So many times during my journey after being given a diagnosis of cancer, people have judged the diagnosis as bad, the worst, and very horrible at the least. Each time something like this was said to me, I took a step back from that declaration. In fact, I probably took a literal and physical step back each time so that I would not to be consumed with that negativity and join in that frequency against life and healing. I did not want to agree with it.
Maybe this diagnosis of cancer is ultimately bad, but we don’t know that yet. And maybe this diagnosis of cancer is ultimately good, but again, we don't know that yet. I've heard others say how grateful they were for a cancer diagnosis in their life. I want to get there too! I think what helps me most is the work I do everyday whether it's meditation, singing/chanting, practicing mindfulness, painting, doing yoga, dancing, reading good books, smiling into the eyes of my friends, or listing what I'm grateful for. Leaving it to the All-Compassionate Mystery that we may never know if it’s in fact bad or if it’s in fact good, is okay with me. Realistically, of course, it’s much easier to agree with everyone around me that, “Yes, in fact, this is bad, bad news. Poor me. Poor me!” But in each moment I try as hard as I can to not give in to that and instead say, “Who really knows??”
I believe this diagnosis of cancer is surrounded by love because the Divine surrounds me and is the spark of Light or Sacred Energy that resides inside of me (and you!). Of course I’d like to avoid suffering at all costs and I’d prefer that this journey be meaningful in some way, but who knows, I’m not all-knowing.
“The Story of the Chinese Farmer”
I’ve heard this parable again and again throughout the years. I probably first started practicing it when I was sick with Q Fever in 2011. Being sick is bad, or is it? We don't know.
This is “The Story of the Chinese Farmer” as told by Alan Watts (1915-1973). You can watch the 2-minute animation with the transcription below.
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer, who lost a horse; it ran away. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, “That's too bad.” And he said, “Maybe.” [Other versions of this old story record the farmer’s response as “We’ll see” or “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?"]
The next day the horse came back and brought seven wild horses with it. And all the neighbors came around and said, “Why, that's great! Isn't it?” And he said, “Maybe.”
The next day his son was attempting to tame one of these horses and was riding it and was thrown and broke his leg. And all the neighbors came around in the evening and said, “Well that's too bad! Isn't it?” The farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day the conscription officers came around looking for people for the army and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, “Isn’t that wonderful!?” And he said, “Maybe.”
The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity. And it is really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad. Because you never know what will be the consequences of the misfortune. Or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.