Monday, April 23, 2012

living like a steady, bright flame

on the way to women torah study marcia, ever curious and open-minded, asks about my treatments in india. she says, why did you and ben commit so much resources to do it? six and a half weeks. it is a lot. a metaphor comes to me. it's something that dr ramkumar uses to explain what health is in the context of a human life.

it goes like this. in every indian ritual there is always one or more brass lamp. here's how it works. one or more wicks are soaked in oil, usually clarified butter. when the brass lamp is clean, the wicks are clean and the oil is pure the flame is bright and stable. as long as you replenish the oil and wicks the flames will keep ablaze just like that until the oil runs out. a healthy human life is kind of like this. you feed the body and mind with clean and pure food and thoughts. then your life force will be held bright and stable and so is your life. it's full, bright, beautiful and shining, an joyous upliftment to all who behold it. sure the flame will run out. whatever is born, will die. but the person will stay well and strong and go out in deep peace without having to go through the dying pains. in judaism it is said that the blessed one depart during sabbath. our rabbi's own beloved teacher avraham joschua heschel was like that. this is a great being who truly lived his talks and beliefs, a shining light to the world. i recall his daughter recalling life with her father. he lived simply. he ate simply but what he put into his body was quality food. he conducted his life in a just and righteous way, always kind, compassionate, generous and ready to serve. one thing his daughter said that really impresses me deeply is this. his life in the world was not easy, to say the least. but his daughter didn't recall a single instance when he came home after work and was not a kind and caring father to her. he is truly a pure and strong flame.

according to vedas the most important way to live healthy is, and this even comes before food, to think, speak and act in a righteous way. to this day when i look at rabbi heschel's picture i have the experience of being illumined in the presence of a sublime light.

back to the lamp analogy. say, the wick is dirty, the oil is impure, the lamp has not been sparkled until it shines. go imagine the state of the flame, the state of the person.

so, may we all live like a strong and robust flame that we ought to be. may we only feed our own flames with only the clean and pure in food and thoughts and feelings and emotions.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

me ever fresh, ever new, ever young

without a doubt i have a beautiful life. but if i really had to say, if only i could and would, i would say i want to live the life of this seven year old. he is living and studying with a distinguished brahmin priest, vivek godbole. all day long he recites hymns from the vedas, the over five thousand year old indian scriptures. in between he milks cows and plays. i watch him in a study session. along with other students he sits cross-legged on the floor. an instructor walks back and forth. the students recite the mantras out loud. from these tender young vocal cords flow out these ancient sounds that shine bright and vibrant. every so often the instructor would gesture one student to recite on his own. the fresh, happy voice moves and melts my heart.

i may not have mastered the perfect pronunciation of the mantras. i probably will never be able to memorize a long mantra the way this little kid will be able to do in a few years. yet when i wave the flame to the great gurus who show me the way to my own flame within, i hear my own voice, fresh and young, rising within. i feel that part of me, that essence, that is ever new, ever fresh, ever young, shining and singing. it is my great good fortune that i was able to capture some of it on video. every time i watch it i am reminded how bright and beautiful i can be and ought to be, how fearless i am.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

in my full seva glory

weeks in making. actually it's twenty years in making. i'll get back to it in a little bit. so, dear friends, i wrap this pretty much with my hands. took more than an hour to put me together. a big shout out to annette who hand-held me through at 7am sunday morning.

honestly i never thought i'd be getting into sari. for twenty years i resisted. so something major must have changed in me. i am actually enjoying it. a big part of it is dressing it up, dripping myself in jewelry, decking out to the nines.

as i meticulously and methodically pin, tuck, powder, lipstick and so on and so forth something truly miraculous happens. i experience this goddess shining through me and it'

the glorious sound of the whole sangha chanting takes me straight to seventh heavens. they are these stars and galaxies reverberating boundless joy. i hold my gaze steady on the waving flame as it rhythmically circles under the guidance of my hands. i feel like i am light-speeding through the cosmos while my feet are firmly anchored into the earth.

every offering is a tapestry priceless in its own way. yet there is a common golden yarn threading through them all. happiness. gratitude. the video below is a clip from the finale in the fire puja back in pune, india. but the joy? from the same source. my highest and innermost self.