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.

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