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John Keats, the romantic poet, trained to become a surgeon but threw away his scalpels to devote himself to poetry. Born towards the end of the 18th Century, he died of Tuberculosis at the age of 26. It has been said of him that whereas his role as a surgeon could have been performed almost by any other medic, only he could have written the beautiful poetry he bequeathed to the world of literature. And in his line, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”.

Lalith Mendis is one of the most brilliant of my former pupils. Given his qualities of mind and heart, his sensitivity to human suffering, indifference to worldly possessions and concern for the welfare of others, I feel intensely that his abandonment of academic medicine irreplaceably deprived our country of a great and good doctor. In this respect Lalith is clearly different from John Keats.

Why, it may be asked, do I say that he was irreplaceable. 123 cash advance warwick ri The reason is that our pool of medical excellence is small and the exodus from that small pool to greener pastures overseas has been huge. Lalith is one of the excellent few whose deepest instincts are deeply rooted in the land of his birth. I believe that had he not abandoned academic medicine for spiritual pursuits, he would have proved to be a shining example to a profession in which crass commercialism has visibly triumphed over the spirit of dedicated service to relieve human suffering.

Mercifully, though, medicine’s loss has been for spiritual gain. Historically men of medicine were men of spirituality. Famous, for example, were the physician – priests of Ancient Egypt. Traditionally, one’s doctor was one’s, “friend, philosopher and guide”. Although Lalith does not practice medicine for gain, he continues to be a friend, philosopher and guide to countless people stumbling in the modern world of spiritual darkness. And his love for his country and his people shines though his poetry.

He rhapsodizes about Exotic Lanka. In lovely rhyme, he celebrates its Roads and Ports and Rivers and Provinces. He laments about ethnic strife and man’s inhumanity to man. His burning desire for peace is almost palpable in his verse. The golden thread running through his poetry is his Christian faith. He came into it by conviction and consolidated it by thinking and feeling as he advanced in years and wisdom. Elsewhere he has told us that his heart has reasons for his strong emotional commitment to his faith. It has strongly influenced his life.

It cannot be denied that some of the horrendous suicidal acts of mass destruction in our times have been inspired by blinding religious faith. For that reason religious faith gets a bad press these days. But in Dr. Lalith Mendis, spiritual faith has brought healing to tormented souls and generated malice towards none. To the contrary, it has inspired charity for all and delightful poetry.

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