Thank you, dear friends, for your practice. Well, I always have so much I want to share. I probably won't share everything I wanted to share. But that's okay. I'll just choose whatever I need to share.
I was thinking about faith, hope, and love the other day. For the last three weeks, I was in Tijuana, Mexico at the Oasis of Hope alternative integrative cancer hospital, and the doctors there are so wonderful. And it was a really nice experience because I really felt guided to go there.
I struggled for several months actually to make a decision, and of course that's not a good thing to wait that long when you have cancer, for a treatment program. But I just didn't really feel like I knew exactly what I wanted to do, in what way did I want to try to heal this. So I asked for a dream, and I said, "I have make a decision this week, tomorrow even. I can't wait any longer. I can feel the tumor growing in my head, and it's not stopping. So I asked for divine guidance in my dreams that evening. And I actually had a dream, and I remembered it. It was very clear.
In the dream, I was trying to play with this gliding machine, and somehow it broke, so I couldn't glide off the ground. And a fitness trainer friend of mine, Josh Hodnett, actually, was in the dream, and he said, "Don't worry. I have a friend who has a much more advanced, bigger model of this. I'm sure you can borrow a part from it to fix your machine." So we went over and got the part from this really advanced model, really big, and there is just one part I needed, so we used that to fix my little glider. And it was fixed.
So when I woke up, it was very clear to me the meaning of this. I had been trying to figure this out on my own, and really the main path that I had chosen was alternative treatment. But I was trying to do it by myself mostly. I was trying to read up on it myself and eat all the right foods and take the different types of supplements, but I had no idea what I was doing. I did not know how much of the supplements I am supposed to take or how often. I did not really know. I was just guessing. And it probably did help me a little bit to boost my immune system, but it didn't stop the tumor from growing. So through this treatment, I realized I can't just do this on my own. I need help. I need help. But it's not the kind of help that is completely different from what I am doing, you see? It took the same kind, but just more advanced and more bigger.
So I realized, I need help, but it needs to be of the same kind. So I realized I need to integrate what I am doing with something more advanced and bigger than me, and so not only do I need to practice alternative treatment, but also integrative treatment so that a doctor or a hospital that does understand alternative is able to integrate with me on that and provide modern technology as well when necessary. So from this dream, I realized I need to integrate. Now, some people can heal without doing that. Some people can heal just naturally or spiritually or homeopathically or naturopathically or all the other different alternative ways of healing. But for some reason karmically in my case, it's not enough, which is fine because that means there are other things I am supposed to explore and people I am supposed to meet and experiences I am supposed to have by going through this. So I am willing and open.
And I asked for confirmation. Okay. Am I supposed to do integrative treatment here? So I pulled my deck of beautiful old cards that have these wonderful words and pictures on them. I pulled the heart chakra card, which is the symbol of the Star of David, a triangle pointed upward and a triangle pointed downward in union. And that symbolizes integration—so divine and human, earth and heaven, integrated. Or you can think of the masculine and feminine.
So it was confirmed to me, yes, I need to seek integrative health from people who know a lot more than I do. So I decided to go to Oasis of Hope because they have 50 years of a good reputation, and they seem to know what they're doing. And there are many other clinics I could've chosen, but that was the particular one I chose. And I'm really grateful because they do practice integrative medicine, meaning that they utilize the best and most up-to-date ways of alternative healing, but they also know that when certain patients need more modern medical or technological help, they will utilize it and integrate it. And in my case, that is the kind of treatment I will be receiving. So I ask for your prayerful support continually, especially starting tomorrow morning when I start this new round of medication, which is not necessarily very easy to go through, but it is definitely not too harsh either.
So as I was going through the process of getting the pre-treatments at the hospital to boost my immune system, I was constantly surrounded by all of this wonderful Christian spiritual support, and every morning they sing love songs to God, and it's really nice. So I began to think about some of the Scriptures that I had grown up with, like faith, hope, and love. And I thought about like I shared with you earlier about what is the difference between the fundamentalist kind of Christians and the more openhearted, open-minded Christians? Because the ingredients are pretty much the same — the same Scriptures, same Christ, same traditions. But it is so different and expression, and it is because of the way they practice it, the way they put it together.
