To many patients, cancer feels like a death sentence. Receiving a death sentence implies that one has been judged. I experienced cancer as a judgment, especially considering I don’t meet any of the risk factors for the type of cancer I was diagnosed with.
If I had gotten skin cancer, that would make sense. I spent decades surfing in the sun, and I grew up before sunscreen was available. But colorectal cancer comes out of left field. I don’t smoke, drink, eat meat or fast food, and have relatively little stress. In addition, I have done numerous colon cleanses, cleansing fasts, and eaten oatmeal for breakfast for over 30 years.
When I explained this to my oncologist, he said, “Sometimes you just get unlucky.” In my experience, luck has very little to do with anything, so I started to see this dis-ease as a judgment. Why would the Universe, God, or my body send me cancer?
In order to answer this question, I had to become aware of how I judge others. I used to constantly judge anyone in my presence. I would judge their athletic ability, intelligence, integrity, looks, and value.
The best example I can give are the thoughts I think while driving. If someone is not turning right at a red light, I usually assume that they don’t know the laws; are too timid to drive in America; are waiting to cross three lanes when they should just turn into the right lane then merge left once they are out of my way; or are just complete idiots. I constantly judge other drivers based on how fast they are going, how long they wait at stop lights, what kind of car they are driving, or what race, gender, and class they look like they belong to.
I assume that Mercedes and BMW drivers are going to be selfish in all their driving choices. I silently accuse drivers with Asian trinkets hanging from their rear view mirrors of being dangerous and untrustworthy (even though I’m Asian). I usually view women drivers as inferior, especially older Asian women, even though my mom is a very good driver.
This is just while I’m cruising down the road. When I enter any social situation, I start judging everyone and everything incessantly. Even in spiritual circles, I tend to think, “That person is such a hypocrite” or “they think they are enlightened, but they have so much ego.”
Luckily, one of the prayers I say every morning is the St. Francis Prayer: “…Oh Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, pardoning that we are pardoned, and dying that we are born into eternal life.”
One morning, I understood that in order to pardon myself from this death sentence of cancer, I had to start pardoning others. I saw how the line “it is in giving that we receive” doesn’t just mean that we should give charitably, but also that we reap what we sow. If I constantly judge others negatively, then I, too, will be judged.
When I made a conscious effort to stop judging others, I felt my heart open. I had more compassion for those who were suffering so much that they felt the need to try to make me suffer. I also stopped judging myself for things I’ve done in the past or for judging others in the present.
When I dropped judgment, I lost the need to compare myself with others. I didn’t need to be more intelligent, more awakened, or more equanimous than others. Losing judgment helped me realize our connectedness. When I stopped trying to differentiate myself from others through judgment, I started to experience what Thich Nhat Hanh calls our fundamental “inter-being.”
At a recent fundraiser for Cancer Commons, I met a Maori man who told me “the only judgment we will experience is us judging ourselves on how we treated others.” If this is true, then this cancer diagnosis is me judging myself on how I treated others. The last few months have been a wake-up call to start treating others better.
The less I judge others and treat them with respect, the more I sense into the healing of my body, my relationships, and my spirit. From this perspective, what happens with the dis-ease in my intestinal track is of little consequence.
After a two hour intimate talk with my mother in which I released many judgments and resentments about her parenting decisions, she said to me, “I hope all this turns out well for you.”
“It already has, Mom,” I said with a smile.
Really enjoying my farmer’s market “organic” salads.I asked one of the farmers today at the market why she was not certified organic. She said that her husband uses compost to fertilize which is not certified organic. She also said that many organic farms use fertilizer and pesticide, but they are “organic” fertilizer and pesticide which often can be more toxic than non-organic. I also learned that farmers have to pay to fly the “organic” flag. She is a small farmer, so she refuses to pay.
Another farmer who has amazing walnuts said that the walnuts are organic since the only thing he does is water them, but he can’t call them organic because his grapes are not organic. A farm can’t be part organic and part non-organic.
I used to think that the organic stamp of approval was golden, but now I realize that “home grown” can often be more natural and healthy than certified organic. The lemons my mom grows are not organic, but I wouldn’t trade them for any lemon at Whole Foods.
Did more barefoot hiking with my dear friend, Oliver. Amazing how the ground changes texture after a good rain. You would think that it would be softer, but it was actually really rocky since a lot of the dust and fine sediment was washed away. We did find some nice soft, cool damp spots though. Life is amazing in its variety and diversity when we open ourselves up to it.
As you can see above, I’ve been trying to heal relationships with everyone by not judging so much. I’m experiencing so much more peace moment to moment.
It rained, so I did my prayers on an astroturf welcome mat on the balcony. Although it wasn’t as pure as in the park, it still felt good to feel the temperature and smell the rainy air. I realized that being outside is key, even if I am on the balcony.
6:30 AM small/medium BM
8 AM Small BM with no blood
9:15 AM Large BM
10:30 Large BM little blood
2 PM Medium BM little blood
9 PM sediment
1:30 AM Sediment
6:30 AM Blood and sediment. Small BM
7:28 AM Large BM tiny Blood and Sediment
9:45 AM Medium BM no blood
2:40 PM Tiny Sediment
10:00 PM Blood and Sediment.
5:30 PM Blood and sediment
7 AM Blood and sediment with medium BM
8:20 AM Medium BM Tiny Blood
9:30 AM Tiny Sediment
10:40 AM Small blood and sediment
2:30 PM Blood and sediment
9 PM Blood and sediment auburn
6:40 AM Blood and sediment with small BM
8:15 AM Medium BM w/blood and sediment
10:00 AM Small BM w/blood and sediment
3:30 PM Blood and sediment
5:30 PM Blood and sediment
6 PM Blood and Sediment.with small BM
2 AM Tiny Blood and Sediment.
7:30 AM Blood and Sediment.
8:10 AM Small BM w/Blood and sediment
9:15 AM Blood and sediment–Brown
2 PM Blood and sediment
8:00 PM Large amount of blood and sediment