After the Cancer Diagnosis:
First Things First
(Taken from The Dysox Model of
Volume 1 (2007)
When one first learns about the diagnosis of
one's cancer, what does one really need to
Should one see a surgeon?
Should one consult an oncologist?
Or a radiotherapist?
Or a nutritionist?
Or a naturopath?
Or an energy healer?
Or an integrative physician?
Or a friend?
Or a priest?
Or, should one first seek strength and light
through one's own Divinity?
First seek strength and light through one's
own Divinity! How silly is that?, some readers
may ask with irritation. Searching for one's
Divinity at the first news of cancer? some others
might protest. Tall order, isn't it? might be
another question from someone annoyed by my words.
Yes, I know that it is a tall order. However, it is
either strength and light through one's own Divinity
or half truths and untruths from others. So, I say
the surgeon can wait for a while. And so can the
oncologist, the radiotherapist, the naturopath, and
the integrative physician.
Before one can consult with one's Divinity when
cancer comes calling, there are crucially important
issues of coping with the panic caused by the
initial diagnosis of cancer—and of intensified
anger, a sense of being a victim, and the famous
Why me? question. In this chapter, I offer the
following seven insights given to me by individuals
with cancer whom I have cared for:
First Insight: If you remain panicked,
you won't make it.
Second Insight: Hope with hype returns to
Third Insight: One can only know one's
own pain and
experience one's own fears.
Fourth Insight: Practicing gratitude
happiness brings unhappiness.
Fifth Insight: Giving love heals,
demanding love depletes.
Sixth Insight: Anger cannot be resolved,
it can only be dissolved.
Seventh Insight: Divinity can be sought
and known only through the language of
FIRST INSIGHT: If You Remain Panicked, You Won't
If you do not panic at the time
of the initial diagnosis, you are not in touch with
yourself. If you stay panicked, you won't make it.
Everyone panics at the first
encounter with a diagnosis of cancer. This is a
physiologic response. It is one thing to engage in a
dinner table conversation about someone else's
cancer, and altogether different to confront one's
own cancer. The shock of the initial diagnosis
clouds one's judgment. I have often heard doctors
tell me about their patients being in denial about
their tumors—usually, of course, because the patient
refuses to climb onto the operating table on cue
from a surgeon, or rejects chemo infusions
prescribed by an oncologist at the oncologist's
convenience. I have personally not seen a person who
denies her or his cancer. People process the initial
information about a diagnosis of cancer in different
ways. Regardless of the initial physiologic response
to a diagnosis of cancer, here is what my patients
have taught: Those who stay panicked usually do not
do well. So, the first lesson is this: If
you stay panicked, you won't make it. One needs
first to escape the tyranny of one's thinking mind
and then seek one's own Divinity.
Surgery for early cancer, when
applicable, should not be unduly delayed. This is
self-evident. Surgery is the best treatment for most
early cancers. But here is the problem: No honest
and experienced surgeon can ever tell you
that your cancer is early enough to be
completely removed. There is never any valid
reason for not taking time out for a day—or a week
—to seek and know one's own Divinity.
SECOND INSIGHT: Hope With Hype
Returns to Haunt
During conscious life, hope is
essential for healing. Hope is easy to create. It is
hard to sustain. This is truer with the first
encounter with a diagnosis of cancer than at most
other times. By the time you finish this book, I
hope you will have the courage to see through
commonly told lies about curing cancer. Hope has
lasting benefits in the treatment of cancer but only
when it is based on a clear understanding of the
doubt and uncertainties of life, and of vagaries of
the behavior of malignant tumors.
