My understanding of what it means to live a spiritual life has evolved over years of practice and possibly to a greater extent, from my decade-long experience with breast cancer.
When I was first drawn to the dharma I was seeking the joy and peacefulness missing in my life. Now, moments of love, joy and acceptance are more plentiful—yet I don't regard them as the goal. For now, in the depths of my journey with illness, it is a wild dance of opposites: hope and despair, fear and acceptance, delusion and clarity, struggle and surrender.
Finding the courage to open my heart to these depths has been transforming and has often led not to more pain, but to more peace and acceptance. It is as if I entered the darkness and emerged into the light
Without illness, when all is well, it’s too easy to just intellectually accept the truth of suffering. Cancer has challenged me to practice dharma in the trenches. It has opened my heart to my own suffering which I now see as the suffering of all. It has been the birth of compassion and courage in my life, an unexpected gift.