Karnamrita Das

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SEEING CANCER AS A MESSENGER, NOT AS THE ENEMY: As it is said, don’t shoot the messenger, but hear the message. Cancer is an effect of something much deeper and primal, pointing to something beyond it. In the alternative cancer treatment world they say that we aren’t sick because we have cancer, but we have cancer because we are sick, or we have a compromised immune system. Exactly why we do is a question for deep contemplation and prayer for the ability to be completely honest and open to hear something uncomfortable about ourselves.

I have mentioned that I see any disease as having a physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual aspect or reason for its existence. However, to me the spiritual reason is really at the root, and without dealing with the root of any problem it will keep returning. If you have ever had a boil and not gotten out the root or core, you know what I am talking about. The Shrimad Bhagavatam gives the analogy of bamboo: if only the visible part is burned down (as with jnana), the plant will return, since its roots are still in place (which will only be eradicated with the power of bhakti). This perspective can also be applied to any disease or problem in our life. Only dealing with the effects, or visible symptoms, as often done with modern medicine, will only be temporarily helpful, if at all.

I am addressing the physical aspect by diet, pranayam, exercise, and herbal treatments, and see the mental/emotional as relating to the spiritual root of my cancer. I have a secondary tumor in the lymph node, near the 5th or throat chakra, with the primary tumor in back of the nose, close to the 6th or third eye chakra. From my introspective and prayerful investigation of myself, I have to speak and communicate more (5th chakra) my inspiration of essential truth (6th chakra).

As an Enneagram 9 my watchword is peace, so I tend to put that above other accomplishments, and thus I procrastinate and avoid any kind of work that will bring me out of my peaceful center. Sure, it’s good to be peaceful and undisturbed, and many people want this, and yet, it isn’t a very useful strategy to practice all the time, especially to accomplish major goals. While it is part of who I am in this life, and has helped me in many ways, the above downside could also be called, “conflict or problem avoidance,” which keeps us stuck in old patterns. I have been struggling with this for years, since problems or conflicts often hold the key for growth and accomplishment. Now that struggle has come to a head with cancer giving me the message that I have a life mission to accomplish which requires change and adjustments in my life—always difficult for most of us.

Besides change in general being difficult, so is leaving the safety of my comfort zone. I am more comfortable in the background, and am not what you would call a social butterfly who has the “gift of the gab,” so to speak. I prefer to listen, and writing is also easier that speaking in public settings, so now, I have to tackle my reservations. I must back up my speaking with a great deal of prayer and intensifying my spiritual practices. We will see how I fair in the months and years ahead.

Applying this to your own life, what are you neglecting to do that you really need to do to be fulfilled and make your contribution to life, family, or the world? If you don't feel you have a contribution, part of your work to uncover it--we are all meant to be givers. Or if you have some major disease, what is the message behind it--in both a general and specific sense (the general meaning is often easier to discern)?
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FOR SPIRITUAL ADVANCEMENT CHANGE AND TRANSFORMATION ARE REQUIRED: This blog is a further explanation of yesterday’s topic where I spoke about the message I have found in cancer. Besides what I have gleamed from where the cancer is in my body in relationship to the chakras or the body’s energy centers, is to look at what cancer is, and what that says to me personally. Cancer cells are cells that are considered unhealthy or abnormal. Cancer begins after a series of mutations lead to cells that divide as if they are immortal (never die.) This is followed by the growth of a tumor that can invade nearby tissues and organs.

Here are some facts I found interesting and instructive to me personally: cancer cells don’t communicate or cooperate with other types of cells; they have no positive function in regard the body as a whole—they don’t serve the purpose of the body; they don’t generally stick together, but have the ability to travel anywhere in the body (metastasize); normal cells mature and either are repaired or die, while cancer cells, because they grow rapidly and divide before cells are fully mature, remain immature. Doctors use the term undifferentiated [think impersonal, or not specific] to describe immature cells. Another way to explain this is to view cancer cells as cells that don’t “grow up” and specialize into adult cells.

Wow, this last point is a super analogy for being lazy or indifferent to my life mission. Now looking at this partial list, I can say, that I need to communicate better with myself and others, and have a positive purpose expressed through my life work. I want to be a helpful force to help devotees better cooperate and communicate together. Facing my mortality is a huge impetus for making my life the best offering to my gurus, the Vaishnavas, and people in general in relationship to the overall mission of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his associates. I must become a mature, or advanced devotee, by “growing up,” or into, my full potential.
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On the topic of change and transformation, I have to act in concert with my spiritual inspiration given new power through cancer, and thus think of my cancer cells reverting back to normal cells, or moving on to another plane of existence. I meditate on this frequently, sending my cancer cells love and appreciation for helping me to be more on track in my spiritual practices, and telling me not to remain comfortable in my mediocre bhakti, or thinking magically that just doing the basics of bhakti is sufficient to bring me to the high stages of pure devotion.

If I am to properly utilize my life, I can’t remain stuck in the past, but have to endeavor to accept and develop my potential, or to “be all I can be,” by the mercy of my gurus and Gauranga and Nitai. I admit that it is much easier to write this than to put it into practice, so my challenge is to change my angle of vision as to who I am and what I can accomplish, both internally and with my service to others. I am praying for this, and requesting your prayers as well. For any achievement both endeavor and grace are required, and I pray for the grace and empowerment to act for the highest good of all.
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