I posted this on FB in March, but wanted it here : In 2004, I had a life-threatening illness. It was during those times that each day I woke up seemed precious given the uncertainty of my future. I was so thankful to God for giving me another day. It was as Charles Dickens said, the best of times and the worst of times. Everything seemed to sparkle though, my dreams were otherworldly and filled with messages, and I was appreciative and expressive more than ever of the love of my family and those who cared for me. As I got through that illness by the grace of God, my life changed for the better, I had a better appreciation of illness, was more thankful for the love of those around me but as life came back to normal the sparkle of those days seemed to fade, where my connection to the Source of all Life was palpable.
I knew deep in my soul, that I had been given a precious gift, and that sparkle of life was there for each of us. In my case, God needed to get my attention with an illness to see it, for each us, we are given an opportunity just the same but as Winston Churchill said “Men occasionally stumble over truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” As this sparkle faded, I knew that I needed to find a teacher and mentor.
Along with this experience, in which I had decided to go against some of the suggestions of my doctors, I started learning more about natural healing. I came across a program called The Natural Laws of Self-Healing by Dr. Gerald Epstein, MD of blessed memory. After listening to this program, I reached out to Dr. Epstein, something I have never done with any book or program I have ever consumed. In a very brief call, he asked me very matter of factly, how he could help me, I said, I just came through an illness and the sparkle that I experienced seemed to fade, I thought maybe you could help me regain it. He said ”Not maybe, I can help you” just like you would expect from a confident guy who grew up tough on the streets of Brooklyn. I said I was going to be in NY and made an appointment to see him.
The day before seeing Dr. Epstein, I visited the burial site of holy saint, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, with one request to God, that I find a teacher to help me to grow spiritually, to find a teacher as it says in Ethics of the Fathers “ Make yourself a teacher, find yourself a friend, and judge everyone person on the positive side.” The next day I saw Dr. Epstein in his office. We discussed my experience with illness and that I felt a calling to grow spiritually and that this sparkle I experienced was directly associated with my connection to God. He re-affirmed this and led me through what is called a ‘waking dream’ that was meant to trigger a vivid dream which we would review the following day. As this was happening, I felt that I was being initiated into a tradition of healing and growth, and I felt deeply that I was in the right place. That night, I had an intensely vivid dream as he had said, and I returned to his office where I had another waking dream experience, going back into this dream and as I would learn, using imagination, as tool of perception to discover things about myself I never could in a strictly rational sense.
After the experience, which Jerry could tell was deeply profound for me and brought me to levels of consciousness I have never experienced before, Jerry invited me to sit into a class called “Becoming Your Own Authority.” That one class changed forever the way I interact with my patients. As a doctor, I learned it is my responsibility to teach my patients to become their own authorities over their illnesses. I am to be a guide and resource for peoples healing.
After the class, Jerry called me over and introduced me to Fran and handed me a book and said for the next 48 weeks Fran and I would be discussing this book with him week by week. Here I am, I just met Jerry the day before and now for the next 48 weeks without charging me a penny, I was instructed in a course that forever changed me for the better and helped me to regain that sparkle. In fact, the sparkle I was seeking, was really only the beginning. How do you thank someone who devoted this amount of time to you to help you to find both happiness and meaning in your life in ways that you never expected were even possible?
Fran and I both had a life changing year discussing these teachings with Jerry. Thus began my learning from Jerry which continued until his passing. Jerry was always there for me when I had a difficult decision to make that I couldn’t seem to find an answer for. I visited him from time to time in person when I was in NY and each time, I came away with a life-changing insight some of which weren’t pleasant but then truth, sometimes isn’t so pretty. He was blunt and to the point as a teacher who loves his students must be and you always knew his allegiance was to compassion and Truth with a capital T. It was clearing away illusions and unearthing the truth that leads to freedom.
Rachel, his wife, in an email I had with her shortly after his passing said to me “adaptability and bearing loss well was at the heart of his teachings.” I know that he would want us to re-affirm that it is the teachings that are important and not the container that held them even though he loved living and would want to be here. It doesn’t even need to be said that he would expect me to share what I have understood even though I feel like I only learned a small percentage of what was possible to have learned from him.
The last time I spoke to Jerry in depth was during a live class I attended around a year ago in NY. There was one part of the class that I was having trouble with and I stayed around after to discuss it further. He said to me, “Your job is to report the Truth, don’t interfere and try to correct others in their journey by placating or hiding the Truth, your job is to be awake to it and report it, don’t shy away from that.” Jerry got me back my sparkle and gave me a good shake to wake me up if that was required. What he taught me and continues to teach me from the volumes of audios and written material left behind will continue to inspire and guide me.
He was always available by phone if you needed him for everyone as I learned from interacting with his other students. Now it falls on all of his students and his family to continue onward. My thoughts go to his wife Rachel as she finishes editing his last magnum opus which will certainly be life changing and to his children who surely know that their father was a great light to his many students and patients. After I finished 48 weeks of study with him, I thanked him for what he did for me, not knowing at the time that that was only the beginning.
In one of the books that he often quoted it talked about how developing a spiritual life allows the transition from this life to the next to proceed smoothly like a gentle curve on a graph instead of a sharp abrupt, traumatic right angle for those immersed to heavily in the physical. In the Talmud it describes, the ease of transition for saintly individuals already attuned to the spiritual world as transition being as easy as a hair being plucked from a glass of milk. I know that his transition was easy and he is now immersed in the eternal reward he deserves for the intense light he shared with everyone. I miss him greatly.