Thresholds are important in India because the place where edges meet is seen as both vulnerable and powerful. The evil eye is warded off with masks tied above doorways. At dawn, and again at dusk, propitious forces are invited into the home by lighting brass lamps. The flame is a symbol of higher consciousness, and implicit in this ancient custom is a reminder to live a life governed by light. This relationship woven between truth, light, consciousness, and vision is common to many of the world’s cultures.

On a morning in 2005, wearing a crisp cotton sari, Chitra Ravilla heads up the front steps of Aravind-Madurai and makes her way past the bustle of the front desk to the hospital’s meditation room, where ...

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