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Getting More Light On (the “missing” compilation) October 22, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Hope, Life, Music, Philosophy, Yoga.
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“Happy Dhanteras!” to everyone celebrating Diwali.

This “missing” post for Saturday, October 22nd is a compilation based on posts from 2020You can request an audio recording of a relevant practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.

Check out the “Class Schedules” calendar for upcoming classes.]

“oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

tat savitur vareṇyaṃ

bhargo devasya dhīmahi

dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt”


[Conscious, subconscious, unconscious mind, and every plane of existence, we meditate on the (adorable) Light, that it may inspire us, enlighten us, and remove our obstacles.]


– “Gāyatrī Mantra” from the Rig Veda (from Mandala 3.62.10)

During the darkest times of the year, people all over the world celebrate light. In each culture’s stories and traditions, light overcoming darkness is a metaphor for good overcoming evil; life overcoming death, wisdom overcoming fear; love overcoming hate; hope overcoming despair, and knowledge overcoming ignorance.  This year, the celebrations kick off with Diwali, the Indian festival of lights.

Diwali is a five-day celebration which takes its name from Deepavali, which are rows and rows of lamps. It is a lunar calendar based holiday observed throughout India, parts of Southeast Asia, and the diaspora by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Newar Buddhists. Each day has different rituals and customs, which may vary between religious, cultural, and regional traditions. But, the common threads are the (clay) lamps and other great displays of light; pujas (“offerings”); feasts and sweets; epic tales of heroes and heroines prevailing; and a focus on relationships and also on wealth.

While some communities start earlier, most people’s Diwali celebrations begin with Dhanteras, a day that the Indian ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy designated as “National Ayurveda Day” (in 2016). Many will make puja (“an offering”) to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, fertility and abundant crops, and overall good fortunate. People will also create decorations, including rangolas, which are associated with Laksmi; clean their homes; and buy something new – usually gold, silver, clothes, and gadgets. This year, this first day of Diwali coincides with a very modern light-related anniversary: Thomas Edison’s light bulb moment.

“‘I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come indirectly through accident, except the phonograph. No, when I have, fully decided that a result is worth getting, I go about it, and make trial after trial, until it comes.’”


– Thomas Edison, as quoted in “A Photographic Talk with Edison” by Theodore Dreiser (printed in Success Magazine, Feb. 1898)

We often think of “ah-ha” or “eureka” moments, light bulb moments, and epiphanies as being sudden and unexpected. In fact, the word “epiphany” comes to us from Greek (by way of Middle English, Latin, and in some sense Old French) from a word that means “reveal.”And, one of the definitions is “a moment of sudden revelation or insight” – reinforcing the idea that something is happening in the snap of a finger. The reality, however, is that there is a back story to ah-ha moments, epiphanies, and even the Epiphany.

Consider that The Three Magi don’t follow the star from the East to honor “‘the child who has been born king of the Jews’” if there isn’t a foundation of faith. Theoretically, without his background in science, Ian Fleming would have returned to his lab and thrown out the culture plates he had forgotten to clean when he left for his 2-week vacation in 1928. Without all his previous years of research, he wouldn’t have known what he was looking at and he wouldn’t be credited with discovering penicillin. Then there is Thomas Edison, who had a lot of “light bulb moments.”

Thomas Alva Edison, born February 11, 1847, didn’t invent electric lights (or even light bulbs). They already existed when he set up his Menlo Park, New Jersey lab in 1876, but electric lights were too bright for household use, burned too quickly, and could be dangerous when they melted. So, most people just stuck with gaslights. The problem with gaslight was that it was also dangerous and didn’t provide consistent light (because it flickered). Edison decided he could do better… he just had to invent the infrastructure to safely bring electricity into people’s homes, interior fixtures, and some kind of cost-effective and efficient bulb. The bulb, it turned out, was the rub.

“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”


– (attributed to) Thomas Edison  

Edison and his team spent several months working 16 – 18 hours at a stretch and testing at least 1,600 different materials – including fishing line, coconut fibers, beard hair, and platinum wire. The platinum wire was moderately successful in that it typically had a high melting point. However, additional research showed that air absorption weakened the filament causing it to melt at lower temperatures than expected. Edison, resolved the issue with a vacuum bulb, but ultimately deemed the design (with its low electrical resistance) too expensive. So, back to the drawing board they went; breaking up their hours upon hours of work with beer and music played (by Edison) on the lab’s pipe organ.

Some would say that the “ah-ha” moment came to Thomas Edison one night when he was “absent mindedly” rolling a piece of lampblack (or black carbon) between his fingers. But such a depiction ignores all the previous experiments, his scientific knowledge, and the fact he had used lampblack in his telephone transmitter. Such a premise also discounts the additional changes that would be made before the bulb was commercially viable. Either way, at some point late on the evening of October 21st, or sometime in the wee early morning hours of October 22nd, 1879, Thomas Edison, age 32, tested what we now consider the first successful (commercially viable) electric light bulb. The carbonized cotton could burn for up to 14½ hours. Later, Edison would switch to bamboo fiber, which lasted for 1,200 hours.

During his lifetime, Thomas Edison would be granted over 1,083 patents for things like the phonograph, the carbon transmitter, the motion picture camera, and the commercial electric light bulb. He was married with children, had influential friends in high (and low) places, and successfully ran an industry that provided for his family and the families of others. Then, at an age that was considered significantly old at the time, he lost “everything. At around 5:20 PM on December 9, 1914 an explosion ripped through the lab, destroying ten buildings, thousands of prototypes, and years of research. By the time the fire was contained, a little after midnight on December 10th, the damage was estimated at over $2 million dollars and affected over half of the plant’s property. The loss was even bigger when people realized that the insurance wouldn’t even cover a half of the damage.

While those around him were devastated, the 67-year old was in awe of the fire produced by all the different chemicals, fibers, fabrics, and elements in the labs. He was also energized about the possibility of starting over the very next day! His resilient attitude was contagious and, thanks in part to a loan from his friend Henry Ford, the plant was back in operation within three weeks. By the end of the following year, the plant had almost $10 million dollars in revenue.

“It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”


– Thomas Edison (to his son Charles), as quoted in a 1961 Reader’s Digest article



“There’s only one thing to do, and that is to jump right in and rebuild.”


– A. H. Wilson, vice president and general manager of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park

Saturday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “Diwali (1-2) for 10222022”]

“Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.”



– Thomas Edison (to his son Charles), as quoted in a 1961 Reader’s Digest article





### Get Your Lights On! ###


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