My childhood in south India imprinted me with a hatred for suffering. I once saw a man—who had doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire—walk right past the gate of our suburban home. I still don’t know why he did what he did; servants were buzzing about it for weeks afterward, but I could not bear to hear the details. What could be so terrible that a man would set his own precious body ablaze?
That Burning Man never left my consciousness; what still baffles me is that the flames scorching his body did not seem to affect him—he had staggered past our home defiantly, this blazing human torch, and I swear I don’t recall hearing him scream.
Pain, as we all discover sooner or later, comes in a range of gross and subtle flavors. Some are cursed with having to endure physical pain. My own suffering has always been emotional; to escape from the sometimes relentless inner torment of my earlier days, I confess I would do almost anything. Continue reading