Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Going To The Unknown

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear or embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the fate of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Steve Jobs

Many people are tempted to so do self medication for a number of reasons. These people may be the cancer patient themselves or loved ones to the cancer patient. Is the distinction important? I believe it is important. For example, recently I am in correspondence with a reader who is caring for her mother who has cancer. She said her doctors has run out of options for treatment and she has been looking into alternatives. And yet when she has found an option, the question still remains is whether it is all right to let her mother take that treatment. No matter how hard she tries, she will not be able to step into the shoes of her mother to make the big decision of her life.

For me, it becomes so much easier, not just because this is my own life but I have a strong courage to explore the unknown. Whatever treatment that I take, I follow my heart. As you know, I am no doctor and yet when I read about the treatments, I can sense which are suitable or appropriate for me for example, my oncologist recommended interferon therapy and I 'just know' this is not right for me. Another doctor recommended IL-2 (Interleukin-2) and I 'just know' this is preferable.

I think people with cancer are one of the few groups of people who knows that they are going to die in the near term. This presents an advantage in the sense that the person can start preparing for death. It may be unfinished business, travel, relationships or whatever. One of the thing I do when preparing for death is to visualise my own death. It's not easy in the beginning but as I do it more often, it becomes very calming. Why would I want to visualise my own death? This is so that when I am actually on death bed, I have no problem welcoming death. I am no longer attached to this body and worldly life. I know it's time to move on.

One thing about being a Buddhist is that we believe in rebirth. Another thing I do when preparing my death is to make a wish to be reborn in the human realm. Although I have not achieved any spiritual attainment, it is my intent to be reborn in the human realm as a male. After completion of my university education, I will go forth and enter life as a monk and continue my Buddhist practice. So I visualise it with intent and wish for this to happen in my next rebirth. I have achieved some calmness and peacefulness in my life.


  1. Good on you, Chang. We Buddhists are aware nothing in this world is permanent. I believe you can achieve what you intended. I know you can. I am really honoured to get to meet you in person in this present life.


  2. Hi Bro. Chang,
    Hope you make a daily aspiration to be reborn as a male and in a staunch Buddhist family. I listen to a few Buddhist talks that emphasise on the importance of strong aspiration that will bring out the outcome of your next life. Thus, you should do it immediately on a daily basis.