So I think the more immature form of Christianity would be to just kind of throw it in your face sort of thing. But a more artful way, a more mature way of practicing Christianity is doing it skillfully, with love. And I also reflected on I believe it is also because of the way they approach faith, hope, and love. It is said in the Bible that faith, hope, and love are the greatest. But even among these three—faith, hope, and love—which is even greater? It is love. But you see, when I was talking with the fundamentalist Christians, all I could sense from them was this overzealous emphasis on faith and not so much on love. Whereas really, that is where I think they sometimes miss the mark.
Because if you're overemphasizing faith, hope, and love, you're not getting the point. Love is supreme. Otherwise, if you practice faith, hope, and love where love is not the center, but something else is at the center, then it is not really faith usually. It is fate. See, true faith is about trust, having trust in your daily moment by moment here and now walk with the divine, right? But see, fundamentalists have changed that true faith, which means trust, relational trust, to doctrinal belief system. It's not about your daily walk with God. It is about your faith. Are you going to heaven or hell? That's it. Do you see what happened? It got somehow distorted because love was not at the center. So their faith became fate rather than truth or trust.
And the same goes with the word hope. When love is not at the center, then hope can be easily distorted into hype. You know, at the hype of focusing just on your goals, the hype of just looking at the goal of afterlife, rather than hope meaning encouragement here and now. And so, when love is not at the center, distortions start creeping in to our practice. But true love, true love is not sentimentality. True love is service. That's why in the old English language, that word ‘love' was translated as ‘charity'—faith, hope, and charity—because it's the kind of love that is always giving and that is serving and that is helping. So it's not about sentimental love, theoretical love, passive love. It is active love, love that manifests itself in works of kindness.
But so many of the fundamentalists, they distort the true message of Christ because they weren't focused on the love at the center. So they were not really considering so much about helping and encouraging people with their daily walk with God and so much as, "Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior and are you in heaven or hell?" You know? Well, what about the rest of our lives? You know? And what about—you know, whenever I talk about how most of the Gospels, the real message of Jesus was about service. They keep saying, "No. You are saved only by grace and faith, not by works." Well, I keep wondering, are they misinterpreting that Scripture? Because that's a very small location in the New Testament by the apostle Paul. Paul the apostle, who did not actually ever meet Jesus. And you are trying to base your entire doctrinal system on that rather than on Jesus and the words of the Gospels?
I think Christians need to just only read the Gospels several times for a while before they read anything else in the Bible. I think they just need to focus on the Gospels, because if you read just the Gospels, you really get what Jesus was about. And it's not about a faith about Jesus. It is the faithfulness of Jesus and of our hearts together with the Christ manifesting as service. You see, there's a difference between believing something about Jesus and actually following the teachings of Jesus. Same with the Buddha, too. So let's not just believe things about spiritual teachers. Let's actually follow what they taught, you know? So it should not be on what you believe about Jesus, but rather, are you trusting in the real message of Jesus, which was compassion, service, love, healing?
As I went to this hospital in Mexico, one of the criteria I had to choose the place was I wanted to be in a place that will bring benefit to my family, too. So there were a few other places, but I couldn't imagine that my family would get much out of going to visit me at these other places. So I chose a place where I felt that they would really get something out of it. So my one brother came for the first week with me, and my other brother came the second week, and then my mother came the third week, and for them, it was like a weeklong retreat experience. They had time to slow down, read, pray, reflect on their life, and also to lose weight. With all the good food that was there served, they lost the weight that they wanted to lose. And they learned a lot about health and nutrition, and they got a lot out of it.
So I was very grateful because, see, as I am going through this process, I don't know if I will live or die, but gosh darn it, I am determined as I'm going through the process, it is going to be of benefit to others. So it is not just about me. So I am so grateful that I saw how my mother was, and she was so grateful that she even came. She was little scared at first to come all the way to Mexico with me, she came, and she was so grateful because she said, "Wow. I read six books. I have not read that much in a long time." She used to love to read, and she felt like it was like a retreat. And she asked me, "Is this what going to retreat is like?" Just so relaxing and lots of free time to really reflect on life, and we would take walks on the beach together. So I was so grateful to give my mom an opportunity to have a little personal retreat, even as she was there to support me in the hospital.
