Resolution For 2016: Do Not Commit Crimes Against Wisdom

Originally published January 1, 2016

My resolution upon entering medical school, was not only to learn the best of Western Medicine, but to study integrative holistic medicine on my own time. During my self study, I came across the most powerful phrase in all of medicine:

To know something is bad for you and to do it anyway is a CRIME AGAINST WISDOM.

How many people know that smoking is bad for them but do it anyway?  How many people know that exercising is good for them but do not exercise? How many people realize they have a sugar addiction but continue eating sugar anyway? The examples are endless.  

What is a CRIME AGAINST WISDOM?  The phrase dates back to ancient times. Here is the sanskrit term and definition:


/praj·na·pa·ra·dha/ (pruj″nah-pah-rah-thah´) [Sanskrit] in ayurveda, deliberate, willful indulgence in unhealthy practices that leads to unbalanced body functions and disease.

Let us delve deeper into this definition.  How do we willfully indulge in unhealthy practices?  First, we have to know something is unhealthy.  For example, it's common knowledge that not exercising is unhealthy and that exercising is healthy.  One definition of knowledge is that it must be true and you have to believe it.  It is clear that all of humanity and even children have knowledge of exercise being healthy.  With our current obesity epidemic the natural question that follows is why are billions of humans on earth committing crimes against wisdom?

How do we overcome this dilemma of putting knowledge into practice?

The answer lies in a simple story about Mahatma Gandhi.  There was a mother in India who had a 12 year old son with a sugar addiction.  No matter what wise words the mother used to discourage the boys sugar addiction she failed.  Frustrated, the mother took a five hour trek, in the scorching sun, for the boy to hear from his idol Gandhi.  Tired and exhausted after the trek the mother found Gandhi and said, “Oh great soul, Mahatma Gandhi, tell this boy that processed sugar is bad for you and he should stop eating it.”  Gandhi thought for a moment and replied, “Come back in three weeks.”  The mother obliged.  Then, three weeks later the mother took the arduous five hour journey in the scorching sun to meet Gandhi.  Gandhi looked at the boy and said, “Processed sugar is bad for you and you should stop eating it.”  The mother, baffled and perplexed, asked Gandhi why he did not say this upon the first meeting. Gandhi replied with a serene smile, “I was not qualified to advise the boy.  Three weeks ago, I, too, was eating a lot of sugar.”
There is a Universal Principle in this story that Mahatma Gandhi embodies:  Live your truth since knowledge is not enough.

When you live your truth, you are standing firm and solidly on your own feet. When you live your truth you, you are powerful and have self-worth.  When you live your truth, you engender peace and equanimity.  When you live your truth, you promote health.

More importantly, when you live your truth, you stop committing crimes against wisdom.

When you live your truth, you reduce stress. When you reduce stress, you decrease telomerase shortening, preserve the hormone of youth DHEA, decrease inflammation, decrease cortisol, and oxidative stress to the 37.2 trillion cells in your body.  Research has shown even stress in the workplace can lead to an accelerated rate of biological aging.

One common reason that people commit crimes against wisdom is because of peer pressure.  Yes, adults suffer from peer pressure too, not just school aged children.  Ask yourself, how many times have you done something just because everyone else was doing it and it was the easy thing to do? In other words, you knew it was bad for you but you rationalized that it was O.K. just this one time. The pastry for breakfast, the pizza during a lunch meeting, lasagna during the business dinner are a few examples.

In 2016, resolve to put your knowledge into practice.  Once you believe something (vegetables are healthy) and recognize the truth (eating vegetables prevents disease) then you have knowledge.  In 2016, put this knowledge into practice by eating primarily a diet that is organic whole food plant-based.  This same principle applies to daily exercise and stress reduction.  Resolve to exercise every day for at least one hour. Resolve to improve brain health and reduce stress with a daily practice of formal meditation of at least 15 minutes.  

Once you live your truth, words do not need to be spoken.  Very little needs to be said out loud. You will have peace and profound calm in knowing that your knowledge is being put to practice. Even if you are in the minority or in the face of criticism by the masses you will stand firmly in your truth.  Society will pressure you to try a get-healthy-quick scheme such as Paleo, Atkins, Hard Body in 2 minutes, Buns of Steel, etc. but you will stand firmly in your truth.  Whenever challenges arise, remember this powerful quote,

“Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you are saying.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you live your truth, you promote health, happiness and profound peace.  When you live your truth, you put your knowledge into practice and avoid committing crimes against wisdom. I wish you health, happiness and profound peace.