At the first encounter with a
diagnosis of cancer, what a person with cancer wants
most is to be told that her/his cancer is
curable—and will be cured. That, of course, is where
the lies begin. False hopes are created by
pathologists, surgeons, oncologists, integrative
physicians, and natural healers in all of their
working days. Pathologists commonly begin that
process by including in their reports the following
standard sentence: "The margins of resection are
negative for tumor." Not unexpectedly, those who
read the reports interpret them as indicating
complete removal of cancer. However, pathologists do
not believe this necessarily to be the case. They
know that the tissues are stretched, shredded, and
cut across during surgery. They readily acknowledge
that they simply cannot precisely reconstruct or
realign the tissues in a laboratory pan as they were
in the patient's body. Thus, the inked margins of
resection do not, in reality, represent the
true state of affairs. So, why then do pathologists
deliberately misrepresent their case? Because they
are compelled to do so. The surgical organizations
force the pathology associations to establish the
"inking the margin" standard—a deliberately
misleading standard—for their member pathologists.
In the United States, pathologists are not at
liberty to practice in their field without belonging
to those associations.
The next in line to participate
in the deception game are surgeons. They famously
underline the standard "margins-of-
resection-are-negative for tumor" comment in the
pathology report as they congratulate themselves for
having taken out cancer completely in the presence
of their frightened and gullible patients. The chain
of misrepresentations continues with oncologists.
The family practitioners know better, but see no
point in rocking the boat. It just seems like the
humane thing to do. Integrative physicians are not
above misrepresentation either. As for "energy
healers" who claim to cure cancer energetically,
I do not know what planet they live on. They are
blessedly unburdened by any real knowledge of cancer
Hope for people with cancer can
be created with truth. However, this takes courage,
integrity, patience, and time. One cannot simply
write a prescription for hope to be filled at the
local pharmacy. There is also the larger issue of
hope not residing in closed hearts and in
constricted spirits. This openness is hard to come
by in a culture of constipation—constipation of the
heart and of the spirit. So at the first encounter
with a cancer, where does one go for hope with
truth? To one's own Divinity.
One Can Only Know One's
and Experience One's Own
"I've cancer and this
fool is talking about his doggone barbecue."
"My breast cancer is
spreading to my bones, and this airhead is
chattering about her breast enlargement
"I'm dying of cancer and
this dimwit is ecstatic about his new car."
When thoughts like these torment people with
cancer, they need to realize that they have joined
an enormous communion of humans all over the world
who have been troubled or continue to be troubled by
the thoughts that disturb them.
Life does not stop for those who live around a
person with cancer, nor should it stop for the
Why me?, I have not yet begun to
I was just beginning to
see the light at the end of the tunnel, and
Life is so beautiful, how
can it end just like this?
If cancer kills me, who
would take care of my mom?
When such questions drain energy
and sap life from those with cancer, these
individuals have joined an even larger community of
people all over the world who fear death from causes
other than cancer. Such is life!
In one of my WBAI radio programs
in New York entitled "Science, Health, and Healing,"
my guest and I discussed the subject of the
evolution of human awareness. I raised the issue of
how one can become comfortable with one's own death.
How can one accept one's death and be at peace with
one's self? To make a crucial point, I quoted the
following inscription on the base of a statue of a
Babylonian Princess, who was believed to have died
Please know as you pass me by,
As you're now so once was I,
As I am now, so you will be,
Prepare yourself to follow me.
Two days later, I received a
letter from a WBAI listener containing a news
clipping showing a fresco called Trinity,
painted by the Italian, Masaccio, in 1428. Recent
investigation uncovered a painted skeleton below the
alter slab, accompanied by an Italian inscription
that reads in English:
I was once that
which you are,
and that which I
am you also will be.
Death is inevitable. Everyone
recognizes that. Yet, does this knowledge give
different meaning to one's life? Does it lead one to
a higher plane of consciousness and existence? These
simple questions have been addressed in all mythic
writings, indigenous cultures, religions, and
ecumenical philosophies. Consciousness of the
transition from a state of life to the absence of
life—and a way of life governed by that—has been a
goal in all pursuits of enlightenment.
