Zen & the Art of Cancer Maintenance

IMG-20150326-WA0007 (2)Disclamer(inspired by Robert Prisig himself) -“The title should in no way be associated with that great practice of orthodox Zen Buddhism. It’s not very universal for cancer either.

Managing daily life post cancer-diagnosis and treatment has its own side-effects – the major one being of remaining calm and keeping to the rituals without loosing focus.I actually find myself more and more tolerant without any applied effort -it shows in small things. No loss of patience when one and then two people break a queue in front of you. No urge to intervene in the loud conversation by the next bedside. No desire to shoot any one. How did this happen?

The world may be noisy and aggressive with words like ‘battle’, ‘war’, ‘fight’, ‘survivor’, ‘warrior’, ‘soldier’ when it comes talking about a cancer patient. I usually go with the lingo for lack of energy to yet ‘wage’ another ‘war’ of words but know for sure that I am no warrior – I mean I cant even win basic arguments or even start any – so ‘war’ and ‘battle’ are actually very very remote and far from my being. ( except in the case of 2-3 very irritating individuals-:))

Have been coming across so much of this ‘courage’ and ‘brave’ word that I almost feel guilty to accept the showering of medals. But then days and days of unending thinking hours spent in hospitals – watching other people deal with similar situations, observing the doctors and nurses and support staff dealing with stuff – I have concluded that yes – may be we are unconsciously applying meditative principles in settling our situation. ( i just cant get myself to say ‘battle with cancer’)

So here they are, named after one of my favorite schools of thought and a book i found hard to understand when I first read it as a gawky teenager. Motorcycle and Cancer are kind of the same – they require maintenance. And Zen is a good Master to learn from.

1. Quality – of life. Is the primary focus. The more we deal with carrying on with our lives, the more important it is becoming to choose for quality. Over quantity. Always.

2. Intuition – follow your own. Its your life. Take opinion.Talk to everyone and everyone else. But decide for yourself. Its your body.You are the best person to repair it. Be in charge of yourself. Your intuition will follow. Always. On second thoughts, Almost always -;)

3. Attitude – when there are no two ways to live your life – live happily. Be happy. Practice happiness. It works. Always.

4. Clothes – of Calmness –  wear them like your Sunday best or rather don’t ever step out naked – without the calmness garbs. Remaining calm or pretending to remain calm works. Always.

5. Truth – let it find itself. Concentrate on your body. The soul will find its way. And the heart regenerates. Always.

6. Live in the moment – this is the ultimate Zen principle. Every moment, even if it is the frenzy of the Emergency ward or the gravity of the Oncology unit has its capacity to teach. Learn from around you. Every moment. Always.

7. Humbleness – cancer is a great teacher of humility. Just today we were sitting between one family discussing gold bricks ( yes- gold bricks!!!) as wedding favors and  another wondering if their bill will be affordable. Humility helps both. Always.

So if I am a soldier like many of you say – I am a non-violent one; if I am a fighter which is a common label for all cancer patients -then my ability is not raging; and if i will ever be a mighty conqueror , i will never have given a battle; and if i am a great commander, then i am ( hopefully) a humble one!  (my summarization Based on Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)


3 thoughts on “Zen & the Art of Cancer Maintenance

  1. Had got up to a frenzied morning and was in a bit of a funk. However, reading this has given me immense peace – as it spoke from a place of inner wisdom which spoke to mine. Thanks 🙂


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