You may have heard the Dalai Lama’s response when asked what surprised him most about Humanity.
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” ~Dalai Lama
When I first laid eyes on these insightful, powerful words, I read the quote back-to-back three times, slowly. Though just a few sentences, there is so much to unpack and contemplate. Go ahead and read it again. I’ll wait.
It caused me to think about my own history as a hard-charging young man building a company; driven—and hurried—in order to make his mark and secure his station and financial future. I was a mere 28-years-young. The Dalai Lama was describing the early version of me.
Back then, I had become sick. And anxious. And scared about what the future held. Twenty-eight, recently married, and diagnosed with an incurable cancer.
The most striking part of His Holiness’s response—the real takeaway—is this: the fact that you can read his quote, and are reading this post, means you are still here, alive; you have not left this earth without ever having really lived. This means that you can still benefit from the Dalai Lama’s wisdom.
Depending where you are on your cancer journey, many decisions are still yours to make. You may be technically ‘sick’, but anxiety, and the stressors of living with (and through) cancer, do not have to pull you from living in the present.
I absolutely understand as a survivor, that you are faced with more challenges than most as you navigate the emotional and physical strains endemic to the journey.
Inevitably there will be acute periods that force you to put aspects of your life on hold temporarily, keeping the ‘new normal present’ just out of reach. But things will ebb and flow, and often settle, allowing you to regain strength and balance which enables meaningful, high-quality living.
After-Cancer Decisions in the Context of His Holiness
To all those who have received a cancer diagnosis (just diagnosed, in treatment, in ‘proactive observation’, in partial or complete remission):
Your disease may have raised its ugly head, or otherwise become exacerbated, because of unremitting stress, anxiety, a job you hated, depression, lack of physical activity, bad companion choices, poor diet, lack of restful sleep… or any combination thereof.
We do not know exact cause and effect. But we can agree that these conditions do not promote good health, and are not conducive to healing.
You may have taken your health for granted in pursuit of wealth or stature.
The Dalai Lama’s Profound Message Informs Us:
- of the great opportunity to reset one’s priorities and outlook on life;
- as an invitation might, to enter and redefine wealth, richness, and your life’s meaning;
- about the value of perspective, and its profound application to the ‘present’;
- That abundance is available to all.
You are still here. You are present, in that you have honored me by reading these words. It’s not too late to learn from the observations of the Dalai Lama, and to translate his statement into your own living language.
Image credit: yeehaaa/bigstockphoto.com