You know, one of really wonderful lesson of going through this is a really major teaching on the reality of our interbeing, that we are not alone. I love going to the clinic because it wasn't like just going to a normal hospital where you are basically not really talking to the other patients and you don't interact much with them, and you're just kind of focused on your own suffering and your own healing. At Oasis of Hope, every day, we are with each other. We talk to each other. We have meals together. We talk at the table, and we learn about each other's different cancers and how they've been doing. It is so great because we are not alone, and when we go through our own suffering or disease or illness or whatever or crisis, it is an opportunity to be in solidarity with others. So I love that part of this journey. It is a constant reminder that I am not alone and not so many others are going through all kinds of things, some worse than me.
You know, there was one beautiful man who was just a little bit older than me, a very handsome man. His mother was there helping him, and he was in a wheelchair because he has a brain tumor that has for the last several years eaten away at certain nerve endings, which makes it very hard to move his body, and his body functions are not quite fully normal anymore. And every day his mother would try to help wheelchair him in to the treatment room, and we would listen to these love songs to God, and it was a really nice, positive atmosphere. We prayed for each other. It was just so nice.
But one day I just felt this strong desire in my heart of hearts to ask him, would it be okay if I prayed with him? I just felt like I wanted to pray for him. So he said, "Oh, yes. Of course." So he and his mom went to my room, and we just sat down. I said, "Okay. This is probably not the kind of prayer that you're used to. I call it more like a meditative prayer." So I kind of guided us through meditation and prayer, focusing not on the cancer, not on the illness, not on the problem—focusing on what else is here. There is life. There is the light. There is the breath. There's this beautiful earth. There is the sunshine. There is the rain and the oceans and the beach just two blocks away from the hospital, which is great. And there is love, so much in this vast universe. The eternal reality of it is not disease and not death and not our problems. The greater eternal reality of the universe is love.
So I prayed for him, and when I opened my eyes I saw tears coming down his eyes. And then I was just so grateful to have that beautiful opportunity just to pray with him, for him, and his mother too, and just to be a little light of encouragement, a little light of hope and true faith, and most importantly, love. See, real love isn't sentimental. It is active because love helps us to come out of our own self focus, our self-centeredness, and remember there's all our brothers and sisters here.
So I realized a few weeks ago, a few months ago, I have so many people praying for me, I don't need to pray for myself anymore. So I have been focusing on praying for others because I am already taken care of. So many others are taking care of me through their prayers, so I don't need to pray for myself anymore. I just pray for others. You see? It is called pay it forward time. And actually, that is exactly the meaning of Pure Land chanting the name of Amitabha, Infinite Light. It is a realization of deep gratitude that the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the universe have already practiced for us, and they are already opening the doors of enlightenment for us.
So as we practice, we don't have to practice for ourselves. We just practice to pay it forward to all other beings. So just as beautiful beings of light have practiced for us for eons of time to make our life possible and our practice possible and our enlightenment possible, so also when we practice, we don't need to practice with the attitude of I need to get enlightened. I need to strive to get enlightened. No. You just accept enlightenment as a gift, and to practice meditation and spiritual practice diligently, not for yourself anymore, but for others, only for others. Because the practice that you need is already given to you, this breath right here, this step right here. It is already here. You're already Buddha. You are already enlightened. So just accept it. That doesn't mean you don't practice. It means that you practice even with more heart because you realize your practice is always for the benefit of all beings. Jesus said it this way: "Freely you have received; therefore, freely give."
So I don't need to pray for myself anymore. I have all of your prayers. But I pray for you. I pray for that beautiful man Raphael. Isn't that a beautiful name? Raphael? Divine healing, God as healer. That is what his name means. And that is also the name of the Archangel of healing, Raphael. So I kind of think he is really the Archangel Raphael in disguise. And really that is all we are. We are really Buddha in disguise.
