One of Aesop’s fables describes a contest between the sun and the winds to decide who is stronger by making a passer-by remove his coat. The winds blew furiously and the passer-by clung tighter to his coat. But, when the sun shone, the passer-by overcome by the heat, removed his coat. One moral of the story is the superiority of “persuasion” over “force”.
The Sun is central in religious traditions. Prominent among Hindu practices is the “Surya Namaskara” –The salutation of the Sun —— with “asanas” and “mantras” venerating the solar deity. How heart-warming it is to gratefully gaze at the rising Sun, acknowledging its power and the blessings it brings.
Many ancient cultures regarded the Sun as a “deity”. In Egypt, the Sun God —— Khepri, Atum, Aton and Amon-Re —— was regarded as Creator, Judge, All-Knowing and All-Seeing. Its Mesopotamian counterpart, Shamash, was worshipped as a Patron of Justice, the God who uplifted the downtrodden.
Early Biblical books narrate instances of believers practising “sun worship”. However, the deification of the sun was critiqued in Judaism by asserting that the sun was “the great luminary” created by God to rule the day. The traits of the deified sun were then transferred to Yahweh : God. Thus, God “shines forth” and it is “God who with eyes like the all-penetrating rays of the sun, scrutinises everything and brings evil-doers to justice”.
Beyond religions, there is an urgent need to harness “solar energy” and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. Can we minimise the use of sir conditioners, because Mother Earth’s resources are scarce ? More natural means of staying cool could entail waking earlier in the day, completing major work at daybreak, drinking water constantly, wearing light clothes and adopting a healthy diet.
Once a businessman asked his servant, “What kind of weather will we get today ?” The servant said, “The kind of weather I like.” The businessman continued, “How do you know it will be the kind of weather you like ?” The servant explained, “Sir, Realising that I can’t always get what I like, I’ve learnt to always like what I get. So I’m sure we’ll have the kind of weather I like.”
Staying cool is an inside job and need not necessarily depend on external forces. So, praise God for the Sun, and put on a “sunshine smile”.
——— Francis Gonsalves.