So, it seems to me that the only
possible answer to the question of Why me?
when cancer comes calling is simply this: Why not
Seeking Happiness Brings
Happiness is an illusion, which
is the primary reason why no two people ever agree
on what constitutes happiness. No matter which way
one chooses to define happiness, it is an empty
notion—now you have it, now you don't. In What Do
Lions Know About Stress, I wrote:
Few things make people
more unhappy than the search for happiness.
The best reason for being
grateful that I know is that it makes getting out of
the bed in the morning less demanding. For others,
it makes the morning hours a profoundly spiritual
Gratitude, of course, cannot
be gained with clever rituals or by traveling to
exotic places. It can be practiced anywhere, at any
time. It requires neither any outside support nor
any special inner capacity. I see individuals who
live with widespread tumor metastases and
with profound gratitude. They are simply grateful
for being alive. I also see individuals with cancer
who are so angry that the very word gratitude is a
cruel joke for them.
Then there are individuals with
cancer who live in rage but do not quite understand
why they are consumed by it. Sometimes the situation
is so difficult that I make a conscious effort not
to broach the subjects of gratitude and Divinity.
They need time to simmer down, to let go of their
imagined demons. Then I wonder when the time for the
wordless language of Divinity might reach them.
Those among this group who cool off and persist
nearly always succeed with time. Then they learn
what is known to all who choose that path:
Gratitude is a river that flows
endlessly, neither revealing its true origin
nor its destiny.
Giving Love Heals,
Demanding Love Depletes
My patients with cancer and other
serious chronic disorders have taught me another
important lesson: Love, like water, flows only
one way. It may be offered, but cannot be
Giving love sustains one,
demanding love depletes one.
Demanding love is demeaning.
Facilitating the healing process in others by
offering love, on the other hand, has a powerful
healing influence for the person. The ancients
recognized this and counseled the sick to try to
find ways to serve others. In my native Urdu
language, the word for this is saadhaqa (saa-dhaa-kaa).
To my knowledge, most religions emphasize the
need to serve others in order to facilitate healing,
and so did most earlier cultural traditions. Even
the sacrificial rituals of the ancients were most
likely performed in recognition of this same
phenomena. However, I do not think that the
spirits they thought were angry and thus needing
appeasement by their sacrifices were really mad.
In What Do Lions Know About
Stress, I suggested several ways to reach out
and serve others, including helping an elderly
person with ordinary chores, befriending a sick
child, or being kind to an animal. This path to
healing is especially needed by those who have been
chronically sick. To paraphrase John Ruskin,
The true reward for one's
service to others is not what one receives
for it, but what one becomes by it.
The core aspect of this path
to one's Divinity is through offering someone in
need the gift of your silent presence—in a school,
church, mosque, or a hospital room. That means
developing a sense of what is really needed. For
instance, telling a person with incapacitating
tissue pain and brain fog to"get up and get on with
your life" is callous and without merit. Telling a
severely depressed person to cheer up is a cruel
joke. The same holds true for common utterly
frivolous platitudes used by people when speaking to
the sick or grieved.
A true gift of service is
the gift of presence, and the essence of
that presence is listening to what goes
The messages hidden in the
silence of those who suffer are often difficult to
decipher. The gift of silent presence saves one from
that sort of detective work. The language of
silence, in this context, is far more eloquent than
any clever words or carefully crafted phrases. What
the sufferers usually need most (when hunger and
pain are not the dominant issues) is the comfort of
being recognized and not having pity lavished upon
them. Of course, when that person is ready to say
anything, she knows she is free to speak up. Thus,
the easiest thing for the visitor is to simply
be. I do not speak here of silence with which
one suppresses one's suffering.
Silence can bring suffering or serenity
depending on what we keep — and from whom.
Anger Cannot Be Resolved,
It Can Only Be Dissolved
My patients have taught me two lessons about
First, angry individuals do not heal well; and
Second, the answer to the problem of
anger is spirituality, not psychology.
