5 Gifts from Facing Mortality

One thing this new diagnosis has done for me is place mortality front and center in my windshield of life. I’ve always known intellectually about the impermanence of life, but now it seems visceral rather than intellectual. Facing mortality has been challenging, but has also bestowed many unexpected gifts.

1) Slowing Down

This latest prognosis has really forced me to slow down. I eat slower, sleep longer, work less, and try not to get too revved up. I even drive slower. Dr. Tom says that any cortisol in my system causes inflammation which increases pain and causes tumors to grow. Any time I let my emotions get the best of me, I am releasing cortisol in my system.

Lately, I have been really good about staying in a joyful emotional state, and the pain has decreased, my sleep is better, and my energy levels are way up. But yesterday, I let my sons get the best of me and flashed into a fit of anger that lasted for hours, and what do you know, I didn’t sleep well and have some mild pain today.

I recently hosted a webinar with Prakash Shellikeri who survived Stage 4 prostate cancer using holistic practices like pranayama and Mind Sound Resonance Technique (MSRT). Prakash said all yoga is about slowing down. Pranayama extends my breathing out to almost a minute per breath. Toning and sound healing force me to sit or lay down and feel into the resonant frequencies, tones, and pitches of different parts of my body.

I even chew my food more. Dr. Tom suggests that my meals should take almost an hour since I am chewing more and savoring the food. I also try not to eat while standing or watching TV or driving.

Life has been wonderful at this slower pace. On the practical side, even if my life span is shortened, if I slow down, I am living more and longer!

2) Freedom from Consumerism

After I learned about my prognosis, a bizarre thought arose in my mind: “I won’t ever have to buy another pair of jeans again.” The same goes for cars, houses, furniture, etc. It was a bit of a relief to tell the truth.

Fortunately or unfortunately, both my jeans ripped in the knees and I did have to buy more jeans, but it seemed like a privilege to purchase more clothes rather than an obligation or an addiction. Like most Americans, I have wanted more, bigger, and better material things throughout life. I used to dream of securing a house at Rincon Point in Santa Barbara, a new Tesla (a wish that continuously upgraded with each new Tesla model to be released), the newest iPhone every year, a bigger TV, etc.

Now, I’m happy just living life with what I already have, although I did purchase some protective equipment for skateboarding, but I consider that a type of medical insurance.

3) Communing with Others

In the past few months, my life has been full of deep, intimate relationships–and this is during shelter in place! I am reading a book called Angels in my Hair by Lorna Byrne. Lorna sees and has seen angels her whole life. She claims that angels are always by our side. This is what my life feels like right now. I not only have human angels who comfort, guide, and care for me, but also spiritual angels always by my side.

I have also had the pleasure of communing with loved ones and other cancer patients in a number of healing circles. These circles tend to go very deep very fast. No time for chit chat. We got straight to the jugular of existence. (bad pun)

I am blessed that I consider my three healers dear friends. Dr. Cynthia Li signs her emails to me, “Love, Cynthia.” I can’t tell you how many friends, relatives, and acquaintances I have said “I love you” to after a phone call or visit. I have never felt more loved and more loving in my entire life.

4) Awakening the Empath

I was listening to a talk by Judith Orloff who wrote The Empath’s Survival Guide. She said that “healing of trauma and awakening of the empath happen at the same time.”  This healing journey has not only been in the body, but also in spirit, emotions, and relationships. I am releasing traumas that I had no idea I was still storing in my physical, emotional, and spiritual body.

The more I heal, the more I sense into being an empath. Michael Lerner, my boss and dear friend, had to go to the hospital today for an aneurism. Cynthia Li, my intuitive doctor, is also Michael’s friend and doctor. When we heard that Michael had to go to the hospital, Cynthia intuited into the nature of the problem and concluded that the aneurism was stable and no emergency procedure was needed. Today, the tests confirmed that this diagnosis was right on target. I texted Cynthia how amazed I was that she could come up with this diagnosis without even seeing Michael. She texted back, “PS you can do this too!”

I feel like everyone has deep connections with their intuitive self, but trauma, society, cultural norms, and self-doubt obscure our natural ability. Healing my body, mind, and spirit has opened new doors of intuition, empathy, and love. What a gift!

