By Jagath Asoka –
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
On this brumal Christmas eve, the weather in Newtown, Pennsylvania, reminds me of the monsoon season in Sri Lanka. It is raining here in Newtown; luckily for me; it is not cold enough for the rain drops to turn into snowflakes. In this predicament, all I have is just words; words to describe how I feel and what I think; yet the melancholy that I feel is somewhat indescribable, but I am my words, and the Word has been with us since the beginning.
I am not a Christian, but Christmas has always been with me. Probably it is because of my childhood and my neighborhood in Sri Lanka where I grew up. I still remember how I went from house to house with my friends—the sui generis urchins of our neighborhood—singing Christmas carols, expecting our neighbors to be generous so that we would collect enough money to celebrate Christmas in a little hut that we would build in our neighborhood every year. There would not be Christmas without Christ; without Christmas, I would not have these memories and melancholy. So, it is very natural for me to think of Christ and have my own ideas about Christ.
Who was Christ? Different people have different explanations. To say that Christ is hundred percent human and hundred percent divine is a real paradox. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ was the Word who became a human being. In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and Word was God. So, the Word itself had its own existence. Since it was God’s Word, it was God. All things came into being through Word. This Word is what gave life to everything. What is this Word? This Word became flesh and lived among us as the Father’s own Son. The law came from Moses, but the truth and grace were given to us by Christ. So, Christ is the incarnation of God’s word. To me this is the most mystical and exalted Christology because Christ is the one who created the universe. To me this is the most amazing theology because Jesus, an apocalyptic prophet, who asked people to repent for their sins was crucified for his effort; this same Jesus was with God in eternity past and created the universe. Wow!
The words that we hear nowadays everywhere in the world are full of malice, hatred, and enmity. We are the words that we use, so choose your words, with compassion, the compassion that the Buddha talked about. Listen to the words of Jesus, the Buddha, and Mohammed, and you will find Jesus, the Buddha, and God.
The words of a mystic are different from the words of a poet; a poor scientist has no place in the realm of a mystic; he is totally lost in the realm of a poet, yet they all use words to describe who they are.
Most people would say that we are inseparable from God, and God knows what we are doing to ourselves and to others. Only a physicist can understand this paradox of a mystic. A physicist talks about elementary particles and their entanglements; two particles, even separated by an unimaginable distance—by a billion light years, even if they are on opposite sides of the universe—can interact in such a spooky way that whatever you do to one of them, the other would know it instantaneously; the speed of light has no place in this entanglement.
God and you are inseparable; even you separate yourself from God by a billion light years, whatever you do to yourself, God would know instantaneously; not only God knows what is happening to you, God also knows what you do to others. So, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Time and space have no meaning in this entanglement.
Not only physicists and mystics know about these entanglements. If you have ever been in love, you would know what I am talking about; I am not just talking about romantic love. If you are a parent, you would know this entanglement: Whatever happens to your child, it happens to you.
What physicists call entanglement, to Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists it is God’s love, compassion, and attachment; and to troubadours it is courtly love.
In a few days, all of us will be celebrating: A new beginning, a New Year. Over the years as a medical writer I have learned a few things that I am going to share with you; it might sound corny to some of you, but it is OK. If you want to age well and keep your brain healthy, sleep a lot, jog a little and lift a little; turn your diet into a Mediterranean diet— abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish and poultry (lean sources of protein), and some olive oil—and keep learning new things, perhaps a new language. A scientist would say in his scientific jargon, this is the best approach to keep your telomeres longer and to reduce your beta amyloid in your brain. For most of you, this approach would be the best way to treat diseases: start living a good life, at least thirty years before you get sick.
So, now you know what I meant by “God, Word, and You.” A Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year to all of you!