firewalking is practiced for a variety of reasons in different countries and cultures around the world. In the last few years, firewalking has been practiced in the United States to help people realize their personal power.
The main benefit of firewalking is overcoming fear. Everybody has unreal fears. There is only one power in the universe, the power of love. The power of love can go into a shadow. The mind can create an illusion that manifests as the power of fear. Even such a simple act as paying your electric bill can be an expression of either love or fear. Most people love the light, and they love what electricity does. It would be hard to live without it. If the bill isn't paid, the power gets turned off. People are motivated by love or fear in such a simple matter as paying the light bill. We do everything from a motivation of either love or fear. If you want to overcome fear and change that emotion to love then I encourage you to learn to firewalk. Learn to focus on what you want, not on what you don't want. Each individual has a right to choose the power of love or the power of fear.
In my opinion, we've just scratched the surface of the potential of the firewalk. Firewalking creates many positive changes in ourselves and in the world around us. This is just the beginning. I believe we'll see much more in the future. Firewalking gave me back my life. I want to pass that on to others.

"The mind is the most powerful tool
in the universe"

"I wanted to be a good sport. So I removed my shoes and socks. I watched a few people walking across that fire. Suddenly it hit me that I could do that, too. There was just no reason not to do it. It was as if I had heard a voice saying 'Go for it. There's nothing stopping you but your fear.' I walked up to the fire and strolled across it."

Jim Jarvis is available for firewalking demonstrations & seminars.
He can be reached at: (520) 851-2506

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Stories of the Fire: Table of Contents, Intro, Foreword
Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

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