Yesterday, I learned my heart is dying. With each rhythmic beat, I near an end. Like most that have hypertension, I never knew it. And like most, I continued on a path the crossed many a McDonalds, Panera and their Asiago Cheese Bagel, Burger King, a great beer, pizza and little exercise. These places served my inner need. For much of my life, there was inner closing, a cloud that covered the deepest core of my very person. I was open to few and my heart was walled unto the abuse of the outside world.
And I know both Jesus and Buddha came to liberate: to “open” to liberate, to enable us to fully live our relationship with God and with others. In fact the word, “Ephphatha – Be opened,” sums up Christ’s entire mission.
This then is the historical context of Mark 7, 31-37, was a deaf mute who was “opened.” Before meeting Jesus, he had been closed, insulated and it was very difficult for him to communicate. By Jesus’ intervention, his became ‘”openness” to others and the world, an openness that, starting from the organs of hearing and speech, involved his entire person and his life. Finally he was able to communicate and relate in a new way.
I stand, knowing that within a year, maybe two, I could succumb. Or I could fight and choose to live. I could stand at ‘Father Time’s’ door and push against the seasons of my life, living to fight another day. But why?
Why should I? In the course of my life, few have been there to help. Some of that willingly. I chose a solitary life because I always ended up giving unto others, but I received very little each and every day. But as I sit and type, I wonder why I should bother? If I fight, the burdening medical bills will be excessive, even for a man who has health insurance.
The Buddhist worldview also comprises a belief in kamma, the correlation between deed and its subsequent consequences. In this truth, I am guilty. I could have done more, been a better person and loved a holier life. Buddhism is not the mere treatment of these measurable symptoms. It is more and expression of the combined effort of the mind and the body to overcome disease than a fight between medicine and disease. Its real aim is to enable the patient to bring back harmony within himself and in his relationships with the others and the natural environment. In this context healing is not an end in itself, but rather a means by which medicine helps to serve the value of human health and well-being.
If choose treatment, I may recover from heart complications, but never completely recover. The MS I’ve had for years may complicate my treatment or my treatment may complicate my heart. To this I say so what? Why fight? There is no one in my life who simply cares.
While I may change tomorrow, I look unto God’s Angel of Death and say, “Ephphatha!”