Neither the chemistry nor the
energetics of anger have been delineated. Yet, based
on my work with many chronically ill angry
individuals — including those with cancer — I
concluded that anger is a powerful oxidizer.
I am certain future research will clearly establish
that. On a basic level, acute anger causes
muscles to tighten up, producing excess acids and
free radicals which, when present in excess, set the
stage for oxygen dysfunction (dysox) and related
severe adverse metabolic effects. Such acids include
lactic acid, pyruvic acid, glyceric acid,
2-hydroxybutyric acid, and others. Cellular
acidosis, oxidosis, and dysox are the three
metabolic furies of cancer which actively
cancerize non-cancerous cells. For persons with
cancer who cannot dissolve anger through their
Divinity work, chronic anger is worse than
acute anger and causes chronically tightened muscles
to produce chronic oxidosis, acidosis, and
Psychologists and psychiatrists
recognize anger as the root of many disorders, which
has also been my own observation. They think the
solution to the problem of anger is in verbal
unleashing of the hidden rage. They prescribe
methods for positive thinking — for control and
empowerment. Not withstanding the temporary benefits
of these methods for resolving chronic anger, I have
yet to see them yield enduring clinical results.
Anger is a child of the thinking
mind—the cortical monkey, in autoregulation
language. This monkey cannot be banished with mere
words. Indeed, he thrives on clever schemes and
convoluted theories. The mind forever recycles past
misery and, when this is not enough, precycles
feared future misery.
Healing is not an intellectual
function. No clever mind can order healing in
injured tissues. The cortical monkey decorates doubt
and embellishes fear. Clever thinking is of little
value in coaxing rebellious muscles to abstain from
excessive contraction. Individuals with pain
syndromes know that the pain of muscle spasm in the
back or neck cannot be relieved by mere talking. Nor
does the deep anguish of depression abate with
so-called positive thinking. What is needed is
true spiritual surrender.
Cancer, first and foremost, is a
problem of dysfunctional oxygen metabolism. Cancer
is erroneously considered to be a genetic disorder.
I have challenged that view in several previous
publications (see www.majidali.com for those
articles, as well as for a large body of clinical,
bioenergetic, and experimental evidence that I cite
to support my work).
The pain syndromes associated
with cancer, I might add here, always reflect
cellular oxygen deficiency. In individuals with
cancer, there is a lack of oxygen in various
tissues, as well as increased sensitivity to
local and systemic oxidosis and acidosis. I
have put local in italics because this matter is
rarely appreciated by most doctors. Many oncologists
and pulmonologists have criticized me for my use of
nasal oxygen as a component of my Oxygen Protocol
for treating cancer. Their argument has been that
their blood oxygen studies showed what they believed
were normal levels of blood oxygenation. I might add
here that some cardiologists could not understand
why I prescribed oxygen for people who became sick
after environmental exposures caused by 9/11-related
events. The fact that oxygen therapy had clearly
helped those individuals—as attested by them—was
dismissed by those doctors as a placebo effect. This
The May 24, 2001, issue of The
New England Journal of Medicine carried an
interesting report. The authors surveyed dozens of
articles which explored the issue of the efficacy of
the placebo effect in diverse clinical conditions.
From their extensive review, they concluded that the
placebo has no real effects at all. This creates an
interesting scenario for me: According to
practitioners of drug medicine, the placebo effect
works for nutrient therapies—as claimed by
pulmonologists and cardiologists cited above—but not
for drug regimens as promulgated by the Journal.
Divinity Can Be Sought and
Only Through the Language
Divinity (spirituality, the
spiritual)—as I imagine it—is a state of light and
love. In contrast to the physical and mental states
of needing and wanting things, one's
Divinity is a state of offering light and
love. It is a state in which light and love permeate
a person's complete being through the language of
silence—a condition in which words are a clutter and
reason is a nuisance.
What Is the Spiritual?
