A must-read for everyone who has lost a loved one.
Why From Bagels to Curry?
Have you ever feared losing a parent or someone else you loved deeply?
Have you ever lost a parent or a loved one to illness?
Have you ever cared for a parent or a loved one while they were dying?
Have you ever contemplated what it means to die?—and to live?
If you answer “yes” to any of the above, then From Bagels to Curry by Lila Devi, is for you.
Sometimes a Book Is Much More than Its Title
When I first heard of this book, I wondered what it might be about. Based on its title, I imagined it would tell the story of a religious conversion. Based on its subtitle, I imagined it must also address the passing of a parent.
This was what I expected.
I was right . . . and wrong . . . at the same time.
Yes, this is a Jewish yogi’s account of her father’s passing. But it is also about a lot more. A treasure of “more.”
The title, in my opinion, does not do this book justice. One needs to dive into it to appreciate what a treasure this book is, and what it has to offer the world.
From Bagels to Curry is a poignantly beautiful story based on the author’s experiences while caring for her father, diagnosed with cancer, while he was dying.
The author tells delightful, and at times, compelling stories about her father, his last days, their relationship, and their family.
Through her experiences and insights, we learn about life and death, about dying and living.
Through her father’s experiences as he was dying, we learn about fear and courage, will power and victory.
From Bagels to Curry is a story about the human spirit. More importantly, it is a story about Love—human and Divine Love.
Between those stories are spiritual lessons, which I found deeply inspiring.
Dying—A Great Spiritual Teacher
This book is powerful and relevant, as Lila’s experiences with dying can teach readers greatly about living.
There Is No Death
In the midst of cancer and facing the impending loss of her beloved remaining parent, Lila spoke of “the joy of the soul behind the pain.”
It was this soul joy that sustained her . . . the kind of soul joy one finds in the deepest of meditations.
While her father was fighting to live, and everyone around him was fearing his death, Lila chose to “die daily.”
The yogi “dies daily” in the deepest of meditations.
In this higher state of awareness, one dies to the illusive external world, to “life’s transient ups and downs,” as Lila eloquently writes.
In dying daily, the soul realizes its truest nature—that it is eternal.
Facing her father’s death, Lila reminds us that there is no death.
Love Illuminates All Relationships
Feeling powerless from the cancer and frustrated by his increasing loss of independence, Lila’s father directed his anger towards his most loving caregiver, his daughter.
At times, Lila was deeply hurt.
But she never once held a grudge.
Instead, the resilient daughter continuously poured out love to her dying father.
Her love transformed, ennobled them both, and healed their relationship.
It also seemed to have affected everyone in the family.
In the midst of death, there was so much love.
The lesson for all of us: while grudges and resentment hurt and destroy, love heals and illuminates all relationships.
Love illuminates everyone and everything.
The Greatest Lesson of Losing a Loved One
As I was reading Lila’s stories, this thought crept into my mind: “Someday I, too, will lose my parents.”
My heart immediately felt an intense and sharp pain. The pain was unbearable.
Later on, I found much comfort in the following excerpt.
“My spiritual practices have sustained me well through the passing of my father.
Meditation, it is said, is a preparation for death.
I’ve always thought the death of a loved one is one of the harshest tests we can endure in this world.
Because it triggered the unimaginably deeper grief of our separation from God—that we have lost at least temporarily the remembrance of our Oneness with our One Parent.
As all true religions and spiritual paths proclaim, there is ultimately and gloriously no separation between ourselves and the Divinity that lies within us.
May we be One in that realization.”
Love . . . and Nothing More
Lila Devi’s account deeply touched my heart and spirit, made me laugh and cry, and inspired me to contemplate life and death more deeply.
I ended the book with a full heart, resolved to savor every moment I have with my own parents. Even though I already love them so deeply, I want to love them (and everyone in my life) even more … more purely and unconditionally.
After all, life . . . in the end . . . is about love . . . and nothing more.
As Lila has demonstrated, love illuminates everyone and everything.
I came close to finishing From Bagels to Curry right before we took our annual Christmas trip to see my parents.
Interestingly, we took the same route the author often took to see her father—from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Southern California. Lila and her father were on my mind, as I anticipated seeing my own parents.
While my visits to my parents had always been sweet, this past visit was the sweetest.
From Bagels to Curry somehow helps to deepen a bond that was already special and deep.
For that reason, I encourage everyone to read this book.
Who knew? That a story about death and dying would turn out to be so life-affirming and uplifting?
Please do yourself a favor and read this book.
You will be glad you did.