5) Experiencing the Grace of Serendipity


The past few months have been like a real life version of the film Serendipity. But rather than finding my soul mate, I’m being led to my true life. So many mysterious “coincidences” have happened in the past few months. A friend who I haven’t spoken to in 5 years calls out of the blue and tells me he has prostate cancer. I share with him the qigong videos by Master Mingtong Gu. The next weekend he gifts me a ticket to an online summit with Master Mingtong which leads me to purchase a monthly master class on sound healing which includes live “Practice with the Master” zoom calls. In the first zoom call, I notice that Joe Vitale is in the audience. Joe wrote a book on ho‘oponopono called Zero Limits. This inspires me to restart my Hawaiian healing prayer which I do barefoot outside. The next day, another friend sends me The Earthing Movie which is about how walking barefoot everyday lowers inflammation and helps the body heal. The combination of qigong, sound healing, earthing, and breath work have decreased my pain level from 7 to 2 on a 10 point scale.

It seems like everywhere I turn something mysterious is brewing. I have a theory that the more serendipity I experience the more in flow I am with life’s rhythms. Since facing mortality I have definitely tuned into life’s flow on a deeper level.

These gifts have improved my quality of life in so many ways. I have no idea how long I have to live, but I do know that I am surrounded by angels, feeling love more than in the past, and surfing the waves of serendipity.  What more can I ask for?



A Glimpse of the Ineffable

jolandaA few weeks ago, I was honored to host a call with Jolanda van den Berg. Jolanda had a traumatic event 5 years ago that catalyzed a complete awakening from the form into the formless–she saw how her identity was an illusion:

“So what I saw 5 years ago, that the Jolanda character was really never there. That is the illusion of existence, you could say. It defines you, so you can never define the other way around. It is too complicated. It is not only too complicated, it is impossible. Why I didn’t speak for 5 years because it is a story in a story. So if people think that it happened to me, that is not true. Because what you see is that there was never a person experiencing anything. So the words that come out of me are just coming out without me doing anything. But as a person we believe that we are talking, but there is just talking, to say it like that. Whatever that is, is it.”

Being in the presence (over Zoom) with Jolanda was indescribable. I couldn’t really grasp intellectually what she experienced, but at the end of the call, I felt a lightness of being and a joy beyond words. So many things Jolanda shared with us that day stayed with me:

  • For me love means everything that seems to appear. That means love for me. So the one you are with in this moment, the seemingly one you are with, is your biggest lover. That can be a cake, that can be your wife, that can be the sun. That is what love is for me. Or that can be a thought or the sadness of someone you lost that you are still identified with. There is only love for me.
  • From a personal perspective it feels like you have to reach something or you have to change something or you have to be someone or whatever. In my perspective, everything that seems to come in the picture is what I am, you could say. And without that I wouldn’t even exist or even imagine that I exist. It is fascinating. You become the fascination itself.
  • Beauty for me is the same like a feeling. For me there is nothing more beautiful when someone is falling through her/himself. There is the identification as a person and then when someone fall out of identification, then you see the beauty. And that is the same beauty as the light in the trees at 5:30 in the afternoon. And that is the same beauty of seeing someone in love with whatever there is. It is all the same beauty for me. For me it was always nice bringing people together and just being there. No one has to be special or not special, everything is just what it is. And that is beauty for me.
  • Enjoy life. That is the most beautiful thing we can be for each other. Just be open and loving. That is the most beautiful thing you can do. I think everything is perfect exactly the way it is, so I don’t have wishes in that sense.

After the official interview ended, Jolanda stayed on the line with a few of us. I asked her about pain, since I just had a rough night with neuropathy pain. Here is what she said:

Then I would say, your name is pain. How life presents itself in that moment is by pain. And somehow if you see it like that, then you can even be happy– because without that pain you wouldn’t even  exist.

It’s completely opposite of the personal identification. If you can wake up in that pain and see the love in even the pain then nothing in life can pull you from the lightness.

Who is this woman? I felt deep wisdom in this approach to pain. Pain as life’s presence in the moment, so that we might even see the love in the pain. I can’t really understand this statement, but I can feel it. Now when I have pain, I try to remind myself that this is my aliveness for the moment.