In 1994, in The Canary and
Chronic Fatigue, I could not resist walking that
definitional tightrope with the following words:
The spiritual to the
early Man was unknowable. So we sort
through our intellectual assertions and
return to where we started from: The
spiritual is being outside the capacity of
our bodily senses and the reach of the mind.
Spirituality lies outside the needs of the
body or the demands of the mind. Good
teachers of spirituality may take us to the
limits of our bodily and mental
experiences—to the gates of spirituality—but
they cannot lead us into it. No one can
show anyone else what is the spiritual, no
one can make anyone else spiritual. This
is what the early Man must have
known—through some spiritual journey—when he
conceived the mind-body-spirit dimensions.
In 2003, in Integrative
Cardiology, the sixth volume of The
Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine,
I made a second feeble attempt to explain my sense
of the spiritual, as below:
My working definition of
the spiritual, which I have used for several
years, is this: It is a state of surrender
to the larger unknowable Presence
that one recognizes only by the way one
changes through the light and love of that
One can know only as much
Divinity— it seems to me—as exists within
one's self. One sees that vividly only when
in the throes of pain and suffering. We
physicians, by and large, insist on the
'hard' evidence of blinded studies. We are
uncomfortable with notions of healing with
spirituality and one's own Divinity. I once
read somewhere that it is better to say
nothing and be considered a fool than to
speak out and prove that. That has never
kept me from speaking out about my personal
quarrel with the mysteries of healing. I
seldom have had difficulty seeing the fool
in me. But fools do have wonderful insights
sometimes. So I persist.
Divinity is a language
without words. As long as one continues to struggle
to define what spirituality might be, the state of
one's Divinity escapes one. This is the fundamental
limit of human perception and consciousness.
The wisdom of the ancient notion
of a mind-body-spirit trio is this: Whatever can be
sensed with physical senses or perceived by the mind
cannot be spiritual. In order for the spiritual to
be discrete from the body and the mind, it must be
beyond the reach of either. One cannot reach the
spiritual either by seeing, smelling or hearing
clearly—nor by superior thinking. Indeed, if that
were true, there would be no need for the trio; the
mind-body duo would have sufficed. How does one go
about searching for the spiritual? One doesn't!
The spiritual has something to do
with surrendering in silence to the larger
Presence that permeates each of us. Why is
silence essential? It is essential because sights,
smells and other sensory perceptions are aspects of
the physical body—and language is the mind's turf,
both of which do not constitute the core of the
spiritual. Clever thinking, after all, is just that:
thinking. Thinking, by definition, is not spiritual.
A thinking mind cannot know the spiritual.
Cancer can turn the mind into a
tyrant—the relentless chatter of this cortical
monkey then becomes insufferable. What this monkey
cannot cope with is the silent energy of the
spiritual. Throughout history, enlightened beings
have struggled with this problem. The ancient Indian
and Chinese literatures are replete with philosophic
discussions of this subject. A large number of
practical methods have been devised to facilitate
the work of silence for the beginner. Here
are two suggestions that I have found to be
Indoor meditation with
the silence of a candle flame in winter.
Outdoor meditation with
the silence of a stone under a tree during
In essence, we can only hope that
through a candle flame or a stone we will enter that
domain and experience some of our essential link
with the larger Presence. These two simple
approaches are usually far more rewarding and
revealing than any elaborate ritual created by
ONE CAN ONLY KNOW AS MUCH
AS EXISTS WITHIN ONE'S
How does one lift the fog of
panic of the initial diagnosis of cancer? How does
one see through this terror? How does one learn to
hear one's visceral voices under this kind of
duress? How does one go about finding one's own
Divinity? There are simple recipes. Looking like a
pretzel in some yoga position is futile. Obsessing
about the perfect technology for breathing through
this nostril or that does not work. Does laying
prostrate at the feet of some guru work? I am not
sure. If the notion of the language of silence seems
alien to one's nature or past experience, one simply
has to learn about such matters.
