Bioluminescent Dinoflagellates and Casino
Ritz Carlton, San Juan, Puerto Rico -- Passover
Ok, so what would you like to hear about: Old San Juan?
The beautiful pool surrounded by the warm Caribbean? Or perhaps about the
Passover Seder? Did I forget to mention the casino…
Man, how the real things
get obscured in the layers upon layers of “havlei olam hazeh” (aka empty worldly
But as the royal optimist,
entering a manure filled barn, reminds us: There must be a pony in here somewhere!
Within all this sumptuous
opulence there must be a G-d!
Well, when you look deep enough you’re bound to discover
Divine riches, especially among the wonderful people who
have joined together to celebrate Passover in Puerto Rico
(port of the rich).
Sure enough, Puerto Rico
is host to one of the most spectacular Bioluminescent Bays in the world. Every
object that enters the water in this unusual bay begins to glow in the night.
The mysterious blue-green light is created by microorganisms, which thrive
in this unique bay, also known as Phosphorescent Bay. The bay contains up
to 720,000 single-celled bioluminescent dinoflagellates per gallon of water.
These half-plant, half-animal organisms emit a flash of bluish-green light
when agitated at night, lighting up submerged objects with an aqua-green aura.
The high concentration of these creatures – called
Pyrodimium bahamense, in case
you were wondering – can create enough light
to read a book from.
The flashes of light are
believed to be a defense mechanism used by the plankton to scare off or confuse
predators -- giving the plankton enough time to escape. The glow is created
from the combination of a protein and enzyme that occurs within the organism.
A trip into the Phosphorescent
Bay on a moonless night is a magical experience. Fish flash by in dark water,
boats take on a silver rim of light and a swim is like floating through stardust.
Lie on your back and make luminescent snow angels. Raise your hand from the
water and watch pellets of light drop back into the sea. A halo surrounds
every piece of matter that enters the water.
Above all, these illuminating
waters show us the true nature of existence. Every creature gives off light;
every organism a glow. We are all bodies of energy, waiting to be ignited,
waiting to shine forth.
I meet many wonderful
people here over Passover. Each person radiates with his or her own particular
glow – if you look with the right eyes.
But then there are other
lights: The flashing neon of the casino world. What a contrast?! The Phosphorescent
Bay brings out the light inside each of us; our movements generate an aura.
The man-made artificial casino lights drain us of our inner light, transforming
us into mechanical addicts, feeding into our lowest common denominator, as
our wallets are depleted.
It’s one thing to see
the sublime in the sea of light. But how do you find G-d at smoking blackjack
tables, mindless slot machines, obsessive roulette and crap shots? Is there
anything spiritual about all this escapist manipulation, camouflaged in the
fantasy world of oxygen pumped, timeless oasis of the casino floor?
There must be a G-d in
Yes, I meet many people
exuding energy. Sometimes our luminescence is obscured by our own vanity and
pursuit of instant thrills. But if you want to see the glow in another you
have to allow your glow to do the looking. Body sees body; heart feels heart;
soul sees soul.
Their is something dead – and deadening – about the material
world. It dulls the sparkle in our eyes, the enchantment
in our spirits. We need to exert ourselves to dig through
the crusted layers of dust and discover the warm glow within.
We once left Egypt – all
the constraints and limitations (mitzrayim) of life – and now we return to
it in a new form. Same old enslavement, just now it’s in the shape of “comfort
I look around the spa and all the lotions it offers –
before showering, during showering, after showering, after-after
showering. The saunas, steam bathes and Jacuzzis, followed
by dressing in a new set of dinner clothes to eat a Mexican
barbecue on an outdoor veranda under the Puerto Rican sky.
Is this freedom or another
form of bondage?
I guess that it’s up to
Our freedom today allows
us unprecedented opportunities to discover deeper light. It offers us new
ways to burst forth with new forms of emanation.
With no enemies from without (Egyptians or otherwise) we
must fight the enemy of complacency, and use our free time
and energy to illuminate our environment with an aura that
our persecuted ancestors could no more than dream of (even
I wonder if there are
any dinoflagellates in the casinos. Or is there light obfuscated by the brilliant
wattage of manipulative artificiality?
And what about the natural
light of our souls? Where does that it go and how does it feel when we allow
the light of mediocrity to dominantly shine?
Passover is a good time
to find out what your soul has to say.