Five and a half year ago, I learned I had breast cancer.
In the middle of a huge crowd of people a radiologist called to tell me the news on my cell phone. As I felt my mind and body tumble through space, Eli’s voice called out to me: “It’s always a good day to die.”
Many diseases and much physical devastation later, I’ve been given the Grace to live that Truth as this ego body dies. The diagnosis is unimportant. The realization is Everything. Any day is a great day to die to the imagined future, and the not-good-enough past. It’s always a good day to quiet the mental and physical and emotional stories we tell ourselves, no matter how logical or righteous they may seem at the time.
We are all tapped on the shoulder many times in our lives. And how will we respond? Can we muster the courage to face the terror that has stalked us all our years turning every gift, every accomplishment to dross? To turn, finally, and face the mind and its infinite hells. To finally confront my own terror of hobgoblins and find there’s No Thing there. This has been the greatest freedom of my life. To surrender. To not resist anything…not even the inevitable death that awaits. That’s what I was always afraid of at the core. That the imagined “I” would have to be silent whether I liked it or not. This is what Eli, my beloved and loving relentless teacher gave me…the experience of what it means to die before the body drops away.
“Completely accidentally” I met Eli and Gangaji 19 years ago. I heard their words and they resonated somewhere within me… so I wanted to be in their audience, but I struggled mightily to stay in the story. Being shown the mask of fixation in all its infinite flavors finally humbled me. During many retreats with Eli and Gangaji and the incredible good fortune to be in the first
3-year program, I was prepared for the experience that a dying body can co-exist with a peaceful, even joyous heart.
All of this is not to say that I don’t have pain and fear come up. But I let them be present without fighting back or having a judgment about whether any of it is spiritual or not. Soon, I check back in and there No Thing there. And I will say that I laugh many times a day…at a good joke, a funny skit on UTube and, most of all, at myself and how the ego wants its devious way.
We are all living lucky lifetimes having been graced with a teacher through whom the Wisdom of the Ages pours. We may not get it the first time, or even the 20th, but just being committed to stay in the sangha, to go back for more, even when the ego screams “Enough!” is the gift that you can open when you need it most.
We haven’t all met in the flesh, but we are One and the same. In this spirit I write to you, friends known and unknown, to recognize the Light that shines upon us…the Light we all encompass.
Days are waning but I find I can watch the body disintegrate, sometimes very painfully, but nothing changes in my joy of being allowed to live long enough to recognize that I am loved and Love itself.
In Truth, Gratitude and abiding Love,