A MARINE MOM IN IOWA,
AN ARAB DAD IN BAGHDAD
Recently, a patient said, "Dr.
Ali, you talk about one's own Divinity. What is my
"Try this," I replied. "Close
your eyes and imagine the face of a woman whose only
son was a Marine and was blown to pieces in Baghdad.
It is not necessary that you see her face or her
son's face. Try to see the depth of her pain through
the eyes of your heart. That's your Divinity.
"Next, you imagine the face of an
Arab carrying his dead daughter, killed by a stray
bullet from an American gun. It is not necessary
that you see his face or his daughter's face. Try to
see the depth of his agony through the eyes of your
heart. That's your Divinity.
"Or try this. Next time you see a
homeless person or someone who asks for money, give
him a dollar or two. Will that make a difference in
the life of that homeless person? No, I do not think
that will change the life of that person. But, then,
at this moment I am not thinking of that homeless
person's life, but of yours. I am thinking of you as
you struggle with your initial panic at the first
encounter with a diagnosis of cancer.
"Or, try this: Think of some old
man or woman living alone in your neighborhood.
Carry of a bowl of soup or a piece of fruit to that
person; offer that person the gift of your presence.
"Or, try this: Suppose you are a
Phyllis or a Debra. Or a David or a Philip. The
Phyllis and Philip can be possessed by their fears
of cancer and exist in a lower orbit of physicality.
In despair, they search for salvation through
miracles of the Star Wars technology. The Debra and
David are capable of existing at a higher orbit of
Divinity. Recall, at the level of physicality one
can only need and demand things. At the level of
one's Divinity, one can only send out love and
Can any Debra or David always
exist in the orbit of their Divinity? I am yet to
see this. Perhaps this is possible. Here I do not
write of an all-or-none phenomenon. What is
important is to treasure whatever time Debra and
David can be at that level. Is every Phyllis and
Philip doomed to forever exist in the low domain of
physicality? No! That I am certain of.
A Day of Divinity
A Day of Divinity is:
A Day of Divinity is a
day for seeing with the faculty of the
heart, not with
eyes in the sockets of the skull;
A day for the language of
A day for generosity of the
A day to suspend
disbelief in the goodness of those who seem
A day for little acts of love and
A day for feeling warmly;
A day for speaking softly;
A day for acting gently;
A day for gentle
A day for taking a bowl of soup
to someone living alone;
A day for giving someone a gift
of one's presence in silence;
A day for rising above anger, as
well as the sense of being a
A day to reach beyond the
ugly words spoken by others;
A day to search for
empathy for the inner turmoil from which
seep up those ugly words;
A Day of Divinity is a
day for a partial squint of the mind (the
squint of the mind allows one to look at
things others look at but see things others
A Day of Divinity is a
day of selective deafness (selective
deafness saves one from the screams of the
A Day of Divinity is for
being well past yesterday's misery;
A Day of Divinity is for
being beyond the feared, future
A day to be kind to one's
body so that one's body can be kind to one
(kind with right nourishment, kind with
fluidity of motion, and kind with
spontaneity of emotions; and
A day of one's own divinity, not
The Day of Divinity may begin
with prayer, meditation, or simple surrender to the
higher Presence that permeates us at all
times. That day may begin with a conscious effort to
be kind to one's body so that it can be kind in
return. It will include a considered plan to be kind
to those around us at home and at work. It can
proceed with a plan for a partial or complete fluid
Recently I suggested to one of my
patients that he consider my suggestion for
celebrating a Day of Divinity during the week.
"What shall I do during the other
six days of the week?"he asked with a twinkle,
"I don't know," I replied.
"Perhaps your Divinity will spill over into the
second day, possibly the third day."
