Most people relate to disease as a nuisance. At best they treat it as a thorn in their side, at worst as a catastrophe that upends life as it was known. In both cases the goal usually becomes: do everything possible to get rid of it and return to life as it was. The experience for some is as if they are driving steadily down the road of life and then suddenly get sideswiped and thrown off course. Life turns upside down. Everything then becomes about getting back – back to the way things were. This is the suffering of disease. This grieving of the loss of the way things were is the deeper psychological suffering of disease. Instead, let’s consider what could be.
It’s usually not a simple matter of just getting rid of the disease. If you are diagnosed with cancer or survive a heart attack from underlying heart disease ( two of the leading causes of death in the US), you may find that life cannot go back to the way it was. Something irrevocable has happened. In this situation it would be a huge missed opportunity to attempt to go back to the way things were. This is because the event that occurred, the heart attack, the cancer diagnosis, represents a call – a call to transform. Joseph Campbell might name this the call to adventure in the hero’s story. In Campbell’s hero’s myth, when the hero refuses the call, suffering ensues. It is a psychological suffering of stagnation and pain. Inevitably the call returns louder than before demanding attention. What is needed now is to answer the call, to walk towards it and through to the other side. This requires courage. It requires faith. And it ultimately requires a change in being, to be born anew.
The disease tells you in its own way what is possible. All one has to do is look at the fears that arise. Are you faced with having to now rely on others to help you? Are you afraid of becoming dependent? Of being seen as weak or less-than? Are you now being faced with the fear of death? The phobias and insecurities dormant in your subconscious now rise to the surface and that can be terrifying. What is possible then, is a way of being where these fears are healed, overcome, transformed. No matter how impossible that might seem now, that is what awaits on the other side. Where there once was a crippling fear there can be a liberating love. Where there was anxiety there can be a peace which passes all understanding. And where there was suffering there can be joy. Disease and the whole carpeted array of fears that come with it merely hides a fundamental fact: That ultimately there is nothing wrong with you. This bears repeating: Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with you. You are not broken. You are not a piece of something forever in search of completion.
Disease, if looked at correctly, is an opportunity to see how we’ve hidden this truth from ourselves. Disease is a manifestation of the way we hide our Wholeness – A Wholeness of Spirit. This can be a radical concept, that underneath it all you are whole and have always been. There is nothing wrong with you and never was. You’ve simply forgotten.
The amazing thing is that the form of how you resist that Wholeness shows up as that disease. It’s like a key and keyhole. The shape of the keyhole tells you what type of key to use. Similarly your expression of disease offers a glimpse of what needs to be changed. It’s right there for you. Are you able to lean on others? Are you willing to be loved? Can you see your strength beyond the physical? Can you see through the fear of death and celebrate life? What matters now is how you respond to the challenge. How do you choose to see this situation differently? And on the other side of that doorway is a new world.
You have to walk through all the way and be a new person on the other side. And that is a whole other category of opportunity than we’re used to. It can be challenging because there is the temptation to turn around and go back to the way things were. But you cannot go back. Anytime you think you want to go back, remember that’s not the answer.