Later, another volunteer told Jolanda about my diagnosis. Jolanda sent an email and invited me and another cancer patient to sit in dialogue with her (which we scheduled for July 17th, so stay tuned.) In her email, Jolanda shifted my perspective again:

…I noticed that especially with people who are identified with life and death themes, to call it like that, can use some neutral energy, someone who doesn’t see them as “that person with cancer” but just a person as a story, like we all are. I think there is so much projection on seemingly sickness, pain and death, especially from the people who are not sick. The only thing I know is that I build a whole fantasy world out of fear, without knowing, and that night when it all fell away, you could call it dying, after the first part, hours of extreme pain of a mix of physical and emotional, and then, that last incredible feeling of being taken over like a free fall was the most wonderful feeling I ever experiences ever and worth all the pain, like after giving birth to your child. That was for me like an extra present and therefore its impossible not to feel that, also, when I hear stories about dying, because it feels like they are the chosen ones for me. Like I know the birthday present that is waiting for them because in that very moment of the free fall all comes together where we never really were. And of course I can see also from a personal perspective that pain and dying is quite the opposite. Soooo, Im very honored to meet the chosen ones, which we all are of course in my world of no beginnings nor ends.

So grateful for this guidance and love that has entered my life through the back door. Just another gift that cancer has dropped on my doorstep.

The only thing that won’t lie to you!

I recently had a CT scan. The results were that one of the tumors stayed the same size and had necrotic (dead) cells in the middle. The other tumor grew from 4.1 cm to 5.0 cm. The oncologist sees this as a threat and wants to start chemo as soon as possible. 

When I checked with my three healers they all asked the same question, “How are you feeling?” Dr. Tom said, “Your body is the only thing that will not lie to you?” I am feeling great: more energy every day, sleeping better, good appetite, good digestion, lower pain, and amazing social support. I have been doing qigong every day, as well as sound healing qigong. I even did a half-day retreat with Master Mingtong who says, “It is all about moving the energy, releasing the blockages that cause disease.”

Cynthia Li has dialed in my supplements, diet, and exercise using her intuition and medical background. When I asked her about chemo, she intuited into all the drugs the oncologist prescribed then said, “I get a definitive no, for now.” So I’m going to continue on the healing path I’m currently on for now and not switch to a chemo-centered path. 

Last night, a dear friend brought up a quotation by Bruno Barnhart, we humans prefer manageable complexity over unmanageable simplicity.” I am choosing unmanageable simplicity for now. I don’t know what will happen, but I am reveling in the presence of simplicity. 

On a side note, I have been skateboarding with my sons at a local skatepark every day. Dr. Tom said, “The more childish you are, the more powerful you are.” Grateful for the daily practice of play with my sons. My oncologist was amazed that I even got out everyday to walk the dogs. When I told her I skateboarded for 3 hours the day before, she was in shock.

One thing I realized is that my oncologist hasn’t “seen” me in over 3 months. All of my appointments are by phone, not Facetime nor Zoom, but audio call. She hasn’t taken any vital signs, weighed me, or physically examined me since the shelter in place. The blood work I did before the CT scan shows all my levels returning to normal. My red and white blood cell counts are a tad low, but Cynthia says that my body is still recovering from inflammation, so it will take time for those counts to come up.

My three healers have a dramatically different attitude than my oncologist. The oncologist is afraid that the cancer will grow and kill me. She really cares, but her care is based in fear: “We are both the same age, Mr. Hattori. I want you to live as long as possible.”

My three healers, on the other hand, have little doubt that I will come back to wholeness. “You are getting suspiciously better, Kozo,” said John Lavack, one of my energy healers. “You can live 20-30 more years. It is up to you; how you control your attitude and emotions,” said Dr. Tom. He also asked me, “the CT scan says the tumor has grown, but is it harder or softer?”

After the CT scans, Cynthia said, “Indeed, things can seemingly get worse (with increased energy flow) before they get better.” Followed by, “I’m so grateful for your quality of life and where you are spiritually. Those are extraordinarily important.”

She also texted me, “And thank you for being in this world. We need you around in the earthly plane. So negotiate your greatest purpose with your guardians beyond the veil.” Having these three extremely open-hearted and positive mentors in my life gives me purpose and hope to live a long, productive, joy-full life. What more could I ask for?