Working/walking Meditation Clears
Limbic exercise is my term for
slow, sustained, noncompetitive and
non-goal-oriented exercise. This is an essential
issue for the human canaries. Any exercise that
leaves them tired ten minutes after they finish or
the next day is actually harmful. The fundamental
molecular lesion of interest to individuals with
cancer— I repeat often in this book for emphasis—is
dysfunctional oxygen metabolism. Intense exercises
for physical fitness lead to a rapid buildup of
acidity in the tissues of highly stressed
individuals which, in turn, fans the smoldering
coals of oxygen dysfunction. Thus, individuals with
stress associated with a cancer diagnosis and
treatment need to be circumspect about physical
activity. It is also important to recognize that
such individuals often have sluggish blood
circulation and stagnant lymph, and both factors
cause stiffness of muscles and soreness in tissues.
The best approach to those knotty problems is gentle
but frequent stretching that covers all parts
of the body. And that is what I emphasize to my
patients with cancer most for improving physical
Stretching followed by gentle
limbic exercise done every morning, in my view, is
essential for all persons with cancer. The crucial
point here is to integrate physical activity with a
deep spiritual awareness.
How does an African tribal
messenger run on his wilderness trail? What state of
energy is he in? How does an American executive run
on his sidewalk? What does his cluttered head demand
from his tired and hurt tissues? How do hurt tissues
rebel? Can physical exercise provide a deeply
personal, treasured retreat from the relentless
chatter of the thinking mind? There are important
clues for individuals with cancer in those
Roosters flutter their wings to
announce their morning. Canaries flap their feathers
before they fly off their nests. Dogs stretch before
they take their first steps. So do cats. We humans
wake up to our coffee and begin to recycle the
misery of our yesterdays and map out the feared
future suffering of our tomorrows.
The core notion of limbic
exercise is well expressed in the following words of
Lao tzu in Tao te Ching:
. . .a state of body
awareness in which the right stroke or the
right movement happens by itself,
effortlessly, without any interference of
the conscious will....The game plays the
game; the poem writes the poem; we can't
tell the dancer from the dance....the doer
has wholeheartedly vanished into the
deed....It happens when we trust the
intelligence of the universe in the same way
that an athlete or a dancer trusts the
superior intelligence of the body.
(Translated by Steven Mitchell)
On Growing One's Own Guru
When cancer comes calling, one
accepts all available help. Most of my patients
report positive results when they return from
retreats organized by various groups. I then
encourage them to consider some additional periods
of meditation and prayers with similar periods of
healing. Some of those patients also tell me
wonderful things about the gurus they meet on
retreat. It is evident to me that there is some
bonding there that sustains them. Such bonding has
Notwithstanding, I believe that
everyone also needs to grow a guru within.
That becomes especially important when the diagnosis
and treatment options bring on extra stress. There
is an important and practical reason for that: One
does not expect any guru to be on one's side
whenever lifestyle stress builds up. During the
initial diagnosis and earlier stages of cancer,
there is often uncertainty and doubt that further
fan the flames of stress responses. Not uncommonly,
sleep is disturbed during those periods. Thus, when
one needs a guru on one's side most—in the darkness
of night when one's fears surge and one is alone—the
words of other gurus seem distant and hollow. It is
then that one needs most the guru grown within.
Needless to point out, the guru growing within
is never absent.
How does one go about growing
one's own guru? That is not a difficult question to
answer. Everyone is born with seeds of one's own
guru. All that is needed is to allow those seeds to
begin to germinate and grow. The fertilizer for
those seeds is hope. Doubt and despair kill those
seeds. So, then, the simple strategy for growing
one's own guru is this: One learns to stay with
hope—on the other side of doubt and despair. The
guru growing within provides glimpses into one's
Most people confront some
conflicts with the guru-growing- within along the
way. However, with time those conflicts resolve by
themselves. One begins to recognize that Nature,
Goodness, and God are words for the same glue that
holds the creation together. That reminds me of
words attributed to Malcolm X' s mother. When she
heard her son had left Christianity to embrace
Islam, she said, "Don't belong to any religion,
take from all."