On January 19, 2000, I had a cystoscopy which resulted in atypical cells in the wash. However, I did not find out about this until several weeks later because I went to India on business and then to France for vacation. While in France, I went to Plum Village, where Thich Nhat Hanh (lovingly call Thay – beloved teacher) lives for most of the year. Plum Village consists of three hamlets: Upper Hamlet, where monks live; Lower Hamlet, where nuns live; and New Hamlet, also where nuns live and guests stay.
In India, I trained programmers at Cybermedia and visited the Osho Commune. This is a place where I had been in 1975! There were a lot of changes to the grounds of the ashram, but, even though Osho died, the atmosphere wasn’t very different from 1975. My wife had been there as late as 1978. If you go there, you’ll find lovely grounds and gardens, and workshops on just about any spiritual, psychological, or physical discipline you wish! I found it very much fun and enjoyed the food there so much.
Plum Village was another story. I arrived there during the Tet celebration of the Lunar New Year. The monks and nuns were immediately hospitable and welcomed me with open arms. The next several days were filled with feasting, consulting of the oracle, visiting the rooms of the monks and nuns, and talks by Thich Nhat Hanh. I found Plum Village to be one of the richest spiritual experiences of my life. I have such great respect for the sangha (community of monks and nuns) and this brought me even closer to Thich Nhat Hanh.
During one of the oracle readings, Thay spoke about how someone who thought they had cancer could be having a wrong perception and therefore talk themselves into the disease. After the session completed, I approached Thay with the question I had about my friend who was suffering with glioblastoma – the worst form of brain cancer. We took each other’s hands and Thay said to me, “Perhaps you can consult the oracle!” Little did I know that the results of my cystoscopy were not negative.
A little while later, in the room of the abbess of Lower Hamlet, one of the senior monks answered the question for me. He said that the person should live her life as fully as possible in each moment. Five weeks after I returned home, my friend passed away. On the afternoon before her passing, she went out to lunch with her daughter. She fully lived up to the monk’s response.
When I got home from my travels, my wife told me about the results of the cystoscopy. I went into a mild depression, knowing that I asked Thay about my friend, when, perhaps, I should have asked about myself! I wasn’t ready to deal with a recurrence. Is anyone ever? On Wednesday, March 1, 2000, I went into the hospital for a biopsy under surgery, as recommended by Dr. Neuwirth. Two days later, I found out that all the tests were negative. I could breath a sigh of relief!