Okay. Well, I had better start closing the talk so we have time for sharing, which is also such an important part of our practice.
I do want to share one last thing, though. I really encourage you to get this book, Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer to Near-Death to True Healing by Anita Moorjani. It is a wonderful book, and she died in the hospital, and she somehow came back. But see, I know a lot of people say that is what happens. It is hard to tell who is telling the truth and who is not, but here's the miracle of her story. Of course, when she was in the heavenly realm, it was all about love. I'm not going to go into the details of her message, but she was told if she decided she was to come back to the body, she would be sharing a beautiful message with people that would help and encourage people, give them hope, true hope, and that her body would completely heal of all the cancer tumors that had ravaged her body, which caused her death. And so when she came back to life after a few minutes of dying, within three days, every single cancer tumor in her body disappeared, melted away. So to me that is proof that what her message from the other beyond—I believe it. I believe her message. How else could such a miracle happen? And it really all is all about love. So that is one book.
And another book I highly recommend is Thich Nhat Hanh's book, No Death, No Fear. If you're going through any fear or facing the death of yourself or a loved one, you can find some true deep comfort and practice from Thich Nhat Hanh's book, No Death, No Fear.
And this is kind of a classic of a sort. It is Gary Zukav's book, The Seat of the Soul. It has been around for 25 years or more, but I really like it even though it is not really Buddhist. It does point to spiritual reality in a way that I think is so beautiful, that transcends Buddhism or Christianity or any other religion. And you don't have to believe that all literally, but I find it very insightful and helpful. So I don't know. Give it a try. You don't have to take everything so literally. Just read and reflect.
And one last book—I really wish I had a lot of money to buy 100 or 1,000 copies of this book. Of all the books I have looked through, I found this the most helpful for someone who just found out that they have cancer. Please buy several copies, have them handy, because you know what? Statistically, 30% of all—I can't remember whether it is men or women—women or men have a higher rate, but anyway, approximately 30%-50% of all men and women are going to have cancer at some point in their life statistically. So obviously we are not exactly doing something to the environment that we need to be doing for the human species. That is a lot of people, so you're probably going to know at least a few people going through this.
And I believe that I was allowed to go through this for the purpose of learning and growing and understanding so that I could help others going through this. I don't see this at all as a punishment or anything like that. I have thrown that kind of nonsense thinking the way. It is really about learning and growing. I'm here to be of service, and so some deep part of me thought this was a good idea to serve in this way. Okay. I'm going to have to have a little talk with my Higher Self.
But anyway, I really highly recommend this book, Cancer: 50 Essential Things To Do, by Greg Anderson. This is the 2013 revised edition, and it is so helpful whether you want to heal just conventionally with chemo, radiation, or surgery or alternatively or integratively or whatever way, it is going to speak to you. That is why I like it so much because it doesn't shun anyone away. It is whichever path you choose, but it really gives you some good suggestions either way that you choose. So there is very, very helpful information here. There's also helpful information for those who don't have cancer to help prevent cancer.
All right. One last book. I can't really recommend it yet because I have not finished reading it, but it is by a Zen teacher who is also a United Methodist Christian. I love it. Her name is Ellen Birx. She is a Zen master and a United Methodist Christian, and it is called Selfless Love: Beyond the Boundaries of Self and Other, and so far it is like the best book ever. I love it, and it got lots of good recommendations from both Christians and Buddhists. So I highly recommend this book. One of the reasons why I like this book is because she talks about her Zen practice seamlessly with her love for God and God's love for her, and there is no separation. Some people get so caught up in separating well, you need to just believe in Jesus, and that Zen stuff is kind of like cult-like stuff or vice versa. Just like, well, "We don't really talk about God, just enlightenment." But you know what? The truth is there is no separation at all.
Audience Member: How do you spell Birx?
ChiSing: B-I-R-X. So I can't fully recommend it yet, but I love it so far. And there many, many other books, too, that I love, but I just thought I would bring some of these with me.